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Which Gecko Browser Will Suit You Best? - Firefox, Netscape Navigator, Camino, or SeaMonkey?

30615 I use a bunch of different Web browsers, partly for review purposes, and partly because I've never found one browser product that did everything I want browsers to do better than all the others, and often changing current favorites as new versions are introduced, but one constant thread is that I pretty well always have a Mozilla Gecko browser up and running. The Mozilla browser most folks are familiar with these days is Firefox, but there are actually a whole raft of browser products based on the Mozilla Gecko layout engine, and Firefox may or may not be the ideal choice for your browsing needs and tastes.

In this column, I'm going to take a look at the Gecko browser family, at least its more prominent members, and explain the distinctions and my own tastes and preferences. But first, a bit of background.

The Mozilla Organization was originally established back in 1998 by then-independent Netscape to coordinate the development of a successor to the venerable and once overwhelmingly dominant Netscape Communicator browser, then at version 4.x. At first, Mozilla was staffed mostly by Netscape employees, although in theory it operated at arms-length from Netscape, and its nominal mission statement was that the group was developing the Mozilla browser as a trial bed for Netscape 5 and for testing purposes only, and not for use by end users.

In the end, Netscape 5 (which was not based on the Gecko browser engine) was never released as a final version, and the first Mozilla-based Netscape browser publicly released was Netscape 6 in November, 2000. Unfortunately, by that time Microsoft's Internet Explorer had become the overwhelmingly dominant player in the browser market.

Then, when Netscape was subsequently purchased by America Online (AOL), the latter opted to drastically scale back its involvement with the Mozilla Organization. On July 15, 2003, AOL laid off the remaining Gecko developers, and on the same day the Open Source-oriented Mozilla Foundation was launched to ensure the Mozilla project could survive without Netscape. AOL assisted in the initial creation of the Mozilla Foundation, transferring hardware and intellectual property to the organization and employing a three-person team for the first three months of its existence to help with the transition. You can read about Netscape's original vision for Gecko here:
http://wp.netscape.com/browsers/gecko/

In 2005, the Mozilla Foundation launched a wholly owned subsidiary called the Mozilla Corporation to continue the development and delivery of primarily the Mozilla Firefox Web Browser and the Mozilla Thunderbird POP 3 email client software, and Mozilla's Firefox browser has become the most serious alternative challenger to Microsoft Internet Explorer's market hegemony.

However, the Mozilla Gecko browser layout engine, being open-source, now forms the basis for a wide variety of Web browsers on the Windows PC, Mac, and Linux platforms, and is the second most prolific browser engine in use, the others being number-one Trident (used by Internet Explorer for Windows since version 4), and WebCore (used by Apple's Safari) and Presto (used by Opera).

While cross-platform flagship Mozilla Firefox is the most popular Gecko browser on the Mac platform, other prominent players are the Mac-only Camino with its pretty Cocoa user interface, SeaMonkey - which carries on the classic Netscape/Mozilla suite browser tradition, incorporating email/newsreader, html authoring, and chat modules along with the browser module, - the latter two being developed under the umbrella of the Mozilla Organization; and most recently the return of Netscape in an up-to date Mac OS version 9 (Netscape 8 skipped the Mac platform). Other Gecko-based Mac OS browsers of note are Flock (oriented toward social networking) and Sunrise, whose target user market is developers.

I'm a fan of the Gecko browsers, and were I obliged to use just one Web browser, it would be a Gecko. So of the four main general-use Gecko-based browsers, which is the best? Well, as they say, it depends.

Personally, I don't see much consistent difference in speed among the latest versions of Firefox, Camino, Netscape, and SeaMonkey. They are all excellent performers, although if any of them has an edge, I would say it is Firefox. My gut tells me that both Opera and Safari outperform the Geckos for raw page loading speed, at least on my dialup connection. Where the Geckos shine is in site compatibility and solid stability. I rarely encounter a Website that these browsers can't handle, and SeaMonkey especially has been consistently rock-solid and unbuggy. I can't recall the last time any of these browsers crashed.

Browser preference is partly a matter of taste, and different users will have different priorities. Being obliged to use a dialup Internet connection (and a slow one at that - 26,400 bps is about the best I can get here) page rendering speed is at the top of my list. However, among these browsers there is little to choose, speed-wise. It's more a matter of which feature set you find most useful and desirable, and which user interface you like the look of best.

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Firefox 2.0.0.4

Firefox is of course the benchmark Gecko browser, and it's a perfectly competent one. It's also the one of the four major Gecko browsers that I find myself using least, not because there is anything wrong with it particularly. It's just that I find it sort of plain-vanilla bland compared with the looks and features of its cousins, although it has been catching up in the features context recently.

