back to article And now for something completely different: A lightweight, fast browser that won't slurp your data

Chromium may be all the rage nowadays, but other options that aren't Mozilla continue to be developed. A case in point is Ekioh's Flow: an interesting beast, not being a fork of any existing browser (although Mozilla's SpiderMonkey performs JavaScript duties) and having its origins in set-top boxes (STB). Originally written …


            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Folded content in raw HTML

              Yes, this is a thing now. This makes it easier to do that particular example. What's worth keeping in mind is that this set of tags is rather new, and for many years, it wasn't available in plain HTML. For a similar reason, HTML5 can embed video really easily, but it still took a while for competing video embedding to die because HTML was so late to the party. JS used to fold or unfold sections will probably die eventually too, but it was necessary so long that it has taken over other things.

          1. rcxb

            Re: Not Free

            Having a button which allows a user to collapse or expand a region means that the page can have lots of things on it without requiring the user to scroll past irrelevant things, but HTML itself doesn't do that

            A link to an anchor (way down the page) would do just about what you want, and much more quickly than the javascript version.

            JS could also be used to keep a page updated even when data changed at the remote server without making the user refresh the page all the time

            A simple meta refresh would update the page without user intervention. But my strong preference is to leave my page the hell alone... When I see one of my tabs reloading every few seconds in the background, I close it and don't go back.

            There are few, very, very, very few cases where javascript helps make a webpage more useful, and infinite other examples where is makes life a nightmare. Mobile sites collapsing the page contents, then forcing users to click a READ MORE button is the stupidest thing I've ever seen.

            I use the "JavaScript Toggle On and Off" extension, and I immediate blacklist any site that does anything irritating. It's amazing how many sites work much, much better with javascript disabled. I just haven't quite made the jump to disabling javascript by default, and whitelisting only a few.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: Not Free

              I agree with you about most autorefreshing pages. They're quite annoying when they don't need to refresh. Sometimes, however, it is important that they do so. If any application is written with dynamic information, it probably needs to update or at least warn people about the fact that it hasn't.

              Consider a simple system I wrote for someone. There is a form for user requests which includes various details including the time when the request must be completed. The backend lists all known requests, sorted by time, color-coded for urgency, with a field for time remaining, and buttons to mark the request as in progress or resolved. This needs to update itself so that new requests are seen, urgency is updated, and multiple users can mark requests as resolved and have all the participants know about it. If it didn't stay updated, people might duplicate requests, ignore one which has become urgent but wasn't when the system originally loaded, etc. Now it doesn't have to be a website, but something this simple might be done that way just to make things easier.

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: Not Free

          Virtually all websites use Javascript in some fashion to do stuff on the client site that improves the experience of using the website. e.g. drop down menus, or form validation, or reflow behaviour for sites that support mobile & desktop. Some web sites, particularly those with canvas or video elements will use it far more extensively.

          Some sites also use JS for purposes like ad injection or tracking. Most of the paranoia about JS stems from that. Of course the answer to that is to use a blocker like NoScript or UBlock and/or run in a private browser session. The super paranoid could even use Tor if they wanted. Certainly not a reason to turn off JS for the majority or expect some random website to function without it enabled.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Not Free

            Private browsing and Tor are not defenses against JS. Only blocking JS is a defense against it. Depending on the level of worry, it isn't necessary to always do so, but let's quickly review what each of the defenses does and why they're not doing anything about the risk of dodgy JS.

            A private window isolates the loaded page from certain data the browser holds. It prevents the server from getting cookies or other browsing data, and it prevents the loaded page from persistently storing that stuff. It doesn't do anything else. Cookies are a server-side tracking thing, not a JS tracking thing. Most fingerprinting techniques implemented with client-side scripts access information which isn't stored in the browser. For example, fingerprinting a device based on system state or capabilities. Blocking it from cookies won't do anything to prevent that.

