How To Install The Epiphany Browser

By | 2007/11/07

So as many of you know I recently got back from the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Boston where we hashed out the details for the upcoming 8.04 release. It was loads of fun, I met a lot of cool people and I’m excited to get a lot of work done between now and then. In the meantime I thought I’d share something with you all that I noticed while I was there. Nobody seemed to use Firefox.

Nearly everyone at the conference was using Epiphany browser on the Gnome desktop. When asked why the two most common responses I got were:

  1. Its faster.
  2. Firefox is non-free.

While both of these are technically true this takes us back to the best part of Free Software, which is choice. If you’d like to try out the Epiphany browser (which I have been using pretty strictly since) follow these steps:

Installing Epiphany Browser

Installing Epiphany can be done a few ways, depending on your preference. I’ll outline a few ways that I can think of off the top of my head.

  1. sudo aptitude install epiphany-browser
  2. Applications > Add / Remove > Search “epiphany” > check-box > Apply

The Epiphany browser is based on the Gecko 1.8 engine and it does appear to render web pages very quickly. It is easy to use, simple, and just does what its supposed to do–render web pages. Nothing fancy other than what you just need. It does support extensions like seahorse for encryption, connections, greasemonkey and more, but it doesn’t feel like you need to rely on any of these (I haven’t even been using any).

I’m interested in your thoughts on Epiphany vs Firefox. Like it? Love it? Hate it? Why do you use one over the other?

52 thoughts on “How To Install The Epiphany Browser

  1. Luke Hoersten

    I use Epiphany on and off for a while. For example when FF2 came out, it was sooo slow on Linux and I went back to my good ol’ Epiphany.

    I like it because the GUI is faster (page rendering should be the same right, because both FF and Epiphany use gecko?). It has some good slim plugins whereas FF’s plugins are slow and bloated. The downsides are that FF has so many plugins you just can’t beat it. All of the web dev plugins etc. And if you use some little obscure web app, they’ve surely made a FF plugin for it if they want anyone to use it.

    If not for plugins, I love Epiphany way more.

  2. nixternal

    Ya, I love Epiphany if and when I am working on Gnome. It is definitely faster and to me is better than FF2. When I am on my typical machines, all KDE, I use Konqueror, and only use Firefox for my banks website just because Konqueror isn’t in their list of allowed browsers.

  3. Lucas

    I’ve been using epiphany for a while as well. Its integration on Linux is much better. It would be great to push for epiphany as default browser …

  4. Tony Yarusso

    I’ve been trying it out, and while I generally like it, it does lack a fair bit of configurability that Firefox offers (either by default or through extensions). For instance, I can’t find any way to configure whether links should open in a new window, new tab, or the current window.

  5. Matt

    I made the move to Epiphany a year or two ago on all my Gnome systems. I find it to be faster, and better integrated into the Desktop (I shun all non GTK application on my Desktops, having a consistent UI across all my apps is a must). I am looking forward to the WebKit backend being more widely available.

  6. Boke

    I use Epiphany cause it’s part of the gnome desktop, and as such it’s well integrated, fast, reliable and simple.

  7. Eric Honaker

    I tried Epiphany on Feisty and didn’t really see the performance boost everyone was talking about. The memory footprint was a little bit smaller, but not very much, and the I couldn’t tell any difference in the page rendering.

    It was an improvement over Konqueror, because the JS menu problems that Konq always gives me weren’t there.

    Firefox isn’t free? What’d I miss?

  8. Jimmy (pak33m)

    Oh gosh, I would love to make Epiphany my default browser but there is one feature holding me back: Tabs at the bottom.

    If it were not for that I would ditch Opera in a minute.

    That is just two cents. If anybody can help I would move right away.

    Jimmy (pak33m)

  9. don

    I’ve tried to use epiphany, but find the implementation slightly buggy. Flash plugins, especially on 64 bit have a tendency to bring down the browser. Also epiphany can be a bit of a hog sometimes. Bookmark import and management is horrible. Frankly while I’d like to use it, I can’t. I have some hope that the webkit backend or firefox 3 integration will address the memory and plugin issues. On the plus side, I love using just the url bar for searches.

