Sunday, October 14, 2007

Newbie Debian: Installation guide & reviews the New Opera Browser on Linux

Reviews the New Opera Browser on Linux:

Opera is a cross-platform Internet browser. Opera started out as a research project in Norway's telecom company, Telenor, in 1994, and branched out into an independent development company named Opera Software ASA in 1995. Opera Software develops the Opera Web browser, a high-quality, multi-platform product for a wide range of platforms, operating systems and embedded Internet products.

Opera has every browser feature imaginable built in, except AOL and Yahoo! instant messengers. Here are some of the features:
  • Surf in multiple windows
  • Opera Mail, intelligent e-mailing
  • IRC-compatible chat
  • Newsreader
  • RSS newsfeeds
  • Integrated Google search
  • Pop-up blocker
Just download and install the rpm. Its that easy. Opera is free, but takes up some space for advertising if you did not purchase the software. The ad space Opera uses is not much and is easily tolerated. Opera has no AdBlock plugins either. Users have resorted to CSS tricks to implement ad blocking. Implementing ad blocking in CSS is too much of an inconvenience to be effective. Heck, you spend all your time editing CSS instead of browsing the web. In the forums, one user stated that the developers did not implement ad blocking because Opera depends on ad's for the freeware version.

How Does It Look
Opera is skinnable. You can download new skins from a menu button inside Opera. Here is a snapshot of Opera using the BlueCurve theme. The icon placement and toolbars have been customized by me. Customization is menu driven with drag-n-drop items.

Opera uses the QT ( API for the GUI. Opera's speed is probably due to a combination of QT, and good programming by the developers. One thing I have noticed is that the Bitstream fonts render better in Opera than Mozilla/FireFox. The font rendering is probably a QT bonus(?). Opera has a similar menu selection for the fonts as Mozilla. However, in Opera, the fonts you choose, can still be overwritten by a websites CSS. The default fonts you pick are only used when there is no CSS or font definition. Whereas in Mozilla, you can override all fonts regardless. If you notice in the above snapshot, the fonts have no Linux equivalent. The remedy would be to install the Microsoft Web Fonts or other TrueType font that suits your tastes.

Another one of Opera's features is called Small-Screen Rendering (SSR). Its used primarily on PDA's and phones. To see this feature in action, just click on "View" and select "small screen". Below is a SSR snapshot from the same page a shown above.

There are so many features packed into Opera, its almost a Desktop unto itself. One feature that Opera brags about is its small size. The Opera executable file size is 6.6MB and with no libraries. FireFox is approximately the same size including the many libraries it uses. How about memory footprint? Loading the FrontPage of LinuxElectrons, Opera consumes 74MB, whereas, FireFox consumes 75MB. So much for all those small size myths.

Opera contains an embedded mail application. The mail application is also used to manage NewsGroups and RSS feeds. The mail application contains all the features one expects from a modern mail program such as, filters, spam management and so forth. My personal taste is to use separate programs for each of the above named apps. I've tried using the all in one approach before, but always end up missing a cool feature that makes life easier. However, the mail application in Opera is on par with KMAIL.

Opera has these cool fast forward and rewind buttons. The rewind button takes you back in your history list. Say you have followed and traversed numerous links and your history is kinda too deep for the casual wade, just hit the rewind button a few times, and presto, back at the beginning. The fast forward button was a little less intuitive for my brain. I suspected that the fast forward button would take me forward in history (my own little time machine), unfortunately, it looks at the current page and tries to guess your next link click. However, the forward button functions how I thought the fast forward button should function, a page at a time though. The "panel" is highly functional and does not consume that much real estate. Clicking on an icon in the panel opens up another small window in the browser right next to the panel. You can even "get panels" from the Opera website.

I see no reason to quit using Mozilla/FireFox today, especially with new plugins being added all the time for Mozilla. If I were using Windows as my primary operating system, I would jump ship from Internet Explorer to Opera. I'm sure Opera has a place somewhere on the Linux Desktop, but just not on the average Desktop, especially while FireFox is around.

  • Very Fast
    • Program loads quickly
    • Page load and rendering is fast
  • Email with filtering/spam
  • IRC Chat
  • Notes
  • F.Forward and Rewind buttons
  • Skinnable
  • No AdBlock
  • Cannot override fonts
  • Bookmarks - forced alphabetical
  • Cannot change size of text area in search bars
  • Costs $40.00 USD
How to install Opera in Debian/ Ubuntu:

Opera is one of the bests web browsers, and you can download it for your Linux Distro from its website

But if you would like to be able to upgrade your opera using apt with your Debian or Ubuntu you better use repositories.


You have to edit your /etc/apt/sources.list, and add this line.

For Etch

deb etch non-free

Now you need to import the gpg-key.

gpg --keyserver --recv-key 6A423791
gpg --fingerprint 6A423791
gpg --armor --export 6A423791| apt-key add -

and the update de database

apt-get update


Just like with Debian you first need to edit the file


And add one of these two lines depending on which source you prefer, canonical or opera.

for canonical source

deb feisty-commercial main
deb edgy-commercial main
deb dapper-commercial main

depending if you are using Dapper, Edgy or Feisty

for opera source

deb stable non-free

Install the gpg-key

sudo gpg --keyserver --recv-key 6A423791
sudo gpg --fingerprint 6A423791
sudo gpg --armor --export 6A423791| sudo apt-key add -

update the database

sudo apt-get update

Debian or Ubuntu

Now you have your source installed and your database updated you can install opera.

sudo apt-get install opera

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