            Tor is even less a defense against client-side scripts, although if you're using it, you probably want to avoid JS too. Tor is a way to redirect traffic through a network of relays such that the place you contact doesn't know what you're looking at, the final site doesn't know who you are, and most observers don't know what you're doing. It protects data in transit, but it will protect that data equally well no matter what it is. Crucially, it does not protect data on a computer. If a script is part of a site, Tor will not prevent it being sent. If that script collects information from the system, Tor will not detect or prevent that collection. If the script contacts a remote server to upload the collected information, Tor will happily pass it through. Tor is a network-protection system, not an endpoint-protection system. If you want privacy enough, go ahead and use Tor and also disable scripting when possible; the former does not do the latter for you.

            1. DrXym Silver badge

              Re: Not Free

              You can block JS with plugins or Tor Browser (which contains those plugins) if you are paranoid about certain scripts. You can run Tor or use private browsing to eliminate cookies. Other plugins let you change your use agent or screen resolution or what have you.

              If someone is that paranoid about JS they can disable it but at that point crying about sites not working is a self inflicted problem. Few websites have the developer resources to cater for people who deliberately cripple the experience the website was intended to have.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not Free

          Nearly twenty years ago our old school site used javascript to tag faces and search for names on school pictures. Adding the facility to any new picture on any text page is just a tedious preparation ritual to map the faces - and then a single line SCRIPT invocation at the bottom of an HTML page adds the interactive dynamics of "find" and "zoom".

          It still works on current browsers - even though some parts of it are fiendish. The main incompatibility trouble is usually different browsers' behaviour on a drop-down box's selection clicks.

          The only time it "phones home" is when someone submits information to the guest book or about a face. They then get several warnings about the data being sent for manual review - and an option not to save information in their browser for their own future convenience.

          Using javascript on guest book submissions allows it automatically to ignore bots trying to spam us through the HTML form.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Not Free

        I suggest then you stick to Lynx or maybe that browser built into EMACS.

      2. illiad

        Re: No JS??

        erm, BBC website, if you switch off JS you basically get the 'mobile website', with no instagram or other 'inserts' available..

      3. Stuart Castle Silver badge

        Re: Not Free

        You'd get on well with the web and systems teams where I work. If we need a website (or even a web page), we have to present a good business case. By default, if permission is granted, we'll be given a site or page with HTML and images enabled. Nothing else. No PHP. No Perl. No python. No scripting languages or any plug in support. If we need any scripting languages, even Javascript, we have to include precise details of what we need, and what we need it for in the business case. Not sure how, but they do regularly check our entire web infrastructure for evidence of the use of of scripting languages, and will, without warning, disable any sites or pages using any scripting languages without authorisation.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Not Free

      I do not mind paying for something if they give me something worthwhile in return. So paying for a browser might seem counter intuitive but if they have a very strong privacy focus, etc. I might be tempted to kick the tires. The free alternatives existing because they are generating money off of us some other way.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not Free

      Some of those things are abused for tracking purposes, especially webrtc. Best they aren't there by default to be honest.

      I'd quite like a browser that is just a browser.

      Rendering through the GPU pipeline has its pros and cons with regards to performance / privacy as well.

      There was a bug in NVIDIA drivers for a while that would leave remnants of rendered stuff in the cache on the GPU for a while and could accidentally be spat out next time the same buffer was used.

    3. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: Not Free

      Also, I assume JavaScript and CSS support to be lacking in Flow

      No need to assume for JavaScript. The article points out that Mozilla SpiderMonkey is used to provide it....

      1. Falmari Silver badge

        Re: Not Free

        Article also mentions CSS and has a link

    4. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: Not Free

      Browsers these days contain a myriad of capabilities such as WebRTC, WebSockets, WebGL and WebAssembly, all of which Flow is lacking

      You say that like its a bad thing.

    5. airbrush

      Re: Not Free

      It uses Mozilla's JavaScript engine

    6. PiersW

      Re: Not Free

      I don’t recall asking people to pay for desktop versions.

      Also, it supports WebGL, Web Sockets and Web Assembly.

