MozillaZine

Netscape 6 Released

Tuesday November 14th, 2000

Netscape 6 has been released. You can download the installer here.


#170 I'm Pleasantly Surprized

by Mike_Cornall

Friday November 17th, 2000 4:04 AM

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Netscape is a complex product, and this is a 1.0 release following a complete rewrite.

I only downloaded it to evaluate the truth of what people were saying about it, and I didn't expect to start using it on a regular basis until a later release (preferably Mozilla).

Imagine my surprize, then, when I discovered that it works well enough, and offers enough advantages, that I wanted to start using it right away.

I've switched!

I've been running Netscape 6.0 all day, and I intend to stay with it.

Naturally, I'll keep 4.73 around, just in case, and I plan to continue to evaluate, and eventually switch to Mozilla.

Netscape 6.0 isn't perfect, of course. I've run into some bugs, and I have some advice (below).

MY SYSTEM:

PII, 400 MHz, 128 MB (+ 256MB swap) Linux, Debian, 2.2 Kernel IceWM with Gnome and KDE library support

PERFORMANCE:

Loading web pages is comparable to Netscape 4.73. Formatting and resizing complex pages is much faster than 4.73.

Pull-down menues, and other widgets seem snappy enough. As expected, the so-called performance problems due to XUL are not apparent.

Initial load time is slow, and it seems to be related to loading bookmarks:

Netscape 4.73 load time: 5 seconds.

Netscape 6.0 load time: 9 seconds (390 KB bookmarks file)

Netscape 6.0 load time: 27 seconds (1 MB bookmarks file)

FUNCTIONALITY:

Hasn't crashed yet after many hours of browsing, experimenting with preferences, and so on.

(Note: I owe an apology to others who claimed that they hadn't experienced any crashes so far, because I assumed they might be lying in support of Netscape, as I'm sure some astroturfers are lying in an effort to hurt Netscape).

Worked fine on every site I care about (though we know there will be problems on sites with non-standard HTML). Also worked fine on some pages where Netscape 4.73 has problems (e.g. MSNBC articles).

I went looking for sites with 3D interactive Java demos. They worked fine, and didn't crash the browser!

SOME BUGS AND ANNOYANCES

I tried some alternate themes. They look cool, but they also caused the preferences menu to screw up, so I went back to the standard (more debugged) Modern theme.

Certain pull-down menus, or resize operations, leave minor artifacts on the screen.

Composer did a couple of strange things, in one case putting my cursor outside of the text, and in another cutting slightly more text than I had marked, but overall it did the job.

Save-As doesn't start in my home dir, and it doesn't remember my last directory.

Shortcut keys are different than 4.73 (e.g. CTL-N instead of ALT-N), though I assume that's intentional, to make them consistent across platforms.

There were probably others that I've forgotten, and I'm sure I'll find more over time, but I'm pleased that I haven't run into any showstoppers so far.

ADVICE:

1. Don't take my word for it. Download and try Netscape 6.0 for yourself. Your mileage might vary, and a bug that seems minor to me may be a showstopper for you.

2. Don't accept the word of any naysayers either.

3. You should probably avoid Netscape's "Smart Update" download and install procedure for now. I had problems with it, and so did a friend of mine. Even when it appears to have worked, you can still run into problems (e.g. the "missing XPxxx" problem mentioned in another post). As others have suggested, go to the FTP page (<ftp://ftp.netscape.com/pub/netscape6/>), download the whole thing, unzip and untar it, and run the installer as root.

CORRECTING ONE POINT

So far, there are 19 posts in this forum by bjensen (that's one out of every nine posts -- talk about your fanatics, unless of course someone is paying him to FUD Netscape). I'm not going to argue with all his points, but I take particular exception to one of them.

bjensen claims that Netscape 6.0 should be compared to Internet Explorer. I disagree.

It's true that many in the public will make such a comparison. But for those who are technically astute, and not governed by company edict, Internet Explorer isn't even in the running, because it's just too insecure.

Also, those with an eye to the future don't want to help Microsoft pollute the Internet with "decommoditized" protocols.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

This is a good start. Having gotten over the hump of the rewrite, Netscape and Mozilla can only get better from here.

With its open-source component architecture, proper Java support, and XUL, Netscape and Mozilla open the door for a new generation of web apps. Applications have already been built based on Mozilla, ISPs will customize it for their users, and gecko is already being incorporated in lightweight browsers, Nautilus, AOL's Webpad, cable boxes, game platforms, and so on.

As the use of Gecko and Mozilla expands, their excellent standards compliance will help ensure the survival of Internet Standards, despite Microsoft's ambitions to the contrary.

Lastly, for those who complain that they will now need to write HTML to support new quirks in Netscape 6.0 -- stop griping. Just code to W3 standards. Netscape and Mozilla are willing to live up to their responsibility for meeting those standards. Is Microsoft?