Valid XHTML 1.0!


(last updates 13. Oct 2002 and 2. Jan 2003, Chimera, X-Mozilla and simple graphical Dillo browser added, performance additions, OS X update and 25. Nov 2002 browser statistics)

Preliminary Remarks

As young as Mac OS X is, the browsers, which are always rather complicated pieces of software (you should be always aware of this fact!), are far from being as well "completed" as on platforms like GNU/Linux (look there for details, there Opera is by far the fastest and least resource consuming, and Mozilla by far the most capable and complete one), where the development time advantage can be easily seen, or with browsers on the evil monopoly OS's. Just give them a little more time... Chances are good, that when you're reading this modern --- but even not up-to-date the latest w3c recommendation conforming regarding the XHTML version! --- page, you will see minor failures of your browser. While resorting to ingredients already present in HTML 4 for most parts, I can't avoid using some more advanced XHTML features anymore, and so the first test is: could you read the ' entitity as ' or is it not resolved? As on GNU/Linux (in this very respect only!) just the modern browsers Mozilla (and its derivatives like Netscape 6, Galeon or Nautilus) and Opera since version 5 display this correctly (safe for the text browser links, which does too), because they are the only XML and XHTML aware browsers for this OS at now! The M$IE and the Mac special icab respective Mac OS X (and NextStep) Omniweb special browsers can't convert in the current versions to the correct character in the displayed HTML page. Another test: is this single symbol € the new Euro currency sign or just blank or a piece of junk? --- And the performance of the browsers compared to other systems is generally no good... Look at the table below!

The same table as for the GNU/Linux rendering evaluation was used (1.8 MB HTML page with several pictures and big tables on it), the hardware is a spring 2002 double G4 processor 1 GHz Mac with a Nvidia GeForce 4 MX graphic adapter, which causes a hardware acceleration compared to the PII machine of about 5 to 20, depending on the special calculations performed. It was run on OS X 10.1.3 and 10.1.4, while no measurable differences were found to the predecessor 10.1.2, so either there is no performance gain with that minor update, or this special test isn't affected by the update. But this has changed with the 10.1.5 update due to font rendering changes... So I have labeled these newer ones below as such. Finally: I will check out performance on GNU/Linux of the there available browsers on this PowerPC hardware (the text ones and Mozilla and Opera) as early as possible, so we will see probably notable differences then!

browserrendering time in seconds, unloadedsame but with constant default load of 1.5 (three nice 19 SETI@home instances running concurrently)
links (text)<4<6
w3m (text), v0.2.5.1**46
Dillo 0.6.3 (simple graphical)***<4<6
Dillo 0.6.6 (X.1.5) (simple graphical)***<4<6
Opera 5.0b42333
Opera 5.0b4 (X.1.5)2331
Opera 6.0b1 (X.1.5)812
M$IE 5.121723
M$IE 5.14 (X.1.5)1723
M$IE 5.20, Quartz smoothing on (X.1.5)1723
M$IE 5.20, Quartz smoothing off (X.1.5)1623
M$IE 5.21, (X.1.5)1727
Mozilla 0.9.9b (5) (both Aqua and X versions)15*23
Mozilla(5) 1.0 rc 3 (X window system version only)15*21
Mozilla(5) 1.0 and 1.0.1 (X.1.5) (X window system version only)15*23
Mozilla(5) 1.1 beta and release (X.1.5) (nightly beta build 30. Jul 2002, X11 and native)17*23
Galeon 1.2.5 (X.1.5) (Mozilla 1.0 based and X window system required)16*23
Chimera 0.26 (smooth text)20*26
Chimera 0.26 (no smooth text)15*20
Chimera 0.30 (X.1.5) (smooth text)15*19
Chimera 0.40 (X.1.5) (smooth text)16*22
Chimera 0.50 (X.1.5) (smooth text)16*22
iCab 2.7146
iCab 2.8 (X.1.5)1213
iCab 2.82 (X.1.5)2023
iCab 2.9 (X.1.5)1820
OmniWeb 4.10b (Cocoa based, SMP capable!)>45>60
OmniWeb 4.10 (X.1.5) (Cocoa based, SMP capable!)>45>60
OmniWeb 4.11 (X.1.5) (Cocoa based, SMP capable!)>60>90 (hard to believe, but true!)

