Firefox 3 RC2: still flawed

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

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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