The Licensing and Compliance Lab interviews David Rosca of QupZilla
QupZilla, currently at version 2.1.2, is a free software Web browser using the new and very fast QtWebEngine browser. It aims to be a lightweight Web browser available through all major platforms. This project was originally started only for educational purposes by a lone developer, David Rosca, and since then, QupZilla has grown into a feature-rich browser. QupZilla has all of the standard functions you expect from a Web browser. It includes bookmarks, history (including a sidebar view), and tabs. Above that, it has ad-blocking enabled by default with a built-in plugin. Over time, this one-man project has grown to include numerous contributors.
What was the educational purpose that QupZilla was started for?
When I started working on QupZilla (before it actually had a name), I had no prior experience with programming desktop applications. In fact, my only experience with programming involved simple websites written in PHP. I decided to learn how to write desktop apps, and with that, I needed some project to work on. At that time, I had some performance issues with GNU/Linux Web browsers, so I decided to try creating my own browser.
I didn't have much hopes for it to take off, so I didn't even think much about its name. Users sometimes wonder what does the QupZilla name mean, and if it has some association with Mozilla. The truth is, my imagination for these things is not great, so I just made a bizarre combination of Qt (qute) and zilla. Maybe it would be better if I had come up with different name, but it's too late now.
How are people using QupZilla?
Even though QupZilla uses a modern rendering engine and displays most of the pages correctly, there are of course compatibility issues, whether it's incompatibility with the specific site (changing User-Agent may help in this case) or a problem on the QupZilla side. While there are users that use QupZilla as their primary browser, I myself see its potential as a secondary browser due to its speed. But I can't really tell how people are using it, because there is no tracking/telemetry or anything like that in QupZilla. I don't like any form of spying on users, and I'm sure QupZilla's users feel the same about it. Since the beginning, some GNU/Linux distributions decided to ship QupZilla as their default Web browser. Chances are, there are users reading this article from QupZilla without actually knowing about it.
What features do you think really sets QupZilla apart from other browsers?
One thing that makes QupZilla appealing for GNU/Linux users is that it is based on Qt framework and thus integrates very well in Qt desktops, unlike other "big" browsers that all are based on GTK. Another feature, which is now being discussed by other big browsers but wasn't the case in the last few years, is an advertisement blocker included and enabled by default. This makes the Web pages clean, but most importantly speeds up loading noticeably. With regards to the ability to customize the browser to each user's tastes, it provides a lot of options in preferences. I won't be naming them here, but users should discover them for themselves. It also supports extensions, although it doesn't have compatibility with extensions from other browsers. Despite that, there are very useful extensions available, including the AutoScroll plugin, a TabManager plugin allowing you to effectively move tabs to the side, and also the very popular GreaseMonkey plugin for userscripts.
Why did you choose the GPLv3 as QupZilla's license?
Well, I'm not really experienced in legal stuff. I simply chose GPLv3 because of its popularity, and it perfectly suiting my needs. It is important for me that it enforces copyleft, by giving all users the freedom to redistribute and change the software.
How can users (technical or otherwise) help contribute to QupZilla?
The first thing is, naturally, by contributing code, but of course the majority of QupZilla users are non-technical. As with other projects, users can help by reporting bugs and cooperate in the bug reports. Some bugs are not easily reproduced, so being able to communicate with the reporter is required to resolve them. With reporting bugs comes hand-in-hand also requesting new features or proposing new ideas. Another thing is contributing to the graphical side of the browser, be it icons, themes or even a completely new concept of some UI part. There was a contest for the new QupZilla logo some time ago, where quite a lot of users proposed their ideas, and the final logo came out really great. But that was just a logo, there are other parts that could be improved, including internal pages like speed dial. On the documentation side, it's not great either, and translations are always appreciated. There is a wiki with some info scattered around, some of it being outdated. So there is always much to do even for users who can't contribute code. And finally, users can also donate money.
What's the next big thing for QupZilla?
The next big thing is definitely a recently-announced move under the KDE project. QupZilla will become part if the KDE project and replace Konqueror as a web browser there. I already mentioned that a better name would help the project, and this transition is a perfect opportunity to change it. Search for a new name is currently ongoing, and I hope this time we will pick a great one. Feature-wise, I wouldn't say there is going to be something really big, unless something radically changes in the near future.
I plan to continuously work on QupZilla and move it forward, but instead of having some big milestone, I'll rather call it an evolution. Of course there will be new features, for example upcoming version 2.3 to be released in following months will have a session manager, an often-requested feature from users.
Enjoy this interview? Check out our previous entry in this series, featuring Jonathan Thomas of the OpenShot Video Editor.
QupZilla logo and Maintainer images are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International.