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I’ve been using Camino, Mozilla’s open-source web browser built for the Mac, for quite some time now. I simply love its speed, simplicity and look — especially with its sibling browser Firefox getting overrun with bloated plugins. And today Camino gets even better with the first beta release of Camino 2.0.

So what’s new? Well, under the hood, Camino is now running version 1.9 of Mozilla’s Gecko rendering engine. I’ve been using Camino 2 since the alpha stages, and I can definitely say that performance, which was already great, seems much improved.

But many of you will care more about the visible changes. While the browser doesn’t look a lot different (since it’s so bareboned to begin with), there are some notable new features. The first is that you can finally drag and reshuffle tabs. All the other major browsers have had this for a while, so it’s about time it came to Camino. Also new is the tab overview feature (see below). Users of the Opera web browser may have grown to love this feature, which gives you a thumbnail view of all your open tabs in one window, and now it’s come to Camino. It’s great for someone like me who has no less than 10 tabs open across two screens at any given time.

Users of Firefox will also welcome the addition of a “Recently Closed Pages” menu to Camino for pages that you just had open and perhaps didn’t mean to cancel. Camino 2 also offers better zoom features and the ability tailor which sites you want to block Flash animations for. Still built into Camino is the ability to block all advertisements.

While there may be no one Earth-shattering change, Camino 2 looks like a better version of the current Camino 1.6.6 in every way. That said, this is still a beta test of the browser, so use it at your own risk.

Users of Camino will also be happy to know that the team’s project lead, Mike Pinkerton, is also working on Chrome, Google’s web browser, for the Mac platform. Progress is being made (though slowly), and it should be done at some point in the coming months. Until then, it’ll be Camino-only browsing for me.

Find Camino 2.0 beta 1 available for download here.

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