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Using Netscape 9 in 2022


cmccaff1
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To anyone who sees this, hello!
Originally, I wasn't planning to make a thread about this...for most people it won't serve much of a purpose, but some of you may find this to be interesting.
Actually, I only intended to share this information as comments on a couple of YouTube videos, but it was a real PITA because the comments wouldn't stay up.
I tried everything I could, including rewriting or even removing links, but nothing worked.
Of course, I don't want this information to go to waste, so for the few who are hopefully somewhat interested, here you go.

While Netscape 9 is a very outdated browser by today's standards (which is to be expected for something that came out when Bush Jr. was still President, and I was still in high school), it is still one of the best options available for 9x/ME (and a good option for newer OSes if you want a lightweight browser that loads fast and works well).
Because it was designed with 9x/ME in mind, you don't need KernelEx to run it, and because of its lightweight Gecko 1.8.1 browser core it runs very well on older PCs (and lightning-fast on modern ones).
Though it shares many similarities with Firefox 2, there are some differences, and a good example is the Options menu (which offers a deeper range of options compared to Firefox 2's Options menu).
It has a notable place in history as the final version of the legendary Netscape browser that was at one time the most popular browser in the world, and as such has better compatibility with the modern Internet than any version preceding it.
For the pages it can still render, and for as much of the modern Internet as it can still work with, it is much faster than any modern browser.
(Just so people know, I use much more modern browsers under XP on a daily basis, but I still find it fun to experiment with older browsers.)

Most people will dismiss Netscape 9 as a relic and a product of a bygone time, which is understandable.
But in spite of its age, this old browser still has some life left in it, and I'll share with you what I've learned that can help you get the most out of it in 2022.

Back in 2020, @roytam1 was kind enough to release an NSS update for Netscape 9, which you can download from the following link:
http://o.rthost.win/gpc/files1.rt/ns9-nss-update.7z

If you save this file to the same folder where the Netscape browser files are (for example, C:/Program Files/Netscape/Navigator 9), extract the contents using 7-Zip and overwrite the existing files in the folder, you will have full TLS 1.2 support, which 'unlocks' many websites that will not load under normal circumstances.
This update should work with all versions of Netscape 9, but of course 9.0.0.6 (released in Feb. '08) is recommended as it's the final version.
From what I understand, due to compiler-related limitations, TLS 1.3 is not possible for any Gecko 1.8.1-based browser without using some sort of proxy, or other forms of ingenuity.
However, fully working TLS 1.2 is still quite good for any browser of that time period, and many sites should still load with little to no issues.

68k.news, FrogFind.com, and TheOldNet.com are GODSENDS for old browsers like Netscape 9, and should work well on most if not all older versions of Netscape as well, with varying levels of usability depending on the age of the particular version.
Communicator 4.8, for example, will have problems with more sites than Netscape 9, but considering the first 4.x release came out in 1997, that goes without saying.
Even in 2008, when Netscape 9 saw its final update, 4.x was already a relic...even then, it could not render many then-modern sites correctly.
If anyone knows of any other sites like 68k.news, FrogFind.com, and TheOldNet.com, please feel free to share what you know...anything that makes the modern Internet more accessible on older browsers is absolutely appreciated.

Though the Netscape name has not been attached to a browser since 2008, it is still associated with Netscape ISP, a dial-up Internet service.
The Netscape ISP homepage can still be reached at https://isp.netscape.com/ and not only does it continue to get daily news updates to this day, much of the site's design is still Netscape 9-compatible!
Some of the links on the left-hand side now redirect to AOL or other websites, but based on the testing I've done I can confirm that all of the news article links on the homepage work, and of the links in the Channels section, "Entertainment", "Gadgets & Tech", "Money & Business", "News", "Sports", and "Weather" all adhere to the old-style layout and work fine.

