Posts Tagged ‘Mozilla’

Tuesday, November 1st 2005

Firefox Fixes

The last few days have seen two small but visible and important improvements to Firefox 1.5:

  • Bug 313300 has been fixed, which means that Firefox 1.5 will not open windows with a specified size as tabs – unlike Firefox 1.5 beta 2 which opened everything in new tabs.
  • Bug 245392 has also been fixed, so Firefox will no more create an empty folder on the Windows programs menu if the user has unchecked the shortcut on startmenu option during installing.

I also noticed that Firefox now asks if I want to save my gmail password. At first I thought this was a Firefox fix (or workaround, because Gmail had set it up not to save on purpose) but after hunting around a bit it seems like Gmail have simply removed the autocomplete=”off” attribute that they have used until now.

While searching bugzilla.mozilla.org I learnt of a simple way to bypass that attribute, should you come across it at some other site: in about:config, set the wallet.crypto.autocompleteoverride pref to true, and Firefox should simply ignore it. However, I would still advise you to never save passwords for online banks and suchlike if you do turn this pref on.

Update 2005-11-04: Having tried the pref I mentioned above, it doesn’t actually seem to do anything. I presume it is no longer used, so as to ensure that people don’t go saving bank passwords, etc.

Wednesday, September 28th 2005

PimpZilla – The Coolest Firefox Theme Ever?

PimpZilla must be the coolest Firefox theme ever made. (Screenshot) It has it all: fake pink fur, leopard skin and a bling bling factor of about 12 (out of 10). Unfortunately though, it isn’t yet compatible with the soon-to-be Firefox 1.5. Can’t wait.

Sunday, September 4th 2005

Binary Patching Now Working in Firefox

Ye-haa! The Software Update in Firefox now features great, wonderful, slick binary patching. You can update from one version to another by just downloading a few hundred kB or so. Just check this screenshot sequence:

Screenshot of Firefox 'update available' window

Screenshot of Firefox downloading updates

Screenshot of Firefox Software Update, step 3

Updating Firefox, after restart

This, together with the setting to download and install updates automatically, makes it possible for me (and these other guys) to install Firefox for friends and other acquaintances without having to follow up with update installations.

Thursday, September 1st 2005

Firefox – Cool and Geeky?

I just realized. Few things are as cool and geeky, at the same time, as Firefox is. Can anyone think of any other examples of things that are cool and geeky?

Saturday, August 27th 2005

How I Became a Browser Nerd and a Firefox Addict (And Some Thoughts About the Future)

The Beginning

I guess it all started back in 1998 when we were to make our own websites at school. (I was 15 at the time.) To make them, we had Netscape Composer – version 4 if I remember correctly.

Somehow I got hooked on this whole webpage making thing. I guess I had always enjoyed making nicely laid out documents with word processors, ever since I was a tiny kid. The ability to produce a dynamic document with colours really appealed to me, since any paper documents I made could only be printed on our (black and white) laser.

Naturally, my first website was an incredible strain to the viewers eyes. What, with animated flags and spinning e-mail icons, frantically psychedelic backgrounds, and an over-all colour theme that made your stomach churn. This was presumably making up for all the years of black and white only. Sadly, I can’t seem to find a copy of the old gem. Maybe it’s for the best.

I can’t remember if we were encouraged by the teachers to start poking with the HTML code in notepad or if I just decided to have a look anyway. Anyway – fairly soon I felt more comfortable editing the HTML directly than using Composer. (Which, looking back, maybe wasn’t so strange…)

After about a year or so I made a completely new (personal) website. This time around it was a little more pleasant and usable. Below is a screenshot of the website, as seen with an authentic, 1990’s web browser:

Screenshot of one of my old websites

The Cold War

Obviously, all of this was in the middle of the raging browser wars. Some of my class mates thought Internet Explorer was better, while I for some reason always preferred Netscape. (At this time I had no idea about which browser was most standards compliant – all I knew was that they weren’t compatible, and special tweaking of the code was required to serve both browsers.) I guess I preferred Netscape because I was used to it, and Microsoft was the big bad company. (This impression was mostly because their Word had more or less already out-competed Word Perfect.)

