Cyberborean Chronicles

Firefox 2.0

Firefox I’ve moved from Firefox 1.5 to the hot new 2.0 version. Though I think the changes I have found don’t worth to increase a major version number, Firefox got better anyway. Even at first sight.

I expected that Firefox would can update itself via built-in updating mechanism, but it was not so. The latest version which the updater
could find was 1.5.0.7. So, it was needed to download and unpack a tar.gz distributive from GetFirefox. I thought it was even better way to install, because the previous working installation was left untouched and I could roll back safely if something were go wrong with 2.0 version.

Luckily, nothing bad was happened. Installation (which is just the first Firefox launching) has gone smoothly and without any problem. Firefox transparently imported all my settings, bookmarks, toolbars and history, so nothing had been lost from my previous installation. It also checked the installed extensions for compatibility with 2.0 version and offered to install newest versions of outdated (incompatible) add-ons. The most important ones (such as del.icio.us, Adblock, FlashGot etc) already had 2.0-compatible updates so there were no problems with them. In fact, there was only one add-on which caused the problems – a custom extension by my ISP for displaying my account balance in Firefox statusbar. It was very helpful and I didn’t want to lose it even until an updated release. Fortunately, two-minutes-long research and a little hack made it 2.0-compatible :-) – I just changed maxVersion parameter in its install.rdf manifest file.

So, besides the smooth and easy installation, there is a lot of improvements I liked:

  • Session support is a great new feature – you can close the browser with a heap of tabs opened, turn your machine off and go to bed. The next time you started Firefox, you will get the same set of tabs with the same web-sites and start to continue your work immediately.
  • New tabs are more usable – now they have the closing buttons and site icons. When it is too much of the tabs opened, they can be scrolled. It seems that the developers have been inspired by Eclipse tabs – there is exactly the same user experience.
  • Built-in spellchecker is awesome. Actually, it already helps me when I’m typing this article.
  • New add-ons manager now combines both extensions and themes management and updating.
  • It is possible to set a custom application to handle RSS links. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for me, as Akregator (my RSS client) needs “-a” option to add a new feed, but Firefox doesn’t allow to edit a command line. But it should work fine with on-line agregators (and few ones are predefined there).

Well, Firefox 2.0 is, of course, not a revolutionary step in web-browsing experience. It is just an usual best browser on the planet which now is got even better. It’s just Firefox.

[added, 10-30]

My software reviews usually have two parts “What’s good” and “What’s bad”. As this review had been written under first impressions, I had no idea what’s bad in Firefox 2.0. But after three days of using it I found a really nasty bug: When scrolling the window, there are the visual glitches with fonts. Sometimes they look just mangled. I have no idea is it an X, xfs, or Firefox issue, but I didn’t see it on 1.5 version. So, “What’s bad” section is opened. Sadly enough.

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