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K-Meleon

K-Meleon is a web browser for the Microsoft Windows platform. Based on the same Gecko layout engine as Mozilla Firefox, K-Meleon uses native Windows API to create the user interface (instead of using Mozilla's cross-platform XUL layer), and as a result, is tightly integrated into the look and feel of the Windows desktop; this approach is similar to that of Galeon and Epiphany (for the GNOME desktop), and Camino (for Mac OS X). This also makes K-Meleon less resource-intensive and more responsive to user input.

Development and specifications

K-Meleon is released under the GNU General Public License and runs on the Win32 platform. The current release version of K-Meleon is 1.5.0, which was released on August 8, 2008. This release is based on the Gecko 1.8.1.17 rendering engine.

The change from the K-Meleon 0.9.x series to 1.0.x was a major modification. The most notable change was the main K-Meleon code being updated to accommodate the Gecko 1.8.0.x rendering engine, as used in the latest releases of SeaMonkey and Mozilla Firefox. The change of layout not only brought the browser up-to-date on the level of security, but on web page layout as well. Several other major improvements included support for favicons and multi-user environments. Some themes and macros from version 0.9 are still compatible with 1.0, although the macro system has been updated. An even more fundamental update of the macro system was made concurrent with the development of K-Meleon 1.1, which is based on the Gecko 1.8.1 rendering engine that is used in Mozilla Firefox 2.0 and SeaMonkey 1.1. The last release of the earlier K-Meleon 0.9 series (which was based on the earlier Mozilla 1.7.x rendering engine used in the former Mozilla Application Suite) was K-Meleon 0.9.13 (released April 24, 2006). That release was based on the Mozilla 1.7.13 build (the final Mozilla Suite release). Although K-Meleon 0.9.13 is based on Gecko 1.7.13, which is now obsolete, a simulation of it (called "K-Meleon0.9.13-ud3-1.8.0.7") has been made that is based on a current "k-meleon.exe" and a recent 1.8.0.x Gecko rendering engine to allow people who prefer the older K-Meleon 0.9 interface to update their browsing to current security standards.

Customizations

K-Meleon has a highly flexible interface design. All the menus and toolbar buttons can be customized using its configuration files. This feature can be very useful in an environment where the general public has access to the browser such as a library or Internet cafe. Despite its usefulness, it may be intimidating to an end-user, as there is no GUI to customize the individual toolbars. A user must edit the toolbar configuration file to make any changes in the button layouts, although one can move around the toolbars by simply dragging their handles.

The use of Windows native interface means that K-Meleon does not support Mozilla-based themes. Compatibility with Mozilla extensions is also limited, with only a few extensions that can be integrated. However, K-Meleon has its own plugins (called "kplugins") and browser themes, (the default being Phoenity) which can extend the functionality and customize the appearance of the browser. There is also a macro plugin which allows users to extend the browser functionality without having to know the C programming language.

Release history

Colour Meaning
Red Old release; not supported
Yellow Old release; still supported
Green Current stable release
Purple Current test release
Blue Future release

Major version Release version Gecko version Release date Significant changes
0.1 0.1 M17 August 21 2000 First release; mainly a rebranded WinEmbed, using the BCG Library; customizable menu and toolbar, IE Favorites support.
0.2 0.2 M18 November 26 2000 Project hosted at SourceForge; right-click context menus; improvements and bugfixes.
0.2.1 M18 November 27 2000 Bugfixes.
0.3 0.3 0.8 February 13 2001 Major rewrite using MfcEmbed instead of WinEmbed and the BCG Library; plugin support for menus and toolbars; preferences dialog; customizable menus and accelerator keys; basic authentication; page source view; option to save files to disk.
0.4 0.4 0.9 May 11 2001 KPlugin interface, support for Netscape bookmarks and fullscreen display, macro extension and history plugin; (bitmapped) menus, accelerator keys and toolbars customizable through configuration files; cache support; support for external source code viewer; configurable cookie and image settings; possibility to disable Style Sheets, Java and JavaScript; web search.
0.5 0.5 0.9.4 September 27 2001 Support for SSL, Wallet and external protocol handlers; customizable UserAgent string; improved Java support and profile handling; pop-up blocker; symbiotic loader; various improvements and bugfixes.
0.6 0.6 0.9.5 October 30 2001 Toolbar plugin; improved proxy support; file upload; numerous improvements and bugfixes.
0.7 0.7 1.2b October 31 2002 New plugins: Layered windows ("tabbed browsing"), support for Opera bookmarks (hotlist), external program control; automatic detection of popular third party plugins; text zoom, print preview, page setup and type ahead find; skin support; various improvements and bugfixes.
0.7.1 (0.7 SP1) February 12 2003 Numerous plugin improvements.
0.8 0.8 1.5 November 10 2003 Various usability improvements.
0.8.1 December 13 2003 Mouse Gestures plugin; improvements and bugfixes.
0.8.2 December 23 2003 Improvements and bugfixes.
0.9 0.9 1.7.5 January 18 2005 Privacy plugin, Flashblock extension and Aggreg8 RSS feed reader; new default skin (Phoenity); numerous usability improvements.
0.9.12 1.7.12 January 10 2006 Community-driven Gecko update; various new features (partly unique to this version).
0.9.13 1.7.13 April 25 2006 Community-driven Gecko update; various new features (partly unique to this version).
1.0 1.0 1.8.0.5 July 15 2006 Full localization support, first official localization (German); find bar and improved URL bar; configurable download options, XUL-based advanced preferences panel; overall improvements for macros and menus; new default RSS/Atom feed reader (NewsFox).
1.0.1 (1.01) 1.8.0.6 August 14 2006 Gecko update.
1.0.2 (1.02) 1.8.0.7 September 22 2006 Gecko update, some improvements and bugfixes.
1.1 1.1 1.8.1.4 May 22 2007 Multilanguage support, several official localizations; modular macros; session saver plugin; improved cookie permissions and password support; easier customization of search engines and mouse gestures; upgradable configuration of accelerator keys, menus and macros.
1.1.1 (1.11) 1.8.1.5 July 22 2007 Gecko update and bugfixes.
1.1.2 1.8.1.6 August 8 2007 Gecko update and bugfixes.
1.1.3 1.8.1.10 November 26 2007 Gecko update; update checker plugin.
1.1.4 1.8.1.12 February 11 2008 Gecko update and bugfixes.
1.1.5 1.8.1.14 April 8 2008 Gecko update and bugfix.
1.1.6 1.8.1.17pre July 18 2008 Gecko update.
1.5 1.5a1 1.8.1.8 October 13 2007 True tabs instead of layered windows; improved multilanguage support; native preferences panel replaced by XUL-based former advanced preferences panel; Unicode build for Windows NT, non-Unicode build for Windows 9X.
1.5a2 1.8.1.12 February 13 2008 Improvements for tabs; new cache and proxy configuration options; bug fixes.
1.5b1 1.8.1.14 April 9 2008 New font configuration options; improvements and bugfixes.
1.5b2 May 29 2008 Improved translation macro; bugfixes.
1.5RC 1.8.1.16pre July 18 2008 Latest improvements and bugfixes.
1.5.0 1.8.1.17pre August 8 2008 Official version 1.5 release.
1.9 1.9 1.9

