The blogosphere is usually a quiet place during the weekend - tumbleweeds have been known to appear on tech.memeorandum on a Sunday. Which is why I found it odd that bloggers were announcing Firefox 2.0 Alpha. It wasn't announced on the official Firefox site, which basically means it's not ready for public consumption yet. This made me hesitant about installing it. No such concerns for my mate Mike Arrington, who eats alphas for breakfast. But as he rightly pointed out, "I don’t care if it is an alpha, it has to be more stable than v.1.5." Fair enough - and if the response to my post about 1.5's memory leaks is any indication, a lot of others will feel the same.
Nevertheless Mozilla's Asa Dotzler hasn't been impressed by the pre-release publicity. He grumpily wrote:
"When we make a new release, we'll say so. Please don't report new releases because someone checks in a change to the user agent or similar. If we're actaully doing a release, we'll announce it. Thanks."
From coverage so far it seems there are some interesting new features coming up in Firefox 2.0, including a new bookmarking technique called Places. TechCrunch commenter John said it is "a radical reworking of how to manage bookmarks", but it's very buggy (that alpha thing again...). In another helpful comment on TechCrunch, Niall Kennedy explained all:
"I believe the Mozilla team is shooting for a Tuesday release of Firefox 2.0 Alpha 1. It’s called “Bon Echo” in these early stages to avoid confusion with better tested versions. Alpha 1 is frozen but enters QA testing before official release. The copy of Alpha 1 you download tonight will likely differ from the officially released Alpha 1 as the team tweaks for a developer release.
Firefox extensions check for your current version to ensure compatibility. Some plugin developers like to test and tweak for each new version of Firefox before releasing a new version.
So it appears that Firefox 2.0 Alpha will be a developers release, nicknamed "BonEcho Alpha 1". Not quite time for Joe and Jane Public to get excited yet. But if you can't wait to see what all the fuss is about, check out the Portable Firefox 2.0 Alpha 1 - as it allows you to run the alpha without messing up your actual Firefox profile.