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Firefox 4 Beta 8 Up 385

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the not-the-fish dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla has released a new beta of Firefox 4 this morning. Originally intended as a quick update for the feature-complete Beta 7 release, the new Beta includes 1415 bugfixes, a fine-tuned add-ons manager, improved WebGL support as well as URL bar enhancements."
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Firefox 4 Beta 8 Up

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  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:13PM (#34631228)

    Will the next version of Firefox (whatever version it may be) be slower? Because quite frankly, FF has become a giant turd in that respect, so much so that, although I love it, I'm considering alternatives on my lower-end machines...

    • by Wordplay (54438) <geo@snarksoft.com> on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:19PM (#34631318)

      http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2010/10/are_we_fast_yet.html [mozillazine.org]

      That benchmark is a bit old (two months ago), but you get the idea.

      • http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/asa/archives/2010/10/are_we_fast_yet.html [mozillazine.org]

        That benchmark is a bit old (two months ago), but you get the idea.

        Funny, I initially misread the article title as "Firefox 4 Beat 8 Up", which could be true if that trend line continued for the past two months. ("8" meaning Chrome v8.) Browser deathmatch!!

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:27PM (#34631502)

        There's more to a browser than rendering and Javascript performance. Firefox has become a hard disk hog. It almost continually writes to disk, which can be very slow, for example on netbooks with first generation SSDs or when you keep your profile on a USB stick (portable Firefox). Worst of all, when it does write to disk, the whole browser locks up. It's barely usable on netbooks for that single reason. You'd think that nothing a browser does could justify writing or reading megabytes of data almost every minute. That's still what happens. (No, extensions or plugins are not involved.)

        • by damien_kane (519267) <damien@st r a t . net> on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:41PM (#34631740) Homepage
          The simplest solution is to turn of hdd-caching, but a more in-depth solution is to actually setup a RAMdrive and point your FFCache, IECache, and Windows Temp directories at that.

          Unfortunately setting up a ramdrive is above the general public's scope of ability.
        • by 0123456 (636235)

          There's more to a browser than rendering and Javascript performance. Firefox has become a hard disk hog. It almost continually writes to disk, which can be very slow

          Isn't that because they moved to using sqlite to store bookmarks because NTFS used to eat your entire bookmarks file if Windows crashed? Whereas sqlite syncs multiple times every time you update the database?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @03:09PM (#34632182)

          You may wish to re-try this on FF 4. There has been significant work put in to reducing disk access in Firefox:

          There is also a tracking bug [mozilla.org] for bad I/O patterns available, so you can see what they're up to.

        • There's more to a browser than rendering and Javascript performance. Firefox has become a hard disk hog. It almost continually writes to disk, which can be very slow, for example on netbooks with first generation SSDs or when you keep your profile on a USB stick (portable Firefox).

          You can disable the disk cache, that would help in situations where the disk is slow. It's disabled in Mobile Firefox, for example.

          Desktop Firefox is tuned for typical desktop/laptop machines, where it makes sense to cache on disk quite a bit. I think you raise a very good point, as netbooks are getting more popular, Firefox should be tuned for them as well.

      • by data2 (1382587)

        There are somewhat more recent graphs at arewefastyet.com, although only up to Nov 4th.

    • It is a lot faster. But don't take my word for it, try it out. You might want to use the Profile Manager (google for the launch option) to make a second profile so it doesn't try to convert your existing profile over to new formats and such.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by trrichard (1774338)
      It is in fact faster or as fast as chrome in version 4 from a javascript perspective, and it has always run on less ram. So it should be much snappier now.
      • Take a page from opera's (11) book, I can be loading my default 20 tabs all at once and the interface is still responsive.
        Firefox, good luck, the entire browser chugs to a grinding halt for 10 seconds, then the next 10 seconds it's hitchy but at least responsive.
        This is on a quad-core machine running at 3.5ghz. Chrome maxes out all of my cores to 100% and is done rendering in about 4 seconds, AND it's rendering all the ads that are being blocked by adblock. Firefox never uses more than 30%. Bad programming.

