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Firefox 3.5 out soon

© June 2009 Anthony Lawrence

Firefox 3.5 is nearing release. According to the release notes, it has "Better performance and stability with the new TraceMonkey JavaScript engine". Well, maybe: I found that Firefox 3.5 on Mac OS X crashes less frequently, but it does still crash and when it crashes it still has startup problems.

Fortunately, they've added a feature that helps with that. When Firefox can't start, it puts up a "Well, this is embarrassing" window - and yes, it is embarrassing - when will Firefox really be stable? That window lets you choose what tabs to reopen or to give up and start a new session. By the way, I've found Gmail to usually be the problem; deselecting that will usually (not always) let Firefox start up correctly.

The idiotic un-awesome bar is slower and more annoying than ever. It regularly locks me up when I fat-finger an address. I seriously cannot understand why so many reviewers gush about this. Nor can I understand why the developers continue to think they've created something good with this. It's horrid.

I'm not the only one that thinks the Awesome bar is clunky and slow - here's someone offering an Awesome Bar Accelerator (no, I didn't try it).

Like Chrome and IE, Firefox now has a "private browsing" mode. Unlike Chrome, which lets you open a specific "incognito" window or tab, Firefox private browsing affects everything once it is turned on. I don't have much need for private browsing, but I would think that the best way to do this would be to offer both specific windows and every window/tab. Choices are good, but Firefox developers often seem to think that their way is the only way.

If it were not for extensions, I wouldn't use Firefox. I try to remember to use Safari for Gmail; that eliminates a lot of trouble. If I forget and do load Gmail in Firefox, it often hangs. With the new JavaScript, it doesn't crash the rest of Firefox, but you do have to wait (and wait... and wait) until Gmail either loads or Firefox gives up. Safari never has such problems.

Oh well: can't live with it, can't live without it. Crappy as it is in some ways, Firefox has enough "must have" features that most of us choose to put up with its problems. That's why I have to give it a 4.0 out of 5.0 - the good outweighs the bad (yet the bad does continue to infuriate me!).

Tony Lawrence 2009/06/29 Rating: 4.0

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-> Firefox 3.5 out soon


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Mon Jun 29 16:41:52 2009: 6555   BrettLegree

I think they goofed on the private browsing myself. I don't really use that kind of thing, but if I needed it, I'd sooner start up Chrome separately, so that I could keep using the other FF tabs.

So for me, they blew it on that one feature.

I've also found the same thing with Gmail... so you're not alone on this.

Mon Jun 29 16:57:16 2009: 6556   TonyLawrence

Oh, yeah. A google for "firefox gmail crash" brings up a lot of pages talking about that. It's nothing new: Firefox has always had Gmail issues.

Not that very many people use Gmail, of course. Probably why the Firefox developers have never done anything to fix it. Why fix something that only a handful of people use?

/sarcasm off

Mon Jun 29 17:02:18 2009: 6557   BrettLegree

Maybe they're trying to make it work poorly with Gmail intentionally, so we'll use Thunderbird :)

Mon Jun 29 17:09:04 2009: 6558   TonyLawrence

I hadn't thought of that. Doubtful - that would be beyond stupid.

But then again, using a database for browsing history ranks right up there in the "most dumb idea" lists, too.

Mon Jun 29 17:10:06 2009: 6559   jtimberman

Firefox was great back when it was a stripped down browser with no frills and no fuss.

I still use and like it though, mainly because of the NoScript and AdblockPlus extensions. Sure Safari has an Adblock plugin but it doesn't work as well as ABP, and there's no equivalent of NoScript. Whitelist-based JavaScript should be a default feature in every browser IMO.

Mon Jun 29 17:23:16 2009: 6561   BrettLegree

I doubt that they would intentionally do that either.

I always like to come up with the most outlandish ideas for why people do stupid things, as a game - it helps me cope with the insane decisions that management makes where I currently work!

Some days, pure random chance could not bungle things worse - it requires the careful intervention of an idiot...

Mon Jun 29 17:32:44 2009: 6562   TonyLawrence

Ayup - it's the extensions that make it nearly impossible to give up. We suffer the crashes, are happy that we can (sometimes) restart with the same tabs, put up with the AwfullySlowBar while cursing the developers who think they've invented sliced bread or window screens... but we keep using it because nothing else quite does the job.

Mon Jun 29 18:36:30 2009: 6563   BrettLegree

If some key extensions appeared for Chrome (and of course, once it becomes stable on OS X)... well, Firefox might start collecting dust on my Mac.

Mon Jun 29 22:39:32 2009: 6567   TonyLawrence

Sigh.. I have to remember to keep Google Reader out of Firefox also. I think Firefox maybe doesn't do Google very well?

Mon Jun 29 22:43:01 2009: 6568   TonyLawrence

You know, if the AwfullyStupidBar didn't start searching until a few seconds after you start typing, I could stomach it a whole lot better. Or if you could configure it to effing STOP the minute you hit BackSpace (because obviously you mistyped and it SHOULDN'T BE SEARCHING!)

Arrgh.. these people reaaly do tick me off :-)

Mon Jun 29 23:45:28 2009: 6569   BrettLegree

Good point about Google Reader. It was driving me around the bend, so I switched back to NetNewsWire and sync with NewsGator online. I'm hoping that they will set up NNW to sync with Google Reader like they did for FeedDemon, because I still like the Google Reader interface and keyboard shortcuts... the NewsGator online is kind of crummy.

Mon Jun 29 23:53:09 2009: 6570   MarcFarnumRendino

So what are the indispensable plugins? Every time I look, I come to the conclusion that there's some potential fun, though nothing indispensable...

Mon Jun 29 23:58:28 2009: 6571   BrettLegree

Indispensable plugins... hmm, I suppose that will depend on each person.

To be honest, most of them I could do without, they are just a convenience (I use Read it Later and Delicious Bookmarks, saves me some time - but yes, could do without).

Session Manager because the one that's built in to Firefox isn't good enough for my tastes. Then again, if the stability of the browser were better...

Tue Jun 30 00:09:40 2009: 6572   TonyLawrence

Noscript is considered indispensable by many. The one that I'd really miss is Web Developer


Tue Jun 30 00:25:49 2009: 6573   jtimberman

I consider Adblock Plus and NoScript to be indispensible. I hate advertisements. When I go to a web site, I want to read the content contained therein, not get distracted by flashy widgets and banners. These extensions block most of the non-content from web pages.

I also use a couple other extensions, but they're not essential. I like is.gd creator, to shorten URLs with a toolbar button, Tab Mix Plus for some better control over how tabs are handled, and Delicious Bookmarks, though I don't use it nearly as much as I used to.

Tue Jun 30 12:43:52 2009: 6574   TonyLawrence

This morning (using Safari) I noticed that Firefox 3.5 is "official". So I tabbed to Firefox and had it check for updates..

It froze, I had to force quit. Could not restart, even with a fresh session. Had to restart FOUR times!

And yet all over the internet this morning are wonderful reviews of Firefox...

Fri Jul 17 14:59:12 2009: 6641   TonyLawrence

There was a new release today. With great hope, I downloaded it.

Still hangs up and is unusable. Phaww!

Tue Sep 1 19:43:34 2009: 6834   TonyLawrence

Finally got it working today:



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