On the other hand, if plug-in additions turn your crank, Firefox is the one for you, with a wide selection of add-ons available, and there are also "skins" that can glam up its appearance. Personally. I'm not much into plugins or other add-ons, and prefer using a stock browser for the most part, although there are a few browser add-ons that have beguiled me, like Safari Stand and CaminoSession - the latter now rendered superfluous since Camino got built-in session restore support with the latest version 1.5.

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Of course, you get all the standard modern browser features like tabbed browsing, a nice Download Manager that supports interruptible downloads, URL auto-completion, and so forth.

The Firefox 2 release was a major milestone for this Browser, and Mozilla is terminating development on the earlier Firefox 1.5. Firefox 2's theme and user interface have been updated, and I quite like the refresh. Firefox 2 now shares with Camino the best bookmark import and management implementation of any Mac OS browser.

New in Firefox version 2.x:

• Visual Refresh: Firefox 2's theme and user interface have been updated to improve usability without altering the familiarity of the browsing experience. For instance, the toolbar buttons now glow when you hover over them.

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• Built-in phishing protection: Phishing Protection warns you when you've encountered suspected Web forgeries, and offers to return you to your home page. Phishing Protection is turned on by default, and works by checking sites against either a local or online list of known phishing sites. This list is automatically downloaded and regularly updated when the Phishing Protection feature is enabled. Handy, although I wonder if it bogs down performance for dialup users like me. For that reason, I disable the feature in the Preferences.

• Enhanced search capabilities: Search term suggestions will now appear as you type in the integrated search box when using the Google, Yahoo! or Answers.com search engines. A new search engine manager also makes it easier to add, remove and re-order search engines, and you will be alerted when Firefox encounters a website that offers new search engines that the user may wish to install. Useful I guess if you like to switch around among search engines a lot. I'm inclined to just stick with Google, myself.

• Improved tabbed browsing: By default, Firefox will open links in new tabs instead of new windows, and as noted, each tab has a close tab button (Hooray!). Power users who open more tabs than can fit in a single window will see arrows on the left and right side of the tab strip that let them scroll back and forth between their tabs. I have mixed feelings about this.

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On the one hand, it beats having "overflow" tabs land up in a pull-down menu at the right end of the tab bar, however I find that I can easily lose track of tabs once they scroll off. With Opera and iCab, the tabs just keep adding and getting smaller and smaller until you can no longer read the titles, but I find when that happens I still have a pretty good idea which is which spatially. I really am not sure which mode I prefer, but I'm willing to give the new Firefox scrolling tabs a chance to win me over if the speed and stability issues are addressed.

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The History menu will keep a list of recently closed tabs, and a shortcut lets users quickly re-open an accidentally closed tab.

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• Firefox's new Session Restore feature restores windows, tabs, text typed in forms, and in-progress downloads from the last user session. Session Restore is activated automatically when installing an application update or extension, and you get queried whether you want to resume your previous session after a system crash. That latter will probably be of more utility to Windows users than those of us on the Mac OS. I don't think I've ever had a system crash or kernel panic on my G4 PowerBook in 15 months of intensive daily use. Unfortunately, this feature still doesn't match Session Restore in Camino (or Opera) that can be configured to load the last session after an ordinary quit and restart.

• Previewing and subscribing to Web feeds: Users can decide how to handle Web feeds, either subscribing to them via a Web service or in a standalone RSS reader, or adding them as Live Bookmarks. My Yahoo!, Bloglines and Google Reader come pre-loaded as Web service options, but users can add any Web service that handles RSS feeds.

• Inline spell checking: A new built-in spell checker enables users to quickly check the spelling of text entered into Web forms without having to use a separate application.

• Live Titles: When a website offers a microsummary (a regularly updated summary of the most important information on a Web page), users can create a bookmark with a "Live Title". Compact enough to fit in the space available to a bookmark label, they provide more useful information about pages than static page titles, and are regularly updated with the latest information. There are several websites that can be bookmarked with Live Titles, and even more add-ons to generate Live Titles for other popular websites. I've never gotten into using this, but some folks may find it useful

• Improved Add-ons manager: The new Add-ons manager improves the user interface for managing extensions and themes, combining them both in a single tool. That's convenient, but I don't currently have any add-ons to Firefox.

• JavaScript 1.7 - a language update introducing several new features such as generators, iterators, array comprehensions, let expressions, and destructuring assignments. It also includes all the features of JavaScript 1.6.

• Extended search plugin format: The Firefox search engine format now supports search engine plugins written in Sherlock and OpenSearch formats and allows search engines to provide search term suggestions.

• Updates to the extension system: The extension system has been updated to provide enhanced security and to allow for easier localization of extensions.

• Client-side session and persistent storage: New support for storing structured data on the client side, to enable better handling of online transactions and improved performance when dealing with large amounts of data, such as documents and mailboxes. This is based on the WHATWG specification for client-side session and persistent storage.

• SVG text: Support for the svg:textpath specification enables SVG text to follow a curve or shape.

