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Riding Mozilla's Firefox and the real cost of Linux

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For a few weeks now I have been using that widely admired non-Internet Explorer (IE) browser once known as Mozilla Firebird, now Mozilla Firefox. I had been persuaded to run the trial following promises of incredible performance and virtuous non-bloated design and, I have to admit, because my anti-PDF measures had got a bit out of hand and were about to necessitate a full reinstallation of IE.

I guess the reviewers who made the extravagant claims use their browsers in a more sophisticated way than I do, because although Firefox works well, it is not all that noticeably different in performance from IE. You can use your IE 'Favourites'- though I have not got to the bottom of why you can't use every single one of them. Still, it is easy enough to create new 'Bookmarks', which is how Firefox describes 'Favourites', and it does not - hurrah! - list them down the side like IE does. You have to do the usual adding in of Flash and other plug-ins, which you had to do when you first installed IE.The big thing about Firefox is that it is a basic and lean system to which you add whatever plug-ins you find you need - and it is not Microsoft.Try the latest version at www. mozilla. org/products/firefox.

Still waiting for my DVDs of Mandrake Linux v10, I see US pundit Fred Langa getting it in the neck (http: //nwc. desktop pipeline. com/20301247) for daring to criticise Linux.

During a recent installation Langa found (as everyone else has) that it does not always recognise your computer's hardware, although that has never been a Windows installation problem. Langa argues reasonably: 'When Linux vendors charge Microsoft-level prices, they're setting themselves up for a comparison they cannot yet win.

Windows-level pricing generates the expectation of Windows-type levels of hardware support.But it isn't there.' I thought smugly of my imminent £20 Mandrake DVDs - and then noticed the annual e 60 sub for the must-join Mandrake Linux Users Club.Suddenly the real cost of Mandrake Linux had reached Windows level.

sutherland. lyall@btinternet. com

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