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The new browser war
September 17, 2004 7:36 AM   Subscribe

Firefox 1.0 Preview Release is now available. The Spread Firefox site hopes to see a million downloads, and they've already passed the halfway mark. The advantages of Firefox have been previously discussed on MeFi, but this version includes an interesting new feature - Live Bookmarks, which allow you to view RSS news and blog headlines in the bookmarks toolbar or bookmarks menu. Obsessively checking MetaFilter is now easier than ever.
posted by Stuart_R (51 comments total)

 
Best headline: Internet Explorer susceptible to new market share vulnerability
posted by eatitlive at 7:48 AM on September 17, 2004


My favorite use of Live Bookmarks:

Store all your daily links (aka blogroll) on del.icio.us. Categorize them as you wish. Then use the category specific RSS they provide to create a dynamically updating folder of bookmarks. It will be seemlessly synchronized on any PC you use. You can just middle click on the whole folder to open all the sites in tabs, and read at will.

(This is mainly for us old-school people who don't like feed readers.)
posted by smackfu at 7:58 AM on September 17, 2004


Every time I get comfortable with the latest release for firefox, they release a new one. I'm glad that they simply get better with each release, but I find it irritating that I'm updating it 3 times a year. Sigh...Okay, version 1.0 here I come.
posted by ashbury at 8:04 AM on September 17, 2004


I love that 'Open in tabs' thing for bookmarks! Loads all your daily fixes at the same time, ready to click compulsively from one to the other!
posted by NekulturnY at 8:08 AM on September 17, 2004


Open in tabs is the only way to get through Metafilter.
posted by quarsan at 8:11 AM on September 17, 2004


Is it rude to laugh out loud at my coworkers who are still using Internet Explorer and don't have the first clue what tabbed browsing is like?

Thanks for the post, my download is just about halfway done now and one more when I get to work!
posted by fenriq at 8:16 AM on September 17, 2004


Neil Turner has a good review of the new features here.
posted by skallas at 8:16 AM on September 17, 2004


RSS/LiveBoookmarks are great until everyone starts using it, resulting in DDOS attacks on the servers as large RSS fees get downloaded every 2 minutes every time someone clicks their bookmarks button.
posted by afx114 at 8:22 AM on September 17, 2004


While I'm glad that there's a good alternative to IE (which I hate with the passion of a 1,000 suns), I think that the more Firefox gets used, the more it'll be attacked by l337 hackzorz.

Though I use Firefox for browsing, it's a terrible platform to test web pages on, precisely because it's so compliant. If it was all I used to test, I'd never realize how bad good html looked in IE. With more people using firefox, MS might have an excuse to make IE compliant, or maybe in a while, I could forget about it as statistically insignificant.

So I'm torn. Anyone want to help me pick a side?
posted by hoborg at 8:30 AM on September 17, 2004


how do you explain why tabbed browsing is better than just having several windows open? I like it, but I can't get past the personal preference aspect when talking about it to others.
posted by evening at 8:38 AM on September 17, 2004


It loads all the pages at the same time - less effort, faster clicking: you don't have to open each page separately.
posted by NekulturnY at 8:42 AM on September 17, 2004


I like Firefox, but I can't stand the look of GTK+ in KDE. I asked in Ask Metafilter, but nobody was able to solve my problem. Until somebody can tell me how to change the GNOME theme in KDE, and keep it persistent across sessions, and without buggering up the fonts, Firefox will continue to look like crap. Which is a shame, because it's clearly the best browser out there. Oh for a Qt build.
posted by salmacis at 8:43 AM on September 17, 2004


why tabbed browsing is better than just having several windows open

(1) Far easier to navigate between them when you have 10+ pages loaded
(2) Doesn't clutter your start-bar, if you're in Windows, so you can get to your other applications quicker.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:46 AM on September 17, 2004


Right - I'm using it. Crashed once and seems a bit unprofessional in some places but certainly appears like the way forward. Got an adblock plugin and exported (post fiddling with text editors) my adhshield block list. Seems to be working pretty well. I like this RSS business too.
posted by ed\26h at 8:58 AM on September 17, 2004


> I like Firefox, but I can't stand the look of GTK+ in KDE.

