Saturday, March 01, 2008

Regarding the other "Places"...on Committing to Firefox 3 (nightlies)

I did it.


Probably won't look back.  (Except to pay bills on-line).

So Happy with Places!

I've made the jump and am using Firefox 3 (Nightlies) as my primary web browsing platform now, something I was almost ready to do in back in December but found then it wasn't quite ready for prime time.

I've managed to get just about all my favorite "must have" extensions working under Firefox 3 (nightlies) using some simple and easy tricks.  No hiccups yet.

The biggest sale was finding out over the last two weeks that most all of the Places bookmarking system have had the major bugs worked out.  I can now easily drag and drop bookmarks into my bookmark sidebar.  I can drag-n-drop rearrangement of them with no ill effect. I can delete them from my link-bar, and with a very recent nightly update, now when you hover a drag-n-drop bookmark over a folder, the folder icon changes and "opens" to show you are ready to drop it in the correct folder!  Nice touch.

This was the biggest milestone for me as I use a highly structured system of bookmarks and folders to handle my blogging organization.

I recently went through them, post conversion and spend a good three hours re-categorizing the folders in my Firefox bookmarks. I got tons and had lots of duplicate structures.  It's much more slim now.

I also like the ease Firefox 3 provides to "export" and "backup" bookmarks under Places.  It took a while to find the difference, but if you use the "Backup" option, you can "Restore" the bookmarks in their entirety under Firefox 3 rather than "import" into the existing structure.  Very, very nice touch!

As I mentioned, I still revert to Firefox to do my on-line banking transactions.  I feel more secure with that "official release" version rather than trust any outstanding "alpha/beta" issues that Firefox 3.0 nightlies might contain.

But for my daily browsing at work and home on all our systems, I am delighted with the performance and rendering of Firefox 3.0.  I almost "dislike" using Firefox 2.0 now.

And the Memory Issues...Getting Better!

In the memory leak realm Firefox is known for, I am seeing real improvements made.

I do tweak some about:config settings on my Firefox configurations to slow the memory leak issue.

In Firefox 2.0 using Process Explorer, I regularly see the memory usage for Firefox run on average between 110,000 K to 145,000 K per browsing session.  It doesn't take long for it to get there.

In Firefox 3.0 (Minefield nightlies) using Process Explorer, I am encountering the memory usage for Firefox running on average between 65,000 K to 105,000 K per browsing session.  That's with all my extensions enabled. It takes quite a while on my system for it to reach the upper limits of that memory threshold.

So while not a truly subjective measure, I am seeing some improvement in comparisons between builds on my system at least.

And the speed is amazing...!

More FireFox 3 Performance Boost Coming?

Firefox 3 Performance Gets a Boost - Cybernet News tips us that a Profile-Guided Optimization (PGO) build of Firefox 3 has been made.  It isn't yet in the nightly Minefield builds, but hand-build editions show some really nice performance gains.

I grabbed it and made a home-brew standalone version of it just for fun.

Ryan has some comparative results all run on his system from different browsers. Obviously your results may vary depending on hardware, but it's a good way to compare browser performance on your own machine.

Related: Firefox 3 Performance Numbers via Ajaxian

Java SE "Next Generation"...coming to a Firefox 3 browser near you this summer.

A better Java for Firefox 3 : Mozilla Links - Percy Cabello goes into detail on a new test-version of Sun's Java plugin.  This one is called "Java SE Update N" and includes a kernel online installer, pre-fetching of Java in memory to enable faster Java applet and application loading and running, hardware acceleration, and a patch-based update mechanism.

It will not support Firefox 2.0, but Firefox 3 (including the nightlies) are supporting it.

Just for kicks, I've installed in on all my systems as it will co-exist with the current Java release just fine (as far as I have experienced).  Final version should come mid-year.

If you decide to install it as I did, if you uninstall it, you must (for now) do a registry edit to remove a certain registry key, otherwise Firefox won't see the installed Java version you left behind.  See this Java bug-report on the registry edit needed:

The Workaround Fix: Remove the following registry key and its "TreatAs" subkey:


For kicks, I decided to follow Ryan (of CyberNet) and run each of the Firefox web-browsers on my humble Shuttle SFF desktop system through benchmark paces with the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark.

Important Note: Your results will vary as your Firefox builds will have different tweaks and run on different hardware than my system.

Here are my comparative personal results for each browser:

Firefox 3 "Minefield" (build 2008022906) with Java SE Update N - 7855.2ms!

Firefox 3.0b4pre PGO Build - (build 2008022517) with Java 1.6 Update 10 - 8482.0ms.

Firefox (build 2008020121) with Java 1.6 Update 10 - 39562.8ms.

Yes, I'm not lying.  My "daily-use build" of Firefox 3 "Minefield" was almost five-times as fast in the test results as Firefox 2.0, and still faster than the "PGO optimized" 3.0b4 build.


Getting Firefox 3...

There are lots of ways to get Firefox 3.0

Take your pick if you are curious, the waters are quite comfortable now!

I prefer the Minefield "nightly" builds myself, but am brave and comfortable with what I am doing. If you want to play it very safe, go for either a full install for the "official" beta version from Mozilla or the PortableApps Beta 3 version which will run "isolated" and not in the traditional "installed" sense. This is the one you likely want if you already have Firefox comfortably installed on your system as it does not share your existing Firefox profile/settings.

Download Firefox 3 Beta 3 - (for normal folks who want to try Firefox 3 out).

Mozilla Firefox, PortableApps Edition 3 Beta 3 Rv2 - Installs as a "portable" standalone version.

Download Firefox "Minefield" - cutting-edge nightly builds of Firefox 3 - for brave idiots only.

Private Label Firefox Builds - list of alternative "builds and methods" of Firefox for the wickedly adventurous.

NewsFox...The BEST Firefox RSS Reader is Updated

I'm on the record of being a big fan of Newsfox, an RSS feed reader Add-on for Firefox.

NewsFox - Firefox Add-ons website.

The team has been hard at work with updates:  Latest NEXT (beta) release version is I'm using it and finding it very stable. Feed discovery speed seems to have improved a bit. Don't know if that's just me or my browser....or if real changes have been made in the performance.

Firefox Tip of the Week

Firefox Tip: Prevent Web Sites from Opening "Naked" Windows in Firefox - Via LifeHacker.

All-things-Mozilla web site MozillaZine details how to tweak your about:config settings to prevent JavaScript from launching these stripped windows. Just type about:config in your address bar, then paste dom.disable_window_open_feature into the filter textbox to start tweaking your settings.

Full details over on MozillaZine: Prevent websites from disabling new window features.

Good Luck!


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