Why Epiphany isn’t my default browser (and how that just changed)

GNOME has a collection of highly integrated applications that follows the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines and, for me, many of them aren’t quite useful. That’s pretty sad. Actually, that’s the reason that motivated me to start working with GNOME – to make the apps be useful to me, and craft new ones if they don’t exist.

One of the GNOME apps I love but I just can’t use is Epiphany. I enjoy a lot it’s UI, I absolutely love the ability to create custom “apps” from websites, et cetera, but it wasn’t useful to me up to now and the reasons are the following:

  • I couldn’t watch videos on YouTube and other video websites, since it would set my computer’s volume to 100%.
  • I couldn’t open Google+ (which is my only social network & enhanced feed reader) and many other pages, since the page would just freeze.
  • I couldn’t edit Google Drive files or write an article on my website’s WordPress editor, since the keybindings simply didn’t work. Epiphany’s keybindings override the page’s ones.

Yesterday I enabled the [gnome-unstable] repository for Arch and, to my surprise, it already had the packages epiphany 3.18.0webkit2gtk 2.10.0-1. “Great, lemme try that!”, I thought. Downloaded the packages, installed them and opened Epiphany.

Epiphany 3.18 - first run

“Cool, that’s Epiphany 3.18. So, lemme try… WHOA“. Google+ just worked again. Refresh the page to see if it freezes. No. Refresh 5 more times. Still working. “Can’t be true, let me try YouTube”. The system volume wasn’t touched. Refresh the video page. Still not touched.


My heart was freaking out. Epiphany definitely would be my default browser again. The last big issue was Google Drive document editor. “Let’s try it! Oh no“, it didn’t work. Seems like Epiphany still overrides the page’s keybindings.

But, but! No, it can’t be like that. I’ll get my hands dirty and fix this annoying issue. And so, this just happened. You can try this patch and see if it works. That’s actually my first patch for Epiphany!

First wordpress post with Ephy

And so, let’s celebrate: this is my first blog post entirely written in Epiphany. And it’s my default browser again.

28 thoughts on “Why Epiphany isn’t my default browser (and how that just changed)

  1. I too am in the process of making Epiphany my default browser. I’m using the one that comes with Fedora 22, 3.16, so I too experience the video volume issue.

    I have only one true blocker to adoption: when using a SOCKS5 proxy, Epiphany still leaks DNS queries. But it is my understanding that a patch is about to land that will fix this and the DNS queries will be tunneled as well.

    That is a must-have, but my wishlist for Epiphany includes: finer control over blocking unwanted content, and full control over what appears on the “overview” when opening a new tab (I would rather have a static set of links there instead of “Most Visited”).

    I also would like it to render Pivotal Tracker’s pages, since I have to use that website regularly for work. Your experience with 3.18 and Google+ gives me hope that the next version of Epiphany might render it.

    Epiphany is a beautiful and elegant browser that is well-integrated with GNOME, I really look forward to its evolution!


  2. Thanks so much for the fix georges! every bullet you had in this post,I nodded – these are the exact issues that also prevents me from using Epiphany full-time.
    My old laptop uses firefox primarily, but on my new laptop I am running Epiphany as main browser with Chrome as backup when websites don’t work or set my volume to 100%.


  3. Georges, this is great news. I still hope for the day epiphany can stand own as a solid web browser.
    I noticed on sites heavy with ads (flash based to be more precise), epiphany was prone to crash.
    Facebook was also sluggish loading the different pop ups.

    It would be good if you coud post after a month or so your experience with the stability of the browser.
    Looking forward to gnome 3.18 in fedora 23.


  4. Ah, the infamous volume bug! It took me a lot of discussion and try to find a solution that wouldn’t compromise all things that needed to be taken into account. You can read the whole discussion at https://bugs.webkit.org/show_bug.cgi?id=118974, but I can summarize it as:
    * WebKitGTK+ has to work with whichever GStreamer volume element is taken.
    * If that element is pulse, pulse can come with or without flat volumes.
    * We could add a GStreamer volume element to avoid the issue and we would loose any integration with GNOME regarding volume.
    * Audio passthrough would go away
    * HTML5 spec says that the default volume for a media element is 1.0 (100%) but the user agent (a.k.a.) the browser can keep the former volume (final solution we took). Anyway, if a page decides to set 1.0 we can’t do anything and we have to comply, which obviously can be a PITA if you put it together with the flat volumes feature of Pulseaudio.