If you use KDE's "Plastik" theme, there is a Firefox theme that tries to match it. Not updated to work with 1.0PR yet, but the author says that it will in the next few days. Gecko (the Mozilla rendering engine) has also recently been ported to Qt, so you may yet get your wish.
posted by infidelpants at 9:13 AM on September 17, 2004


RSS/LiveBoookmarks are great until everyone starts using it, resulting in DDOS attacks on the servers as large RSS fees get downloaded every 2 minutes every time someone clicks their bookmarks button.

Actually, it looks like it only loads the RSS/LiveBookmarks once per browser load + bookmark check. My MetaFilter Livebookmark isn't updating the new items that were recently added.

Maybe not QUITE as handy... but maybe a little nicer to site owners as well.
posted by Stuart_R at 9:18 AM on September 17, 2004


As it's a preview, why do they not still furnish a link to the 0.9.1 Firefox?

I don't want the up-to-the-minute candidates - I want you guys to test it first!
posted by dash_slot- at 9:30 AM on September 17, 2004


Stuart: Right click on a live bookmark folder, and click "Refresh Live Bookmarks."
posted by ALongDecember at 9:40 AM on September 17, 2004


Where did "find as you type" go, or whatever it was called?
posted by puffin at 10:27 AM on September 17, 2004


Not sure if this is what you're looking for, but it still works if you press / before you start typing. It doesn't find the links by default like it used to though... have to mess around a bit more.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 10:32 AM on September 17, 2004


there are settings for find as you type in the prefs. I think I had to turn it on with this release.
posted by putzface_dickman at 10:34 AM on September 17, 2004


You need to enable find as you type in tools > options > advanced not sure why its disabled by default.
posted by zeoslap at 10:35 AM on September 17, 2004


I've been using MyIE2 (now known by the awful name Maxthon) for a while, and quite like it. I'd switch to Firefox if it offers a feature similar to MyIE2's "Groups": create a group of favorite sites, load the group and all those sites load up in tabs. Is this the equivalent of the "open in tabs" feature NekulturnY mentioned?

MyIE2 also lets you open a link (page, image) to a new tab by clicking and "throwing" it in any direction, which I think is a cool alternative to setting all links to open in a new tab.
posted by schoolgirl report at 10:48 AM on September 17, 2004


schoolgirl report: My copy (0.9.3, Linux) of Firefox will open a folder of bookmarks in tabs if I middle-click on that folder; I don't know if you can set up a single bookmark that achieves the same purpose (I don't actually use Ff much). I'm not sure what is meant by "throwing" a link.
posted by infidelpants at 10:53 AM on September 17, 2004


There was some squiryness I found with finding myself in caret mode and finding "find as you type" behavior altered. Switching some settings helped with this but the settings are underdocumented.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:00 AM on September 17, 2004


What I'd like to see is the ability to rip a tab out of a browser window and start a window or put it in another window of tabs. Or movable tabs within the browser window so I can clean things up a bit.

evening, I sometimes have twenty five tabs in a browser window going. That many open pages is just a mess to navigate through. Many people are one or two window at a time browsers but I routinely have fifteen tabs going. It works for me far better.
posted by fenriq at 11:05 AM on September 17, 2004


fenriq: I think you'll find what you're looking for here.
posted by trharlan at 11:11 AM on September 17, 2004


schoolgirl report: My personal Firefox setup is to have it open links in a new tab only if I middle-click on the link. Left-clicking on a link will open it regular style.

This "middle-click browsing" (middle-clicking on a tab also closes it) is the main reason I <heart> Firefox.
posted by neckro23 at 11:12 AM on September 17, 2004


Well shoot, I'm on a laptop and using a touchpad. No middle-click!

Infidelpants: by "throwing" a link I mean you click and hold, then move your mouse/touchpad in any direction and let go. Handy.
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:41 AM on September 17, 2004


dash_slot: 0.10PR is based upon the same branch as 0.9.1 with only fixes which have been proven to be extremely stable, so it's more tested than 0.9.1. Also, you do not want to be using 0.9.1 since a critical security vulnerability (in BMP rendering) has been found and fixed for 0.10PR.
posted by azazello at 11:49 AM on September 17, 2004


Firefox has (at leas) two different choices for mouse gestures. You can get the regular mouse gestures but I prefer radial context myself.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:56 AM on September 17, 2004


schoolgirl report: Ah, I see how that would be nice on a one-button setup. I use middle-clickery myself.

