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Looking at the Galeon Web Browser

The Bare Essentials

  • July 18, 2000
  • By Michael Hall

When Netscape announced two years ago that they'd opened the source to their browser, desktop Linux users got pretty excited. The Open Source community was going to get a chance to strip the moribund Netscape Communicator down to the essentials and build the thing right, peeling away the layers of cruft and dysfunction that caused it to crash and burn at the sight of Java, or spend seeming minutes rendering pages. Many imagined a tool so devoid of excess it would just appear on the screen out of nowhere when invoked.

Two years later, Mozilla has shaped up a lot, especially considering the fact that the developer community around the project has rebuilt the browser from the ground up. The nightly builds of one day are sometimes dramatically better than what came only days before, but it still arrives with a troubling amount of extras if all you're looking for is that simple browser. The browser component, when it's all said and done, will be available on its own, much as Navigator is still available separate from Communicator, but Mozilla remains a large project, one eye trained on a market dominated by Microsoft and slightly more conditioned in its expectations with each passing day.

Enter galeon, a GNOME/GTK-based browser that has taken the Gecko rendering engine (Mozilla's heart) and put it to work in a small, fast browser that does nothing more than render pages, store bookmarks, and provide all the speed of Gecko in a remarkably small bundle.

Getting and Installing Galeon
Galeon is another project hosted on the SourceForge web site (http://galeon.sourceforge.net). Source code for the project as well as a link to the RPMs providing the libraries needed to build the package are available there.

Because of some licensing issues with Mozilla itself, it's not possible, according to the galeon team, to distribute the crucial gtkmozembed.h file required to make the browser run, so users may either download the entire Mozilla source package (17MB for the bzipped version of the archive) or the devel RPM (1.9MB). A running build of Mozilla is also required. The nightly binary releases worked fine, but a binary RPM is also available.

In addition to the requirments mentioned on the site itself, a fairly full complement of development packages are also needed. The project makes heavy use of most of the libraries that ship with GNOME, including the GLADE interface building package and a raft of others. Those keeping current with Helix Code's binary releases will have no problem getting what they need.

Building the package is a fairly simple process, though (probably through some failure to read the sparse insructions) I ended up having to copy a few files around, fraught with no more peril than the normal process of ./configure && make && make install. It's a quick, clean compile of a mere 250k of source that leaves you with a 450k binary.

The only thing required to run galeon once it's built and installed is to make sure you've set MOZILLA_FIVE_HOME to point at your Mozilla installation. Since the actual galeon binary is launched from a shell script, you can simply set the variable at the top of the script if you haven't already designated it at login.


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