I remember reading in a book at the library, about HTML and suchlike, that the upcoming, version 6 browsers could turn out to be standards compliant – as opposed to all the previous versions. Heh. If only both the version 6 browsers had strived for that goal…

The Long Wait

I saw the Internet Explorer versions come and go. I was waiting for Netscape to release their next version (nr 5, which became nr 6). This turned out to be a very long wait, as we all know. I kept up to date with the browser world by watching browsers.com, a CNet website – back in the days when it actually had some kind of content. (Nowadays it’s barely a collection of links, and a list of the most popular browser downloads.)

Screenshot of Netscape 6.0

Finally Netscape 6.0 was released (November 2000), but to pretty chilly reviews. Buggy and slow was the general verdict. If I remember correctly I waited until version 6.2 before I installed it on my dad’s computer. A year-and-a-half later (in June 2002) I read on browsers.com that Mozilla 1.0 had been released. I hadn’t heard much about Mozilla before this, so I was rather curious. I learnt that this was what Netscape 6 had been built from. I liked the idea of always having the latest and greatest web browser, so I chose Mozilla over Netscape.

Tabs, of course, made for love at first sight – a great feature for someone like me who liked surfing a lot. They were also very handy when on a dial-up modem, which I was at the time – just open the interesting pages in a bunch of new tabs and disconnect before you start reading them.

To begin with, for news on Mozilla, I mostly just checked mozilla.org. With time though, I started reading MozillaZine more and more often to get the nitty gritty details. I faithfully downloaded each release, always checking the What’s New page to see which great features had been added. Here are some of the features I remember being particularly pleased about when they were introduced:

By now I was definately a Mozilla addict. Why should I use anything else? Mozilla was the best. Or was it?

The Skinny Newcomer

MozillaZine was increasingly reporting about this Phoenix thing. At first I didn’t take too much notice. I had become used to the Mozilla Suite and felt comfortable using it. Then when Firebird 0.6 was released in May 2003, I gave it a try. There were some things I liked about it straight away, like the way it handled tabs (slightly differently compared to Mozilla Suite) and the separate search box. Other things that were added later on during the development, such as the Extension and Theme managers, were also very handy.

At first I missed having all the managers which Mozilla Suite had: Cookie Manager, Popup Manager, Form Manager, Image Manager, Password Manager. You name it. (Did I hear someone say control freak?) Pretty soon though, I realized that all those Managers weren’t really necessary. Firebird showed that it was possible to get along without them, thanks to carefully chosen default values of the preferences and smarter handling of, for instance, passwords.

Like most of us, I was pretty (positively) shocked and surprised when Firebird was renamed Firefox, at version 0.8, and given a new logo. They worked great together. Then, at version 0.9, the default (Windows) theme was changed too. While many people didn’t like the new theme, I always thought it was better than Qute (the previous theme), which I realized had some rather inconsistent icons. The new theme was more professional in style, and at the same time remaining colourful and XPish.

Firefox was, by the final release, a great browser for almost everyone. I could (and still can, of course) install it on all my acquaintances computers, and they would hardly have any problems using it even though they hadn’t touched anything other than IE for what – like, 5 years? If ever. Firefox is (obviously) also loads of fun for the more advanced computer user who can install extensions to their hearts content, such as (my favourites) Adblock and Minimize to tray. There is an extension out there for every single purpose you can think of. Is there anything you can’t do with a Firefox extension?

What About Opera?

I was aware of Opera for quite some time – probably since around the time I first started keeping an eye on browsers.com. Since it was shareware, though, it didn’t really interest me. Opera released their first ad-supported version as early as December 2000 (version 5) but the banner put me off completely. (If I even tried it – I don’t remember.) It also had a somwhat awkward look, which I couldn’t quite get used to. The freeness, usability and, in fact, design of Mozilla Suite (and later Firefox), as well as their entirely open development process made me stay in the Mozilla camp.

