One of the differences I noticed between Opera and Firefox or Konqueror is how fast it scrolls web pages containing Flash content, and not only those. Scrolling does not lag behind how it lags on pages like Digg.com with Konqueror 3.5.9 or YouTube with Firefox. At this chapter at least, Opera is way more fast, browsing and scrolling giving a real speed and a smooth impression over other browsers.
The interface didn't change much since the last stable release, 9.52. It's still black and in my opinion it looks just awesome. Opera is built in Qt 3.3.8b, the commercial edition.
The search bar
Opera's rendering engine, Presto, performs very well displaying fast and pretty accurate any web page I tested.
Among the new features this release comes are several improvements in Opera Link, which is a service which lets you synchronise bookmarks, speed dial, notes and other data from Opera with other computers or mobile phones. Version 9.60 also comes with several changes at the Opera Mail client, like the feed preview, which allows you to preview the RSS/Atom feed before you subscribe to it, or the low-bandwidth mode, for both IMAP and POP protocols.
Another new feature is the so-called 'Opera Scroll Marker', which if enabled, will show a scroll marker when you reach the end of a page to show you where to start to read. That is, from where you scrolled last time until you reached the end of the page. Below is a screenshot of how the scroll marker looks like:
The full changelog for the 9.60 release is available here.
One of the characteristics of Opera is that it handles everything in tabs: bookmarks, widgets, downloads, the about information, for each of them a new tab is opened. I find this very handy, fast and more useful than a new window which will steal focus from the primary browser window.
Taking a look at the new Google Chrome, which, although open-source, has yet to arrive natively on Linux, I think the big three for Linux still are Firefox, Konqueror and Opera.
The preferences editor can be opened typing opera:config in the address bar, and the tab which appears somewhat resembles the settings from the about:config variables in Firefox.
Preferences - the Browsing tab
Opera has another advantage over Firefox: it allows you to customise shortcuts via the Preferences dialogue, so you can change several shortcuts which do not work in your desktop environment (Ctrl + Tab in KDE 3.5.x for example).
Opera IRC client
Some great features Opera comes with are also: IRC and BitTorrent client, Widgets - which are great add-ons for making Opera look nicer and also show various information, and the already classic, well-known 'speed dial', which will allow you to preview in a single tab several web pages (depending on how you configure it, default is 9), from which you can enter the desired website.
Opera Speed Dial
Analog Clock widget on the desktop
Although I thought this would be an awesome release, the major problem with Opera are crashes. It crashed when I right-clicked the personal bar, then Show Searches -> Google, and it also crashed when I started the IRC the client for the first time without filling up any account data. I ran Opera in KDE 3.5.9, on Debian Lenny.
As always, Opera does a great job, putting up a pretty solid, fully-featured and powerful web browser, with great support for the Linux users. Although I'm an advocate for open-source, I really think this shiny new release deserves a top place among the Linux web browsers.