@$#% Opera!

I really need to upgrade my system so that I can try different web browsers. I've been using the Linux version of Opera for several years now because it was the only decent browser that ran well on my aging AMD K6, but it's really been starting to piss me off lately.

The thing is, I really like Opera, and have for a while. I liked it so much that I actually paid for a license to version 6.0 and then paid again to upgrade to 7.0. It's very fast and has a pretty good user interface.

The problem is that it doesn't feel like Opera is making progress. There are lots of little things that are missing or haven't worked right for a long time. Allow me to give a few examples.

  • It took them until version 7.60beta to get printing right. Then, in the 8.0beta releases, I started having trouble again.
  • There is no configuration interface to the address bar search functionality.
  • There is no user interface for configuring the menu bar, although it can be done using the INI files.
  • There is no single font changing, like the "larger" or "smaller" menu items in IE or Firefox. There's a setting for the minimum font size, individual settings for each text element, and a "zoom" feature, which scales the entire page. I find this somewhat annoying.
  • There is no ad blocking functionality and Opera won't add one because, apparently, they feel it's hipocritical to have an ad blocker when they have banner ads in the freeware version. Of course, as a paying customer, I frankly don't give a damn how they feel about it. I want an ad blocker!

There have, of course, been many "revolutionary" new additions to Opera since I started using it. I even use some of the small ones. However, the big things are the "web suite" features, like the e-mail client (which I don't like), the RSS aggregator, and the chat application. These are all well and good, but I don't want a web suite - I want a web browser. I already have an e-mail client and an RSS reader - KMail and Akregator, and they're part of a PIM suite that integrates with my entire desktop. The only reason I don't use the web browser that goes with them is that it's slower than molasses on a cold day in January.

The problem I just had, though, was the last straw. I couldn't log into my Newegg account in Opera. After putting in my user ID and password, I got to the "processing login" page and was never redirected. I don't know why. Maybe it's related to the cache problem I had a few minutes before, where Opera showed me an old version of my shopping cart. (I've had cache mishaps in Opera for years, although they don't happen too often.)

I think it's just time for a change. Opera is nice, and there are a lot of features in it that I like, but it feels like it just isn't getting any better. Or, rather, it's not getting better in a way that matters to me. And with Firefox and it's massive number of useful extensions (I really miss the web developer toolbar when I'm using Opera), Opera just doesn't feel like as obvious a decision as it used to.

I always feel a little sad when I start moving away from a piece of software that I've loved for a long time, but it's always proved to be for the best. I suppose it will probably be the same way with Opera. Of course, I have to upgrade my system before it's feasible to switch, so maybe Opera 8.0 final (or even 8.1) will be good enough to keep me a loyal user. But I'm not going to hold my breath. On the up side, if I do drop Opera, I'll be moving to Firefox or Konqueror, both of which are old friends, so it won't be as jarring a change as usual.

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