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


Some Cookies Are Yummy!

Not all browser cookies are bad for you. Many of those little tasty files that get dumped on your system serve a useful purpose.

I am somewhat security conscious when it comes to my surfing habits. I prefer as much privacy as I can manage without ruining my browsing experience. Achieving that can be problematic, though, these days. Yes, I run some privacy extensions like NoScript, Adblock+, Better Privacy, DoNotTrackMe, and FlashBlock in my Firefox browser, but there are also other habits that I have when it comes to using that browser.

I like to clean my snail trails (history, cookies, etc.) occasionally, but unless you have some special settings set in your FF browser Preferences, you’ll be inconvenienced each time you toss your cookies by the fact that you’ll lose your active logins on your favorite oft-visited sites; forcing you to login again after you’ve cleaned and tossed everything.

Of course, you can selectively delete cookies in FF, but if you’ve been surfing for a week or so before you decide to clean things up, you may have hundreds of cookies you’ll have to cull through carefully without tossing your important ones. It’s a pain in the rear end to have to do it that way. There used to be some FF extensions that would “protect” certain cookies for you, but most have not been updated to be functional in the newer versions of FF.

I’m going to show you how you can easily protect your important cookies and login data within FF’s Preferences without the need for another extension or any other mind-boggling procedures. Note: I’m using FF in Linux here. It’s probably similar in MS Windows, but you’ll have to investigate that for yourself.

The following mini-tutorial will be referring to this image:

Click to open in new tab/page

OK, here we go…

In order to be able to dump your cookies and other flotsam and jetsam out of your browser and still retain your favorite website logins and site preferences, you’ll need to do the following within your Firefox Preferences:

  1. Open your FF Preferences (Menu: File –> Edit –> Preferences) and choose the Privacy tab as shown in the image above.
  2. Within the Privacy area, use the pull-down menu under History to make the selection shown. This will open up the sub-menu of options just underneath.
  3. Set your History sub-menu options as you want them to be. NOTE: Where you see “Keep until:” under Accept Cookies, you MUST set FF to “I close Firefox” for this to work at all. If you manually remove all cookies using the Clear Recent History tool (Menu: History –> Clear Recent History) or the Remove All button in Cookie Viewer, then you really will REMOVE ALL COOKIES, even those of your Exceptions white-listed sites (see next step).
  4. Click on the Exceptions to the right of the box and another small window will pop up showing you what websites are white or black-listed in FF. You should add your favorite sites’ website address as shown in the image above and Allow them. This will allow those sites to retain cookies after automatic cleaning takes place. You can also block sites from installing cookies on your computer by adding the website address and clicking on Block.

If all went will, your Firefox should clean itself (when you close it) of the detritus of browsing and  yet retain the login and site preferences for your favorite sites that you had added to the Exceptions list as Allowed in Step 4 above. Now your FF browsing experience will be bit less bothersome for you. Your FF will start back up next time with a clean slate; ready for your day’s surfing pleasure, but you won’t have to re-login to all of your favorite sites. :)

As always, comments, corrections, suggestions on better methods, etc. are always welcomed here.

Later…

~Eric

Image credit: screenshot of Firefox Preference setting windows (c) V. T. Eric Layton

 


Nothing Lasts Forever

The time is rapidly approaching when Microsoft will permanently suspend all support for the Windows XP operating system.

Are we sad to see it go? Yes, in many cases, I’m sure that there will be a ground swell of angst and sadness that XP is going the way of the dodo. Unfortunately, life is all about change. We need to learn to embrace it. AHEM! Yeah… I sound like an Anthony Robbins commercial here. The facts of the matter are that many individuals and businesses around the world are still using that insecure Swiss cheese OS called Windows XP. Don’t get me wrong. I used to like XP a lot. I have a lot to be thankful to XP for, actually. It’s the NUMBER 1 MAIN REASON I started using the GNU/Linux operating system as my primary OS on ALL of my production machines.

