SeaMonkey – Browse, Email and Chat All-In-One

While Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is still the most popular web browser in use today, Mozilla Firefox is easily the most popular non-default browser. Firefox does not ship with either Windows or Mac OS X (although it does ship as the default web browser with many Linux distributions), but in spite of this has a estimated user base of almost twenty percent (as of October 2008). Internet Explorer still has a little over 70 percent market share, with Safari, the third-place browser, well back with an estimated 6.5 percent share.

But before there was Firefox, there was the Mozilla suite. Mozilla, not only included a web browser, but a full-featured email and newsgroups client, a website (html) creator, a chat client using the IRC protocol and an address book. They also have tutorials which are the same as the website builder tutorials you’ll find. This way you can get acquainted with the whole process without worrying about getting yourself into some kind of technical issues suddenly.

Firefox came about as a response from the open source community who wanted the power of the Mozilla web browser, without all the additional components. Since then, the Mozilla suite has officially been disbanded by Mozilla, but the open source community has kept up the project, under the name SeaMonkey.

SeaMonkey has been stagnant for a little while, but recently an early build of the upcoming 2.0 release was let out into the wild, and I took a look at it, and I have to say, I’m impressed. It’s a lightweight suite (the Linux version was only a 13 MB download for all the programs mentioned above), and if you’re used to using Firefox as your web browser, Thunderbird as your email client and Kompozer as your html creation environment, you may want to give the new SeaMonkey a look. It really does have all the power of those programs, all in one neat package.

What can each component do? Check out the following features:

Web Browser:

It uses the same technology and Gecko html rendering engine used in the Firefox web browser, so the SeaMonkey browser supports all the same web standards, as well as a huge number of plugins and themes.

Mail  amp; Newsgroups:

Supports multiple accounts, junk mail detection, message filters, support for HTML emails, address book, labels, views, spell checking.

Web Page Composer:

Normal mode, HTML Tags mode, HTML source mode, Preview mode. Supports styles, images, links, anchors, tables, huge variety of encodings. Also has a password manager, so you can work on all the websites you support without needing to remember all your site passwords.

Address Book:

Add your own addresses, or have address cards created automatically to all the people you send emails to, without any user intervention.

ChatZilla:

IRC Chat client for group chat. Popular for support forums. Supports multiple login names, different color schemes and status messages (so you can be “Away”).

To be honest, SeaMonkey really isn’t my cup of tea. It’s a great suite, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve moved all my email to Gmail, along with my Contact list, so I don’t have much use for SeaMonkey’s email or address book. And I’ve never had the need to create websites, and my chatting happens on Google Talk or AIM, but for those who have a need for all that SeaMonkey offers, it really is a great choice.

As mentioned, the version of SeaMonkey I tried out is a pre-release Alpha version but in spite of that I found it stable and without any real show-stopper bugs. If you want, the current 1.1.13 version can still be downloaded.