Opera shows great promise on Linux
Opera have released a beta version of Opera 4 for Linux, and look set to be delivering a high-class browser to beat either Netscape or Mozilla.
Initial impressions of the new browser are very encouraging. Opera have worked hard at their previously confused user interface and come up with a much better organized UI. It still offers its former power and control to the user, but without getting in the way of simple use and configuration.
Opera 4's feature set rivals that of IE5, with support for CSS 1 and 2, XML, and also forthcoming support for WML, the markup language used with WAP phones. Offline browsing and save-from-the-web are also implemented. Accessibility features figure strongly within Opera too, with the now-familiar zoomable pages, and other features such as screen-reader compatible menus.
The browser also features a nod towards the fashion-conscious "skinnability" of Mozilla, with selectable look-and-feel, and the ability to have custom buttons.
You don't have to use this browser for long before feeling the quality and promise in Opera 4. Even in this beta state, it beats either Netscape 4.75 or the pre-releases of Netscape 6 for usability--although there are some bugs in this beta release that prevent Opera 4b1 from being ready to be your everyday browser.
Additionally, there are several features yet to be implemented. These include:
- Plugins and Java
- File upload
- Some preferences don't work
- Toolbar icon customization
With further beta releases scheduled on a three to five week schedule, there may not be long to wait for this additional functionality.
Opera is commercial software, and when released will cost $39 for a single user license (educational price $20). As many of us do our daily work more and more in web browsers, this seems a reasonable price to pay for a stable, usable browsing environment under Linux.
You can download Opera 4.0b1 for Linux from Opera's web site.