  10. Pete

    I’d love for Epiphany to be the default browser for Ubuntu. Users should also be aware that there is an obscure game named “epiphany”, and should remember to use the package named “epiphany-browser”. I choose Epiphany because of the gnomey integration. It just feels more like a regular application, where Firefox seems like it has some special cases.

    I also use Thunderbird for email. Thunderbird seems targetted towards people like me, users with a couple personal mail services. Evolution seems targetted for users in large corporations with specially configured servers.

  11. Andrew Wells

    I use Firefox for my usual browsing because I need the web dev extensions and others. When I need speed, I will use Epiphany.

  12. Mattias Bengtsson

    I use Epiphany since it is the Gnome webbrowser. Firefox just feels out of place in Gnome.
    The epiphany extensions are generally better than the firefox-equivalents too. Epiphany adblock for example is soo much better than the various adblockers in the jungle of extensions for Firefox.

  13. Eduardo de Oliveira Padoan

    You will probably want to install epiphany-extensions too.

  14. Phil Hagelberg

    I am pretty fond of Epiphany and was using it for a long while. I’m back to Firefox now for two reasons: Firefox 3 alpha feels at least as fast as ephy for me and doesn’t suffer from the memory issues that FF2 had, and I’ve become addicted to MozRepl ( for JS development. When Ephy gets Gecko 1.9 and/or webkit I’ll probably switch back for everyday non-development purposes since it does seem more pleasant overall.

  15. cmanon

    FF2 is great for development and a bunch of very useful extensions but is slow. I use Ephy from time to time when I want just to browse the web but as I use different machines with different OSes I can’t live with the google browser sync ( plug in for mozilla.

  16. jonner

    I much prefer Epiphany to Firefox simply because it integrates tightly with the desktop, whereas firefox tries to be cross-platform and therefore ends up not being tightly integrated in any desktop (to offer one trivial but telling example, it doesn’t use your GNOME/GTK icon themes, you have to install special firefox-only icon themes). Epiphany is also a bit faster, but the integration is the main reason I use it.

  17. pirast

    currently, i am using firefox.

    but as soon as epiphany supports webkit well and my distribution provides packages, i am going to do the switch

  18. Pierre

    Firefox has been very sluggish, especially since installing Gutsy. My question with Epiphany: is it possible to have a links bar to quickly acces the most used bookmarks?

  19. Pierre

    Is it possible to install a links bar in Epiphany?

  20. Xan

    You can have a search entry in Epiphany easily, just create a bookmark like “” and drag it to the toolbar.

    In addition it will appear as an action in the main URL entry, so you can write FOO there, select the “Google” action, and searh with google for FOO. (This is the way it’s meant to be used btw ;))

  21. Athropos

    I have the same question as Pierre: the last time I’ve tried Epiphany, I was missing the bookmarks toolbar, I don’t like having to go through another menu level.

  22. dave

    I use both Epiphany and Firefox on Linux, Safari and Firefox on Mac OS X.

    In both cases my main usage is of the more integrated browser, Firefox almost seems like a platform itself sometimes.

    However the Firefox web dev tools are great.

    So it really comes down to wanting one browser configured for browsing (ads blocked, fonts, colours etc. personalised, easily searched history, speed etc.) and one for developing (cache turned off so I can see changes easily, default settings so I see what other users see)

    I also like two browsers to be able to log into services twice (e.g. two gmail accounts) the forthcoming Mozilla Prism will probably help matters here.

  23. Tristan McCann

    To answer many questions above, yes, Epiphany allows you to put bookmarks in a bookmarks toolbar or on any of the toolbars.

  24. grigio

    Epiphany is good but it isn’t for all.
    – FF gui is still more functional, tabs, customization,..
    – FF has a lot of killer app plugins: Firebug, Webdeveloper, Bugmenot, Searchstatus, Google toolbar,..
    – FF is multiplatform(Linux, Win, Mac) and mainstream

  25. anonymous

    – Scrapbook Extension (_very_ important, I have now some really interessting and useful manuals that’s hard to find and/or deleted)
    – Autocomplete in every html box (if I configure for example some routers and change a lot static routes, this features becomes very handy)
    – better Cookie handling (deny all, allow only from a list, allow temporarly in one session)
    – Web Developer tools
    – Mozex (for eDonkey -> aMule)
    – Scrapbook (again, _very_ important)

    – with Webkit may become interesting, but it takes a long time to replace FF completely

  26. Mario

    It would really be useful to start using apturl in your blog posts. I think that people would love to be able to click a link and have all the magic happen.

