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Rubber Turnip - The Perfect Browser

[Screen Shot] Yesterday, about 15 minutes before I was due to finish work for the day, I had something of an epiphany as I realised that Galeon 0.12.6, the first release candidate of the Mozilla based browser for GNOME, is as close to my perfect browser as I've ever seen. Some explanation for this bizarre statement would seem to be in order.

The current version of Galeon is built againt the latest release of Mozilla (0.9.5), itself an exceptional product on the whole, but with some issues that prevent me falling in love with it (such as the XUL interface which kind of slows the whole thing down, and the inclusion of a mail/news client, HTML editor, IRC client etc etc). For quite a few releases now, Mozilla on GNU/Linux has succesfully supported all Netscape plugins. All that is, apart from the Adobe Acrobat ReaderTM plugin.

Leaving issues of Adobe's evilness aside, PDF is a very useful format to be able to read, and while it may seem like a small issue, I quite like being able to view any PDF I come across on the web within my browser window, it keeps my desktop uncluttered. Mozilla 0.9.5 is the first release to support the PDF plugin, and therefore, any other application (such as Galeon) built against it also has that support.

One supported plugin does not a perfect browser make of course, Galeon has a whole lot else going for it. The fact of it being a GNOME browser is massive plus. GNOME is my desktop of choice, and Galeon integrates perfectly with it. It can act as the default browser for whichever URL types you choose within GNOME, and can use GNOME's URL handlers for those protocols you don't want to use Galeon for. I absolutely detest using a browser for FTP, I much prefer to use a dedicated FTP client. I have GNOME configured to use gFTP as the default FTP client, and as such, if I click on an FTP link within Galeon, up pops gFTP, and it connects to the server in question. Mailto links are handled by Evolution in the same way.

Galeon has supported tabbed browsing since version 0.8.3 or 0.8.4, back at the end of 2000, a feature Mozilla has only officially included in 0.9.5, and this feature has now become quite mature, with the amount of control the user has over the behaviour of the tabs and their close buttons reaching a point where I consider it complete. The usefulness of this feature simply cannot be overstated. Desktop real-estate is a valuable commodity (I could of course have dozens of virtual desktops, but I prefer to use one main desktop with a couple of additional ones for specific applications) and having one browser window with several tabs is infinitely preferable to perhaps as many as ten individual windows. Galeon will even open popups as tabs (or block them altogether).

The one other feature of Galeon upon which I have come to rely is the Smart Bookmarks. A toolbar with search fields for, well, basically whatever you want. There are a good number of predefined ones, but I suspect it is possible to create your own. I've never tried this, as the four things I want are already defined.

These fantastic features coupled with Galeon's speed and size (my stripped binary is only 828k!) mean that I could not reccomend another browser to anyone. It is applications like Galeon that will ensure that Linux does become more of a force in desktop computing, it is simply the best browser around, on any platform. Period.

© 2001 James Ogley