Lunascape's Browser: Three Rendering Engines Under the Hood

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 24, 2008

How many web browsers do you run? If you're like me, you regularly use Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Safari. Each of those browsers, of course, has its own underlying rendering engine: Gecko (in Firefox), Trident (in Internet Explorer), and Webkit (in Chrome and Safari). Today, a Japanese startup called Lunascape has released an alpha version of its Lunascape browser, downloadable here, that allows you to switch between all three of these prominent rendering engines. The company says that the Japanese version of Lunascape has been downloaded 10 million times and touts it as the fastest browser available. Is it?

Lunascape, "the world's first triple-engine browser," is interesting from several perspectives, but I'm not sure about the claims that it is the fastest browser going. At Lunascape's site you can find some graphs showing JavaScript benchmarks and the like, but I found the browser very slow to start up--to the point where I would be annoyed by the startup time when using Lunascape on a daily basis.

Lunascape allows you to pick one of three rendering engines when you set it up, as seen here:

I selected Gecko, the rendering engine in Firefox, and then compared page load speeds between the beta version of Firefox 3.1 and the Lunascape alpha. There was no real discernible difference, which doesn't surprise me since the rendering engine is the rendering engine.

With a couple of quibbles aside, though, (and this is alpha software), this browser is an interesting idea. I use Firefox most of the time, primarily because of all the useful extensions there are for it. I use Chrome, too, which is a very speedy browser, and Safari when I'm on a MacBook at home. But I still find myself reaching for Internet Explorer when a site isn't rendering properly, or a download isn't going as planned, and for more reasons. Because IE is so dominant and everyone tests their web content and applications with it, it can often solve these types of problems.

With Lunascape, you can indeed flip between the various rendering engines instantly, and in a future version perhaps that could mean no need to have an arsenal of browsers around. Still, I'll stick with Firefox most of the time because of all the great extensions.

I realize, too, that Lunascape has anticipated that there may be others like me. "Add-ons introduce new security risks, while updates to the browser break compatibility with your favorite add-ons," says the company's site. Er, I'm afraid there is a little more to those add-ons than that.