Firefox is a good, solid, reliable browser that is being actively developed and updated for security enhancements. You won't go wrong by choosing it as your default browser. However, it has plenty of competition from its close relatives.

And it has one "feature" (I consider it an intentional bug) that I really detest, namely a very insistent automatic version update busybody. I prefer to determine and schedule when and whether I want to update a piece of software, and being obliged to use a slow dialup connection, I shun online software updates entirely. Firefox only gives you the option of delaying the update until the next time the program is started rather than the choice of declining the update "offer." This is just too Microsoftian for me. One of the reasons I use a Mac is that I like to do things MY way. Fortunately, the Firefox 2.0.0.4 update from 2.0.0.3 loads very quickly even over dialup.

New in version 2.0.0.4:
• XUL Popup Spoofing
• XSS using addEventListener
• Path Abuse in Cookies
• Persistent Autocomplete Denial of Service
• Crashes with evidence of memory corruption (rv:1.8.0.12/1.8.1.4)
• New Languages: Afrikaans (af) and Belarusian (be) are now available

System requirements:
• PowerPC G3 processor
• 128 MB of RAM
• 75 MB of free disk space
• Mac OS X 10.2.x or later

Mozilla Recommends
• PowerPC G4 or Intel processor
• 512 MB of RAM
• 150 MB of free disk space

I find that Firefox 2 runs very smartly on my 550 MHz G4 upgraded Pismo PowerBook.

System support:
PPC/Intel

Free

For more information, visit:
http://www.mozilla.org/projects/firefox/
and
http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/

Download:
http://releases.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/2.0/

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Netscape Navigator 9.0b

After terminating Mac development of the Netscape browser after version 7.02, Netscape is now back on the Mac OS with the recent release of Navigator 9, which is based on Mozilla Firefox 2, whereas Netscape 6 and 7 were based on the Mozilla Application Suite, As with other recent versions, Netscape Navigator 9 incorporates support for AOL Instant Messenger, and other AOL-related features.

For some reason that I find odd, there has been a fair bit of dismissive hostility expressed on the Mac Web about Netscape re-entering the Mac browser market. Perhaps there's some resentment over their having abandoned the Mac with version 8, but they're certainly not the first software developer to leave the Mac platform for a while and then return. It's also been suggested that there are plenty of good mac OS X browsers, so why do we need another one? Well, in terms of *need,* we probably don't, but IMHO there is room for another OS X browser, especially one as slick and attractive as this one with some innovative features not available on any other browser.

I've always been a Netscape fan, and Netscape version 7.x remains my favorite among the few browsers that still work with the Classic Mac OS, so I'm delighted to have an up-to-date Netscape version to run on OS X.

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For one thing, it looks great, and I prefer its Interface appearance to that of all the other Geckos, save perhaps the very Mac-like Camino. Yes, you can "skin" Firefox, but that's a level of complication I'd rather not cumber myself with. The Netscape 9 interface is clean and pleasant, and I like the smaller rendering of the navigation icons, et al., which leaves more room for content without scrolling.

One aspect that distinguishes Navigator 9 from previous versions of the Netscape browser is that it's pure browser software, not a suite browser. At the dawn of the Internet as a mass participation phenomenon, there was Netscape Communicator, the dominantly popular choice in Internet software. Communicator included a browser - Netscape Navigator, plus an email client - Netscape Messenger, and an HTML authoring module - Netscape Composer, thus enabling users to do most of their Internet-related computing in one application.

Then Microsoft Internet Explorer came on the scene and shifted the dominant Internet software paradigm to single-purpose applications. Explorer was a browser only, and for email you could use MS Outlook Express. Web authoring required a third application, and so on. This motif suited me fine. I was (and remain) a Eudora fan, so I never really used the Messenger module in Netscape anyway. And I preferred Claris Homepage or just a good HTML-savvy text editor for Web authoring. However, many Netscape users liked the all-in-one approach.

So it's important to note that Netscape Navigator 9.0 is a browser-only release, not a suite like Netscape 7.x. Like Firefox and Camino, Netscape version 9.0 does not contain email client, newsgroup reader, or HTML composer modules. If you want an up-to-date Gecko suite browser in the classic Netscape tradition, than the excellent, fast, and very stable SeaMonkey 1.1, also now based on Firefox 2 technology, is the one for you (see below). The Opera browser also includes an email client module.

However, Netscape's Website says they are currently working on a companion mail/news client to complement the Navigator browser, which will of course be a "Netscaped" clone of Mozilla's Thunderbird standalone email client companion to Firefox.

I've found Navigator 9.0 to be very like Firefox and the other Mozilla Geckos in speed and feel, which is to say a speedy, slick, and stable performer. It's also been flawlessly stable, even though it's still a beta. Very impressive, but see my note in the "conclusions" summary below.

So does Netscape offer anything unique that would attract users away from, say, Firefox or Camino? Well, it does have some interesting, useful, and distinctive features.