It appears that the mouse gestures plugin linked to by KirkJobSluder supports somewhat similar functionality, though it requires more precision than just 'throwing' the link.
posted by infidelpants at 12:10 PM on September 17, 2004


> Right - I'm using it. Crashed once and seems a bit unprofessional

Keep in mind this is a preview release. I've already found two semi-reproducable crash bugs. It was pretty weird as I haven't had a FF crash in months, it took me a minute to realize what was going on.

If this keeps happening I'll just go back to .9 until they have a final and stable 1.0 release. I'm not terribly worried about the security faults in .9 until theres at least one exploit in the wild. Yeah, I like to live dangerously.
posted by skallas at 12:10 PM on September 17, 2004


Well shoot, I'm on a laptop and using a touchpad. No middle-click!

Last time I used Firefox on a PC laptop, clicking the left and right buttons simultaneously will work the same as middle-clicking.
posted by gyc at 12:18 PM on September 17, 2004


CTRL+Click will get you the same thing. And tabbrowser extensions will allow you to tweak all this out to a much more granular level. To the point where I can no longer use IE to search Google for how to fix things when my Firefox upgrade goes bad because of tabbrowser extensions.
posted by yerfatma at 12:41 PM on September 17, 2004


Well shoot, I'm on a laptop and using a touchpad. No middle-click

Also you can ctrl+click, which is what I do on my laptop, and with a laptop seems like second nature. I have chosen the preference of All-In-One Gestures, which saw it's extension updated to the 1.0PR today. I like to right click, and drag over any link that I want to open, usually a list of weblogs from someones blog, and follow that with dragging right, up, left, before releasing the mouse button, and all the links I just moved over are now simultaneously opening in tabs in the background. The all in one gestures also includes a feature that lets you use the scroll wheel over the tab bar to move between tabs, and also , right clicking and rolling the mouse wheel, one direction shows a history
and the other something else.

Neckro - thanks for the middle click on the tab hint.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 12:49 PM on September 17, 2004


What bugs me is why, this late in the game, there are enough changes in the extension system that extensions which work fine with 0.9x don't necessarily work with 1.0PR.
posted by billsaysthis at 1:09 PM on September 17, 2004


schoolgirl report - I use an extension called Super DragAndGo for throwing urls into new tabs.
posted by iamjacksamnesia at 1:23 PM on September 17, 2004


skallas - what are the bugs? (Also you might want to check if they're caused by the extensions you're using.)
posted by azazello at 2:13 PM on September 17, 2004


billsaythis - the problem with extensions not working with 1.0PR is partly that extensions are all marked with the minimum and maximum compatible versions of Firefox. So, an extension might be compatible with 1.0PR, but if it says it's ony compatible with 0.7-0.91, it will be disabled. All the author needs to do is bump the compatibility info. I don't think that many extensions were truly broken by the new release. (But I could be wrong.)
posted by Turd Ferguson at 2:24 PM on September 17, 2004


trharlan, thanks for the link, quite right, lots of goodies in there and I'm gonna soup up my Firefox!

On an aside, I just saw this Microsoft's IE Losing Users.
posted by fenriq at 3:31 PM on September 17, 2004


Why are they trying to "get the word out" and get a million downloads of a buggy prerelease? At least wait until 1.0 final is out, or the inevitable 1.0.1!
posted by zsazsa at 3:32 PM on September 17, 2004


In most cases, the preview release and the final release are identical.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:49 PM on September 17, 2004


I've been using the nightly version for months and I don't find it buggy. If you're hitting bugs, then it was good that you downloaded it so you can report them.
posted by smackfu at 4:11 PM on September 17, 2004


Keep in mind this is a preview release...posted by skallas

I love FF, but I am still coloured unconvinced. If this is a preview, released with caveats, then imho 0.9.1 should still be available for d/l.

