A Few Minor Technology Notes

I’m willing to test something in every way possible so you don’t have to. However, I’ll never tell you that my results are definitive for anyone but me. Feel free to discover a contradicting result on your own. But if digging around isn’t part of your mission in life, you may find my analysis useful.

I’ve been double-checking the browser scene lately. To be honest, I’ve always liked Opera since testing it way back around version 4. Because it was so reliable and technically useful, you would expect me to be loathe to drop it. I didn’t like it when Opera switched to the Blink engine behind Google Chrome. It means the browser is just a skin and a few added features, but I tolerated it for a long time. Lately, it has crashed daily on my Xubuntu. It’s gotten worse with the past few updates. I’m sure it works just fine on Windows, but I don’t run Windows and I’m not testing that. I’m dropping Opera.

What makes this pertinent is that it encourages me to test other browsers and read up on the development background, both good and bad. All browsers suck, of course. That’s partly because the Net sucks, and a lot of money is behind making it suck even worse. Furthermore, it is money that is user hostile; it’s part of the same degrading and dehumanizing effort to turn us into mere economic resources. It belongs to the ancient curse of Babylon, particularly as John describes in his Apocalypse. There are precious few people and projects on the Net that actually promote human need. So the question with browsers comes down to which one sucks least. Further, the question is which one sucks least today, because it’s a moving target.

Other derivatives based on the Blink engine also have crashed, though not quite as often. The issue is partly that the Blink engine does entirely too much of the wrong stuff and not enough of what we really need. It’s a mess; it may be useful at times, but it’s going through a very bad patch right now. I’m not sure it will get better, but I’ll keep at least one Blink browser around because it does a few things right. But another part of the issue is whether the browser in question is actually compiled for the OS in use. Slimjet is still a favorite of mine, but it’s compiled for generic Linux usage, and it’s not always done right. There is a Chromium browser (Google Chrome without the propriety stuff) compiled on Ubuntu for use on various derivatives of that, but that Chromium still crashes from time to time indicates that the problem is partly a matter of Blink.

I still use Seamonkey for some things, but it offers oddball display issues and some sites have started blocking it outright. Pale Moon is a good strong “also-ran” in my usage. My primary complaint with both is the telemetry that you cannot turn off; both snoop and send reports back home to the developers. I note that Seamonkey seems to do less of it, but I’m convinced claims that it’s anonymized data is meaningless, since it can be snooped easily by third parties. It makes me just a tad nervous. But then, most any full service browser does this to some degree.

So I’m left with either tweaking the source and building it myself, or sticking mostly with what is built for my OS by someone else. The latter choice means Firefox, the default browser on many Linux distributions. I’m not the least bit interested in the politics, and I’ve already fussed about the technology implications of what Firefox is doing these days, but the main point here is that it works, doesn’t crash and it’s pretty reliable.

But you should keep in mind: My primary browser is Links2 in graphical mode. The only place it doesn’t work is where the site requires JScript to display anything at all. So I use Links2 the majority of the time; it’s my go-to browser for all the daily routine stuff I do that doesn’t require interaction. And I still clear the cache after every website I visit. And for some sites where the text is all I care about, I still use the old Lynx browser. On the one hand, it’s part of my calling to pay attention to what passes for news from several selected sources; on the other hand, I don’t trust some of those sites to avoid the Babylon brand of abuse. Part of the problem is what is considered “smart business” on the Net, and I tend to think the folks who provide the content are seldom involved in all the snooping and manipulation going on behind the scenes.

This is where things stand right now.

About Ed Hurst

Avid cyclist, Disabled Veteran, Bible History teacher, and wannabe writer; retired.
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