Vivaldi, the “new” Google Chrome alternative – a powerful browser rediscovered

Vivaldi is a fast, features-packed Google Chrome derived browser that is great for power users who opens 10 -15 tabs at once anytime!

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Commentary (Jun 11, 2018): For over 8 months, I have not been able to upgrade Vivaldi on my old Linux (Ubuntu-derived LXLE). There is a file that is needed but not updated in the distribution. So far, I could still use Vivaldi without any issue but am afraid that as more security updates come along, I will have to switch from Vivaldi if I cannot use Gmail etc.

I have been using Firefox as my main browser since Google decided that it would not be supporting Google Chrome for Linux  about a year or so ago. I am a Linux user by choice and am writing this piece using my son’s hand-me-down, a Dell Inspiron 1520 of 2007 vintage. I use LXLE, a lightweight distribution of the famed Ubuntu (which itself has grown very heavy for older personal computers) which is very suited for “ancient” personal computers.

I tried Google’s open source browser, Chromium which is still being maintained for Linux. For some reasons that I could not figure out, it refused to run after installation on my other “younger” laptop, a Toshiba Protege T210 (a couple of years younger than the Dell Inspiron) which is also powered by LXLE.

The reason for me wanting to use the latest Google Chrome is simple, a lot of modern websites just do not load properly or render well in older version of the browser. Although Firefox was good, lately it has become sluggish and often crashed. As I do most of my work, especially writing using Google Docs and data crunching using Google Sheets, Firefox had become very unreliable lately.

I tried using Opera. It somehow does not have full compatibility with Google Chrome and some of the websites and web apps just did not work well and like Firefox, it got to be very sluggish at times. I knew if I wanted to keep up my productivity, I would need to find a solution to my browser problem and do so fast!

Then I found (or rather rediscovered) Vivaldi Browser which I briefly heard of in 2015. Unlike Opera which has some issues with full Google Chrome / Chromium compatibility in terms of rendering some websites with heavy scripts and apps, I found Vivaldi intuitive, fast, and easy to use.

Vivaldi which was launched in March 2015 by Jon von Tetzchner, Opera’s former CEO, has a lot of features for people like me, those who open 10 – 15 tabs at one go and doing lots of research, writing, number crunching etc. fully online, aka the power users!

Although I still experience periodic slow response from my mouse and keyboard while “Vivaldi-ing” when I have more than 10 tabs opened, it is a darn sight better than the fully unresponsiveness I encounter when using Firefox or Opera. The full Chrome pedigree of Vivaldi means that anything that works on Google Chrome Store will be game for Vivaldi. So if you fancy any extension that you had been using on Google Chrome, it should work on Vivaldi.

For the very “tech” focused readers, there is a blow-by-blow “Opera vs Vivaldi” by Slant. I just learned from Slant’s article that Vivaldi allows one to stack up tabs which is handy when doing research by putting related content etc. together for ease of reference and location. Another Vivaldi’s feature that is great for people doing lots of research online is the “Note” function which allows you to take notes about a site you are visiting, copy the link, copy selected area and even take a snapshot of the site.

One feature of Vivaldi that Windows users may not be excited about but Linux users like me will, is the “Screen Capture” function at the bottom right of Vivaldi’s panel. It comes in very handy when you want to capture stuff you see online that you need for your research. The feature picture of this article was captured using this function and I got a choice of doing the entire page or just the selected area. In this case, I had chosen the latter. Now there is no need for me to run an external screen capture software then do an “Alt-Tab” to make sure I get back to my browser to do a F11 (full size) then repeat “Alt-Tab” to set up screen capture software to work. I did install some third party’s extension to do screen capture which worked.  But this extension also added on additional weight to Firefox (and slowed it down). For Vivaldi, I do not think I need to install any extension at this stage!

The ability for me to see how a site I am visiting is loading on the status bar which is no longer present in many other browsers is yet another feature of Vivaldi that I like. It tells you how big a chunk of data you are consuming and how much of it you are loading. Also, when using Vivaldi, you will not be bombarded with advertisements like some other browsers.

You can download Vivaldi at its website. Vivaldi has cross platform compatibility which means that you can run it on Windows, Mac and Linux. It is just too bad for Android users that there is not yet an Android version for Vivaldi! If you signup for an account, you will also be given an email account from Vivaldi that allows you access to many of the community postings etc. that were the “key features” which were taken off from Opera. One article said that Vivaldi’s service which is rolled out of Iceland, a country that has one of the world’s toughest privacy protection law. domain by itself offers a very attractive feature for users who seek to protect their privacy while sending and receiving emails!

Let us hope that I will not need to revise this article often and that Vivaldi as a project will continue to bring work efficiency for users like me.

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