I often wonder why MS had such a difficult time keeping ahead of the hackers, spammers, and malware merchants for much of XP’s lifetime. Being the numero uno operating system in the world definitely painted a rather large target on XP’s back, I would think. Why would a pimple faced miscreant sitting in front of his Mac on the island of Zoobie-doobie target GNU/Linux’s 1% when it could hit ‘em big by hacking MS Windows XP’s 95% or so worldwide users? Makes sense, right? So, poor MS had to fight a losing rear guard action as it retreated into its hardened (by 3rd party mercenaries) Norton and McAfee bunkers. It was what it was.

MS learned a few things from that experience, though. They implemented many innovations into their new Win 7 and Win 8 operating systems to lessen the need for the hired guns required by XP to guard the gates. Sorry about all the military analogies today. I seem to be stuck in that mode at the moment. But I digress… Er, where was I? Ah. Yes… I was saying that nothing lasts forever. I think that’s the point of this exercise, anyway.

Back in the day, when I was much enamored by the Win 98SE operating system, I dreaded the time when MS would stop supporting it. I swore to never go over to the dark side by submitting to the charms and siren songs of that new OS, Win XP. Myeh… I eventually broke my vow. Sure, XP was an improvement over 98SE, but it was also a seemingly unprepared plunge into the future by Microsoft. I’m not sure anyone could have predicted the explosion of naughty, nasty, downright malicious behavior that would soon raise it’s pimply faced, greasy haired head on the Internet.

The pizza and Jolt soda driven hordes descended on the cyber world like never before. Few operating systems or their overseers were prepared for the onslaught. There are exceptions to this… AHEM. Linux. ;) Anyway, don’t let me gloat too long on that. Moving on… So what now, security wise? Are we any better off in the world now that Win 7 and 8 are in dominance and XP is falling by the wayside? Hmm… I’m not so sure. I understand that MS can’t continue to waste time and resources at their 100% for-profit capitalist corporation to continue to pour hot oil and  push back the scaling ladders of the invaders forever. Yet, there are millions of XP users worldwide who are going to become a giant botnet once open season is declared by MS in just a few weeks. Can you even imagine what fun those acne suffering residents of Zoobie-doobie and elsewhere are going to have spreading their mayhem?

If you’re running an XP system that has access to the Internet, I would strongly recommend pulling the plug on it. I’m being serious now, folks. Once Microsoft stops patching newly discovered vulnerabilities in the XP operating system, your ass will be swinging in the breeze out there. The 3rd party anti-virus and anti-malware companies will not be focusing on XP nor will they be able to keep up with the hordes that will be descending upon that OS after April of 2014. Do yourselves a favor. Move on to Win 7 or even 8. I can’t honestly recommend 8 to you at this time because I’ve read too much bad press about it and because I’ve never experienced it myself personally. I can, however, say that Win 7 is a very solid OS. If you can still find yourself a copy of it, that would be a wonderful alternative.

And I know many of you out there expect me to make the GNU/Linux suggestion. Well, that’s really the optimal alternative, as far as I’m concerned. However, it wouldn’t necessarily be that optimal for many Win XP users. Folks are often reluctant to change and unwilling to invest time into learning something new. They would have to do both to use GNU/Linux. Yes, there are relatively gentle transition distributions out there… Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Vector Linux, Zorin, Ultimate Edition, Mepis, etc., but there is still a pretty good learning curve for folks coming from XP. It is what it is. I’m not one to bullshit, so take that for what it’s worth.

End your XP dependence. You’ll be better for it.

Later…

~Eric

Image credits: all clipart images in this article courtesy of http://www.clker.com/


CentOS Joining Red Hat Family

CentOS Project Leader Karanbir Singh writes:

With great excitement I'd like to announce that we are joining the Red
Hat family. The CentOS Project ( http://www.centos.org ) is joining
forces with Red Hat. Working as part of the Open Source and Standards
team ( http://community.redhat.com/ ) to foster rapid innovation
beyond the platform into the next generation of emerging technologies.
Working alongside the Fedora and RHEL ecosystems, we hope to further
expand on the community offerings by providing a platform that is
easily consumed, by other projects to promote their code while we
maintain the established base.

Read more about this fabulous development in this ars technica article and in Karanbir Singh’s CentOS Announce list posting.