Now, for the biggest surprise I've found: using CloudTube, Netscape 9 can actually be used with Flash Player to view YouTube videos.
Several months ago, support was added for Netscape 9, and thanks to Goker Cebeci's embedded open-source f4player the ability to view YouTube videos through Flash Player was miraculously restored.
Based on my testing, Flash 7 and 8 do not work.
Flash 9 is the first version that displays the player properly, so Flash 9 seems to be the minimum Flash version compatible with f4player, but 9.0.47.0 did not seem to load any videos when I tried it. However, 9.0.289.0 (the last Flash 9 update) does, and works perfectly fine in 360p.
The combination of Netscape 9/Flash 9.0.289.0 means that watching YouTube with Flash Player is possible online in 2022 without KernelEx (i.e., in vanilla 98/ME)!
I have yet to test this myself, but by using a Netscape 9 user agent, other browsers could potentially be 'tricked' into using Flash instead of HTML5 on CloudTube, which could make a difference on under-powered older PCs that may have difficulty running the HTML5 player well.
Here is a link to the CloudTube website: https://tube.cadence.moe/
The sourcehut page for the CloudTube project: https://git.sr.ht/~cadence/cloudtube
Specific info on added Netscape 9 support: https://git.sr.ht/~cadence/cloudtube/commit/9babaccd3b92105f6c48a9479febf9e202b3193b

This is getting long, so I'll start wrapping it up here.
Netscape 9, like the other Gecko 1.8.1-based browsers, is definitely showing its age in 2022, but with some patience and a desire to experiment, still has some life left in it!
For the things it can still do, it does them extremely well...as a product of a time when the Internet wasn't bogged down by heavy JavaScript and bloated HTML5 code, and a time when processors weren't as fast as they are now to make the bloated, heavy code harder to notice while browsing, it loads up nice and fast, doesn't have any unnecessary bells & whistles, and still works admirably for simple, basic browsing.
It helps if you go into the Options menu and carefully tweak everything to your liking (turning off JavaScript goes a long way towards speed and security, especially on old browsers like this), but with effort and a desire to experiment, there's almost no limit to the possibilities.
These old browsers were built for speed in a way modern browsers aren't. As long as possible, they deserve to still be useful for something.

I hope this helps someone! Best wishes to everyone here at MSFN (and apologies for this big wall of text)!

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I still use it for very light browsing and certain old school websites. As well as downloading some drivers for Win 9x. But I never use it for serious browsing, internet banking and/or sensitive data.

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7 hours ago, cmccaff1 said:

To anyone who sees this, hello!
Originally, I wasn't planning to make a thread about this...for most people it won't serve much of a purpose, but some of you may find this to be interesting.
Actually, I only intended to share this information as comments on a couple of YouTube videos, but it was a real PITA because the comments wouldn't stay up.
I tried everything I could, including rewriting or even removing links, but nothing worked.
Of course, I don't want this information to go to waste, so for the few who are hopefully somewhat interested, here you go.

While Netscape 9 is a very outdated browser by today's standards (which is to be expected for something that came out when Bush Jr. was still President, and I was still in high school), it is still one of the best options available for 9x/ME (and a good option for newer OSes if you want a lightweight browser that loads fast and works well).
Because it was designed with 9x/ME in mind, you don't need KernelEx to run it, and because of its lightweight Gecko 1.8.1 browser core it runs very well on older PCs (and lightning-fast on modern ones).
Though it shares many similarities with Firefox 2, there are some differences, and a good example is the Options menu (which offers a deeper range of options compared to Firefox 2's Options menu).
It has a notable place in history as the final version of the legendary Netscape browser that was at one time the most popular browser in the world, and as such has better compatibility with the modern Internet than any version preceding it.
For the pages it can still render, and for as much of the modern Internet as it can still work with, it is much faster than any modern browser.
(Just so people know, I use much more modern browsers under XP on a daily basis, but I still find it fun to experiment with older browsers.)

Most people will dismiss Netscape 9 as a relic and a product of a bygone time, which is understandable.
But in spite of its age, this old browser still has some life left in it, and I'll share with you what I've learned that can help you get the most out of it in 2022.

Back in 2020, @roytam1 was kind enough to release an NSS update for Netscape 9, which you can download from the following link:
http://o.rthost.win/gpc/files1.rt/ns9-nss-update.7z

If you save this file to the same folder where the Netscape browser files are (for example, C:/Program Files/Netscape/Navigator 9), extract the contents using 7-Zip and overwrite the existing files in the folder, you will have full TLS 1.2 support, which 'unlocks' many websites that will not load under normal circumstances.
This update should work with all versions of Netscape 9, but of course 9.0.0.6 (released in Feb. '08) is recommended as it's the final version.
From what I understand, due to compiler-related limitations, TLS 1.3 is not possible for any Gecko 1.8.1-based browser without using some sort of proxy, or other forms of ingenuity.
However, fully working TLS 1.2 is still quite good for any browser of that time period, and many sites should still load with little to no issues.

