Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Blue Ferret Software Review -- SeaMonkey 1.0

I was honestly wondering what I should blog about this week. Then yesterday, Fate plopped a little gem in my lap. Behold...SeaMonkey!

SeaMonkey 1.0 Released - MozillaZine

No, this doesn't have anything to do with those pink wiggly things in little plastic tanks you had when you were a kid. SeaMonkey is the reincarnation of the defunct Mozilla Suite that bowed out when FireFox took world center stage. Now it's back, and how.

Let's go through a few of SeaMonkey's great qualities:

What I noticed right off the bat, after finishing the SeaMonkey install, was its speed. This little crustacean is fast. It loaded a 57-graphic webpage in about 1.5 seconds. I didn't time a wide selection of pages on load times, but empirically, I saw enough to stamp my approval on the statement, "SeaMonkey whizzes through the Web."

Less Memory Use
I ran fresh windows of FireFox and SeaMonkey side-by-side to test their memory usage. (One thing I love about all Mozilla products - different versions can be installed, used, & uninstalled on the same machine without affecting the other versions.) FireFox, with five tabs open, used 47 MB of standard RAM. SeaMonkey, with five tabs showing the exact same websites, used 36 MB of standard RAM. For a memory-saving fanatic like me, that's a huge difference.

Use on Older Systems
FireFox screams on new computers, but it suffers what I call the "cutting-edge curse" if used on a PC from even a couple years ago. Slowdowns, long load time, fits and starts. SeaMonkey, on the other hand, has been designed to function on older computers with less resources. According to Steven Vaughan-Nichols of, it can run on a 233 MHz Pentium system with only 64 MB of RAM. Given what I saw in the memory test, I'm sure that's plausible. And a big help for not only institutions running older machines, but mobile developers looking to squeeze modern functionality into even smaller application suites.

For those who'd like a side-by-side comparison, here's an excellent tabular resource: SeaMonkey vs. FireFox Comparison Chart

SeaMonkey is a new version, and new versions are bound to have problems. I'm sure most FireFox extensions will be ported over, but that'll take time. So will bug fixes and community updates. There will be people who like the separate, extreme-customized nature of FireFox/Thunderbird, and those who enjoy the unified, interconnected nature of SeaMonkey.

And there will be people like me, who raise their glass to Mozilla for having the ability to choose.

Even with all these advantages, I'm not switching to SeaMonkey full-time. Yet. I'll wait until some extensions are ported over, and there have been some bug fixes implemented. Maybe version 1.1 will see SeaMonkey as my main browser. Once again, if I want to be nostalgic.

SeaMonkey represents another successful attempt to widen the browser market, maintain the industry edge, and broaden the implementation range. It will appeal to developers, non-profits and corporations alike. And to top it all off, the new logo's downright cute. Hats off to Mozilla for another application job well done.



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