March 3, 2018

KDE Web Browser Falkon Gets New Branding And New Release

While some readers may have heard of Falkon's predecessor QupZilla, you may not be aware that it was announced some time ago that Qupzilla was getting a new name - and a new home. From  Falkon's KDE Project Incubation Page[1]:

"QupZilla is a QtWebEngine based cross-platform web browser.
During the Akademy 2017 Konqueror BoF, the ex-maintainer of Konqueror, David Faure, proposed to integrate QupZilla into KDE in order to replace the aging Konqueror. (His reasoning is that QupZilla is already much more advanced in terms of webbrowsing features, and there is almost nobody working in Konqueror, so there is no point in duplicating efforts).
During incubation new name "Falkon" was chosen."

Falkon now showing in KDE's Discover Software Store
via KDE Neon Packages

Since then, much has happened and now we get a proper release to play with[2]. Additionally, the shiny new app is already available in KDE Neon, and should soon be available in your distro of choice. Here are some initial thoughts after taking it for a spin.

The first thing you'll likely notice is Falkon's new logo and branding. Thanks to KDE's Visual Design Group, there's shiny new icon and logo which is really sharp, and helps to convey the fact that Falkon as sleek and fast - which brings me to the main take-away from testing the browser out: In a nutshell, the next thing you'll notice is that Falkon is FAST. Perceptionally-speaking, it seems much faster than other browsers you'll use. If raw speed is something you desire, Falkon will likely scratch that itch.

Fakon's sleek new logo, care of the KDE
Visual Design Group

All the main features you'd expect in a modern web browser are there, including AdBlock, plain-text or encrypted password management, sessions and session management, a download manager, a bookmark manager, various extensions, and the like. It's also nice to have a browser use my native KDE on-screen notifications and theming.

Falkon looking nice in Breeze Dark theming

The one area that will likely put some users off a bit is the lack of a working spell check out of the box. I'm all thumbs when it comes to typing, and a spell check is a true must-have for a web browser. Following the directions from the Falkon Wiki[3], I was never able to get it working. This is because in Neon I was not able to find the package that would give me the 'qwebengine_convert_dict' function, which apparently is a requirement to convert a .dic file to the format Falkon needs. I tried various QtWebEngine packages, including -dev to no avail. This is my only knock on Falkon at the moment as I do not think most users will bother to look at the Wiki and, if they do, there's no guarantee they will succeed in getting it working. There needs to be an easier way to do this and a user should not be expected to do the required steps to get a functioning spell-check. Perhaps a first-run dialogue box prompting the user to download a dictionary if Falkon can not find one in a viable directory would make sense here.

If you can look past the spell check issue (or get it working), or just don't need one because your spelling and typing skills are absolutely l33t, give Falkon a shot. It fast, minimal, and has all the benefits of being an native KDE application. As previously mentioned, it is available now in KDE Neon, and should be in your distro soon if not already.



[1] Incubator/Projects/Falkon
[2] Falkon 3.0 release announcement
[2] Falkon Wiki - spell check

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