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Mac Users Get Their Own Mozilla-based Browser

Apple's Mac users now have yet another browser choice. In addition to Apple's Safari, Opera, Mozilla SeaMonkey and Mozilla FireFox, Mac users now have their very own Mac specific Mozilla based browser called Camino.

Camino 1.0 was officially released this week after four years of development. Like its popular cousin FireFox, Camino is based on the Mozilla Gecko rendering engine. Like FireFox it includes tabbed browsing, integrated search and a pop-up blocker.

Unlike FireFox for Mac OS X, though, Camino was built specifically for Mac and claims to integrate more tightly with Apple's OS on a number of levels.

Mike Pinkerton, a self described "Mac Weenie" and officially the project lead for the Camino Project noted that Camino was created to be a best-of-breed Mac application, not one that just happens to run on Mac OS X like Firefox.

"We deeply integrate many OS X features such as Address Book, Bonjour, Keychain, Spotlight, etc. Firefox has none of these," Pinkerton told internetnews.com. "Our use of native UI elements also helps Camino 'feel right' on the Mac, where Firefox feels like a mediocre port."

In comparison to Apple's Safari, Camino also offers at least one major potential advantage. While Safari uses a form of the KHTML Conqueror rendering engine, Camino uses Gecko. The Gecko rendering engine is arguably more widely supported on the Internet as a whole partially due to its Netscape legacy as well as the more recent success of Mozilla FireFox.

So far, Camino is drawing most of its migrants from FireFox and Apple Safari according to Pinkerton.

On Mac, as opposed to Windows, there is no currently supported version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer anymore. At the end of 2005 Microsoft, abandoned IE on the Mac and directed its users to Safari.

The road to this week's 1.0 release of Camino was a long one. Like FireFox, which began its life under a different name (originally Mozilla Phoenix then Firebird), Camino likewise was first known as something else: Chimera.

"Camino started with some prototype work that I was doing in 2001," Pinkerton said. "Around the end of that year, Dave Hyatt built on that and built a full browser app out of it."

There is still much left to be done for Camino. Pinkerton said that Version 1.1 of Camino will add RSS detection, spellchecking, and a load of other enhancements that developers couldn't get into 1.0 since they were focused on getting it out the door.

Among the needs that Camino has is more help. Camino is a volunteer-driven open source project that relies on community support.

"We can always use more help," Pinkerton said.

That help isn't just about submitting code either.

"Most of the community helps out in non-technical ways by testing nightly builds, filing bugs and helping the developers weed out real problems from the noise."

Camino browser is available at www.caminobrowser.org.