Camino versus Firefox

Firefox 2I shifted back to using Firefox as my default browser (from Safari) a little while ago.  Safari is a fantastic browser but I wanted to start using all the add-ons that are available to Firefox.  I switched out my usual bookmarks for a interface that gives me access to all my stored bookmarks.  It took a little getting used to and proved to be a great way to work with my bookmarks.  So all was well for a little while until Firefox upgraded to version and then it became unstable and slowed down drastically. 

That is just not the Firefox I have known all these years and have come to love so the time came to look for an alternative until the Mozilla Foundation people (and the Firefox community at large) comes up with a fix.

Camino is an open source browser designed for the Mac and based on the same engine as Firefox (Gecko).  It has its own community and group of fans.  One of those fans is Om Malik (one of my favourite bloggers and podcasters) who describes himself as an "unabashed" fan of Camino.  I decided to try Camino again (I had it installed on my last hard drive) and installed the beta version of Camino 1.1 the other day.

What is clear from the outset is that Camino is really fast.  It is certainly faster than Firefox (at least the version I have installed on my PowerBook).  I don’t have big delays when I open a new tab and I also like the fact that new browser windows in Camino are aligned with the menu bar (in Firefox the new windows are a few centimeters below the menu bar when they open and I have to shift them up).  Camino looks and feels a lot like Safari except the Gecko rendering engine means that many of the sites I use work properly (sites like Vox and Standard Bank’s Internet banking site don’t work properly in Safari).  I love the Keychain integration because it means I don’t have to enter all my credentials for all the sites I have registered on all over again.  Camino pulls that information from my stored information at the click of a button.

On the other hand, Camino has very limited support for added functionality, unlike Firefox which has a steady stream of really good add-ons and themes.  Camino’s add-ons and themes can be found at PimpMyCamino and while the tools there are great, they simply don’t compare to what I can get for Firefox.  This factor alone means I am unlikely to shift to Camino permanently.

That being said, I have set Camino as my default browser for the time being.  I want to really give it a go and see how it performs in my day to day life.  If anything this will be until Firefox is improved upon, either through an incremental upgrade or in version 3.0.

Which browser do you use on your Mac?  What are your experiences?

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