68k.news, FrogFind.com, and TheOldNet.com are GODSENDS for old browsers like Netscape 9, and should work well on most if not all older versions of Netscape as well, with varying levels of usability depending on the age of the particular version.
Communicator 4.8, for example, will have problems with more sites than Netscape 9, but considering the first 4.x release came out in 1997, that goes without saying.
Even in 2008, when Netscape 9 saw its final update, 4.x was already a relic...even then, it could not render many then-modern sites correctly.
If anyone knows of any other sites like 68k.news, FrogFind.com, and TheOldNet.com, please feel free to share what you know...anything that makes the modern Internet more accessible on older browsers is absolutely appreciated.

Though the Netscape name has not been attached to a browser since 2008, it is still associated with Netscape ISP, a dial-up Internet service.
The Netscape ISP homepage can still be reached at https://isp.netscape.com/ and not only does it continue to get daily news updates to this day, much of the site's design is still Netscape 9-compatible!
Some of the links on the left-hand side now redirect to AOL or other websites, but based on the testing I've done I can confirm that all of the news article links on the homepage work, and of the links in the Channels section, "Entertainment", "Gadgets & Tech", "Money & Business", "News", "Sports", and "Weather" all adhere to the old-style layout and work fine.

Now, for the biggest surprise I've found: using CloudTube, Netscape 9 can actually be used with Flash Player to view YouTube videos.
Several months ago, support was added for Netscape 9, and thanks to Goker Cebeci's embedded open-source f4player the ability to view YouTube videos through Flash Player was miraculously restored.
Based on my testing, Flash 7 and 8 do not work.
Flash 9 is the first version that displays the player properly, so Flash 9 seems to be the minimum Flash version compatible with f4player, but 9.0.47.0 did not seem to load any videos when I tried it. However, 9.0.289.0 (the last Flash 9 update) does, and works perfectly fine in 360p.
The combination of Netscape 9/Flash 9.0.289.0 means that watching YouTube with Flash Player is possible online in 2022 without KernelEx (i.e., in vanilla 98/ME)!
I have yet to test this myself, but by using a Netscape 9 user agent, other browsers could potentially be 'tricked' into using Flash instead of HTML5 on CloudTube, which could make a difference on under-powered older PCs that may have difficulty running the HTML5 player well.
Here is a link to the CloudTube website: https://tube.cadence.moe/
The sourcehut page for the CloudTube project: https://git.sr.ht/~cadence/cloudtube
Specific info on added Netscape 9 support: https://git.sr.ht/~cadence/cloudtube/commit/9babaccd3b92105f6c48a9479febf9e202b3193b

This is getting long, so I'll start wrapping it up here.
Netscape 9, like the other Gecko 1.8.1-based browsers, is definitely showing its age in 2022, but with some patience and a desire to experiment, still has some life left in it!
For the things it can still do, it does them extremely well...as a product of a time when the Internet wasn't bogged down by heavy JavaScript and bloated HTML5 code, and a time when processors weren't as fast as they are now to make the bloated, heavy code harder to notice while browsing, it loads up nice and fast, doesn't have any unnecessary bells & whistles, and still works admirably for simple, basic browsing.
It helps if you go into the Options menu and carefully tweak everything to your liking (turning off JavaScript goes a long way towards speed and security, especially on old browsers like this), but with effort and a desire to experiment, there's almost no limit to the possibilities.
These old browsers were built for speed in a way modern browsers aren't. As long as possible, they deserve to still be useful for something.

I hope this helps someone! Best wishes to everyone here at MSFN (and apologies for this big wall of text)!

Testing a Netscape Navigator 9 user agent on Chrome 86 seems to just load the HTML 5 player. I think it tries HTML 5 first and if that does not work it tries Flash.

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1 hour ago, Bruninho said:

I still use it for very light browsing and certain old school websites. As well as downloading some drivers for Win 9x. But I never use it for serious browsing, internet banking and/or sensitive data.

