Pale Moon Browser – a Review

I’ve been married to Mozilla Firefox (and Thunderbird) since I came to GNU/Linux full-time nearly 8 years ago.

I’ve tried other browsers: Epiphany, Midori, IceSkunk — er… I mean Weasel (in Debian), Konqueror (an old fav), etc. I never could get them to do the things that I wanted my browser to do. I used to heavily customize my FF, even using userChrome scripts to manipulate things under the hood. However, lately I’ve gotten FF pretty much just the way I want it. It’s not too bloated. It’s not to graphics intensive to display. It’s just right, in other words.

Unfortunately, sometime in the past few months, FF has developed some CPU cycle hogging tendencies that really are beginning to aggravate me. It usually happens when I first open the browser. Now I clear-all when closing my browser, so I’m starting it back up with minimal overhead. Still, for the first few minutes of operation each day, it gobbles CPU cycles to the point where it actually freezes up while trying to load two or three websites in tabs.

I’ve done all the usual: make sure extensions/plugins are all up-to-date, start in Safe Mode, start with a fresh profile, etc. FF still displays this annoying habit of jamming up CPU cycles when you first start it up. Oh, well… I almost suspect Adobe Flash, but can’t blame everything on them. ;) When this happened to me first thing this morning, it got me motivated to maybe find a browser alternative to FF for a while.

I already had Opera installed on my Slackware, so I updated it. I then installed Chromium (not Chrome, but close enough) from a SlackBuild from Alien Bob’s (Eric Hameleers) repository. You’ll be getting a substantial donation, Eric, if I can ever get my personal finances in order again. Anyway, I played around with both Opera and Chromium for a while. I’m just daunted by the amount of work involved to get them to do what my FF already does so well. It’s going to be tough to break away from FF, I thought…

Well, Fran (Li’l Bambi @ Scot’s Newsletter Forums) mentioned an alternative that I had heard of, but had forgotten all about up until I saw her posting today. She mentioned The Pale Moon Project. I immediately went over to their site to have a looksee. I was impressed with what I saw there. What really had me jumping for joy was the fact that Pale Moon would work with existing FF profiles. That would save me a lot of work when it comes to setting up. So, I figured I’d give it a try.

A screenie thumbnail of my Pale Moon browser

Since I’ve run Slackware as my primary operating system on all my machines for almost 8 years now, I knew that I’d probably have to compile this on my own from source code that I downloaded from the Pale Moon folks. Well, surprise! Their little tar.bz2 package actually has a minimal install script included. It worked like a champ in Slackware. No muss, no fuss. I had the browser installed in less than a minute. All I had to do after that was copy my default FF profile into the Pale Moon directory and change the profile.ini to point to it.

Whammo! I’m using Pale Moon right away. It opens the very first time looking and functioning 99.9% like my FF; Bookmarks, extensions, addons, plugins all working right off. Impressive! I’ve been using this browser all afternoon today. It hasn’t burped once. The only time I see any significant CPU usage is when scrolling on highly graphic intensive pages, like Bing Image Search or similar, but nowhere near the CPU usage that FF was displaying. It also seems to be a bit faster to respond, but that could just be my imagination.

Of course, I haven’t tested thoroughly, but after the few hours that I have been using Pale Moon, I’d have to say it’s a solid little app. I would definitely recommend it to folks who love their FF, but want something just a wee bit lighter. Pale Moon is based on FF 24.5 ESR, which is perfect for me because that’s exactly the version that Slackware 14.1 is using right now; 100% profile compatibility.

I like it. You might, too. Give it a shot. And if it turns out you do like it, click that little donation button on the Pale Moon website. $5 or so wont put you in the poor house. :)

Have fun…

~Eric


Apache OpenOffice 4 Released

YAY! The new v4 OpenOffice is out there just waiting for you to download it.

I’d have to admit that I’ve been using LibreOffice since the Big To-do a few years back with OpenOffice/Oracle. However, since Apache has it now, I thought I’d give it a shot again. I run Slackware, though, which means I’ll have to build it myself. I may cheat a bit and download the RPM and use rpm2tgz to install it. That’s probably going to be a bit time consuming; not as bad as building from source, though. Also, I know that OpenOffice requires Java for some features. I’ll need to see what works and what doesn’t without Java present. I don’t have Java installed on my Slackware systems anymore. I just got tired of having to update it every other damned day or so because of security patches issued by Oracle to putty up all the holes in that software.