New stuff In Navigator 9

Visual Refresh
As noted above, Netscape Navigator 9's theme has been updated to save screen-space and leave more room for the websites you visit.

URL Correction
Navigator 9 will automatically correct common typos in URLs. For example, if you accidentally type googlecom, Navigator will fix it be to google.com. The browser will watch for nearly 30 different types of common mistakes and correct them for you (asking you to confirm, if you choose to enable confirmation). This will be a boon to sloppy, non-touch typists like me.

News Menu and Sidebar
A newsreader is built right into the browser, under the News menu, so you can keep current on important stuff like the latest on Paris Hilton sampling the simple life in the crowbar hotel. The news feed is provided by Netscape.com, and you can customize the menu to contain only the news categories you want to monitor. You can also keep the News sidebar open to always keep an eye on "what's happening."

Link Pad
The Link Pad is a new sidebar feature that allows you to save links/URLs that you want to visit later without cluttering your bookmarks. Just drag a link over the Link Pad status bar icon and drop it to save it in the Link Pad. By default, clicking on an item in the Link Pad will open it in the browser and remove it from the list, saving you the step of deleting it. I really like this feature, as it is a pain to have to go rooting around in the Bookmarks manager to delete URLs that you only wanted to return to once.

In-browser voting
The icons in the Navigator address bar let you share interesting stories you find and vote on stories shared by others. Not a biggie for me, as I have plenty of other outlets for airing my opinions, but this feature harmonizes with Netscape's current emphasis on social networking

Extension Compatibility
Since Navigator 9 shares its architecture and browser engine with the latest Mozilla technologies; Navigator 9 supports extensions that are compatible with Firefox 2. I'm not a big user of extensions, but if you're a fan, then Netscape 9 will accommodate you with the vast inventory of Firefox extensions.

Sidebar Mini Browser

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You've always been able to have bookmarks open in the sidebar, but this functionality has been enhanced in Netscape 9 and extended it to all links, not just bookmarks. There is also a new navigation toolbar to the sidebar for easier split-screened browsing. Just right-click on a link and select "Open Link in Sidebar" to get started.

Restart Netscape (aka Session Restore)
You can now restart Navigator (and keep your current tabs intact) by selecting "Restart Navigator" from the File menu. Unfortunately, this feature still doesn't match Session Restore in Camino (or Opera) that can be configured to load the last session after an ordinary quit and restart.

Resizable Textarea
Drag the bottom-right corners of text fields in forms to add more typing space. Most convenient. I found that it works nicely on some Web page form fields; not at all on others, but it's nice to have.

Tab History
Opening a link in a new tab will give the new tab the same history as the source tab for a more seamless tabbed browsing experience.

OPML Support
Netscape Navigator supports importing and exporting your bookmarks in OPML, a popular format for sharing lists of newsfeeds.

Throbber
The Netscape 7-style throbber is back. Click on it any time to visit Netscape.com. Not something I'll use a lot, but a minor convenience

Combined Stop/Reload button
To save space in your toolbar, Netscape has combined the stop and reload buttons. Because you never need both at the same time, the toolbar will only show the relevant half of the pair. Less complication is usually a good thing

Friends' Activity Sidebar
If you are a member at Netscape.com, you can keep tabs on what your friends find interesting. This sidebar lets you view your friends latest votes, comments, and story submissions. More of that social networking emphasis. Not something I'm into, but if you are, this is a handy feature.

Sitemail Notification
This icon will sport an exclamation point when you have new Netscape.com sitemail messages waiting for you.

In summary, Netscape 9 does have enough distinctiveness to more than justify it's entry into the OS X browser spectrum.

Minimum System Requirements
PowerPC G3 processor
128 MB of RAM
75 MB of free disk space
Mac OS X 10.2.x

Recommended Configuration
PowerPC G4 or Intel processor
512 MB of RAM
150 MB of free disk space

Netscape 9.0 is freeware

For more information, visit:
http://www.netscape.com/tag/netscape+navigator

Download:
http://browser.netscape.com/downloads

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Camino 1.5 Web Browse - Mozilla Power Mac Style

The Camino project has worked to create a browser that reflect the aesthetic elegance of the Mac OS and Mac hardware.

Camino combines the pretty appearance and features of Apple's Cocoa environment with the powerful web-browsing capabilities of the Gecko rendering engine. It's hard to argue with the way Camino 1.0 looks. It's much more attractive in my estimation than either Firefox or SeaMonkey - kind of gorgeous, actually, in a tastefully understated, very Mac-like motif. I would pronounce it light-years ahead of Apple's own Safari in the looks department.

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It also has some kick-ass features, like perhaps the best bookmark import and management implementation of any Mac OS browser (now shared with Firefox 2). To import bookmarks from another browser. Run Camino, choose "Import Bookmarks" from the File menu. In the resulting file dialog, choose the bookmarks file you wish to import, and click Open. The bookmarks will be imported into a new container in the bookmarks manager.