I can recommend the browser I use, but not the untested-by-me-only-version-available-now Preview 1.0 - award winning or not. This is not a unanimous thread of hagiographers - and I'm just arguing for choice.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:50 PM on September 17, 2004


dash_slot: Usually, I would agree with making older versions available. However, the apparent severity of the recently announced and very public buffer overflow exploit in 0.9.1 makes offering it for download irresponsible in my mind.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:08 PM on September 17, 2004


Thanks, KJS, I see what you mean.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:02 PM on September 17, 2004


Love Firefox, hate the Live Bookmarks. I'll stick with Feedemon for that, thanks.
posted by punkrockrat at 7:00 PM on September 17, 2004


> As it's a preview, why do they not still furnish a link to the 0.9.1 Firefox? I don't want the up-to-the-minute candidates - I want you guys to test it first!

If you're really anal about seeing older versions, then you want the FireFox releases folder.

The resaon they want you to download the new version is that they want people to test it. It is labeled a preview release but it's more accurately a release candidate. If people don't download and run the release candidate, Mozilla won't be able to find out if it's qualified to be a 1.0 release. With Mozilla per se, the goal of the 1.0 release was to be a stable, features-locked browser platform that could be released to commercial licensees (such as Netscape, which developed Netscape 7.2 from that base code). The goal for Firefox is to be Mozilla's leading-edge IE killer, and it's making notable headway in that general direction.

Really, 1.0PR is tested, and solid, and fast. The primary goal of the last couple of rounds of releases has been removal of test code and stability. Features that aren't stable or fully formed are being removed from the tree and pushed to a post-1.0 release. I don't expect you'll have much trouble with 1.0PR, although the entire point is to discover people like you who do, by expanding the testing cohort. If they didn't think it was ready for this role, 1.0PR wouldn't exist -- it would be 0.94 or some such.

There will always be bugs; the program is under constant development. The argument about killing all bugs before release has been had, roughly a year ago (search mozillazine if you like), and the idea that it's possible to do that is really demonstrably false (and obvious to most experienced developers), so the point of making a roadmap and freezing features and yes, releasing software is to have something that balances number, usefulness, and usability of features with the lowest number of show-stopper bugs. Firefox wants to be a browser, not a browser project.
posted by dhartung at 12:44 AM on September 18, 2004


If you use KDE's "Plastik" theme, there is a Firefox theme that tries to match it. Not updated to work with 1.0PR yet, but the author says that it will in the next few days. Gecko (the Mozilla rendering engine) has also recently been ported to Qt, so you may yet get your wish.
It's not the theme that's the problem. Orbit is a perfectly acceptable theme. It's the widget set that's the problem. I can't change the fonts, the colour or the way the dialog boxes and menus look.

I read about porting Mozilla, but I'm not holding my breath on that one. They seemed to be more interested in providing a Gecko KPart for Konqueror than a standalone browser. Konquerer as it is is a perfectly acceptable browser. It renders well and has much to recommend it. The only problem is that I miss all the firefox extensions, especially adblock and flash click-to-view. I want to be able to right click on an advert and get a menu to add that advert to a global block list.
posted by salmacis at 1:38 AM on September 18, 2004


I'm a lifelong IE user, and I figured I should check this out, if only to make sure my site reads well on common browsers other than IE. Honestly, the only thing I've ever disliked about IE has been all the hidden stuff, and a glitch that makes my Flash button clicking not work.

It's okay, and I really do like that open all in tabs feature, but it's the little things that are driving me crazy.

Maybe it's just because I'm a n00b with Firefox but the importing of the bookmarks from IE just vomited them in a scattered order into the folder, with a handful of new folders and new links I apparently can't get rid of thrown in.

I used Nutshell on IE, so the built-in equivalent in Firefox is cool, but it doesn't seem like I can actually size the address bars for them, or put them on a seperate line from the nav buttons, as I could in IE.

I know there's a whole "uniqueness in itself" thing, but I'm the type of person who kills the XP style and reverts to Classic the moment I do a clean install. If I can't make this look like the browser I've used happpily for eight years, I'm not gonna enjoy using it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:29 AM on September 18, 2004


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