Firefox 1.5

excellent
key review info
application features
  • comprehensive pop-up controls
  • (5 more, see all...)

What are you doing now? I guess you are browsing the Internet! What browser are you using? Well, it doesn't really matter if you are in Linux. Why is that? That's what I am going to explain in this review.

The old days when I was browsing the Internet from console using the Links textmode browser are way gone. In these days we need powerful, fast and reliable Internet browsers. The coolest browsers in Linux are in my opinion Firefox, Opera and I would also say Dillo, even if it's a whole different flavor. Konqueror and Epiphany are also also good browsers, but I am not going to mention them because they are part of larger projects like KDE & GNOME. The subject of this review will be the Firefox browser.

I remember that back in the day Mozilla's browser was very popular. I don't know exactly why, but at some point, the popularity started to drop. Mozilla had a much larger suite then, which is still under development, but people needed something simple, fast, small and reliable. Because Mozilla had a long lasting experience with web browsers, it successfully managed to materialize this needs in the form of Firefox.

What do we like about Firefox?

I like the support for tabs, but I can't say I'm amazed because in Linux most browsers support tabs. A very practical thing that Konqueror doesn't have is the ability to drag and drop and rearrange open tabs to keep related pages together. Also you can bookmark a set of tabs automatically and it creates a separate folder in bookmarks. All the tabs from a folder can also be opened at once. You can also define a set of tabs as your “home page.” This is useful if you have a set of web sites that you check every day.

Because most of the Internet is about information and finding that information fast some of the best features of Firefox might be the integrated search. It is composed of there search features: the drag and drop search, the address bar search and the find in bar search. The first one allows you to select text on a web page, and drag and drop it onto the search bar. Search engines are configurable and one can be added with just two clicks. I added IMDB. The address bar search uses Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” search tool. Here you just type something like “debian download” and takes you directly to the download page of Debian. I should get used to using this feature because it works almost every time. Sometimes, you need to find something into a page. For this you can use the shortcut Ctrl+F. At the bottom of the page it opens a discrete (it doesn't open in the middle of the window) and efficient search bar that highlights the first word as you type. If you would like it has also the possibility to highlight all the words that match.

Mozilla has implemented a smart caching system on the forward and back buttons, so the pages you are most likely to visit are preloaded withought having a visible performance impact.

An interesting feature is the Clear Private Data tool. If you have something to hide, with a single click, you can delete all personal data, including browsing history, cookies, Web form entries and passwords. Sometimes is nice to have privacy.

A unique feature is live bookmarks. First time I heard about them I didn't pay much atention but now I really find them useful. When it detects feeds on a page it allows you to create a live bookmark that sows a dropdown list with all the latest feeds. The problem is that doesn't have the ability to manual add a feed, but if you really want, you can edit an existing live bookmark to fetch another feed. Works just fine.

Firefox has also a built in pop-up blocker that works pretty good and also a tool that detect and installs flash and updates, that works... sometimes.

Even if all this are very nice features that greatly improves the web experience, Firefox will be nothing withought the simple and nice interface. It has nothing more and nothing less than it needs.

The Good

On the good side of the libra are the integrated search features and live bookmarks.

The Bad

On the bad side is that the support for mouse gestures is not integrated in Firefox. Opera is the only browser that supports mouse gestures.

The Truth

Firefox is a great alternative browser and I strongly recommend to give it a try. I think that the interface and features provide just the right amount of functionality most people need without making the browser too heavy.


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user interface 5
features 4
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 5
Editor's review
excellent
 
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