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A dream realized: Mozilla 1.0

Mozilla 1.0 went gold Wednesday, and it’s a keeper.
After years of suffering through Netscape 4.x, Netscape loyalists finally have a browser that’s worth upgrading to. Mozilla 1.0 offers speed that’s comparable to the latest versions of Internet Explorer (when it’s not downright faster), along with better standards compliance, fewer security holes (did you catch the security hole in IE’s gopher implementation Wednesday?) and compelling features that IE lacks.

I wish you belief in life, belief in fate. Belief you are lucky, and worth the wait. –‘Til Tuesday

It’s been more than 4 years coming, and it’s going to take a lot more than luck to regain the ground the Mozilla family tree has lost since 1997. But in all honesty, it offers a lot. Maybe not enough for the world at large, but it offers more than enough for me.

Like what? Tabbed browsing, for one thing. Tabs are one of those things that you don’t realize you love until you’re forced to work without them. You can keep one window open and have a dozen sites open inside it, instead of cluttering up your screen with a dozen windows. Switch by clicking a tab. Want to open a link without losing your place? Right click and tell it to open the link in a new tab. Opera offered a multi-window view for years, but the Galeon project for Linux perfected it with a tab interface. Opera has since adopted a similar interface, while Mozilla almost lifted it outright.

Opening tabs is considerably faster than opening a new window, by the way.
Still more? You can block those infuriating popups and popunders with Mozilla’s option to disable Javascript on page load. Javascript still works for sites that need it, just not when the page is loading. So now you can lose those popup killers.

Need more? You’re one tough customer. Let’s say you go to a Web page and find an objectionable banner or sidebar ad. Right-click on the ad, then choose “Block images from this server.” Do this for all the objectionable ads on a site, then reload and repeat. After doing this a few times, chances are you’ll have eliminated all the bad ads from a given page–and from other pages too, since many sites use the same ad servers.

Even more? OK, here’s a longime Netscape feature that IE never stole. If you tend to browse with images turned off for speed, you can go to the View menu and pick Display images to quickly and temporarily turn images back on, one time only. You have to go through a lot of gymnastics to turn images off and on in IE.

Still more? OK. Mozilla’s scaling actually works, unlike IE’s, which is easily defeated. So now you can crank your display resolution up to 3200×2400 and run your fonts at 8x normal size so you don’t go blind. Plus it’s keyboard-accessible, so you can quickly and easily scale by hitting Ctrl-+ and Ctrl–, in case viewing becomes uncomfortable.

On a somewhat related note, you can modify the look of pages that use stylesheets. If you’re handy with crafting your own stylesheet, you can override the stylesheets used on any Web page by going to View, Use Stylesheet. So if you hate your favorite Web site’s new design, there’s a quick and easy cure for that, as long as they use stylesheets (many do). I don’t bother, since I generally trust designers, but I know some people don’t.

I do wish Mozilla would steal IE’s Ctrl-Enter shortcut (which prepends www. and appends .com to whatever you type) as it’s a real keystroke-saver. But given all the other features the Microsoft-lackey tech journalists don’t want you to know about, I’m willing to give that one up. Maybe it’ll eventually arrive anyway.

The 1.0 release is largely symbolic; I’ve been using various Mozilla builds since early in the 0.9 series and found them to be no less usable or stable than other browsers, although, admittedly, it wasn’t until 1.0RC2 that Mozilla became my primary (almost exclusive) browser in Windows. It’s been better than Netscape 4.x for some time now.

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5 thoughts on “A dream realized: Mozilla 1.0”

  1. I’ve been solidly behind Mozilla using it as my only (well 99%+) browser and mail client. The more I use it the more I’ve come to love it. I not too sure it needs IE’s Ctrl-Enter shortcut. I find that just typing in the main site name and hitting Enter cause the name to resolve 9 out of 10 times. The only thing I want now is a spell checker for mail.

  2. I have to say that Mozilla has been on my windows system since the early .9 builds. Like you Dave, I found it to be stable and fast at rendering. I would also like to see that ctrl enter trick added, but it is a minor thing I guess.

    But I have to say that Since using Opera since about 3.5 or so, I found it’s multi window format no harder or worse than the tabbed feature of Mozilla and Galeon.

  3. Ooh, here’s a good tip I hadn’t seen yet. Go into Edit, Preferences, Advanced, HTTP Networking, and enable Pipelining. It lets it do multiple HTTP requests even if the remote server hasn’t answered on the previous one yet. When it helps, it helps a lot.

  4. I grabbed Mozilla 1.0 and the latest Galeon I could find (1.2.3) and installed ’em on my Linux box at work. The Galeon RPM had to be installed with ‘–nodeps’ because it was looking for a 1.0 “Release Candidate” version of Mozilla, but it works just fine. As has been mentioned here before, Galeon is great – very lean and fast.

  5. I’ve been tinkering with Mozilla a bit, and my principle complaint against it is that it’s bit slow compared to the free version of Opera 6 I’m now using. Otherwise, I really like the aforementioned tabbed-browsing system; I love Multiple Document Interface and can’t figure out why so many users and software vendors (like M$) pooh-pooh it. I also like the built-in IRC client – I don’t do IRC all that much, but I like to have a chat client handy from time to time. Integration is also what I like about Opera 6; unlike IE, Opera’s nifty little mail client is built right into the browser (as is the news reader) and everything works together really well (with a few minor annoyances), in addition to being easy on my hard drive (<3M) and pretty zippy. I like Mozilla’s package and hope the Mozilla team will take a look at Opera and considering integrating some of its UI design.

    Ultimately though, I’m not writing in to plug Opera. I’m writing to share my joy in being free of the trismegabloated and oh-so-painfully-slow Internet Exploiter, along with Outlook Express. I used to like both because they were feature-filled (particularly OE) and I had gotten used to them. Now I’ve had a taste of the alternatives and I LIKE it!

    I think Mozilla is in for the long haul. It seemed that Netscape pretty much gave up on Communicator when IE killed its commercial market share. They couldn’t make a profit off it any more, so why bother? The Mozilla team is cut out of Open-Source cloth and do it because they love the work (well, most of the time I imagine they do). In fact, I don’t see why someone doesn’t just consign Netscape to history by folding it up into Mozilla (I know that seems a bit backward since technically Mozilla is a Netscape fork). Perhaps it doesn’t make much practical difference since the Netscape and Mozilla teams are chummy.

    In any case, users have in Mozilla a standards-compliant browser with great features and performance (not to mention an attractive price point ;-]) and it’s barely broken its first major version number. The best is yet to come.

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