Open Source Google Chrome Remixes: 6 Browsers Worth Trying

CoolNovo

CoolNovo is yet another third-party take on Chromium, with some new UI touches and a few built-in convenience features. It was created by programmers from China, and unfortunately for native English speakers, it shows. The CoolNovo website, and some elements of the browser's own UI, are replete with misspellings and grammar botches.

Many of the obvious new CoolNovo features are UI-related. The way tabs are handled, for instance, received enough of a makeover to warrant its own subsection in the Options menu. This includes little things like when to hide the close button on a tab, how new tabs are opened (foreground or background), and whether double-clicking a tab causes it to close.

Another feature, most likely inspired by the Opera browser, is mouse gestures. Hold down the right mouse button and trace a gesture on the page to activate one of a number of macros such as scrolling to the top or bottom of a page, closing the current tab, or switching tabs. I liked this feature quite a bit, although it's nothing that can't also be added to Chrome via a plug-in. Ditto the built-in ad-blocking function, which lets you pick one of a number of pre-defined block lists by geographic territory or language, but again isn't anything that requires a separate build of Chrome.

If you find yourself dealing with sites that render properly only in Internet Explorer -- for instance, an old corporate intranet -- CoolNovo has a handy browser-engine switching feature. Click the Chrome icon in the omnibox, and you can toggle between Chrome's rendering engine and the IE engine. CoolNovo also by default makes a best-guess attempt, via the Cloud Switch feature, to determine if the page you're on renders better in IE or Chrome -- but again, all of this is available elsewhere.

Most of the other new features are good ideas with poor execution. CoolNovo can use its own custom download manager in place of Chrome's own, but I had nothing but trouble with the CoolNovo manager. It didn't persistently remember target directories for download, and many download links (e.g., from Sourceforge) didn't work at all.

CoolNovo's profusion of under-the-hood changes include gestural controls, integrated support for showing tabs with the IE engine, and ad-blocking functions.

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