      • It is in fact faster or as fast as chrome in version 4 from a javascript perspective, and it has always run on less ram. So it should be much snappier now.

        I Beg to Differ
        My desktop [photobucket.com]

        There is a reason people have been calling FF bloated lately. This is without any addons, plugins (besides maybe Java), or themes or any crap built into FF. This is a fresh install.

        Sure, FF may be working on good Javascripting engines, I haven't looked at the benchmarks recently, but the claim "It runs on Less Ram" died a long time ago.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by vlm (69642)

          There is a reason people have been calling FF bloated lately. This is without any addons, plugins (besides maybe Java), or themes or any crap built into FF.

          34.7 megs? I can only run 120 FF processes on my main desktop then. Bummer. Hmm, that would be 12 across and 10 down.

          Only things that matters to me are:

          Adblock plus
          Firefox sync
          firebug
          flashblock
          ghostery
          remove-it-permanently
          Noscript

          once I can get all that cross platform, I'm ready to switch. I'll put up with anything else, as long as those addons work.

          • Oh don't get me wrong, there's plenty of reasons to use Firefox and you've compiled a nice list.

            Thing is people are claiming it's this much slimmer streamlined browser, like something really lightweight. If you've got a decent computer you obviously won't have any problems running Firefox as a regular browser.

            However, there are people who will set up their Dual Monitors, and they'll want to have Crysis on highest settings on One monitor while a Youtube video plays their favourite song on the other with MSN

        • Lightweight! I've got Firefox/Firebug open to a single tab (granted, a lot of refreshing and ajaxing) and it has 3:52 of CPU time and is using 206MB of RAM and 202MB of VM. Ha!

      • And yet if I open Firefox it takes nearly 30 - 45 seconds, while Chrome opens almost instantly. Bragging about its javascript performance is like bragging your new car can do 0-60 in 4 seconds and not mentioning it can only take corners at 10mph. I like Firefox, but it's really become a dog lately.
        • by BZ (40346)

          > And yet if I open Firefox it takes nearly 30 - 45 seconds, while Chrome opens almost
          > instantly.

          I assume that's with a clean profile (or at least one without extensions) and that you're using the Firefox 4 beta, right?

          On Windows Vista/7, there are some existing dwrite issues being worked through where trying to initialize the dwrite library will go and read all the fonts on your operating system in their entirety; issues that are partially fixed if you install the updates IE9 requires and partially

    • Yeah, I've been using Beta 7 for a while and for whatever odd reason, I've been getting momentary freezes as it's doing routine stuff. Is this happening to anyone else, or just my specific configuration?

    • by augustm (147506) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:35PM (#34631618)

      It has been a turd since this summer, mostly due to the bug in the SQL code which
      killed interactive performance. It was repaired this week and should make beta9. It
      is also in recent 3.6 builds so mainline firefox is almost unbearable.

      Meaningless javascript benchmarks are not very useful for this sort of bug- which
      gives 10 second hangs when working with history or bookmarks.

      Bug number 595530

    • by couchslug (175151) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:37PM (#34631656)

      Given the burden of the many ad-ons I run, I'm not sure which is fucking up, the browser or the add-ons.

      One nice thing about running 8GB RAM on a 32-bit system with PAE enabled is that when FF gobbles memory it maxes out at 4GB!

      I'll keep it for the add-ons. RAM is cheap.

    • My experience with Firefox 4 beta says no! I've been running it on my laptop for a few weeks and it's far faster AND more stable than 3.6

    • by aeoo (568706)

      FF, and especially FF4 are very fast for me on Macbook. As fast as Chrome for all intents and purposes. Of course that's not scientific, but then there do exist some benchmarks and you can look them up yourself.

    • by quixote9 (999874)
      Firefox is not slow, or any of the other BS, for ages now. Get a current version before you make outdated comments. Is Google doing a Microsoft these days, and telling employees to sprinkle PR on forums?