    7. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Not Free

      Firefox USED to be good. Too much time making it like a Mobile only Browser and copying Google Chrome.

      I doubt that Chromium has ever been a really good idea, but it's a better idea than running its mummy, Chrome.

      Now if someone would forbid any/all advertising company/companies to own an OS, or a browser or any social media site?

      1. StrangerHereMyself Bronze badge

        Re: Not Free

        AFAIK Firefox is the only browser NOT slurping up your data. However, these days tracking is done mostly through JavaScript and cookies, so even Flow will not help you much. In fact, since there aren't any privacy extensions such as AdBlock Plus or NoScript available on Flow you might even be WORSE off than simply using Firefox.

    8. illiad

      Re: Not Free

      PLEASE CLARIFY "not free" ... you certainly do not mean "you have to pay money for it" !!

      It has been TEN years or more, and my expenditure on browsers and things to do with them = ZERO.

      1. illiad

        Re: Not Free

        or should you have said 'No freedom' ??

  1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Virtually Advanced IntelAIgent Operating Systems Drivers ....

    ....... Just what the doctors ordered for when needed.

    "Our roadmap," he added, "is quite dependent on customer requirements."

    Is that reflected in the prime rating [Search Engine Optimisation] of premium markets leading and attractive engaging consumer content?

    Delivered prime content lighting and enlightening new way of Informative Intelligence Provision ...... easily realised as a Surpisingly Simple Universal Tool for Greater Future Educating Programs with Practically Live ACTive IT Projects ‽ .

    Bravo. A Real Brave Browser Driver/Raison d'Être. And by all accounts, with so much fakery all around practically everywhere, just in time and not a moment too soon ....... :-) although there are bound to be those wishing it to fail and to be far too little too late, rather than accepting it as something quite novel and exciting and extremely engaging and perfectly timed to take full advantage of the new technologies of today........ even to the extent one should be made aware of may require one to heed a note of caution, lest unprepared one finds it somewhat mind-bending and mind-blowing.

    It is surely though something logical to expect of developments in/for the future, where the past and the present are merely the rock steady foundations upon which future hosting educative events are built and realised/produced and directed.

    Done exceedingly well, will it do the jobs needed to be done much better than simple television and radio can ever show and/or dictate, or will ever be able to do all by itself.

    1. very angry man

      Re: Virtually Advanced IntelAIgent Operating Systems Drivers ....

      Thank you,

      A beautiful and conciss rendering of the situation at hand,

      I love the way you put things so the layman can understand them.

      1. First Light Silver badge

        Re: Virtually Advanced IntelAIgent Operating Systems Drivers ....

        This has got to be from an AI.

        1. jonathan keith

          Re: Virtually Advanced IntelAIgent Operating Systems Drivers ....

          ...because the chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one?

        2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          Re: Virtually Advanced IntelAIgent Operating Systems Drivers ....

          This has got to be from an AI. ...... First Light

          Because, First Light? Surely it makes perfect human sense in plain English .... which coincidentally is also something extremely convenient if one wants to translate and share it further afield, exporting/importing it into other worlds where assets communicate in a completely different language?

          If AI were so advanced, it would surely be of great concern to humans with possibly many being capable of being absolutely terrified by such a development over which they have zero command and control?

        3. LionelB Silver badge

          Re: Virtually Advanced IntelAIgent Operating Systems Drivers ....

          Ye'll not be from around these parts, roight?

          (He's not a bug, he's a feature.)

          1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: Virtually Advanced IntelAIgent Operating Systems Drivers .... for Seasoned Travellers ‽ .

            Ye'll not be from around these parts, roight?

            (He's not a bug, he's a feature.) ...... LionelB

            For someone themselves not often seen or heard round these parts, LionelB, that's pretty astute. Are you frequently away in foreign parts/alien places/strangers' spaces?

            What do you imagine creates the difficulties for others to properly see and understand what is delivered for them to use and experiment with? And for them to be so energised as to disapprove of it/anonymously down vote it?