I wouldn't try to use it for serious browsing myself. I definitely don't recommend Netscape 9 or any other Gecko 1.8.1-based browser as a primary browser if you have better options, but it's good to keep around if you want to read the news, look things up on Wikipedia, download files from trusted sources, or check out old-school websites. A lot of banking sites, and other sites that work with sensitive data, will fail on it anyway due to the age of the Gecko 1.8.1 core. Fourteen years ago it wouldn't have been a problem, but a lot has changed since then (to say the absolute least).

I was hesitant to even make a thread about this, because it's not like most of this stuff is breaking news...a lot of people already know about 68k.news, FrogFind.com, and TheOldNet.com. However, not as many people may know about Roy's NSS (TLS 1.2) update for Netscape 9, or the Netscape ISP homepage still being available and getting news updates (while still having an NS9-compatible layout).

What really stunned me was support for Netscape 9 being added to CloudTube, and the fact that the Flash Player actually works on it for viewing YouTube videos. This is clearly an update that fell under the radar and slipped through the cracks; the fact that Netscape 9 and Flash 9+ is even an option for watching YouTube videos in 2022 blows my mind. If it hadn't been for that, I probably would not have posted here at all. This is the first time in at least half a decade that I've been able to view YouTube videos through Flash in a browser, a feature that should never have been deprecated in the first place, and while I hope support for more old browsers will be targeted in the future, this is a very good start. Perhaps if people reach out to Cadence, other old browsers may get the Flash option.

33 minutes ago, xpandvistafan said:

Testing a Netscape Navigator 9 user agent on Chrome 86 seems to just load the HTML 5 player. I think it tries HTML 5 first and if that does not work it tries Flash.

I'm not sure if there are any features in CloudTube itself that allow it to sniff user agents, or override a faked user agent to use the real one, or analyze a browser's rendering capabilities to determine whether it is capable of using the HTML5 player or would need to use Flash instead. More testing may need to be done...and of course, reaching out to Cadence may help. I'm grateful that Netscape 9 and Flash support was even added, because I would not have expected in a million years that it would even be an option, no less a reality.

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HTML5 capable browsers naturally don't process embedded Flash elements inside a video tag, even if the video in that tag fails to play. For CloudTube, a script like below takes the embedded Flash element, removes video element and puts embedded Flash element in its place. There's no error checking, if layout is changed in a specific way, it'll break.

// ==UserScript==
// @name        CloudTube - force Flash Player
// @namespace   https://github.com/UCyborg
// @version     1.0
// @description Removes video element from CloudTube to allow HTML5 capable browser to pickup on embedded Flash video player.
// @author      UCyborg
// @match       https://tube.cadence.moe/watch?v=*
// @grant       none
// ==/UserScript==

"use strict";

(function() {
  // quality selector isn't programmed to have an effect on Flash player
  document.getElementById("quality-select").disabled = true;

  const f = document.getElementById("f4Player");
  document.getElementById("video").remove();
  document.getElementsByClassName("video-container").item(0).appendChild(f);
})();

I don't remember ever checking GPU stats when Flash was still used on YouTube. Were videos actually decoded on the GPU then if supported by the host environment? I've read someone here saying they were. They seem to be always decoded on the CPU in the Flash player here. This seems to be because f4Player is coded to only use flash.media.Video class while HW accelerated decoding is provided by flash.media.StageVideo class. Also 60 FPS playback might have worked under specific circumstances. I found a hint that it supposedly worked in Flash version 11.5, but not 12.0.

Either way, thanks for pointing out CloudTube, @cmccaff1. This alternative frontend is actually usable for watching videos in the browser on slower computers. Even if you have decent, but not too recent computer and want to watch higher definition / frame rate videos, Invidious insists on using AV1 codec. Poorer browsers may still be able to handle the YouTube's interface, but older CPUs will choke on AV1 codec even in the dedicated media players.

Edited by UCyborg
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On 4/23/2022 at 2:08 AM, UCyborg said:

HTML5 capable browsers naturally don't process embedded Flash elements inside a video tag, even if the video in that tag fails to play. For CloudTube, a script like below takes the embedded Flash element, removes video element and puts embedded Flash element in its place. There's no error checking, if layout is changed in a specific way, it'll break.