*these browsers use some kind of preload technique, which makes appear browser entities faster: you have not to wait for completion of the entity, to see a bit from it. Despite it creates a little unstable impression while loading (parts are most often, even more than once, re-arranged during further download/rendering therefore), it gives you faster what you want: the first contents. Please keep this in mind.

**could not test it at first, because I found no Mac OS X binary and had to wait for the developer CD to compile the source myself, as I mostly did on GNU/Linux too in the past...

***needs an X window system installed and running and the GTK+ library installed too!

This table requires some comments, which is probably quite obvious: first, the iCab browser is the only one, which lives up to the hardware related expectations regarding speed (at least the version 2.71, the 2.81 is by some miracle much slower!), while the Carbon based Opera 5 (what a shame!) and M$IE browsers are clearly hampered by OS X Aqua API internal performance bottlenecks. Even worse and the final proof for this fact is, that the only fully Cocoa/Aqua integrated browser, which would be this way the only obvious choice for an in-build one, the OmniWeb with its rather nice appearance, is by far the slowest of all these browsers, and that despite it's the only one to make use of the second CPU (and it has a rather feeble HTML rendering engine, indeed only comparable to Netscape version 4 browsers)! Once more strict object orientation seems to sacrifice efficiency in the first place --- not the fault of the OmniGroup, but of the Mac OS X API framework and engine. Finally it's interesting, that Mozilla gets as only comparable one (the others are links and Opera) the full speed advantage out of the hardware (factor 7 to 10) compared to the older GNU/Linux running PII 333 MHz machine. This shows clearly, that the platform independent programming concept of Mozilla has additional advantages on such a platform, where the GUI API is slow, because it uses nearly exclusively own components --- whereever possible. This very fact places Mozilla, which is on GNU/Linux on the slow end of the rendering speed, here on place two, beaten by the impressive iCab browser only, which was on OS X the class on its own, like Opera 6.0(b1) was on GNU/Linux and now is too on OS X regarding performance.

Download Tools

Two command line utilities are worth to be mentioned here: the curl and the wget GNU command. The former has meanwhile substituted the latter as standard installed one in recent Mac OS X versions (at least since 10.1.2), but you can get wget (version 1.8.1 at last) still from the UNIX apps/utils downloads page of Apples Mac OS X center. Both are rather useful, for convenience I still stick to the more familiar wget for now. Especially if you're still using the internal modem instead of a modern, digital solution, you should keep these in mind!

Text Browser links

Two differences of this all-UNIX tool to GNU/Linux are notable: first, it seems not to be able to show up contents until the end of rendering here(?), and second it's unsurpassed performance there is much less impressive on Mac OS X; the graphical browser iCab is virtually equally fast! I have no idea, what the reasons are... Grab it either way too from the above mentioned Apple site.

Text Browser w3m v0.3

Because I couldn't find any binary for Mac OS X (opposed to GNU/Linux), I compiled it myself (what I did for different reasons on GNU/Linux too several times: the default/switch settings can be influenced this way!). It is as nice and fast as on GNU/Linux, with colored tags/texts and the ability, to display pictures with a helper --- as long, as you have a X server like the XFree86 4.2 Darwin and an X based viewer like ImageMagick or xv installed (maybe this will turn out to work even with an Aqua viewer, but that I have not tried it)! There are two sites about it: the original site and the current sourceforge project site, where you should go for downloading of course.

