Lately, I've been pondering how to solve one annoying aspect of the FreeDesktop, namely how to eject the piece of bloat called Firefox from the picture and get myself a fast web browser that I can rely on and that yet offers a similar UI experience based upon native GTK2 widgets rather than XUL components.
Just to investigate possible options, I tested Epiphany, Galeon and Konqueror. My conclusions were than a Gecko-based Epiphany or Gaelon is incredibly fast and that Konqueror offers a similarily efficient experience albeit using QT, rather than GTK2 widgets.
Why is Firefox so bloody bloated then, if it uses the same Gecko engine as Epiphany and Galeon? The only possible conclusion I could come up with is that its crappy XUL implementation, rather than leverage existing native GTK2 or QT widgets, tries to reinvent the wheel with its own UI toolkit running as a gigantic RAM blackhole.
One option that I wanted to investigate but found too deficient was a Webkit-based port of Epiphany. Unfortunately, at its current stage, the GTK2 port of Webkit simply isn't mature enough to consider, although the fact that Webkit has been succesfully ported to a number of platforms and constitutes the basis for Safari on Mac OS suggests that the potential is significant.
That only leaves one single aspect on which Firefox wins hands-down: its UI concept; it just works well, whereas Epiphany simply has a UI concept that is utterly inadequate, because it is too crude, lacking basic necessities such as a session saving feature that also works when purposely unloading the application, rather than only as a crash recovery measure. Simply put, Epiphany's premise that a browser should never be closed and thus ought to always remain open in the background of a desktop session is utterly flawed; it doesn't work like that in real life and Firefox acknowledges this, while Epiphany stubbornly doesn't because someone wreaked Havoc in our desktop paradigm.
Anyhow, to me the solution is clear: regardless of which rendering engine it uses, Epiphany's UI concept needs to become more like Firefox, before it can truly gain acceptance as the default browser among Linux distributions.