Thursday, July 5, 2007

K-Meleon 1.1 - The Snail Friendly Browser

First some bad news:

If you are running any form of 9x (Windows 95, 98, ME) or NT4 and are using Internet Explorer for your web browsing, you are a sitting duck waiting for disaster. When an exploitable vulnerability is discovered in Internet Explorer, newer versions of Windows will receive patches to fix it, but you will not. It's a security disaster waiting to happen...and it is on your PC.

That basically means you will have to find a newer and better browser..something that is being actively developed and supported...and will run on your old machine.

Many people may tell you to ditch IE and get Firefox. But there is a problem with that. In the latest version of Firefox, they dropped 9x support. That means if you want to switch to that browser you will have to run an older version. This puts you right back at the same point you were with the IE problem.

Additionally, Firefox isn't very snail friendly. It uses a lot of RAM and becomes slower and slower the longer you use it. It also takes quite a long time to open.

But here is the good news:

K-Meleon 1.1 K-Meleon is a very fast light-weight browser that is both snail friendly and actively developed. It is based on the Mozilla Gecko engine, which is the same one used in Firefox. This means you can have a safer, more secure browser without having to sacrifice performance.

It has all the basics you would need in a browser such as a popup blocker, tabs (They call it 'layered windows'), bookmarks (it can use 3 different types: IE, Opera, and Mozilla - select the options you want while installing), mouse gestures, ability to choose a default search engine, multi-user support, etc.

It also supports the following plugins (some of these can be a little tricky to install, please read the instructions):

And it has its own macro language and some premade macros:

  • Shortcut 2006-11-27 - Send URLs to your desktop as Internet Shortcut (*.url).
  • SpeedUp 2007-06-28 - Tune K-Meleon's pageload performance.
  • BugMeNot 2007-06-19 - Bypass compulsory registration using bugmenot.com.
  • KeepVid 2007-06-19 - Save Flash Movies to disk using keepvid.com.
  • W3C 2007-06-19 - Validate web pages using the W3C's tools.
  • WHOIS 2007-06-19 - Find out more about domains you're visiting.

And when I said it was snail friendly, I really meant it. K-Meleon can run on 486 systems and Windows 95...low end machines with only 32 MB of RAM! (some system updates may be required)

There is even a symbiotic loader option available during installation to make it open even faster (faster than even IE!), by preloading parts of it at startup. This might be quite useful for people that do a lot of surfing, but not much more with their computers. If you are afraid of using too much resources while not browsing, either do not install this or close it from the tray when no longer needed. If you do install the symbiotic loader, restart your computer after installing, so it will load.

It includes FlashBlock, which replaces all Flash objects with a button, allowing you to decide if you want it to load. This is almost mandatory today, if you are using an older PC on the internet. It only takes a few Flash ads to freeze up an older PC. Being able to block them from loading, unless you want them, is a great snail friendly feature.

After installing, on first run, it does take a little while to load (I presume it's because it is searching for your bookmarks & favorites). But don't let that fool you. Afterwards it is pretty zippy.

I feel almost like a Pentium II! Up until I tried K-Meleon, I was afraid to do any kind of web browsing with my old PC. I was paranoid about the security problems and lack of updates for IE. I hated how slow Firefox was and would rather not surf at all than to use that.

K-Meleon is the best thing to happen to that old machine. It has given it a new life and put a smile on my face. I now have a new default browser.

K-Meleon 1.1
Download Size: 5.16 MB
Support Options: forum
Price: free (open source)
Documentation: FAQ, installation guide, tutorials, User's Guide & Reference Manual, Macro Language reference, documentation page, tips & tricks

5 comments:

Pablo said...

I was on kamaleon for a while and rwally rocks!. I leave it when I finally upgrade my PC, but for low end machines, its far beyond IE in speed & usability

nudone said...

sounds great - i'll be trying this on my pentium 2 laptop - 128meg ram.

dave said...

i've been a snail user for a long time... first a 166mhz, then a 233mhz, then back to a 166mhz, over the course of about 8 years. recently i switched to a 500mhz pentium 3, and only then decided to switch to Opera, so i can't be sure about true snails, but i find that Opera blows Firefox out of the water in basically any performance-related aspect. not only that but it's got hundreds of great features right out of the box, and is now free (contrary to popular belief).

icekin said...

I also recommend looking at Opera 7 and below. I am using it on a laptop with 256 MB RAM and 600 Mhz Celeron Processor. It only uses about 50 MB of RAM even with 8 tabs open.

Old Versions of opera can be obtained from http://www.oldversion.com

Unfortunately, the older Opera browsers (before 8+) still have ads on them, but there are ways to disable it, if you try searching around.

App said...

I would not recommend using an older version of a browser. Any security issues that it has will not be fixed.

This is the reason why I discourage people from trying Firefox's older versions.

Any browser in which there is no support and updates isn't really any better than IE 6, in my opinion. It puts you in the same situation you are trying to get out of, in terms of support, security, and bug fixes.