Avoiding Firefox installation

If you, like me, think that Firefox 2.x in GNU/Linux is a gigantic hunk of code which eats tons of system memory, you may want to take a look at XULRunner. But it is not a browser per-se: it contains the core components of Firefox, so you can reuse e.g. the Gecko rendering engine in order to code your own web browser, and this is what a bunch of packages do. This is a small listing of packages I use regularly which I have built in my laptop with USE="xulrunner" instead of USE="firefox", they all are working flawlessly:

  • Epiphany, the Gnome web browser and its extensions package (albeit I am looking forward to the stabilization of the WebKit engine support in Epiphany.)
  • Liferea, my RSS news feed reader of choice.
  • The Gnome Python bindings, which means that every Python application using the gtkmozembed module will use it (this covers about a tenth of programs for my setup.)
  • Some browser plugins (swfdec, gecko-mediaplayer, and maybe others.)
  • The Devhelp API browser and the Gnome help viewer (Yelp) are also using XULRunner.

Note that I am not rambling agains Firefox — it is a great browser, but I prefer Epiphany’s responsiveness and shorter loading times, in fact I am “skinning” the Firefox rendering engine with a Gnome-frienfly user interface 😀


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