Super Simple Graphical Dillo 0.6.6

This one has even problems with frames, not to speak of plugins or scripting! But it can do the classical Mosaic inheritence of rendering text and pictures all in one, and even tables are well displayed by it. It's main advantage is resource economy (which makes it more appropriate for IPACs and similar equipment indeed). With it's GTK+ basics it is one of the fastest here, no surprise... It needs an X server and as mentioned the GTK+ toolkit, which I would recommend every serious Mac OS X user to install: you get much useful GUI UNIX software to run this way!

Opera 6.0

The below remarks will be retreated in the near future: Opera did it again! They released the first beta of Opera 6 and as always, when they try seriously, the people there overtook immediately all other full-featured graphical browsers once more. The rendering speed has increased by a factor of not less than 3... And the complaints below are no more valid: tabbed browsing has returned, the interface is much more like the GNU/Linux and WinShit versions and so on, despite it is really a little buggy at the moment (despite I had no crash so far, it behaves often really strange and faulty, I think, but hey, this is just the first beta!). But I have to say, that even this first release still has its issues, maybe somewhat UFS related, but I can't tell for sure at now. It can become only better. The Carbon Mac OS X version (on the dated Mac OS <=9.22 things maybe a little different) of this fine browser (which is still my par inter pares choice together with Mozilla on GNU/Linux, and is also fine in the evil Redmond Mob OS) was a major disappointment for me: the speed is poor due to Operas own standards (but it seems, that they are at least faster than M$IE on the dated Mac OS on the other hand), the second slowest of all tested, and where the heck are the tabs, for which Opera since version 5 became especially famous? Considering, that a standard Aqua GUI has no virtual screens, the missing tabbed browser windows feature is a real caveat. And also in other regards the version doen't live up to expectations induced from the other OS versions 6; no super search, poor plugin support,... In my view they have still a lot to do, to make it a good choice on Mac OS X (for example using the GNU compiler 2.95(.3) would already help, because --- no kidding! --- the applied Metroworks compiler produces even less efficient code)! At least it displays XHTML correctly as only one of two (the other is, as usual, Mozilla, links can also display the apostrophe entities correctly, by the way) tested browsers.

The Evil M$IE Spy Software (5.2x)

To make it short: avoid it's use completely, unless you're a webmaster like me and therefore need every notable used browser out there for testing your own web site! All others should discard it entirely from their system, which can be done without problems opposed to it's origin (non-)OS. The usual security and privacy concerns together with the fact, that this is a rather dated version (but current on this OS!) of M$IE (the winshit versions are newer since 5.5 and currently 6.0!), which is no more advanced than also dated Netscape 4.7x browsers (both have no concept of XHTML like the mentioned entity), prove it being totally superfluous. It's no faster than Mozilla in rendering by the way: get rid of it! (the usage percentage is despite the same monopoly default installation strategy considerable lower than on the evil home OS, where it dominates extremely). By the way, despite to a less extent than OmniWeb it uses both CPUs too, which makes it effective performance even worse (especially on one-CPU systems!) than that of Mozilla.

The Platform independent Mozilla (5) 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2

This 1.0.1 respective 1.1 release from September 2002 respective 1.2.1 release from end of November 2002 is for now my primary recommendation for your Mac OS X bound browsing experience. The same Java plugin as for the commercial and much more advertised, but older and inferior Netscape 6 works on it too, so you get all kinds of support you wish: Flash, Quicktime, Java, and so on. And on the other hand this is the very same browser as on GNU/Linux or a certain proprietary Redmond OS, so you get all even less known features like DOM inspector for XML and HTML, even XLST rendered contents, granular JavaScript and cookie control features, not to speak from the very much improved messenger, the page composer and so on and so on... Only the rendering speed could be higher (a typical Mozilla issue, but opposed to the other browsers presented here not bound to Mac OS X!), but Mozilla is at now you're only chance for the screen space economic tabbed browsing and maybe, with Galeon as GTK+ wrapper around it not the rendering, but the window opening/closing is faster, as I checked out equally as on GNU/Linux.

