The Best Browser You’re Not Using

Sean Davis
7 min readMay 23, 2024

Vivaldi may be the last browser that cares about its users.

The Vivaldi logo overlays the Vivaldi Aurora wallpaper.
Attribution: Vivaldi Technologies. CC-BY-4.0 (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

Has your favorite browser recently let you down or get on your nerves? Are sites not rendering correctly? Has the integrated AI nonsense gone too far? Or maybe your browser doesn’t innovate anymore and feels incredibly dated next to every other option? If this is you, maybe it’s time to try something different. Enter Vivaldi.

Let’s get some things out of the way. First, Vivaldi used the Blink web engine. Second, it’s not fully open source. If these are non-negotiable, then this article isn’t for you. See you next time! ;) If you’re still here, great! Let me explain why the Chromium-based, mostly open-source browser deserves your attention.

Chromium means compatibility

Sorry to the Firefox faithful, but with less than 3% market share (as of 5/18/2024), Firefox and its Gecko web engine aren’t a priority for web developers and haven’t been for years. Chromium-based browsers, including Vivaldi, use the Blink web engine instead, a fork of the venerable Webkit engine used by Safari (and itself a fork of KDE’s KHTML web engine!). With Blink and Webkit-based browsers representing over 90% of all web traffic, development is focused on supporting these engines.

A focus on features…

Vivaldi is loaded with features. Maybe even to the point of being “bloated.” It has integrated ad- and tracker-blocking on desktop and mobile, even iOS. On mobile, opening a link from another app will ask if you want to open the link in a private tab. It has the most extensive tab grouping and tiling of any browser or extension (two-level tabs are a must-have!). Web panels let you pin any website in the side panel. It supports mouse gestures, keyboard shortcuts, quick commands (a la the VS Code command pallete), and command chains (fully custom shortcuts and automation). It even has integrated email and calendar clients! And every single feature is optional and configurable.

A screenshot of Vivaldi on iOS. A link has been opened from another app. Vivaldi shows a dialog asking the user to open the link either Vivaldi Private or Vivaldi.
Vivaldi on iOS will ask if you want to open links from other apps in a private tab.

Despite its wealth of features, Vivaldi performs like a champ. It starts and loads pages quickly, not eating up your computer’s memory. With nearly every feature you could want in a browser, there’s little need to install extensions. If Linus Tech Tips is to be believed, (and they brought the receipts), not installing those extensions might save you tons of memory! However, if you still need extensions, Vivaldi is compatible with most extensions from the Chrome Web Store.

A screenshot of the two-level tab feature in Vivaldi. The first row of tabs is ungrouped. The second row of tabs are all related to the Vivaldi website.
This is a two-level tab stack in Vivaldi. This feature makes tab management easier than ever if you’re working on several projects or doing research.

… the right features

Let’s start with artificial intelligence (AI). Browser interfaces, right-click menus, text entries and more have been stuffed to the brim with inescapable AI features. If you’re using Edge or Windows, you’ve already been bombarded by Microsoft’s insistence on injecting Copilot into every corner of its software. Brave users have already been introduced to Leo. Chrome was recently “supercharged with AI.” Not even Firefox is safe, as Mozilla focuses on bringing “trustworthy AI into Firefox.” Vivaldi isn’t interested, as they write about the “right thing to do”:

So, as we have seen, LLMs are essentially confident-sounding lying machines with a penchant to occasionally disclose private data or plagiarise existing work. While they do this, they also use vast amounts of energy and are happy using all the GPUs you can throw at them which is a problem we’ve seen before in the field of cryptocurrencies.

Speaking of cryptocurrencies, how about integrating them with your browser? Brave has made it a central part of its identity with the Brave Attention Token (BAT) and integrated wallet features. Opera also features an integrated wallet, though this feature is less marketed now than in years past (1) (2). Good job, Opera. As for Vivaldi, they’re fundamentally opposed to the whole thing:

The entire crypto fantasy is designed to lure you into a system that is extremely inefficient, consumes vast amounts of energy, uses large amounts of hardware that could better be spent doing something else and will quite often result in the average person losing any money they might put into it.

A focus on community

Vivaldi wears its community focus on its sleeve. When you visit vivaldi.net, you’re first greeted by Vivaldo CEO Jón von Tetzchner (more on him later), who welcomes you to the community site. Next, you learn about Vivaldi Social, their hosted Mastodon instance. Finally, you will see some popular topics from the Vivaldi Forum and featured themes.

A screenshot of the Vivaldi browser, browsing vivaldi.net.
Visit vivaldi.net to access community resources, start a blog, or join their Mastodon instance.

