Apr 27 2009
I’ve passed on Opera several times for different reasons: it cost money (used to), the UI felt bulky, no extensions. This time around I took more time to dig into the powerful configuration options and ended up with a browser that makes me cringe to use Firefox.
One of my constant complaints about Open Source is speed and user interface. Firefox does do much better than other OSS projects, but still offers us a fat, memory munching browser that only gets worse with add-ons.
Opera’s real magic is offering an amazingly customizable browser with advanced features that is still slim and fast.
Add-ons: I thought I wouldn’t be able to live without extensions, but I was wrong. The handful of extensions I really needed (AdBlock, GreaseMonkey, Stylish, Session manager) are all accommodated in Opera without adding anything on. Many more are available through tweaks, preferences of widgets. In fact one Opera blogger has created a list of the 150 most popular Firefox extensions and the corresponding Opera functions – all but 40 are supported in Opera.
Configurability: Despite a tight code base and tiny download size, Opera is very very configurable. You can change the UI with a right-click, edit advanced preferences using opera:config and drill down into the tiniest detail in .INI preference files.
Extras: Without slowing the application down, the Opera team has squeezed in some cool extras like a Mail client – faster than Mail.app and with advanced filtering that beats Thunderbird. Opera also has its own suite of widgets as well as Notes, IRC chat and more.
It only took a couple days for me to make Opera my default browser. Then again, I do change browsers like most people change pants. We’ll see what I’m browsing with in a month.
In the meantime, Opera is a browser to consider, and in many surprising ways is top of its category. Check it out for yourself!