Shankar Ganesh

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Firefox 3 Beta 1 – First Impressions

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A beta version Firefox 3 is out in the wild. Installed it, tried it today. A lot of improvements have been made, according to the announcement at Mozilla, so took it for a test ride.

Firefox 3

Firefox 3 Beta 1 does not support most add-ons that you may be using, so install it only if you want to experience the new features and get ready to thrive without the addons.

Now, here’s the review. For your note, I won’t be going much into the technical details, just a neat review of what I saw as a user.

Interface

The Firefox interface does have subtle changes in this beta version. A bit more sharp tabs, and light colours. Vista users will notice a big change: Firefox menus integrate with the OS GUI.

Better Security?

Firefox 3 Security

‘Stricter SSL error pages’ is how they mention it in the release note, and things were different while trying to access protected pages. Like for example, I was given a warning that was more loud (that it usually happens with Firefox 2) when I tried to access the Google AdSense page, that the security certificate is invalid.

Still consuming huge memory?!

Firefox 3 Memory Issues

The Firefox Developer team has spent a lot of time ironing out the bugs in the software. Initial reactions are mixed. Some say there’ve been great improvements whereas Duncan at TechCrunch says Firefox 3 still sucks huge memory.

On my PC, Firefox usually crashes when several tabs are open, especially tabs of Digg.com stories. So, I decided to give it a shot. With around 15 tabs open, Firefox was still eating up a lot of memory – around 108 MB when I checked.

But thank God it did not crash. Firefox usually crashed in such a situation, but this one didn’t. But there were chances.

Download Manager

Little improvements from the view of a user.  A resume/pause button, and a cancel button. Additionally, there’s a nifty search box on the Downloads window, quite useful if you have long queues. Resume downloads even if you’ve restarted the browser. This still will not replace the DownThemAll addon that I regularly use.

One Click Info

Firefox 3 Info

A favicon on the address bar is no longer just a favicon. There’s more to it – click on it, get more details – does the site use cookies, certificates did you visit the site before today, have you saved any passwords for the site – all from one single window.

Malware Attack Warning

Very very useful, but do they have a large database of suspicious sites is the question. When trying to access a site that’s suspicious, a big red page opens up warning you about the site. Something that’ll benefit us all, I believe.

Disabling Plugins

Firefox 3 Plugins

You can disable individual plugins, using the improved add-ons window

Improved Passwords Management

Firefox 3 Passwords Management

No dialog box. An info bar on top of the window. Saves a few seconds.

Improvements in Bookmarking

Ok, I’ll not be talking about this since I don’t really use this one much, thanks to del.icio.us. So here’s a note from the official site talking about the new and improved bookmarks management in Firefox 3:

* Star button: quickly add bookmarks from the location bar with a single click; a second click lets you file and tag them.
* Tags: associate keywords with your bookmarks to sort them by topic.
* Location bar & auto-complete: type the title or tag of a page in the location bar to quickly find the site you were looking for in your history; favicons, bookmark, and tag indicators help you see where results are coming from.
* Smart Places Folder: quickly access your recently bookmarked and tagged pages, as well as you more frequently visited pages with the new smart places folder on your bookmark toolbar.
* Bookmarks and History Organizer: advanced search of your history and bookmarks with multiple views and smart folders to store your frequent searches.
* Web-based protocol handlers: web applications, such as your favorite webmail provider, can now be used instead of desktop applications for handling mailto: links from other sites. Similar support is available for other protocols (Web applications will have to first enable this by registering as handlers with Firefox).
* Easy to use Download Actions: a new Applications preferences pane provides a better UI for configuring handlers for various file types and protocol schemes.

Final Note

Overall, Firefox 3 is definitely a big improvement over Firefox 2. More valuable features have been added, and it looks like they’re listening to users. All I can hope is that memory leak issues are fully resolved when Firefox 3 comes out of beta.

You can download Firefox 3 Beta 1 from this page.

What are your views?

Written by admin

November 21st, 2007 at 1:55 pm

Posted in software

  • http://www.teknobites.com ram

    Nice review, 3 looks promising with all the new features. If would be great if they get rid of that memory leak issue.

  • http://www.technobuzz.net Technobuzz.net

    Nice Write up Shankar :)

  • http://ashwinr.com/ Ashwin

    The best review that’ve read so far. :)

    Seems that FX is getting bloated. I hate to say this and I still use FX over Safari only for the extensions. We got Greasemonkey, ABP and couple others for Safari. FX days are out numbered if things dont improve.

  • http://blogs.howtogeek.com/jatecblog Jake

    I can vouch that Firefox 3 (or at least the nightly I’ve been using) has been consuming quite a lot less memory… as low as 31MB with only one tab open, up to 74MB on a normal day, Then again, I’m on Linux. Haven’t tried it on any other OS yet.

  • Asa Dotzler

    The problem Duncan was reporting over at TechCrunch has been fixed. It was actually a server-side fix so anyone having that problem should be in good shape now.

    Starting yesterday, we began receiving reports, like Duncan’s, of a new memory/cpu usage issue that happens shortly after a normal startup and can spike the CPU and chew up hundreds of MB of RAM. This is apparently happening to people with new profiles or in profiles that have a very outdated list of bad sites for the Phishing Protection feature and the Malware Protection feature.

