Sunday, June 10, 2007

Survival of the fittest...(browser)

The Browser war is dead, Long Live the Browser war!!

I'm going back to Opera after a long hiatus. I've come to the conclusion that for actually the net, as opposed to developing web pages etc Opera just leaves FF for dead. it's so much nicer to use day to day, it's pretty, smooth, *fast* and it comes in the box with features that you need to muck around installing extensions in FF. Also the fact that I can have both browser & mail client in less memory footprint than either FF or TB.

I first got on the net in '98 or so, I stayed with IE long enough to discover that netscape existed. These were the bad old days when 56k was fast, and everything had to go around on floppy disks. Netscape had tabs and wasn't MS, that was enough for me. I stayed with NN until '03 when a friend introduced me to Opera 7, and I fell in love with its slick goodness. But that didn't last long as Firefox pre-release 0.9 came along shortly, was faster, lighter & had more functinality available through extensions, so that was a done deal.

Well, 4 years later here I am, going back to Opera. Why? Well for a while now I've been having issues with FF+TB taking up a lot of memory and slowing down. yes I run a few extensions, but not that much! I was toying with Lynx & Pine, and was impressed with the whole command-line test-only browser thing(fast!!). Searching for a modern equivalent of lynx gave a big fat blank except for a few comments about using Opera in text-only mode.

This put me back onto trying out Opera again after a multi-year gap. And wow has it come along! no more ads, and it's fast! start it and it's there before you realise what's happened! I remember when FF used to start like that...

Add the fact that it has a mail client built into the browser (ok so does Seamonkey, but sorry I don't want something even bigger & heavier than FF/TB). Plus the text-only mode is pretty cool, very-lynx when you disable images as well. If I could bothered to write a custom script I could probably get it looking like a console.

Unfortunately this time it's not a black-and-white cut-over. I've got 2-and-a-half years of email in TB, and Opera doesn't do everything that FF does (Greasemonkey, Web developer, css viewer), so my browser/mail environment is going to be more of an ecosystem than a monoculture for a time to come yet.

But then that's the power of choice at work, and it's all good! I can have as many browsers & mail clients as I want!

Opera things that don't work correctly:
- random JS widgets (eg this blogger interface!)

Things I'll miss from FF:
- my plugins, adblock is just awesome, opera doesn't have anything even close, all my web development stuff, and FF's superior JS compatibility, Greasemonkey & Taskinator,

Things I won't miss:
- having each plugin update itself every time I start FF, just do it in the background please!
- FF & TB hogging about 400MB of memory for no known reason
- waiting ten minutes for FF & TB to load.

Things I've missed from Opera:
- ctrl+plus /minus zooms the web page, **including images**, fast forward/rewind buttons that work properly.
- the way things 'just work', opera has a much tighter design that works within itself very well.

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