      I run Chrome, Safari, Opera, and IE up to 8. (No Win7 to run IE9 on.) At times I run them all on the same websites during web design. IE is the champion dog. No question about that. The rest? In actual use? Indistinguishable.

      Except that with Firefox I have Adblock and Noscript, so way less crap
  • by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:24PM (#34631446) Homepage Journal

    Looking forward to getting this update, my beta 7 doesn't see the update available yet.

    Only problem I've been having is that it crashes my graphics drivers periodically (Nvidia 189.5 I think). But performance is great and once I got my normal status bar back, I really like Firefox 4. Big fan of Sync too and looking forward to having Firefox 4 available in the Ubuntu repositories.

  • URL Bar (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheL0ser (1955440) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:26PM (#34631482)

    as well as URL bar enhancements

    If by "enhancements" they mean "throw the awesomebar out a window", I'm all for it.

    Yes, part of that is resistance to change, but part is from my first experience involved typing a URL and seeing results getting pulled from the middle of a page's title that had nothing to do with what I wanted.

    • That and it's terribly slow. When I want to check websites, I check five. I type one press enter, then CTRL+T, and then start typing. But by tab 3, Firefox is too busy rendering to bother returning the URL results in any timely fashion. I can usually finish typing the url before it's found a result for me.

      I credit this to the thugs in charge with superiority complexes who refuse to admit something is wrong and needs fixing.
      Opera&Chrome are supremely smoother. One of these days I will just jump ship to O

    • by Fusen (841730)
      that's actually a positive for a lot of people including me, if I can't remember the full url to a page I visited but remember what was being discussed, I can normally find it. you can turn the awesomebar off as well iirc
      • that's actually a positive for a lot of people including me, if I can't remember the full url to a page I visited but remember what was being discussed, I can normally find it. you can turn the awesomebar off as well iirc

        Uh ... no. You are not recalling correctly. The Awful Bar cannot be turned off. There is an extension which attempts to restore the URL bar to its previous functionality but it doesn't work.

        Let's review. I used to be able to click on the URL bar and drop down a list of all the URLs I ha

        • by radish (98371)

          If I visited a website a few days ago, but forgot to bookmark it, I could just drop down the URL list and select it from there

          Only if you had visited it by typing the URL. If you'd got there by following a link, it wouldn't be there. Given the likelihood of one of those vs the other, I personally found the drop down "typed URL history" completely useless. The history, on the other hand, contains all the visited sites - whether typed or not - so you can still look there to find it.

          Better yet, if you remember

          • If I visited a website a few days ago, but forgot to bookmark it, I could just drop down the URL list and select it from there

            Only if you had visited it by typing the URL.

            Yes, that is what I was referring to. I may not have said it clearly.

        • The URL bar now drops down a list of random URLs that has absolutely no relation to anything I have recently entered manually. What a load of crap.

          That would be the History feature, View... By Last Visited. Or by date & site, if you prefer.

        • You're either a machine or just resistant to change. Or you don't actually browse anything but static sites where you can memorize URLs (but then why return, nothing is new?).

          Forgot the video id of that youtube video you want to show to a friend? Didn't bookmark or subscribe to that thread on a forum? Just type a few words in the Awesome Bar and you'll usually have it right there in the top ten results.
    • Re:URL Bar (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rudy_wayne (414635) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:56PM (#34631994)

      as well as URL bar enhancements

      If by "enhancements" they mean "throw the awesomebar out a window", I'm all for it.

      As a long time Firefox user, this has been one of the most infuriating things, as they continually remove or fuck up useful features. The Mozilla developers seem obsessed with changing things just to make them different. The list of things they have eliminated or made less useful is almost endless. I'm sure they can give us all sorts of rationalizations for what they do, but it's all bullshit. Making things less useful is not an improvement.

      • The list of things they have eliminated or made less useful is almost endless.

