Browsers on WM8505 Linux

Being a proud owner of WM8505 mini netbook I spent a lot of time tinkering with it. This little noname machines ship with preinstalled WinCE that is very close to useless, so as soon as I got the netbook I installed this Debian distribution on it. And since I don't want my time to be utterly wasted I decided to start a series of post concerning different aspects of using Linux on WM8505 netbooks. In this very entry I would talk about different browsers available for this installation, from the simplest to the most functional. So, let's start.

Note: most of the information here should be also relevant for VT8500 netbooks.


The family of text browsers that can work even without X Server. elinks is available in the Debian squeeze repository (I didn't check others). You may consider using any of these browsers to quickly find and read some plain-text information without starting Xorg.

  • the fastest browser, can run in console
  • text-only, does not support CSS, Javascript, images



Unfortunatelly I didn't manage to run Dillo on my WM8505. The reason is I couldn't find any debian-arm ports it and failed to compile it myself. Maybe in future I would finally beat it and update this entry.


Fast and lightweight graphical browser standing somewhere near Dillo on our speed/functionality ladder. It is available in the repo by the name netsurf, it supports images and CSS, it has tabs. True candidate for the title of default browser for your mini netbook.

  • pretty fast, supports CSS and images
  • doesn't support JavaScript



This browser is not so popular as others and that is strange. Luakit is a Webkit-based browser written in C and Lua, configurable in Lua itself (it is even referred not as browser, but as a browser-framework), uses Vim-like user interaction, supports JavaScript and at the top of that is very fast, sometimes even faster than Netsurf! If you use Awesome WM, then configuring luakit by editing rc.lua file will be very familiar to you. So far luakit is the best browser for my netbook I tried so I ended up using it as my default browser.

Like all featured browsers on this list luakit is available in the repo.

  • very fast, very functional, highly configurable
  • Vim-like hotkeys could be unusual for new users, doesn't have many features (like password storage) out of the box



Arora is considered to be one of the fastest "heavyweight" browsers. It can be installed from the repository, but uses Qt and I suppose because of that it fails to run on my netbook (actually, it shows up for a minute, doesn't respond for anything and then closes). If anyone can run it on WM8505 write me how you did it:).


The heaviest browsers in the review. These two differs only in that Firefox is only a browser, but Iceape is an internet suite containing browser, mail client and some other modules. Though they both use the same engine for webpage rendering.

Firefox is indeed the most functional browser here, it is plugin-extendable and supports all modern standarts. Though with capabilities comes the price — Firefox is very slow when running on WM8505. Loading it takes about a minute and the browsing itself is much slower compared to above-mentioned browsers. You can still keep it as a reserve browser to open some complex website but day-to-day usage of Firefox is uncomfortable.

  • "adult" browser, supports everything, customizable with plugins
  • slow, heavy, big loading time


After trying all these browsers I came up with keeping three of them: elinks, luakit and firefox. Elinks is good for fast browsing, luakit is the best daily browser and firefox is always capable of displaying some tricky page that luakit failed to do.