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Phoenix 0.5

This At-A-Glance report takes a look at the Phoenix 0.5 web browser.

Quick ! What do you think when you hear ‘Pescadero, Santa Cruz, Lucia, Oceano, and Naples’ ? OK, smarty pants. You are correct. Those are the code names for the different milestone binaries of the Phoenix project.

The milestone binaries for Phoenix 0.5 (code named Naples) were released December 8, 2002. The browser is based on the Mozilla-browser component rendering engine, Gecko. Mozilla’s “Why Gecko” page says “…it is quick, robust, and highly standards compliant.” Gecko is built from the ground up to be cross platform. Phoenix builds on this ideal and is available is for download for Microsoft Windows (95,98,ME,NT,2000,XP), OS/2, and Linux x86. An unofficial build for Mac OS X 10.2 was available but on December 12th it was pulled.

Phoenix is similar to other Mozilla-based web browsers, such as Galeon, Skipstone, K-meleon, and Chimera. Phoenix was written using XUL or Extensible User-Interface Language. Phoenix is only the browser and does not include the html composer, mail client, and other components used in the full browser suites such as Mozilla, Netscape, Beonex, Aphrodite, and IBM web Browser for OS/2. In fact, this project is meant to be a slimmer (7 MB for Linux) and faster version of Mozilla, but with many of the same features, such as tabbed browsing, popup protection and great standards support.

A Little Bit More About Phoenix
Phoenix has caught the surfing world’s attention. The first release of Phoenix was on September 23, 2002. On October 7, 2002, Linux Orbit published an article about Phoenix 0.2. At the time of this writing, it had been read over 32,000 times, landing it in the top ten reads for their website.

Laura Rohde of IDG News Services said, “Mozilla is an open-source project launched by Netscape Communications, now part of AOL Time Warner, as a way to whip up interest and volunteer involvement in its browser technology. ” (See article) In this same vein, Phoenix is designed to be on the edge of browser technology, sparking interest and involvement.

About XUL
XUL (pronouced “zuul”) is an application of XML.

Introduction to XUL
XUL Tutorial

The Install
We installed the Phoenix 0.5 milestone on several Intel x86 Debian-based systems; e.g. Libranet 2.7, Xandros, and LindowsOS. We also placed it on a Red Hat 8.0 and Mandrake Linux 9.0 systems.

The install is simply extracting the binary into a directory of choice. It is important not to place these files in a directory filled with a previous build. The Profile Folder should also be emptied or deleted and/or a new user profile should be created to make sure there aren’t any problems.

Launching
The Fluxbox menu does not show the Phoenix option. Therefore, we used the XFM (Xandros File Manager), changed to the directory and then clicked on the icon. Within KDE, we dragged the icon from Konqueror to the desktop and launched Phoenix from it. Within Red Hat, we replaced the Mozilla icon on the panel with the Phoenix icon.

Features
Tab browsing, blocking popup ads are enabled by default. Unfortunately, opening up a new tab overlaps the present one open unless you are clicking on a link. Similar to Mozilla, a few preferences may be changed in the preferences menu, go to Tools -> Preferences ->Tabbed Browsing and click on Load Links in the Background

The Phoenix menu is different from Mozilla. Instead of opening a new tab being from the File -> NewNavigator Tab, there is a menu option from the File menu.

Customize Toolbar
Phoenix 0.5 allows the user to customize the toolbar. We successfully dragged icons from the customize window into the toolbar. We placed the new tabs icon as well as the ‘go’ icon inside our toolbar. There is also a choice of which search engine to have placed in the toolbar. Between dmoz.org and google.com, we chose google. It is possible through advanced preferences to place other links to search engines. We also added the advanced preferences extension on a few of our installations. This extension provided many more options.

Look and Feel
Users will love the fact that there are new themes available for Phoenix. To change the themes go to Tools -> Preferences-> Themes and Extensions. Be careful, some of the themes do not have icons for all of the options.

Product Name: Phoenix
Version Number: 0.5
Authors: Phoenix staff
Homepage: here
Download: here
Forums: here

New Features

You may find the changelog here. According to the Phoenix website, these changes were made:

  • Multiple home pages
  • Intellimouse 5-button support
  • Sidebar remembers its state across sessions
  • Download fixes
  • History improvements
  • Accessibility improvements
  • Size and memory reduction
  • Performance improvements
  • Stability improvements
  • Many more new themes
  • XML prettyprinting, similar to IEs default-view for XML

Favorite Feature
Among the features for blocking popup ads and tabbed browsing, Phoenix 0.5 has introduced the ability to start of multiple home pages when the browser is launched. You may have seen a similar behavior by saving a browser session with multiple tabs.

The Profile Folder
There are three files that users may want to modify in order to tune performance of their browser: user.js, userChrome.css, and userContent.css.These files should be placed in the Profile folder located under the /home/.phoenix.Notice the period in front of the word phoenix. This is a hidden directory.You may set Konqueror to view these files View -> Show hidden files.

Quick Tip
Create a user.js file and set the rendering time for a page to zero. This greatly increases the loading time of a page. (See tip)

Bugs
The latest bugs may be found on the Phoenix 0.5 Release Note page:

We found a strange behavior in the cookie manager. The scroll doesn’t work and we are forced to use the arrow keys. We also noticed that words run over the “view and remove’ cookies.

Summary
Any system running an earlier version of Phoenix should be upgraded. Performance appears to have been increased by creating a user.js.

Future
The Phoenix project is moving very quickly. According to the project roadmap,the milestone 0.6 is due in January.

About this report
This is a “At-a-glance” report and not meant to be a comprehensive review. Please visit the Phoenix website for more information. Mozilla-composer was used to type this report and create the html, which was copied into the PostNuke editor.

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