Camino is a port of Netscape specifically to Mac OS X. It began in late 2001 when Mike Pinkerton and Vidur Apparao launched a proof-of-concept project to embed Netscape’s Gecko rendering engine in a Cocoa application. Cocoa is Apple’s native object-oriented application programming interface (API) for Mac OS X and is rooted in NeXTstep, which Apple acquired along with Steve Jobs at the end of 1996.
Dave Hyatt, one of the co-creators of Firefox (the next generation of Netscape), joined the team in early 2002 and built Chimera, a small, lightweight browser wrapper, around their work. A chimera is a mythological beast with parts taken from various animals, and the new browser was a hybrid of C++ and Objective-C, combining Netscape’s Gecko engine and other traditional Netscape bones and muscles under a Cocoa and Carbon skin. (Carbon was a programming environment that supported both the Classic Mac OS and OS X; Cocoa is OS X only.)
It was fast. It started with the Netscape code that had been honed since 1994 and set it free to run like lightning on PowerPC hardware and Mac OS X. Other browsers used Cocoa as their rendering engine, but Gecko put Internet Explorer and OmniWeb (the first OS X browser) to shame.
Hyatt must have impressed the people at Apple because in mid-2002 Apple hired him to help develop Apple’s own browser, which eventually arrived as Safari. Undaunted by the loss, the small Chimera team continued to develop their browser in hopes of previewing it at the January 2003 Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Unfortunately, AOL, which owned Netscape at that time, pulled the rug from under them two days before the Expo.
A New Name
The team abandoned the Chimera name for legal reasons and adopted Camino, Spanish for road, as the new name for their browser. Camino 0.7 was available on March 3, 2003 and a testament to open source – the path Netscape chose for its future when it launched the Mozilla project that gave us Firefox.
Camino remained a “preview” project until February 14, 2006, when Camino 1.0 became a reality. This was the first Mozilla project released as a universal binary, software that can run natively on PowerPC and Intel Macs. This was mere weeks after the first Intel Macs had been launched.
Welcomed with Open Arms
The Mac Web welcomed Camino with open arms. Those of us who published on the Web and researched on the Web were always looking for the next great thing in browsers, and for the Mac community, Camino gave us the features of Firefox without its then-ugly user interface. Instead, we got something almost as pretty as Safari.
Compatible with Web Standards
There were intermediate versions, Camino 1.5 and 1.6, leading up to the release of Camino 2.0 in November 2009. This was the first version of Camino with movable tabs and the first to pass Acid2, an industry standard test of browser compatibility with web standards. Apple’s Safari browser was the first to pass Acid2, which it did in Oct. 2005. Opera, Konqueror (the open source browser Apple used when developing Safari), Firefox, and most other browsers followed in short order.
The Johnny-come-lately was the former bane of standards compliance, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Microsoft had always had its own way of doing things, standards be damned, and refused to make IE7 standards compliant because that would break all the Web pages designed for Microsoft’s “we are the standard” non-compliant browsers. Finally, in October 2009, IE8 arrived and passed Acid2 – five years behind Apple’s Safari.
So why do I continue to use Camino on my Macs? For one simple reason: It is the best tool for opening all of the thousands of pages of legacy Low End Mac content so I can cut and paste it into WordPress. From there I can check and replace or delete broken links and run Grammarly to smooth out rough grammar, punctuation, and usage.
I try to squeeze in a few pages a day. We currently have 3,100 pages published in WordPress and about 5,000 still in HTML, so this is going to be a long process. Then again, there is some content – most of the weekly news roundups, for instance – that can be left behind. That could reduce the count by 1,000 or so.
As for working on the Web, Camino displays the Low End Mac homepage and content just fine. Pretty impressive for a browser that was discontinued almost five years ago and was already dated at the time.
If you’re looking for a fast browser, download Camino and give it a try!
Further Reading on Low End Mac
- What Is the Best Browser for Leopard on Intel Macs?, Daniel Knight, 2016.04.14 – Camino 2.1 behind the times but fast
- What Is the Best Leopard Browser for PowerPC Macs?, Daniel Knight, 2013.07.11 – Camino is fast but dated
- TenFourFox Is the Hands Down Winner for OS X 10.4 Tiger, Daniel Knight, 2013.04.06 – praise for Camino’s speed, but it is dated
- Camino, a Fast Alternative to Bloated Heavyweight Browsers, Simon Royal, 2011.04.19
- The Future of Up-to-Date Browsers for PowerPC Macs, Charles W Moore, 2009.08.31
- Is Camino Now the Best Browser for Older Macs?, Charles W. Moore, 2009.01.13
- 9 Browsers for G3 and Older G4 Macs, Simon Royal, 2008.09.26 – Camino 1.6 wins
- 11 Mac Browsers Compared, Simon Royal, 2008.09.03
- 6 Extensions to Make Firefox Even Better, Leaman Crews, 2006.03.29 – the author uses Camino as his default browser
- Camino: A Better Mac Browser than Safari or Firefox, Leaman Crews, 2006.01.25
- Camino, Firefox, and Opera Reconsidered, Charles W. Moore, 2009.01.19 – Camino 1.6
- Firefox, Camino, Opera, or OmniWeb: Which Is the Best Safari Alternative?, Michel Munger, 2005.07.27 – Camino 0.8
Further Reading Around the Mac Web
There was a lot more coverage of Camino on sites including Applelinks,
- Camino Web Browser Features, Uses, Advantages and Disadvantages, Heba Soffar, 2017.07.13. We’re not the only ones to sing the praises of this discontinued browser, although the English in this article is fairly mangled.
- RIP: Camino Browser For Mac Is Dead, Killian Bell, Cult of Mac, 2013.05.31
- Camino Browser Project Discontinued After Ten Years, Lex Friedman, Macworld, 2013.05.31
- Camino 2.0 Adds New Features to Speedy Mac-Centric Browser, Kevin Purdy, Life Hacker, 2009.11.19
- Camino Web Browser Is Best in Mac Universe, Brendan Gibbons, Practical Ecommerce, 2008.11.18
- Camino Browser Goes 1.0, Peter Cohen, Macworld, 2006.02.14
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