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The Internet Software

Which is Better, Firefox or Opera? 937

Posted by timothy
from the fat-lady-slender-fox dept.
Roblimo writes "Firefox and Opera are the two most popular cross-platform Web browsers. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Kris Shaffer tested them side-by-side on SUSE Linux 9.1, Mac OS X Panther, and Windows 2000, and decided that your choice may depend more on what you *do* with your browser than anything else, unless (as is the case for many of us) Opera is off the table from the start because it's not open source."
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Which is Better, Firefox or Opera?

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  • by ellem (147712) <ellem52.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @02:49PM (#12569341) Homepage Journal
    Internet Explorer? It rules! You know if you want to do banking and stuff. ;)
    • Moderators:

      This is not an offtopic post.

      For instance, if there was an article on slashdot debating whether Windows or MacOS-X was better, a poster talking about the advancement of Linux, Gnome and KDE would be marked insightful.

      Yes, the parent post is a little bit sarcastic, but just because it doesn't jive with the slashdot "groupthink" mentality of Microsoft being evil doesn't mean it should be flagged offtopic.

      And yes, IE is cross-platform too, just on a much more limited scale.

      Plus, the c

    • by FatSean (18753) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:39PM (#12570025) Homepage Journal
      My local bank's online checking/savings management as well as every credit card I have. It just works. Please let me know which banks DON'T work with FireFox so I can avoid them if they send me a sweet 0% balance transfer deal. Thanks,
      • by BlueUnderwear (73957) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @04:13PM (#12570427)
        Please let me know which banks DON'T work with FireFox

        Banque de Luxembourg and their Fund market [fund-market.lu] (try using the "Direct Access" option menu on the left hand side to view one of their "colored" funds (profiles) and weep...).

        The idiots have implemented a check for visual-basic support in the browser, and refuse access to any browser that doesn't have it. The funny thing, however, is that the application itself (display of fund graphs) doesn't need Visual Basic at all, and works just fine [fund-market.lu] when you bypass the stoopid check by going directly to the final URL!

        A similar thing exists in their Please let me know which banks DON'T work with FireFox

        Banque de Luxembourg and their Fund market [fund-market.lu] (try using the "Direct Access" option menu on the left hand side to view one of their "colored" funds (profiles) and weep...).

        The idiots have implemented a check for visual-basic support in the browser, and refuse access to any browser that doesn't have it. The funny thing, however, is that the application itself (display of fund graphs) doesn't need Visual Basic at all, and works just fine [fund-market.lu] when you bypass the stoopid check by going directly to the final URL!

        A similar thing exists in their homebanking [fundmarket-services.com] application, even though the app itself, again, doesn't make any actual use of VB! However, in addition to the VB check, the homebanking also does a server-side User-Agent check, so you need to fake that one as well (for homebanking, but not for the fund graphs). Weird.

        No IE, no VB, No service :-(

    • Hahaha...

      Yeah, this whole article is a "Gentlemen, start your flamethrowers!"
    • Here are some banking and financial sites I use regularly:
      • Wells Fargo
      • Citi cards online
      • Fidelity
      • Vanguard
      • Chase
      • American Express
      • FirstUSA

      Opera works mostly OK. Some quirks I have encountered one time or another are:

      • Well Fargo has an ill conceived attempt to block access from non IE or Netscape browser. The big irony is they claim they do this to improve security (by forcing me to switch from Opera to IE!!!) Latest version of Opera is doing fine now.
      • Citibank has a neat Virtual Account Numbers func
    • by rohanl (152781)
      At least not the Mac version of IE. Here in Australia, one of the big four banks, the CBA [commbank.com.au] no longer supports IE on Mac. On their FAQ page [commbank.com.au] they say:

      I could previously use Internet Explorer with an Apple MAC, why can't I now?
      NetBank no longer supports Internet Explorer with Apple MAC. It is recommended that you upgrade your browser to a supported version for NetBank.

      They still recommend IE or Netscape for Windows and Netscape for Mac, but mention that Firefox, Safari and Mozilla should all work. No

  • Uhh... what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Liselle (684663) <slashdot AT liselle DOT net> on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @02:50PM (#12569343) Journal
    I'm an Opera fan (you wanna fight about it?) and I was eager to read this article. Am I the only one who felt it ended pretty abruptly, without actually covering anything? All TFA covered was look-and-feel, RSS, and a couple of little things like ad blocking and Opera's Quick Prefs.

