Remember Opera? It used to be a really awesome browser back in the day. Now it has largely been reduced to a Google Chrome fork. This is not to say that the latest version of the Opera browser is absolutely terrible. The current version – it just feels too similar to Chrome and doesn’t set itself apart as much.
This is why I’m glad to introduce the Otter browser. It’s an ambitious project to keep version 12.x of the Opera browser user interface alive and current (with the help of Qt5). As awesome as that is, there’s one thing to keep in mind – Otter is not an Opera clone. Yes, it looks like Opera, but instead, it is a browser that makes use of the QtWebKitEngine and is completely of its own. An interesting project, that’s for sure.
Installing the Otter browser can be easy, or difficult, depending on what Linux distribution you are running.
If you’re on Ubuntu, don’t worry. There’s a PPA available for you to help get the software installed. Just open a terminal window and enter the following commands.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:otter-browser/release sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install otter-browser
If you’re an Arch Linux user, the Otter browser can easily be found inside the Arch User Repository. From there, you’ll be able to compile, install and use it. Using your AUR helper, search for the package
otter-browser-git. Don’t use a helper? Download the PKGBUILD from here.
Use OpenSUSE? Good news! The Otter browser is available via the open build service. You can download and install the package for several different versions of OpenSUSE at this link here.
If you’re not on any of the distributions, you’ll have to download the source code and compile it yourself. Head to the Otter browser’s github page and look for the “Download ZIP” button.
When I first started Otter, I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled with the way it looks. It has an easy to navigate UI, but the skin is not my favorite. The way Qt applications look on Linux when not themed correctly has always bothered me. So, on the surface, I thought that it was hideous. However, I got accustomed to it. I do like using it for basic browsing, mostly because the way it renders out web pages is really nice. I’ve always been a fan of the QtWebKit engine, so it’s really nice to see it implemented so well here.
Like any other modern web browser, it has the ability to block pop-ups. The browser also has a do-not-track mode as well as the ability to clear all browsing history when closing. When you’re using it, you’re going to get a decent webkit style browsing experience. And another thing – the default search engine is DuckDuckGo. It’s not a bad choice, considering it, too, respects your privacy.
Another useful feature, something I’m glad Otter has, is bookmark suggestions. It’s not a new concept, but it’s really great to see that most of the features you’ve come to expect in modern browsers to be here as well. It’s the little things that count. If you loved the Opera 12.x browsing experience, though it’s not a clone, you can’t really go wrong. Admittedly, there’s not any exciting new and different features to talk about, but that’s fine. Most people don’t care about that anyway. Overall, it’s a solid browser and you should definitely check it out.
- Built around the QtWebKit engine meaning speedy web rendering
- Privacy minded: DuckDuckGo as default search engine, supports a do-not-track mode and the ability to clear browsing data
- Easy to navigate user interface
- Bookmark suggestion
- No new and noteworthy features that sets it apart from modern browsers.
- Sort of ugly.
The Otter browser is a decent browser if what you are looking for is an alternative to the mainstream browsers available today. It’s not loaded with noteworthy and compelling features, but it does offer a decent web experience. It’s obvious that this project is just starting out and trying to make a name for itself. I hope that in the future they’ll have a lot more interesting and compelling things to offer.