Valid XHTML 1.0!


 

(state as of 30. Dec 2004, Opera and other versions update; proceed to Mozilla/Gecko based browsers)

Preliminary remarks: the so-called browser wars are not really over and will never be, no doubt. Even an illegal monopoly by an aggressive company can't hide the fact, that there are other useful browsers too. I have divided this overview into three parts: text browsers, main browser versions and Mozilla/Gecko browser family members (this family is prospering impressively).

Part One: Text Browsers

Their main advantages are even threefold: they don't need any GUI to work, they are very fast due to the lack of graphical rendering and they don't waste any resources (bandwidth, time and/or money) to display images, which is appropriate for certain kinds of text information only sites (for example, my own site is a very text browser friendly one, you can visit it this way without any major drawback, I think) or handicapped people like blinds.

There are essentially three different of these: the ancient, first browser of all named Lynx, which makes only one hit per invocation/key pressed: it displays only non-framed pages without tables without causing confusion therefore (tables come without borders, frames are only displayed as single pages). But it is very widespread and runs virtually everywhere. The other two newer ones are Links and w3m, which have frame rendering support (w3m offers the choice between frame rendering and Lynx style choice of single frames to display). There are minor differences between these two in text coloring and images support (which is present in w3m using external helper applications on a GUI like X11; more recent versions can even display inline images when running on X11) and speed (links is the fastest frame rendering browser, which I have ever tested).

The Main Browser Models of Today

The following table contains the current state of the notable desktop/workstation browsers and their availability on non-dead and not yet dying operating systems (therefore I have neither included Symbian nor OS/2 or the old Mac OS <9.22; which makes it essentially a UNIX flavor and last proprietary OS table). Only the most important Mozilla derivatives are included here, for a complete(?) overview of those see below... Operating systems available on severaly processor architectures are listed with their prevailing platform only, the current browser major version numbers are indicated too. Names in braces mean difficult or no more (but formerly) availability on a platform. Finally: the FreeBSD and HP-UX systems are rather seldom used for internet surfing, but included for different availabilities than on the also mentioned other UNIX flavors. (and Dillo is somewhat in between text browsers and full featured graphical browsers, by the way)

browser\OSGNU/LinuxFreeBSDSolarisHP-UXother X-server UNIX'sMac OS XMS Windows
Netscape (6–)7x-x--xx
Mozilla 1xxxxxxx
Firefox (= Mozilla Firebird, Phoenix) 1 *x(x)x--xx
Galeon 1 *xxxxx(x)-
AOL 8 *-----x (Gecko)x (IE?!)
Netscape 4 *xxxxx-x
Opera 7xxx--xx
Konqueror 3 (qt, KDE buildin) *xxxxxx-
Safari 1*-----x-
Dillo 0 (beta)xxxxx(x)-
iCab 3 (beta)-----x-
OmniWeb 5 *-----x-
MSIE *--(x, V5)(x, V5)-x (V5)x (V6)

Some special remarks about this table:

Firefox/Mozilla Firebird/Phoenix: XUL browser originally only build for M§ Windows and shortly after GNU/Linux, can be run on FreeBSD, Solaris and Mac OS X (what I have successfully tested on 10.1.5, 10.2 and 10.3) and even OS/2(!)

Galeon: with the fink(.sourceforge.net) project it can be build and run on OS X too, but requiring an X server and without plugins (equally you can build and run an X server based Mozilla without plugin support there too, by the way!)

AOL: strangely despite they switched on Mac OS X from IE to Gecko as browser base (as on their CompuServe daughter for MS Windows too!), but not (yet) on MS Windows — maybe a political or performance issue or both (on OS X Mozilla renders at least equally fast as IE 5, while on MS Windows IE 6 renders HTML much faster than Mozilla)

Netscape 4: this dated browser was never ported to the youngest OS with it's different GUI API, but is still available on the also dated old Mac OS <=9.22

Safari and Konqueror: the (only) thing they share is the KDE component KHTML, which serves as basic HTML handling respective engine part

OmniWeb 4: a special Mac OS X only (derived from NextSTEP, the father GUI of OS X) browser fully integrated into Aqua via Cocoa, like the much superior Chimera (= Camino) browser (a Mozilla derivative, see below); with OmniWeb 4.5 the rendering capabilities have considerably increased by using the Safari Webkit, which is KHTML based

MSIE: the UNIX versions (5) for Solaris and HP-UX were discontinued in autumn 2002 due to several reasons, I guess (too seldom used: no monopoly could be established on these UNIX systems; politics: to prevent requirement of a GNU/Linux version by court; the usual narrow mindedness of them regarding different platforms, or any other reasons). The Mac version seems to be doomed too, with the advent of Apples own Safari browser no version 6 is expected to be built on OS X and the version 5 is no more developed. This was finally confirmed by the Redmond mob recently: no version 6 will be created and 5.24 will be/is the final one for Mac OS X.

The Family of Mozilla/Gecko Engine Browsers

You can easily count below, that these are at now not less than ten (!) different browser derivatives all from the same rendering engine, therefore rendering virtually equally fast, by the way. Some are fully portable, others not, others fully integrated respective adapted to a single platform. In above overview already 4.5 Mozilla derivatives were listed (the 0.5 accounts for the AOL split between Gecko and IE base), so this is equally important in numbers and distribution. Here also some more seldom found browsers are therefore included too. I have sorted these according to the frequency used, with the more obscure ones at bottom. For the above also listed ones see there for additional remarks...

browser\OSGNU/Linuxother X server UNIX'sMac OS XMS Windows
Netscape 6–7xxxx
Mozilla 1xxxx
Galeon 1 *xx(x)-
Firefox/Firebird (Phoenix) 1 *x-(x)x
Camino=Chimera 0 (beta) (*)--x-
AOL 8 *--x(x)
Epiphany 1xx(x)-
Beonex 0 (stable)x(x)xx
Skipstone 0x---
K-Meleon 0 (beta)---x
Wazilla 1xxxx
Ghostzilla 1---x
DocZilla 1x--x

I guess you expect some explanations about these last seven special Mozilla derivatives:

Epiphany is a very small, feature-reduced cousin of Galeon, otherwise also GNOME based

Beonex is another pure XUL browser like Mozilla itself and Phoenix, and has some privacy enhancing features and better default security settings than Mozilla itself. Should compile on any platform, the braces above refer to the lack of Solaris and other binary versions, while one for FreeBSD is available.

Skipstone is a simple GTK+ using Mozilla derivative and has therefore the advantage, that it doesn't need GNOME like Galeon and being equally fast in handling windows.

K-Meleon is a dated version of a special M§-Win integrated build during the Mozilla beta times, it seemed not to be developed any further; but Correction: recently they have again released a current version after one year of no (visible) activity --- now it is an alternative for Win-only users again.

Wazilla is a Japanese Mozilla derivative with some bug fixes and extra features.

Ghostzilla is a "stealth" browser (please don't abuse it!) to prevent others largely from seeing what you are browsing.

DocZilla is a commercial XUL browser with additional SGML handling/viewing functions.

For even more detailed browser informations look at Upsdells browser overview.
 

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remarks etc. to: stefan.urbat@apastron.lb.shuttle.de

(URL:  http://www.lb.shuttle.de/apastron/browsTb.htm)