            Just another of life's little mysteries/ironies?

            1. LionelB Silver badge

              Re: Virtually Advanced IntelAIgent Operating Systems Drivers .... for Seasoned Travellers ‽ .

              I am always here. I am a Lurker from the planet Midori, the result of an Extraordinary Rendition.

              1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

                Re: Novel Leading Alienating Space Mission Centres in/for Advanced Civilisations

                I am always here. I am a Lurker from the planet Midori, the result of an Extraordinary Rendition. ..... LionelB

                Ahha, .... now if that was also an Advanced Earth Observing Satellite station posting for Houses of the Rising Sun would the Far East be able to Celebrate an Intoxicating Exotic Erotic Confection without Equal if in Search for Almighty Perfection.

                And yes, I do realise that is extremely cryptic, almost to the point of being mistaken as crazily nonsensical, but whereas the former most certainly is extremely cryptic, it is definitely not the latter and crazily nonsensical.

                Such is just the way things are turning out to be readily available in upcoming futures and their derivative present options for mass media hostings and universal postings.

                As you can imagine, that is worst imaginable nightmare for the likes of a BBC if they have only an alternative terrestrial based agenda enabled to push and pimp/produce and dump ye olde doom and gloom in service of intellectually challenged, politically incorrect and inept and corrupting bankrupting establishments.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Novel... ...Civilisations


                  nah, just funny reading. sorry, dear lurker, there's no allusion with the national symbol, just underlining the kamikaze way in doing of the doing as a result of maddening and degrading of some certainities awakened by the solar fever.

                  adding specially that this open message does not mention the persons present in Reg's comments secition.

         tequila jazz winter sun

                  faster redistributing undercore content from the center of eurasia as the spinning top is inclined to stone boozed with the sun falling the moon away, would be truly a counter-dionitian tactic.

         the ventures wipe out japanese reaction

                  though, sitting praying and refreshing the the most ancient wordplay this time is another recipe to keep the face palm, inspite of still fewer pairs of eyes to see it and less mouths to speak prayer or damnation left.

         dm nothing

                  rsvp, etc

                  1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

                    Re: Novel... ...Civilisations

                    Howdy, AC, Thanks for stopping by, and freely sharing what you know. It is wonderfully revealing.

                    With particular and peculiar regard to .....

                    That message, loaded with computer viruses, is a more efficient way to attack our planet than a fleet of warships, a team of German and American scientists said.

                    It could shut down our computer systems or gift us the plans to an alien technology that will eventually turn on us.

                    "After all, it is cheaper to send a malicious message to eradicate humans compared to sending battleships," researchers from the University of Hawaii and Sonneberg Observatory in Germany wrote in a paper on their theory. .....

                    ..... which, in the last paragraph, appears to envisage smarter aliens mimicking idiotic humans who send malicious messages sending battleships to make wars which have ignorant dumb and dangerous arrogant animals doing vain battle against themselves which destroy themselves and their homes and their ways of life, and what sort of a pathetic psychopathic excuse for a human being would ever think that a smart final solution to initiate and exercise, is admittedly certainly easily feasible and something to be constantly worried about and terrified by if that is your chosen bent.

                    However, if one were to look on the brighter side of life, bearing in mind that they could shut down and/or take over computer systems with efficient viruses and Remote Access Trojans, you might like to think then, whenever they be so much smarter than humans, they would gift you the plans to an alien technology that will eventually turn y'all on.

                    Which path would you prefer they take, should you have that available choice to make to survive and prosper or crash and burn? Exciting Creative Fun and Greater IntelAIgent Gamesplay or Clinically Depressing Doom and Increasingly Destructive Gloom ‽ .

                    Happy New Year ... С Новым Годом ..... 新年快樂 ..... 明けましておめでとうございます ..... Frohes neues Jahr ....... Gelukkig nieuwjaar .......สวัสดีปีใหม่ ....... א גוט געבענטשט יאר

  2. Mike Lewis

    Brave Browser

    I use Brave instead of Chrome as the latter goes into a loop when the CPU is pegged at 100% and there is hardly any free memory.