The Future

Who knows what will happen the coming years. I know I will keep promoting Firefox, wherever I go. This became particularly easy when I was sent one of these, for… eh – I’m not really sure why I got it actually. They said something about me having given feedback. Hmm. Well, I suppose I have posted the odd post over at MozillaZine and Spread Firefox, if that’s what they meant. It can’t be for my bug reporting anyway: In three years I’ve only posted a single bug report. If they sent off a t-shirt for every bug report, they would have had to send out t-shirts worth more than $5,000,000. I know they are getting plenty of money from Google, but at that rate they must be raking in the cash by the ship loads. Anyway, whatever the reason, I’m not complaining. 🙂

I have a vision (like many others, I’m sure) that Firefox (and possibly Opera, if they decide to set it free) will help open up the web for good, and make it equally digestable on all operating systems. This, in turn, will allow more people to give Linux a serious try (myself included). Once Linux gains a nice chunk of the market, it will be very difficult for Microsoft to win people back. The difficulty for people lies in the actual switching. Once that’s done, I imagine sticking with a free operating system won’t exactly be a neck-breaker… Obviously though, Microsoft failing is not the point here. The point of this vision is that more people could (and would) use a large proportion of free software, thus saving heaps of cash – at the same time putting some much needed consumer pressure on Microsoft.

This vision is also why I believe we still can’t trust Microsoft to do the right thing with IE7 and IE8. The right thing – to make IE standards compliant – would only make the OS market slip even faster out of Microsofts control. However, I’m begging that Microsoft actually does decide to do the right thing. Imagine being a web developer in 2009, with almost 93% of the browser market being CSS3 compliant. Ah, the love…

Thursday, August 4th 2005

Mozilla Corporation: Let the Big Cash Come Rolling In

Mozilla Foundation announced yesterday that Mozilla Corporation has been created in order to simplify cashflow into the various Mozilla projects from other corporations. (MozillaZine has an article which explains the reorganization in an understandable way.) This sounds like good news to me. If the Mozilla Foundation has been earning cash at a rate which was problematic to it as a non-profit organization, that can’t not be a good thing.

Hopefully, corporate interest in the Mozilla products will increase even further. Also, I hope we’ll see Firefox and Thunderbird bundled with new computers from one (or more) of the major PC manufacturers in the not so distant future. Maybe this move from the Mozilla Foundation was in order to allow or simplify such a deal? Who knows.

Saturday, July 30th 2005

Many Rendering Bugs Fixed for IE7 Beta 2

Chris Wilson of the IE Team has just posted a list of bugs that have been fixed for Beta 2 of IE7. It’s a list which will greatly reduce the number and severity of headaches within the web developer community. Check it out:

In IE7, we will fix as many of the worst bugs that web developers hit as we can, and we will add the critical most-requested features from the standards as well. Though you won’t see (most of) these until Beta 2, we have already fixed the following bugs from PositionIsEverything and Quirksmode:

  • Peekaboo bug
  • Guillotine bug
  • Duplicate Character bug
  • Border Chaos
  • No Scroll bug
  • 3 Pixel Text Jog
  • Magic Creeping Text bug
  • Bottom Margin bug on Hover
  • Losing the ability to highlight text under the top border
  • IE/Win Line-height bug
  • Double Float Margin Bug
  • Quirky Percentages in IE
  • Duplicate indent
  • Moving viewport scrollbar outside HTML borders
  • 1 px border style
  • Disappearing List-background
  • Fix width:auto

In addition we’ve added support for the following

  • HTML 4.01 ABBR tag
  • Improved (though not yet perfect) <object> fallback
  • CSS 2.1 Selector support (child, adjacent, attribute, first-child etc.)
  • CSS 2.1 Fixed positioning
  • Alpha channel in PNG images
  • Fix :hover on all elements
  • Background-attachment: fixed on all elements not just body

I’m looking forward to seeing how IE7 will render my web gallery, which makes use of floats and fixed-position divs.

I’m also very much looking forward to the day when we can make websites from scratch and see our CSS code just work in all the major browsers… And the following may sound strange coming for a Firefox addict and advocate, but I truly hope that Microsoft puts a huge marketing campaign behind IE7 once it has shipped so it as quickly as possible replaces IE6 (where still in use) on Windows XP. Firefox will have the older Windows versions for lunch, and through continuous innovation it will probably keep growing on the XP & Vista versions too.

Update: Now if only Gecko would get support for soft hyphens, I would be a truly happy geek…

Thursday, July 28th 2005

Firefox Above 10% on the Western Continents

XiTi’s latest Firefox stats report shows that the best browser now has more than 10% in the US, Europe and Australia. (11.78%, 14.11% and 14.41% respectively.) It’s interesting to see that the less developed continents have a lower proportion of Firefox usage. One would almost expect the opposite.

In Europe, Finland is still way ahead with 31%. Impressive. I wonder why Finland are so much better at adopting Firefox than for instance Sweden, their next-door neighbour? Here, Firefox is only about half as popular.

