List of the bugs in
Netscape Communicator 4.08[de] for Windows 3.1x
Since I've been using Netscape Communicator 4.08 for Win 3.1x for quite
a while now, I (and others) have noticed quite a number of bugs in the
program, so one day I decided to create a web page that lists them. This
list is not necessarily complete; more likely, it contains only a more
or less small fraction of the existing bugs. I'd really like to see the
most annoying ones fixed - maybe one day Netscape will give the source
code to engaged enthusiasts who'd like to do that (that's unlikely though,
since licensed code is also included in the browser). Unfortunately Netscape
Corp. has stopped developing Netscape for the 16-bit Windows platform,
so I don't assume they're planning to fix the bugs themselves :(... A German
version with "strong" (i.e. 128-bit vs. 40-bit export) encryption would
be nice, now that it's legal to export encryption things from over there
- but fortunately Netscape is modular: Simply replace the export encryption
netscape.exe file by a US encryption
file! That results in an X-Mailer header of Mozilla
4.08 [de] (Win16; U) instead of Mozilla
4.08 [de] (Win16; I).
And here come the bugs:
Displays crap down on large webpages in some cases (looks as if the new
screen content were written without removing the old one first). First
I thought that it may be related to my display driver, but a test in Win98SE
(with a different display driver, of course) showed that this isn't the
case. IIRC it mostly occurs with large tables on pages with a background
image. Some examples would be Calmira.org's
page (may be a memory leak problem here, see below) or
(All 4.0x/Win16) Hangs with very large pages with background images
when scrolling beyond a certain position in the file (65536 pixels, I
think). This happened when my Win 3.1x page
grew larger and larger - as a result I had to split the page.
Likes using .htm instead of a file's
original extension in the Save As dialog box when downloading things -
quite an unnerving bug.
Often can't save .COM files correctly (instead it displays them on screen)
- might as well be a MIME type issue, since the same happens with files
with an incorrect MIME type of text/plain.
Crashes when pages that have been received over a proxy server (which are
still in the cache) are accessed without a proxy server and vice versa
(4.05/Win16 upwards) Doesn't like Cosmo Player 1.0b5, as opposed
(All 4.x Versions) The CSS implementation is incomplete and sometimes
but CSS was approved instead, and the browser routines had to be rewritten
if one wants the browser to interpret CSS). For a list of CSS bugs in browsers,
see this page: CSS Bugs and
(All 3.0x/4.0x/?4.x?) Cannot mark text under certain conditions
(left or right aligned table - it works with a table inclosed in a DIV
tag specifying alignment; look here: http://rijk.op.het.net/test/tabletest2.html)
When displaying images, Netscape shows a vertical size of 0 pixels in the
title bar, for example "JPEG Image 430x0 pixels", although the image is
299 pixels high. Netscape 3.0x is not affected by this problem.
(All 4.0x/Win16?) Doesn't draw frame borders cleanly: 1-pixel borders
around the frame "windows" are filled with other application's contents
when I switch back and forth. In Netscape 3, these borders would turn black
to indicate the selected frame and white to indicate an inactive frame.
In the Win32 version of Netscape 4, this works (tested with 4.6 and 4.08),
but obviously it doesn't in the Win16 version since it doesn't draw these
borders at all, so that the previous screen content remains there. Didn't
these folks do any beta testing? I mean - this is quite an obvious bug.
Does weird things when Unicode (UTF-7/UTF-8) encoding is used on webpages
- the font positions don't match the font size, special characters aren't
displayed correctly or at all. The same pages look fine in IE5 16-bit,
so it can't be a Windows problem.
The crash frequency of the browser seems to be antiproportional to the connection
speed - when I still had 14400 bps connects, Netscape would crash very
often, but when I got ISDN (64000 bps), almost all the crashes went away.
A test with 31200 bps showed the the crash frequency was somewhere in the
middle then. It seems you mustn't do too many things at the same time when
you've got a slow connection - reading newsgroups and downloading something
at the same time often resulted in a crash with 14400 bps.
REZ (a Navigator 3.04
user, BTW) writes:
<g> As to the first one,
"Displays crap down on large webpages in some cases (looks
as if the new screen content were written without removing the old one
this is the classical symptom of a memory leak in Netscape anyversion.