References: K-Meleon file releases, release notes and Wiki documentation.

Derivatives

K-MeleonCCF

K-MeleonCCF was developed by Hao Jiang, adding further features to K-meleon. The biggest change was the use of a true tab structure, as opposed to a layer system used by K-Meleon at the time. Other changes include an Lua-based macro system to replace the original macros (giving greater responsiveness), and further UI tweaks, such as a mouse-gestures plugin.

Many of the changes implemented were included in later versions of K-Meleon, and with the release of K-Meleon 1.5, this will include "real tab support and much powerful macro plugin" Development of CCF has ceased with users being advised to move to K-Meleon 1.5 upon its release.

K-MeleonCCF ME

K-MeleonCCF ME was developed as a more streamlined version of K-MeleonCCF, using less resources and delivering greater responsiveness. This is achieved by the exclusion of Mozilla's inefficient XUL (XML User Interface Language) in menus, and the use of more Lua-based macros.

It is the least resource intensive browser for Windows using an up-to-date rendering engine making it ideal for older computers or those with minimal amounts of RAM. It may also be the fastest at rendering, loading pages faster than Opera.

Additionally, new features and improvements are included in each version.

On January 25, 2008, Hao declared his decision to discontinue the unofficial K-MeleonCCF project, however, since then he (along with increased input from Dorian) has completed version 0.08 of CCF ME, and development continues on version 0.09 of CCF ME, based on the Gecko 1.9 rendering engine. A beta version of 0.09 was tested to be twice as fast as Opera 9.5 at rendering javascript.

Portable versions

Some users have created modifications to enhance the portability of K-Meleon so they can run the browser on other Windows computers without having to install the software. Douglas McFadzean has collected and expanded on those efforts resulting in a group of portable K-Meleon projects that are designed to "enhance" the K-Meleon browser's modularity and portability. These projects include Pocket K-Meleon, KMprof, KMV (K-Meleon on the MoVe), KMVX (K-Meleon on the MoVe eXtendedKM@, KM@X, and KMigrate. These projects focus on the ability to run K-Meleon from a USB flash drive or portable hard drive, leaving no trace of browsing on the host computer.

Douglas's work on portable K-Meleon for Windows has reduced as he has moved to using mainly Arch Linux and MEPIS Linux systems.

There have also been some early attempts at making a version of K-Meleon which can run from a read-only device, such as a CD-ROM.

K-Ninja

K-Ninja is a minimalistic modification of K-Meleon that appeared during the development phase of K-Meleon 0.9. It is designed with less on-screen space reserved for menus and buttons, dedicating more to each website. An attempt was also made to expand and reorganize the right-click context menus to make them quicker and easier to use.

Development history
K-Ninja was originally developed by Mark Reaves at Mot Studios. When Mark left Mot Studios and founded LDIOS (the Linux Desktop Initiation Operating System), the Official K-Ninja Forum also moved to the LDIOS site, which has not functioned since Nov. 29, 2005. Mark has not been available to maintain the project.

On June 29th, 2005, "TransitMan" updated the K-Ninja rendering engine to Gecko 1.7.9 beta, and since March 12th, 2006, "Al." (a former K-Meleon dev) updated it further and began to maintain it on a new homepage as K-Ninja Samurai v1.x, with the v1.7.13 Gecko engine. On October 27th, 2007 he released K-Ninja v2.1.4.5, using the rendering engine of Seamonkey v1.1.5 (currently rv: 1.8.1.8). Current K-Ninja development has been scaled down by Al. because of personal commitments and also as he began using Ubuntu. Further updates only occurred when new GREs were released, which ensured browser security.

The last couple of K-Ninja releases were done privately as a service to existing K-Ninja users reluctant to switch to another browser. The last release was K-Ninja v2.2.1 (codenamed Cydonia based on Gecko v1.8.1.12). An experimental version using the older Gecko v1.8.0.14pre rendering engine was also developed during this period, it being called "Orbital".

On March 12th, 2008, K-Ninja development was wrapped up by Al.

References

See also

External links

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