Testing the Vivaldi web browser

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wang song, 123RF

wang song, 123RF

Opera Reloaded


Opera changed course with version 15, giving up its status as independent software and dropping many of its features. Vivaldi seeks to offer a new home to fans of the old Opera.

Many users still mourn the original Opera browser [1] with its distinctive qualities. By 1996, the browser had captured a two percent market share, which it kept until the end of 2012. The percentage points in market share actually stood at six to eight percent for websites attracting technology aficionados. The usage statistics were the same for the Linux version although neither Opera, nor Vivaldi [2], are open software.

Opera maintained its own HTML rendering engine in the form of Presto; it also had an integrated mail client and was generally convincing with its original ideas.

Thus, some people still use the last complete version 12.16, even though current security concerns now make this highly impractical. Additionally, there has been no stable version for Linux up to Opera 26 since it reappeared.

Two projects have capitalized on these circumstances. Otter Browser [3] appeared in the middle of 2014, competing to become the heir of Opera 12. However, this was an understaffed open source project, and it's still not a good idea to use this browser.

The second project is called Vivaldi and, at the beginning of 2015, it looked to be the resurrection of the old Opera. Vivaldi was started by Jon S. von Tetzchner, the co-founder and former CEO of the old Opera browser.

Tetzchner's current involvement with the Vivaldi project has caused many friends of the old Opera to take note, and the first versions have raised the hopes that the old Opera features are returning under a different name.

Solid Fundamentals

Vivaldi generally serves more discerning users whose computer time is spent mainly on a web browser for either professional or personal reasons. The project supports the demanding preferences of such users with optional keyboard controls, and the configuration can be closely adapted to their workflow. Moreover, Vivaldi includes its users in the project by offering them a wish list of functions [4].

The project currently offers its software for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. The development has been fairly rapid up until now even though the team – put together and paid out of pocket by Tetzchner – is rather small. As a result, not all of the planned functionality has found its way into the browser. Specifically, the mail client and cross-device synchronization are among those features yet to be implemented.

This article describes the third "Technical Preview" of Vivaldi, which appeared at the end of April. The preview can be downloaded from the Vivaldi project website [5] where 32-bit and 64-bit versions for Linux DEB and RPM packages are available.

First Start

Vivaldi uses the Google open source rendering engine Blink. For legal reasons, it was not possible to use Presto, the earlier, proprietary engine of Opera. A large part of the settings dialog also comes from Chrome – for example, the two plugins Chrome PDF Reader and Pepper Flash. When the browser starts up, it appears with a unique and colorful address bar (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Unique but not impractical. The Adaptive Interface function colors the address bar in the predominant color of the CSS of the displayed web page.
Figure 2: Vivaldi has a grouping function that can group numerous open tabs together and make administration easier.

The software also lets you manually add more tabs to the stack (Figure 2). When you right-click on the stack and select Tile tab group from the context menu, the pages will be uniformly distributed in the browser window (Figure 3). You can determine the format for this with the Tile representation icon found in the middle of the status bar.

Figure 3: When requested, Vivaldi uniformly distributes web pages that are grouped together in the browser window.

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