I’ve been looking for an up-to-date, Gecko-based browser to replace the discontinued Netscape Navigator 9 on my old G4 Pismo PowerBook running OS 10.4 Tiger. Navigato still works well, is based on the now-ancient Firefox 2 and probably has some security vulnerabilities. Firefox 3.5 and Camino 1.6 are great on my Intel Mac, but kinda sluggish on the Pismo with its RAGE 128GPU and 8MB of VRAM.
Happily, another Gecko with relatively modest hardware demands is still actively developed. SeaMonkey is the last of the Internet suite browsers, with built-in email and newsgroup client, IRC chat application and a WYSIWYG Web page composer — essentially an updated, refined, security-patched iteration of the old Mozilla Application Suite and Netscape Communicator.
The non-browser elements of SeaMonkey aren’t of much interest to me, so I’ve had a tendency to overlook the program, but my quest for a Navigator 9 replacement sent me checking out the latest SeaMonkey 2.0 beta on the Pismo, and I’m liking it.
Firefox 3.5.1 Under the Hood
Its download manager is completely reworked, including (hooray!) support for cross-session resumable downloads, new-tab and new-window command line options, and fully customizable toolbars.
Mail archiving is now supported and history is stored in a better database. A huge improvement is support for post-crash session restore and the option to restore browser windows and tabs from the last open session when starting.
A longstanding gripe has been that SeaMonkey’s UI looks “antiquated,” with the lack of eye-candy being one reason why it’s lively on older hardware like my PowerBook.
However, with SeaMonkey 2, the UI has a brighter, more contemporary look — still simple, but everything I need is there: tabbed browsing and a real progress bar. I do wish they’d put close buttons on individual tabs rather than having to mouse to the extreme right. Like the Gecko-based browsers (except Cocoa Camino), it doesn’t support OS X Services, but that’s about it for complaints.
“Everything But The Kitchen Sink”
Even as a beta, performance and stability are impressive enough to make me a fan, but if having “everything but the kitchen sink” in one application appeals, SeaMonkey’s suite of Web apps will be icing on the proverbial cake. Indeed I find this SeaMonkey beta so pleasant to use I’ve been running it on my Intel Mac as well for the past several days.