I have been using Konqueror as my primary browser on my laptop for quite a while. Back when I was using Gentoo, I was using KDE 3.4 (Gentoo is getting slow at moving packages to stable) and used Konqueror simply because it loaded faster and suited my on-the-road needs. I could read news and do most common operations with it. Some websites had problems with it and some did not recognize it as a
modern browser. Even with these minor inconveniences, it remained a very decent browser. Now that I switched to Kubuntu as my primary distribution (ever since since I installed it on my laptop, which became my primary PC after a 50 foot long network cable connecting my desktop decided to die for a yet-to-be-identified cause), Konqueror appeared to be an obvious choice.
KDE 3.5 brings many minor improvements, but makes the overall system better. Today I discovered features I never bothered looking at before. Most of these were probably present in previous versions as well. As I write this post, I realize how neat the automatic spell checking in form fields can be.
Do not ask again checkbox. Finally, no more unwanted moving stuff on my screen. Basic stuff, but it does make browsing more comfortable.
Beyond tabbed browsing, Konqueror actually allows you to use the powerful features from it’s file browsing vocation. View > Split View > contains options to divide the screen and display multiple web pages at the same time without having to bother about window sizes. I configured mine to have a permanent vertical and horizontal split ready to use just by dragging from the bottom or side of the window. Permanent because Konqueror allows you to save the current state (content, size/position or both) under a named setting, easily reloaded. Now, how can these splits be used? Ever needed to write something and had to switch to a reference or had to compare elements from two listings? The end result is not much different from moving and resizing windows around, but it can save a few seconds once in a while.
One of the features that impressed me the most is related to the integration with the desktop environment. Once you enabled the setting to load requests from external applications in new tabs, any KDE application loading a page will load it in a new tab from your browser. One exception to this: if the browser is in a different desktop, it will open a new one in your current desktop. That’s not something Firefox would understand so easily. But that’s not the interesting part. KDE has an Alt-F2 shortcut to run commands or open a URL (quite similar to that Win-R). Using the search shortcuts, all you have to type in that box is gg;your search and it will open a new tab with your Google results, or wp:other terms for wikipedia, or php:array_key_exists in case you forget the parameter order. There is a long list of predefined search engines you can enable, from web search to dictionaries to API documentation, and you can add custom ones too. I added amazon.ca, because I end up searching for books all the time. It also has that search box next to the URL bar which does the exact same kind of search, but I never like to have to go click in that box and select the search engine. It always stayed on Google due to my laziness. Search shortcuts are available everywhere in KDE, which makes it very efficient in development.
Of course, Konqueror is still not recognized as a
modern browser by some websites, but it’s fairly easy to change the browser identification and it will remember your preference for the website across sessions. The rendering still has some glitches, but I have not seen so many. Give it a try, it’s worth switching to KDE by itself.