    He didn't touch Notes, of the panels, or the hot bar, or the way they each handle tabs, cookies, the Wand, granularity of popup blocking, proxy servers, the Transfers window (and how Opera/Firefox handle downloads in general), the user-customizable CSS and link style in Opera (does Firefox have something comparable? I wish he covered it so I would know!), Opera's Zoom, quick enabling-disabling of images, methods of caching (including Opera's "delete private data" button), Opera's in-line search functionality, saving "sessions", crash recovery, little neat things like making a page printer friendly with one button...I could go on all day!

    I mean no offense to Mr. Shaffer, but this article is really lacking in content. I expected something more along the lines of the 30 Days to Becoming an Opera Lover [tntluoma.com] site (which is for version 7) in terms of depth. Very disappointing. I hope that Slashdot's Opera/Firefox lovers can at least turn this into a nice discussion in the comments. I missed a ton of features, but you can use my little rant up there as a starting point.
    • Re:Uhh... what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Liselle (684663) <slashdot AT liselle DOT net> on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:00PM (#12569499) Journal
      ... and browsing completely by keyboard, and customizable mouse gestures (I understand Firefox has this as an extension, how good is it?), and the fast forward button (brilliant!), special style sheets (like text-only, blocking certain-size images, no tables, high contrast, show images/link only, etc), the M2 mail client, spellcheck.

      This is stuff I thought of right after I posted the parent, and I know I am missing more.
      • Re:Uhh... what? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tmack (593755)
        The extension works almost the exact same as opera's built in gestures. Its almost like an opera user designed it (I used opera until I found the extension). The only differences I have noted so far, is that to use the button chords to go fwd or back a page, in opera you could hold one button down and click the other several times to jump several pages, while in the FF extension, you have to let off both buttons and do the entire chord over again for each page. Also, closing FF using the close gesture cause
    • Re:Uhh... what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timmyd (108567) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:07PM (#12569612)
      Yeah, I made a recent switch to opera and I'm almost converted. The only thing that bothers with with my opera 8 is that it segfaults about one or two times a day. However, thanks to its session management, that's not a total problem because when I start opera the next time, all the same tabs are open with the pages I was browsing before it crashed.

      One of the most important features *for me* in a modern browser is how tabbed browsing works along with session management. One of the important features is where I want something like an "undo close tab" option. I had that in firefox with tabbrowser extensions (it's such a pain to have to find all the extensions I want after you install mozilla/firefox..i wish they would just dump the extension idea and build everything into the browser--it could be done without more "bloat".) In opera I can just click edit-undo when I close a tab by mistake. The killer was that all the tab extensions I had to get for firefox really slowed the feel of the browser down and made it unusable for browsing. I don't want to wait 2 seconds for it to load a new tab and I certainly don't want the whole browser to halt while a page is being loaded and rendered in the background. I also felt the lag when I was writing into a form--I like they letters to come up immediately without feeling any lag when I type.

      Another thing that is importart for me is that when the browser has to be closed or crashes, that I can restore my previous session. I tried extensions for firefox to do this but they usually didn't work or the extension was made for some other version of the browser and it just turned out to be a mess. Likewise for mouse gestures, you have to hunt down and find the best extension that does what you want rather than have a consistant implementation built in.

      Well I'm sure there are things that are better in firefox but I'm not covering them here because I think most people here know more about firefox than opera.
      • Re:Uhh... what? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Jugalator (259273) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:23PM (#12569830) Journal
        The only thing that bothers with with my opera 8 is that it segfaults about one or two times a day.

        You may wish to try out the 8.01 preview if you can. That is, if it's already available for your platform. It's in prerelease stage, but already considered more stable than 8.00. You can find links to it on the my.opera.com release forums.

        What I like about Opera is that it's speedy, small and slick (at least in Opera 8), even smaller than Firefox, but with more features that don't really get in the way. Bloated UI was a problem in Opera 7, but that's simply not a factor for me anymore.
      • Re:Uhh... what? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tepp (131345) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:24PM (#12569851)
        I disagree.

        The extensions can be written by anyone, so it means a greater amount of freedom and flexibility for Firefox. For example, there is a FarkIt! Extension which makes easy quoting on Fark.com. And then there's a Bible quoting extension which allows you to quickly reference biblical references.

        Now, I'm a Fark.com lover and an Athiest. Having the ability to choose which extensions I want allows me to select FarkIt! and Adblock without having to get Biblemania.

        So I'm happy, the bible thumpers are happy, and if anyone else has an idea for a firefox feature they want to write, they can write their own extension and be happy... it works well.
        • Re:Uhh... what? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @04:35PM (#12570680)
          Firefox extensions look to me somewhat similar to unix commands, ie: "don't define policy".
          Instead of a big browser which does many things, build a browser with an extense API, every function of that API does one thing, and only one thing, and does it well. How you combine them is up to your imagination, just like it's up to your imagination how to combine grep, cat, sed etc.

