Gmail and browser discrimination
June 4th 2008

Due to Iceweasel (Firefox) being so slow on my machine, I switched to Konqueror, which is reasonably fast and full of features, but nowhere as good as Iceweasel, I must say. However, IW is unbearable, so I'm waiting for FF 3.0 to use IW again.

I use an e-mail client to read my e-mail over IMAP, my main account being a Gmail one. However, I sometimes visit the Gmail site, for example to set it to fetch e-mail from some other accounts. I had always done it with IW, and everything worked fine, but now with Konqueror it doesn't.

With Konqueror I get the message:

and some features are missing (specifically, the option set how to fetch e-mail from other accounts, and some others).

I could understand it if Konqueror were missing some functionality/plugin that IW has and Gmail requires. But it is not the case. I can tell Konqueror to identify itself as Firefox, and THEN the Gmail page shows up correctly, so obviously it's not due to Konqueror's limitations. It sounds like a case of sloppy programming from the guys at Google, with something like:

if browser is one of 'IE', 'Firefox', 'Safari':
  show this page
else:
  show dumbed down page

After years of discrimination to non-IE users, and a tremendous fight to make webmasters produce standards-compliant sites, instead of specific browser-compliant ones, we still have to suffer this shit. And from Google, the "don't be evil" guys, supporters of free software and all that BS.

By the way, this issue is known, and mentioned, for example, in the Wikipedia page for Gmail.

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5 Comments »

5 Responses to “Gmail and browser discrimination”

  1. Julen on 11 Jun 2008 at 11:16 am #

    come on!!
    Happy Birthday Iñaki!!
    Zorionak!

    Julen

  2. isilanes on 11 Jun 2008 at 11:45 am #

    Mila esker, Julen.

    Ikusten det oraindik ez dezula lortu URL bat linkatzea zure izenari... mangarrán!

  3. Super Jamie on 19 Jun 2008 at 8:01 am #

    Try Swiftfox! - http://www.getswiftfox.com/ - it's a processor-optimized version of Firefox, with a few other preference-based speedups. I've found it to be a fair bit faster than Firefox.

    Although, it is compiled without Firefox' inbuilt font rendering, some pages tend to look awful if they have big, unhinted, fonts. This wasn't a problem for me under Debian (admittedly because all the fonts look crap), but is under Ubuntu.

    If you're interested in an unencumbered version, Firefox is to Iceweasel as Swiftfox is to Swiftweasel - http://swiftweasel.tuxfamily.org/

  4. isilanes on 19 Jun 2008 at 11:44 am #

    Thanks, Super Jamie. I am making the switch to Iceweasel 3 (Firefox 3) anyway, which made its way to Debian Sid already (I'm running Debian Lenny, but hand-picked IW3 from Sid). IW3 is as fast as Konqueror, and as full of features as FF2, so I will probably not use Konqueror much more.

    Anyway, your (or my) solution is not the "correct" one. I do not want to be able to use Gmail somehow (and change my browser). I want the SOBs at Mountain View to support ALL browsers that conform to the standards, period.

  5. Super Jamie on 20 Jun 2008 at 0:10 am #

    FF/IW 3 is great hey :) I've been using the RCs for a while now, I love the "awesomebar" so much that using a "normal" browser is quite strange to me. Swiftfox/weasel are also in version 3, definitely RC1 if not 3.0 final by now.

    I've never played around much with Konquerer, and the only other Webkit browser (Midori) I've used has been really unstable. However, just saying "standards" is often not a definitive guideline for software writers to follow. Have a read of this post on Joel On Software, which explains why we have so many different browsers which do things differently, it's a bit of an eye opener!
    http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2008/03/17.html

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