Firefox 3 RC2: still flawed

Firefox 3 RC2: still flawed

Summary: The world seems enamored of Firefox 3. I'm not one of them.

TOPICS: Browser

The world seems enamored of Firefox 3. I'm not one of them. I would like to be if it wasn't for the flaws I keep finding when using the Mac version. Now before the Mozilla PR squad descend like a ton of hot bricks as is their practice the moment anyone puts up even the mildest of negative comment I want to get a few things clear.

Like many others I've been using Firefox 3 for months. Firefox 2 had become a memory hog/leak nightmare but as with many tools, it's a wrench to move away from something which has become familiar. It's the old learning curve issue when making a switch to a different tool. No-one wants to do it and so 'we' users put up with problems or find workarounds. In recent times I've found that:

  • Firefox 3 beta has been a crash nightmare, especially when downloading documents for immediate viewing. The only way I could avoid that problem was to 'save' and then 'open.' RC1 continued to exhibit that behavior. RC2 seems a lot better behaved.
  • Yes, it is speedy and no it doesn't seem to be a mem hog. Yes the quick bookmark and bookmark organizing capability is great but no, most of my favorite add ons have yet to be updated/upgraded though I'm sure developers will have new versions available within days of Firefox going into production mode. Right now, the biggest loss is Greasemonkey. Update: Greasemonkey for RC2 now available from here.

Here's what I found this morning. For reasons I have not been able to fathom, FFRC2 went pear shaped. By which I mean that the back button and bookmarking capabilities stopped working plus I could not set the home page to my required preference. Worse still, even after shutting down and restarting, Firefox reported it had crashed. The net effect was that I could not do a clean restart because Firefox tries to restore the browser to its former state - which was already bricked - and so the problems kept occurring. I attempted to re-import my Safari bookmarks but that didn't work either (see screenshots.)

The only way to solve this problem is through Mozilla's recommended complete removal and re-installation. Removing the plist file is not enough. You have to remove ~Library/Application Support/Firefox which holds all your passwords.  Fortunately, I have all my passwords backed up in a separate file.

As an aside, I am finding that the Diigo sidebar and toolbar is a far superior method organizing bookmarks. I will talk about Diigo in a separate post but suffice to say it provides a rich bookmarking experience I've found hard to beat.

The screenshots below give readers some idea of the issues I faced:


Firefox 3 not showing the home page I want


Attempt to import from Safari


Import complete - but nothing there


Attempted restore from history fails

I don't know if anyone else has experienced this problem but it's serious. Not because it has happened but because it requires a totally clean re-install in order to solve the problem with all the aggravation that goes with it.

Topic: Browser

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

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  • Switch from OSX to Ubuntu

    Switch from OSX to Ubuntu if you really want to use Firefox well. Overall Open Source software is better.
    • I'm currently using Safari 3.1.1

      I downloaded it via Apple software update. I've been using it
      all morning with no problems whatsoever. Apple was pretty
      quick with this fix. As for Firefox 3, I've used it & I will tell
      you that it's still a resource hog .
    • zealotry is not helpful

      telling people to switch OS's whenever they hit a problem is not helpful.

      I use macs, UNIX, Linux, and Windows XP and Vista both at home and at my day job and every single one of them has merits and flaws. I've even run Linux (Yellow Dog and SuSE) on a mac. Want some Ubuntu specific issues? Here's a few: No commercial wireless drivers for it (and none ship with it - a problem with Linux in general), I needed to figure out the chipset, download the driver, run modprobe and install it by hand (it was worse with the stand-alone Belkin USB router on my desktop, which uses rebranded chips from several vendors - mine was Broadcom). Hardware accelerated video drivers had to be downloaded and installed separately (because Ubuntu is a GNU zealot), but yes, base framebuffer drivers worked in the interim. Some applications still have naming issues (not intuitive), and there is no commercial support (which matters to businesses).

      I would not recommend Linux on a new laptop for the wireless driver issue alone (unless you just want to use it wired), and note that most macs sold are laptops. Most new PC laptops are shipping with Wireless 'n' chips, meaning the user is basically screwed if they follow your advice unless they have very advanced hardware and software knowledge - if you don't feel comfortable opening the case and/or using tools like lspci (which doesn't always work, especially on rebranded wireless like Belkin), I wouldn't advise it.
      • For laptop/wirelsess I use Suse

        I actually prefer Fedora but in my experimenting Suse was the only linux I tried that would successfully detect and install my wireless networking during the OS install. And thats with the old standard Intel 3945 wireless. And when I'm talking about my laptop, if I cant get wireless to work then that is a show stopper. But as I said, Suse 10.3 worked so there is no reason it couldnt work with others too.
    • That's an extraordinarily generic statement...

      And I doubt you can even remotely back it up. In fact, I doubt you've ever read the GNU, EPL, CPL, LGPL or MPL licenses, or understand the difference between their sub classifications. If you did, you wouldn't make blanket statements.
    • True that (NT)

  • Firefox is better than Safari

    Safari is not a good piece of software. Firefox is way better than it
    • Hell...

      I'll take IE over Safari.
    • Which is why Firefox is bloated and flawed.

      I'll stick with (Safari) what is safe and fast.
      • Safari is the fastest for sure

        Safari is the fastest method of hacking into an OS X box. PWN2OWN proved that! 2 minutes of browsing with Safari and you are infected. No other browser can claim that sort of speed. :)
      • really? safe?

        Safari's so safe that my bank blocks its use on their website! If you don't have anti-phishing, you're fishing for trouble...
    • It's because

      The open source community brings us something everyone works on, it's not just a few people, ITS EVERYONE AROUND THE WORLD! Apple doesn't have as many programmers as open source people do, cause open source is everywhere.

      If a problem is found in Firefox, there's always a new update for Firefox the same day or the next. IE and Safari, it takes weeks to months to years to get an update.
  • Please, Please

    Please, for the love of God, before whining about Firefox, remove all extensions, and delete your old profile.
    • Pay attention

      If you read what I said, there was NO problem of this kind before RC2. It's not whining when basic functionality goes pear shaped. And yes - I did try find a fix. And yes, having had all the past problems all those pesky extensions etc were removed. Deleting the old profile isn't enough, you HAVE to go through the entire uninstall as recommended by Mozilla. It's now a question of seeing whether the fresh install remains stable or whether I can 'induce' the same behavior.
  • It works great on Vista

    Maybe it's that Mac OS - what's it called - Mac OSuX or something...?
    • More likely

      the mozilla team did a crappy port.
      • Problem not from Mozilla

        The Problem is actually from the OS not from Mozilla. Mozilla did a great job and that can be noticed on other better platforms
        • So what is to say they did not mess up the ...

          OS X version ???
        • Really?

          How do you know? This behavior didn't exist before and there have been no OS updates.
        • Instead of mouthing off like usual , why not show us

          your evidence that it is Mac OS X & not Firefox. C'mon son
          were all awaiting.