Netscape Communicator 4.0.8
Ancient SCO Unix article left here for historical reference only.
I've been ignoring Netscape upgrades for a while. It's not that
I was overly happy with the Netscape Navigator that I have been
using; it's just that access to the net is critically important,
and I didn't want to screw myself up by jumping too quickly.
Of course, I do have other machines I could have tested on, but
then again, I already knew that Communicator was buggy: the
newsgroups were full of messages telling me that. So I just ignored
But now we have 4.0.8 available from SCO as a free upgrade. I
decided I had waited long enough, that any remaining bugs weren't
going to cripple me, so I downloaded it from the pre-release
section of SCO'sdownloads site.
Of course there are bugs. The release notes list a few, and
there are a few more that I stumbled into. the bugs are more in the
annoyance category than serious, and there are enough added
features to make it worthwhile putting up with them. First, some
bugs I noticed that weren't mentioned in the release notes:
When searching newsgroups, I have had no success: the search
always fails with an NNTP error (unfortunately, it is not specific:
simply "command unrecognized").
If I have Collabra Discussions (Newsgroups) checked for opening
at startup, this sometimes causes a hang. It's easy to stop it;
either kill the netscape process or ALT-F4 to close the hanging
window that's stuck behind the Navigator window. Or (my choice)
just don't start Collabra by default.
I haven't figured out what triggers this, but a couple of times
the menus have become unusable: any attempt to slide into a
sub-menu with the mouse immediately triggers the first item on the
sub-menu. The only fix I've found is to exit Netscape, and since I
don't know what caused it, I don't know how to avoid it.
When I installed this, the installation did pick up all my
defaults and preferences from the previous Navigator. However,
although it saw the newsgroups I was subscribed to, it didn't seem
to recognize which articles were read and unread until I let it
write its own data to the .newsrc file. It actually treated all
articles as unread. I let it load a few, then closed out, edited
.newsrc by hand, and on coming back up, everything worked
correctly. Someone else reported a similar problem: most of their
.newsrc worked fine, but one group (which happened to be
comp.unix.sco.misc) wouldn't open (or would open and immediately
close). This also was solved by removing the .newsrc entirely and
letting Communicator recreate it.
Like it's predecessors, Communicator on the SCO desktop doesn't
change its icon when launched. Since this version starts even more
slowly than the previous, that is even more annoying. Fortunately,
the solution remains the same: see /Unixart/gui.html
The lack of features in Navigator often caused me to revert to
other tools. For example, if I wanted to search the body of all my
mail folders, I'd have to use grep. The newsgroup reading didn't
support threading, and that often drove me back to Tin. Probably
the most annoying lack was no filters.
All that has changed with Communicator.
Communicator lets you create sub-folders, which allows me to
organize my mail much more sensibly. A feature I'd like (but it
isn't there) is to be able to indicate where to store a copy of
messages I send. There is a global setting (as there was in the
previous release), but it is cumbersome to change that for every
Communicator now truly threads, can mark threads to be "watched"
(which means that you can easily see just those threads you are
interested in), you can kill threads and more. It also
automatically advances the header window as you reach the end of it
(that was an annoyance in Navigator). I suppose there are still
times I'd rather use Tin, but this is pretty good as it is.
The handling of large menus (like bookmarks) is much improved.
However, this is also the place where Communicator sometimes loses
its mind, or at least the mouse part of its mind.
Although I haven't been able to make Newsgroup searches work at
all, the searching within mailbox files has worked beautifully.
There is complete control over what you are searching (sender,
subject, body, cc, priority, date, and more), multiple criteria can
be entered, and you can search sub-folders or everything at the
Having filters is probably the most appreciated addition.
Filters can move incoming mail into appropriate folders, can mark
individual news messages or entire threads as read, all based on
the same sort of criteria you would use in searching. This lets me
subscribe to mailing lists that generate a lot of mail without
having that mail clutter up my inbox, which might cause me to miss
other, more important messages. An appropriate filter automatically
moves the mail to its own folder where I can examine it at my
The final addition, the HTML editor, was available in the Gold
edition previously. I prefer to edit HTM with vi so I really have
nothing to say about this.
