April 25, 2002

Three reasons to fall in love with Mozilla

- By Robin "Roblimo" Miller -
Ah, Mozilla. It's been up and it's been down, but it's finally starting to get some respect. What follows are my personal reasons for liking Mozilla. Other browsers have some or all of these features, but Internet Explorer has none of them. And any one of these features ought to be enough to make even the most recalcitrant Explorer user switch browsers. (Why would I care what browser other people use? Because I'm tired of this kind of online silliness, which can only exist in a world where one browser dominates the marketplace. Grrr.)
Tabbed browsing

This is what got me to try Mozilla 0.9.8 instead of the mediocre-but-predictable Netscape I had been using as my primary browser, and I only did it because co-worker Timothy Lord ("timothy" on Slashdot) raved so long and hard about the Mozilla implementation of this feature, which Opera has had in a slightly different form for some time, that I decided to take the plunge.

I now use a combination of tabs within one window, and multiple windows, to sort sites by function and linkage. I usually work on a number of writing and editing projects at once, and it's very nice to assign a browser window to each project, then open related sites as tabs within that window. So far I have not noticed a limit on the number of tabs or windows I can keep open at the same time. The most I've counted at any one time was six windows running a total of 22 tabs, but I've had many more than that going at times when I was too busy to stop and count them.

Tabbed browsing is one of those features you don't know you need until you have it. Once you have it and get used to it, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.

Text zoom

Many sites (including Linux.com and NewsForge) use fonts that are too small to read on some monitors. MSIE has a "text size" feature that'll change most font sizes, but won't override all font-size settings on every site. Mozilla's Text Zoom will. Opera has a similar utility, but I like the behavior of Mozilla's better. Netscape commercial browsers have it, same as Mozilla (as near as I can tell) but the stability I'm getting from Mozilla 0.9.8 is so much better than anything I've seen from the commercial Netscapes that you might as well write off the Netscapes and switch to Mozilla anyway.

Say goodbye to irritating ads

If you are using MSIE you need to get third-party, add-on software to kill annoying popup ads. If you use Opera you need to pay $35 to make Opera itself ad-free. But Mozilla has a preference setting (Advanced -> Scripts and Windows) you can use to eliminate popup (and popunder) ads built right in, no charge. You can also shut off the annoying habit some sites have of grabbing your browser controls and opening full-screen windows. You can also control "cookies" completely so that you only get them from the site you are visiting, thereby turning off any from third-party adservers like those owned by the ubiquitous DoubleClick. Or you can turn off all cookies, although many sites use them to maintain logins and for other non-nefarious purposes. It's up to you.


Mozilla can also limit or turn off animation in animated GIFs. I love this. There are sites I like to look at now and then, including MSNBC.com and WashingtonPost.com, that are often rendered nearly unreadable by popups and animated banner ads. Take away these annoyances, and these sites (and almost all other ad-supported sites) suddenly become a pleasure to view.

I'm not alone in liking Mozilla

After I wrote the above words, a friend pointed me to some Mozilla praise at Time.com. I used to know Lev Grossman, who wrote the Time.com story, and he is a very mainstream guy, not an Open Source zealot (as I have been accused of being). Interesting. I think we're going to see a lot more positive reviews of Mozilla before long -- and not just in leading-edge tech media, either.

Remember, Mozilla is not quite at 1.0 status, so you may still see bugs. I am sticking to 0.9.8 for the moment, myself, because it is stable (on Linux, which is what I run, of course), and does everything I need for the moment -- and because it is the version included with the download edition of Mandrake 8.2. Adventurous souls can find newer versions at mozilla.org.


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