Netscape 6 Review
Open Source (Free)
Most web browsers on the market today for Linux seem to be lacking. There doesn't seem to be any browsers that have good features, support, standards, and stability. When Netscape released it's version 6 it claim to have: "the best standards support of any browser engine available.
It supports more Web standards, more deeply, more consistently across platforms and devices than any other browser engine in history." Of course I thought "cool, it must be pretty good". Then I saw the reference to it possibly being an IE (Internet Explorer) killer. That got me worried. Usually when IE is mentioned it refers to Microsoft Windows applications, not Linux.
As we all know, comparing MS applications to Linux applications is like comparing apples to Oranges. I decided to download Netscape 6 and put it to the test. I didn't have anything to lose since the current browsers I was using just plain sucked.
I tried installing Netscape two ways, using the installer and running it off of a CD. Running the installer was fairly simple (follow the instructions). After connecting to the Internet (dial-up) I ran the installer script. It launched a nice looking GUI and ran me through the steps. Not bad. The problem was I could not finish the download this way, it kept on stalling. That was either attributed to my ISP or a busy site. I gave up and connected through my LAN instead (T-1 Internet access). The installer ran just fine and I soon had a workable copy of Netscape 6 running on my computer.
Upon launching the browser I noticed it was really slow. It took forever to load. That struck me as odd since my system is running an Athlon 750 and 256MB ram. I checked my running processes and noticed a Java virtual machine running. I decided to open a new browser with CTRL+N and noticed that it loaded a lot faster. I decided to do some testing.
In previous versions of Netscape, I noticed that if I opened too many browsers at one time it would crash (I believe it was a memory problem with Linux versions, I may be wrong though). Netscape 6 worked like a champ! I then went to Hotmail home page (a Microsoft webmail site). That actually crashed the browser. I ended up having to kill the Netscape process. That particular problem again hasn't happened again so far.
The browser itself has had a major facelift. On the left hand side is "My Sidebar". Included are useful items such as a Search (customizable) button, news, buddy list (Instant Messaging), stock portfolio, track auctions, or play music. There are over 600 tabs to choose from available through Netscape or third parties. Another feature is changing the Netscape 6 "skin" though the use of themes. With the smart-update feature you can connect to the Netscape website and it will notify you of any updates to install. Just choose which ones you want, follow the steps, and download. Again, I've had problems using this feature over a modem dial-up connection but not over a T-1.
Plus you get all of the features that were bundled in Previous versions (mail, news, etc.)
New in Version 6
- My sidebar
- Integrated search
- Integrated communications, Netscape Mail
- Instant messaging
- More customizable features
Overall, I think the browser suite is pretty good. I would like to see the startup a bit speedier, better Java support, and more plugins from the vendors. Currently most are developed for the Ms Windows versions, go figure huh? The "extras" like the My Sidebar can be either turned off or minimized which definitely proves that the suite is totally customizable. It's easy to use, install, and navigates quite well.
ConclusionThe Good - Pros
- Easy to use and install
The Bad - Cons
- Limited Java support (to be corrected)
- Slow on initial load
The Ugly - Issues
- Stability issues, crash loading certain pages
- Still limited Java support
The Verdict - Opinion
Great browser suite. Hope to see the Java problems corrected.