The Mozilla Firefox
web browser project has just
announced the first
beta release of Firefox 3.
release notes explain some of the major changes in this release:
Firefox 3 Beta 1 is based on the new Gecko 1.9 Web rendering platform, which has been under development for the past 27 months and includes nearly 2 million lines of code changes, fixing more than 11,000 issues. Gecko 1.9 includes some major re-architecting for performance, stability, correctness, and code simplification and sustainability. Firefox 3 has been built on top of this new platform resulting in a more secure, easier to use, more personal product with a lot under the hood to offer website and Firefox add-on developers.
The list of new features in Firefox 3 includes:
- Built-in malware protection.
- A web forgery protection page for flagging suspect pages.
- New SSL error pages that show when invalid SSL certificates are found.
- Automatic check/disable feature for insecure and obsolete plugins.
- An improved password management system.
- A streamlined add-on installation system.
- Individual plugins can be disabled in the Add-on Manager.
- A new favicon button in the location bar that displays site metadata.
- The download manager now has buttons for file location and handlers.
- Downloads can now be restarted after a new session is started.
- New zooming capabilities with a full page mode.
- New tab features including scrolling, a quickmenu and save on exit.
- Resizeable Location and Search bars.
- More options for the mouse-based text selection mechanism.
- Bookmarks can be added by clicking the star in the location bar.
- Bookmarks can now be associated with keywords.
- A new auto-complete function for the location bar.
- Search capabilities for the Bookmarks and History Organizer.
- The protocol handlers now supports web-based applications.
- A new Download Actions preference pane for configuring handlers.
- Personal data is now stored in a DBMS for improved reliability.
- Speed improvements and the fixing of numerous memory leaks.
- A number of additional features for Windows and Mac versions.
Installation of Firefox 3 was simple, the tar.bz2 file was
downloaded, uncompressed and untared. Running the software
involved moving to the newly created firefox directory and typing
./firefox on the command line.
Your author used Firefox 3 to perform a day of browser-intensive
The browser did not crash, and no unusual actions were encountered.
Performance was initially not hugely different from
Firefox 2, one noticeable slowdown was observed when switching
between tabs. After several hours of use, Firefox 3 started to
bog down considerably. The memory footprint of 300MB Virtual
and 100MB resident was slightly higher than for Firefox 2
with a similar number of open tabs.
From a user interface perspective, the browser is very similar in
appearance to Firefox 2. The location bar has a few more buttons
on the sides, moving the mouse over the buttons reveals the
underlying new functions. A number of changes are visible in the
pulldown Tools menu, but nothing is too difficult to understand.
A number of previously installed Firefox 2 plugins,
worked without any troubles.
The new Edit/Preferences/Applications window gives some new
control on the handling of various file types.
The Tools/Add-ons/Plugins window has a Get Plugins option
that should streamline the process of installing add-on
Despite the 2 million changed source code lines, Firefox 3 Beta 1
is in decent shape and appears to be close to ready for daily use.
Since the software is still in the beta stage, it may be best to
hold off on using it for mission critical applications.
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