FOSSPicks

Falkon 3.0

If we're going to take back the web from the companies that are now defining what it has become, we need to own the browser. Fortunately, and quite unlike 15 years ago, all the major browsers have a major open source component, which means they can be ratified, forked, and expanded if necessary. And that's a good thing to do, because competition can help even the largest megacorp do the right thing. The recent major enhancements to Firefox are a good example, as Firefox is now defining its own terms for the web it wants to see – and that's something we can all support. But Firefox isn't the only open source web browser. We keep covering qutebrowser, for instance, because of its unique functionality, and Falkon is another worthy candidate. Like Phoenix that became Firefox from Netscape, Falkon is a new browser with old roots. It was formally QupZilla, a highly-regarded Qt-based web browser that was popular with KDE users (and us, as we looked at QupZilla in previous issues).

QupZilla became an official KDE project with the release of 2.2 in late 2017, and this positioning left the project ripe for a rebranding as it become an integral part of the KDE desktop. That rebranding is Falkon, and this is the first release, hence the 3.0 release tag (coming after QupZilla 2.2). If you're a KDE user, the first thing you'll appreciate is that Falkon completely respects your theme settings. This is the main problem with browsers like Chromium and Firefox, because even when there are matching themes for your KDE look, such as Arc Dark, the simple differences that come about from using different toolkits mean that it's almost impossible to make the browsers look completely integrated with your desktop. With Chromium, there's the added complexity of it using its own window decoration, as well as all the non-conforming settings pages and tab manipulation. But Falkon also has the option of looking like Chrome, and this may be especially useful if you're using a different desktop and would like some of Falkon's other features.

As you might anticipate, with Falkon now being a fully fledged KDE application, its main feature is that there are so many things you can change about the application. It installs with DuckDuckGo as the default search engine, and Adblock is installed and enabled when you dive into the configuration menus. Different sets of configuration options can be saved as a profile, and there are dozens of separate options for changing how both the tab bar and the URL bar work, as well as how downloads are handled. There's a decent integrated password manager that can be encrypted, although KWallet integration is a worthy extension, and the application supports native Linux and KDE notifications. "Extensions" allow you to augment this functionality with new plugins, and this release includes a new "vertical tabs" option that lists tabs down the left side of the application rather than horizontally across the top (although you can have both if you don't remove the horizontal bar). Thanks to the QtWebEngine, there's excellent web compatibility, and the desktop integration helps KDE users in particular if they're after a completely homogeneous desktop experience. It's certainly a lot better than using Konqueror for everything in the olden days, although I miss having Reddit open in the file manager while yet another pane is used to host the terminal, but maybe that will come.

Project Website

https://github.com/KDE/falkon

Not only is Falkon an excellent KDE-centric web browser, it's also one of the best Amiga flight sim games.
If you already use QupZilla, all your settings can be seamlessly migrated to Falkon by simply renaming the configuration directory to falkon.

City simulator

Citybound

It's understandable that so many different video game genres originated in the 1980s. This was the first time that computing had become affordable for millions of people and the first time that developers could make a living writing games. This blossoming of the games industry and the subsequent competition between programmers, designers, and publishers is what ultimately fueled the innovation. There was perhaps no better example of this than SimCity, a game that endeavored to simulate nothing less than the environment in which many millions of (US-based) players lived.

But SimCity had its limitations. It wasn't really an emulation of the working environment of the cities you built, but rather a series of cleverly hidden factors and algorithms tailored to make the growth, pollution, and prosperity of your creations feel alive. To be fair, the hardware's processing capabilities at the time wasn't capable of much more, but that didn't stop Sid Meier when he augmented much of what SimCity hinted at with his amazing Civilization. And it's this quest to innovate the same genre that seems to be driving Anselm Eickhoff and his crazily ambitious Citybound. Citybound is aiming for nothing less than the tracking of every virtual inhabitant: how they prosper, grow, build families, and work. Your choices, as the city builder, affect their development and subsequently the evolution of your city. The game is still very much a prototype, but as you drag the mouse around to create the environment, it becomes uncannily populated and suburbanized, and there are already many game elements with which to play. And if you want to help the project grow as much as your virtual city, you can support the developer on Patreon and join the already immensely popular community.

Project Website

http://cityboundsim.com/

Citybound has been in development since 2014. While still only a prototype, it has a huge community of supporters and backers.

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