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Office Suite Evaluation: Web Browser

Assignment: view a HTML test suite.

The Windows competitors for web browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape for Windows.

(No web browser.)

KDE: Konqueror (screenshot)

The combination web browser and file manager is called Konqueror. From what I've seen, it's quite complete and functional. In testing, it appears accurate in its implementation of HTML 4.0, CSS and Javascript. It does not emit unexpected error messages.

Resource usage: installed size 3.4 Mb, virtual 56.3 Mb, rss 19.7 Mb, CPU 1 sec (to initialize and display one web page). In addition there are four kio_http subprocesses each with a rss of 7.5 Mb (not necessarily individual).

Gnome: Nautilus (screenshot)

The combination web browser and file manager is called Nautilus. It is not a full-featured, general purpose web browser; the web browsing capability is kind of an add-on to its main function, which is file management. Actually, out of the box it has some strange defaults so it won't show HTML at all; you see it as if it were text/plain. It can open a HTTPS connection and retrieve content, but it cannot submit any forms, nor can it present a X.509 user certificate to gain access to content protected in that way. I did not test this, but I have my doubts that it can do basic authentication either. It doesn't have special styles for a number of semantic tags such as <code>, nor physical styles such as <tt>. It doesn't do quoting at all (<q> and <blockquote>). Nor does it do much with fonts. It does do inline images, but it does not do frames.

Forcing it with a heavy hand to do a HTML test suite led it to crash twice. Both the menus provided by SuSE, and Nautilus itself, direct you to open web pages with Konqueror, Mozilla or Netscape.

Resource usage: installed size 8 Mb, virtual 64.7 Mb, rss 27.1 Mb, CPU 7 secs (to do the HTML test suite). This includes the main Nautilus process and the zoo of multithreaded text view and HTML view subroutines.

Opera (screenshot)

The Opera web browser is produced by an independent company, and either you pay for it (recommended) or you watch ads. It has full features and has one of the more complete and correct HTML implementations. The author prefers it over all others.

Resource usage: Installed size 13.4 Mb, virtual 23 Mb, rss 16.6 Mb, CPU 3 secs (to display the HTML test suite plus a few other pages).

Netscape 4.80 (screenshot)

Netscape is widespread in the UNIX world and is loved by many, and cursed by many others including this author. It is known for its numerous idiosyncracies in how it renders web pages and interprets Javascript (invented by Netscape). It can present X.509 certificates to get secure content (another innovation by Netscape). Much as I hate to say it, Netscape can be considered a credible contender for a user's web browser. Resource usage: installed size 33 Mb, virtual 42.5 Mb, rss 20.1 Mb, CPU 2 secs (to view the HTML test suite). Figures include the DNS helper process.

This is the Netscape source code released for open-source development. It is available in the SuSE distro but I have never tested it. It is said to have all the bad features of Netscape.

Conclusion: KDE's Konqueror, Opera or Netscape are all suitable as web browsers. Gnome's Nautilus is not intended as a browser, and Gnome users will have to pick one of the others.

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