  27. Meneer R

    What firefox lacks and Epiphany does better:

    1. Epiphany has tagged bookmarks. It organizes and sort them itself. This alone is the killer feature of epiphany for me. Fuck hierarchical bookmark menu’s. It’s soo last century. The only thing missing: automatically suggesting tags based on content.

    2. You can add bookmarks, search-fields and bookmark-dropdowns-for-a-specific-tag onto the toolbar. Search fields are just special bookmarks.

    3. The address bar is used for seaching bookmarks by tag or name, history by link or name, or using a search-bookmarks (such as google). This is great, who needs more than one bar anyway. If deskbar-applet would work _this_ good, i wouldn’t need a address bar in
    my browser anyway.

    4. You can add a Context-related and Most-visited dropdown bookmark-button to the toolbar. This is great.

    What epiphany lacks compared to Firefox:

    1. Decent support for tabs.
    1a: redirecting all popups to tabs
    1b: automatically opening new tab when following a link to a different domain

    2. Extensions/Improvements that make more use of limited room on the toolbar. See the unified back&forward button and unified reload/stop button extensions for firefox. These are sane improvements and need not be extensions at all. Also, make it possible remove the menu-bar. Get rid of the status-bar (just put the url of a link in its tooltip)

    3. Decent support for RSS. Although I don’t believe a browser should be a news-reader. Some bookmarks make more sense as an RSS feed.

    4. Bookmarks home. This nifty firefox extension turns your default/home page into a page containing all your bookmarks. More popular ones are bigger and bolder. Again, something that is so usefull and obvious it should just be the default.

    5. Crumble-bar instead of address-bar. No browser currently offers this. But it would make it more consistent with Nautilus and more usefull. Off course, like Nautilus, with a switch button.

    6. Support for search-plugins. Just support them and show the ordinary add-bookmark dialog with the correct search link.

  28. Andrew Conkling

    First of all, definitely interesting to hear about the Ubuntu devs and to read the comments here.

    I switched to Epiphany about a year ago and found that it worked rather well. A few changes to get used to, but that’s acceptable.

    What I couldn’t adjust to was integration with Yes, I used the epilicious plugin, but found that it didn’t integrate well nor work 100%. I use a LOT (doing a lot of internetting at work) and integrating it with my browser is very convenient.

    However, I did enjoy Epiphany’s bookmark support a LOT. The way it integrates them on the toolbar, etc… GREAT. Here’s a link for those with questions; it’s pretty flexible!

  29. Ernst Persson

    Epiphany doesn’t support Javascript context menues, which happens to mean that you can’t use Google Spreadsheets. So I got tired of switching browsers every now and then. Also gecko 1.8-gtkmozembed had some Javascript exception problems, should be fixed in gecko 1.9.


  30. RainCT

    I also like Epiphany, particularly for it’s speed and because I find it more stable than Firefox, but there are some interface details that don’t convince me make the switch (I don’t remember what they were exactly since I tried it last some months ago :P).

    I’ll wait for Firefox 3 and if I continue having problems with it then I’ll probably look how to create extensions for Epiphany, create some for those issues I found and end up switching to it.

  31. etarkoo

    Epiphany seems to use less CPU for starters..

  32. keyboardashtray

    I’d like to use Epiphany, for the free-reasons and for the Gnome integration, but I can’t bring myself to do it.

    The privacy options are abhorrent. I made a post about it
    at the forums.
    It takes the Gnome option removal to an extreme. No cookie whitelisting? No option to NOT remember what I type? I have to say I’m a little annoyed that they don’t even talk about these things. From their website: “With Epiphany, you can rest assured that your online privacy is being guarded.” Well, saying it doesn’t make it so.

    I really hate to trash it, but if they expect the Gnome flagship browser to even rank against Firefox, or Konquerer for that matter, they are going to have to trim back on the normal Gnome option execution.

    Ignoring the essentials of online privacy doesn’t solve the problem. When they at least make a plug-in to handle these things, I’m on board.