Once I overcome my current laziness (I’m in battery save mode) enough to give this a try, I’ll post about my results. Until then, you can read more about the new version of OpenOffice by clicking the link below:

AOO 4.0 Release Notes

Later…

~Eric

P.S. If someone more energetic than myself has built a SlackBuild for AOO, let me know. :)

P.P.S. What? Don’t like Apache OpenOffice for whatever reasons? If you’re lucky enough to be running Slackware, you can download Master Slacker Alien Bob’s (Eric Hameleers) SlackBuild for LibreOffice 4.0.2 instead. I just did. It installs and runs flawlessly.


X File Explorer – Today’s Featured Application

A week or so ago, I was upgrading my Slackware systems to Current and noticed an unwanted “feature” had been added to my Xfce 4.10 Thunar file manager.

Thunar now shows all unmounted partitions on my systems by default. Years ago, I had this issue in Debian and had to create custom 10ignore-disks.fdi configuration files in /usr/share/hal/preprobe/95userpolicy to eliminate the display of unwanted volumes in Gnome/Nautilus. Unfortunately, that’s not a viable solution in my current situation. My Slack is not utilizing HAL anymore in its current version. I was at a loss on how to resolve this issue. With numerous partitions across three drives on my main system, it really made for a cluttered up Thunar left pane. See Fig 1 below:

Fig 1: Thunar showing unmounted volumes in left pane

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I’m sure there is a resolution for this annoyance, but I haven’t found it as of yet. However, I did find a fabulous “work-around”, as mentioned in my previous article here about my adventures upgrading from Slack 13.37 to Current. I found a neat little file manager called X File Manager or Xfe. The more I use this little app, the more I really like it. See a shot in Fig 2 below:

Fig 2: Xfe showing standard Linux file system in left pane

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As you can see in the above screenie of Xfe, I have just my standard Linux file system tree in the left pane. That’s how I want it. That’s how Thunar used to be before the recent upgrades to Xfce 4.10. Coincidentally, I had this same issue in Arch Linux when they first introduced Xfce 4.10 to their repos. I had other issues there also, namely failed auto-mounting, which I also experienced in Slack with this new upgrade. X File Manager solves it all.

This is a feature-rich and lightweight file manager. My only complaint is that it doesn’t use my already installed Xfce4 icon themes. That’s no big deal, though. The interface is fully customizable in regards to colors, fonts, highlighting, etc. I’m using the standard issue Tango theme that came with it. I can easily create (or modify an Xfce4 theme) a custom icon theme for it should I really want to some time in the future, but for now I’m just happy to be rid of the unmounted volumes and have my auto-mount back. It’s actually one-click mounting in Xfe. Still, faster than CLI mounting/dismounting… depending on your typing speed. ;)

So, if you’re tired of Nautilus, Dolphin, Konqueror (my old fav) or Thunar, give X File Manager a shot. You might find that it grows on you.

Xfe Homepage

From the above Xfe Homepage:

What is it ?

X File Explorer (Xfe) is an MS-Explorer or Commander like file manager for X. It is based on the popular, but discontinued, X Win Commander, originally developed by Maxim Baranov.
Xfe is developed since 2002 by Roland Baudin, a French Linux enthusiast.

Xfe aims to be the file manager of choice for all light thinking Unix addicts!

Have fun!

Later…

~Eric


5 Things Every Aspiring Linux User Should Know

Yes. Another one of those ubiquitous bullet articles. Everyone love’s ‘em, it seems.

There are some fundamental things that every person who turns on a Linux box should be familiar with before proceeding. Some of these things are often overlooked or never learned by new Linux users. It’s a shame, actually. Knowledge of the fundamentals can create a great foundation for further advancement later on down the road. If you’re going to learn something, learn it right.