          They move most of the "policy" completely to the extensions, and they can compete with other browser by modifying the extensions the defaults browser has. IMO it's brilliant.
    • by EtherAlchemist (789180) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:15PM (#12569709)

      My biggest problem trying to use Opera was simply the overwhelming amount of stuff it does. All that stuff you mentioned- Notes, Transfers, etc, I wasn't even aware of.

      Opera seems to have a lot of bang for the (big) buck, which is good, I just wish there was an easy way to use it all.
      • That's a very valid point for you, the user, but not for anyone who calls himself a journalist, imo. You have an excuse for not doing the homework (why should you?), but not anyone who attempts to write a comparison piece. He should have been more thorough.

        All I can suggest is checking out the site I listed in the grandparent post. Actually, I poked around in the site a bit more, and I noticed he's slowly rolling out an updated guide for the new Opera 8.0 [tntluoma.com]. The best thing about the guide, imo, is that
      • by danila (69889) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @05:29PM (#12571162) Homepage
        "RTFM!" was never more appropriate. Seriously, there is no good way to introduce all this advanced functionality to the user without the user playing an active role. I mean, Opera has a very good documentation [opera.com], it has great tutorials [opera.com]. If you don't make the effort of at least checking all menu items, can you really blame the software? I mean, do you really want Opera to add an annoying "Tip of the day" alert or a Clippy lookalike that would go all "It looks like you...." every minute?
    • Re:Uhh... what? (Score:5, Informative)

      by toad3k (882007) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:21PM (#12569808)
      I used to be an avid opera user until I was hired by a company that does web development. I had to switch to firefox to evade ridicule.

      I have found extensions to do most of the things I liked about opera. But there is still stuff missing, such as reorganizing tabs (supposedly taken care of next ff version). The quick prefs thing is a really big thing for me, but for some reason firefox users don't care. FF doesn't let you control cookies as easily as you are able to in opera. The disabling of images is something I used a lot more than I thought I would. Saving sessions was awesome. I'm sure there's an extension for that somewhere. Crash recovery was nifty, though crashes were rare. Opera also overrides the replacing of the status bar text, so you always know what you are clicking on before you click on it.

      And the transfer window is a big pile of crap in mozilla. Seriously that would probably be my number one gripe. That and its habit of saving files as .part, and delete them if the file fails to transfer fully. Redownloading a several hundred meg file is irritating, so I find I use wget just to avoid going through firefox whenever possible.

      Another thing that aggravates me is when I'll open a bunch of links in separate tabs to read in a few moments, then 2 minutes later a window pops up saying the server couldn't be reached. But when I go over to the tab, the url bar is blank, so I have no idea which links I clicked on that couldn't be reached. In Opera, even if the page doesn't load, the url bar still has the location you tried to visit, so you can see if the link was typoed or if you even care in the first place.

      Opera never registers right clicks on web pages that pop up those copyright notices because it interferes with mouse gestures. There's no way to disable that in firefox that I'm aware of without finding the javascript options in prefs.

      Lastly, I hate that firefox doesn't obey normal unix copy and paste rules. There's no option to right click in a text field and delete everything in it without highlighting the text that is already there. In opera you just click in the box and type ctrl+U. This is particularly annoying when I'm messing with phpmyadmin.

      But at the end of the day, here I am using firefox. What can I say. The price is right.
      • Re:Uhh... what? (Score:5, Informative)

        by kbrosnan (880121) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:43PM (#12570071) Homepage
        "Another thing that aggravates me is when I'll open a bunch of links in separate tabs to read in a few moments, then 2 minutes later a window pops up saying the server couldn't be reached. But when I go over to the tab, the url bar is blank, so I have no idea which links I clicked on that couldn't be reached."

        Pike's Show Failed URL will take care of that.
        http://www.pikey.me.uk/mozilla/?extension=sfu [pikey.me.uk]
        1. install the extension
        2. Type about:config in the addess bar
        3. in the filter type xul
        4. double click on browser.xul.error_pages.enabled to change to true
        5. restart Firefox
      • by Vicsun (812730) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:50PM (#12570179)
        "But there is still stuff missing, such as reorganizing tabs (supposedly taken care of next ff version). "
        miniT extension does that

        "The quick prefs thing is a really big thing for me, but for some reason firefox users don't care."
        Care to elaborate what quick prefs are? The ability to adjust preferences somewhere different than tools->options? I really am clueless...

        "FF doesn't let you control cookies as easily as you are able to in opera. "
        Have you tried cookie culler extension?

