[Windows] Arora is a fast web browser with built-in ad blocking [Mac OS X, Linux]

aroaNot everyone is content to stick with the big five web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari). That’s why browsers like Arora exist. Arora is a webkit-based web browser designed to be simple and fast. Though it does not have a ton of features, what it does have is speed.

WHAT IS IT AND WHAT DOES IT DO

Main Functionality

Arora is a webkit-based web browser for Linux, Mac, Windows, FreeBSD, and Haiku. This review focuses on the Linux version of Arora.

Pros

  • Very fast
  • Built-in adblocking support
  • Supports privacy browsing mode
  • Excellent search engine management
  • ClickToFlash plugin support (i.e. you can enable it so you must click on Flash videos, ads, etc. to play them)
  • Excellent GTK and Qt integration (for Linux users)
  • Has a smart location bar
  • Straightforward download manager
  • Comes with tools for web developers called ‘WebInspector’

Cons

  • Not many features when compared to mainstream browsers
  • Last update was released in September of 2010; doesn’t seem to be actively developed, so don’t expect updates for any issues you may find

Discussion

arora2Arora is a web browser with a lot of promise, but at the end of the day, I feel like it falls almost into the same category as Midori. Arora is an OK browser when you look at it from a glance, but after you use it for a while, you start to think ‘why should I use this and not something else,’? There’s really no compelling features that set it apart from the pack, and that’s a bit disconcerting.

Arora has built in ad-blocking, but seeing as how browsers like Midori also have this feature, it’s really nothing special. Without getting too negative, it is pretty cool to see that it comes with a tool called ‘WebInspector’. This tool gives web developers a chance to see how their work shows up in Arora. Now, obviously Chrome/Chromium, Firefox and Opera have something similar to this, so this is just another feature that isn’t very interesting.

The browser starts up pretty fast, it has a private browsing mode, a smart location bar, and other features that are no doubt similar to one of three browsers that you may or may not already be familiar with. When I really think about it, I feel like this browser doesn’t need to exist. Its not innovating, its not being designed for privacy reasons, and it was never created for any other reason besides creating a web browser. I don’t really want to trash on the developer, because I’m sure a lot of hard work was put in, but there comes a time when you should be accessing your work and thinking to yourself ‘what can I do that will improve web browsers?’. If you don’t you’re not doing anything worth noticing except fragmentation.

It’s like this. Google created their web browser because they knew they could do it better, and they wanted each tab to have its own processing thread. Opera and Firefox were created by their respective developers for innovative reasons, and then we have Arora. A browser with so much potential, but little to no direction.

I don’t hate Arora, I just wish that it was more. I wish that this browser had a claim to fame. A gimmick. Something that makes me look at it as more than just ‘another webkit based browser’. With all this being said, I can almost assume that development on this project has stagnated for the reasons I listed. It could have been so much more. I hope that someone picks up the code and does something with it, because it has the potential to be a great web browser.

With all the negativity that I’ve produced in this review, I just want to say that from what I saw in Arora, I thought it was a solid browser. A run of-the-mill browser, but a solid browser nonetheless. Some Linux users don’t enjoy Firefox, Chromium/Chrome or Opera, so it’s not a stretch to see someone wanting to check Arora out, and might even like it. Anything is possible.

CONCLUSION AND DOWNLOAD LINK

If Arora was regularly updated, I’d say if you’re looking to try out some new web browsers then you should at least install Arora and test it out. It might not be the most advanced and full-featured of web browsers, but it is worth a test drive; who knows, you may like it even if I don’t.

However, it is extremely hard to recommend a web browser that hasn’t been updated in over two years. It isn’t necessarily the lack of new features that bother me, but rather the fact that without updates there will be no plugs for security holes. And we all know that all browsers have security holes, especially thanks to the quickly expanding toolkit hackers have at their disposal. There is nothing extraordinarily special in Arora to warrant putting yourself at risk like that.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 0.10.0-1

Supported OS: Windows, Mac OS X, any Linux distro, FreeBSD, or Haiku

Download size: 1.0 MB

Is it portable? No

Arora homepage

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6 comments

  1. ThePete

    I think that if the latest update was in 2010, there’s really no hope for this browser. I personally prefer to avoid the more popular browsers as well, and this is why I started to use Torch browser. Torch got similar pros: it is chromium based so you can install the adblock on it (and other chromium plugins too). It’s very fast. The privacy settings are the same as chrome’s, and there’s a built in flash plugin. Other then that, you got an integrated torrent client and a media grabber. Oh and you can use it on mac and on windows.

  2. Seamus McSeamus

    [@RealBull]

    I was using Waterfox as my primary browser for quite a while, but beginning a couple months ago the RAM usage got ridiculous – in excess of 1 GB after about 10 minutes with a dozen or so tabs open. I’ve been using Pale Moon lately and liking it a lot.

  3. AFPhy6

    [@RealBull]
    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Actually, this would be a good subject for a DotTech review and comparison: browsers and browser knock-offs that claim “lightweight”, “fast”, “secure”, even if “feature-limited” (which is essential for those three attributes to be true)

  4. RealBull

    Arora was something to look forward to in 2010, but I agree, without prompt updates it is not a good recommendation for an alternative browser.

    For an alternative web-kit browser, I would recommend Iron or Comodo Dragon. For an alternative gecko browser, I’d recommend Pale Moon, Water Fox (64-bit only), or Comodo Ice Dragon.