ⓘ K-Meleon


ⓘ K-Meleon

K-Meleon is an open-source web browser for Microsoft Windows. Based on the same Gecko layout engine as Mozilla Firefox and SeaMonkey, K-Meleons design goal is to provide a fast and reliable web browser while providing a highly customizable interface and using system resources efficiently. It is released under the GNU General Public License.


1. Development and specifications

K-Meleon uses the native Windows application programming interface API to create its user interface instead of Mozillas cross-platform XML User Interface Language 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. Omitting XUL makes K-Meleon less resource-intensive than other Gecko-based browsers on Windows.

The first version, K-Meleon 0.1, was originally written by Christophe Thibault and released to the public on August 21, 2000. A flurry of development happened until 2003 when a number of developers stopped working on it. Dorian Boissonnade eventually took over as the primary developer of the project, and continues to maintain the project to date.

After many major release versions from 0.1 to 0.9.x, K-Meleon 1.0 introduced major modifications. 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 Mozilla Firefox and SeaMonkey. This update to the layout engine brought significant improvements to security and usability, including support for favicons and multi-user environments. Some themes and macros from version 0.9 were still compatible with 1.0, although the macro system was updated.

The macro system was updated further in K-Meleon 1.1, which was based on the Gecko 1.8.1 rendering engine that was used in Mozilla Firefox 2.0 and SeaMonkey 1.1.

A true tabbed interface was introduced in version 1.5. Prior to this update, multiple web pages were only accessible within the same browser window using the included but optional "layers" plugin, which enabled a toolbar containing buttons representing each open page in a way that functionally mimicked tabbed browsing in every way other than appearance. These open pages were called "layers" instead of tabs.

In 2010, K-Meleon was one of the twelve browsers offered to European Economic Area users of Microsoft Windows.

As of 2012, the project was incorrectly reported as being on indefinite hold, presumably due to the fact that Mozilla stopped providing an embeddable version of the Gecko engine. This has since been clarified, as development continued.

In late 2013, the K-Meleon group began developing new versions based on Mozillas XULRunner 24 runtime environment in place of the discontinued Gecko Runtime Environment. K-Meleon 74 was the first stable release to use updated versions of this environment.

K-Meleon 75 was released in mid-2015 with a Mozilla 31 backend, new skin and toolbar implementation, spellcheck, and form autocompletion.

K-Meleon 77 planned for release in 2019 with a Mozilla 52 backend, new Goanna engine and some additional features.


2. Unofficial versions

In the absence of new releases from the core team since December 2016, two unofficial versions have been developed that integrate bug fixes and other updates and enhancements, K-Meleon Pro and K-Meleon on Goanna, with the latter being updated on a regular basis and representing a major shift from the previous Gecko layout engine.


3. Customization

K-Meleon has a highly flexible interface design. All the menus and toolbar buttons can be customized using text-format configuration files. This feature is useful in environments where the browser must be customized for general public use, such as in a public library or Internet cafe. Although individual toolbars can be repositioned, users must edit toolbar configuration files to make any changes to button layouts as there is no graphical user interface GUI to customize them.

The use of the native Windows interface means that K-Meleon does not support Mozilla-formatted browser 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 using Lim Chee Auns Phoenity by default, 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.

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