Seamonkey review: Firefox’s lightweight hyper-functional cousin

I admit it, Seamonkey definitely isn't the lightest weight browser-- far from it. But for the crazy amount of functionality it provides, this is as lightweight as it gets!


Seamonkey has an interesting history, in that it is both older and younger than Firefox. Older, because originally it was built from Mozilla Suite code (for those of you that don’t know, Mozilla Application Suite is the parent of Firefox, and was originally built from the code of Netscape Navigator which was open-sourced in 1998).

Seamonkey is also younger than Firefox in that Seamonkey’s first version, 1.0, was not released until 2006, 2 years after Firefox 1.0. Quite a few people are not even aware of the existence of Seamonkey or the Mozilla Suite, thinking that Firefox was the successor to Netscape Navigator, created deliberately to enact their vendetta against Microsoft for their monopolistic practices that killed Netscape. But glorious fantasies aside, Mozilla Application Suite was the real successor.

So you might wonder why Firefox might have been been created in the first place? Why not build on the existing functionality of their existing code. Well, one thing that they learned from Microsoft’s hostile takeover, is that the average user doesn’t like a lot of functionality, as that just confuses them.

Netscape Navigator was far more functional than Internet Explorer, and the Mozilla Suite failed to take off for the same reason. So the Mozilla developers started taking functionality out, deciding to focus on optimizing their new browser, Mozilla Firefox, for the one thing it was really intended to do: straight-up web browsing. Then they made prettier, simplified the interface, and voila! Now Internet Explorer had a web browser competitor to be reckoned with!

  • JohnnyGnote

    Thanks very much! I’ve been wondering about Seamonkey for some time. This is a very clear and informative review on the subject. I use Linux Mint as well as Centos, Manjaro, KXStudio and Windows 7 and I just get tired of Firefox being the only functional browser for Linux although others would argue for Chrome. Anyhow thanks for this you’ve helped me to decide to try it out.

    • Does it, like Firefox and unlike Chrome, require manual update checks for plugins and addons, even the browser itself?

  • madethatway

    “…. the average user doesn’t like a lot of functionality, as that just confuses them”.

    I take issue with that rather blatantly sweeping generalization designed to paint users as dumb and incapable.

    It’s not that users ‘don’t like a lot of functionality’ – and here’s where Mozilla is heading down the same hated road as google.

    What users DON’T want (and if any of these idiots were paying attention, they’d acknowledge the fact) is not being consulted before unnecessary changes are made.

    What users DON’T want is having nasty little surprises forced upon them and then having prior options to return to former functionality, removed.

    What users DON’T want is being ‘forced’ into using changes they don’t need, like or want simply because some little nerd living in his mother’s basement has an ego to masturbate.

    Until (and if) Mozilla wakes up and stops copying the Google dictatorship mentality, then it will continue to lose it’s user base – and not to Google, either, but to anyone BUT Mozilla and Google.

    Users are tired of being screwed around.

    • Alex R

      Now tell us how you ‘really’ feel. 😉

      • madethatway

        lol…Sorry. I do get a little hot under the bra strap over this issue…

  • My first browser was Netscape Navigator 3 Gold. I used it to build my own homepage before i even had internet at home. Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 came standard and had exclusive features like glowing text. Netscape 4 and 5 were too unstable and ugly by comparison. Opera was not free and did too much, then became a limited Chromium imitation. Mozilla Suite Browser finally surpassed IE4 with standard features, then Firefox surpassed SeaMonkey with autoscroll and other nice stuff, then Chrome won with speed, looks, and stability (but compared to Firefox it’s super slow at restoring a session).