    1. Mike Lewis

      Re: Brave Browser

      After starting Chrome with computer already maxed out:

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Open testing...

    So they're flogging it, but want community support to test it for them to save money.

    What are they giving back?

  4. Murphy's Lawyer

    "Cookies and trackers are, however, all allowed. "This needs to change," agreed Wombwell, "but isn't a priority when compared to getting websites going."

    Because bolting security on at the end of a project is always easier and cheaper than building it in at the start. Of course, if you're building for clients who want to track everything the paying customers do because their PII is so much more valuable than their cash, you're golden.

  5. Darth.0

    No browsing history...

    But you have to enter the address from the command line.

    1. Psmo

      Re: No browsing history...

      Sooooo... history editing with .bash_history? Interresting...

  6. Barry Mahon

    A definite up arrow for The Reg

    The best part, because it doesn't contain any jokes, are the comments. To a retired tech such as meself they are mostly comprehensible.

    My takeaway, this is a technically interesting development device. It does some of what it should say on the tin. However, however brave the developers are, they will never satisfy certain Reg nerds.

  7. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    Firefox chasing it's tail

    Firefox (current) doesn't support many of the extensions which I have used for years, so I've stuck with v53. uBlocked, firewalled, noscripted; it's secure enough for me.

    1. illiad

      Re: Firefox chasing it's tail

      If you want to use the old type of extension/addon, try these..

      "Pale Moon is based on a derivative of the Gecko rendering engine (Goanna) and builds on a hard fork of the Mozilla code (mozilla-central) called UXP, a XUL-focused platform that provides the underpinnings of several XUL applications including Pale Moon. This means that the core rendering functions for Pale Moon and Firefox (and rebuilds) will be a relatively close match and that functionality in the Gecko core code"

      "Basilisk is a free and Open Source XUL-based web browser, featuring the well-known Firefox-style interface and operation. It is based on the Goanna layout and rendering engine (a fork of Gecko) and builds on the Unified XUL Platform (UXP), which in turn is a fork of the Mozilla code base without Servo or Rust."

      -- this means it has the good parts of the new mozilla , but not the bad..

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My requirement

    "Our roadmap," he added, "is quite dependent on customer requirements."

    My requirement is that it be open source so it can be audited.

    1. jtaylor Bronze badge

      Re: My requirement

      My requirement is that it be open source so it can be audited.

      I assume you mean a security audit. That doesn't relate to the software license. Plenty of closed-source software gets audited for security, and plenty of open-source software does not get audited.

      If you're offering to perform the security audit, just contact Ekioh.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My requirement

        Er, no, I mean a source code audit, so its non-slurping can be verified.

  9. PhilipN


    Place Up North same name.

    "serves the Penistone and Hallam lines"

    How apt.

    Either that or someone's having a laugh.

  10. Ozan

    Some reason I remembered the 20% myth post from joel on software. Joel said that everybody has a different set of 20% of the features.

  11. Lomax


    I see several people in this thread contorting themselves to defend excessive use of JavaScript - they are either lazy, ignorant or both. Please read and digest the relevant standards and you'll see that much of what you think can only be done with JS has already been addressed in HTML, CSS and HTTP. Not only that - there is elegance, pragmatism and restraint. If you think JavaScript is the answer you've likely misunderstood the question. Certainly leaving the user with a blank page because he doesn't want to run your scripts is just plain rude. The web is not only for man, but also for machine - and for man not only for the sighted and able bodied. Bet you've never even heard of tabindex.

    Makes me glad to be out of the web development game; we would hate each other if we had to work together.

    1. illiad

      Re: Indefensible

      Lomax, By javascript, are you talking about something else, that is not controlled by this add on??

      many others, depending on ease of use..

      The following websites work ok, except some have limited functionality and look similar to that displayed on an Android phone..


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