Skip to main content

Firefox 3.5: Stumbling out of the gate

Tuesday 30 June was the day that Firefox 3.5 was officially released. Many sites sang glorious hymns to its new features and overdue improvements. Based on those initial reports (I'm so gullible) I went slumming over to and downloaded the 3.5 installer. Know ye that I am a unrepentant Googlite, preferring to worship at the shiny altar of Chrome.

I've used Firefox for a long time, helping to use and test it when it was first known as Phoenix (remember them big ugly orange buttons?). Light and lean when compared to Mozilla, it was just what I wanted and needed for my own personal use.

Time marched on, and Firefox accreted features and bloat. In particular it became a memory hog around version 2. I left Firefox at version 2 on my Windows notebook, while upgrading to version 3 under Linux (both willingly as well as part of the general release schedules). I was never really tempted to move from 2 to 3 under Windows; after all, It Worked For Me and that was all that mattered.

Then, in September 2008 I installed the first Google Chrome beta for Windows, and I never looked back. It combined awesome stability with awesome speed and awesome simplicity. I wound up with not one, but two legacy browsers on my Windows notebook; IE 7 and FF 2.

Smoke Test

Based on the glowing review at Ars Technica, I downloaded and installed 3.5 earlier today. FF 3.5 installed without any issues, upgrading my NoScript plugin during the installation process. That is the first time I've every upgraded Firefox and have NoScript properly tracked, so kudos to both teams on that. The new FF also remembered all my open tabs and other bits. From an installation perspective it was fast and absolutely flawless.

Problems occurred during execution. The Ars Technica article points to a new feature developed for Firefox, 3D transforms. When I executed the demo the entire browser crashed.


One of the three reasons I gave earlier for switching to Chrome was its stability, which is due in no small part to the design decision to use a multi-process architecture, where a process is assigned to each site instance and plugin. Crashes in tabs I can live with. Crashes of the entire browser due to a problem in one tab is no longer excusable, especially within the first 30 minutes of trying out a new release.

I'm in the process of building a proof-of-concept in which certain 'fat' clients are replaced by rich browser applications. One of the assumptions going into this was that I could find at least one rock-solid browser that would not crash if there was an issue in a tab. So far Chrome lives up to that assumption. I had high hopes that FF 3.5 might be as stable, and thus a viable alternative. But after today's minor adventure I'm not so sure. At least I have Chrome.


Popular posts from this blog

cat-in-a-box channels greta garbo

So I'm sitting at my computer, when I start to notice a racket in back. I ignore it for a while until I hear a load "thump!", as if something had been dropped on the floor, followed by a lot of loud rattling. I turn around and see Lucy in the box just having a grand old time, rolling around and rattling that box a good one. I grab the GX1 and snap a few shots before she notices me and the camera, then leaps out and back into her chair (which used to be my chair before she decided it was her chair).

Just like caring for Katie my black Lab taught me about dogs, caring for Lucy is teaching me about cats. She finds me fascinating, as I do her. And she expresses great affection and love toward me without coaxing. I try to return the affection and love, but she is a cat, and she takes a bat at me on occasion, although I think that's just her being playful. She always has her claws in when she does that.

She sits next to me during the evening in her chair while I sit in mi…

vm networking problem fixed

Over the weekend I upgraded to Windows 8.1, then discovered that networking for the virtual machines wouldn't work. Then I tried something incredibly simple and fixed the problem.

Checking the system I noticed that three VMware Windows services weren't running; VMnetDHCP, VMUSBArbService, and VMwareNatService. VMware Player allows you to install, remove, or fix an existing installation. I chose to try fixing the installation, and that fixed the problem. The services were re-installed/restarted, and the virtual machines had networking again.

Once network connectivity was established there was exactly one updated file for Ubuntu 13.10, a data file. This underscores how solid and finished the release was this time. Every other version of every other Linux installation I've ever dealt with has always been succeeded by boatloads of updates after the initial installation. But not this time.

Everything is working properly on my notebook. All's right with the world.

sony's pivotal mirrorless move

I'm a died-in-the-wool technologist, even when it comes to photography. I have always been fascinated with the technology that goes into manufacturing any camera, from the lenses (optics) through the mechanical construction, the electronics involved, and especially the chemistry of the film and the sophistication of the digital sensor. It's amazing that the camera can do all it's asked of it, regardless of manufacturer.

Of all the types of cameras that I've really taken an interest in, contemporary mirrorless (again, regardless of manufacturer) are the most interesting because of the challenging problems the scientists and engineers have had to solve in order to build a compact but highly functional camera. In particular I've followed the sensor advances over the years and watched image quality climb (especially with μ4:3rds) to exceed film and rival one another such that there's very little difference any more as you move from the smaller sensors such as 4:3r…