Aug 11

Linux Browsers Compared – Firefox Aurora, Opera Next, Chrome Dev

Web Browsers Compared

The browser war is once again at it’s peak. Google Chrome has shaken up the web browsers landscape on Linux in terms of speed and it’s agile release cycle. Older established players like Firefox and Opera have responded with their own faster release cycles. All of the browsers allow ends uses to preview and test  upcoming versions. Firefox now has the Aurora channel and Opera has the Next release channel to preview the future versions.

This review compares the current in-development versions of the Chrome, Firefox and Opera web browsers on Linux.  Is the new release cycle of Firefox and Opera helping them to match Chrome in speed and performance? Cutting the chase, lets find out.

Browsers Tested

  • Opera Next 12 pre-alpha amd64
  • Firefox Aurora 8.0a2 2011-08-25 amd64
  • Google Chrome dev  15.0.861.0  amd64

Test Methodology

  • All extensions disabled in each browser
  • Only one test was run at a time
  • All browser cache in a tmpfs ram disk

Test System

  • CPU   – AMD Phenom X6 1055
  • RAM –  8 GB DDR3 1300
  • Disk – Intel X25V  40 GB
  • Graphic Card – Zoatc Geforce GT 460 768Mb
  • OS Ubuntu 11.04 running Unity/ 2.6.38-11-generic #48-Ubuntu SMP

The Tests

V8 Benchmark Suite – version 6

V8 Benchmark Suite - version 6 - Higher is Better

Google  Chrome dev  is the stand-out winner in the benchmark, for obvious reasons.  This is the bench mark that developers of Google Chrome uses to baseline he V8 javascript engine and most likely Chrome is heavily optimised for  this benchmark.  Firefox and Opera fall way behind as a distant second and third respectively.


Sunspide 0.9.1 - Lower is better (ms)

This is another javascript benchmark.   Here the difference between Chrome and Firefox is not so dramatic as in the V8 benchmark, but tables are turned.  Firefox is significantly faster in this benchmark, interestingly even Opera is faster then Chrome.

HTML 5 Test Suite

HTML5 Suite - Higher is better

The HTML5 test suite indicates how well the browser can render HTML5.  Google Chrome with 342/450 leads the pack, with Opera coming last with 286/450. Firefox is in between with 314/450.

This will be a bench mark to watch out for in future. As HTML5 becomes more widespread in the future, the winner will be the one that has the best support for HTML5.

Acid3 Test

Sunspide 0.9.1 - Lower is better (ms)

Only Firefox Aurora misses out the perfect hunderd and could manage 97/100; while both Google Chrome dev and Opera Next came up with perfect 100/100.

Final Words

It is clear from all the benchmark Chrome remains the king of speed and performance on Linux.

These preview versions of the web browsers we have compared will be released before the end of this year, and Chrome will remain the leader for 2011.

What does Firefox and Opera have for 2012 that will beat Chrome ?

Apr 08

Install Older Extersions on Firefox 3 Beta

There is a pretty easy way of making older extensions compatible and successfully install on Firefox 3.0 Beta. This should make your test drive on the Firefox 3 Beta build a little more nicer.

Mozilla does not allow incompatible versions of extensions to install on FIrefox for some good reason. Incompatible extension may install through a backdoor,  but there is no guarantee if this will work at all and not cause trouble. Installing is one thing, but making it work is something else. So be cautioned, but if you would still like to try it out read on.

Nightly Tester Tool (NTT) extension –  Lets walk through the process with an example. In my case, AdBlock Plus extension was not compatible with Firefox 3 b5.

  1. Download  & Install the Nightly Tester Tool from this link (external link).
  2. Once NTT extension is installed, restart Firefox. After Firefox restarts, go to the menu : Tools -> Add-ons
  3. On the add-ons pop-up select the NTT plugin and click on  “Make All Compatible”.

The Nightly Tester Tool appears capable of  much more than making older extensions compatible. We will look at this extension itself some other day.

Systems Tested on :

  1. Firefox 3 Beta 5 – Mac OSX 10.5 (Leopard), 20″ iMac Core Duo (early 2006)
  2. Firefox 3 Beta 5 – Windows XP SP2, DeLL D630 Core 2 Duo

Feb 07

Inquisitor 3 : Neat Enhancement to Web Search in Apple’s Safari Web Browser

The built in web search in Apple Mac Safari 2 & 3 web browsers leaves much to be desired in comparison to Firefox 2.0 ( or the new Firefox 3 Betas). This is where a nice little addon called Inquisitor brings in the much needed parity for Apple’s Safari web browser. When compared to Firefox’s (v2.0) built in search Apple Safari 2.0 and the Safari 3.1 lacks 2 very important features :

  1. Safari does not allow search engine customization. Only Google search can be used.
  2. Safari cannot provide live search suggestions like Firefox 2.0/3.0

Get Inquisitor 3 from the developer’s site located here [external link]. The developer has made Inquisitor freely available. The developer’s web page has link to PayPal for donation.

Installing/Uninstalling Inquisitor 3

Installation is pretty straight forward. The downloaded dmg file contains a installation app. Just execute the app and restart Safari. Inquisitor 3 now also works on OSX 10.5 (Leopard).Inquisitor, does not install in the Application folder, so in case you want to uninstall Inquisitor, you can use the same Install app – which gives an option for uninstalling Inquisitor 3.

