Epiphany with WebKit becoming a reality

A while back, during Intrepid I think, I tried Epiphany with the WebKit page renderer, it was horrid at the time… Jaunty didn’t even include it again… However for Karmic some packages popped up again. Now, I like the concept of using WebKit on Ubuntu. Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome also use this page renderer. But at least at this time, there’s a catch, I don’t want to upgrade to Karmic yet. Lucky for us, the WebKit Team has been so kind to provide us with two PPA’s one for the WebKit engine and one of Epiphany built with WebKit.

After having added these two PPA’s and installed epiphany-webkit, something that’s immediately noticeble is that everything seems a bit faster than with Firefox, this is especially apparent on lower end hardware (netbooks anyone?). Well at least it seems that way in my subjective experience…

There are still a few very rough edges though:

  • Epiphany is a tabbed browser, yet when I right-click on a URL, there is no “Open in New Tab” options. This is very ennoying! (I just found out, that clicking right+left on a URL does open it in a new tab).
  • Epiphany’s current SSL (secure pages) user experience sucks hairy monkey balls… When browsing a secure page, the all so familiar lock icons turns up, as expected. But that’s it! I can’t see a way to get any more information about the certificate, not who it is for, not who is was issued by. I hope the Epiphany folks will take a look at Firefox for this, who have implemented this nearly perfectly, by prefixing the certificate’s owner in an approriate color (Green for Extended Validated Certificates) to the URL. And clicking on this prefix will make a dialog with more details pop-up. I really can’t imagine a better way of doing this.
  • In input fields Undo (Ctrl+Z) does not seem supported yet.

There are a few minor (more obscure) issues as well:

  • Being a colorgeek I noticed WebKit doesn’t have any form of color management as far as I could find. This is not a showstopper for me. But considering Safari (with WebKit) does have color management, it shouldn’t be too hard to integrate LCMS, right? Maybe I’m wrong…

Considering the above issues get resolved, we should look back at when Mark Shuttleworth made some comments about making bold moves in Ubuntu while announcing the new ephemeral notifications. I applaud the move to replace Pidgin with Empathy. I hope the same gets done by replacing Rhythmbox with Banshee. And in the long run (maybe Karmic+2), Epiphany-WebKit will be considered for replacing Firefox as it’s primary browser.