        "The disabling of images is something I used a lot more than I thought I would. Saving sessions was awesome. I'm sure there's an extension for that somewhere."
        To block _anything_ you can use RiP (remove it permanently), and you can use adblock to blocks images (specifically ads, but any other image too). Saving sessions is achieved through 'session saver' :)

        "Crash recovery was nifty, though crashes were rare."
        Session saver also recovers your browser from crashes.

        "Opera also overrides the replacing of the status bar text, so you always know what you are clicking on before you click on it."
        Firefox has an inbuilt 'annoyance eliminator' that does the the same thing.

        "And the transfer window is a big pile of crap in mozilla. Seriously that would probably be my number one gripe. That and its habit of saving files as .part, and delete them if the file fails to transfer fully. Redownloading a several hundred meg file is irritating, so I find I use wget just to avoid going through firefox whenever possible."
        Okay, I'll give you that one =)

        "Another thing that aggravates me is when I'll open a bunch of links in separate tabs to read in a few moments, then 2 minutes later a window pops up saying the server couldn't be reached. But when I go over to the tab, the url bar is blank, so I have no idea which links I clicked on that couldn't be reached. In Opera, even if the page doesn't load, the url bar still has the location you tried to visit, so you can see if the link was typoed or if you even care in the first place."
        This is EXTREMELY aggravating in firefox and made me exhibit great bouts of anger. Until I found the 'show failed URL' extension. Now it behaves like you'd expect it to.

        "Opera never registers right clicks on web pages that pop up those copyright notices because it interferes with mouse gestures. There's no way to disable that in firefox that I'm aware of without finding the javascript options in prefs."
        The extension you're looking for in this case is called 'allow right click'

        "Lastly, I hate that firefox doesn't obey normal unix copy and paste rules. There's no option to right click in a text field and delete everything in it without highlighting the text that is already there. In opera you just click in the box and type ctrl+U. This is particularly annoying when I'm messing with phpmyadmin."
        That's the only gripe I don't know an extension for. But I'm sure one's available :)

        In conclusion, as long as you familiarize yourself with all the available extensions, firefox is great. But the fact that you have to manually add them, can be either a pain or a pleasure, depending on whether you like tweaking :)
        • Extensions, Extensions, Extensions. Why doesn't someone make some of these features part of the main suite? Many extensions don't mesh 100% with other ones. Extensions are a great idea, don't get me wrong. But I run FF on multiple computers - I do not want to re-download and set up 5-10 extensions on every box, but that's what's needed. Opera offers many of these features out of the box. Is there some kind of Überextension pack that I can just install - or, even better, one Überextension?
          • This is due to the philosophies behind the features included in both Opera and Firefox. Opera crams in everything useful they can think of (or at least, it appears that way), and Firefox includes only the features they feel everyone will benefit from to avoid bloat, while leaving the extensions up to others.

            Now, I'm not saying Opera is bloated. It's just that the Firefox developers felt that the average user doesn't care about mouse gestures or quick prefs, or doesn't use the browser enough to care. Most O
    • Re:Uhh... what? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by slaker (53818) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:53PM (#12570216)
      He also missed the Opera's "Crash every half-hour so you can be reminded of the nifty crash-recovery feature" feature, something I've seen in every version of Opera that I've tried (up to version 7).

      Nothing like having Opera crap out while you have 60 open tabs on a 9.6k modem connection. Not that that's ever happened to me four times in a one hour period.

      He also doesn't mention the HIGHLY obnoxious "best guess" rendering - Opera STARTS to render a page as soon as it has any data at all, then re-renders as more data comes in. Net result? You can play tag with the page elements as they move around your screen. In my experience, Firefox starts to render pages a tick or two after Opera, but tends to finish rendering a tick or two before Opera.

      Opera also uses a widely different set of keyboard shortcuts, while most of IE's and Netscape/Mozilla/Firefox's overlap. Opera fans can then point out their goofy "mouse gestures" but after trying them, I didn't see the big deal and went back to my keyboard.

      Opera doesn't have Adblock, Linky or Magpie. Right there, it's out of the running for my personal needs. The last version I tried (admittedly, version 7) wouldn't even import my Firefox bookmarks, which are in exactly the same format as Netscape's. A lot of the "features" Opera does have are things I don't consider particularly interesting or useful - whole page zooming, for example, or the "true MDI" nature of the program - if I wanted to manage bunches of little Windows, I'd go back to using IE.

