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Firefox 3 RC2: still flawed

The world seems enamored of Firefox 3. I'm not one of them.
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Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor on

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.

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