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Firefox 6 Ships Next Week, 8 Blocks Sneaky Add-Ons 247

Posted by Soulskill
from the seven-due-the-week-after dept.
CWmike writes "Mozilla is on track to release Firefox 6 next week, according to notes posted on the company's website. 'On track with a few bugs still remaining. No concerns for Tuesday,' the notes stated. Firefox 6 includes several noticeable changes, including highlighting domain names in the address bar — both Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 do something similar by boldfacing domain names — and reducing startup time when users rely on Panorama, the browser's multi-tab organizer. Meanwhile, Mozilla said this week that starting with Firefox 8, Mozilla will automatically block browser add-ons until users approve them, which should put an end to sneaky installs."
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Firefox 6 Ships Next Week, 8 Blocks Sneaky Add-Ons

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  • by Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) on Friday August 12, 2011 @05:47PM (#37074326)

    I'm really looking forward to this.

  • Happy FF8 user here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@@@davidgerard...co...uk> on Friday August 12, 2011 @05:56PM (#37074412) Homepage

    I'm using FF8 alphas on the Nightly channel, which is part of the Moziila PPA in Ubuntu. It's fantastic. It uses way less memory and is way faster. It's also way stabler than nightlies were when I was running Moziila nightlies in 2001, and they were pretty good even then. The only downside is extensions that haven't caught up. If you're clear for those, I heartily recommend it.

  • by Rastignac (1014569) on Friday August 12, 2011 @06:00PM (#37074446)

    FireFox7, aka FinalFantasy7, will have a huge step forward dealing with memory. FF6 doesn't have such nice awaited features. I'll skip #6.

    • by _xeno_ (155264) on Friday August 12, 2011 @06:14PM (#37074592) Homepage Journal

      Can you skip version 6, or are they going to pull another asshole "Firefox 5 is EOLed because v6 is out" like they did to Firefox 4?

      Or do you mean you're sticking with Firefox 3.6? Because that seems like a good idea these days, at least until they figure out that their "rapidly release schedule" isn't actually helping anything and is just ensuring that no one gives a shit about new Firefox releases any more.

      • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@ w o r f.net> on Friday August 12, 2011 @06:32PM (#37074756)

        Or do you mean you're sticking with Firefox 3.6? Because that seems like a good idea these days, at least until they figure out that their "rapidly release schedule" isn't actually helping anything and is just ensuring that no one gives a shit about new Firefox releases any more.

        Google only supports the last 3 versions of a browser. With FF6, that means Google's only going to support FF4, FF5 and FF6. FF3.6 won't work with Google Apps and other stuff anymore (seriously, I tried using G+ with FF3.5, and it demanded I upgrade - supported browsers are 3.6, 4 and 5 then).

        And when will Mozilla stop screwing around with the UI? FF5 screwed up the tab bar if you have a bunch of tabs and close them right->left since the now-rightmost tab doesn't scroll right - your mouse just has an empty space.

        • by _xeno_ (155264) on Friday August 12, 2011 @06:52PM (#37074972) Homepage Journal

          Google only supports the last 3 versions of a browser. With FF6, that means Google's only going to support FF4, FF5 and FF6. FF3.6 won't work with Google Apps and other stuff anymore (seriously, I tried using G+ with FF3.5, and it demanded I upgrade - supported browsers are 3.6, 4 and 5 then).

          Well, shit, because I still have a PowerPC Mac on my desk. It's stuck with Firefox 3.6 because they dropped PowerPC support in Firefox 4. So I guess that means it's time to move over to Safari for it. I suppose I can't complain too much on that one, but it's annoying having a perfectly functional Mac that's going to get warehoused because no one will compile software for it any more. Actually it's Apple dropping support for Mac OS X 10.5 that will force the issue: as soon as an unpatched security issue is found, IT will force me to disconnect it and it will become useless. (And since I have it explicitly to run Mac-only software, Linux isn't an option to extend its life.)

          And when will Mozilla stop screwing around with the UI? FF5 screwed up the tab bar if you have a bunch of tabs and close them right->left since the now-rightmost tab doesn't scroll right - your mouse just has an empty space.

          That's another feature half-assed copied from Chrome. When you close a tab in Chrome, the tabs don't rearrange until the mouse leaves the tab bar. It's useful because an accidental double-click won't close a tab you didn't mean to close.

          In Firefox 5, they just don't scroll over to fill the right most space until the mouse leaves the tab bar, but otherwise rearrange themselves. So a double-click will kill two tabs.

          I don't think I'd mind Firefox copying features from Chrome if they didn't continuously half-ass them and turn a feature that's useful in Chrome into just a pure annoyance by missing out on why Chrome does something or how they make it work.

        • by jonadab (583620) on Friday August 12, 2011 @07:19PM (#37075252) Homepage Journal
          > Google only supports the last 3 versions of a browser.

          There's an extension called User Agent Switcher. Setting it to mimic a recent version of Firefox causes problems for some reason, but if you set it to mimic a recent version of Opera, suddenly everything works just fine. (Disclaimer: I haven't tested this with every single feature of every single Google service in existence; but it works with everything that I *have* tried.)

