In the earlier days of open source desktop development, a discussion broke out amongst some developers about the fact that the GNU/Linux version of Netscape was crashing a lot. This was from people who had long ago realised that Internet Explorer was not an option due to Microsoft’s lack of interest in W3C compliance. It was thought that some other browser should be produced. This was at a time when the KDE 2 desktop hadn’t really come into use, but people were using early versions of it. In the present day we find that the GNU/Linux and BSD desktops are so sophisticated that they leave the MS Windows and Macintosh desktops well behind. The desktop that we know has more than a few web browsers and email applications and many more applications which allow the user to do just about anything.
Opera started as an early version of open source development on GNU/Linux. At that time there wasn’t a business model or an international community working away on a complete operating system – just a few souls who were interested in where all of this could go to. As of Opera 4 to 6, it began to be a sophisticated and reliable web browser. Opera 10 offers so much to the end user that it might take you a few days to work the whole thing out. A long time ago a review would revolve around the question of whether or not you could install Opera. Of course, the version of Opera 10 that was tested on Debian Squeeze installed fine and worked perfectly. As it did on other desktop machines and netbooks and laptops. It was not tested on a mobile phone, but the reviewer has used previous versions of Opera and various mobile phones to good effect. A newer addition is Opera Turbo, which can dynamically replace online graphics with low-resolution versions to speed up browsing on slow connections such as shared Wi-Fi networks or mobile phones on a poor network. It can be enabled manually or set to start up automatically when Opera detects a slow link.
Opera is still the only browser to offer mouse gestures, so you can navigate with dragging motions rather than having to click on small buttons. It also offers native support for BitTorrent downloads and ‘widgets’: mini-applications similar to Windows gadgets. Opera Link makes it easy to synchronise your bookmarks and history between multiple computers. The built-in mail application in Opera probably isn’t greatly known about, but it’s one of the best mail apps out there, providing some worthwhile competition for Kmail and Evolution. Opera mail is fast, lightweight and reliable; use it anywhere on any device. Finally, themed skins, which download in seconds after a single click, improve the appearance of a functional and well-made browser.
With so much to offer, you might be wondering why Opera hasn’t been more successful. It’s partly due to a lack of user awareness in that Opera Software is a small Norwegian company which simply doesn’t grab mainstream attention in the way Google or Apple can. Opera 10 is definitely one of the better web browsers out there. It’s had its down periods on the way through to its present form, but now you can do just about anything with it.