Friday, July 22nd 2005

Firefox 1.5’s Sanitize Needs a New Name

One of the new features in Firefox 1.5 (Deer Park) will be what has so far been known as the Sanitize feature. It basically consists of a menuitem which brings up a dialog, with which you can wipe all or parts of the personal data that the web browser has gathered during web surfing – i.e. cookies, web addresses, etc. The only problem is the name of this feature. The word sanitize somehow gives the wrong associations… Thankfully, this is being worked on. I agree with Ben Basson that Clear Tracks would be a much better label for this functionality. Mainly because it describes what is being done, without making me think of toilets. 😉

Update (2005-08-22): The feature in question has now been named Clear Private Data, which is even better than Clear Tracks if you ask me.

Saturday, May 28th 2005

Nice Greasemonkey Scripts

If you don’t know what the Greasemonkey extension is, check it out.

Today I found two very nice enhancements to Google:

  • One which makes the results on images.google.com link directly to the image in question, instead of giving you a frame with a thumbnail as well as the original website of the image…
  • And another which enables scroll-wheel zooming for Google maps.

The first one I find particularly useful – I have always found it annoying that you have to click twice when checking the results of Google’s image search.

Tuesday, May 3rd 2005

Firefox Downloads Without the Updates

Many people have lately pointed out that the Firefox download figure is inflated by people who download Firefox updates manually. (As opposed to updating from the options dialog within Firefox.)

Scott Kveton recently produced some rather sleek graphs which show the Firefox download progress since its launch back in November. This one in particular makes it possible to (fairly accurately) estimate the size of this claimed figure bloat: We simply compare the total area of the peaks around the dates of the 1.0.x releases with the area of the continuous flow of downloads prior to these releases. This estimation builds on one main assumption:

  • Firefox downloads would have continued at an unchanged rate if no-one had updated manually.

Looking at the download graph, this assumption doesn’t seem completely unrealistic, since the dl rate was pretty stable from the beginning of December until 1.0.1 was released in late February.

So, here are the results of my pixel counting:

1029 pixels were above the stable dl rate after 1.0.1 was released, and 2871 pixels can be considered legit downloads. This means that 26.4% or about 13,500,000 of the now 51,150,000 dls most likely were updates. That leaves 37,650,000 dls that basically can be considered “new people giving Firefox a try”.

Update: Asa D points out that Scott has in fact included the Firefox update downloads in these graphs. That means the numbers should be more like (1-0.264)x66,000,000, which is 48,6 million – pretty close to the 50 M number. That’s almost weird if you ask me – I’d have thought that more than 2-3 million people updated manually. Well, well…

Monday, May 2nd 2005

Wohooo! Binary Patching for Firefox 1.1! (?)

One of the main complaints about Firefox 1.0 has been that “you have to download the full installation when upgrading”. This has simply been due to the fact that Firefox had no system for such incremental patches. Well, it looks like Ben Goodger & co (Darin Fisher, specifically) have worked out a way to get incremental binary patching into Firefox for 1.1.

This is sweet music to my ears. I really hope they manage to make the update manager simple, intuitive and 100% functional. That way, I will have much less work keeping all my friends’ Firefoxes up-to-date. 🙂

Edit: Ben has also made some mockups of what the update manager will (should?) look like.

Tuesday, April 26th 2005

Seriously Cool Firefox Theme

If you haven’t yet tried the Abstract PC theme for Firefox, do so right away. It looks really professional and cool, both as in hot and low temperature.

Tuesday, April 26th 2005

Firefox 1.1 Gets Lightning Fast Back & Forward?

Opera has long had blazingly fast back and forward performance. Now it looks like we might get this in the upcoming v1.1 of Firefox too, judging from the amount of activity in bug 274784.

Thursday, April 14th 2005

One Bit at a Time

Fascinating fact: (Well, sort-of) The soon-to-be 45,000,000 downloads of Firefox will equal about two-hunderd-and-fourteen and a half petabytes of data. Assuming that the downloads were evenly spread out, that equals a constant bitrate of 127 Mbps from the Mozilla mirrors put together. Putting it that way makes it sound less impressive. So I’ll just stick with the petabytes.

Anyway. All of this downloads counting reminds me of how McDonalds in the US keep (or kept?) saying “We have now sold X godzillion hamburgers”. Still, counting is fun.