    What’s going on is that soon after Firefox is started, Firefox tries to fetch updates to the site forgery and malware lists — the lists of bad sites that allows Firefox to warn users about suspected Phishing and Attack sites. If the profile has very outdated or no local lists, as is the case for a new Firefox profile, Firefox is trying to bring down these rather large lists in one big chunk rather than slowly in small chunks. This causes Firefox to consume large amounts of CPU and memory and can slow the users machine to a crawl.

    This problem is due to the change in the “SafeBrowsing Protocol” which only affects Firefox 3 Beta 1 and nightly build users. If you’re on Firefox 2, this isn’t going to affect you.

    The work-around for this problem was for us to throttle it on the server side. We’ve done that and if he tries Firefox 3 Beta 1 again, it should be fine.

    - A

  • http://techie-buzz.com Keith Dsouza

    Great review shankar, this is one of the best Firefox reviews I have read, does make me want to test out the latest version.

  • http://www.myokyawhtun.com Myo Kyaw Htun

    I’m going to try it out!

  • http://jalaj.net/ Jalaj

    Firefox 3 is fine.. but it still don’t show Devnagri(or any other indic) script properly without additional add-ons…

  • http://www.nirmaltv.com Nirmal

    Great review, I’ll try it only once its out of beta testing.

  • http://techyantra.net Beta3

    Great Review!!! Am glad of the new Download Manager… But damn FF still has memory leaks? I expected a huge change in FF3.

  • http://www.sizzledcore.com Haris

    Loved the review, Shankar. Thanks! My first attempt to install Firefox 3 was a fail. Now I’m going to try to install it again. :)

  • http://www.whoismadhur.com Madhur Kapoor

    I think i will wait for the final release

  • http://www.brownbaron.com/blog/ Brown Baron

    I stopped using the beta because none of my extensions worked. I can’t live without them heh. As soon as my extensions become compatible, I’ll be switching versions. Nice review buddy.

  • http://www.techzilo.com/ Sumesh

    Same problem as BBaron. I downloaded FF, installed it only to find it devoid of any extensions. I had to switch back to v2, leaving more crux on the system.

    An XP reinstall+ FF install when v3 comes out is definitely on the cards.

    PS: Shankar, could you make the notify via email check box unchecked by default? Its bugging me right now :(

  • http://techmalaya.com Syahid Ali

    nice review. bad thing that is still consumes a lot of memory though. i hope the final product will iron out all the bugs in beta.

  • http://nftecnostar.blogspot.com nicholas francis

    excellent review buddy….. firefox is allways been the best of browsers today… with firefox 3… sure its fame will reach all new heights!….

  • http://www.techzilo.com/ Sumesh

    FF3 has reportedly fewer crashes, but memory use remains high, as reported by Duncan@techcrunch.

  • http://www.technospot.net/blogs/ Ashish Mohta

    It seems to have lot of problems. many plugins not working. Moreover i had faced the same security featurres

  • http://www.shankarganesh.com/ Shankar Ganesh

    @Ram: Yeah, that’s what everyone is hoping for.
    @Ashwin: Thanks, I’m glad you like it. Yes, day by day, people are throwing in complaints. Good to see them listening, but the pace in which the improvements are going on should go up.
    @Jake: Thanks for sharing the information. It’s mixed – some have had crashes, some have had high memory usage, but still some are happy about this version.
    @Asa Dotzler: Thanks for dropping to clarify the issue, glad to see you guys listening to us.
    @Keith, Myo, Madhur: You should try it out.
    @Jalaj: Yeah that seems to be another issue. I use a greasemonkey script + location bar extension to fix the issues (on FF2, of course).
    @Beta3, Syahid: Yeah, it’ll be better when it comes out of Beta.
    @Haris: May be you can install it when it comes out of beta, it’ll be more stable by then.
    @Nicholas: Indeed it’s the best.
    @Brown, Sumesh: Yeah, addons don’t work in this beta edition, but this page has a guide to tweak things to work – http://osxhacker.com/2007/11/22/make-your-extensions-compatible-with-firefox-3/
    @Sumesh: Very sorry for the inconvenience. I’ve made it unchecked by default.
    @Ashish: Yeah, hoping all’s good when FF 3 comes out.

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  • http://it-blog.freehostia.com/ Fahad

    Nice review. You really covered the important aspects of firefox that us users will be using frequently. And I also hope that the memory issue gets resolved. :(

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  • http://jalaj.net/ Jalaj

    Looks like you included the header with mouse just recently or am I confused?

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  • http://www.online-tech-tips.com Aseem Kishore

    Great great review man! Thanks for going through it in such depth. I’ve been having issues with all of my plugins, nothing seems to work. Other than that, I do like the new Firefox! Can’t wait for the final release.

  • http://www.techdune.com TechDune

    Hmmm..i am going to stick with Firefox 2.0.0.9 for a while .Good Review

  • http://www.shankarganesh.com/ Shankar Ganesh

    @Fahad: Everyone hopes so. :)
    @Jalaj: It was there when I made it initially itself.
    @Aseem: You’re welcome, glad you found it to be good.
    @TechDune: Thanks, you can always upgrade when FF 3 comes out of beta.

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  • http://techerin.com Robert

    I’ve been using Firefox 3 for a while now and I think it’s brilliant. It’s definitely easier on the memory usage and I love the page zooming feature, especially when using a widescreen monitor with a ‘thin’ website. Kudos to the developers.

  • Brian

    are there enough plugins/add on/extention yet? The idea of going plugin free is impossible to me.

  • http://www.djmcdougall.co.uk/ Dunk

    This is a great post. Lots of detail. You should update it for RC1