        What sort of things? And was Awesomebar really that infuriating? Are people paralyzed by seeing the dropdown options as they type? Seems sooooo much easier than using the history panel to me.

        • by fotbr (855184)

          Yes, awesomebar IS that infuriating. Paralyzed by seeing options, no, but give us the option to turn off behavior we don't like. Is it THAT hard to do?

          No. It isn't. It is simply the devs saying "this is a better way, and you'll use it whether you like it or not", which isn't a cool attitude if you want to keep your user base.

          And yes, I've switched away from FF for that reason -- not that awesomebar chased me away, but the attitudes of the devs did.

          • Re:URL Bar (Score:5, Informative)

            by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @03:48PM (#34632802)

            Yes, awesomebar IS that infuriating. Paralyzed by seeing options, no, but give us the option to turn off behavior we don't like. Is it THAT hard to do?

            No, you only need to hit "edit"->"Preferences"->"Privacy" and in the "Location bar" section, where it says "when using the location bar, suggest:" just select "Nothing" from the dropdown menu.

            Now that you know that, if it is that infuriating then how come you failed to even look at Firefox's preferences to disable it?

            On the side note, I love the awesome bar. I configured it to display only bookmarked links (that option is also available in the dropdown menu I mentioned) and now, instead of clicking through multiple menus or, *ghasp*, use a search engine, I just hit Ctrl+L, type a couple of keys and voila: I'm opening the link. You say infuriating? I say godsend.

      • Re:URL Bar (Score:5, Informative)

        by kripkenstein (913150) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @03:36PM (#34632650) Homepage

        as well as URL bar enhancements

        If by "enhancements" they mean "throw the awesomebar out a window", I'm all for it.

        As a long time Firefox user, this has been one of the most infuriating things, as they continually remove or fuck up useful features. The Mozilla developers seem obsessed with changing things just to make them different. The list of things they have eliminated or made less useful is almost endless. I'm sure they can give us all sorts of rationalizations for what they do, but it's all bullshit. Making things less useful is not an improvement.

        I'm a Firefox developer. I understand that it can seem that way, but trust me, a lot of thought goes into each change we make. I'm not saying we are always right, or even always right for most people - nobody's perfect. But I do think that overall we do a good job, in picking what to change, and for the specific stuff you dislike, most of it should be configurable through prefs.

        But, I realize that doesn't help you, and I'm sorry that some of our changes are not to your taste.

        • and I'm sorry that some of our changes are not to your taste.

          It's not a matter of "taste". Tabs on top versus tabs on bottom is a matter of taste. The orange Firefox button versus a regular menu bar is a matter of taste. Removing functionality, so that I can no longer do things that I used to be able to do is not a matter of "taste"..

          • Can you give an example of removing functionality, so I more clearly understand what you mean?
    • I seriously hope Firefox doesn't change how the awesome bar works. That's one of the many things I prefer in Firefox to Chrome and all other browsers.

      • Yes. I love the awesome bar as well. I just wish there was some way to let the general public know how awesome the awesome bar was.

        Now I'm not in marketing, but maybe if we started calling it the Really Really Good bar?

      • Me too. The combination of the aweseome bar with the Ctrl+L shortcut key let's me use my browser without having to rummage through countless menus and sub-menus of bookmarks and the like.

        Adding to that, I simply don't understand those "OMG awesoembar is teh suck!!1!" people, not because they don't like it (or even gave it a try) but because they can simply turn the god-damned feature off in the options menu. It isn't even necessary to go through the about:config. Just click on the dropdown menu and prest

    • If by "enhancements" they mean "throw the awesomebar out a window", I'm all for it.

      I'm actually quite a fan of the awesome bar. I know i'm probably in the minority around here, but when I create a bookmark I just add a few tags to the bookmark and I'm done. No more having to go through folders and submenus of bookmarks. Also makes it easier to search through my history, especially if I want to run the same google query. Makes it pretty handy in that respect.