Wednesday, April 13th 2005

Acid2 Already Affecting Rendering Engines

The Acid2 test is already having impact on some of the main browsers. David Hyatt, who is one of the developers behind Mac’s Safari, has just blogged that he has already fixed two bugs which cause Safari to not display the test correctly. More bugfixes are on the way, too. The Mozilla browsers have also joined the party – an Acid2 bug has been created in their bugtracking system, which is meant to make up a list of all the rendering bugs which make Firefox et al fail the test.

Let’s just hope these guys also decide to come and join the fun.

Wednesday, April 6th 2005

Improvements for Firefox 1.1

The great thing about open source programs like Firefox is the steady, never-ending stream of improvements and bugfixes. Here are some of the recent fixes, which will appear in Firefox 1.1:

  • The default settings have been changed to open requests from other applications in new tabs. (Bug 275430)
  • The CSS 3 outline property has been implemented. (Has previously been available as -moz-outline.)
  • Websites can now specify an image as the mouse cursor. (Bug 38447)
  • Selecting text on a page with a background colour similar to the text selection colour will now cause Firefox to invert the text colour and the background colour. (Bug 56314)
  • When zooming in on an image which has been automatically fitted to the window size, Firefox will now zoom in on the selected part of the image. (Bug 207219)

Of course, this is on top of some fairly major improvements already made:

  • The options dialog has been seriously improved and simplified.
  • The Sanitize function has been added, making it possible to automatically sweep your tracks when exiting Firefox (or via a key-stroke).
  • The Internet Explorer style error pages now work properly. (These error pages are enabled by typing about:config and setting browser.xul.error_pages.enabled to true.) (Bugs 237244 and 157004)

Also, maybe of minor importance, but good for website devs:

  • View source now shows exactly the HTML code sent by the server. (Bug 57724)

For up-to-date info on fixed bugs in Firefox, see the Burning Edge

Tuesday, April 5th 2005

Firefox popular in Sweden

XiTi has updated their European Firefox usage report [fr]. This time we can read, among other things, that the (week-end) usage of Firefox is really quite high in Sweden (14.4%). In fact, I had no idea we had that kind of numbers – I thought Sweden was below the world average rather than above it. (Presuming that the world average is somewhere around the numbers presented by OneStat and WebSideStory, something like 6-8%.)

Finland turns out to have an even higher percentage of Firefox usage (22.6%) than Germany (21.6%), which was though to be the prime foothold for the Mozilla browser.

The most intriguing fact is that Denmark only has 6.2% Firefox usage, even though it is surrounded by several countries with very high numbers. (Mainly Germany, Sweden and Poland.)

No doubt, Stats Weenie will have an update on this report too in a little while.

Monday, March 28th 2005

FireTune makes Firefox slower?

I recently heard of FireTune 0.5, a free tweaking utility for Firefox 1.0. I thought it would probably just activate pipelining, but I’d give it a try all the same. It turned out it didn’t touch the pipelining settings, but it altered the number of connections allowed per server (among other things, perhaps).

The program gives you the choice of tuning one particular profile at a time or tuning all profiles in one go:

Screenshot of Firetune v0.5

It then lets you select roughly how fast your computer is, and what type of Internet connection you use. Since my computer is an AMD 64 3200+ and I’m on a 0.5 Mbps DSL connection I thought it suitable to choose “Fast computer / Fast connection”.

However, my testing of loading times for a few major websites shows that FireTune more often than not makes the webpages load more slowly:

Three out of five websites load more slowly after using FireTune

I did the tests using the timer suggested by Total Idea, after inactivating both disk and memory cache before starting (by setting browser.cache.memory.enable and browser.cache.disk.enable to false) I set up two new, identical profiles: one which I tuned, and one which I left with the default Firefox settings. Each webpage in the test was loaded ten times with each profile and an average was calculated.

Now, since I’m not an expert on Firefox’s network settings, I don’t quite understand why the tuned settings are causing longer load times for some of the webpages. If you do – let me know in the comments.

Here are the test data:
OpenOffice format (14.1 kB)
Excel format (12.0 kB).

Thursday, March 24th 2005

Firefox Bundled

Firefox is now bundled with the two major computer magazines in Sweden, PC Hemma and PC för Alla. Another small step towards total world domination. 🙂