I use a lot of web browsers. I have six different browsers installed on my primary computer, and maybe ten more on other testing machines.
Of all of these, there is one primary browser. When I click on a link in an email or instant message, my primary browser will open it.
Years ago, Netscape 4 was my primary browser. Then, along came Internet Explorer 4, which was dramatically better than Netscape 4. In early 1998, IE4 became my primary web browser. Since then, it has been all IE – including version 5, 5.5, and up until today, 6.
There are other great browsers. Mozilla has had a great browser since before version 1.0. I used it regularly (the standards compliant rendering engine was great for testing web development work). It wasn’t enough to get to switch over entirely, though.
Then along came Phoenix. The browser started as a lean off-shoot of the Mozilla project. It became a great browser very fast. I started using it more and more with the version 0.5 beta release a few months ago. I really got hooked on the joys of using open-source software when a feature request I made was answered by a developer with a patch that same day. Still, Phoenix was in the relatively early beta stages and had some key features missing, incomplete, or broken.
Phoenix has been renamed Mozilla Firebird. The Mozilla project has announced that they will be making Mozilla Firebird the primary Mozilla browser (which means Netscape 8 could be based on Firebird, if that even matters anymore). Today, with the release of beta 0.6, Phoenix-come-Firebird is stable enough that I have made it my primary web browser, and I will secretly install in on my parents computer.
I have a few recommendations for anyone trying out this browser. The core browser is kept as clean and simple as possible (about a 6MB download) and additional functionality is handled through a nice extensions system (as opposed to just pilling everyones favourite feature into the core).
- The Luna theme looks great on Windows XP
- The Trivial extension lets you put font-size controls in your toolbar (should be there by default)
- Googlebar gives you all of the functionality of the Windows Google Toolbar.