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Focus on your social network with the Flock browser

Vincent Danen reviews the new Flock Web browser, based on the Gecko engine. Flock, still in beta, focuses on social networking features and includes tools for easier photo sharing and its own RSS reader.

A number of different Web browsers are available for Linux with mildly differing features. The number one browser, of course, is Mozilla Firefox. Other Gecko engine-based browsers are Epiphany and Galeon. And then there is the KHTML-based browser, Konqueror.

Another addition to the available browser choices is Flock, which is also based on the Gecko engine. The difference between Flock and Firefox is that whereas Firefox tries to be a mainstream browser for all users, Flock's primary focus is on the "social web" and its features reflect this.

Flock provides support for a number of social networking experiences. It's currently in beta, but already the feature-set is unique and promising. The first and probably strongest feature in Flock is the Flickr and PhotoBucket picture-sharing support. Flock makes it easy to upload pictures to your Flickr account by simply performing drag-and-drop operations or using the batch photo uploader. There is also support for updated picture notification; you can maintain a Friends list of others who use Flickr or PhotoBucket and be notified when their pictures have been updated.

Another feature is RSS aggregation. With Flock, you have a built-in RSS reader that can be used to preview, subscribe, and receive updates on various RSS feeds from technical sites to news sites to a friend's blog.

Flock also takes on a new approach to searching. When you type a search term, Flock returns results from your bookmarks, your browsing history, and live results using the Yahoo search engine (Flock is partnered with Yahoo for a number of different social services). The unique thing here is that Flock contains a built-in search engine that indexes the content of every Web page visited. It also provides a listing of alternate search engines.

Finally, Flock has extensive support to ease the posting of blog entries, provided you are using a supported blogging system such as Blogger, Drupal, and WordPress, among others.

Flock is still in beta, but shows a lot of promise, particularly if one of your uses of the Web is social. Most Linux distributions do not ship with Flock yet, but downloading and installing from the Web site is quite straightforward (no compiling required).

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About

Vincent Danen works on the Red Hat Security Response Team and lives in Canada. He has been writing about and developing on Linux for over 10 years and is a veteran Mac user.

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