Ubuntu and the Browser Wars

I must admit I gave in to great frustration with Firefox 3.x. The thing was slow, a memory and processor hog, besides beginning to really show its age. There were a few extensions I had come to depend on – a speed dialer, link previewer, chm file viewer, for example. Then along came Firefox 4 and all the hoopla about speed and memory improvements. Yep, you guessed it, I ran right over and gave it a try. It was in early beta but I figured I didn’t have much to lose. Ha, figured that wrong. Some of my “essential” extensions no longer worked.

Ok, plan B, let’s try Chromium. Well, after it broke a few times with no way to retreat to an earlier build, I decided plan C must be the charm. Google Chrome, here I come. Yay, no more breakage, and by version 12 it ought to be pretty mature. It sure is fast, stable, clean and modern looking. But…. it misses the mark by inches.

Chrome does a good job with video; audio, too, if it isn’t an embedded midi file. Strike 1.

Chrome finally has a pretty substantial collection of extensions. Scribefire, bookmark manager, link previewer. No chm viewer, and you know that link previewer? It only works about half the time and everything you look at in the previewer gets added to the browser history; makes going back one page in the main browser window a royal pain. Strike 2

Oh yes, printing. One thing I do every week requires printing to a pdf in landscape mode. Surely by version 12 something that basic would be possible. Nope, can’t change much when you’re printing to a pdf – paper size or orientation, scale. And, to rub salt in it, no truly functional print preview either. Strike 3.

If speed is all you’re after, Chromium/Chrome might be a good option. Unfortunately, what could be an outstanding application misses on some pretty fundamental stuff that certainly should have been figured out before double digit version numbers.

Oh well, guess I’ll just have to live with Firefox 4. It’s a big step up from version 3.x; there’s still room for improvement but it’s way closer to a fully functional and non-frustrating application than Chrome.

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