Vivaldi also actively engages with the Linux community. Open Vivaldi on any system, and the Human and Issuna themes are among the default options. The Human theme has existed for a long time and is immediately familiar to longtime Ubuntu fans. The Issuna theme was added in 2021 for Manjaro. Manjaro Cinnamon replaced Firefox with Vivaldi as its default browser that same year. Visit their Linux partner page to learn how to integrate Vivaldi with your Linux distribution.

A screenshot of Vivaldi’s theme preferences. 10 unique themes are included by default.
Vivaldi ships with various default themes, including Human and Issuna, for Ubuntu and Manjaro Cinnamon.

Vivaldi has even embraced Flatpak as a supported distribution method. It joins Brave and Firefox in treating Flatpak as a first-class citizen.

Made by the right people

Vivaldi’s CEO, Jón von Tetzchner, has been involved in the web browser scene for 30 years, starting development on the Opera browser in 1994. Tetzchner served as CEO of Opera Software through 2009, ultimately leaving the company in 2011 after being at odds with management. During his tenure, Opera was impactful as the first mainstream browser featuring a tabbed interface and uniquely found on mobile phones, video game consoles, and other novel devices. Tetzchner would later co-found Vivaldi with his long-time colleague Tatsuki Tomita.

Vivaldi has a concise mission statement that reflects their values as a company with a singular goal:

We’re building a browser that is powerful, personal and private. A browser that adapts to you, not the other way around.

And guiding principles that reflect the humanity that should exist in any software company:

Respect each other, question everything, be creative and get things done.

With this solid foundation, employee ownership, and no outside investors, Vivaldi has welcomed over 3.1 million active users and over 1.6 million community members.

Contrasting the competition

Vivaldi may be the last browser that cares about its users. Here are a few examples of why the others have let their users down and how Vivaldi treats its users differently.

  • Google Chrome: The current king of web browsers harvests your user data, tracks you across the web, and uses your data for advertising purposes. Vivaldi does not track you.
  • Brave Browser: The “browser that puts you first” puts cryptocurrency second, integrating and aggressively promoting the technology with a profoundly negative environmental impact. Vivaldi is fundamentally against crypto.
  • Microsoft Edge: The “AI-powered browser” has made numerous improvements over Chrome to make it more user- and privacy-focused. This is great, as long as you want to use Edge. However, Microsoft frequently disregards user choice on Windows, opening Edge even when it's not your chosen default browser (1) (2) (3). Vivaldi is a champion of user choice.
  • Mozilla Firefox: Firefox is sold as the “fast, lightweight, privacy-focused browser that works across all your devices.” It has long been a champion of privacy-focused features and, when configured correctly, easily beats out the competition in this area. Performance is different, with Firefox having the most inconsistent performance between various hardware and operating systems. Moreover, the focus on privacy (and maybe performance) has left usability behind. Users coming from another browser with tab grouping and other niceties will be disappointed with Firefox. Vivaldi is “supercharged and super fast” with “privacy by design” that works across all your devices, even your car!
  • Opera: With a bold claim to be “faster, safer and smarter than default browsers,” Opera comes out swinging against Microsoft Edge and Safari. They have a slight advantage with cryptomining and paste protections, but their other benefits are largely available on Edge and Safari. Notably, they don’t have a comparison page for Vivaldi. There’s also been no shortage of controversy (and response) since Opera was sold in 2016. Again, Vivaldi is “supercharged and super fast” with “privacy by design.”
  • Safari: “Blazing fast. Incredibly private.” Apple declared Safari the world’s fastest browser in 2023 based on standard testing (JetStream, MotionMark, and Speedometer benchmarks) against Chrome, Edge, and Firefox across multiple devices and operating systems. Safari also features Intelligent Tracking Protection to “stop trackers in their tracks” and a raft of security enhancements. Vivaldi shares their love for performance and privacy with the added benefit of cross-platform support. Safari is only available on Apple devices, while Vivaldi can be installed on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.

I keep coming back to Vivaldi

I’ve been a bit of a “browser hopper” in recent months, switching between Brave, Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Vivaldi. I keep running into issues that make me switch. Brave has been less reliable on macOS recently. Chrome was comfortable until I had my regular workload of tabs open, and then it slowed to a RAM-gobbling crawl. With Edge, the Copilot and AI suggestions showing up everywhere pushed me away. Firefox was enjoyable until I had too many tabs to manage effectively. And Vivaldi is, honestly, a bit ugly… Its non-native appearance looks out of place on every system. But in the end, the browser works and does everything I need. It’s safe to say that I’m here to stay.

Are you still feeling the web browser woes? It may be time to get a better browser. Try Vivaldi and get a browser made by a team that respects you.

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Sean Davis

Web developer, Xubuntu technical lead, and free software advocate. Opinions are my own. Writing about software and technology. Find me at https://bluesabre.org