Originally Published: Thursday, 25 January 2001 Author: Jayson Baird
Published to: enhance_articles_desktops/General Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Web Browser Darwinism? A Review of Mozilla

New writer Jayson Baird has been through the mill with Mozilla, so in this article, his first for us, he takes a look at Mozilla and how if fares when up against Netscape 4.76.

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Historically speaking...

When Netscape decided to open source its source to its popular browser software, public reaction was mixed. Microsoft saw it as a "last chance effort before we win" plot, while the community embraced Mozilla and waited to see what would happen next.

The rest of the world once again heard about Mozilla a few years later when Netscape released Netscape 6, a commercialized version of Milestone 18. For the rest of us open source types, let's take a look at where Mozilla is now, and how it compares to Netscape 4.76.


Milestone builds are if you want a stable Mozilla. You don't have to worry about it doing anything too horrible to your system. These are the ones you'd install on your parents' machine, just so a segfault doesn't give them a coronary.

Nightly Builds, a more "bleeding edge" flavor of Mozilla, is a more masochistic way to approach your experiences with Mozilla. I got it installed just right on my first try, and the instructions on Mozilla.org are very straight foward.

If you're on a Debian system, this can be as easy as running 'apt-get install mozilla' to get the latest stable version (you are running the stable version right?), and as for unstable, the process is basically the same, you just get a newer build.

Or if you're an RPM kinda person, RPM's of the nightlies and Milestone releases are available from Mozilla.org as well.

Running Moz

All right, enough of that installation stuff and on to the battle royale. Give Mozilla a kick start by typing 'mozilla &' at your nearest prompt. On my Dual Pentium II 450 machine it took about 13 seconds to load, but your mileage may vary. After some info about converting your Netscape profile or starting a new profile, Mozilla loads and displays a startup page ( http://mozilla.org) for me.

On first inspection, I'm running build 2001011217. Which I am assuming to be built sometime in January of this year (17, 12.. ah well, it's fairly new). Using the shell tool top I measured the memory after loading to be around 23MB taken out of my 128MB system. Now let's load some pages and time them.

First up, let's see how linux.com loads. The page was completely finished in around 10 seconds on my university T1 line. Going back to memory usage, Mozilla now weighs in at 26MB.

On to loading Slashdot.org. In 6 seconds I have all the news for nerds I could want, and memory usage is up to 27MB. Mind you after some observation, the increasing memory usage is due to the fact that Mozilla seems to be caching pages in memory (I think :) so this is forgivable if you have enough memory to survive the overhead of an all-day browsing session.

Aside from the technical parts of Mozilla (which were terribly inaccurate and will get me flamed by multiple Mozilla contributors, please correct me if I'm wrong :) I do know things about the asthetic properties of Mozilla. First, Mozilla, like your favorite window manager, is themeable. x.themes.org has some linkage and instructions on how you can make or install themes for Mozilla.

As for the other parts, an addition to a sidebar, or navigational aid, whatever, basically gives you a very hard- to-go-away channel bar like Windows users have for Internet Explorer. At times it is a handy tool for searching and keeping your bookmarks handy, but most of the time for me it gets in the way. This of course can be shut off under the view menu. Other people (my mother is a Mozilla user, for example) find it as a nice way to view the Web to keeps tabs on the places they go frequently. It isn't really built for straight surfing.

Iron Chef Netscape vs. Mozilla

Mozilla does always seem to be a challenger to its big brother Netscape. Netscape, featuring fast loading and rendering times, is still the favorite among the Linux users I know., But Mozilla has caught on with me, and I'm no longer having to deal with consistent segfaults after hitting alt+left arrow or alt+right arrow. I'd recommend trying Mozilla for a while. If you're the kind who doesn't keep a Netscape window open all day long, just once open Mozilla and play around a bit. You may find yourself a convert like me.

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