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In times of ancient Romans, as the Web was just starting out, there were
two giants: IE and Netscape. However, I found both lacking.
Someone pointed me to a less-known alternative called Opera. And that
was it. I was hooked.
I've been a loyal Opera user from around Opera 5. It was continually
improving until 9.64, where its usability peaked.
The next versions started a decline in usability.
10.10 had become slower (in creating tabs, closing tabs, and switching
tabs mainly).
10.50 dumped Qt in favor of their own theme engine, which meant huge
usability issues for those on dark gtk+ themes (such as yours truly):
black text on black background, black highlights on black buttons and
so on.
11 slowed down even more, and this slow decline continued in 12. It was
not all bad mind you, Dragonfly for example was much better in 12 than
in 9, but for the main feature of a browser, usability, 12 was bad.
We all know what happened next. Opera fired their Presto team and turned
their product to a Chrome skin. In the process, they showed the middle
finger to their old users, in the form of not supporting the things that
made Opera Opera any more: bookmarks and the extreme customizability.
Issue's edge
Astute readers will see how this creates the main issue. Staying on the
best browser, Opera 9, keeps getting more and more difficult each day as
the web develops. It's also not the most secure of choices, but as one
who has a browser open for 90% of their computing time, the browser's
usability is paramount.
One particularly thorny issue is how the latest jquery no longer works,
which in turn breaks a lot of other sites. It's funny in a way that the
latest jquery still works on Firefox 2, a much older browser.
Alternatives, dude
As soon as the decline began in Opera 10 I started to check out the
Chrome: no go due to the privacy invasions. I will not let Google or
any other BigCorp slurp my data, thank you very much.
Chromium: while I could fork it to remove the privacy-reducing
malfeatures, I dislike the Chromium UI very much, as well as some of
the technical design decisions made in it. These would make it far too
big a job to start from Chromium.
Firefox: I never found Firefox particularly good. Nowadays, like that
hot girl you knew from high school, Firefox got fat. I also disagree with
the "XML as UI, with full JS and CSS access" decision, those cycles are
better spent elsewhere.
Dillo, lynx, links: not real alternatives as far as compatibility goes.
This leaves the smaller Webkit players mainly, such as Arora.
A new dawn
It's become pretty clear now that if I want a browser done right, I will
need to do it myself. It's also very clear that the path to go is Webkit1.
So, there's the dirty details. A closed-source product answered my needs
perfectly, but as time passed on, the product was pulled from under me,
and as it's closed source, I cannot do anything about it.
All I can do is start an alternative. One that is Free software.