Getting Started with Inquisitor 3

Once Inquisitor is installed and Safari is restarted, just try a web search on the Apple Safari’s search box on the top right hand corner. I just typed “Gone With the Wind”. Pronto, a beautiful pop up appears below the Safari search box with 3 site suggestions and some keyword suggestions. Inquisitor can use both Google or Yahoo to provide search suggestions. Check out the screenshot below. The way the search suggestion are displayed give Safari one up on Firefox 2.0. This looks so beautiful, so very Apple like.

Inquisitor default provides only Google search. New search engines can be easily added from the Inquisitor preference pane located inside the Safari preference pane. I quickly added Yahoo, IMDb and Wikipedia search for the predefined filters already provide by Inquisitor. For each search engine, I was required to provide a keyboard shortcut. All these were done in less than a minute. Inquisitor also allows adding on custom search engine. In my case I added Ask.com by adding the search url- http://www.ask.com/web?q=%@ .

Inquisitor 3 provides some basic configuring options. It also allows previous search history to be used to refine suggestions. With Inquisitor switching the search engine is not easy as in Firefox. The way it works i that the user is required to assign a unique keyboard short cut for each search engine selected. After the user types the search term in the search box, the appropriate shortcut keys needs to be pressed. By default, pressing enter/return results in Google search being used. In the screenshots above, I have assigned Cmd+Y for Yahoo search, Cmd+W for Wikipedia. If someone uses many different search engines, it will be a pain to remember keyboard shortcuts assigned to each search engine.

A work around for it is that as soon as the search key work is typed, wait for the pop-up to appear below the web search box (see screenshot on the left). Here there will be a list of search engines configured, use the mouse to click on the search engine you want to use for this search.

Conclusion & Recommendation

Overall, Inquisitor 3 is an excellent and high quality addon for Apple Safari web browser. It enhances the user experience on Safari web browser in a very neat way. Users should at least give Inquisitor 3 a try.

The reader should also check out the review of Acid Search addon for Apple Safari browser. Like Inquisitor, Acid Search allows customization of search engine in Safari, but cannot do search suggestion.

Test Setup Used for this review:

  • Safari 2.0.4 (419.3) Mac OSX Version 10.4.8 (Tiger), iMac 20′ with Intel Core Duo (Early 2006)
  • Safari 3.1 (5525.13) Mac OSX Version10.5.2 (Leopard), iMac 20′ with Intel Core Duo (Early 2006)

Feb 07

Netscape 9 browser on Mac OSX and Linux

After the windows only Netscape 8 disaster, there is Netscape 9 web browser being planned. Interestingly, according to this post [external link] in the Netscape blog, the Netscape 9 will be released for Mac OSX, Linux and Windows simultaneously.

For AOL Netscape has been a long and painful story of missed opportunity. Long back they could have used the Geeko engine as the default platform for their AOL browser. Instead they choose to persist with the Internet Explorer core and shut out the non Windows users. As a result, the Netscape platform became an non-entity in an internet ecosystem dominated by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

AOL has still not got it’s strategy right on what to do with the Netscape. The windows only Netscape 9, the super bloated Netscape 6 or even the new avatar of the digg-alike Netscape.com clearly illustrates this.

For a Mac user Netscape 9 will just be an alternative to Firefox or Safari. For Linux users Netscape 9 will just be an alternative to Firefox or Konqueror.
Considering how well Firefox web browser is doing, why do we need one more browser ?

Jan 07

ICICI Bank : Anti-Phising ads on National TV

In recent times phishing (read scam) on the internet in increasingly becoming a nasty threat. The term phising generally refers to a kind of internet fraud where an unsupecting person receives an apparently genuine looking email, which has been carefully forged to look almost like an genuine email. Typically, such emails would cite some genuine looking information and ask unsuspecting people to reply back with passwords or pin numbers. In some cases, these emails would provide links to phishing website, that impersonated the real website. If a user clicks on such links and tried to log into the forged website, his/her password would get logged and misused by the phisher(the person or the group responsible for the scam).
Know more about phishing here and here.

ICICI Bank is one of the largest banks in India. Recently it has started a Television campaign on national TV to make people aware of threats of phishing. It is really appreciable effort on the part of the ICICI Bank to launch this effort. In general most people are not aware of what phishing is all about and can easily fall prey to internet scamsters. Like most banks ICICI has a web page education customers on internet frauds and phishing (Link to the page) .
The internet scamsters are always finding innovative ways to dupe normal people who use the internet. Along with awareness of the internet threats, using a good set of tools while using internet could help :

  1. Use email service or email clients that support anti-spam.Email services like Yahoo mail and Gmail have effective anti-spam tools. Email clients like Mozilla Thunderbird, Apple Mail have very good anti-spam filters built into it.
  2. Use web browser that warns when a the user for some reason ends up in a suspected phishing site. Mozilla Firefox 2.0, Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 and Opera 9 supports built in anti-phishing protection.
  3. Third party tools like MacAfee Site Advisor can also be very helpful on protecting the end user against phishing and other internet spam. Site Advisor works with both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

ICICI Bank is right on with their campaign against the internet threats like phising. Their nationalally televised ads against phishing will go a long way to make the average internet user aware of threats of internet scams and help safer internet experience. Keep up the good work ICICI Bank.