Saturday, August 27, 2011

Introducing Firefox

In the olden days of the Internet (all of 17 years ago), life was uncomplicated. The simple concept of hyperlinks on a text page was just emerging. Some links went to other pages; others went to files to be downloaded—perhaps a picture or two. Browsers such as Lynx only had to contend with text—life was good.

In 1993, everything changed forever. The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois created Mosaic—a browser capable of displaying text and pictures. Suddenly, users could see illustrated Web pages, which facilitated the flow of information. A year later, one of the Mosaic developers left NCSA and launched his own browser—Netscape Navigator 1.1.

Since then, the capability of browsers has grown even more in response to more complex content. Need to hear a sound file? The browser will take care of it. Need to view a Flash animation? Not only will a browser display it for you, but the browser can also automatically go get the required viewer if you don’t already have it.

These sophisticated features are a long way from the early Internet days, that’s for sure.

One of the direct descendants of that early Netscape browser is Firefox, a crossplatform open-source browser that has taken the desktop world by storm, no matter what the platform. Even on Windows, traditionally the bailiwick of Internet Explorer, Firefox has a 10+ percent browser share, which may not seem like a lot, except when you consider it’s only been around for a couple of years.

What makes Firefox special is its speed, stability, and security. Unlike Internet Explorer, which is tied closely to the Windows operating system on a code level, Firefox is a separate application. So, even if someone can figure out how to maliciously hack Firefox, it won’t damage anything beyond the browser. When Internet Explorer is hacked, all of Windows can become vulnerable.

Another unique feature of Firefox is the available extensions. Because Firefox is open, developers can create small add-on programs that can handle a variety of tasks, like displaying newsfeeds, synchronizing a user’s settings with any Firefox browser they use, blocking advertising . . . it’s a long list.

Finally, something that Firefox has had for quite some time, before Internet Explorer picked it up, is a tabbed interface. Tabs let you display multiple pages in a single window, a very useful feature for power surfers.

Source of Information : Cengage-Introducing Fedora 2010

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