It's nearly always a tables+links problem -- ie. too many links in table
cells that result in too much text being displayed as links inside cells.
(Yeah, I have it pinned down that far.. remove half the text from the visible
links and the problem goes away.)
As to the .htm extension, I think it's a descendant of an old
3.x bug where Save As Text doesn't work unless you specify a .txt extension
-- if you have it Save As Text but leave the filename as whatever.htm,
it'll be saved in HTML format!
The latter bug (with the file extensions) is still present in Netscape 4.
Is somewhat crappy :(. Most stuff works, but the JS implementation is too
sensitive - for example, it doesn't seem to like a page loading interruption
in the middle of a script - GPFs occur as a result. This repeatably happened
in the netscape.test.multimedia
group where I had to stop loading a 12000 line monster of a message which
unfortunately was the first one - clicking another message led to a GPF.
Only disabling JS in mail and news by adding
in prefs.js helped - but without JS the whole NG is pretty useless...
Fortunately the GPF went away a short time later, when the first message
was different, but anyway...
a limit similar to the one in Notepad) - this causes problems with sites
using lots of JS.
(4.05/Win16 upwards) May cause GPFs when exiting Netscape and behaves
strangely sometimes. Seems it's a mix of various Java versions, this might
explain it. Hangs after loading the VM if the T-Online-Software 2.0x
(T-Online is a German ISP) is present. (The same happens to ICQ, so it seems
it's not a Netscape bug.)
(4.03/Win16 upwards) The instability and strange behavior outlined
above may be rooted in the fact that although the Java VM is v1.1.x, it
uses 1.0.2 AWTs (I guess there weren't any newer ones for the Win16 platform).
While this enables 16-bit Netscape 4.0x to run more Java stuff than IE, it's
still a pretty strange construction, obviously with some side-effects.
Some of the test plugins for Composer won't work, perhaps that's related
to the 8.3 filename convention.
dialog do nothing.
Likes inserting line breaks above and below centered text (unnerving).
Doesn't delete a line break (<BR>)
when inserting a horizonal rule (<HR>)
into a blank line - the HR seems to fully occupy the line, but in fact
a blank line is inserted below it (not quite WYSIWYG, a bit annoying if
you don't know the phenomenon). Example:
This text should be directly below the horizontal rule - at least
it looks that way in Composer:
Sometimes crashes seemingly without any proper reason - having a font dialog
or similar open while the page is saved automatically can cause it, or
continuing to type while auto-saving is in progress. Obviously that's a
bug in the auto-saving routine.
It's impossible to enter a tilde (~) directly when using German keyboard
Inserts garbage into the HTML file when background images are used for
tables - the effect is even worse when a background color is used in addition.
So one has to stick with background colors.
When text is wrapped automatically at the right edge of the Composer window
and the first word in the next line is in a hyperlink, Composer displays
a box (some character with no visual representation) as the last character
of the line - copying and pasting this character somewhere else reveals
that it's still an ordinary space.
One thing I like about Netscape: well chosen default settings,
as opposed to some Microsoft products (guess which ones...)!
Sometimes leaves part of a thread visible when a large thread is closed
(also affects Collabra when you've got many newsgroups, e.g. 35).
(All 4.x Versions) Doesn't always put names belonging to email addresses
in quotation marks when addressing a message, i.e. it uses
John Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"John Smith" <email@example.com>
Quotation marks are only used if there are some 8-bit characters in
the name (ä, ö, ü, ß etc.). If names are entered in
the form "Smith, John" (which BTW is incorrect, since Netscape can be told
to display names entered in the form "John Smith" in the form "Smith, John"
automatically), the lack of quotation marks results in errors when sending
It's impossible to enter a tilde (~) directly when using German keyboard
Behaves strangely with Unicode encoded messages, just as Navigator.
(Seemingly all 4.x) Will not cite from messages with inline CSS
(messages forwarded by OE fall into this category). Fix: Temporarily disable
the "Enable Style Sheets" option.
Incorrectly cites "xxx wrote:" when replying to a quoted-printable
encoded HTML message such as those sent by MS Outlook Express - this doesn't
happen with HTML messages sent by Messenger.
|> John Smith wrote:
> This text was written by John Smith
> in OE and sent as HTML..
It should be:
|John Smith wrote:
> This text was written by John Smith
> in Messenger and sent as HTML or
> in any other mailer and sent as
> plain text. .
