Four years ago, I used a Linux desktop full-time at work for a period of several months. I don’t remember exactly why I stopped, but I did. Now I’m trying it again, and that means I’m trying different options in several different categories. I had already decided on Gentoo as a base, and Blackbox as my window manager, because I’ve already used those extensively at home and I’ve been happy with them. I’m OK with Xemacs for text editing, so I’m all set there. I’ll be using Evolution for email because it seems to be the only real option for connecting to the Exchange server at work.

That leaves a web browser as the most important remaining niche. At work I’ve used Opera because it was just the easiest to install, and when I’m on Linux at home all I really use it for is to look up documentation or download stuff. When I started looking around, one browser that seemed to get a lot of good attention was Phoenix. I noticed last night that there was a Windows binary available, so I tried it on my laptop. I like the simple, clean interface, and it seems to work with all of the sites I’ve tried – even the ones that use a lot of Javascript tricks. It also has two of the features I consider essential for my main browser – tabbed browsing and an “open all bookmarks in a folder at once” function.

Today I’m using the Linux version, and I’m even more surprised. It hasn’t failed on even one of the 100 sites I skim through to start my day, and I’d have to say that a lot of them looked significantly better in the Linux version than they did in Windows. That’s not entirely Phoenix’s doing (some of it is generic font handling and such) but it’s still a pleasant surprise. There do still seem to be a few glitches, like a subtle shifting of text at the end of a line in a form like I’m using to enter this, but I can live with that. Overall, this is a much more enjoyable browsing experience than I had expected.