Opera 9.50 vs Firefox 3.0

While Opera had been a fast browser, somehow it has been growing increasingly slow on my machine. Nowadays, at regular intervals and for no apparent reason, it has been causing my harddisk churn, even while it’s idling. After regular usage, the problem worsens if I do not try to clear up the cache, as the automatic lookups of visited sites while typing urls into the address bar slows it to a crawl. And there doesn’t seem to be any way of disabling this feature.

But it is still Opera’s arbitrary scans that got me most antsy, given the possibility that I might have caught some malware with it, even after the fact that I had ran a few diagnostics (tops, ps, lsof), and not turning up with anything alarming. I mean, there just isn’t any reason for the disk accesses, and so it shouldn’t, even if it’s doing something seemingly harmless.

After reading up on a review on Firefox 3.0 beta’s glowing review and potential speed increases, I decided to give it a try, from the Firefox 1.5 and Opera 9.50 combo that I’m currently using. I’ve skipped Firefox 2.x totally, given it didn’t seem to confer any potential speed advantages, besides being largely similar in terms of featureset compared to 1.x.

What surprised me is that Firefox 3.0 beta actually loads faster than Firefox 1.5. By my casual observation, where I normally start both my newsreader (Liferea) and Firefox simultaneously, what used to be always my newsreader window popping up first all the time, it is now replaced with Firefox 3.0’s browser window opening ahead instead.

In terms of page rendition, 3.0 also feels much speedier than its 1.x cousins, which is a pleasant surprise, given that the norm in the software industry is to create incremental versions that offers more bloat and less speed. That is a credit I have to give to the Mozilla developers. Rendering speed is probably similar to Opera’s, or at least in terms of perception, I can’t really judge the difference between one to another. From a recent Opera convert, I’ve now reverted back to a Firefox convert again. Well, so much for brand loyalty!

Anyway, Firefox 3.0 does have the problem of having incorrect presentations for certain web pages, which as it stands, is probably still not ready for prime time yet. But the quirks are minor, and being me, I’m biased towards sacrificing presentation over speed, especially when the presentation problems are trivial.

The only major site I’ve encountered that wouldn’t work with Firefox 3.0 is the ‘enhanced’ mode for Hotmail, which seems to just hang at the startup page. It isn’t really much of a big deal, given that you’re still be able to access it normally via the selecting the un-AJAX’ed mode from the startup page. Besides, rendition problems exist within Opera 9.50’s beta too. If you try reading articles on Yahoo Finance Australia, you’ll see what I mean.

The only other downside about 3.x, is that existing Firefox 2.x’s plugins are not compatible with it yet, something that’s largely expected to be remedied once 3.0 goes past beta. Not that it’s a show-stopper anyway: besides the ad blocker plugin that I miss, otherwise there’s really nothing that I’m would complain about the current incarnation of Firefox.