Opera set to unleash Linux browser

Opera 5.0 for Linux will have all the features of the Windows-based version, plus a couple extra. It is also very, very fast, according to the company

The alternative browser vendor Opera Software is set to make the first Linux version of its browser publicly available on Tuesday.

Opera 5 for Linux will be on a par, feature-wise, with Opera's latest version of its Windows browser, Opera 5.11 for Windows -- with one exception. The Linux version will include a new Hot List Bar that allows users to file bookmarks into folders. Opera is likely to add that bar to the next version of its Windows browser, said company chief executive Jon von Tetzchner.

The Opera 5 for Linux product also does not include the mail, news and chat clients that are part of the Windows release. The company will provide those add-ons in future releases, von Tetzchner said.

Oslo, Norway-based Opera has been testing its Linux release for more than a year. Von Tetzchner said Opera has tested the Linux version with as many Linux distributions as possible and is confident the browser will support all of the main distributions, including Red Hat, Caldera, SuSE and Mandrake.

Von Tetzchner also said that Opera has held preliminary discussions with the major Linux distributors about preloading the Opera 5 for Linux product with their various Linux products. No deals have yet been finalized, he said.

Opera plans to make Opera 5 for Linux available for download from the Opera Web site (www.opera.com) starting May 15. The company also is planning to poly-bag CD versions of the product with a number of magazines, company officials said.

As it does with its Windows release , Opera is planning to offer two versions of Opera 5 for Linux: one for free and one for $39 (about £25). The free version is supported by a single banner ad. Opera charges for the ad-free release.

Going forward, Opera is attempting to "synch the features and timing of the Linux and Windows versions of Opera," von Tetzchner said.

Opera makes what the company markets as "the fastest browser on earth." It offers its compact, fast-loading browser as an alternative to the big two: Microsoft Corp's Internet Explorer and America Online/Netscape Communications' Navigator. The non-Java-enabled version of Opera 5.0 for Windows is 2MB in size; the Java-enabled version is 9.5MB.

Opera is being designed to run on a variety of operating systems, including Windows, Linux, Macintosh, Be OS and the Epoc wireless system. The Mac version is still in beta and is expected to ship later this year.

The Opera Linux browser, like the Windows one, is designed to support multiple windows, keyboard shortcuts, zooming and integrated search.

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