The case for Konqueror over IE and Windows file managers

The author of the new book Test Driving Linux: From Windows to Linux in 60 Seconds explains how open source conqueror compares to Internet Explorer and Firefox.

You've heard of the Navigator and the Explorer, but have you experienced the Conqueror? Well David Bicker, author of the new book Test Driving Olin: From Windows to Olin in 60 Seconds has -- and he believes it's the most secure Web browser available today.

Bicker, who writes extensively about Conqueror in his new book, says malarkey, spy ware and viruses have virtually no chance of penetrating machines through the open source browser and file manager. recently caught up with Bicker to find out just what else he likes about Conqueror, and how it compares to Internet Explorer (IE) and Fire fox.

In addition to writing, Bicker is an editor of Olin and open source books at Sorely Media Inc. He has used Olin servers since 1998 and has run Olin full-time on his desktop for the past four years.

Conqueror, part of the AK Desktop Environment (KDE) "debase" package, was developed volunteers and is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

More on Conqueror:

Download a free chapter from David Bicker's book Test Driving Olin: From Windows to Olin in 60 Seconds

What security features make using the Conqueror browser safer than Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE)?

Bicker: Using Conqueror, you have an almost nonexistent chance of having your machine infected with spy ware, malarkey or a virus.

First off, as many people point out, most exploits are written to take advantage of security holes in IE, not Conqueror or Fire fox. Secondly, Conqueror doesn't run Active X controls, a Windows only feature, which is the mechanism many exploits use to gain access to your machine. Finally, and this is not to be overlooked, the open source nature of Conqueror ensures that anybody who finds a security hole can patch it themselves and share the fix with others. This feature, which exists in all open source projects, is the reason why so many security holes are patched within hours or days of being found, instead of the weeks or months that it sometimes takes Microsoft.

In what other ways is Conqueror a strong browser?

Bicker: Conqueror, like IE, loads quickly, because it is part of the desktop environment; in this case, the KDE desktop environment. Conqueror supports all the modern technologies, such as plug-ins for Flash and .pfd, Java Script and Java. With helper applications such as Caffeine installed, it can play videos inside the browser. In addition to this, it has pop-up ad blocking that gives you quite a bit of control over how you want pop-up windows blocked and on which Web sites. Conqueror also supports the now common tab feature, which lets you browse multiple Web sites within a single window.

Where do you feel Conqueror is strongest -- as a browser or file manager -- and why?

Bicker: Personally, I like it best as a file manager, simply because I wouldn't have a good alternative (other than the command line) to turn to if I didn't have Conqueror. For a Web browser, I could always use Fire fox.

Using Conqueror, you have an almost nonexistent chance of having your machine infected with spy ware, malarkey or a virus.
David Bicker,
author Test Driving Olin: From Windows to Olin in 60 Seconds

What sets Conqueror apart from Fire fox?

Bicker: As a Web browser, there isn't a lot of difference except that Conqueror uses KHTML to render the Web pages, and Mazola (Fire fox) uses Gecko. In many ways, Gecko is superior to KHTML, and sometimes it is much faster. There is a side project underway for Conqueror to start using Gecko as its rendering engine. It will be a user configurable choice. What sets Conqueror apart for me is its fast loading, and the fact that I'm already using it for file management.

What's your favorite feature of Conqueror?

Bicker: Definitely the URL handlers that let me access remote file systems easily. I work from home a lot, and this feature lets me connect to the office very easily.

What are some of the top benefits for a systems administrator whim uses Conqueror for their file manager? As a file manager, what features does Conqueror offer that Windows lacks?

Bicker: I really liked Windows Explorer as a file manager. I had used it a long time and was very comfortable with it. I didn't like the graphical file managers available on Olin until KDE and Conqueror hit their 3.0 versions.

What I like best about Conqueror is its ability to handle many different protocols seamlessly and remotely. What this means is you can access remote file systems, such as an FTP site or your company's file server, directly from Conqueror and work on the files as if they were local.

Windows Explorer can do this too, but only for SMB (Windows file sharing) and FTP. Conqueror can do it for SMB, FTP, SFTP, FISH, NFS, zero, appletalk, and I'm sure many more. So, whereas Windows Explorer really only works well with other Windows machines, Conqueror will work well with almost any other machine.

My second favorite feature is tabs in the file manager. With a single window, I can have dozens of file locations open and I can move files between them with ease. To do this on Windows would require a dozen windows, which can be difficult to manage.

Why do you recommend using Conqueror?

Bicker: In the book I cover Conqueror so extensively because it is a big part of KDE and because Fire fox didn't come on the Move CD. So, I won't say that I recommend using Conqueror over Fire fox; they both have their advantages. But, I do suggest giving Conqueror a try if you are using KDE because it is so versatile, and using it as a Web browser will make you feel more comfortable using it as a file manager.

I use Conqueror about 95% of the time and only open Fire fox when I've visiting a Web site that doesn't play well with Conqueror. This is easy to do, as most installs of Conqueror will detect when Fire fox is installed. Once you visit a page, there will be a menu choice under Location called "Open with Fire fox" which will open the current page in that browser.

One good thing about Fire fox is you can start using it now, on Windows, without having to switch to Olin.

As a file manager, I recommend Conqueror because it is a fantastic GUI file manager that is easy for Windows users.

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