I’m very excited about this. CentOS has been a favorite of mine for many years. I used to tell folks it’s the closest thing you can get to Red Hat without spending money. Now it’ll be closer than ever before.

Best of luck with this endeavour CentOS and Red Hat!

Later…

~Eric


What You’ve Been Waiting For…

Slackware 14.1 released…

Yes, it is that time again!  After well over a year of planning,
development, and testing, the Slackware Linux Project is proud to
announce the latest stable release of the longest running distribution
of the Linux operating system, Slackware version 14.1!

We are sure you’ll enjoy the many improvements.  We’ve done our best to bring the latest technology to Slackware while still maintaining the stability and security that you have come to expect.  Slackware is well known for its simplicity and the fact that we try to bring software to you in the condition that the authors intended.

Slackware 14.1 brings many updates and enhancements, among which you’ll find two of the most advanced desktop environments available today: Xfce 4.10.1, a fast and lightweight but visually appealing and easy to use desktop environment, and KDE 4.10.5, a recent stable release of the 4.10.x series of the award-winning KDE desktop environment. These desktops utilize udev, udisks, and udisks2, and many of the specifications from freedesktop.org which allow the system administrator to grant use of various hardware devices according to users’ group membership so that they will be able to use items such as USB flash sticks, USB cameras that appear like USB storage, portable hard drives, CD and DVD media, MP3 players, and more, all without requiring sudo, the mount or umount command.  Just plug and play.  Slackware’s desktop should be suitable for any level of Linux experience.

Slackware uses the 3.10.17 kernel bringing you advanced performance features such as journaling filesystems, SCSI and ATA RAID volume support, SATA support, Software RAID, LVM (the Logical Volume Manager), and encrypted filesystems.  Kernel support for X DRI (the Direct Rendering Interface) brings high-speed hardware accelerated 3D graphics to Linux.

There are two kinds of kernels in Slackware.  First there are the huge kernels, which contain support for just about every driver in the Linux kernel. These are primarily intended to be used for installation, but there’s no real reason that you couldn’t continue to run them after you have installed.  The other type of kernel is the generic kernel, in which nearly every driver is built as a module.  To use a generic kernel you’ll need to build an initrd to load your filesystem module and possibly your drive controller or other drivers needed at boot time, configure LILO to load the initrd at boot, and reinstall LILO.  See the docs in /boot after installing for more information.  Slackware’s Linux kernels come in both SMP and non-SMP types now.  The SMP kernel supports multiple processors, multi-core CPUs, HyperThreading, and about every other optimization available.  In our own testing this kernel has proven to be fast, stable, and reliable.  We recommend using the SMP kernel even on single processor machines if it will run on them.  Note that on x86_64 (64-bit), all the kernels are SMP capable.

Here are some of the advanced features of Slackware 14.1:

- Runs the 3.10.17 version of the Linux kernel from ftp.kernel.org.
The 3.10.x series is well-tested, offers good performance, and will be
getting long term support from kernel.org.  For people interested in
running the previous long term support kernel series, we’ve provided
sample configuration files for Linux 3.4.66 under the /testing directory.
And, to make it easier for people who want to compile the latest Linux
kernel, we’ve also put configuration files for Linux 3.12 in /testing.

- System binaries are linked with the GNU C Library, version 2.17.
This version of glibc also has excellent compatibility with
existing binaries.

- X11 based on the X.Org Foundation’s modular X Window System.
This is X11R7.7, a new release, with many improvements in terms of
performance and hardware support.

- Installs gcc-4.8.2 as the default C, C++, Objective-C,
Fortran-77/95/2003/2008, and Ada 95/2005/2012 compiler.

- Also includes LLVM and Clang, an alternate compiler for C, C++,
Objective-C and Objective-C++.

- The x86_64 version of Slackware 14.1 supports installation and booting
on machines using UEFI firmware.

- Support for NetworkManager for simple configuration of wired and
wireless network connections, including mobile broadband, IPv6, VPN,
and more.  Roam seamlessly between known networks, and quickly set
up new connections.  We’ve retained full support for the traditional
Slackware networking scripts and for the wicd network manager,
offering choice and flexibility to all levels of users.

