Monday, June 23, 2014


For  many years, Firefox has been my primary browser.  But about a month ago, I had enough.  They changed Firefox to make it just like Chrome.  All the menus are now hidden in a little box in the upper right hand corner.  The little box even looks just like the one in Chrome.  Chrome is what I use for work.  It's the best development browser.  But, I use it in spite of the look and feel, not because of it.  If I want Chrome I know where to find it.

Back in 2000 or so, my browser was 'Mozilla'.  Then the Mozilla corporation came out with Firefox and Thunderbird, and the browser formerly known as 'Mozilla' became 'SeaMonkey'.  I didn't care for Firefox at first.  I felt it was slavishly following the look and feel of Microsoft Internet Explorer (like it's now doing with Chrome).  But, eventually I got dragged kicking and screaming into Firefox, because of its support for plugins.  SeaMonkey supported some plugins, but Firefox had all the cool ones.  Then a bit later, Firefox came out with Tab Groups and I was really hooked.

I was a bit surprised to see that SeaMonkey is still around.  When I fired it up, it was like going back in time 10 years.  It has the big buttons and big, easy to navigate menus of the old days.  I really like this look and feel.

Plugin selection is decent.  It has AdBlock Plus, which I could not live without.  FlashBlock is missing.

In the old days, your browser was also your mail reader, which is true of SeaMonkey.  After I had settled in, I switched from Thunderbird to SeaMonkey Mail & Newsgroups.  Here, things basically work, but there were a couple of disappointments.  You can deploy the Lightning (Calendar) plugin, but it doesn't work.  I'm probably not going to stick with this just for that reason as I had a lot of birthdays and stuff in my Thunderbird calendar.  The other thing I noticed is the Move To -> Recent feature isn't quite as good as in Thunderbird.

SeaMonkey and Firefox obviously share a lot of code.  It leaks memory about like Firefox.

I hear good things about Pale Moon and have it in mind to try this browser when I get around to it.

Update: well, that was fun, but I went back to Chrome and Thunderbird.  The problems with the SeaMonkey mail reader in particular drove me back.

Update 2017: I went back to SeaMonkey again for 3-4 months.  This time I didn't try to use the mail reader but just used the browser part.  I really like this user interface with the bar with all the drop-down menus across the top.  Also, the memory leaks in SeaMonkey are much smaller than in Chrome and I found I could keep a SeaMonkey browser up for months, as opposed to having to restart Chrome once or twice a week.

Ultimately I abandoned SeaMonkey again for two reasons: the absence of a Sync feature (the Sync feature exists in the browser but the servers aren't there, or something; I couldn't get it to work), and a growing list of important sites (e.g. my bank) reporting that my browser is not supported.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mint 17

Wow, I guess it's a long time since I blogged.

I'm installing Mint 17 Mate on my laptop this weekend.

Last year I went through a lot of pain installing Linux on this hardware due to Linux support for UEFI still being in its infancy. I'm happy to say jumping through all those hoops is a thing of the past with Mint 17.  This was pretty much a routine install.

For the first time, I didn't need to do anything special with the window manager.  Usually I have to switch to metacity or mutter, but in this case marco just works.

I could not get either mintbackup or the dpkg/dselect technique to work this time, possibly due to all the additional repos, such as xorg-edgers, I had installed to get things working previously.  Or possibly I should say, after one 8 hour attempt to restore everything led to an unstable system, I was out of time to experiment with this.  I figure since this is a 5 year LTS release I'll have plenty of time to install all the packages I want, and I do still have the list of the ones I installed before to install manually as needed.

The xorg-edgers packages I formerly needed to get Bumblebee to work are now part of the standard repos.  See Nvidia Optimus on Linux Mint 17 - GT650M ASUS N56, for example.  This is now an easy and routine thing.

Suspend and hibernate work out of the box, yay.