      You can say that the author of the article didn't cover your browser in the most friendly way, but in my opinion he left out some significant negatives as well. Maybe you should be thanking him for that.
    • Re:Uhh... what? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nahdude812 (88157)
      My reasons for not using opera:
      o Non-free (ok, an ad banner isn't too tough to cope with)
      o Lack of NTLM negotiation (all corp sites are inaccessible, *including* our dev boxes)
      o Lack of Socks proxy option (I tunnel socks outbound from work over SSH to protect my network traffic)

      Things that make me wish I could use Opera:
      o Excellent CSS support
      o That awesome zoom (that zooms the images too)
      o Ability to edit cookies in the UI (used for testing, honest -- I'm a web developer)
  • by bergeron76 (176351) * on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @02:51PM (#12569359)
    If they did, they'd have a cross-platform browser and it could remain closed source.

    • They've already got a cross-platform closed-source browser - IE for the Mac.
    • Huh? They don't make money off their browser. Why would they want to provide a browser that allows people to pick a different OS/Office/etc?
    • by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:08PM (#12569618) Homepage Journal
      Because IE has deep ties to the operating system (or rather, the window manager, for *nix users who like to distinguish between the two.)

      Even if they bought out Opera they'd spend forever getting it to replace some of the thing Explorer does, such as file management. Explorer and IE are deeply intertwined.

      In addition, IE's core components are used in other places, like MS Help, and they're even made available to third-party applications. Making sure that the new Opera-derived browser supported those would be ... fun. And IE provides a lot of features to those components not provided in a standard web browser, which would have to be replicated.

      Finally, it would be hard to make it bug-compatible. The one advantage to IE is that it's compatible with all those IE-only web sites. Replace IE with Opera and you're going to break a whole lot of web sites.

      I'm not saying IE is better than Opera. IE sucks, and part of the reason it sucks so bad is that MS was afraid that Netscape (remember Netscape) would take over the world. So they tried to offer a free be-all-end-all browser that everybody could depend on having pre-installed, which would allow other apps to build on it. That made it a monstrosity. It also makes it nearly impossible to replace it.
    • by briancnorton (586947) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:42PM (#12570053) Homepage
      Not to be a troll, but why would MS care about opera? What uinque technology that enhances a user experience does it offer?

      (say "security" and watch the firefox crowd blush) I hate to say it, but you have to be a real nerd to appreciate the miniscule differences between browers. All the new features do is detract from the web content. (after all, the web is about content, it's not a fashion show)

      I will argue that content is king, and the ability to access that content without a hassle is the only selling point that matters. Look at google. It's a dirt simple interface, you type some keywords and you get what you want, no hassle.

      From my preferred stat provider, IE is actually back UP in marketshare [thecounter.com] to 91%. I think that this reinforces my concept that amount of hassle, not # of features, is what sells.

      • Not to be a troll, but why would MS care about opera? What uinque technology that enhances a user experience does it offer?

        How about:
        • a browser that conforms to w3c specs, not their own made up ones
        • a browser that doesn't crash your workstation
        • tabbed browsing
        • its a browser that people are willing to pay for....profit!??!!
      • I assume you're not considering lackluster security, numerous flaws/bugs, and overall failure to be "hassle".

        Someday, you'll be privy to what everyone else already knows - IE isn't SAFE. You're asking for trouble by using it.

  • Neither (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Phil246 (803464) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @02:51PM (#12569364)
    Each browser has its uses.
    Saying one is better then the other is silly.
    However saying both are better then IE is truthful
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @02:51PM (#12569365)
    Both have their merits and shortcomings. I believe no objective "better" exists.
  • Did the Opera CEO have to go for a swim?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @02:52PM (#12569370)
    *old fashioned news ticker noise in the background*

    This just in, this just in, in determining on which product in a category is best it depends on what the person/user does with said product...this just in, this just in....

    ;-)
  • Silly (Score:5, Funny)

    by 787style (816008) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @02:52PM (#12569377)
    unless (as is the case for many of us) Opera is off the table from the start because it's not open source

    People who refuse to use a useful piece of software simply because it isn't open source make about as much sense as an Ethiopian refusing food because it isn't Kosher. It fits your needs, use it.
    • Re:Silly (Score:3, Insightful)

      by m50d (797211)
      No, it makes as much sense as a normal person refusing non-Kosher food when there's Kosher available. We aren't exactly completely lacking in software, nor dependent on getting it for our survival.
    • Re:Silly (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mmm coffee (679570) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:11PM (#12569662) Journal
      With free software I am a user, the software a tool. My data and programs are my own to do with as I please.

      With proprietary software I must prove myself to not be a criminal before I can use the program, the software is a locked down box which prevents me from having full control over my system. Should I unwittingly violate a draconian contract, my copy is as legit as a copy found off a P2P network. My data and programs are in the hands of another company, held to their whims.

