Thursday, October 09, 2008

A look at Opera 9.6

Opera 9.6 got released recently, and I decided to take a look at it to see if it has anything to offer over the Firefox+Twitterfox+Foxmarks+FlashGot+FireGPG+Ubiquity combination that I'm using now. One of the things I like about Opera is that they take the Linux crowd seriously. Their site offers binaries for every major distro. Installing Opera in Ubuntu is as simple as downloading the .deb, and installing it by double-clicking it. Then then the Opera EULA showed up. Since it isn't a particulary lengthy license, and I wondered why a freeware program like Opera would even need an EULA, I read it through. Then I stumbled upon the following:
lol. Tipical legal absurdaties like these really made me consider not agreeing to the license, but what the heck, I agreed. The new theme is very vista-ish, and doesn't integrate with my Ubuntu theme at all. I also really wonder when they will switch from QT3 to QT4. (So much for Opera taking Linux serious I guess.) Sure, Opera is completely skinnable, but the menu still looks... ugly. And you can't guarantee a skin is available that fits with my desktop theme. Anyway, let's look at features. Let's start with my bookmarks. Hey, Opera didn't import my Firefox bookmarks! There is [File]->[Import]->[Import Netscape/Firefox Bookmarks] but it doesn't offer support for the new Firefox3 SQLite format. So I first have to export my Firefox bookmarks to HTML, blah. Anyway, after importing they are all placed in a "Netscape bookmarks" subfolder. No problem, just manage my bookmarks and reorganise things. :-) Opera has a quicksearch from the address bar just like Firefox, which is notably faster. It doesn't have a quick bookmark button like Firefox does, which is one of the things I love about Firefox 3. The quickest way to bookmark in Opera is Ctrl+D, which still pops up a window. The other means are two or three clicks away. Okay, now sync my favorites! [File]->[Syncronize Opera]. There... Now my bookmarks are synced! Yay! Gah! Wait! It seems I had already synced my bookmarks before (probably when I tried Opera 9.2) and now... All my old bookmarks got added as well! So now most of my bookmark folders show up two times! Argh! What lame syncing method are they using at Opera? It doesn't even filter out the doubles! *sigh* Okay, let me filter out the old folders. Done... Opera also doesn't allow me to subscribe to feeds using Google Reader, instead subscribing it to it's own feed reader, which sucks. Who needs freedom of choice anyway? Grrr. Also it's feed autodiscovery sucks. Next: Twitter. I easily found a neat Twitter widget. But it always keeps a windows open... Crap. No match for TwitterFox. Ah well, I could still use a desktop twitter client I guess. ;-) Download manager integration? Couldn't find it... But I guess there's nothing wrong with Opera's built in download manager. Opera's mail client also doesn't offer GPG integration. Meh. I also couldn't find anything like FireGPG. And it doesn't even have check-spelling-as-you-type. Crap. Finally, I couldn't find anything matching Ubiquity either. So I hereby declare that Opera 9.60 still can't match Firefox 3. Even though it _is_ much faster and it interface is much snappier than Firefox overall. It won't make me more productive... sudo apt-get --purge remove opera


Anonymous said...

What do we have with a brand new copy of Firefox, just downloaded?

A lot of add-ons to make it run decently.

And what about Opera, in the same conditions?

Opera Link for all features, including web history, notes and bookmarks;
A mail client that does what it is supposed to do;
A feed reader with off-line reading enabled;
A note taking tool;
Import/export bookmarks feature compatible with many formats;
Speed dial;
Mouse gestures;

To walk around searching and installing millions of add-ons sucks too...

Yogarine said...

- Opera link doesn't even do proper duplicates checking. And bookmarking should be just *one* click.
- Personally I prefer Gmail over any mail client, because no other mail client manages to handle threads the way Gmail does. The only thing that I want is to be able to sign e-mails in gmail with GPG sigs, and Opera doesn't offer me that feature, not even with Widgets.
- Opera locks you into using their integrated feed reader. I prefer freedom of choice. (And Google Reader over Opera's reader).
- Firefox *automatically* imports bookmarks from other browsers. (not sure if it imports from Opera though, never tried it)

Anyway, I didn't say that Opera is a bad browser. It's fast and it has nice little features like speed dial and mouse features. But nevertheless it doesn't make me more productive than Firefox does. Even if I depend on some add-ons... (Actually the power of Firefox comes from it's add-ons.)

mniess said...


I know this post is almost a year old, but with Opera 10 just around the corner I'd like to mention a couple of points to consider:

I have my browser running 24/7 and use it heavily for research (scientific and work), IRC, RSS, and mail.

Thus I need good session mangement. When I research a topic and have like 30 tabs open, I just save them as a session which I can open again later. Including the points to which I scrolled down on each individual tab AND the forward/backward history of each tab. Firefox can't do that, not even with session management extensions.

That leads me to another point: going backwards in history. Using Opera (and rocket gestures) I hold the right mouse-button and click the left as often as I want to go backwards. The pages display immediately (no loading time at all), again exactly at the point where I left them. Firefox is awfully slow there.

The synchronization works fine and DOES have dupe-checking now. It also synchronizes searches (the engines you have added to Opera), history and notes. Searches can be added by right-clicking in a searchbox which is very nifty.

The UI is 100% customizable. You can move everything around and easily add custom buttons:

Qt4 and GCC4 build are in fact available but not offered by default. You can get them from Using the Qt4 builds you can make Opera use your default GTK theme.

There are a lot of options for adblocking. I prefer using a custom user css which blocks 99% of the adds and rarely needs to be modified. This option is also a lot less resourcehungry than adblock plus.

Opera DOES support webservices like google reader or gmail. In the current version a bit of manual work is necessary, Opera 10 has GUI options to do it.

There is a short-key to show/hide widgets like the twitter widget. But I'd definately use a desktop app (like gwibber or Twhirl).

Another neat thing are site preferences allowing you to do special configurations for every single site (e.g. disabling certain plugins or javascript).

GPG: Unfortunately there is no GPG support, yet (although it has been promised for years now). You could use desktop tools (seahorse) or create an Opera button that encrypts the text in the textbox that currently has focus (see Opera Wiki).

To some it up: I have one low-resource app running for Web, IRC, RSS and mail. Usually once you really dove into Opera, Firefox seems like the medieval ages. ;-)