First Look: Firefox 4 Beta 9

First Look: Firefox 4 Beta 9

Summary: On Friday Mozilla released Firefox 4 Beta 9, which will probably be the final beta build - finally! - for this browser before we hit Release Candidate and an official release sometime towards the end of February.

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TOPICS: Browser
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On Friday Mozilla released Firefox 4 Beta 9, which will probably be the final beta build - finally! - for this browser before we hit Release Candidate and an official release sometime towards the end of February.

Check out the Firefox 4 Beta 9 image gallery!

If you've been keeping up with the beta builds and have been using the Beta 8 release (released December 22) then you're not going to see a lot of changes in Beta 9. In fact, going by the release notes there's only two changes of any importance highlighted by Mozilla:

What about bugs? Well, according to Mozilla quite a few are still lurking. Johnathan Nightingale, the director of Firefox development, says that currently there are 143 hard blocker bugs (bugs that would prevent Firefox from shipping) in the code. However, Nightingale does seems to suggest that there's some flexibility in terms of squashing all the bugs:

Blocker bugs have a rank order. If you can’t have all of them, there are some you’d want more than others, even though every single one of them is a bug we want to fix. That’s healthy. Building software means making those calls. Each bug is evaluated against whether it’s worth holding back the thousands of fixes that have already made it into the Firefox 4 tree. At this point, very few bugs are worth holding back that much awesome.

However, Damon Sicore, the Senior Director of Platform Engineering at Mozilla, believes that there should be another beta, if time allows:

We've worked tremendously hard on Firefox 4, and it's time to ship it.  I'm seeing the same burst of excitement and activity that we've seen in the endgame of every release.  Over the past several days, component leads have again reduced their blockers by identifying hard blockers and those we can live without.  We've around 160 hard blockers remaining, and historically it has taken us six weeks to reach RC once we have 100 blockers left.  We must press hard now. To Finish:   1) We have to reach Release Candidate status as quickly as possible, ideally finishing the hard blockers by the beginning of February and shipping final before the end of February.  We'll need your help to balance these targets against the need to build a high quality product. 2) Bug counts demand another beta. We'll drive the beta bugs to zero and ship another beta. If we can't get them to zero in reasonable time, we'll repeat, deliberately.  It depends on how quickly we can drive down the list of hard blockers that need beta feedback. This is our top development priority, since it pushes the rest of our schedule. 3)  We need *everyone* to help in testing.  Specifically:  Do not disable Flash, Silverlight, or other major plugins as we need as many people testing these as possible.  Windows users:  We need to know if you are affected by hardware acceleration causing crashes or other issues.  Don't just assume that someone else has filed a bug already.  Make sure.  Ask someone if you don't know how.  This is very important.

Squashing nearly 150 bugs in a little over a month ... I'll let you judge if this is optimistic or not.

Some random thoughts on Firefox 4:

  • Nice, fast, robust browser.
  • JägerMonkey JavaScript engine gives Google Chrome a run for its money.
  • The re-tweaked interface is a nice, and welcome, change. Mozilla's solution to removing the menu bar and replacing it with a 'button' will be familiar to Opera users.
  • The revamped Add-on manager is pleasant to use.
  • Sync between desktop and mobile is a nice feature but somewhat clunky.
  • Crash protection makes using Flash, Quicktime and Silverlight a bit nicer to use.

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the Release Candidate.

Topic: Browser

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31 comments
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  • RE: First Look: Firefox 4 Beta 9

    Its still taking them entirely too long to get FF4 final out. They need a new PM.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: First Look: Firefox 4 Beta 9

      @Loverock Davidson
      By all means step and and so something useful
      RobertFolkerts
      • RE: First Look: Firefox 4 Beta 9

        @RobertFolkerts
        I will just as soon as they release FF4, I'll be using it.
        Loverock Davidson
    • Still no sandbox

      @Loverock Davidson
      Firefox is the only mainstream browser without this very important security feature. And it is *the* most buggy browser (security bugs and otherwise) to boot. Which only makes it more incomprehensible. Mozilla has got their priorities wrong and they are losing out to Chrome because of it.

      Buggy, crashing, leaking.
      honeymonster
      • RE: First Look: Firefox 4 Beta 9

        @honeymonster
        I'm hoping a lot of those issues get resolved. But right now FF has the best add-on support so given some the drawbacks you highlight it makes up for it in plug-ins.
        Loverock Davidson
      • Firefox 4 beta 9 : a great release

        A lot of very interesting functions, very fast, protecting Your Privacy, synchornisation, full hardware acceleration, 3D on the Web, Paronama, Multi-touch Support, Javascript compartments, ... It is normal that it is remained some bugs because it is not yet the final version but I am already using Firefox beta 9 as my main browser. A lot of plugin are already compatible with the beta 9 .
        Calystor
      • RE: First Look: Firefox 4 Beta 9

        @honeymonster

        Been runninf beta 9 since it launched. It is now the faster browser on Windows across the board. Startup times, which were an major are of advantage for competitors, have somehow been reduced by a LOT.

        Crashes so far: 0.

        By the way, I hate the new interface. I know I am in the minority. But to each their own, right? Any way to get it back to looking like 3.x?
        x I'm tc
    • RE: First Look: Firefox 4 Beta 9

      @Loverock Davidson - Instead of complaining, then do something about it. Sheesh...
      ahh so
      • RE: First Look: Firefox 4 Beta 9

        @ahh so
        I will just as soon as they release a FF4 final, I'll be using it.
        Loverock Davidson
  • Been using the beta

    As my sole browser since b5, and I haven't looked back. 3.6 was promptly uninstalled.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • RE: First Look: Firefox 4 Beta 9

    The best just keep getting better.
    james347
  • Is Adblock available for this?

    Or NoScript? Without those two, this isn't much better than IE
    LTV10
    • Working perfectly here

      @LTV10

      I have both addons working perfectly on my setup.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • How about IEtab2?

        @Cylon Centurion 0005

        This is the big one for me, as we have some in-house stuff that the Lazy-@%#$%&$%^& programmers won't clean up and standardize (And they're trying to sell these as a service to others outside the Company . . .).
        JLHenry
      • RE: First Look: Firefox 4 Beta 9

        @JLHenry

        I wish I could tell you :/

        I've never used IETabs. I not one for installing many addons. The only two I install are coincidentally Adblock Plus and NoScript.

        At first I had to setup Firefox to skip version check for them to install, but now I do believe both AdBlock Plus and NoScript work natively.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: First Look: Firefox 4 Beta 9

        Well speaking of plug-ins, what about the menu bar?

        Or the bookmarks toolbar?

        Dude, I need those. Bad.
        ahh so
      • RE: First Look: Firefox 4 Beta 9

        Both of those are easily put back in, though I guess you were really being facetious.
        Michael Alan Goff
    • Menu bar?

      @ahh so

      Really? A menu bar? I didn't realize this was 1995 yet.

      The bookmarks toolbar is still there. I have it on right now.


      But I kinda get the feeling you're just trolling my response.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • Yes, a menu bar

        @Cylon Centurion 0005 - got a problem with that?

        I'm not of the school that says [b]everything[/b] has to be minimalist, or that browsers have to look like toys.

        Besides, goob256 already answered the question while you were too lazy to.
        ahh so
  • Beta 9?

    I loved Firefox for a long time, but jumped ship to Chrome for a leaner browser, and oddly enough back to IE9 for some other reasons, but how long does it take to make a next version? Haven't we been building up to Version 4 for ... what, near a year now maybe?
    clindhartsen