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opera no longer in the lead?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip:] on June 23, 2008 12:15 AM
I used Opera 8 for a few years, from the time firefox was named "firebird" until firefox 2.0.X. I wanted to like Firefox, but it just had so many problems it was unusable... it leaked memory like crazy, crashed all the time, could never restore a session after quitting or crashing, and all the extensions and preferences broke after each upgrade.

In sharp contrast, Opera 8 was small, fast, and reliable. Sure, it was less customizable and lacked some features I wanted, but it was solid. I could have 150 tabs open and not worry about losing them. It never ate all my memory or lost my session data, and after changing almost every setting and editing a bunch of config files, I managed to get it configured to an acceptable state.

But I've switched back to Firefox, for several reasons:

- Opera doesn't run on some of the architectures I need to use.
- Opera 9 runs incredibly slowly on every system I've tried it on. Actions like scrolling a page or moving the text cursor respond so slowly that I get distracted by the time the browser catches up.
- Opera 9 seems to get exponentially slower as more tabs are opened.
- Since Opera 9 was unusable for me, I stuck with Opera 8... but that just increased friction more and more over time, with no updates and ever-increasing pressure to switch.
- Opera 8 is missing some important features, like ad blocking and smooth scrolling.
- I've found several bugs in Opera, and filed them, but there has never been any response, and none have been fixed.
- Opera has some annoying misfeatures, like raising itself on every mouse click, instead of letting the window manager handle that sort of thing. Its zoom feature insists on scaling images (with no interpolation). And, it breaks copy/paste from remote displays.
- Opera's mail client and other built-in non-browser apps are annoying and can't be removed.
- Opera doesn't work with some sites I need to use.

And, the biggest reason: Firefox fixed its memory and reliability issues, and has greatly improved its handling of extensions. So, now it's on par with Opera for reliability, and way ahead in terms of features and flexibility.

One other thing I didn't list is Opera's proprietary nature. Some would say that being open-source is not a valid feature, but it would at least allow me to fix the things which bother me. I could use the source to locate bugs or fix bugs, not to mention turning annoying features off.

Also, a common complaint about Firefox is that the user must install extra themes or extensions to make it work nicely, where Opera comes with all the right stuff by default. But I've found that Opera's defaults are annoying and configuring it took over a week of research and fiddling. Setting up Firefox from scratch takes me just a few minutes, mostly spent browsing through extensions to decide what I want.

As far as I can tell, Opera was ahead, but it has lost its lead.


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