Firefox 3

by davidnielsen

A while back I compared using Firefox to being the unwilling participant in a hardcore BDSM relationship – a comparison which while I found fair was not entirely welcomed as the gospel truth it is. However in the interest of fairness I have now installed Firefox 3 beta 2 on my development box – the quick buttomline is that Firefox is still a bit unpleasant to use but it has improved massively and a lot of of the stuff I was annoyed about in Firefox 3 has been fixed.

The good:
It now picks up the native widgets so websites look pretty, it also picks up the native icons so it feels a lot more like a native application. I like the fact that Firefox no longer looks like ass. For a beta release it is very stable and I have yet to see a crash, as such I am very impressed with the work that has gone into the Linux side of things.

The bad:
It’s still really really slow, taking seconds to launch on a dual core AMD64 with 2 gigs of ram is just unforgivable. Additionally it still appears to be leaking memory, the idle use starts out around 90 megs and easily hits 140 megs after a bit of use without ever getting back to normal. This was rather disappointing. I don’t get the new star bookmarking, while this rocks, why does it not entirely replace the existing bookmarking.. now we have two system. I would like this to hook directly up to some kind of social bookmarking site so I could get free tagging and thus share my bookmarks between machines in a nicely organized format.

The unforgivable:
Firefox still thinks it’s a good idea that it is encourages the user to install plugins around my package manager, this seems insecure to me. Firefox also still feels the need reinvent translations which causes it to break my interface.. currently my desktop is in Brazilian Portuguese (trying to learn), and Firefox is in English. Absolutely not desirable even when it does get updated since it’s not likely to be updated by the same translation teams so it will use unfamiliar words (though not Firefox’ fault they are certainly not helping).

Overall I would like to commend the Firefox developers in fixing a lot of their integration issues. I no longer hold a deep irrational hate for Firefox, but I still see it has having serious problems and I would prefer not to use it over a more lightweight and integrated solution. I look forward to seeing what they can do with all those Google millions Firefox 3 is rather an impressive improvement and their Weave project looks really interesting.

I will still be using Epiphany, I got WebKit working with Epiphany and it’s blazing fast, uses only around 40 megs of memory.. sadly it’s still lacking a bit of functionality and the stability leaves a lot to be desired. Never the less I am very impressed with the promise this shows. Combining the low resource use and speed with the nice interface Epiphany presents is clearly a winner for me for now.