      EULAs generally restrict my ability to use my system in any way I choose, even if I am paying for each and every program on the machine. Should one of my employees get pissed at me, he or she can call the BSA and they'll send some nice armed marshals to my door to audit every nook and cranny of my system.

      When I have a need, I like to scratch it. With free software, if program X doesn't have a functionality I need then I can have it modified. If proprietary program Y doesn't have a functionality that I need, then the only thing I can do is beg and plead for them to add it. (And don't even get me started with support running out when a program becomes "obsolete".)

      When I use free software, I download, compile, and run. Boom, done, simple. With proprietary software, I must enter activation numbers, pray a dongle works, and/or call up the parent company and say "Can I please have the ability to use this software that I paid some damn good money for?"

      Proprietary software does not fit my needs. Free software does.
      • Re:Silly (Score:5, Insightful)

        by stlhawkeye (868951) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @04:43PM (#12570751) Homepage Journal
        Let me preface this comment with: "I support the open source effort and think it's a Good Thing. I also support free software and think it's a Good Thing."

        With free software I am a user, the software a tool. My data and programs are my own to do with as I please.

        This just isn't true. Your data may be your own, but you still do not own the program or its source code. There's no difference here between proprietary software and free software. The author of the software is the copyright holder on the source code as an incident of authorship, and this has been the law since 1978. Unless that person specifically, in writing, transfers the copyright to the group of people defined as users of their code, it legally belongs to them, not you. It is not your program any more than Windows is.

        This might suck, it might not be fair, it might not be right, but it is how copyright works. The contents of this post are copyrighted to me as an incident of authorship the instant that it's saved in Slashdot's database (unless of course Slashdot's Terms of Use include ownership of user-supplied content, etc).

        As for your data, you don't own it only because you're using free software. You own it because your typical free software author does not claim ownership of it as part of the terms of use. There is nothing about the nature of free software that makes the data more yours than proprietary software does, it's the spirit of the userbase that brings this about. Quicken is proprietary software and they don't own my banking records.

        What free software typically does give you is more control over where your data goes and how it's used. If you want to define that as ownership, then I am strongly inclined to agree with you on that point. I guess I'm arguing nitpicky linguistic semantics here, so biff me in the head and move on.

        With proprietary software I must prove myself to not be a criminal before I can use the program

        Bullshit. How so? Because you had to agree to a EULA before you could use it? And free software isn't like that? Then what in the hell is this? [themanpages.net] A warm hug and a milkshake? It's the content of the license that limits you, not the distribution model of the program. Nothing stops free software from having draconian EULA's, and nothing stops proprietary software from having generous and forgiving EULA's.

        EULAs generally restrict my ability to use my system in any way I choose, even if I am paying for each and every program on the machine.

        Yes! And any EULA can do that, regardless of whether it's penned by a billionaire in Seattle or a freelance programmer spitting out open source code in caffeine-induced dilerium in his mother's basement.

        Should one of my employees get pissed at me, he or she can call the BSA and they'll send some nice armed marshals to my door to audit every nook and cranny of my system.

        I heartily agree with you here, and it's incredibly difficult to control your users' systems sufficiently to mitigate this risk without locking them down to the point of being unusable.

        With free software, if program X doesn't have a functionality I need then I can have it modified.

        By who? The community of authors? You can only do this if either you have the time and technical skill to do it, or you can convince a member of the community of the need.

        If proprietary program Y doesn't have a functionality that I need, then the only thing I can do is beg and plead for them to add it.

        What's the difference? Other than, "I can code it myself if I want", I don't see any. Every business I've worked for has gotten features added to proprietary software that they wanted/needed. I won't pretend it's as cheap, or as easy, but it's possible. My quarrel here is with the way you paint free software as being a m

    • Poor analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SilentJ_PDX (559136) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:38PM (#12570010) Homepage
      The Ethiopian food example is incredibly biased. People need food. People don't need software.

      A better analogy: People who refuse to use closed-source software are like those who refuse to buy products from companies that damage the environment/run sweatshops/ban unions/etc.

      Even if a product is better from a functional standpoint, a consumer may not consider it better than another product for a variety of other reasons. For instance, a friend won't use Quicken. The product may be best of class but when he considers Intuit's EULA and privacy concerns, he'd rather go to a lesser functional product.

      Considering whether or not a product is OSS is one way to say "I like a future where a majority of software is OSS and I want to help make that happen". It's standing up for a principle you believe in, even if you may have to suffer a bit (using beta-quality software or software with fewer features).
  • if Opera is out.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VolciMaster (821873) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @02:52PM (#12569379) Homepage
    There's not much you can compare to Firefox if you're going to oust non-OSS solutions. Firefox, Camino, Mozilla... all come from the same core code. Lynx is a text browser, so again not much comparison directly. About the only one I can come up with it Konqueror, which is KDE only

    IS, Opera, Safari are all commercial, so they can't be compared if you're ignoring commercial products.