      I know that if you have a bad experience you tell 10 people and if you have a good experience you tell 1 person.

  • by denis-The-menace (471988) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:28PM (#34631508)

    Can this thing prevent covert, un-removable install of add-ons (e.g. .NET Framework Assistant)?

    Does it set layout.css.visited_links_enabled to false?
    (See http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1894680&cid=34430992 [slashdot.org])

    • If you execute a program on your computer under a user account with access to your browser's profile directory, it will be able to install addons without your specific consent (because, as far as the computer is concerned, you gave it consent by running the program). Now you can deny your user account write access to the registry keys Firefox checks to load external addons; but at least one Microsoft installer aborts with a fatal error if you do that and rolls back the entire install process.
      • I just wish there was an easier way to track down and uninstall/delete the particular addon/plugin. about:plugins is only slightly helpful – it doesn’t even tell you where the .dll files are located (the plugins.dat file does, but you can’t edit it – it’s automatically generated).

        And I have no idea how it even figures out where all of its plugins are located, either... apparently the [HKCU|HKLM]\Software\MozillaPlugins registry keys have something to do with it, as does the %pr

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:39PM (#34631706)

    It seems to me that if they cleared 1400+ bugs between Beta 7 and Beta 8, then there's a whole lot of significant bugs that still need to be fixed. That doesn't sound like what I'd call "Beta".

    • by revlayle (964221) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:48PM (#34631840) Homepage
      If it still has bugs and needs more testing before a stable release (or even Release Candidate), then yes, Beta is MORE than an appropriate label. (Methinks, people these days don't really understand what beta software is? Hell, may I don't, anymore.)
      • I thought alpha meant the feature set and API are not stable, beta meant the feature set and API are stable but there are release-critical bugs, and final meant that there are no more release-critical bugs?

        • You'd think, but the sibling comment says they were adding features until Beta 7. Might as well just call it the Flarmflooz 7 release if words don't have meanings.

          Reading a bunch of comments here leads me to believe Beta 9 will be where most beta testers should expect to jump on board.

  • I like that firefox wants to be fast and everything but does it even matter anymore. I have at least 10-15 extensions in my browser and at least one of them keep crashing/leaking memory etc. Does this release have a better plugin container for these extensions? My overall satisfaction with FF is at an all time low because of this. I am not ready to move to chrome yet, but I am seriously thinking about it.
    • I like that firefox wants to be fast and everything but does it even matter anymore. I have at least 10-15 extensions in my browser and at least one of them keep crashing/leaking memory etc. Does this release have a better plugin container for these extensions?

      Firefox 4 will ship with much better plugin and extension support. Plugins already run in a separate process in 3.6, while in FF4 you can also write addons that run that way (using Jetpack). Note that addons will need to have changes made to them, so this won't immediately fix all of these issues if you use older plugins. But, it's a major step forward, and most major plugins are already in the process of updating to FF4.

    • Figure out what the plugin is and stop using it. Fixed.

      This is why a lot of app developers hate plugins, etc. because their product gets blamed for some cute "dancing reindeer" add-on that leaks memory and now their product "totally sucks!"

      If you think Chrome will solve your problem, you will be sad. The sandboxing is to prevent a plug crash from taking down the whole browser, but it's perfectly fine for it to consume memory. And Chrome, particularly the latest dev build, is a resource monster already. As m

      • Agreed which is why I have not moved out of Firefox and also mentioned about better plugin control needed on firefox than saying it sucks.
  • by bartok (111886) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:42PM (#34631762)

    The download links are still pointing to beta 7.
    https://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/all-beta.html

  • by alexo (9335)

    The main reason I run FF is the wealth of addons.
    Will 4.0 break compatibility?

    • Can't migrate til that is compatible.
      (Yeah I heard the news.)

    • Will 4.0 break compatibility?

      Does the Pope shit in the woods?

