Saturday, June 28, 2008

Living with Firefox 3

The much ballyhooed final release of The Mozilla Foundation’s browser, Firefox has finally  happened. Mozilla generated a fair amount of buzz with a highly publicized Firefox Download day, where they wanted to break all records for downloads in a 24 hour period. The publicity worked, and over 8 million people downloaded Firefox on June 17th.  For many people including myself Firefox has been our primary browser now for several years. The last version of Firefox had managed  to gain significant market share on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Firefox 3 has been touted as a vast improvement to Firefox 2’s few shortcomings. The memory leak, a very real issue with Firefox 2 has been fixed. In addition Firefox 3 has been touted as significantly faster than any other browser on the market.

I’ve been running Firefox 3 since beta 3 and have been generally very impressed. The new version still doesn’t run all the extensions and add-ons that the previous versions could, but that seems to be changing quickly.

Since downloading the final release, I have a few issues with version 3. First and foremost, it’s been crashing. Not every time and not on every machine, but it seems to hang when first started on several of my computers, it almost seems to want to “warm up” before it will respond quickly. When it works, it works great, it loads pages fast, and is everything its been purported to be. Oddly the most stable version seems to be the 3rd release candidate version downloaded prior to “Download Day” although it must have been the final code, as no updates are available when I check. The issue with crashing, has made me decide to hold off on upgrading my primary desktop which runs Firefox 2 just fine.

To make things interesting I also tried the portable app version of the browser from, the portable version is even more buggy. I tried the portable app on both XP and Vista machines and the  browser hangs for several minutes before responding. For portable app fans I recommend the new Opera Browser 9.5 which works great. It was very fast as well as stable and can be found here,

So if you are using Firefox 2 and are happy with it, you may want to wait or download 3 and try it, but don’t delete 2 yet, I think in the near future it will be fine. The Mozilla people do great work and deserve your support, Firefox 3 can be found here,

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