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On Being a Citizen of the Web

  • December 20, 2000
  • By Dennis E. Powell

Another alternative I've grown to like more and more is the succession of betas of Opera 4.0. Like Konqueror, it is not fully populated with features yet. It is built against QT, meaning that it's nicely at home on a KDE2 desktop. Like Netscape 6, it wants to "help you" with the left quarter of the screen populated by a complicated -- no, goofy -- batch of bookmarks. These are easily gotten rid of by dragging that frame closed. Unfortunately, they are the only place I've found where one can find one's existing Netscape bookmarks. (There's a workaround: I navigated to my ~/netscape/bookmarks.html in Opera and opened that page -- and then bookmarked it. Now I can go there and simply follow the links. The bookmarks I wish to keep I can then open and bookmark in Opera. Getting rid of their bookmark structure and its hundreds of provided links and imposing mine instead will take a little more work.) Likewise, there is a line at the bottom of the screen populated by menus of bookmarks that, too, come with the product. I guess that there are people who have never been on the Web and need these to get themselves started, but then again, the rest of us struggled through somehow. I haven't figured out how to get rid of these or, better, to populate them with my own bookmarks, but I haven't devoted a lot of time to the effort, either.

Instead, I've marveled at the speed of Opera, its simple interface that still has just about everything (though some of it--such as Java and plugins--doesn't work yet). It has the most remarkable collection of cookie filters I've ever seen. More important, it has a checkbox that when chosen discards all new cookies on exit. Check it right off the bat and all cookies are new--and discarded.

Yes, when it's released, Opera will cost money. Not a lot of money--$35 or something thereabouts--but many Linux users are as allergic to spending money on software as I am to cookies. I'll be first in line to buy it when it's released. There is talk of a free version that will carry advertisements. I suppose that in a world where browsers are usually free, browsermakers have to do something to earn money other than hope that people buy their browser, and for the Opera folks advertising is that something. My sense is that if it's worth the money--and Opera is--then it's better just to pay for it. Take a look at the beta. It's dandy.

What Opera doesn't do is establish Konqueror's seamless relationship between the local computer and the Web. When you open Opera, it's to go poking around on the Web and not for any other reason. Konqueror is fired up as often as not for purely local file management, at which it is exceptionally good.

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