Saturday, October 20, 2012

Going on Safari in Linux-world

Now that Firestorm is settled, and the system can do its primary task of running a Second Life viewer fast, I'm turning my attention to other things. After all, part of my motivation for this box is to evaluate Linux on the desktop in general, in preparation for the day my Mac Pro can't run a currently supported OS X.

The application I run most, as with damned near everyone else, is a web browser. On OS X, I'm a Safari user. Safari provides the cleanest experience on the Mac, and does the least to break the OS X application design standards. By comparison, Chrome and Firefox are terrible OS X applications, wedging their own UI into an OS X window.

Of course, Safari isn't available on Linux. So I 'm stuck with another browser. I decided to try Chrome; Firefox seems to me to be clunky and bloated, and Chrome appears to be the emerging standard. The ability to sync bookmarks and history through the Google cloud across systems is also attractive to me. I'm not interested in Opera just because it has too small a market share for people to make sure their pages work on it; most do, but many don't.

There are a few things that Chrome does that annoy me, though.

The biggest is that there's no equivalent to the Safari Top Sites page (or the Opera Speed Dial page). This is a page that shows thumbnails of most commonly visited sites. You can also pin a site to the page. I have Safari set to show 24 pages, and they're all pinned in place.

Chrome has a Most Visited selection on the New Tab page, but it comes up short in two respects: it only shows 8 pages, and you can't control what it shows.

Another annoyance is that I can't seem to get it to stay open when closing the last tab. What I want to do is when I close the last tab, have it open a New Tab; I only want it to exit when I close the entire window (with the X on the window frame). What I'd really like is to have it simply open the Most Visited page if that could be made to work the way I want.

I'm also not a fan of tabbed browsing. I never saw why people raved over it so much; it's just another UI choice that's not consistent with the rest of the system UI. Even so, I seem to be stuck with it.

Another minor annoyance - and this one's really, really strange to me - is that the default application selection doesn't include one for fast access to Google+! There's one for Gmail, but to get to G+, you have to go somewhere else. There doesn't seem to be one in the Chrome Web Store, either.

I do like the ability for Chrome to manage multiple Google accounts and do the Right Thing with them even when the site doesn't handle multiple sign-in properly (Blogger, I'm looking at you!). That's a Big Win, and one more reason to like Chrome. Unfortunately, there's at least one account I have that I can't sign in to! I tell it the username and password - and even copy and paste the password, and that password logs in to Gmail fine - and Chrome says that it can't log me in. WTF?

Finally, one more UI annoyance: The application menu is in a non-obvious place. The UI convention is to have an application menu, dammit, not a button that kinda leads to one.

I'm sure I'll get used to it, but it's still annoying.

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