Camino has a Safari-style Bookmarks manager window which I like a lot better than the erstwhile Bookmark sidebar.

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Camino can block ad banners and you can allow specified sites to bypass the popup blocker. Camino starts up quicker then Firefox and much quicker than Opera, but it's not quite as quick as Safari in that department. It has integrated Rendezvous, Address Book top 10 list and Search, a Google Search bar, session history on back/forward buttons, improved cookie management, a more compact download manager, white-list for popup blocking, and
incremental find-as-you-type.

Camino practices the Tao of simplicity with an uncluttered user interface but with the features you expect from a modern browser. The Camino Preferences dialog is very clean looking.

Camino 1.5 is now available, a major upgrade containing brand new features as well as important stability and security fixes. All users running Mac OS X 10.3 or later are recommended to upgrade. Camino 1.5 is also available in a multilingual version. Camino 1.5 also uses Firefox's latest rendering engine version, Mozilla's Gecko 1.8.1.

New in Camino 1.5:

Spellchecking
Camino 1.5 includes the built-in Mac OS X spell-checker on every text field. Unlike Firefox, this spell-checker is the same one used throughout Mac OS X. Now you don't have to worry about making spelling mistakes when writing for your blog, leaving comments, or posting on your favorite forum.

Feed detection
When a web page offers an Atom or RSS feed, Camino will display an icon in the location bar, and clicking the icon will pass the feed to the system's default feed reading application.

Session Saving
Camino 1.5 now includes support for "session saving", or remembering what pages you were visiting when you quit and automatically loading them the next time you start. In addition, while crashes are not common, Camino can now load the pages you were visiting when you start Camino after it unexpectedly quit. Camino automatically keeps track of pages that are open in case it quits unexpectedly, and the next time you launch Camino, you will have the option of restoring the pages that were open before the unexpected quit. You can also configure Camino to restore the pages you were viewing when you chose to quit Camino; in the General preference pane, simply check the box for Load the pages that were open before quitting.

(Hooray! - although this functionality was available for earlier versions with a little add-on called CaminoSession).

Keychain compatibility
Camino can now share Keychain entries with Safari.
Keychain entries saved by Camino are now saved in a way that allows other applications to read them.

Annoyance Blocking
Since version 1.0, Camino has included both pop-up blocking and adblocking. Camino 1.5 includes an improved pop-up blocker user interface making it more visible and giving you the option to show the pop-up, whitelist the site, or never get prompted again. Additionally, Camino now includes the ability to keep Flash animation from loading until you're ready (Flashblock) as well as the ability to disable all plug-ins.

Gecko 1.8.1 Rendering Engine
At its core, Camino 1.5 uses Mozilla's Gecko 1.8.1 rendering engine, the same engine used in Firefox 2, and which contains thousands of bug fixes and support for new technologies like JavaScript 1.7.

RSS Feed Detection
Camino 1.5 supports the detection of RSS/Atom feeds in web pages. When a feed is found, an icon appears in the location bar. Clicking that icon and selecting a feed will send the feed to your default Mac OS X feed reader.

Improved Tabs
Camino's tabbed browsing now features new tooltips help you keep track of all your tabs when you can't read their titles. "Single window mode" tames sites that insist on opening new windows by forcing their new windows to open in tabs, keeping window clutter to a minimum. With "tab jumpback", when a site opens a new tab, you can "jump back" to the page you were viewing simply by closing the new tab.

Enhanced plug-in control
Camino 1.5 includes the ability to disable all plug-ins.

Flashblock: The new "Block Flash animations"? option prevents Flash from starting until the user clicks the play icon.

Window zooming
The Zoom command now resizes the window to fit the current page's content instead of making the window full-screen.

Downloading
A new optional toolbar icon in the Downloads window allows users to move downloaded files to the Trash. Items in the Downloads window can now be automatically removed upon completion or when quitting Camino.

Searching
The search field in the toolbar is now resizable. The context menu for selected text in web pages now includes a "Search"? item.

Cookie management
Camino now includes an option to accept cookies only for the current session.

User interface refresh
Camino 1.5 includes a major reorganization of menus and keyboard shortcuts. The preference panes have been redesigned.

The Camino Project is 100% open-source software, which allows a diverse group of people from around the world to work together on a product that is truly developed by and for the people. With so many eyes reviewing Camino's code, as well as that of the Gecko rendering engine, problems are caught quickly, resulting in a more robust and secure product.

This Internet plugins page shows what plugins are available for Camino.
http://plugindoc.mozdev.org/OSX.html

If you want the prettiest, most Mac-like Gecko browser that supports OS X Services and has the best bookmarks management and session restore features, Camino 1.5 is for you.

