A first look at Mozilla Firefox 0.9

I upgraded to Mozilla Firefox 0.9 today. My initial impression is pretty good, with one caveat.

If you’re running an earlier version and haven’t upgraded already, make a backup of your profile first. I upgraded from version 0.8 without uninstalling version 0.8 first, and lost my saved passwords and bookmarks. What I lost isn’t anything I can’t type in again or find again but it was annoying.

But that’s pretty much where the problems end.This new version feels faster than the old one did. It also seems a bit more stable, but a few hours of messing around isn’t enough of a test to declare something stable or not. I’m also not about to assume that any other living human being’s browser habits resemble mine.

I did notice that memory usage has a tendency to go back down as I close tabs. That’s an improvement–that didn’t always happen with older versions.

The ultimate test is going to be leaving it open for about a week of heavy use. Older versions tended to not like when I did that–memory usage would balloon and over time the speed would degrade. We’ll see how this version handles that torture test.

Since I had to go back and re-customize it, I can tell you the tweaks I make to the browser. Maybe you’ll like some of them too.

First, I type about:config into the address bar to bring up all the hidden options.

I set network.http.pipelining to true, and network.http.pipelining.maxrequests to 100. This speeds up page rendering, at the cost of occasionally mangling a page. (This happens most frequently when I visit Slashdot, ironically.) Reloading usually clears it up. The problem happens infrequently enough that I live with it–I like the speed.

I set image.animation_mode to “none”, since I find animated GIFs distracting. Try browsing with image animation turned off and I’ll bet you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. You can also set the string to “once” if you like animation. That way you can still see the animation but it doesn’t continue to loop while you’re trying to read.

I set browser.popups.showPopupBlocker to false. I don’t care to know when Firefox has blocked a popup–these days it’s pretty safe to assume that every site up there sent you a barrage of popups.

I set browser.blink_allowed to false. Few people use the dreaded blink tag anymore, especially since it was a proprietary Netscape tag that few others implemented. It doesn’t hurt anything to disable it just in case someone used it somewhere.

Since you can never have too much screen real estate, I customize the toolbars as well. If you go to View, Toolbars, Customize, you can drag the icons and menu items you use wherever you want. Drag things you don’t use down to the bottom. For example, if you never use the Go and Help menus, drag them down to get rid of them. I drag the address bar up to the top, next to the Help menu. Since I don’t use anything else on the navigation and bookmarks toolbars (I use keyboard shortcuts), I turn those off, which opens up lots more screen real estate. If there are some icons you use, you can drag them up to the menu bar and turn off those toolbars to save some space. It’s cheaper than a bigger monitor and takes up less space on your desk.

And as much as we tend to live in our web browsers these days, it’s almost as good as having a bigger monitor, isn’t it?

4 thoughts on “A first look at Mozilla Firefox 0.9

  • June 17, 2004 at 8:49 pm
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    Luckily, I came across this link before I upgraded a couple of days ago. The upgrade went flawlessly for me, though I did need to re-install some plug-ins. In any case, like Dave said, 0.9 seems a bit more peppy to me. Now that I’ve finally installed Sun’s JRE, I can use my bank’s Java-required site, removing my last excuse for firing up IE. Freedom!

  • June 18, 2004 at 12:12 am
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    Just noticed Mozilla 1.7-final came out today. Too bad, too – just installed RC3 this morning. 😉

    I use MozBackup to backup my profile every time I upgrade. That lets me do a clean installation without having to worry about losing anything.


    Dustin D. Cook, A+

    dcook32p@htcomp.net

  • June 18, 2004 at 2:01 pm
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    I upgrade today and had no problems. It kept my bookmarks. However, I did have to reinstall the extensions I use.

  • June 18, 2004 at 11:01 pm
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    I also upgraded today and had no problems. Now one thing I did was install it to a new folder. But if copied my plug-ins and bookmarks right over.

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