I have been using Firefox for Macintosh as my standard web browser for more than two years and I was quite happy with it until recently. However, the latest versions of Firefox seem to abort occasionally when I have a lot of open Firefox windows, typically ten or more. I find that annoying. I don't know if that is a bug in Firefox or if something is wrong with my Mac, but I've now used Camino for many hours and haven't yet encountered any problems.
In fact, Camino is very, very similar to Firefox. Both are open source (meaning free) programs. Both use the same browser rendering engine, Gecko. A rendering engine is the brains behind your Web browser that takes the HTML and CSS code and renders it into a viewable Web page. Pages should display in Camino identically to displaying the same pages in Firefox. Camino and Firefox both use Gecko. In contrast, Apple's own Safari browser uses the WebCore rendering engine. so pages displayed in Safari often look different as a result.
The biggest differences between Camino and Firefox are in the user interface, the OS X system integration, and a few other features. Unlike Firefox, Camino is a 100% pure Macintosh OS X application based on Apple's Cocoa frameworks. Firefox, on the other hand, was written to be compatible across multiple operating systems, including Windows, Macintosh, Linux, UNIX, and Solaris. That may be a good idea for people who use more than one operating system since everything is the same, it is a drawback to those who only use Macs. In fact, Firefox doesn't have the "Mac look and feel" but Camino does. Unlike Firefox, Camino supports Apple Scripting. I don't use Scripting very much but have tried it a few times. It is nice to have that capability in a web browser.
Camino also uses native Mac OS X features, such as the system's built-in spell checker, the services menu, and system Keychain. Camino features all of the functionality you've come to expect from a Mac browser. It has support for tabbed browsing, which enables you to open multiple Web pages in a single browser window. (So do Firefox and Safari.) Camino also has support for RSS feed detection; any page that has embedded a tag that describes it's RSS feed will show an RSS icon, allowing you to subscribe to the feed in your preferred news reader.
Unlike Firefox or Safari, Camino is not a feed reader itself. Camino users will need to use an external RSS newsreader. To check out my favorite, take a look at NetNewsWire at http://www.newsgator.com/INDIVIDUALS/NETNEWSWIRE/. It is a much more full-featured RSS newsreader than anything I have seen built into a web browser.
Camino does contain most all the other features you expect in a web browser: tabs, ability to zoom in or out on any page to make the text larger, spell-checking (but with the OS X dictionary, unlike Firefox), automatic software updates, and more. Unlike some other web browsers, Camino includes support for the most popular web standards in use on today’s websites. No web browser is ever 100% compatible with everything, but Camino and Firefox are both closer than most.
Because Camino and Firefox both use the Gecko browser rendering engine, converting from Firefox was especially convenient. Many elements of my Firefox profile were able to migrate into Camino. I wasn’t forced to lose all my bookmarks, cookies, or cookie permissions. Some of the migration steps are different for Firefox 3 versus older versions, so you’ll want to check the instructions at http://caminobrowser.org/documentation/firefox.
Camino requires Macintosh OS X 10.4 or later and at least 50 megabytes of free hard drive space. There is no Windows version of Camino and probably never will be.
I like Camino. If you would like to try it as well, go to http://caminobrowser.org.
A word about Google Chrome:
Prior to trying Camino, I spent some time with Google Chrome, still another web browser. The Macintosh version is still in beta although it seemed to work in my testing. It is a bit faster than any other web browser I have used, although the difference is small when compared to Camino and Firefox.
Chrome does not use the Macintosh Cocoa Framework and therefore does not look or act like a true Macintosh application.
The one "show stopper" with Chrome is that web-based text editors based on Java didn't seem to work properly. Worst of all, the text editor that I use several times a day to post articles in this newsletter ended up with "screwy" formatting. Paragraphs didn't have a single-spaced line between them; I couldn't specify fonts; bold or italics or underlining didn't work, etc. Such things are not unusual in beta software, of course. Nonetheless, it was a problem for me. Since I use that text editor five to ten times a day to post articles in this newsletter, I had to abandon Google Chrome and look for a more stable solution.
When Chrome is finally released as production software, I'll probably go back and try it again.