A Look at Opera 10: Browsing, Preferences, Advanced Configuration, File Management

I’m not going to discuss how to browse the web. If you needed to know that, you wouldn’t be there.

Instead, I shall talk about things specific to .

In v. 10, Opera increased the Speed Dial from nine to up to 25 entries. It also made it possible to select a background image for the Speed Dial window; if that feature is not enabled, the skin controls the background of the window.

This picture shows the Speed Dial window with a background picture of clouds over Virginia Beach, Virginia, as well as the configuration menu.

Opera Speed Dial

You can add items by choosing from open pages and frequently used pages (as determined by Opera). Being able to choose from bookmarks would be nice, but it is currently not an option.

You can drag a speed dial item from one postion to another with the mouse.

Opera invented and incorporates sixteen mouse gestures. For example, I can go to the previous page by holding down the right mouse button and swiping right to left. I can go to the next one by doing the same, but swiping left to right.

I use them so heavily that, when I’m in a browser that doesn’t have them, I find myself frustrated. I can go backwards or forwards just by swiping the mouse, rather than having to use a right-click menu or some arrow at the top of the screen. Occasionally, I do make the wrong gesture and inadvertently close the browser. That’s me.

It most considerately does not turn them on by default. The first time you do something that Opera sees as a mouse gesture, it will ask you whether you want to turn them on.

(I sometimes use Firefox; fortunately, there are several Firefox extensions for mouse gestures. I prefer FireGestures, but it’s really not the same as the original. By default, FireGestures displays mouse trails. If you want to use it, I suggest you turn that feature off; it is annoying.)

From time to time, I visit websites that don’t work in Opera. Almost all the time, this indicates that the sites are not standards compliant. Occasionally, it means something new has come along that’s not in Opera yet.

My bank is a good example. Everything works but the transfers page. When the transfers page renders, graphics cover the text field where you enter the amount of funds you wish to transfer. (It also doesn’t work in Konqueror, Firefox, or Evolution. It works properly only in IE, so far as I can tell. I can’t speak about Safari.)

Opera includes a client, which is nice, because you don’t need a separate program to do torrents. (I’m not a big fan of torrent, though I use it occasionally for downloading Linux distros.)

When you start a download, a transfers page opens to enable you to track the transfers. The right-click menu allows you to manipulate an individual transfer.

Opera Transfers Page

(Yes, I did download the Hannah Montana Linux distro ISO live CD. I figured I could use it to be popular, fool my friends.)

I don’t use the transfers page much, but when I’m transferring multiple files at the same time, it’s very helpful.

Here is a picture of the Opera IRC client. The IRC server is entered in Tools–>Mail and Chat Accounts. The picture shows the dialog for picking the server you want to use and the chat you want to enter.

Opera IRC Client

Opera is fully configurable. You can configure things that, in most other browsers are not even things.

The main preferences dialog is accessible through Tools–>Preferences. Font selections, download associations, and lots of other stuff are configurable. The pictures shows the “Programs” dialog,” where you can manipulate file associations for downloaded fiies.

Opera Preference Dialog

Many times, you can hit a website that says, “This site works only in Netscape or Internet Explorer x.” (Such a message is a sure sign of lazy and incompetent web designers.) You can spoof the “user agent” under Tools–Quick Preferences–>Edit Site Preferences–>Network. In other words, if a site refuses to work in Opera, you can instruct the program to identify itself as a different browser. Usually, a site will work fine if you just continue; if it doesn’t, you can try changing the “identify as” setting. The setting is associated with the particular website (up until v. 9, this was a global setting).

In addition to the preferences dialog, you can enter “opera:config” in the address bar and open the Configuration Editor, which provides a direct interface to the opera.ini file. You can change any configurable item there. And I mean any. This is where to change the default search engine, whether you want the transfers page to appear, and a lot of other stuff that I don’t know what it is even.

Opera Configuration Editor

To move your Opera configuration to another computer on LInux, it’s enough to move the hidden directory (/home/[username]/.opera) to the other computer, then start the program. Everything will be there. I’ve not done this on a Windows box, so I cannot speak to that.

You can also export and import mail files, feeds. bookmarks, and contacts. For most of these items, go to File–>Import and Export. To export mail, highlight the mail folder you wish to export in the mail windows and right-click.

Opera Import/Export

Mail exports as an *.mbs file; feeds as an *.opml file. The contacts and bookmarks files appear to be in Opera formats that are not portable to other browsers. You can also export the contents of individual filters. However, when you import them, they do not go back into the existing filters.

I recently discovered the Opera Developer Tools while I was working on a website for a friend. It’s accessed from Tools–>Advanced–>Developer Tools. They display the CSS, the page rendering, and lots of other stuff useful to web designers. It really helped me debug my friend’s website by allowing me to explore the code in ways that “View Source” does not.

Opera Developer Tools

There’s more, but I’ll stop there.

The most common problem I have encountered with Opera is this: From time to time, Opera for Linux freezes (I have not noticed this in Windows, but I almost never use Windows any more). In Gnome, which is a desktop environment, I can kill the program and restart it without problems, but I don’t use Gnome. I use Fluxbox, which is a window manager. In Fluxbox, I have to reboot to clean up the detritus. (Killing the program in Gnome also kills the lockfile. The kill command in Fluxbox kills the process, but not the lockfile.)

As I said at the beginning, I am a rabid Opera fanboy, because years of using it has made me one.

I’m willing to put up an occasional glitch because of cost-benefit analysis. The convenience and benefits of having the web, mail, RSS, newsgroups, torrent, and IRC all in one very-small-footprint-place far outweigh the inconvenience of the occasional glitch.

Unfinished business: I forgot to mention in my previous post is that Opera looks the same on every platform I’ve used it on. I cannot say that about any other cross-platform program I’ve used.

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