Friday, January 14, 2005

The Best Browser You've Never Heard Of

I haven't messed with the K-Meleon browser in over a year now, but I understand it's still a damn fine browser. Indeed, it may be the best browser you've never heard of.

K-Meleon uses the Gecko rendering engine— just like Firefox or Mozilla— but its user interface is written in native Windows code rather than in XUL. KM is lightning fast— it may well be faster than any browser you've ever seen— and it will run nicely on even the most dinosaurian of computers.

K-Meleon can be endlessly customized, extended with plugins, whatever. It has a built-in macro language which will let you make it do almost anything. KM is extremely easy to use, once you've got it set up. But caution, KM is not easy to customize: it's mostly a matter of editing config files and writing macros, in ways which are often poorly documented or not documented at all. I do believe there was a time when the macro language itself was largely undocumented. You were just supposed to figure it out on your own. I remember one no-holds-barred fight on a KM forum where one of the regulars was arguing heatedly that anyone should be able to learn how to use the macro language simply by glancing through an alphabetized list of its commands.

K-meleon has a community of devoted and fiercely loyal users. Yet KM is next to unknown, even among people who are into alternative browsers. Firefox, K-Meleon is not. Hey, KM isn't interested in being the biggest, only in being a fast, light, flexible, and rather geekish best.

These days I'm a Linux man, and Opera has long been my browser. But I have to confess, if I were still on Windows, and if I weren't using Opera, I'd probably be websurfing with K-Meleon.



Blogger Caltechgirl said...

I don't know about that.... Firefox seems to have all of the advantages of KM for the "casual enthusiast" plus it's easy to customize and has a ton of cool plug-ins for everything from the local weather forecast to looking up bible references. And as far as speed is concerned, FF beats IE hands down, so I can live with that. Plus I've just tricked mine out with all the bells and whistles.... It's awesome.

Friday, January 14, 2005 7:00:00 AM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

Firefox is indeed a fine browser.

I think one of the attractions of KM, to some of its users, is precisely that it's not easy to customize. I remember that, to get rid of the "URL:" text in front of the address window, the recommended fix was to go into kmeleon.exe and overwrite the offending text with a hex editor. Which I did with my copy of KM. I even changed the little icon in the upper left hand corner of the window by going in and editing kmeleon.exe with a resource editor.

Ah yes, "stone knives and bearskins"! :)

Friday, January 14, 2005 7:32:00 AM  
Blogger Paul Burgess said...

Plus, did I mention, I hear K-Meleon runs expeditiously on a 486?

This is the kind of thing that makes a geek's heart go pitter-patter. :)

Friday, January 14, 2005 7:40:00 AM  

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