System requirements:
• Mac OS X 10.3 or later
• 50 MB free hard drive space
• 128 MB Ram

System support:
Camino 1.5 is a universal binary and runs natively on both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs

• Users of Mac OS X 10.1 should download Camino 0.8.4 and the MRJplugin.

Camino is freeware

For more information, visit:
http://www.caminobrowser.org/

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SeaMonkey 1.0.9 and 1.1.2 Web-browser Suites

SeaMonkey 1.1.2 and last-ever version of SeaMonkey 1.0.x released - team urges users to upgrade

SeaMonkey is the successor to the old Netscape Communicator the Mozilla Suite application, including a browser, email client, web/html-authoring module and chat/instant messaging clients, allowing users to conduct all their Web activities in one application.

Two new builds of SeaMonkey have been released recently, a last of series version 1.0.9 being mainly a bugfix and security enhancement of SeaMonkey 1.0.x, while version 1.1.2 is the forwardgoing version based on Mozilla's Gecko 1.8.1 layout engine.

SeaMonkey 1.1.2 closes several security vulnerabilities and fixes several smaller problems found in previous versions. With that, SeaMonkey stays at the same level of security as its siblings Firefox and Thunderbird.

Despite a simultaneous release of a last update to the SeaMonkey 1.0 series, SeaMonkey 1.0.9, the SeaMonkey project team strongly urges users to upgrade to SeaMonkey 1.1.2, as the old 1.0 series will not be maintained further. The 1.1 series, on the other hand, is being actively maintained and also features some new functionality such as spell checking in web forms and mail tags.

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In addition to users of older SeaMonkey versions, the SeaMonkey team strongly urges users of the old Mozilla Suite and Netscape 4, 6 or 7 to upgrade to SeaMonkey 1.1.2. Those software packages suffer from a large and rising number of security vulnerabilities because they are no longer being maintained. SeaMonkey 1.1.2 is a drop-in replacement, providing the same basic suite functionality plus additional features, without known security problems but with current updates.

The SeaMonkey project team took over development of the all-in-one internet application suite after Netscape and later the Mozilla Foundation ceased to work on it's Mozilla suite browser. Under the new name, users are provided with current versions of the established software package, ensuring that you can have "everything but the kitchen sink" - and have it stable enough for corporate use.

SeaMonkey 1.0.9 and 1.1.2 are available for free download from the open source project's website at:
http://www.seamonkey-project.org

For a full list of changes in version 1.1.2, visit:
http://www.mozilla.org/projects/seamonkey/releases/seamonkey1.1.2/changelog.html

I've been using the SeaMonkey alpha, beta, and final releases for nearly two years, and have found them both satisfyingly fast and mostly rock-stable. The speed is no surprise, since SeaMonkey uses the same Mozilla Gecko browser engine as is used in in the current version of FireFox

Aside from the much more attractive SeaMonkey logo, this browser otherwise looks almost exactly like old Mozilla 1.7 in terms of appearance, as well as including a Netscape Communicator style email client, a WYSIWYG web page composer and an IRC chat application, plus mozilla.org's DOM inspector and JavaScript debugger tools, SeaMonkey 1.1.2 is a powerful, comprehensive, and secure internet software package. If you are familiar with Mozilla or classic Netscape, you'll feel right at home in SeaMonkey, but underneath the hood much of the core code is shared with the Firefox 2.x browser.

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SeaMonkey Suite modules and features:

Navigator

Tabbed browsing gives you a better way to surf the net. You no longer have to open one page at a time. With tabbed browsing, open several pages at once with one click. Plus, your homepage can be multiple pages, in tabs.

Popup blocker lets you surf the web without interruption from annoying ads.

Image Manager lets you block images to remove offensive images or speed up the rendering of web sites.

Find as you type gives you another way to navigate a page. Just start typing to jump from link to link or to find a word or phrase within a page.

Plus all the features a modern browser should have including: Advanced security settings; Password, Download, and Cookie managers; Themes; multi-language and multi-platform support; and, the latest in Web Standards.

Mail & Newsgroups

Junk mail controls helps you take back control of your e-mail from spammers. SeaMonkey's adaptive junk mail control gets smarter with use and is personalized to the e-mail that you receive.

Manage your mail with customizable Labels and Mail Views. Color code your e-mail to help you prioritize. Sort your mail with views to help you through your e-mail much faster.

Multiple Accounts support helps you manage all your mail through one interface.

SeaMonkey Messenger includes Enterprise ready features such as S/MIME, return receipts, Address Books, LDAP support, and digital signing.

Composer

SeaMonkey's powerful yet simple HTML editor keeps getting better with dynamic image and table resizing, quick insert and delete of table cells, improved CSS support, and support for positioned layers. For all your documents and website projects, Composer is all you need.

As a browser, I find SeaMonkey very pleasant to use. Like the other Mozilla Gecko-based browsers, (except for Camino), it does not support OS X Services, and doesn't have Opera's wonderful resume last session feature (now also a feature of Firefox 2), but aside from those points, it does pretty well everything most of us need a browser to do, and does it well.

