Thursday, March 17, 2005

Ahhh, Camino...

Skeptically, carefully and with reservation I stepped into the fray that is Camino. Actually, this is my second time giving it a try. But this time, I've been pounding on it, and wow, is it fast! A reader of one of my previous posts also suggested I try Camino. And try I have.

Camino is an open source, gecko-based browser, which, according to the material on their web site, more closely resembles Mozilla. But don't let that stop you from taking this browser for a test drive. Appearance-wise, it in no way resembles Mozilla. Rather, you'll find it a smooth, OS X-like application that feels like it was made for OS X as opposed to being cross-platform (unlke Firefox).

Let's get the comparison to Firefox out of the way. Firefox is in desperate need of a cocoa makeover. Camino is already there. Firefox is fast, but IMHO, Camino is faster. Your mileage may vary. Firefox has a plethora of useful (and non) extensions which are lacking in Camino, but in Camino's favor, there's less clutter.

Firefox, to me, has just not felt right, not to mention the horrid time it has when you try to select text. There's so much potential there, and I've no doubt that they'll at least get darn close to the bullseye of browsing perfection. I know the plans are to rewrite Firefox in cocoa. That's good news.

But in the mean time, Camino simply trounces Firefox and Safari in terms of speed and flexibility. I've complained about Safari already here and elsewhere. Safari is in bad shape and we can only hope that Safari in 10.4 fixes all the nonsense.

Version 0.8.2:

This is the "stable" version according to the website. I found it stable until I opened a folder of bookmarks in tabs - it consistently crashed Camino. It was obvious to me that one of the 5 sites was causing Camino a headache.

The look and feel of 0.8.2 is pretty cool. The tabs are aqua widgets as opposed to folder-style tabs a la Safari and Firefox. Preferences, while not as vast as Firefox, are adequate. Shareware (Camino ExtraPrefs 2.3) can be downloaded to enhance the preferences if you so desire.

Unfortunately, for my job, 0.8.2's crashing on that particular set of tabs was just not gonna cut it, so I decided to jump into the deep end and try the nightly builds using CaminoKnight 2.3.2. I've grabbed two builds in as many days. Both builds do not allow me to access preferences, but that's okay since I set my prefs before updating. It's a problem the developers are aware of and working to squash.

But the good news is that I've yet to crash the nightly builds - and I used it all day today hitting probably 250+ sites, some multiple times. I'm still nervous using these "unstable" stable builds, but I'm confident that the bugs will be dealt with and Camino will continue to push the envelope.

Another change in the nightly builds are the change from aqua-widget tabs, to regular folder-like tabs. This isn't a problem, but I was surprised to see the change. The regular style suits me just fine.

One thing I'd like to see as a preference is the ability to leave tabs on when there is only one site open.

Secure sites - banks - work fine. I've only come across a few, that via the nightly builds, do not render pages properly although the same pages are still viewable/readable.

AppleScript: Whew! While not as scriptable as Safari, it is more so than Firefox. There are still scripting features yet to be added according to their library, such as "do javascript" support. But it hasn't slowed me down. I put several hours into tweaking my Safari scripts for Camino and I'm quite happy. Scripting a set of sites to load in tabs actually works better than in Safari as Safari chokes on sites as they load slowing the whole script down.

The bottom line for me is speed, ability to select text and get what I selected every time, compatibility and good response/feel.

Camino has become my default browser as of yesterday.


Dan said...

If you are going to use Camino, you should get an optimized build for your G3, G4 or G5: You must also download Camino ExtraPrefs;

Metro said...

The only reason I use Firefox is that it looks nicer - yes, idiotic reasoning but when you stare at the browser all day long ... mostly just the bookmark tabs. Camino comits the typeface sin of jamming all the bookmarks way too closely together and instead of a soothing downward arrow and a nice rollover oval, camino's look there is just clunky.

I'm also curious why they choose two different implementations of bookmarks so it's hard to import/export from each - yes, I know there's a utility but you would think it would be eaier ...

anyway, those are my reasons ...

Anonymous said...

Camino is my default browser, but a couple of things bug me about it:

(1) It's (0.8.2) a *horrible* memory hog. Open, say, 10-12 tabs and watch as it eats your physical RAM like it's going out of style. It gets extremely sluggish and drags the whole machine down into the muck. Maybe this is a problem with all tabbed browsers; I dunno. But with Camino it's especially noticable. I'm an ADD type and like to have lots of different tabs open to different sites at once, so robustness in the face of lots of open windows/tabs is important to me. (I'm back to trying out FirefoxG4 1.0.1 now as I type this)

(2) The Download Manager in Camino can't handle files over 2 GB. We're ADC Select members at my work and the Tiger seeds nowadays are DVD disc images that are like 2.1-2.2 GB in size. Camino stops downloading the file (and thinks it's finished) when it hits that magic 2 GB mark. I've had to learn to log into ADC with Safari instead to work around this bug.

Anonymous said...

In addition to what dan suggested, I would add the icing: CaminIcon.

Finally, Camino looks as good as it is fast!

Darren Mahaffy said...

Thanks for all the feedback, folks!

Some good stuff. Tonight I downloaded a G4 optimized build of Camino and replaced the 3/17/2005 nightly build with it.

For one, the optimized build allows me to access preferences again! But it is still bitten by the bug which, when refreshing a page that has ads, specifically google ads, a URL for one of the ads appears in the location field as opposed to the URL of the actual site I'm at.

I'm assuming the G4 optimized build is based on nightly builds as the tabs remain the same as 0.8+ (not 0.8.2).

I also tried, for fun, the Firefox nightly build. Not bad, but it is still quirky. Interesting that the ability to right-click on a folder in the bookmark bar is gone.

Still, not as good an experience as Camino, and I can live w/o the extensions so long as OS X-like functionality stays in the development picture.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let you know that Camino ExtraPrefs isn't shareware. It has always been freeware!

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