  33. Divan Santana

    What happened to using Kubuntu till 8.04?
    No Konq? 😉

  34. Athropos

    I don’t get how bookmarks work: I can create a “topic” but I can’t create topics inside it. I want to hierarchically organize my bookmarks but I can’t find how to do it.

    And I can’t add automatically all my bookmarks to the toolbar: If I add a topic to it, I still get a popup menu that is the same as the “bookmarks” one and I thus still have to go though one more menu level…

  35. yanbob

    I always used epiphany until firebug came out. As a web developer I can’t live without it.
    This and the lack of javascript right click menu, witch makes it completely useless on several web apps. (I miss you epiphany !)

  36. MattW

    Athropos: Epiphany doesn’t do bookmark hierarchies. They’re organised by tags instead.

    I use Epiphany instead of Firefox or anything else because Firefox doesn’t feel like a GNOME app to me. Epiphany does everything I need – adblock, greasemonkey, nice tagged bookmarks, search from the address bar. And it’s got a lovely UI.

    I won’t say it’s perfect, as I’d love the ability to cause everything targetted at __blank etc. to open in a new tab instead of a new window to protect me from evil web developers.

    It is, however, plenty good enough, and better than any alternative I’ve ever tried. I use Firefox on Windows, but I’d rather have Epiphany if I could.

  37. Athropos

    Well, I can try to use the tagged bookmarks instead of the hierarchical organization but it always crashes. Can anyone reproduce this ?

    1. Create a “Research” topic
    2. Create a “SensorScope” topic
    3. Go to
    4. Add to bookmarks
    5. Check both aforementioned topics in the dialog box

    Epiphany crashes as soon as I check the second topic:

    (epiphany-browser:6481): GLib-GObject-WARNING **: can’t peek value table for type `’ which is not currently referenced
    Segmentation fault (core dumped)

    The first try with tagged bookmarks I’ve made, and it crashes…

  38. jh

    Works fine for me.. with that percise example, of Sensorscope. ..

  39. Jason Brower

    Check this out!
    Open an html file from your computer using an editor like gedit.
    Not edit the file will having epiphany open and looking at the page.
    As soon as you press save it automatically updates the page! Cool what you can do when you integrate the browser with the environment.
    I also like the plugins that come with it too. Don’t have to worry about downloading them.
    I also like the fact that it uses gnome apps to get things done. For example, when you view the source code of a page. It doesn’t render it in the browser, why would you want that!? It opens the source code in a program that can edit source code! Gedit!
    Epiphany also seems to load faster for me. Pages are no faster to me… but when I start my browser I want it to come as fast as possible.

  40. Javier

    i think the same that Tony Yarusso, and also, without the web developer extension and firebug, i just can’t leave firefox…:S

  41. Daeng Bo

    I’ve used Epiphany for probably two years. Recently, I’ve been promoting it on the Ubuntu forums and making recommendations for it to be accepted as the default Ubuntu browser instead of FF. Why?
    1) It’s actually a Gnome app and well integrated into the desktop. There are two Ubuntu apps which stick out — FF and OO.o. I’d like to see both of them be replaced with Gnome apps. Gnome apps don’t load up extra widget libraries, are faster, and keep the look, feel, and UI consistency we need.
    2) It’s more stable. FF has some memory leaks that I never get oin Epiphany.
    3) The bookmark tag system is wonderful.

    Anyway, I’m not surprised that developers use it. The only thing FF has got going for it is that many switchers will already be familiar with it. Really, Epiphany is similar enough that the change shouldn’t phase anyone.

    Make Epiphany the default browser for Ubuntu 8.10!!!

  42. John

    Epiphany is fast and looks great. I’ve been using it for a week or so now, but the lack of link configuration is very aggrivating. If there were a way to open links in new tabs instead of windows it would probably be my full time browser..

  43. amrinz

    I Use only Firefox with scrapbook, scribefire, fireftp, and some extensions that not available in ephipany.

    The extensions, cost the speed!

  44. Mont

    I’ve got a problem… i currently have both firefox and epiphany. i want to uninstall my firefox but my system won’t let me uninstall without it also uninstalling epiphany.. any ideas?

  45. Christer Edwards Post author

    @Mont – as far as I’ve found there is no solution to that. Epiphany depends on Firefox for some reason (perhaps we can petition the packagers to remedy that). Until then I think of FF as IE. Unremovable.


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