Web Browsers OpenFAQ

What web browsers work with the X Window System?


Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer

Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer have pretty much the same features on all of the operating systems for which they are available. However, the "application suite" that is distributed with these products is usually lacking some of its pieces under one Unix flavor or another.

Netscape Navigator is available for considerably more flavors of Unix than Microsoft Internet Explorer. MSIE is currently available only for a handful of the major commercial Unix releases, and is not available for Linux as of December 1997. Netscape is available for a long list of Unix flavors, both free and commercial.

Still the most popular browser on the web as of December 1997, Netscape Navigator is locked in a features and market share race with Microsoft Internet Explorer. Happily this means that both products are currently free. In fact, Netscape has recently released the source code to Navigator through mozilla.org, with a permissive license.

Both products feature HTML 3.2, Java, JavaScript, various extensions that may or may not work with other browsers, and a suite of additional applications for conferencing, reading newsgroups, receiving and sending email and so on.

At this time, there are no other browsers for the X Window System that have quite as many features as these two market leaders. Many of the other browsers for the X Window System are freeware offerings (some with a surprisingly good feature set and considerable grassroots potential). Such browsers will no doubt gain in popularity if Netscape and MSIE ever cease to be freely available. The remaining browsers are products of academia, usually permitting free use.

Microsoft's Website

Netscape's Website

The mozilla.org Website


Arena began life as a "testbed" for the W3 Consortium's development of new versions of HTML. However, that is now the role of Amaya.

Arena is now free software, released under the GNU Public License and maintained by Yggdrasil Computing. Arena implements "most" of HTML 3.2 and has some support for style sheets as well.


Amaya is the W3 Consortium's official testbed for new HTML features. The Amaya web browser supports editing of HTML as well as browsing. Support for mathematical constructs as well as cascading style sheets is included.


Probably the leanest, meanest graphical web browser ever written. Chimera version 1 is stable but too out of date to be used with most websites. Chimera version 2 is quite interesting, with support for most of the HTML constructs available in Netscape 2 (tables, frames, aligned images and so on), which most websites are still compatible with. However Chimera 2 is still in development. This is a freeware project. Code contributions are welcome.


KFM is the file manager annex web browser of the KDE project. KFM supports most of HTML 3.2 including tables, frames and cookies. For KFM to work you need to have the KDE libraries and the Qt toolkit installed. KFM itself is part of the KDE base package.

KFM is free software and is released under the GNU Public License.

Qt can be downloaded from http://www.troll.no.
KDE can be downloaded from http://www.kde.org.


Lynx is a text-only but very useful browser. It will run under XWindows, e.g., in xterm, which supports window resizing and mouse operations. See text browsers.


MMM is a web browser written in the Caml Light programming language. This browser relies on the Tk toolkit, which leads to problems in its support for tables. However the browser does support frames and tables, after a fashion, and has been kept up to date. Pages can contain applets written in Caml Light (instead of Java).


Grail is a web browser written in the Python programming language. Grail supports full HTML 2.0, including images, forms and imagemaps, and many HTML 3.2 features. It uses asynchronous document transfer, supports printing and saving documents, searching, bookmarks, history, and more. It also supports frames, client-side imagemaps, file upload in forms, support for JPEG, TIFF and XBM images, image printing, and tables (within the limitations of the Tk toolkit). Pages can contain applets written in Python (instead of Java).


Hotjava is available from Sun Microsystems. It runs on several platforms, including the X Window System. According to the provider, HotJavaTM Browser 3.0 provides a highly-customizable modular solution for creating and deploying Web-enabled applications across a wide array of environments and devices. The newest version of HotJava Browser uses the JavaBeansTM component model, designed to give developers an edge on getting Internet and intranet products to market quickly and cost effectively.

Key features and improvements of HotJava Browser 3.0 include: JavaScript (full ECMA 1.4 standard support), HTML rendering fidelity improvements, adding support for critical Netscape 4.0 and Internet Explorer 4.0 extensions to the W3C HTML 3.2 specification, improved user interface (adding a more modern look and feel to the browser), and last but not least over 500 bug fixes and user requested enhancements since the previous version.

Previous | Next | Table of Contents