by August 10, 2001 0 comments

Linux was born on the Internet. It is, therefore, unsurprising that it should be particularly well equipped to handle the mainstays of Internet media – the Web and e-mail. In this article, we will look at accessing the Internet with your Linux desktop. We will assume that you are using KDE 2.1 on PCQ Linux 7.1.

E-mail clients

Web browsers

E-mail clients

PCQ Linux comes bundled with several mail clients. Many are quite user-friendly and easily configured. KMail is KDE’s default mail client.

KMail is a serviceable mail client. It supports both local Unix-style mailspool files and commonly used POP3 mailboxes, but not IMAP. It also has useful features like filtering – the ability to take defined actions on a message, such as sorting to folders, based on its content or headers. KMail also features multiple profiles. This is useful to people who need to send mail as different personalities, like official mail as Support Engineer <> and personal mail as Vinod Gupta <>.

The Gnome desktop environment uses Balsa as its default client. Balsa is not as feature-rich as KMail. It does not have filtering capabilities and has no support for multiple profiles. However, it handles basic message handling tasks in a workman-like way. In my opinion, it is still work in progress and needs to mature before it can be the primary mail client for anybody who receives more than a handful of mail every day.

An old veteran of mail clients is Netscape Mail. It is bundled as part of the Netscape communicator suite. Netscape mail is a feature-rich mail client with support for HTML Mail, filtering, and IMAP. It has a well-integrated address book and overall is easy to use. Its main fault is its heavy footprint. But in this age of fast CPUs and cheap RAM that is not the concern it used to be.

The Mozilla browser includes a mail component. The Mozilla mail client is an impressive beast. Its feature set is comparable to that of Netscape Mail. It is attractive and well designed. Unfortunately, it has the same shortcomings as the Mozilla Web browser– it is resource hungry, unresponsive and somewhat unstable.


A couple of years ago there were few usable browsers on Linux. Now there seem to be a surfeit of them. At one time, Netscape 4.x was the only usable browser on Linux. Netscape 4.x is a capable browser. The version shipped with PCQ Linux is 4.77 which fixes most of nagging issues of earlier versions. Stability is less of an issue than it used to be. On the downside, it is still comparatively unresponsive. It is also an old browser – and its age is starting to show. CSS support is inconsistent at best. Nevertheless, many swear by it and use it as their primary

Web browser.

A milestone in the Open Source community was the conversion of the proprietary Netscape 5 project into the Open Source Mozilla project in 1997. Four long years later, the fruits of the labors of the Mozilla project are becoming apparent. PCQ Linux ships Mozilla 0.7.

The Mozilla browser, in my opinion, is a mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous. It’s rendering engine, Gecko, is extremely fast and standards-compliant. The vast majority of sites render quickly and flawlessly. Unfortunately, this brilliant rendering engine is packaged in a ponderous behemoth of an interface. Even on my comparatively high-spec computer there is a perceptible wait for Mozilla to load. The browser is unresponsive and unstable as well. Mozilla is definitely the browser to watch – but I’d wait for a 1.0 release.

The K Desktop Environment bundles a default browser-cum-file-manager–Konqueror. Konqueror is based on an early version of the same Gecko engine used by Mozilla. It features integrated file management and viewing, man and info page browsing, terminal emulation and, naturally, Web browsing. It also has a novel feature of view splitting.
Konqueror is an excellent browser. It is feature-rich, light, and responsive. One disadvantage, however, is that, even if you are not running a full-blown KDE, it loads a lot of the KDE infrastructure into memory in order to provide a lot of its functionality. It also occasionally incorrectly renders some pages.Nevertheless, I would unhesitatingly recommend Konqueror as a primary Web browser.

Biju Chacko is a project consultant with Exocore Consulting

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