      But seriously. The answer is YES! Almost none of your extensions from FF 3.6 will work with FF4. If you are lucky, there might new new versions available. But that is not always the case. It is very common for people to create extensions, sometimes really nice useful ones, and then abandon them.

      • by alexo (9335)

        Does the Pope shit in the woods?

        I don't know. Are there many woods in Vatican City?

        But seriously. The answer is YES! Almost none of your extensions from FF 3.6 will work with FF4. If you are lucky, there might new new versions available. But that is not always the case. It is very common for people to create extensions, sometimes really nice useful ones, and then abandon them.

        The question was about the extent of the breaking changes. Quite a number of addons that I use are "abandoned" and technically inco

      • It is very common for people to create extensions, sometimes really nice useful ones, and then abandon them.

        It’s usually not difficult at all to make them work, though it’s (by design) hidden well enough that you have to look for it.

        While Firefox is not running:

        %userprofile%\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\*\extensions\
        Browse into each extension’s folder one-by-one, open install.rdf in a text editor and read the <em:name> definition near the top until you find the correct extension. Once you find it, just scroll down to the <em:maxVersion> definition, and change to suit. Sa

  • by harmonise (1484057) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:51PM (#34631898)

    Will it finally support languages other than JavaScript for client side programming? Just when we seem to be entering a point in time where people finally realize that they can choose the right language for the job, so much is moving to the web where there's only one language or nothing at all.

    • by devent (1627873)
      So true. Can't Mozialla just port the JavaVM into the browser? That way we could use JavaScript, Ruby, Python, Groovy, Scala, Lisp, and Java as a web language. Mozilla just need to add some web stuff into the JavaVM like DOM so the JavaVM can manipulate the HTML.
    • by BZ (40346) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @04:59PM (#34633922)

      > Will it finally support languages other than JavaScript for client side programming?

      No.

      In fact, we're _removing_ such support. We supported using python for chrome (Firefox browser ui, not google's browser) programming for years, and no one used it. It's just a performance drag on the javascript and C++ side of things, so it's being removed.

      The fact is, supporting multiple languages in a single runtime without leaking and without nasty performance hits on both is not really all that feasible. Given that, and the near-zero amount of actual use such functionality would get, based on our experience with chrome, it's not worth building it in....

  • It's just as fast as Chromium now, and with many windows and tabs and after being open for days it seems less of a resource hog than Chromium. Only the startup takes longer, at least with several extensions. There's a Greasemonkey beta for it too now - the last reason that held me back from setting FF as my default browser again.

  • If you do get the beta, go and run this add-on, https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/200733/ [mozilla.org]

    It will help the Firefox developers learn how best to use hardware acceleration.

  • 1415 bugs fixed... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lowlymarine (1172723)
    ...and not one of them is broken font rendering. Hell, it actually seems to have gotten even worse since Beta 7. I used to love FIrefox, but I'm definitely sticking with Chrome until they get that cleared up. That blurry nonsense hurts my eyes.
    • Firefox uses the Windows system (since you’re obviously on Windows) to render fonts. I suggest you change your font settings under Display Properties, Appearance, Effects. I like ClearType. YMMV. If you turn on ClearType you might also want to tweak the settings with the ClearType tuner [google.com].

      And IIRC it’s completely different in Win7, and I can only test it on Windows XP right now, so it’s up to you and Google in that case.

  • by Khopesh (112447) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @03:16PM (#34632300) Homepage Journal

    Are we fast yet.com [arewefastyet.com] shows the measurements used by the Mozilla Javascript development team, comparing performance of ff4 to chrome/v8 and safari/nitro using both the sunspider (Mozilla) and v8bench (Google) test suites. LOTS of movement in Firefox over the past few months, including the apparent surpassing of Safari's Nitro engine in both tests and even beating Chrome's V8 in the Mozilla test suite.

    This boost is likely due in part to the recently added hardware acceleration [mozilla.org]. This is listed as supported on all major operating systems (see the Firefox 4 Beta Technology [mozilla.com] page).

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