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Move over, Internet Explorer and Netscape. The open-source options for browsing the Internet are varied, and packed with features.

As the Windows world centralizes more and more on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, the Linux world is exploding with Web browser choices.

The main browser for many years has been Netscape Navigator. Navigator runs on Windows, MacOS X, Linux and even more systems. In recent years, though, Navigator has been losing out to Mozilla, an open source version of Navigator. Mozilla has now displaced Navigator as the default browser installed with most Linux distributions.

One of the reasons for this move is that Mozilla is more up to date than Netscape Navigator, which lags behind several Mozilla versions. Furthermore, Mozilla places ad-blocking functionality in front of the user while Navigator hides it. Both browsers are available at no cost. You can purchase commercial support for Mozilla from Beonex.

Mozilla provides a large application and supports many features, including mail, news, and Web browsing. While the large number of features is handy, it makes for a large program, one that uses a lot of RAM and disk space. The large size of Mozilla has lead to a number of projects, each of which aim to produce a smaller, leaner Mozilla.

One of the first of these projects was Galeon. Galeon uses the Mozilla engine, called Gecko, to display Web pages, but in a much faster and leaner application. This trend to produce a browser that is faster and leaner than Mozilla has come home to the Mozilla project itself in the form of Mozilla Firebird. Firebird includes the really handy tabbed interface from Mozilla and runs much faster.

The only real browser missing from Linux is Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. According to the WINE application database, though, a number of users have been successful at running Internet Explorer under WINE, which runs Windows applications on Linux. Opera does the best job of mimicking Internet Explorer with a special Explorer stealth mode.

Opera runs on Linux, MacOS X, and Windows. You can purchase Opera for $39, or download a version for free. The free version sports ads. Paying for the commercial version frees you from the ads.

Other browsers include Konqueror from the KDE desktop environment, Atlantis, Dillo, BrowseX a browser written in Tcl and Grail written in Python. Konqueror is especially interesting, since it acts as both a file manager and a Web browser.