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Oct
10

Epiphany Web Review

by Rob Zwetsloot

The brand new replacement browser for the Raspi is based on the little known GNOME web browser: Epiphany

Using the Raspberry Pi for around the past two years has generally been pretty fantastic. It took us a year or so to stop being surprised by just how much it was able to do in the various projects we saw or made ourselves. One thing that we always struggled with was web browsing though; Midori was slow and laggy and it would take up all the Raspberry Pi’s system resources as well.

It seems the Raspberry Pi Foundation has noticed this too and has been busy creating a new browser for Raspbian that’s lighter and faster while still being a useable piece of software. Epiphany, the GNOME Web browser, is the result and is now replacing Midori in the latest versions of Raspbian.

The settings don’t offer much control over what you can do in the browser
The settings don’t offer much control over what you can do in the browser

First things first: there is a noticeable and quite large difference between the two browsers in terms of performance. Epiphany does not bring the Raspberry Pi to a halt and there’s very little to no stuttering when browsing, even when a page is loading. This is quite the improvement over Midori in our experience, where even the Raspberry Pi website would cause the little Pi to struggle.

There is a trade-off for this better browsing experience, though, and that’s a less feature-rich browser. Epiphany is incredibly basic, with its most advanced feature being tabbed browsing. While Midori is quite simple compared to Firefox and Chrome, it is at least quite customisable and supports a number of plugins. Epiphany only has the bare bones of browser functionality: history, bookmarks, a stop/ refresh button, selecting a download location and some other very basic features.

It does render all the web pages you’ll need, though. On a Raspberry Pi, that’s not really that many; not having syncing bookmarks or an app store or super advanced privacy controls is not really going to be much of a concern when all you’re really using it for is checking a tutorial or bug on the Pi. It’s not going to be the main web browser in your life but Epiphany is good enough for the tasks that the vast majority of people will be using it for.

You can always install another browser onto your Pi if you want more functions, including Midori.

Verdict

4/5

Epiphany is not the best browser in the world but it’s the best browser for people who don’t really use a Raspberry Pi as their main computer. It’s light and fast but very simplistic, however it will render pages properly and still let you use the Raspberry Pi as it does this.

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