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  1. #1
    RetroSteve! My location

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    Angry Modern web browsers

    I've been a bit frustrated for some time, with how some web browsers have got rid of lots of their functionality, or at least hidden it away, in order to appear dumbed down.

    Fortunately for me, Opera 12 hadn't yet done this, but I just found that Opera has completely changed recently. I didn't know this, because the changes are only on Windows, and I use the Linux version. So, I decided to give the new version of Opera a go in a virtual machine. For quite a long time, Opera has had lots of advanced functionality, which has surpassed that of other browsers, but now, they seem to have got rid of practically everything. No longer do I have a nice set of options in a menu bar. No longer can I use my left and right mouse buttons to navigate. The sidebars are gone. I may as well not bother.

    Many other browsers seem to have adopted this dumbed down look, with hardly any buttons, and hardly any menus, making it virtually impossible to do anything with it. Even lesser known ones like Epiphany and Midori.

    I tried a recent version of IceWeasel (pretty much a FireFox clone), and it had pretty much done away with the status bar. Instead of having a permanent status bar, one would pop up, covering a small part of the page, and I would have to wait a while for it to appear. I had to install an extension to get the conventional status bar functionality back.


    Why?


    I've been pondering changing to the Uzbl browser. This looks to be quite a promising browser for Linux, but it does seem to have a bit of a learning curve, for those who aren't accustomed to software like vi.

  2. #2
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    Burger Time Champion, Sonic Champion Harrison's Avatar
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    You can blame Chrome for this. It has hardly anything viable to begin with, although you can make parts of it visible if you wish.

    For me I still like Firefox the most. It does also hide a lot compared to old versions, grouping everything under the one main menu, but again you can switch most things back on.

    The reason is good for the most part because it gives you much more webpage space on screen at once, which is an offshoot from mobile device design.

    I have actually been using Chrome a bit more recently because I like it's cloud syncing. If you are using it on a tablet, then load it on your PC it can instantly mirror everything. All your favorites are there across all of your synced copies of Chrome, and even you're currently open tabs will mirror over. Very cool. I've also started using Google Keep for the same reason and thinking of ditching Catch for this job.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 4

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  3. #3
    RetroSteve! My location

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    I could have understood this 'more space for the web page' thing if it were 10 years ago. Maybe back then (and before), you could do something like Sheldon Brown explains: http://sheldonbrown.com/web_tips.html, but these days, screens are so big, that many websites limit the size of the actual site, and many people have a browser window that is only a fraction of the screen. I really don't think there is any excuse for hiding useful controls by default.

    My Opera 12 window takes up only half of the 1920x1200 screen, and there is more than enough room for both the average website, and the controls. If I fill the screen, it is too big for most sites. If its too big for the site, there's no excuse for having no buttons .

    - - - Updated - - -

    I just had another play with Midori, and its button bar does actually have useful buttons . It has a menu button which brings up a single menu with useful options. But it turns out they hadn't actually got rid of the conventional menu bar, it is just hidden, so you can opt to show it. It also has quite a few other configurable features, so it looks like it might be a good option for me .

  4. #4
    RetroSteve! My location

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    Has anyone here used GNU IceCat? I thought I'd try it out. Its basically the GNU version of Firefox. It contains features which prevent tracking etc. However, a lot of this seems to be done by the inclusion of some Extensions, so I'm not sure how much of the IceCat browser itself is different to Firefox.

    It comes with Request Policy, which i am finding useful to block adverts and other unnecessary crap. It has the GNUZilla privacy extension. I can't remember what this does, but it must have been something I found annoying as I disabled it. It also contains IceCat tweaks, which I am also not sure about. There is also LibreJS (which prevents certain JavaScripts), and HTTPS Everywhere, which aims to ensure that HTTPS is used wherever possible. I haven't really used the last two, so I'm still yet to see how good they are.

    Installing it was a bit of a pain. Its not in the Debian repository because they use their own IceWeasel. I tried to use the 64bit binary, but couldn't, because it seems to have been compiled with different libraries to what my system has, so I decided to have a go at compiling it myself. I usually have very limited success with compiling stuff, but after spending an hour or so installing loads of libraries which I didn't have, the ./configure finally decided that everything was in order, and I was able to compile it by typing make. It took at least 3 hours to compile .

    Anyway, it worked, and the browser seems to be working nicely. It seems much faster than Opera 12 did. I'll see about adding some extensions to get back the status bar etc like I did in IceWeasel.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Well, I can't quite figure out what the IceCat Tweaks extension is supposed to do, but it really seems to dislike me having the Menu Bar. It resets to the single menu every time I restart the browser with this extension enabled .

    I think the GNUzilla Privacy Extension is mostly something to do with websites requesting cookies from other sites, or something along those lines.

    I ran LibreJS on some of these forum pages, and it disallowed all the JavaScript, complaining that there is too much which is non-free or non-trivial. In principle, I like the aim of LibreJS, but I think it seems a bit over the top for my usage.

  5. #5
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    Burger Time Champion, Sonic Champion Harrison's Avatar
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    Hmm... that's the reason I don't use any version of Linux or Debian as a main OS, because they are still not complete standardised OSs and require a lot of bolt on libraries around a central kernal to get anything working, and then there is the hassle of compiling stuff before you can use it. Many will argue that this is what makes them so good, because you can basically build the exact OS setup you want and need, and for developers and IT techs I agree that is great, but not for everyone else, or for productivity.

    As much as Windows has it's annoyances it is still the best OS for productivity and getting things done. But I would still take Linux every time for server duties and a nice fast commandline interface over SSH for control.

    Every OS has it's place.

    But anyway, back to your question, no I've not tried GNU Icecat. I still mainly use Firefox on the PC for most browsing, with some Chrome because it works so well at being truly cross platform, utilising the Google cloud to instantly share everything between hardware.. for example all my bookmarks are instantly updated and accessible on every device sharing the same Google account, and I can even move from my Tablet to my PC and see the same tabs open in Chrome. For me this is a big plus to the browser.

    If you haven't played a classic game in years, it's never too late to start!


  6. #6
    RetroSteve! My location

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    Debian is actually so big and popular these days that an awful lot of software is already compiled for Debian, and comes in DEB packages, and there is a huge amount of stuff in the repositories. So, a lot of stuff does just work out of the box these days.

    Of course its when things don't that there are problems. Sometimes things seem to come in rather peculiar package formats which seem to be difficult to get working. And as for compiling, it *should* be easy provided you have the relevant software and libraries. I think its more a case of having to know what you are doing.

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