Some other people have pointed out that some Java pages will
cause this version to lock up solid. It's true, though fortunately
that hasn't happened to me on the Java pages I really need.
There are some small design issues that annoy me. I suppose
there is no sense fussing about the fact that HTML is used by
default for composing. Fortunately it is easy enough to shut it
off. I also don't like the close relationship between mail and
newsgroups. This annoys me most when I am reading news, and want to
move to another newsgroup, and get presented with my entire list of
mail folders. If I wanted to read mail, I'd switch to the Messenger
I find that I have to close out of a newsgroup, collapse the
news server window, and re-open it before I can convince
Communicator that there might be new postings out there.
The Navigator choice always opens up a new window. The windows
you have open are shown at the bottom, but they used to be ordered
as you had last visited them; now they are just there in the order
you opened them.
I don't like indicating attachments with a little paperclip
"Show Attachments" icon; I suppose I'll get used to it, but for now
I find it very easy to miss that entirely.
Bruce Baumman had some comments:
From: QC Computer <[email protected]>
Date: Mon Dec 16, 2002 2:19:54 AM US/Eastern
To: Tony Lawrence <[email protected]>
Subject: Netscape 4.7 Address Book (Little extra bit)
Reply-To: [email protected]
How's Things ?
I recently read your review page on Netscape 4.7 on openserver. I went
through and fixed all my problems that had been detailed on your page.
Very good... 100% ... ;-)
An extra small thing I noticed when fixing the address book. After I did
the mod on the preferences file and re-opened netscape / address book, I
seemed to have an entry that had no data but displayed "Name" in the
name column and "email" in the email column. When I listed the
properties for this netscape crashed.
I tried to delete it but not successful. Also strange things like blank
entries appeared letting me select things that did not exist.
I think this is because I tried to enter data in the address book before
fixing the original problem.
Anyway to fix this all I did is DELETE all the address book folders
including the "Personal Addresses" and re-create them. All seems to work
This may be worth a mention in case someone decides to start adding in
lots of entries in address book and finding problems later.
I don't know if exporting and importing will fix this as it could be
rubbish data in the file. I suppose you could export and sift through
the records until you find the suspect ones.
Probably a good idea to export address books before fixing the bug just
Before fixing the bug you could still add records to your address book
but not edit them, some people may have done this (like me ... ;-)
Merry Christmas ... :-)
Queensland Communications Pty Ltd
MAIL: PO Box 1392, Eagle Farm QLD 4009, Australia
PHONE: +617 3868 2200
FAX: +617 3868 2200
EMAIL: [email protected]
© January 1999 Anthony Lawrence. All rights
If this page was useful to you, please help others find it:
More Articles by Anthony Lawrence
- Find me on Google+
Have you tried Searching this site?
Unix/Linux/Mac OS X support by phone, email or on-site:
This is a Unix/Linux resource website. It contains technical articles about Unix, Linux and general computing related subjects, opinion, news, help files, how-to's, tutorials and more. We appreciate comments and article submissions.
Publishing your articles here
Jump to Comments
Many of the products and books I review are things I purchased for my own use. Some were given to me specifically for the purpose of reviewing them. I resell or can earn commissions from the sale of some of these items. Links within these pages may be affiliate links that pay me for referring you to them. That's mostly insignificant amounts of money; whenever it is not I have made my relationship plain. I also may own stock in companies mentioned here. If you have any question, please do feel free to contact me.
I am a Kerio reseller. Articles here related to Kerio products reflect my honest opinion, but I do have an obvious interest in selling those products also.
Specific links that take you to pages that allow you to purchase the item I reviewed are very likely to pay me a commission. Many of the books I review were given to me by the publishers specifically for the purpose of writing a review. These gifts and referral fees do not affect my opinions; I often give bad reviews anyway.
We use Google third-party advertising companies to serve ads when you visit our website. These companies may use information (not including your name, address, email address, or telephone number) about your visits to this and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like more information about this practice and to know your choices about not having this information used by these companies, click here.