- Support for fully encrypted network connections with OpenSSL,
OpenSSH, OpenVPN, and GnuPG.

- Apache (httpd) 2.4.6 web server with Dynamic Shared Object
support, SSL, and PHP 5.4.20.

- USB, IEEE 1394 (FireWire), and ACPI support, as well as legacy PCMCIA
and Cardbus support.  This makes Slackware a great operating system
for your laptop.

- The udev dynamic device management system for Linux 3.x.
This locates and configures most hardware automatically as it
is added (or removed) from the system, loading kernel modules
as needed.  It works along with the kernel’s devtmpfs filesystem
to create access nodes in the /dev directory.

- New development tools, including Perl 5.18.1, Python 2.7.5,
Ruby 1.9.3-p448, Subversion 1.7.13, git-1.8.4, mercurial-2.7.2,
graphical tools like Qt designer and KDevelop, and much more.

- Updated versions of the Slackware package management tools make it
easy to add, remove, upgrade, and make your own Slackware packages.
Package tracking makes it easy to upgrade from Slackware 14.0 to
Slackware 14.1 (see UPGRADE.TXT and CHANGES_AND_HINTS.TXT).
The slackpkg tool can also help update from an older version of
Slackware to a newer one, and keep your Slackware system up to date.
In addition, the slacktrack utility will help you build and maintain
your own packages.

- Web browsers galore!  Includes KDE’s Konqueror 4.10.5, SeaMonkey 2.21
(this is the replacement for the Mozilla Suite), Mozilla Firefox ESR 24.1,
as well as the Thunderbird 24.1 email and news client with advanced
junk mail filtering.  A script is also available in /extra to repackage
Google Chrome as a native Slackware package.

- The KDE Software Compilation 4.10.5, a complete desktop environment.
This includes the Calligra productivity suite (previously known as
KOffice), networking tools, GUI development with KDevelop, multimedia
tools (including the Amarok music player and K3B disc burning software),
the Konqueror web browser and file manager, dozens of games and utilities,
international language support, and more.

- A collection of GTK+ based applications including pidgin-2.10.7,
gimp-2.8.6 (with many improvements including a single window mode),
gkrellm-2.3.5, xchat-2.8.8, xsane-0.998, and pan-0.139.

- A repository of extra software packages compiled and ready to run
in the /extra directory.

- Many more improved and upgraded packages than we can list here.  For
a complete list of core packages in Slackware 14.1, see this file:

ftp://ftp.slackware.com/pub/slackware/slackware-14.1/PACKAGES.TXT

Downloading Slackware 14.1:
—————————

The full version of Slackware Linux 14.1 is available for download from the central Slackware FTP site hosted by our friends at osuosl.org:

ftp://ftp.slackware.com/pub/slackware/slackware-14.1/

If the sites are busy, see the list of official mirror sites here:

http://mirrors.slackware.com

We will be setting up BitTorrent downloads for the official ISO images.  Stay tuned to http://slackware.com for the latest updates.

Instructions for burning the Slackware tree onto install discs may be found in the isolinux directory.

Purchasing Slackware on CD-ROM or DVD:
————————————–

Or, please consider purchasing the Slackware Linux 14.1 six CD-ROM set or deluxe dual-sided DVD release directly from Slackware Linux, and you’ll be helping to support the continued development of Slackware Linux!

The DVD release has the 32-bit x86 Slackware 14.1 release on one side, and the 64-bit x86_64 Slackware 14.1 release on the other.  Both sides are bootable for easy installation, and includes everything from both releases of Slackware 14.1, including the complete source code trees.

The 6 CD-ROM release of Slackware 14.1 is the 32-bit x86 edition. It includes a bootable first CD-ROM for easy installation.  The 6 CD-ROMs are labeled for easy reference.

The Slackware 14.1 x86 6 CD-ROM set is $49.95 plus shipping, or choose the Slackware 14.1 x86/x86_64 dual-sided DVD (also $49.95 plus shipping).