I haven't checked out the mail and HTML authoring modules other than to open them for a quick look, but I anticipate that if you are a user of Netscape/Mozilla Mail and/or Composer, you will feel right at home in Sea Monkey's version of those programs too.

System requirements:
* Mac OS X 10.2 or later
* PowerPC processor (266 MHz or faster recommended)
* 64 MB RAM (256 MB recommended)
* 100 MB of free hard disk space (significantly less space is required if you reduce the cache size)

System support:
PPC/Intel

Free

For more information, visit:
http://www.mozilla.org/projects/seamonkey/

Download:
http://www.mozilla.org/projects/seamonkey/releases/

___


Conclusions

So which is the best Gecko browser? There's no definitive, objective answer to that. They're all excellent products, there's little to choose among them in terms of speed, so it boils down to features, looks, and feel.

After experimenting with it for a couple of weeks, I really like Navigator 9. I like the aesthetics of the Interface, and it has several useful features such as LinkPad and Sidebar Browsing that the others don't. The downside for Mac users is that it doesn't support Cocoa features, notably OS X Services, so if that capability is important to you, Camino is your default choice. Another thing is that there seems to be a bug in Navigator 9 that causes Internet throughput to slow to a crawl or seize up altogether - not just in Navigator, but in all browsers and email clients - when Navigator is running. This is a sporadic issue, and Navigator can be quite fast by times, but the slowdown manifests and is repeatable on both my G4 17" PowerBook and my G4-upgraded Pismo (both running OS 10.4.9) and is bad enough to dissuade me from using Navigator routinely, even though I really like its looks and some of the new features. I don't know whether this would be an issue on broadband or not, but I hope it's foxed in a subsequent release. I would be interested to hear if other users have encountered anything similar.

Camino is great anyway. It's interface is the prettiest of all the Gecko browsers, IMHO, especially its rendering of details like radio buttons and pull-down menus, which look sort of crude (ie: "Windowsy") in the others by comparison. I use Camino a lot, and I think I still prefer its non-scrolling tab motif to the new one in Firefox. Camino also has the best Bookmarks Manager.

I also like SeaMonkey because it's just so rock-solid dependable. However, since I don't use its Mail or Composer modules, it takes a back seat to Firefox and Camino in my Internet tools hierarchy.

As for Firefox, It's fast and reliable, and supports a passel of plugins and skins. As I noted earlier, there's nothing wrong with Firefox. It's an excellent browser.

You won't go wrong choosing any of these browsers.

___


Appendix - Other Geckos

While Firefox, Camino, SeaMonkey and Navigator are the main general purpose Web browsers based on the Gecko engine, they aren't the only ones. Here are a couple of Gecko-based specialty browsers:

Flock 0.7.14 Web Browser

Flock is a free, open source web browser intended to make it easier to blog, publish your photos and share and discover things that are interesting to you.

Flock is a free, easy-to-use web browser built on fast and secure Mozilla technologies. Share photos, get your news, blog freely, and search your world with Flock. Flock makes it easier than ever for you to connect with your friends.

Features

Photos
Share and discover. Use drag and drop to share your photos, including built-in support for Flickr and Photobucket. Subscribe to your friends' photo streams and be the first to know when they upload new pics.

Search
Delivering results. Search your favorites, your history, and the entire web, as you type. Popular search engines are always within reach.

News
Get the scoop on what matters to you, pronto. Click the [Subscribe icon] button in the address bar to start building your own personal news service, updated with fresh content every hour.

Blogging
Post almost anywhere with our easy-to-use built-in blog editor. Drag and drop photos or text snippets from any web site.

Favorites
Click the blue star to mark any page as a favorite. Search your favorites from the search box, sync your favorites between multiple computers, or tag and share them with others.

New in Flock 0.7

Photos
* The photobar now allows you to mark photostreams as your favorite and find out when they have new photos
* Photobucket sub-album and Flickr set browsing and uploading. Allow users to refine photos displayed in photobar by album
* Photo uploading now supports multiple operations such as cropping, rotating

Search
* Search now includes live web results
* Fixed a few performance and accuracy problems.

My News
* New feature: My News allows you to subscribe to RSS feeds, be notified when they have new articles, and read them quickly, including saving them for later.

Blogging/Web Snippets
* The blog editor now uses the native Mozilla editor, and has better support for various blog platforms.

Favorites
* The Star button also allows you to mark photostreams as favorites and add RSS feeds to your news.
* We made multiple performance improvements in Favorites sharing/syncing.
* The default sharing mode is "share with my other computers".

General
* Numerous performance and stability improvements.
* New browser theme
* Allow extensions that haven't been modified for flock to be installed. Users will be warned that the extension has not been tested with flock but will be allowed to proceed.