Here we go…

  • Numero Uno, in my opinion, is the importance of knowing and accepting the fact that the GNU/LInux operating system is NOT Microsoft Windows. Don’t try to make it such. GNU/Linux is a unique Unix-based operating system using the Linux kernel developed by Linus Torvalds and the GNU operating system developed by Richard Stallman and others of the GNU Project. Individual distributions of GNU/Linux, such as Ubuntu, Slackware, Debian, Arch, etc., are projects created by different people and supported by many, many dedicated coders, repository maintainers, software creators, technical writers, etc. To paraphrase a nearly clich√© quote, it takes a village to raise a Linux distro. ;)
  • Item the second: ROOT IS GOD! Caution must be exercised at all times when user privileges are elevated to that of root. Working in the root environment should be done like riding a motorcycle. You CANNOT auto-pilot while riding a motorcycle; neither should you do so when you are root. In other words, pay attention to what you’re doing. Think twice before tapping that Enter key. One slip as root could destroy your entire OS. It’s a powerful tool. Be respectful of its power. Ignore this if you enjoy losing data regularly and reinstalling your OS from scratch.
  • Third thing to know: the command line interface is not a demon from Hell that will grind you up in its toothy maw. It’s just another tool available to the GNU/Linux user for accomplishing tasks that must be accomplished. For most of you, the GUI (graphic user interface) will suffice, but there will be times that you may need to use the command line. Don’t fear it. Embrace your inner geek. Learn the command line. You may find that you can accomplish more work more efficiently while using it.
  • Fourth on the list: Security, it’s a wonderful thing. Remember all those virus and malware scanners that you had to use in MS Windows. Remember how scared you were about email attachments. Remember that time your Windows system got corrupted and you had to pay someone at Best Buy $300 to get it working again? Bad memories, huh? Well, guess what? Just as dogs don’t catch the same diseases that banana plants do, GNU/Linux is not susceptible to the vast majority of the bad stuff out there that cripples MS Windows. Does that mean you’re 100% immune from troubles while running GNU/Linux? Well, no. However, I’d be comfortable in telling you that you would be about 99% immune. I’ve been running GNU/Linux operating systems on my computers for half a dozen years now. I’ve NEVER, not once, ever had any virus or malware issues.
  • Fifth and lastly:MS Windows and Apple/Mac have wonderful community support from multitudinous sites and communities around the Internet: I wouldn’t refute that fact at all. However, it’s important to remember that GNU/Linux and Open Source are products of the communities themselves in many cases. They are directly created, maintained, distributed and supported by many, many dedicated souls all across the globe. If you take the time to explore these communities, you’ll find that the amount of knowledge out there just waiting for you to come learn it is astounding. I don’t believe there is any other technical project so overwhelmingly supported by its adherents and fans in the global community quite like GNU/Linux and Open Source. Don’t be shy. Ask for some help.

Enjoy your new GNU/Linux adventure. It can lead to a long relationship with a fabulous operating system, outstanding open source applications, and wonderful friendships.

Later…

~Eric

Further reading:

The Open Source Initiative

The Free Software Foundation

The Linux Foundation

Open Respect


Adobe/Google Backroom Boogie

Well, I don’t know who is bending over for whom, but there seems to be some strange bedfellow action going on here.

Gregg Keizer @ ComputerWorld writes:

Adobe today said that it would stop offering direct downloads of Flash Player for Linux, telling users to move to Google’s Chrome browser, which bundles Flash with its updates.

*Emphasis mine.

OK, well then… let me state my case plainly for Adobe: KISS MY ASS! You’ll NOT be dictating to me what/how I use my own equipment in my own home. I don’t think I’ll follow your orders to use Google Chrome. I happen to like Firefox, Opera, and Seamonkey. What’s that you say? No more Flash for me. Unless you figure out a way to disable my current Flash plugin, my Flash will be just fine.

Besides, there are open source alternatives out there. Ain’t it great?!

So, pardon me Adobe for being blunt here, but PISS OFF! And take your not-doing-any-evil-as-long-as-greed-doesn’t-count pal Google along with you.

There. I feel better now.

Later…

~Eric

Further reading: Adobe to Linux users: Get Chrome or forget Flash from ComputerWorld


Mozilla Needs Your Support

Mozilla has done a lot of good in this world of greed.

They could sure use a little help from you, though. If you can spare a buck or two to assist in the continuing efforts of this fine organization to create quality free software and make the Internet a better place for all, then for sure… drop some dough in their tip jar. They’ll appreciate it… and so will I. :)

From their recent email newsletter:

Hi there,

As 2011 comes to a close, we at Mozilla want to say thank you to all of our Firefox users, supporters and community members. Quite simply, we do what we do because of you.

