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Platforms, users stayin’ alive with browser choices

Apple Safari icon

Apple Safari icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No matter the computing platform, no matter the web browser, due to inherent limitations of browsers, platforms and systems (and although I recently made a case for Stainless on PowerPC here), there is no one size fits all mentality when it comes to surfing the web on either Windows, Apple or Linux computers.

On my Windows 7 PCs, I use Google Chrome and Firefox, depending on what I am doing, or need to do. The interfaces are just different enough, too, that I resist the temptation to use one browser exclusively, mostly so as to maintain equal dexterity with both of them. There is also always Internet Explorer 9 for those sites that for whatever reason render strangely, or for sites where you need the best compatibility in programs you use when logging in remotely to your company’s sites and services—it’s still a Windows-centric business world and that’s not changing anytime soon.

I tend to do work that does not involve writing, fastest on Windows PCs. That is because of how tightly integrated Microsoft Office is with PCs and the Internet Explorer 9 browser. Everything works more quickly and you never have to worry about compatibility issues if you live exclusively in the Microsoft business world. Open Office and LibreOffice are nice MS Office alternatives, but when you deal with either complex spreadsheets or presentations, you risk jumbled messes opening in Excel in place of the sophisticated spreadsheet you created in either OpenOffice or LibreOffice. That said, people are using these free, open source office suites with mostly good results.

On Linux I’ve used some of the browser choices available to include, but not limited to, Chrome, Firefox and Konqueror. There are many more choices, including Opera, but these three are the ones I’ve mainly experimented with. As always, your mileage will vary, as depending on your system and configuration, you will find some browser choices work better than others. Firefox on Linux is the popular standby as with stock installations such as Ubuntu, it comes as the default browser.

Most of my recent browsing variation has been done on the Mac side. Most Mac techies I know do not use Safari—Apple’s browser, for their primary web surfing. That is because most of these folks know that Google Chrome is the superior choice for speed when surfing on an Intel Mac. It loads web pages faster and doesn’t bog down like Safari after using it for awhile. Firefox is better than Safari, too, but it has its own problems by virtue of the fact you can’t decide if each new version that is released seemingly every half hour, is actually better than the last (19.0.2 by this blog post’s press time).

As a tech enthusiast and someone who advocates value computing—getting the most computing bang for your hard earned buck regardless of platform, I find the choices on the PowerPC side of the Mac equation the most interesting.

English: Browser usage share on Wikimedia Foun...

English: Browser usage share on Wikimedia Foundation projects on June 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Compared to the big two of Chrome and Firefox on either a Linux, Windows or a Mac Intel box, your choices for good speed on the PowerPC side are fairly limited. The PowerPC platform is really old in terms of computing years, but the fact that there is still such an interest world-wide in these ancient machines demonstrates that while their numbers may be diminishing overall, they are still represented quite nicely by all things web browser.

The latest release of TenFourFox (17.0.4) is getting quite a bit of love on my Power Mac G4 Sawtooth on OS X Leopard 10.5.8. Stainless still has a place in my heart, too, by virtue of the parallel sessions feature. Leopard Webkit while showing flashes of speed brilliance, still tends to bog down and become jerky for me after using it awhile. OmniWeb is great, but the appearance could use a makeover, as it feels dated. Even so, it is probably the most consistent, stable browser for Leopard OS PowerPC Macs I deploy in day-to-day use. Then there’s Camino—while it hasn’t been updated (and may never be again?) in quite some time (been at version 2.1.2 for a lonngg time), as a PowerPC user you could do a lot worse for overall speed, reliability and performance, if this were the only browser you could use.

Your browser is not who you are, it is merely a tool that you use—you are not a Mac or PC or Linux-“er.” And since no one tool gets every job done, delight in the choices available. Try as many of them as you like and support the developers of those less popular browsing choices with donations or at least let them know you appreciate their efforts—a plethora of good software availability benefits all of us.

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