IMPORTANT: Starting with May 2016 Pale Moon can be downloaded from its official homepage available here.


Pale Moon is a free, Open Source web browser based on its own layout engine named Goanna. Although the browser was known for years as a Mozilla Firefox alternative, it has been more than a simple rebuild for quite some time. The team behind this project released its own source code following a different path focused on user need, user choice, and configurability. Currently, Pale Moon is available for Microsoft Windows and Linux OS but as the official page states, there are other "other operating systems in development".

Pale Moon Review

If you're a fan of Mozilla Firefox but you hate all the unnecessary features that come with it (integrated) and you don't use them, try Pale Moon, a browser that seems to promise a lot.

Why I mentioned Mozilla Firefox

A long time ago, Pale Moon was launched as a Mozilla Firefox clone and it was known as a simple rebuild that removed all unnecessary features that slows down Firefox, came up with a different layout (interface design) and several other ideas. At the beginning, it had a common code base with Firefox but that's all history now.

A new beginning

Starting with version 26.0.0 release on 2016-01-26, Pale Moon hit a new milestone release. It made hundreds of changes, fixes and improvements. However, the major change is related to "Goanna", which is its own, defined layout engine. Previous releases were based on Gecko (browser engine of Firefox) with some specific changes, and although different, both engines have a common ancestor.

User Interface

After penning the initial thoughts of this review - I read other impressions about this browser. I finally decided to try it myself and downloaded the 64-bit installer version. Right from the start, I recommend you to choose a custom setup. You can choose the installation folder, where to create icons for the program, choose to make this (or not) the default browser and eventually you can import options, bookmarks or anything else from a different browser.

At least that's what I did, it took me only a few seconds to install and start this web browser.

Add-ons that work on Firefox will often work on this browser too. Without getting too much into details, I've noticed the following: the interface looks clean and modern. Regarding the design, I would dare to say that it reminds
me of the Opera web browser. When you open the browser, the default page is named "Pale Moon START" that has a web search integrated right at the top. Below that search, there are several popular websites. If you don't like this approach, you can always replace it in the main options window.

To access "Options" area of this application, look on the left corner (up) for a small, blue-tab named "Pale Moon". If you click on it, it will expand and allow you to access the most important features. From here, you can manage Add-ons, bookmarks, history, a web-developer section and most importantly the main program "Options".

This is the place that allows you to change or better said customize the browser even further.

Negatives (Not really, just an important mention)

To be honest I wanted to say that I didn't like the which seems to be the default search window. However, after reading the official explanation (found here), I changed my mind. Here is the original text, which, with the permission of the author, I have listed here:

"/Developing Pale Moon is a full-time job (and then some). It is not a hobby; it is a profession. The browser is free for anyone to download and use, and keeping development up, keeping myself supplied with food, paying rent, etc., and paying for the more than a few servers to provide all additional services needed for its presence on the internet (like the website server, release download mirrors, blocklist server, Pale Moon Sync, the forum, automatic update server, ftp, mail server, CDN) all costs money. This money has to come from somewhere besides donations, because donations simply do not cut it. There has to be enough on the other side of the equal sign. What did you expect; that I would continue to fund the Mozilla Corporation from an independent browser by keeping the search parameters to their Mozilla ones/?"

I think the last line is crucial for a better understanding:

"/In addition, every single other alternative browser out there does this to pay for itself, as well/."

The Bottom Line

If you were a Mozilla Firefox fan there is no learning curve required. In the end, if you're looking for a lighter, faster version of Firefox you might appreciate this browser. I've made several tests on two different versions of Windows - Windows Vista (it won't work with other older versions) and Windows 10. From my tests, I can confirm that the browser is indeed stable and loads fast when compared with others.

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