Epiphany vs. Firefox (Duck!)

Daniel Borgmann spark-mailinglists at web.de
Wed Sep 22 06:31:45 CDT 2004

On Wed, 2004-09-22 at 00:35 -0300, Fábio Mendes wrote:
> > > There is a long-term plan for Firefox to provide better GNOME integration,
> > > and we intend to follow that work closely.
> > 
> > That will be awesome, but until then shouldn't Ubuntu provide what best
> > integrates now?
> Firefox uses gtk, xft, and can match the default icons, so is not so
> alien anyway... 

Does it really match the Gtk icon theme? I don't think it does yet. The
integration so far is really skin deep and I have unfortunately not seen
any indication yet, that the Firefox team is willing to make substantial
platform specific UI changes, if it's not possible in a "generic" way.

> I think a good pro-firefox argument is that it has both
> a linux and a windows version. If we want to bring people from windows
> to Ubuntu, and I guess it's an implicity distro goal, by judging on the
> focus on being newbie-friendly, Firefox, Openoffice.org, Gimp and even
> Gaim will play importat roles. So depending where you came from,
> epiphany may integrates better or worst than firefox. If you're an
> (potentially) ex-windows user interested in open source, the chances are
> that you already use firefox, so it will be a familiar spot to start
> with. The gnome stuff that won't integrate with firefox, Openoffice,
> gimp, gaim and the alikes... :)

It makes me wonder if it wouldn't be an even better argument if you
could say "hey, our deeply integrated and lightweight desktop browser is
based on familiar Firefox technology! And if you prefer the actual
Firefox browser, you can install it directly from the installation CD!".
After all the user already has Firefox on Windows, so it does not
provide additional value. Epiphany does. And if the user installed
Firefox separately on Windows, the user certainly wouldn't mind
installing it separately on Linux, especially when it's right on the CD.

> The same arguments that applies against firefox could be made against
> openoffice. Gnome has an office suite which integrates better in the
> desktop, but OO, in the average, is technically superior. Firefox is
> also technically superior than epiphany (although the difference isn't
> so big), so i think it makes a reasonable choice

This is not the same situation at all. The major technology of Firefox
is not the shell, it's still the rendering engine. Epiphany is not
technically inferior as much as GNOME Office is technically inferior to
OOo. In fact, Epiphany has features that Firefox lacks, my favorite one
being the "close confirmation" dialog only when text was entered in a
form. I'd also argue that the level of integration and focus on
simplicity makes it technically superior inside the GNOME desktop.
If we would be able to easily write a custom frontend to OOo which would
integrate perfectly into GNOME while still offering all the
functionality of the original, would we still ship the original OOo,
just because this might be more familiar for users, who used OOo on
Windows? I don't think so.

I understand the reason why Firefox was chosen for the Warty release and
considering the current publicity around Firefox, maybe it even was the
right decision. But I'm still strongly in favor of Epiphany (or any
GNOME based frontend to Gecko). It's not like this would equal
completely dropping Firefox, I'd be surprised if the shell would even
make for 10% of the codebase.

Daniel Borgmann <spark at mayl.de>

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