How To Install NetSurf Browser on Linux

If you are getting frustrated with the increasingly bloated Firefox, you can try NetSurf browser, which is a fast, lightweight Web browser.

NetSurf is a free and open source Web browser licensed under GPL v2, available for Linux, Unix, RISC OS, Haiku, Amiga OS and Atari. It uses its own rendering engine, written from scratch, instead of using existing rendering engines such as WebKit, Blink or Gecko.

The latest stable version is NetSurf 3.5 which is release on April 14, 2016.This tutorial shows how to install NetSurf browser on Linux, including Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Arch Linux.

Install NetSurf Browser on Debian/Ubuntu 16.04/14.04/Linux Mint/Elementary OS

NetSurf is in Debian and Ubuntu repository, so users using a Debian-based distro can install it using the below command:

sudo apt-get install netsurf-gtk


Once installed, you can launch it from Unity Dash, application menu or by typing the following command in the terminal.



Install NetSurf Browser on Arch Linux

NetSurf is in Arch Linux community repository, so you can install it with pacman.

sudo pacman -S netsurf

Compile and Install NetSurf Browser on OpenSUSE and Fedora

Download NetSurf source code from Once downloaded, open a terminal window and navigate to the download folder, then extract the tarball with the following command.

tar xvf netsurf*.tar.gz

After that go to the newly created netsurf-all-3.5 directory.

cd netsurf-all-3.5/

Install build dependencies


sudo zypper install make bison libexpat-devel gperf flex libpng16-compat-devel libpng16-devel libcurl-devel gtk2-devel libjpeg62-devel


sudo dnf install make bison gperf flex libcurl-devel gtk2-devel openssl-devel libjpeg-turbo-devel

Compile the source code and install NetSurf browser


sudo make install

Fast and Lightweight

NetSurf is fast and light on RAM usage. As can be seen from the screenshot below, Firefox munches up 124.4MiB memory whereas NetSurf browser only consumes 21.8 MiB while both browsers opens a single tab. You save a lot of memory when opening multiple tabs.

ram usage netsurf vs firefox

Enable JavaScript

JavaScript is disabled by default. To enable it, go to Edit > Preferences > Content, then check Enable JavaScript.

enable JavaScript in NetSurf Browser

Simple and Casual Browsing

NetSurf Browser is suited for casual browsing of simple, text-oriented sites like Wikipedia and Reddit. If you want to use Netsurf to browse those sites using bleeding edge technologies, you will be disappointed because NetSurf has limited support for the latest and greatest Web technologies. Here’s how looks in NertSurf Browser. The jQuery slider on my other site just don’t work at all.

simple and casual browsing with NetSurf

Because it’s designed for simple Web browsing, you don’t get as much functions as you can get from Firefox or Google Chrome.For instance, I was trying to configure Socks5 proxy in NetSurf, but only to find that it supports only HTTP proxy, although I can always use proxychains to redirect any program to go through a Socks proxy on Linux.

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