(All 4.x Versions) Cannot seperate signatures correctly (with "--
") when using the HTML editor - it sends "--" instead. Workaround: Use
the text editor (4.0x: disable the option "Always send HTML messages" in
the preferences dialog under Mail and news >> messages).
Seems to do some odd floating point operations when loading SNM files -
Calmira complains now and then, MOD4WIN causes a GPF when Messenger loads
SNM files of large NGs and WinPlay3 simply terminates then. Loading WinPlay3
before Netscape seems to help a bit.
The function to move messages during filtering doesn't work properly -
it doesn't leave a blank line between the previous message and the message
that has just been moved, so that the latter can't be read. This also
happens when you manually place a copy of a message in a mail folder.
Ronald Killmer writes
about other Messenger bugs:
When comparing the abilities of the Win16 versions of NC
to the Win32 there are some problems that fall into the BUG catagory from
The MIDI Bug. This was first seen as an Error Message Box
warning when I clicked on the Reply button for a news or mail message that
contained an EMBED'ed MIDI file. I learned that if I clicked the
ignore button twice that the original message would come up in the message
composer window. I would then have to delete the yellow tag for the
embed to be able to sent my reply. Testing revieled that when width
and height attributes were included that they were the cause. I class
this problem as a BUG because the width and height attributes are legal
for use with the EMBED tag.
The next bug is the CID conversion failure. To see what this
one is about, use View Page Source to look at the raw HTML of any post
that includes both images and music. Scroll down past the HTML and
look at the section headers for each block of UUENCODE of BASE64 coded
data for the corresponding image of music file embedded in the HTML.
What you will see is a header field called Content ID. That is the
CID. This is also seen in the View Page Info window as a CID:X#X#X#XX##X#
line for each element inserted into the message. What the BUG is
about is this. When inserting an IMG tag, the message composer will generat
the proper CID for the image. When inserting a MIDI file for example
in an EMBED tag the CID fails to be generated and the file then fails to
be encoded for inclusing in the message.
The second bug can be worked around in the following way (originally
sent to him by Hallie, a NTMM regular [no more now, for reasons that are
still somewhat mysterious to me]):
Because of the two bug I wrote to you about, Windows 3.x users
have to use a workaround to get messanger and collabra to function to our
The first step is identical to inserting an image into mail or
news messages. What will be different is the file that will be selected.
The insert image dialog box has a brows button that yopu will use to navigate
to the location of a sound file inplace of an image file. The selction
process is identical, no matter which file type will be embedded.
When you click OK to finish the selection sep there will be a
broken image icon in the message at the cursors location. You will
not be doing any thing else with that insert during the rest of yur message
composition step. Just bypass that icon. When you have
finished building your messge you MUST SAVE it to SEND LATER.
Fore those haveing sufficient RAM memory, switch to one of the
mail boxes, other than the UNSENT box. This I reccommend because
of Windows 3 file sharing issues.
Now you want to launch a text editor. It must be capable
of saving to a TXT file without adding any page formatting junk. I found
Superpad may be capable of editing larger test files than the Old Notepad.
Browse the text editor to your Netscape\user\your personal folder\UNSENT
file. Tis is the one with no file extension. Open the Unsent mail
box and scroll down in the HTML to the markup for the sound file you inserted.
Do not expect to see the name of the sound file. During the embedding
process Messanger has created a temp file of the sound and then processed
it through its encoder to either a uuencode or base64 encoded block of
data that became part of the total message you will send. What you
will find in the HTML markup will be an alias ID pointing to the encoded
sound data. it will take the form of CID:xxx171717171xxx.x8x8x8x8x
( bogus string to prepare you for what you will be looking for.)
The HTML tag will be IMG and will ahve only two attributes. The IMG
will be edited to EMBED. You will also add three attributes and thes
are: autostart=true loop=false hidden=false
After finishing these edits, save the document as PLAIN TEXT.
Not you can use Navigator to select the unsent mail box and preview
your message. DO NOT try to edit this message with Netscape.
Doing so will strip the sound file data out of the message and you will
have to start all over from scratch. If the message looks good and
the sound works send the message.
Know of other bugs in Communicator 4.08/Win16? Tell
me about them!
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Last modified: 2001-12-28 (yyyy-mm-dd)