Slackware Linux is also available by subscription.  When we release a new version of Slackware (which is normally once or twice a year) we ship it to you and bill your credit card for a reduced subscription price ($32.99 for the CD-ROM set, or $39.95 for the DVD) plus shipping.

For shipping options, see the Slackware store website.  Before ordering express shipping, you may wish to check that we have the product in stock. We make releases to the net at the same time as disc production begins, so there is a lag between the online release and the shipping of media. But, even if you download now you can still buy the official media later. You’ll feel good, be helping the project, and have a great decorative item perfect for any computer room shelf.

Ordering Information:
———————

You can order online at the Slackware Linux store:

http://store.slackware.com

Other Slackware items like t-shirts, caps, pins, and stickers can also be found here.  These will help you find and identify yourself to your fellow Slackware users.

Order inquiries (including questions about becoming a Slackware reseller) may be directed to this address:  info@slackware.com

Have fun! :^)  I hope you find Slackware to be useful, and thanks
very much for your support of this project over the years.


Patrick J. Volkerding    <volkerdi@slackware.com>

Visit us on the web at:  http://slackware.com

Thanks to Pat V., the Slackware Linux team, and everyone who has contributed to and supported Slackware throughout the years!

Don’t forget to share your knowledge and gain some knowledge at the Slackware Documentation Project.

Later…

~Eric

Sources: quoted announcement from the Slackware release Announcement.


An Open Letter to Richard Stallman

Dear RMS,

A few days ago Guillermo Garron wrote a piece on his website after seeing you speak live. A link to that article was posted at Scot’s Newsletter Forums – Bruno’s All Things Linux, where a discussion ensued. During the course of that conversation, I thought that maybe it was about time that we started using a less bulky nomenclature for the GNU/Linux operating system. I posted a few suggestions, but I think I like GNix the best.

A worthy contraction of terms, I think. While I’ve always tried to refer to my favorite operating system as GNU/Linux in my public articles and other posts around the Internet, I often lapse into the shorthand version of “Linux” that is commonly misused by most everyone else in this community; mostly because of the bulkiness of GNU/Linux.

No Windows fans, that I know of, go around calling their operating system Microsoft Windows whatever version. They just call it “Windows”, usually. They know it’s Microsoft. They’re just lazy, as are most of us in the GNU/Linux community of users. So, my thoughts are let’s call it GNix (pronounced g’nicks).

I doubt Linus would mind. He might like it, too. You never know. A marriage of the Linux kernel and the GNU operating system should have a worthy moniker. Maybe now is that time for it to be.

I’m running Slackware GNix as my primary OS on all my machines, but I also have Debian GNix and Fedora GNix installed as testers. Hmm… that rolls off the keypad pretty nicely, I think. :)

Regards,

~Eric


On the state of Windows on the desktop – A Reblog

This is a reblog of a hilarious (and true) article from Branko’s Thought Dump.

On the state of Windows on the desktop

I have this Linux system on my PC which has become a bit boring (no, it’s not crashed or anything… I just got a bit bored), so I decided to replace it with Windows 7 (some friends told me to not even try Windows 8 because it has an advanced interface nobody was able to figure out yet).

I really did not set the bar too high: I just hoped to have a nice user-friendly interface and recover the email I have in Maildir, and maybe watch my video collection on an external hard drive. You know, the usual stuff I do on Linux every day.

Please note that this article is a parody of what some Windows users write about Linux. The events described here have not actually taken place. However, the article is based on author’s experiences with the Windows 7 operating system.

I didn’t want to commit and install a new operating system right off the bat. I just wanted to try it first. So I typed “Windows Live” in my browser’s search box to find a live version, preferably an USB image. Ok, so Windows Live wasn’t a live version of windows but some kind of service you must sign into. I guess it’s something like Ubuntu One. Not sure. Moreover, it turned out I’d have to actually buy it first before I could do anything with it. And there is not real live version of Windows 7.

Read the rest of this entertaining article HERE.

*Special thanks to pal SecurityBreach/Comhack for posting this at Scot’s Newsletter Forums this morning. It will be my Laugh of the Day for today, for sure!

Later…

~Eric

P.S. Certification studies going well. :)


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