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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Browser Update : Opera 10 beta and Google Chrome

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Past few weeks saw lot of activity in Linux Internet Browser sphere, finally after waiting almost an year; an early alpha developer version of WebKit based Google Chrome was made available. Also, Opera released beta version of their popular web-browser, Opera 10 Beta.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome was released almost an year back with much fanfare, it was initially available only for Microsoft Windows and Google promised to develop Linux and Mac OS X version of the web-browser. In the mean time , people eager to try Google Chrome on Linux and Mac OS X had to resort to version of Chrome running atop translation layer Wine and infact Codeweavers, released a package combining WINE and Google Chrome together for Linux. This , though worked was extremely slow, was bugged and provided no real benefit over native Linux web browser like Konquereor , Opera or Mozilla Firefox.

Now , after almost an year of development , controversy; Early Pre Alpha build of Google Chrome ( Chromium) is out!. I managed to try Google Chrome Dev channel build on my Ubuntu 9.04 desktop.

It was extremely simple to install Google Chrome , owing to fact that Chromium developers were generous enough to provide both 32 bit and 64 bit (.deb) package. You can get the package from this page.

NOTE: I wouldn't recommend installing this pre alpha release of Google Chrome for the sole purpose of using it as primary desktop web browser, as among many other things it lacks number of privacy feature , is unstable and may contain potentially dangerous bugs.

Once, you have install Google Chrome; you should be able to launch it from Applications -> Internet -> Google Chrome.



Google Chrome, after much confusion and controversy about Graphical Tool Kit to use , is based on GTK+ Graphical Tool Kit. Hence,its look and feel is similar
to your normal Gnome application

Google Chrome even though is alpha/pre-alpha release is quiet usable, the rendering was fast and almost all of the websites opened without any hitch. However, since a number of features have not been implemented; it lacked support for any plugins , so websites which rely on plugins like Mono or Adobe Flash don't load properly. Another, let down was the font rednering,which needs to be worked upon. A number of dialog boxes are yet to be implemented , they had options missing e.g: incomplete book mark support , missing features in options dialog etc.

Incognito browsing in Google Chrome


Google Chrome alpha supports tab browsing , has some rudimentary privacy and developer features, supports incognito browsing ( does not keep track of cookies, webpage is not saved in history etc) but that's pretty much it. It is still in development and it will some time before we have fully functional browser. Though, it is shaping up pretty well.

Opera 10

Opera has been a dark horse in the Desktop Browser market for some time now .Opera had been plagued with cluttered and non user-friendly interface for some time now, which probably has attributed to it having a small fraction of Desktop Browser Market; in spite of having extremely feature rich browser.

Opera released beta version of their software, codenamed Perigerene a couple of weeks back. Opera 10 beta features, fresh , professional looking and clean interface compared to previous release of Opera. This,interface revamp could be partially credited to Opera hiring John Hicks(credited with designing Mozilla Firefox logo) a popular British designer last October.

Opera 10 beta includes new Turbo technology , that improves the loading time of web-pages by almost 40%(as claimed by Opera).It does so by compressing the images, the page might not look good but for people like me who get speed of 4 Kilobytes per second during day in the university where I am studying, it is heaven sent gift.

The interface is slick , icons are much more user friendly and better looking, and one piece of genius is the new tab bar ,besides being clean and attractive, it is resizeable allowing you to drag the bar downward giving you thumbnail view of the opened tabs.

Notice thumbnail view of opened tabs at the top of the window.

Opera is extremely fast and probably has one of the most user-responsive graphical interface. Like the previous release, Opera still has Speed dial(which can now be personalized) allowing you to open frequently visited websites quickly.

Other cool features include , inline spell checker , better support for online search , new crash reporting tool and compliance to standards ( it scored perfectly to Acid3 webstandard compliance test and supports HTML 5).

Installing , Opera 10 beta is easy. Download debian package for Ubuntu from this page and install using dpkg -i command.

Overall ,Font rendering is something I did not like , fonts looked funny on my PC(could be due to missing fonts) besides that Opera 10 beta is feature rich and impressive. The interface is asthetic (though one could improve choice of colours used :P) besides that it is one web browser to look forward to coming out of beta(I liked it more compared to Google Chrome).


Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (blogambuj@gmail.com)
For Linux on Desktop Blog , http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com
(C) 2009 , Ambuj Varshney