    It wasn’t easy at all and it is still a PITA in some cases but if I had fixed it any other way I would get tons of different complains 😀


      1. Simplifying, flat volumes make the concept of system volume disappear so volumes are no longer relative to a system volume but to 100% of the sound card.


  5. I hate when the website overrides my shortcuts, so I get fucked up each time I open github and my shortcuts do random stupid stuff when I use my shortcuts

    I think using the browser as operating system is stupid (to be polite). it costs much ram and cpu load and is often slow if you dont use your gaming rick for office work, but even worse each website has his own shortcuts and has its own often bad design.

    The typical example is webmail, because I dont use it anymore I can easily switch to a different vendor without loosing my gui. I can manage severeal account with one gui and its more secure (my dad got his account “hacked’ because he used webmail on the hotels pc).

    The only reason this browser-nonsense is a thing, is because this companies want to sell ads and they want to vendor lockin us, and they want to advertise their coopaprate identity.

    I am a user so I have no interest in eating the shit, that the companies like.

    I have a theme that changes through the day, I cant do that on the 20 websites I am or only with much much effort. I cant use on them my own functions and if so I must develop them for each site seperatly. not even getting information from sides is easy because you cant query the dbs you have to write a webscraper program for each site.

    Why cant we have on top of newssites or forums and stuff like that not some standardised protocols like imap.

    So far I know its a bit offtopic, but my issue is never a topic because nobody seems to question if websites instead of special protocols or as adition is a good idea. I guess 90% of all people would not even get pissed if all mail vendors would close imap.

    like youtube with only getting rss with passwords nowadays.

    So far with my rant 🙂


  6. I’ve managed to make qupzilla my default browser on KDE Plasma 5. It loads G+ fine and no issues with Google drive. The lastpass bookmarklet even works just as well (for me) as the Firefox/chrome plugin. The only thing not working properly is full screen html5 videos on YouTube, though it works elsewhere. WebKit is pretty solid.


  7. The Volume-Bug is fixed? Thanks!
    Page Freeze, too? Yeah!

    Epiphany is already my default browser and competes well with Firefox 🙂

    The last thing I really want to see change is the address bar, it is not a input field by default and isn’t clearly “visible” as address bar since 3.16. That is bad design decision, because the web is navigated by addresses and make epiphany difficult the use for newbies (where I can enter the address?) and profressionals (what the heck? why i can edit the address directly).


  8. I have a question regarding Facebook. The Akamai server distributed resources that Facebook uses are broken in GNOME 3.16 and earlier for me on Debian. Debian hasn’t yet released 3.18 for Epiphany but they have the WebKit 2.10 backend.

    Is the Certificates problem with TLS not a valid cert an issue with a separate part of GNOME that WebKit2/GNOME Epiphany relies on or within the browser itself, and whichever it is can it be addressed.

    Any Facebook property has the same issues. It has to to with the TLS certs crap with Debian and somehow Akamai is not recognized as a trusted source.


  9. The main reason I abandoned Epiphany was that adblock didn’t work properly, and that there was no noscript plugin (oh, and that it kept crashing on me when I opened 30+ tabs at once). Has this been remedied? If so I’d love to return to epiphany.


  10. Holy crap, you actually did it. You fixed the keyboard shortcut bug.

    I first started experiencing that like three years ago, but the Epiphany devs ignored my bug report and my asking about it on IRC. -_-;


  11. i have upgraded to fedora 23 (beta) along with epiphany 3.18.0. my webkitgtk is 2.4.9-3 (for version 3) with webkitgtk4 at 2.10.0-1. the volume on embedded youtube videos does spike to full still.

    in addition, i lost the ability for slack to render. we use it for work communication. (i probably need to run it from cli to see what’s going on.)

    i really want epiphany to be my end-all browser too. chrome is nice but overloads my system given enough time.


  12. Epiphany never works for me, it is slow crashes, and horrible when it try to scroll webpages, it hangs , opera is my favorite works fine without any issues, is epiphany designed for nvidia cards ?


  13. Is it still your default browser after almost five months?

    I’ve tried using GNOME Web’s installable web-apps for some always-open tab/web-apps I use, but it would crash or become unresponsive way too often. to be useful. The lack of pinned tabs and tab isolation through multi-processing really meant that Web just didn’t work out for me.


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