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January 20, 2021
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Microsoft previews Edge browser on Linux

Microsoft on Tuesday released its first-ever browser for Linux, delivering a preview of Edge on its Dev Channel that runs on the open-source OS.

Edge’s appearance made good on an earlier Microsoft promise that it would make it available this month. “With this release, Microsoft Edge is now available for all major desktop and mobile platforms,” Kyle Pflug, a principal program manager lead in the developer experiences group, said in a post to a company blog. Edge was already available for Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7 and macOS, as well as for the Android and iOS mobile operating systems.

Like other Dev Channel previews, Linux’s Edge will be updated on a weekly schedule. Microsoft, like Google’s Chrome — the better-known browser also built atop technology created by the open-source Chromium project — maintains several different “channels,” named Canary, Dev, Beta and Stable. Each is more polished and reliable than the one before.

This preview supports several Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora and openSUSE. Users can download and install the .deb (Ubuntu, Debian) or .rpm (Fedora, openSUSE) package from the Edge Insider website, while IT administrators can tap Microsoft’s software repository with their distribution’s standard package management tools.

Edge’s Dev Channel is currently on version 88, two ahead of the Stable browser, which was promoted to version 86 on Oct. 8.

Several times in his post, Pflug stressed that the Dev Channel build of the Linux browser was to be used, not by consumers or Linux aficionados but by website and app developers to test their work. “We’re aiming to provide a representative experience for developers who want to build and test their sites and apps on Linux,” he wrote, adding that core platform and developer tools “should generally behave” as they do in the Windows and macOS editions of the browser.

Much functionality and many features, however, have yet to be implemented, including signing in with a Microsoft Account or work-provided credentials managed by Azure Active Directory, or syncing settings and bookmarks with other copies of Edge. Pflug said they would be added in later previews.

According to analytics vendor Net Applications, Edge accounted for 8.8% of all browser activity in September. Although that was a record, Edge trails the leader, Chrome, by a huge margin. Chrome has come in a Linux edition since that browser debuted 12 years ago.

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