Get it. Now. You won’t regret it.
Just came across this which confirmed the feeling I’ve had for the last few days: Firefox 3 is fast and memory friendly.
The previous beta (b3) gave me quite a few problems. There were a few annoying bugs, the most annoying one being memory usage, though to be fair it was not as bad as Firefox 2. Yet, I was forced to restart the browser once every two days or so.
With beta4, Firefox has turned into a real speed demon. Also, it doesn’t eat nearly as much memory as it used to. It may not be as fast as Opera yet, but Opera (sadly, because I really like Opera) has psycho-fits when there’s a lot of flash content on a page (as is the case with YouTube). Those pages cause Opera to freeze for minutes. And I am not very patient..
I didn’t use Firefox 2 much, as I really didn’t get on well with it. Instead I used a combination of Galeon, Epiphany, Opera and even Konqueror. But ever since Firefox 3 beta 2 was released, Firefox has gone back to being my primary browser.
I cannot say much about how well various extensions work, because I’m not an extension groupie. The one that I really use, ScrapBook, works just fine.
I had a little bit of time over so I was able to upgrade to the latest beta of Firefox 3. No issues so far. It hasn’t crashed yet, my ScrapBook extension seems to work and the flash, java and mplayer plug-ins as work fine.
But it *still* cannot keep my bookmarks sorted alphabetically.
Last night I decided to finally try out the Firefox beta. I’ve been hearing some good stuff about it, and since my Internet link was a bit decent for a change I thought “Why not”? This is how I got it up and running on my Debian box.
Download and Install
Once downloaded, “installing” is actually just a matter of extracting the archive. My preferred location is /opt so I did (as root, of course):
# cd /opt
# tar jxf firefox-3.0b2.tar.bz2
But having to type /opt/firefox/firefox into fbrun each time you want to launch firefox is probably not much fun so:
# ln -s /opt/firefox/firefox /usr/local/bin
Now you can run firefox by just typing firefox, at least assuming that /usr/local/bin is in your path. If, for some strange reason, it is not, as your user:
% path=(/usr/local/bin $path)
..will do the trick. You will probably want to put that in your .zshenv as well, so that you don’t have to type it each time you log in.
If you still have firefox2/iceweasel installed on your system, then it will depend on the order of elements in $PATH, which firefox gets launched when you type ‘firefox’. There are several ways you can deal with this, depending on your own preferences.
aptitude remove iceweasel. That may be a little drastic. On, the other hand, I cannot stand the name iceweasel, so I was more than happy to get rid of it. If the Firefox 3 beta gives me any problems, I’m not too worried. I’ve got Opera.
If you aren’t ready to ditch Firefox 2, then you can either rename /usr/bin/firefox to something like /usr/bin/firefox2 or rename /usr/local/bin/firefox to /usr/local/bin/firefox3. It all depends on which browser you want to be launched when you type firefox.
You probably already have some plug-ins running with your current Firefox, such as flash, mozilla-mplayer and the Java plug-in. To use them in Firefox 3, simply:
# cd /opt/firefox
# rm -rf plugins
# ln -s /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins /opt/firefox/plugins
And now you should have your plug-ins working in Firefox 3.
The verdict so far
I haven’t had a chance to discover all that much, but so far Firefox 3 hasn’t given me any worries. One of the biggest benefits of using Mozilla’s packages, from a Debian user’s point-of-view, is that you get rid of that brain-dead iceweasel name.
One thing I never liked about Firefox was bookmarks management. It has always felt very quirky to me. For instance, I always want to have my folders and bookmarks sorted alphabetically by name, automatically. Also, using folders to categorize bookmarks felt limiting. I’ve always liked the ideas behind Epiphany’s bookmarking system, even though it can get difficult to manage with a lot of bookmarks.
Firefox 3 now allows you to attach tags to bookmarks. You can still categorize them into folders as well. I haven’t had a chance to play around with this yet but I will be really happy if this helps me bring about some order among my bookmarks.
There is also a little icon in the address bar that you can click to bookmark a page. I don’t really know why they added that, since CTRL+D is far quicker. Also, they used a star icon. It got me confused at first. I’m having some difficulty associating the image of a star with the concept of a bookmark. Maybe I’m just awfully stupid and don’t get the obvious..
The address-bar has a new, more visual drop-down. It searches through not only your history but your bookmarks (and bookmark tags) as well. I haven’t used it long enough to say whether it is useful or annoying, but the default font size is *very* large..
Well, that’s about it for now. I will be using Firefox 3 as my browser for a while, to put it to the test. Then we’ll see whether I stay with it or crawl back to trusty old Opera. I’m sure I’ll keep you posted whatever I decide to do.
Although I have Firef.. um.., Iceweasel [ ] on my system, I tend to use Opera most of the time (at least when I need a graphical browser).
It’s a nice browser, does what I need it to, and is much more lightweight than Firefox. It also seems to render pages much faster. The few times when I hit a site that does not render well on Opera, I can always switch to Firefox for that particular site.
However, there one thing that does get to me. I have the following bindings set up in ~/.fluxbox/keys:
Mod4 G :Exec setxkbmap -layout gh -variant ga
Mod4 S :Exec setxkbmap -layout se -variant nodeadkeys
Mod4 U :Exec setxkbmap -layout us
These bindings allow me quickly to switch between American English, Swedish and Ga keyboard layouts. This works well in *every* single application I use, except for Opera. Rxvt handles it, Gvim handles it, Firefox handles it, Zim handles it, so why not Opera? Opera just keeps printing [, ‘ and ; even when I have Swedish keyboard selected and would expect å, ä and ö.
I wonder if it is a Qt thing? I don’t really use many Qt applications, and Opera would be the only one where I need to switch between different keyboard layouts. I’m using Opera 9.5beta, but have had the same issue with previous versions.
It’s too bad, because apart from that I’m happy with Opera. But, why, why, can’t I use standard tools and expect Opera to behave like everything else? Opera developers, for next year’s Yule, could you *please* fix this minor dent in you browser?
Oh, yeah, I got *inspired* to write this because I had to type a post in Swedish and had to go through the type-characte-rselect-switch-to-opera-middle-click hell once more!
Oh, and lest I forget: Happy Yule to all!
Edit: see my next post for a solution and why Opera is not to be blamed.