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Opera Releases FreeBSD Version, Updates Linux

While still focusing on its latest iteration for Windows, Opera developers expanded their presence in the Unix world with two new releases for FreeBSD and Linux.

With Opera 6.1 available for FreeBSD users, the popular alternative to Windows Internet Explorer is compatible with eight separate operating systems. They are: Windows, Linux, Mac, OS/2, Solaris, FreeBSD, QNX and Symbian.

Officials also announced a browser update for Linux users on Intel and PowerPC machines, version 6.1. Opera 6.02 for Linux was released back in July, only two months after Opera 6.0 was announced.

The Linux update features bug fixes and improvements to the Web browser, including support for Xft 1 and 2, foreign language font support and the use of Qt 3 libraries.

While Windows customers are the company's core business, Opera officials have lately begun courting the "other" OS's in an attempt to get into the browser market share dominated by IE, and to a lesser extent, Netscape. Linux users, with a growing base of individuals and companies, have been central to Opera's development this year.

Mary Lambert, Opera desktop product line manger, said her company is committed to providing more than just Windows-centric solutions.

"It's inline with our philosophy to have a strong, open Web support for the whole community, which supports alternative platforms, systems and languages," she said.

In 2002, the company has signed distribution deals with SuSE and MandrakeSoft, two of the largest Linux distributors in the world.

FreeBSD -- like Linux -- is a Unix derivative, and Opera CEO Jon Tetzchner can relate with an application looking to get into a user world dominated by Microsoft.

"On a personal level, I'm also happy to welcome FreeBSD users into the Opera family," he said in a statement Thursday. "FreeBSD is strictly not only an operating system, but also a community and a philosophy with values I know resonate well with our own."

Opera for Windows, on the other hand, has seen little in the way of improvements in 2002, other than the version 6.04 upgrade in July, as it prepares for it next major upgrade.

Opera 7 is expected to resolve many of the issues that keep users from adopting the Web browser and dumping IE or Netscape, namely it's inability to process dynamic content. Opera's president has said this issue will be resolved in the update, as well as others, with support for document object model (DOM) and cascading style sheets (CSS).

According to Lambert, a Windows version of Opera 7 is still expected to launch by the end of the year, and the lack of upgrades over the year for the Windows version doesn't mean they are looking at slowing down Windows support.

"Our primary focus is to release version 7 for Windows," she said, "and we are making great progress, fixing bugs continually, and soon we should have a really exciting version (released)."