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Opera shows graceful, humorous response to Microsoft blunder

Opera handled recent MS sabotage attempts with grace and humor, but Gates and company may not be so lucky in the future

I recently downloaded the first beta of Opera 7.0 for Linux and gave it a whirl. I'm going to briefly recount my installation and usage experience with the beta, but this is in no way a review of the Opera browser, beta or otherwise. I'm simply using the beta as an icebreaker, an excuse to voice my opinions on recent happenings in the latest episodes of the Browser Wars. In blunt language, I'll launch into a rant against the latest machinations of the malignant monopoly.

The Linux version of Opera 7.0 lags behind the release of the Windows version of the popular multi-platform browser, but not by much. The final version of Opera 7.0 for Windows was released at the end of January. The first beta for Linux followed approximately two weeks later, on Valentine's Day. The Linux beta comes before a 7.0 beta for any of the other platforms supported by Opera. That includes the Macintosh, OS/2, Solaris, FreeBSD, and others.

I selected the static RPM version of the beta for download. A document is provided on the FTP site to help you select the correct version for your environment. I immediately ran into problems in the installation. The beta insisted on me having lib.Xm.so.2 installed. I tried to fool it with a symbolic link to lib.Xm.so.3, but it wasn't buying my lie. I got around the problem by installing openmotif21-2.1.30-7, which thoughtfully provides the needed library.

At first blush, Opera 7.0 seems to be just as quick to display pages as previous versions, but there are worrisome signs that it will soon lose its lean-and-mean, quick-and-nimble nature. I hope I'm wrong about that. The screenshot below gives you an idea of what Opera on Linux is looking like these days. The big news with the latest version for Linux is that it's not just for browsing anymore; this version for Linux contains a mail client/newsreader called M2.

Opera 7.0 beta for Linux

I verified that both the mail client and newsreader functions worked, but I didn't spend much time with either. It's not just that I'm no fan of "Swiss Army knife" browsers; the fonts were so small as to make the message text almost unreadable for my tired old eyes. I will say that I am impressed with the listed functionality of M2. It can do many of the things that I love about Evolution and more. M2's "Access points" sound very much like Evolution's virtual folders, and it has a magic way of maintaining contacts without the use of a separate address book. If you're looking for a new e-mail client or newsreader, you definitely will want to look at Opera.

This first beta for Linux is admittedly a little rough around the edges, especially in the area of new features. However, the final version of Opera 7.0 for Windows is winning rave reviews. Jim Rapoza of eWeek recently reviewed the 7.0 release and had this to say:

"We'll probably go back and forth a few times trying to figure out if we like Opera 7 better than Mozilla. And if you're wondering where eWeek Labs would rate market leader Internet Explorer from Microsoft Corp., that Web browser dinosaur would probably do no better than sixth place."

More Stories By Joe Barr

Joe Barr is a freelance journalist covering Linux, open source and network security. His 'Version Control' column has been a regular feature of Linux.SYS-CON.com since its inception. As far as we know, he is the only living journalist whose works have appeared both in phrack, the legendary underground zine, and IBM Personal Systems Magazine.

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