Even though Firefox is the default browser on the desktop version of Ubuntu, there's another option included in System->Default Applications.

Default Application shows option "Browser"

Enabling this option brings up "Ubuntu Web Browser" with no titlebar menu and only a number of options in a small menu.

Ubuntu Web Browser with only menu

However, there's no information about what this browser is, what web engine it's based on, or even who built it (obviously we can presume it's Canonical, but then, why not say that somewhere?). There's no "About" in the menu, either.

The process appears to be called webbrowser-app. Calling webbbrowser-app --help yields some command-line options, but still no actual information.

$ webbrowser-app --help
Usage: webbrowser-app [-h|--help] [--fullscreen] [--maximized] [--inspector] [--app-id=APP_ID] [--new-session] [URL]
  -h, --help         display this help message and exit
  --fullscreen       display full screen
  --maximized        opens the application maximized
  --inspector[=PORT] run a remote inspector on a specified port or 9221 as the default port
  --app-id=APP_ID    run the application with a specific APP_ID
  --new-session      do not restore open tabs from the last session

And there's no man page either:

$ man webbrowser-app
No manual entry for webbrowser-app
See 'man 7 undocumented' for help when manual pages are not available.

Where is the information on this software?

  • You could also have looked at the user agent, in 17.04 it's Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Ubuntu 17.04) AppleWebKit/537.36 Chromium/57.0.2987.110 Safari/537.36 – cat Jun 1 '17 at 15:50
  • @cat How would I do that as a user? – tu-Reinstate Monica-dor duh Jun 1 '17 at 23:10
  • DuckDuckGo does it for you: ddg.gg/?q=what+is+my+user+agent, as well as a site like whoishostingthis.com/tools/user-agent. I happen to have a web server running already that I can readily modify though – cat Jun 1 '17 at 23:22
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    @cat Even still, that's actually wrong. The correct answer is below. The User Agent string is really telling you its compatibility and platform, not its packager and origin. – tu-Reinstate Monica-dor duh Jun 1 '17 at 23:31
  • Yes, the Oxide browser uses a chromium (webkit) frame, thus it is Yet Another Chromium Fork (YACF) and that's all there is to it. The lack of information about the app itself is another matter from what it is running, i'm not saying otherwise (?) – cat Jun 1 '17 at 23:42

This is the browser designed for Ubuntu Touch.

It's designed for touch screen devices, and is not very intuitive when used with a keyboard or mouse. It's designed to be swiped with your finger.

This browser is a lightweight UI on top of the Oxide browser engine. The Oxide browser engine is just a web view control allowing a Chromium web view to be embedded in other apps. So, technically, it is webkit based.

It's only relatively recently that it's been included in the desktop editions of Ubuntu, and was never really intended to be used much on a traditional desktop, which may explain (but not excuse) the relative lack of documentation.

  • It's been around since 14.04. Not very recent. – muru Mar 18 '16 at 2:56
  • "never intended to...", that might also explain, somehow, why it crashes Gnome desktop or at least mostly freezes the UI. I dont' know if it is useful on a touch device. On a desktop system it ranges somewhere between useless and nuisance. When not using Unity I recommend apt purge unity-webapps-common to get rid of it. – Hinz Dec 10 '18 at 8:39

The browser is called Oxide (blog post announcing it).

How can Canonical be so remiss in providing no manpage, no "About", and no general information on how or what this software actually is?

File a bug.

  • The browser isn't called Oxide, it's a browser that is based on the Oxide library. – thomasrutter Oct 23 '17 at 21:43
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    @thomasrutter the actual browser is just called "web browser" iirc ... which isn't the most useful term for searching – muru Oct 24 '17 at 0:50

I'll answer only on your first question:

Where is the information on this software?

I've been able to find the information about this software easily, using the native "Ubuntu Software" app: I found this "Browser" in the list of installed apps. It's said there:


Browse the World Wide Web

A lightweight web browser tailored for Ubuntu, based on the Oxide browser engine and using the Ubuntu UI components.

This is not much info, but this is all that was there.

BTW, by googling its description I immediately found an article mentioning it on Ubuntu Help Wiki pages and its project on Canonical's Launchpad (and the Oxide project too).

  • "Googling its descripton" -- how would you describe it? – tu-Reinstate Monica-dor duh Jul 11 '17 at 2:40
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    It's also installed by default, so the idea of finding that information in another application (Software Center) is foreign to me because I've always used apt from the command line. – tu-Reinstate Monica-dor duh Jul 11 '17 at 2:41
  • @tudor, by "googling its description" I meant "to search the found description ("A lightweight web browser tailored for Ubuntu, based on the Oxide browser engine and using the Ubuntu UI components.") in Google Search". – whyer Jul 11 '17 at 3:49
  • @tudor, I agree with you that a browser should have some info about it inside itself, I simply answered your question "where is the information on this software" BTW, if you're using apt, as you just said, you could also run apt-cache show webbrowser-app. It reports the same: "Description-en: Ubuntu web browser A lightweight web browser tailored for Ubuntu, based on the Oxide browser engine and using the Ubuntu UI components.` I just googled "apt get package description" and found it here – whyer Jul 11 '17 at 3:50

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