Secure, private browsers/search engines

Seeing the "replace DDG with StartPage thread pop up, I thought it best to just begin another thread with my question.

What are everyone’s opinions as to what they feel are the most secure, private, trusted browsers and search engines, or combinations of, for linux, android, and ios? I use the DDG app on my spyphone currently, and Dissenter browser (fork from Brave by Gab) with DDG search engine on my macbook. But, I’m open to try others, and looking for privacy and security, or at least the best that can be managed on an apple spyphone. My macbook will be replaced with the L14 hopefully soon, so will look at Linux options there.

And secondly, thoughts on the browser/search engine that comes with PureOS, assuming it is the same for both the L5 and L14, so no need to differentiate there. Is it as good as it gets as is? Would you replace both? Either?


I use Linux Mint.

I always keep multiple browsers on my machine, to separate different types of activities (financial, general browsing, etc.): Firefox, Firefox-ESR, and Pale Moon, all with their privacy preferences locked down to my liking, and with add-ons like NoScript, Ublock Origin, and Privacy Badger, to prevent abusive web elements from running.

For search engines, I run Startpage most of the time, and DuckDuckGo sometimes.

For the L5, currently there is Web (GNOME) and Firefox-ESR (aka Iceweasel) that work well. (I haven’t found another browser that works with pureos-amber yet.) You, of course, select your preferred search engine.

On Android, I try to emulate what I do on my Linux Mint machine, and also disable everything Google that I can, relying on F-Droid for applications. It would be better to flash a different OS, of course, but I’ve never figured out how to do that, and of course you have to have a compatible phone to start with.


I also use Mint but I don’t use multiple browsers. I do close them out and make new sessions frequently with the setting that clears history and cookies out. And also run bleachbit periodically.


I think we should seperate the browser discussion from the search engine debate.

P.S.: And we could make a table with criteria and search engines / browsers and try to fill it. This would be a systematic approach. Maybe there already are such tables in Wikipedia which we can use and update so the value of the research goes beyond this forum. I just don’t have the time to look right now.


i usw Qwant and ecosia for searching

On all my desktops and laptops, I use Firefox ESR with the arkenfox user.js to shut off what annoying parts of the browser’s functionality I can. I also use ublock origin, umatrix, clearurls, and decentraleyes to break most websites by some amount. When I can’t figure out how to unbreak them, I switch to a less hardened profile that just has ublock origin. This works for a single user who won’t get scared and frustrated when something goes wrong, but not for a multi-user system wherein any user can be on any computer. I still need to get some idea about how I can get that to work.

Other browsers I’d consider:

Pale Moon

Great in theory, I have no idea how often websites don’t work on it. Allows Xul extensions to work.

Waterfox and Waterfox Classic

Forks of firefox owned by an ad company, sold off without telling anyone. Practically, not worse than Firefox if they follow development of Firefox close enough, but who even knows. Classic also allows Xul extensions to work.

GNU Icecat

It wants to be the best at privacy, security and freedom. It doesn’t have enough developers to keep up.


Forked from more recent versions of firefox. who is behind it? No idea! Has more attention that Icecat.


Works as advertised, but hyped as THE only morally conscionable option by people who, I can only imagine, want anything not based on Blink wiped from the face of the earth. You’ll need to compile it to be sure you’re getting what the code says you’re getting.


A specific tool for accessing sites in a certain way, or reaching .onion sites. Many sites will reject you for using tor, be it system-wide or just through this browser.

For AOSP ROMs (do not use base android or an iphone if at all you can help it):


Works kinda okay on newer hardware. Unusable on older phones. It’s not as good as it used to be.

GNU Icecat

Works better than Firefox or Fennec as far as stability goes. If you run into a website that doesn’t work, you’re probably using your phone too much.

Android System Webview browsers

They’ll perform better than either of these, but you’ll need a system wide ad blocker to disable a significant amount of the tracking the web otherwise does.

For Linux phones:


Some UI elements are kind of a mess right now on my pinephone, but you can bring in your desktop profile folder and it’ll work.

everything else:

Basically okay but you can’t disable unwanted web functionality very easily.

Browsers I won’t consider but aren’t really out to get you:

Falkon, GNOME Web, and Konqueror

These just don’t, as far as I know, have the ability to block out as much of what I want to block from the web as I want.


I mainly don’t like it because it’s blink based and due to that whole crypto thing they’ve got going on (that’s optional) and some users of other websites I know of have been spamming it ad nauseum. A lot of people seem to think its basically fine once you change a few default settings.


A tool for leaving comments all over the place that few will see. It’s not safe to tell people you use it. You don’t need the browser because the browser extension still works. It’s just hard to find packaged for installation. But you can install it directly through the update URL obtained from the extension’s manifest.json here or here. I wish someone would fork it so it could work on fediverse sites that didn’t disable the activitypub API (unless I’ve completely misunderstood how it works).

If I didn’t mention it, I either don’t know about it or it’s best avoided.




That is the best thing you can do. Compartmentalisation is the best way to have a relative kind of online privacy.
If you add to this multiple identities then you are quite anonymous online. But it is difficult and tricky because you have to remember which identity, browser, email, search engine, service etc you use for each and every task.


It is easier to manage if you keep things simple and have fewer identities to work with. Multiple personas are better managed with an operating system like Qubes, as @Kyle_Rankin uses.

Also, I strongly suggest caution with associating multiple identities as being quite anonymous online, because Big Tech and other third parties are heavily focused on correlating your identities together for marketing purposes, or worse.

Strictly following my Purism Forums persona, I use the Tor Browser and DuckDuckOnion using a GNU/Linux distribution.

There is also an Android version of the Tor Browser, you can follow the instructions in the URL below to install it on F-Droid.

The Tor Project recommends Onion Browser for iOS. The relevant link is below:


do you think that there will be a ready and working TOR-Browser in the PureOS-Store or install-able with a torrent application as an .AppImage when the L5 reaches the masses ?

I don’t have any experience with AppImages, but I did try installing TOR (downloaded from the TOR Project website). It did not work on the L5. I don’t know what the problem is/was, or if it will eventually be available in the PureOS Store. Hope so, though.

can anyone speak to a comparison of the Onion browser vs something like the DDG app for iOS? For privacy, being anonymous, etc?