December 4, 2020

Microsoft Finally Launches Edge Browser on Linux

Odds are very good that you’re reading this article in Google Chrome, which has dominated...

Odds are very good that you’re reading this article in Google Chrome, which has dominated the browser market for years. Since Chrome launched, Microsoft has killed Internet Explorer, launched Edge, killed Edge, and launched a version of Edge based on the same open-source code as Chrome. Microsoft is now looking to expand its new Chromium-based Edge browser to as many devices as possible. To that end, you can finally install the new Edge on Linux. That might not get Microsoft a lot more users, but it does signify the company’s commitment to its shiny new browser. 

Microsoft launched the original Edge with its EdgeHTML engine alongside Windows 10. In fact, it was restricted to Windows 10, where it did not serve as incentive for people to upgrade to the new Windows. If anything, it blunted any impact Edge might have had on the browser market. Despite aggressive marketing and annoying popups, Edge didn’t see much success. So, Microsoft decided in late 2018 to scrap Edge as it existed and rebuild the browser based on the open-source Chromium code, making it more similar to Google’s browser. 

Microsoft launched the new Edge in early 2020 with support for Windows 7, 8, 10, and macOS. The wider support was one of the primary selling points of the Chromium conversion, but Microsoft also promised a Linux version. It took a little longer, Microsoft has kept its promise to give Linux users a new browser alternative. 

Keep in mind, this is a preview. So, Linux is basically running about a year behind other platforms. Microsoft says the preview is suitable for developers who want to build and test their apps and sites on Linux with Edge. The core rendering behavior and dev tools “should generally behave consistently with other platforms like macOS and Windows.”

Microsoft made a lot of changes to Chromium to integrate its services, and this may be the first time Linux users will see that kind of Microsoft integration on their preferred platform. However, some features aren’t quite ready for prime time. In this initial release, Edge will only support local accounts with no Microsoft sign-in. That means no syncing your data from other devices to or from Linux at this time. These features will come in a future preview. 

Microsoft has made .deb and .rpm packages available for direct download on the Microsoft Edge Insider site. There are also instructions here for downloading the browser from Microsoft’s Linux repository. The preview will get weekly updates along with the dev channel on other operating systems. If you decide to give the new Linux version a shot, Microsoft hopes you’ll provide feedback via the integrated feedback tools.

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