Mozilla is the force behind Firefox, but we’re also a whole lot more than that. And the more people I talk to, the clearer it becomes that not everyone knows what Mozilla is and how we’re different. So today, I wanted to make sure you understand it because you’re such an important part of our story.

Read the rest of Executive Director Mark Surman’s article, and thanks for anything you can do to help out.

Regards,

~Eric


Something to Consider (UEFI – Secure Boot)

Will your computer’s “Secure Boot” turn out to be “Restricted Boot”?

The above is a link to an article at the Free Software Foundation regarding the latest brouhaha over Microsoft’s use of UEFI and Secure boot to possibly restrict the use of other operating systems on manufacturer’s new hardware using MS Windows 8.

Microsoft has announced that if computer makers wish to distribute machines with the Windows 8 compatibility logo, they will have to implement a measure called “Secure Boot.” However, it is currently up for grabs whether this technology will live up to its name, or will instead earn the name Restricted Boot.

I’m not sure whether this is a bunch of FUD or something that users of alternative operating systems should really be considering. Either way, you should be informed about it.

The potential Restricted Boot requirement comes as part of a specification called the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), which defines an interface between computer hardware and the software it runs. It is software that allows your computer to boot, and it is intended to replace the traditional BIOS.

Please read more about this at FSF’s site. Also, please sign the statement and show your support.

Later…

~Eric


Clonezilla Live 1.2.10-14 Stable Released

In honor of the memory of our friend Frank Golden who was a cheerful proponent of this application, I’m posting this notice regarding the release of the new Clonezilla.

Clonezilla is a very useful tool to have in your computering toolbox. Marius Nestor at Softpedia has posted this blog article announcing Steven Shiau’s release of the newest version of Clonezilla. You can also download it there.

Clonezilla Live 1.2.10-14 Stable Released, Download Now

The new Clonezilla Live 1.2.10-14 is now based on the Debian Sid repository (as of September 22nd) and it is powered by Linux kernel 3.0.0-3.

You can also check out Clonezilla at SourceForge. You won’t be disappointed. :)

Later…

~Eric


Happy Birthday LibreOffice!

It’s been a little over a year since Oracle decided to be a meanie regarding OpenOffice.org, which resulted in the forking of the project.

LibreOffice was born. :)

By: Fahmida Y. Rashid @ eWeek
2011-09-28

The Document Foundation marks the first anniversary of the day developers broke away from Oracle-controlled OpenOffice.org to launch the LibreOffice office productivity suite.

A year after forking the OpenOffice.org project to create a community-driven office productivity suite, The Document Foundation estimated that LibreOffice has 25 million users worldwide.

Read the rest of the article at eWeek.com

I’m still hoping that OpenOffice and LibreOffice will merge once again and become a viable competitor for MS Office.

Later…

~Eric


Open Source, Open People, Open Arms, an Open World

Are you part of the Open Source community? Do you favor Open Source products? Do you possibly contribute to Open Source?

You know, you don’t have to give money to contribute to Open Source. You can help by giving your time, your talents, your feedback; you even help by using the Open Source products. If no one used it, what would its purpose be? Wouldn’t it be nice if the whole world could be Open Source?

Mozilla is one of my favorite Open Source projects. Ever heard of them? Sound familiar, huh? Mozilla is the creator of the Firefox web browser, the only browser software to give Internet Explorer a run for its money over the last few years or so. Many of you reading this probably use FF on your own systems; be they powered by MS Windows or Linux. You can even run FF on Mac.

There are many browsers out there in the world. There are also many software projects. Some are closed source, like Adobe Reader or Photoshop. Many, however, are Open Source. Many are also created as “labors of love” by folks expecting no remuneration whatsoever for their labors.

I won’t sit here and harp about using Open Source only. Even I occasionally use a closed source piece of software. It’s not a sin. If you do use some Open Source stuff on your systems,¬† try to remember to support the creators, hackers, coders, tweakers, and beta testers who made those great apps what they are. If there’s a donate button somewhere, drop a couple bucks in the tip jar. Every little bit is appreciated… and helps these folks to continue working on these fine projects.

Learn more about Mozilla from Mozilla coder Paul Rouget’s excellent blog post and video, Mozilla Openness Facts. They say nothing in this world is free. That may be true, but whatever you pay for free is a price worth paying.

Have a great weekend.

~Eric


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