What Is the Best Leopard Browser for PowerPC Macs?

A while back, I explained why TenFourFox is without a doubt the best browser option for anyone running Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger on a PowerPC Mac. Today I follow that up by looking at two contenders for the best browser on OS X 10.5 Leopard.

Safari

Safari is a perfectly competent browser, and Leopard supports Safari 5.0.6, which is a step forward from version 4.1.3 on Tiger. And if you want a version of Safari that’s a bit more up-to-date, there’s the experimental Leopard WebKit project, which lets you run Safari with an updated version of WebKit (currently r134862, where it’s been for a long, long time).

Safari supports lots of other extensions, although for some reason Apple doesn’t let you search them.

Safari Extensions

Best of all, Safari on Leopard supports LastPass, a great free password manager for modern Macs and PC and Linux systems that also supports OS X 10.4 (but only with TenFourFox) and 10.5 (with both Safari/WebKit and TenFourFox/Aurorafox). There are also iOS and Android versions, although they are not free.

By downloading the AdBlock extension, you can get rid of a lot of the ads that clutter up pages and slow load time, although we should remind you that these ads are a big part of what keeps most of the Web free.

Another useful Safari extension is ClickToFlash, which prevents Flash content from loading, replacing it with a placeholder. If you click on the placeholder, you can access the Flash content, assuming it’s compatible with the version of Flash on your Leopard PPC Mac (The last supported version is Flash 10.1, although there is a workaround that sometimes does the job.)

Another one you might want to consider is JavaScript Blocker (under the Security heading), which prevents JavaScript from executing unless you tell it to.

TenFourFox and Aurorafox

These two browsers are brothers under the hood. TenFourFox is an adaptation of Firefox 17 for PowerPC Macs, with two different G4 versions (if you’re running Leopard on a G4, you’ll probably end up using the 7450/G4e version) and a G5 version, so any PPC Mac running Leopard can run it. The current version of TenFourFox is 17.0.7.

Aurorafox is based on the same code as TenFourFox 17.0.2, so it’s a bit older and a bit less secure, and it’s compiled specifically for OS X 10.5 Leopard, where TenFourFox will also run on OS X 10.4 Tiger. This gives Aurorafox some advantages, particularly in displaying text, as it can take advantage of improved graphics routines within Leopard.

Aurorafox is also available with an alpha build of Firefox 20, and TenFourFox currently has a development version of Firefox 22, but for stability, stick with the polished release version 17.

Mozilla Extensions

As offshoots of Firefox, TenFourFox and Aurorafox can use the same extensions. I have essentially the same capabilities as mentioned with Safari using LastPass, Adblock Plus, Flashbock, and NoScript.

Safari Takes Third Place

Safari for Leopard is very outdated in terms of features, speed, and security, while Firefox (and hence TenFourFox and Aurorafox) remain under development.

Further, Safari doesn’t support full page mode. That may not sound like much, since no software written in the Leopard era supports full page mode, but TenFourFox and Aurorafox are modern browsers that do support full page mode. On a big display, it’s not such an issue, but the smaller your screen, the more you’ll relish it. Browsing on a 12″ PowerBook G4 with its 1024 x 768 pixel display is much better in full page mode. Much, much better.

TenFourFox Takes Second Place

Although the functionality is virtually identical between TenFourFox and Aurorafox, Aurorafox is optimized for OS X 10.5 Leopard and much less demanding of your old PPC Mac’s limited resources. It’s a perfectly good browser, but why not use the more efficient alternative?

Aurorafox Takes Top Honors

And so we crown Aurorafox as the best browser to use with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. It does everything TenFourFox does, does some things better than TenFourFox, and is nearly as secure.

Honorable Mentions

The Camino browser, an early merging of the Mozilla/Firefox engine with Mac OS X graphics routines, remains eminently usable, although it hasn’t been updated in years and is probably the least secure browser you’re likely to consider. That said, it’s fast and efficient. It has taken a back seat in my daily use, but that’s only over the past year, and it continues to be very useful as one tool in our process of migrating old Low End Mac content to WordPress.

Opera remains in use by a small percentage of the market, showing up at about 1% in our site analytics, which gives it 5th place among desktop browser and 4th place on Macs. That’s about the same level as the Android browser found on smartphones and tablets, and a good 50% higher than Camino’s current share. Opera 10.63 is the last version compatible with OS X 10.5 and PowerPC Macs.

Conclusion

Just because something comes with your computer doesn’t mean it’s the best solution. Just as Internet Explorer became a malware magnet on older versions of Microsoft Windows, Safari for Leopard has fallen far behind in the security department. Nor does it have modern features such as full screen mode, which is wonderful on smaller displays.

In the end, there are lots of options, so try a few to see which fit your needs and style. And if Leopard on PowerPC still rocks your world, be sure Aurorafox is one browser you give a try.

One thought on “What Is the Best Leopard Browser for PowerPC Macs?

  1. You seem to follow the macupdate page for getting Leopard WebKit – but that’s not regularly maintained currently. The version listed as stable is horribly outdated, indeed.
    I’d like to encourage to test the current stable and unstable versions from the Google Code project page. Both are significantly faster than TenFourFox on my PPC Macs.