    • Re:if Opera is out.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:03PM (#12569552)
      Personally I put the people who refuse to even consider a closed source application for purely ideological reasons (as indicated in the slashdot blurb) into the same little box as those corporate IT managers who refuse to consider opensource applications 'just because'.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)
        Personally, I put people who don't refuse to do things for ideological reasons into the category of people who have no ideals, no morals, and are utterly incapable of standing up for themselves. While I personally do not eschew non-Free software, I think it would be better for all of us if there only was Free software, and further I have only respect for those people who behave in that way.

        I told my girlfriend I wouldn't buy her diamonds and it took actually handing her the excellent book "The Rise and Fa

        • Re:if Opera is out.. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tshak (173364)
          Ideologies can be ok when they're dealing with human rights and if they're grounded in reality. However we're talking about software. And we're talking about nerds, not your average user. I'm a nerd, but I also take a pragmatic approach with technology. If a $50 software package does what I need and does it better than a free one (don't forget that time is worth much more than money), then that company has my business. As far as "freedom to extend" (which most people do not care about), many closed source a
  • by Ochu (877326) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @02:53PM (#12569389) Homepage
    Am I the only one who gets pissed off at these "head-to-head" comparisons that don't have the guts to announce a winner? I musta read about 20 for the PS3 and Xbox 360, and one of them predicted a winner (PS3). I don't care if they are wrong, I just like an article to be concluded. None of this "well, they are both good" crap.
  • Ads (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shamowfski (808477) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @02:54PM (#12569401)
    I don't want ads when I'm browsing let alone built into my browser. Firefox for me!
  • Wait a minute... two most popular cross-platform browsers? Huh? I could have SWORE I had a copy of IE sitting in the applications folder on my mac. I guess it's only cross-platform if it crosses to your particular platform of choice, huh?
  • by Adult film producer (866485) <van@i2pmail.org> on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @02:57PM (#12569455)
    Firefox has gestures, popup blocking, ad blocking, site scripting through GreaseMonkey [mozdev.org], tabs, themes, a million other user written extensions that can enhance your web browser, strong community support, fast updates for security fixes. And it's free, free as in beer, free as in speech. What else could you ask for ?
  • by RedShoeRider (658314) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @02:59PM (#12569478)
    As a user of both Opera (since the 4.xx) days, and Firefox, the summary was right: it just depends on how you use your browser as to which one is better for you. For day-to-day work, I find Firefox somewhat better suited, as I come across fewer pages that misload, or don't have a lugin available. However, if I'm digging though pages and pages of pictures (such as photospot or, well, porn), Opera wins hands-down. Speed, speed, and more speed. Yes, Firefox is fast. But for flat pages or pictures, Opera (most of the time) takes everyone else to the cleaners.

    The other side-advantage to using Opera for visiting less-than reputable sites is that chances are the site doesn't know how to exploit Opera, as it's (sadly) not really on the general populus's radar screen. I've waded though stuff that would require hip boots with Opera and came out smelling like a rose.

    True, if it were open source it would be that much more wonderful, but as for closed-source programs, IMHO it's an example of a company Doing It Right.

  • It's a frickin *platform*. Especially with everyone and their dog createing "webconsoles" even where it's extremely cumbersome. So it really does matter what you do with your OS^H^H browser. I usually read /., a few other blogs, my corporate webmail, and try to run some work sites on it. Firefox handles this fine, but I'm sure Opera would also. However, Opera does not have adblock or any of the "cool but marginally useful" things like context-menu web search... so I'm a bit hesitant to try it. If you're a w
  • AdBlock vs. Opera (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MankyD (567984) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:00PM (#12569505) Homepage
    Funny that he chooses FF over Opera because of the AdBlock extension. Especially considering that, not only does Opera not have AdBlock, but it throws in a few banners of its own.
  • Interesting that he chose the most up-to-date versions (presumably firefox is listed merely as 1.0 not 1.0.x) of the browsers, but consistently used ond versions of the operating systems. Suse 9.1 has been superceded by Suse 9.3, Mac OS X 10.3 Panther by Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, and Windows 2000 by Windows XP SP2. Not that the versions of the OS within a platform is going to have a big impact, and presumably, the platform itself, but it just seems glaring to me. Kind of like testing MS Office 2003 and OpenOf
  • Ho-hum... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lisandro (799651) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:03PM (#12569547)
    ...unless (as is the case for many of us) Opera is off the table from the start because it's not open source."

