Epiphany – A speedy, highly-improved web-browser for the Raspberry Pi

As many of you Raspberry Pi nuts out there may know, the Raspberry Pi has been…lacking in the Web Browser department. If you want features, you had to use Midori, which, although a great browser, was very resource heavy and was not optimized at all. On the other hand, if you wanted speed, you went with NetSurf, but had to give up features. It was an annoying situation to say the least. Yes, you could muck about in config files, tweaking to get performance, but that’s pain for little gain.

Meet Epiphany

Epiphany is the new, improved, optimized, web browser for the Raspberry Pi, developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in coordination with Collabora. It is based off GNOME Web, which was previously known as Epiphany.

The first Beta was originally announced back in December of 2013, and it created some hullabaloo in the Raspberry Pi community. In the 8 months since then, the web browser has garnered an impressive set of features, becoming comparable to many full-fledged desktop browsers.

  • First and foremost, hardware-accelerated video decoding and hardware-accelerated video scaling has been added via gst-omx, making Youtube and other video sites useable. During the first beta of Web/Epiphany they were able to get 640×360 videos at 0.5fps, now 25fps 1280×720 videos play smoothly.
  • Next up, Epiphany features Javascript JIT fixes for ARMv6.
  • HTML5 support has been greatly increased.
  • Rendering is much improved, especially in regards to graphics, as new, ARMv6-optimized, blitting functions have been added.
  • Page interactivity and scrolling have been improved (more interactivity while the page is still loading and faster scrolling,) with the addition of progressive tiled rendering.

A full list is available on Marco Barisione’s blog; Marco Barisione being a developer at Collabora, and a member of the team that worked on Epiphany.

In future releases of Raspbian and NOOBS Epiphany will replace the venerable old version of Midori that currently ships with Raspbian Wheezy, but you can also install it to your current installation. Unlike the beta releases, you shouldn’t have to worry about it messing with your installation. However, it is still the first official release, so back up your installation prior to installing Epiphany, just as a safeguard.

The software is already in the Raspbian repositories, no need to muck about with compiling software, just fire up Terminal and enter:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install epiphany-browser

I hope to try this out soon! Let me know down in the comments section what you’ve been using for your web-browsing on the Pi and what you think of Epiphany on Pi!

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