Tech

The Dissenter Browser

So I have finally gotten my hands on Gab’s new Dissenter browser, now that they’ve released a public beta.

As noted previously, the browser is a fork of Brave, of which is a fork of Chromium (and is open source), therefore it looks exactly like Brave, save for some minor customizations.

The first thing I noticed was that Windows threw up an error message, telling me “Windows protected your PC” and that it wasn’t safe to run. That’s probably because it’s unsigned – if you see this, click the More Info link on the error message and then click the Run Anyway button. It installed fairly quickly for me.

I should also note that right now, the only beta they’ve got available is for Windows. I am currently testing this on my Dell desktop, of which is running Windows 10. I tried it on my grandfather’s ancient and crusty old Toshiba netbook, of which is running Windows 8.1 and I was not able to install it. I am not sure if it’s because the netbook has a 32-bit processor or if it’s because the app didn’t like the screen resolution, or if it just doesn’t support Windows 8.1, or what. I do have another laptop I can try it on, but I’ll do that later.

Initial Impression

So, as I said, the installation was fairly quick and there were no major issues. I can’t help but notice the desktop icon, however. It’s got jagged, pixilated edges, which means it’s being stretched. I hope they replace it with a higher resolution image. It makes it look kind of amateurish, which may turn some people off. Yes. you can laugh at my super-adorable Hello Kitty wallpaper (and wag your finger at the piracy-related apps I have installed).

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The welcome tour upon installation looks exactly like the one featured in Brave, but customized with Dissenter’s brand coloring and shortened to eliminate mention of Brave’s BAT program.

Importing my bookmarks and cookies also went well. I chose to import everything from my Firefox installation, as that’s the browser I use frequently on this computer.

Usage

Every time I install a new browser, I install some very important extensions or add-ons – in this case, I installed uBlock Origin, LastPass, Pocket and Instapaper. I will probably install some other ones later. Since this is a fork of Brave, the installation went fairly well. I was even already logged into Google, thanks to my cookies being imported.

I decided to see how well it played audio, so I went to Spotify’s web player and attempted to play something. As is the case with Brave, Widevine is not installed, so if you want to watch DRM-locked content or listen to music on services like Spotify, you will need to let the browser install Widevine, which I did. Now I am listening to music and it plays well.

Dissenter

New tabs are handled by something called the Dissenter Extension, which I guess is the Dissenter feature itself. I hope they’ll get it baked into the app before releasing version 1, but it’s not that big a deal. The Dissenter feature itself works just like the extension on any other browser, although its placement is different – it’s in the address bar. to the left of the little green shield icon.

I use Brave on my MacBook Pro, and I’ve noticed that Brave’s built-in ad-blocking has become extremely strong to the point of blocking all images on certain sites. If you run into this kind of issue, click on the green shield icon and tell the browser to lower all shields. I don’t recommend doing this until you’ve got an ad-blocking extension installed, however. It seems that the super-strong blocking was carried over from Brave, and only until I lowered the shields for Spotify was I actually able to listen to music.

Anyway, Dissenter works fine but you may have to log in before commenting on anything. I had to log in, and it was no big deal.

If you want to see comments on a given page or article, click the D icon in the address bar and the Dissenter comments will appear, just like it does with the extension.

I really hope they’ll implement a sidebar or bottom pane in the future so that the comments can appear on the side or beneath the page itself, as opposed to the narrow pane you see in the screenshot below. That would make it even more Disqus-like.

dissenter_T2K6U0EcGS

I also had no problems going to sites like The New York Times online or whatever. I don’t think these sites will try to block the browser, and if they do, you might be able to just install an agent-switcher or something.

Gab?

Much to my disappointment, there is no Share to Gab feature included. The only way to share anything to Gab is to simply go to Gab.com, install the Chrome extension (which will probably have the same annoying issue where you can’t sign in no matter what) or share via Dissenter.

I hope they do add this function to the browser too. Why not? Might as well.

Look and Feel

I really like the new tab screen. It’s clean and loads quickly, and the gradient color is lovely. The color also changes, which is cool. The new tab screen on Brave is nice, but they use high-res images from Unsplash, and that’s taxing on older machines. I like this approach better.

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Unfortunately, I see some icons are missing, with garish bright yellow squares in their place. A lot of the favicons don’t show up – instead, you see yellow squares. It’s in beta, so I’ll let it slide for now.

yellow-blocks

There really isn’t much more to say, since it’s a fork of Brave. The icons and everything are the same.

Conclusion

Remember, this is a beta. There’ll be some wonkiness here and there, and not all the promised features are available (like the Bitcoin integration) just yet. They were smart to fork the browser from another one (in this case, Brave), as all the hard work of stripping out unwanted stuff like Google integration is already done. That’s one reason why I love open source so much. They’re off to a good start.

They plan on releasing versions for Mac and Linux, but are starting out with Windows, since out of all desktops, Windows still enjoys the biggest market share.

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