Additional remarks: while the trial to build Galeon originally failed (it needs an X server of course, like XFree86 XDarwin too), I got an X dependent Mozilla 0.9.9 and later 1.0 and 1.1 too --- and it runs fine. This is funny, because the Aqua build Mozilla doesn't run on this now pure UFS formatted Mac OS X 10.1.4--5 any more. So I can give you only the tendency (from a measurement under GNU/Linux), that the version 1.0 release candidate 1 is even faster than the beta 0.9.9 version. Current Remark: a special nightly build of the 1.1 beta with Gecko 20020730 stamp before release with name MacMozilla-MachO.dmg.gz now runs also on UFS, so we can expect this issue to be resolved in the near future in the 1.3 releases too. And indeed since Mozilla 1.3 beta it has become the sole official OS X Mozilla build, so the UFS problem is now resolved. --- Finally, there is now a rather beta state browser named Chimera (recently renamed to Camino), based too on Mozilla/Gecko, which is a Cocoa application very much similar to OmniWeb, but equally fast as the native Aqua and the X server Mozilla builds. Keep an eye on it, until it gets a little mature... (for the interested: despite it aims to ease of use and configuration, I had to hand code the proxy entries in the command-line only gettable preferences file [it's like the Mozilla original], because of the lack of that preference in the GUI of versions 0.21--0.25! At last since 0.26 it uses the system proxy configuration, and 0.50 can be considered as beta, sufficient useful for now; the current 0.6 is even better.)

iCab 2.8(.2) from Germany!

The last browser I checked out (another Murphy greeting, I guess) brought as well a big surprise and a sigh of relief to me, when I measured it's speed and was baffled at first: it shows, that fast graphical internet browsing isn't impossible on Mac OS X! As mentioned, for big tables and similar complex, CPU consuming redering task this is by far the fastest, even more, the only really fast browser of these (safe for text browsers like links) on Mac OS X, if you take the hardware into account (like Opera 6.0b2 is the only really fast rendering graphical browser on GNU/Linux at now). The drawbacks are: limited time to work, it's a real pay software after evaluation respective full feature support and it is stuck as all others but Mozilla and Opera still with the dated HTML 4 definition, which dominates at now, but is slowly (for example by me) replaced with the successor XHTML 1 (1.0 Transitional in fair manner written, which I do, can be displayed reasonably and useful either way, despite not perfectly, while the current w3c recommendation (!) XHTML 1.1 strict is for browsers like Mozilla, Opera since v5 and M$IE 6 useful only!). It features a useful download window too, and is at now my second best choice for Mac OS X, primarily for speed and download purposes. Final remark: Java is not working yet. Current remark: strangely the newer version 2.8 has slowed down compared to 2.7.1, despite it has "learned" Java and improved in some other regards; and the 2.8.2 is even slower --- an unusual and unwelcome effect.

Cocoa/Aqua integrated OmniWeb 4.11 release

Another commercial piece of software, which works unregistered unlimited only for a 30 days period (opposed to proprietary OSs, you can reinstall it here in UNIX environments like Mac OS X without problems of course). It is the only one, which has the fully integration into Apples new UNIX, Next(Step/OpenStep) based OS. So a pure OO fan may choose it to get a pure OO system running, but this comes to the major cost as mentioned: rather poor performance. The preferences look like the Aqua preferences, the dock icon is displayed graphical as running it or not, and so on; but it doesn't understand XHTML or even XML and the plugin support (Flash, Quicktime, Java) is still somewhat limited, despite present. Interestingly, the OmniGroup is the only one up to now, which has programmed a browser to support multiple CPUs, which makes the above displayed poor performance an even greater matter of concern: because the other browsers are using only one of the two CPUs, the time difference will be even bigger on machines with one CPU! I got a load of about 0.9 or top usage of 180 % (200 possible on 2 CPU machines, of course) while running it rendering the test page (all others end up with load 0.5 and usage 100 % of course). If they can solve the performance issues in any way (maybe let them solve by Apple?!) and support more recent standards like XHTML, this can become one day the number one browser for Mac OS X --- at now it's to early to buy it in my view.


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