Importing from other browsers

On install, Flock 0.7 gives you the choice to import as much as it can of your bookmarks/favorites, passwords, cookies, etc. from supported browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari. While there are many similarities, there are a few differences with how Flock behaves from these other products.

Favorites in Flock

One major difference you may notice if you have created nested folders of bookmarks/favorites is that these folders are turned into collections, and Flock only supports one level of collection (no "nesting", or collections within collections, are currently supported). Flock also "tags" the favorites in these folders with the name of the folder.

After importing into Flock, you would wind up with four collections: "Pets", "Cats", "Dogs", and "Labradors". Each of these collections would have one favorite, tagged with the name of the folder it came from, plus any "parent" folders. For example, the American Kennel Club favorite in "Dogs" would have the tags "Pets" and "Dogs", and be in a collection called "Dogs".

Since the Star button makes it so easy to mark a page as a favorite, and search makes it easy to find again, you may find searching for your favorites becomes an easier way for you to navigate them, and not miss your nested folders! However, in a future release, we hope to have a smoother way for people who are used to nested folders and a bookmarks/favorites sidebar to use Flock.

New in version 0.7.14:
• Maintenance patch incorporates Mozilla's patch 1.5.0.12.

System requirements:
Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.

System support:
PPC

Free

For more information, visit:
http://www.flock.com/

___


SunriseBrowser 1.0.6 Open-source Browser For Web Developers

Light & fast, the SunriseBrowser is a web browser for web developers. This software is developed with Cocoa/Objective-C by Xcode, and uses the same KHTML rendering engine as Safari. This is light, space-saving and gives the functions for web developers.

image


• Auto-resizable window (640,800,1024,fullscreen fullheight)
• Transparent window (both web page window & source window)
• Able to create PDF file from web page
• Draw URL string on the screen
• URL copy command (page title copy)
• Icon of the web site is able to save
• URL input field & web searching field share the field
• URL specified downloader

Features:

Window

image



Auto Resizable Window

It's possible to auto resize web window to 640x480(VGA), 800x600(SVGA), 1024x768(XGA), fullScreen, fullHeight by 1 click.
(The window display position can be operated. )

TransParent Window

Background of source window is translucent that can be adjusted.
You will be liberated from work to have to do window each other back and forth.

Moreover, the transparency of web page display window can be adjusted by the slider.

URL

image



Draw URL


When you want to show greatly clear URL like presentation and the memo, etc,
Draw URL string on your screen.
(*)This quickly is able to display from the menu and the shortcut key.

URL Copy

Other Browser is "select all string of URL field, and Command + C"
SunriseBrowser is "Shift + Command + C"

You will be liberated from annoying URL copy.

URL Field is Web Search field

URL inputing & Web searching share the field.
It can be shifted to web search earlier. and,The time of the URL string input is saved.
string with Protocol->access the URL
string without Protocol->search the Web
(*)Supported protocol = " http://, ftp://, file://, https://, javascript:"

Archiving

Page Shot (The Web page is written as PDF. )

It's able to create PDF file from Web Page
(*)specified directory in preferences.

Get the icon of the site as an image.

Favicon can be saved as Image (gif, jpg, png, tiff). Icon Image_Image

make HTML

String in source window is recognized as HTML, and it is displayed in web view. The Web page can be freely modified. (It returns to the origin when reload. ) add under the left of source window.

URL specified Downloader

The downloader displays URL. Because it enables URL to be specified. For Example, QuickTime Movie file put on the page for instance can be easily downloaded. Of course, the file of other form is also possible.

SunriseBrowser 0.737 was certified to "100%FREE" award by SoftPedia .

New in version 1.0.6:
• The cache setting was added to preferences.
• The window fader item was added into toolbar and window menu. (To make this function effective, you should customize the toolbar or check it in Advanced of preferences)
• The bug that occurs on PPC to which the bookmarks was not shown was corrected.
• The icon of Appearance in preferences was updated.

Mac OS X 10.3 or later.

System support:
PPC

Free

For more information, visit:
http://www.sunrisebrowser.com/en/




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Charles W. Moore




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Charles,

“Firefox only gives you the option of delaying the update until the next time the program is started rather than the choice of declining the update “offer.” This is just too Microsoftian for me.”

Go to Firefox Preferences/Advanced. Uncheck Firefox. You have then taken care of the problem.

huevochueco

You can now restart Navigator (and keep your current tabs intact) by selecting “Restart Navigator” from the File menu. Unfortunately, this feature still doesn’t match Session Restore in Camino (or Opera) that can be configured to load the last session after an ordinary quit and restart.

Actually, Netscape elegantly included normal session restore also.  Go to PREFERENCES > MAIN and change “When Navigator Starts:” to Show My Windows And Tabs From Last Time.  Nice & simple!

HI BF;

Thanks for the tip. I stand corrected.

Now if I could just get Navigator to work at all online....

Charles

hi i found another good browser review
http://www.browsers-review.com
cool!

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