Monday, June 16, 2008

Opera 9.5 For Linux : Hits n Misses

I have always been a great fan of Opera. Ever since its first version, Opera has always been the dark horse in the browser wars. The first to introduce tabbed browsing, integrated e-mail and IRC client, customizable themes, the quick content toggle buttons etc., Opera led the innovation race but failed to garner market share.

Opera has released v9.5 of it's desktop browser with a host of new features aimed at faster browsing speeds, better synchronization and rendering of modern standards.Here we discuss installation, setup and the great and not-so-great features of the linux version of this release.

Installing it is a breeze. autodetects the distro. If not, select your distro and download the installation file. For ubuntu/debian users, deb files are available. RedHat/Fedora users can get the rpms.

Double clicking on the debs in ubuntu would start GDebi that will start the installation process. Same works for other distros as well with their own package managers.

If you love the terminal, simply do this (Ubuntu)

$ sudo gdebi opera_9.50.etch-qt3_i386.deb

Great! Once you are done, let us try the new Opera9.5.

The interface has got a nice makeover with all the regular bells and whistles which opera users have already come to know and love. It's touted as twice as fast compared to it's previous release v9.2. It also sports Opera Link, offering integrated synchronization of bookmarks and other notes between multiple machines, as well as between the desktop version of the browser and Opera Mini, the edition scaled for mobile phones.
Here are the list of features in the current release.

Now for the big question, is it worth moving over to Opera from firefox?
Opera is definitely fast with the only browser coming close to it's speed being the new firefox 3.0 rc2. There is still no substitute in firefox for the image toggle buttons. They are a life saver when you have a slow bandwidth connection as you can skip loading heavy images.

Opera loses out when it comes to rendering complex websites. Blogger for instance, struggles in Opera. From the screenshot, it's clear some of the javascripts aren't compatible with opera.

Firefox has loads of useful addons which have become such an integral part of our browsing experience. Unfortunately, due to the lacklusture community support, the widgets and addons are still unpolished and underdeveloped. Firebug is something I really miss on Opera. Luckily Opera is working on Dragonfly,which will be the foundations of Opera's upcoming Developer Tools with an ability to debug JavaScript, inspect CSS and the DOM, and view any errors.

Bottomline is, Opera is still a really fast and light browser with some really innovative features. Its uncluttered and friendly interface will attract a lot of new users. In coming days, it will face some really stiff competition with firefox 3.0 which is optmised, faster and lighter than ever before. It's a tough path ahead but hopefully with a small but loyal community of opera enthusiasts, it will sail pass and make a mark for itself in this highly competitive browser segment.

Enjoy using Opera as I always have for the past so many years :)


Anonymous said...

some of the features i really like are voice commands, mouse gestures and the new bittorrent support.

Anoj said...

These features were present even in the previous releases. This release introduces a newer engine, a smarter toolbar and Opera Links.
But yes, Opera has always been the first when it comes to innovation. It's sad it's so under appreciated.

Anonymous said...

"There is still no substitute in firefox for the image toggle buttons. They are a life saver when you have a slow bandwidth connection as you can skip loading heavy images."

Opera has an images toggle ages ago. Please use costumize toolbar in opera to find it!

Anoj said...

That's exactly what I meant. Opera always had image toggle since it's first version, I guess ;)