// ==UserScript==
// @name        CloudTube - force Flash Player
// @namespace   https://github.com/UCyborg
// @version     1.0
// @description Removes video element from CloudTube to allow HTML5 capable browser to pickup on embedded Flash video player.
// @author      UCyborg
// @match       https://tube.cadence.moe/watch?v=*
// @grant       none
// ==/UserScript==

"use strict";

(function() {
  // quality selector isn't programmed to have an effect on Flash player
  document.getElementById("quality-select").disabled = true;

  const f = document.getElementById("f4Player");
  document.getElementById("video").remove();
  document.getElementsByClassName("video-container").item(0).appendChild(f);
})();

I don't remember ever checking GPU stats when Flash was still used on YouTube. Were videos actually decoded on the GPU then if supported by the host environment? I've read someone here saying they were. They seem to be always decoded on the CPU in the Flash player here. This seems to be because f4Player is coded to only use flash.media.Video class while HW accelerated decoding is provided by flash.media.StageVideo class. Also 60 FPS playback might have worked under specific circumstances. I found a hint that it supposedly worked in Flash version 11.5, but not 12.0.

Either way, thanks for pointing out CloudTube, @cmccaff1. This alternative frontend is actually usable for watching videos in the browser on slower computers. Even if you have decent, but not too recent computer and want to watch higher definition / frame rate videos, Invidious insists on using AV1 codec. Poorer browsers may still be able to handle the YouTube's interface, but older CPUs will choke on AV1 codec even in the dedicated media players.

You're absolutely welcome! I can't take credit for it, of course. Actually, it is because of a post by @Skorpios in the MyPal 68 thread in the XP forum that I now know about CloudTube. The discovery that it supports Flash 9+ in Netscape 9 for watching YouTube videos surprised me. I would never have expected that such an old browser would even be considered as a support target for CloudTube, and the idea of finally being able to watch YouTube videos through Flash again, after many years of support being killed off, is really cool. Of course, it's preferable to use the HTML5 player (any modern browser makes it possible), but Flash/NS9 support is quite nice to have.

5 hours ago, Sergiaws said:

I'm wondering if that Cloudtube is similar to the old youtube. It works very well!

It's more like a VERY stripped-down modern YouTube. I would have loved to see it designed in the style of 2007-era YouTube (while having all the functions working just as they do on the regular YouTube site, including uploading videos, posting comments and logging in to check your notifications; basically, a lightweight YouTube front-end that can function in the same way and lets you do all the same things while being compatible with older PCs/browsers), but it's quite nice. It trims all the fat & leaves you with the tender, juicy meat. Because it isn't loading the Polymer layout and all of the HTML5 and JavaScript crap that comes with it, you get to have a good time going from video to video, without your CPU or GPU taking a big hit. CloudTube and Invidious succeed where modern YouTube fails...CloudTube is in part inspired by/adapted from Invidious, but there are of course differences in the design/functionality.

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  • 1 month later...

There are some Twitter clients which don't require Javascript! Maybe the same happends with other social networks. Another page with works is historio.us a site to save your bookmarks.

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On 4/25/2022 at 4:23 AM, Sergiaws said:

guys! I discovered a 2005 youtube frontend which works. I'm wondering if it has a flash player or if it could be implemented someway.

https://github.com/pixdoet/yt-2005-watch

Wow...that is REALLY awesome! I have yet to test it with Flash Player, but Invidious-style HTML5 playback works. Doesn't look quite as polished as Invidious (the video window still needs to be properly resized because there's a lot of dead space that isn't being used), but this is quite amazing. I'm almost 30 now and remember using YouTube when it still looked like that, so this is a VERY nice throwback!

7 hours ago, Sergiaws said:

There are some Twitter clients which don't require Javascript! Maybe the same happends with other social networks. Another page with works is historio.us a site to save your bookmarks.

Ah...are you referring to Nitter? I had a chance to try it and it's amazing--the only thing that sucks about it is that you can't log in, but I've been considering getting off of Twitter recently, so it's not a big drawback in my book. I'll have to try historio.us! Thank you!

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On 6/16/2022 at 9:16 AM, Sergiaws said:

There are some Twitter clients which don't require Javascript! Maybe the same happends with other social networks. Another page with works is historio.us a site to save your bookmarks.

As far as I know, Netscape 9 don't support the html 5 video/audio tag, moreover, I never managed to play any kind of multimedia content on it even on newer Windows. Did I missed something?

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