Use a Mac? Camino 2.1 Is an Open Source Browser Alternative

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Apple's Safari may be the most commonly used browser among users of Mac OS X, but that's not for any lack of alternatives. As in the Windows and Linux worlds, there are numerous other contenders out there--it's just that many users often never hear about them.

One such competitor is Camino, an open source offering that just got a major upgrade on Tuesday. Optimized from the ground up for Mac OS X, Camino 2.1 is related to Firefox and offers a wide array of compelling features.

Available in six languages for Mac OS X 10.4 and later, Camino 2.1 can now be downloaded for free from the project's site. If you use a Mac, here are a few reasons you should consider checking it out.

1. It's a Firefox Cousin

Camino 2.1 displays web pages with Gecko 1.9.2, the same rendering engine that's used by Firefox 3.6. Along with that fact comes a boost in compatibility with web standards and the benefit of numerous security fixes and Gecko improvements. It's also really easy to migrate from Firefox to Camino as a result of their close underpinnings, and the Camino project has created a page dedicated to showing you how to move your Firefox profile over, including bookmarks, preferences, keyboard shortcuts, and more.

2. It's Optimized for Macs

Whereas desktop Firefox uses an XUL-based user interface, Camino uses Mac-native Cocoa for the best integration with the Mac experience. It uses the Mac OS X Aqua interface, and it integrates a number of Mac OS X features and services, so Mac users will feel right at home.

3. It's Packed with Features

Camino 2.1 offers a wide array of powerful features, including tabbed browsing, annoyance blocking, keychain support, location bar autocomplete, tab overview, and phishing and malware detection. That's on top of more standard features like AppleScript support, full content zoom, session saving, feed detection, and more.

4. It's a Universal Application

Camino 2.1 is a universal binary and so runs natively on both PowerPC- and Intel-based Macs, making sure no one is left out.

5. It's Open Source

Last but certainly not least, Camino is open source software, which brings a raft of benefits for business and individual users alike. Security, customizability, interoperability, and freedom from vendor lock-in are just a few of the ones I'd name off the top of my head.

As noted in the software's release notes, Camino 2.1 was more than a year in the making. If you decide to check it out, please share your impressions in the comments.

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