    So, you're not willing to consider software because it's not open source? Even when it might be (*gasp*)... better?

    I love Opera. It's a sleek, fast, well designed browser with a terrific user interface. I'm also a full-time Linux user; while i like and support the open source "movement", i do it because it's simply a better OS (for me) than the alternatives. The price is right, of course, but that's not the main reason i chose it. At all. Just chose what's best for your needs. Then see if it's worth it's price. Opera is, for me.

    I also like Firefox a lot. It's Mozilla sans-the-bloat, and renders pages very well. Still, it's much slower than Opera and the user interfase still needs polish. It does have some perks i'd love to see in Opera though (like AdBlock), but overall i keep gravitating to Opera. Specially because of the memory footprint and interfase (yes, i know FF supports things like mouse gestures via plugins, and that's why they are no good. Opera was built with that stuff in mind and integrates them perfectly).

  • Fire-what? (Score:5, Funny)

    by krough (771131) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:03PM (#12569560)
    My company makes me use IE, you insensitve clod.
  • by photozz (168291)
    LET THE HOLY WARS BEGIN!!!!!!
  • IE not in the race (Score:4, Insightful)

    by superyooser (100462) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:04PM (#12569574) Homepage Journal
    Notice that as Firefox and Opera compete for the lead, and Safari, Camino, Mozilla, and Konqueror speed behind, IE is not even in the race. It's been lapped five times while it was in the pit, and the driver just woke up.
  • What does it have that Firefox doesn't that is worth the expense?

    OS issues aside.
    • From my experience, speed, memory usage and user interface.

      Opera renders pages much faster than FF in my system - not only that, it feels more responsive. Why, it escapes me, but it just does. Even scrolling a page is smoother on Opera.
      It's memory footprint is way lower than FF. It might not be important to many in these days of +512MB systems, but i use my machine for more than browsing, and being able to have over 50 pages at the time with a minimal performance hit is a plus to me.
      And Opera's UI
  • by Baki (72515) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:07PM (#12569615)
    I really like Opera, except for adblock of course, and mostly because of its weak client certificate handling. On my work I have to use 3 or 4 different client certificates for the Intranet and 2 more for external sites. Most browsers select a client certificate to present to the server automatically, and only offer a selection box if there is more than 1 possibility.

    Opera however insists of me having to select from all 6 certificates, often they are presented such that I cannot distinguish between them. Also after that the cancel button is selected by default.

    I am very sure that Opera developers never use client certificates or they would not put up with this horrible handling. Change requests have been ignored under the pretence of security, which is absolutely nonsense (I deal with client certificates professionally, I know at least in this area what I'm talking about :).
  • by guidryp (702488) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @03:19PM (#12569787)
    Opera was my primary browser for quite a while, and it is faster/slicker with a better features set (especially MDI tabbing).

    But once you escape the comparison on pages that work, the stark reality is that many pages don't work.

    I switched to firefox a few months back and while not as slick as Opera, it is good enough, and for the pages I visit gives me the better experience. So I can do my banking for instance.

    Since switching to Firefox, I seldom have to call up an IE session anymore.

    Also plugins offer fucntionality I can't live without, like selective flash blocking.

    Pre-empting those who say it is the fault of poor web coding and not Opera, in that some pages block or serve poor code to Opera.

    Yes that is correct, But it just doesn't matter! It doesn't matter where you point the finger, the result is an inferior browsing experience.

    I'll try Opera again (if ever) when they get better spoofing modes, better flash blocking.

  • by solios (53048) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @04:06PM (#12570350) Homepage
    ...opera is off the table because it costs money. :P

    Considering just how much money keeping "legal" with software sucks out of the company budget on a yearly basis (it used to be bi-yearly, but now Big Apps are shifting to variants on the subscription model...), more paperwork and POs for a web browser - when all the machines already have one - just can't be justified.
  • by hattig (47930) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @06:09PM (#12571488) Journal
    Opera seems to be a bit more efficient than Firefox, and certainly is usable for example on my old 120MHz Compaq Armada laptop with 32MB RAM (Debian 3.1, Xfce 4.2) which I configured today.

    Oh, and may I recommend naim as an AIM client? Talk about efficient chat!
  • by the_greywolf (311406) on Wednesday May 18, 2005 @08:30PM (#12572762) Homepage
    but it's not because it's open-source. don't get me wrong, i used to love opera until Firefox came along. the problem with Opera i have right now is that it will actually *HANG* my X session after using it for a few minutes. otherwise, i love Opera and would use it more often!

    i suspect it may have something to do with either QT or the nVidia drivers. but i have no idea.

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