Browser 2014 reviews — SeaMonkey

This review of “seamonkey” completes my series of browser reviews for this year.

“Seamonkey” comes from Mozilla, the same group that give us firefox.  So it should come as no surprise that there is a lot of similarity with firefox.  There are also some difference.  In this review, I will mainly comment on the differences.

Mail support (not tested)

The biggest difference, is that “seamonkey” supports email.  Roughly speaking, the “seamonkey” project got under way, when Mozilla decided to split the browser functions from the email functions, with “firefox” for browsing and “thunderbird” for email.  It is probably fair to say that most of the people who use “seamonkey” do so because they want a single combined application for both web browing and email.

I have not attempted to test the email functionality.  These days, I mainly use webmail, so I would not be able to give it a thorough test.

Compatibility with firefox

At the data level, there is a lot of compatibility.  After starting “seamonkey”, I closed the application and also closed “firefox”.  I then copied the saved cookies, the bookmarks, and the saved passwords from my “firefox” profile to the “seamonkey” profile.  On restarting “seamonkey” I checked that the bookmarks were as expected, that the cookies were as expected (I was still logged into some sites where I had logged in with “firefox”).  And the saved passwords also seemed to work.  For the record, the files that I copied over were:

cookies.sqlite
places.sqlite
key3.db
signons.sqlite

Of those, “cookies.sqlite” contains the saved cookies, and “places.sqlite” contains the bookmarks.  The file “key3.db” has to do with the master key used to encrypt saved passwords.  And “signons.sqlite” contains those (possibly encrypted) passwords.

Tabbed browsing

The aspect of “seamonkey” that I most disliked, is its handling of tabbed browing.  When tabbed browsing was first introduced — I believe for the old “mozilla” browser — a new tab always opened at the far right.  To close a tab, you had to make that the current tab (by clicking on it with the mouse), and then use the TAB-CLOSE button on the far right of the tab bar.  It worked, and I came to love using tabs to keep multiple pages open.  But it was a bit clumsy.  With current “firefox”, there is a close button on each tab, a new tab can be opened to the immediate right of the current tab, and middle-click on a tab gives an alternative way of closing it.  I find that far more convenient.

“Seamonkey” does tabs the old fashioned way, as in “mozilla” and in early versions of firefox.  So I find that awkward compared to what I have been using.

Saved password

The handling of saved passwords is mostly similar to that of “firefox”, but with one annoying exception.  I am using a master key to keep the passwords encrypted.  When I first start “seamonkey”, it asks for that master key.  By contrast, “firefox” does not request the key until it is first needed.

Asking for a password on startup is a minor inconvenience.  It is not annoying enough that it would stop me from using “seamonkey”.  I was more annoyed by the handling of tabbed browsing.

Spell checking

There does not appear to be any spell checking support in “seamonkey”.  I am not particularly troubled by this.  But it does mean that a few more typographic errors get through, if I do a sloppy job of proof reading.

Configuration

While “seamonkey” is not quite as configurable as “firefox”, it is still highly configurable.  To configure, click on “preferences” in the “Edit” menu.  For the windows version (not tested), that is probably “options” in the “Tools” menu.  In addition to the preferences, you can browse to “about:config” to see more configuration choices.

Many, but not all, of the “firefox” extensions can also be used with “seamonkey”.  And probably some of the “thunderbird” extensions also work with the email function.  I do have the “enigmail” extension installed, for use with “thunderbird”, and I noticed that this was recognized by “seamonkey”.

Summary

As an overall summary, “seamonkey” works quite well as a browser.  However, I personally find “firefox” more congenial, mainly because of the tabbed browsing.  But if you want to combine web browsing and email in a single application, then “seamonkey” is worth considering.

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About Neil Rickert

Mathematician and computer scientist who dabbles in cognitive science.

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  1. Browser reviews — 2014 | Thoughts on computing - 2014/02/13

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