          Twitter no longer works with Firefox 2 as of about a week ago (ever since they made the Big Stupid Change that puts acres of whitespace between adjascent tweets), but I haven't managed to find a browser that the new version *does* work with (and, being a web developer, I have like fifteen different browsers installed for testing; you'd think they could manage to support at least of them, but no), so phooey on Twitter.

          > And when will Mozilla stop screwing around with the UI?

          When pigs fly, I think. As near as I can tell, user expectations got changed over from something that Firefox wanted to meet to something that Firefox specifically wants to break, sometime around version 1.5. The gratuitous UI changes were minor at first (little things like the first round of changes to how bookmarks work), but the growth rate of their significance appears to be geometric: if rearranging the order of the standard buttons (back, forward, reload, stop -- not that the stop button in Firefox has EVER worked correctly) wasn't new and interesting enough for you, hold on to your seat, because in version three we're completely altering how the location bar works, and then version four changes the whole top of the browser window around so much you won't even recognize it.

          Soon we'll be doing away with the tired old "back button" concept, ranking the pages in your history by their *popularity* (as determined by other users), and presenting them visually as part of Panorama. Also, "scrolling down" will be replaced with "zooming in", which you can do with multi-touch trackpad gestures, and manually-created bookmarks will be phased out in favor of assigning ratings (one, two, three, four, or five stars) to the items in your history, which informs your search results when you use the Awesomeness Bar. The bookmarks toolbar will obviously be going away, and also bookmark keywords, and the tab bar will be merged into the Awesomeness bar as well, so instead of having a bar of tabs that you can switch to, you can just use the Awesomeness Bar to search through your open tabs just like you would search through your history.

          (Am I just being stupidly absurd? If you'd told me in 2000 about all the changes in Firefox 3, 4, and 5, I'd have said you were being stupidly absurd. I mean, really, getting rid of the menu bar? Putting the home button clear over to the right of the search box? Integrating bookmarks with history? No browser maker could EVER think those would be good ideas. Oh, wait. They did.)
          • by kripkenstein (913150) on Friday August 12, 2011 @11:54PM (#37076944) Homepage
            If you don't like the FF UI design choices, that's your opinion, and you are entitled to it. But why the anger? Plenty of other people do like those choices, and they are entitled to their opinion too.

            Me, I don't care. I only care that my browser is 100% open source regardless of UI (well, within reason. But so far nothing every truly annoyed me).
          • by Tom (822) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @06:02AM (#37077900) Homepage Journal

            and presenting them visually as part of Panorama.

            The comments on this article are actually the first I've ever heard of Panorama. Now what does that say about this "feature"?

            Oh yes, I actually tried it. It took all of 10 seconds to convince me to remove that button from the tab bar again.

            Sometimes, a product simply is mature. There's no point in adding bells&whistles just because you can. I would rather prefer they finish HTML5, CSS3 and SVG support and other standards implementations.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@NOspaM.world3.net> on Saturday August 13, 2011 @11:30AM (#37079244) Homepage

            I can't fathom what Mozilla are thinking either. Google have a clear goal with Chrome: make access to pages as fast as possible. Chrome does that very well. Firefox, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have any direction other than to fuck up its user's workflow as much as possible with each release because "disruptive" is a popular buzzword at the moment.

            Changing the UI affects add-on developers too. When the status bar went away any add-on which put an icon down there instantly broke and a few of the ones I use have not been updated. I had to install another add-on to allow placing the task bar icons at the top over the tab bar. Add-ons are the reason I stick with FF, but Chrome is fast catching up.

            The new plan seems to be:

            1. Piss off users
            2. Piss off add-on developers
            3. ???
            4. Profit!

          • by Doctor O (549663) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @03:54PM (#37080672) Homepage Journal

            I don't know about you, but the last time I remember using the home button was in Netscape 3. Nowadays I just resume to whatever state I left the browser in.

            The concept of a "home page" is obsolete since at least ten years.

        • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Friday August 12, 2011 @07:41PM (#37075462)

          Google only supports the last 3 versions of a browser.

          If Google jumps off a cliff should Firefox jump too?

          This is what the current crop of Firefox devs believe:

          1. Google Chrome is the best browser in the world. It is much better than Firefox has ever been or probably ever will be. If we are really, really lucky and work very, very hard maybe someday we could make Firefox just as good as Chrome. To improve Firefox all we have to do is copy everything Google does.

          2. Even MSIE is better than Firefox. Let's copy that browser too insofar as it doesn't interfere with copying Google.

      • by kripkenstein (913150) on Friday August 12, 2011 @11:45PM (#37076914) Homepage

        Can you skip version 6, or are they going to pull another asshole "Firefox 5 is EOLed because v6 is out" like they did to Firefox 4?

        Chrome and Firefox only support a single stable version at a time. Every time a new version of Chrome or Firefox comes out, future security fixes apply only to that version - there are no further updates to previous versions.

        So you can skip a version of Chrome or Firefox, but you will be running a browser that isn't getting security updates. It would just be for 6 weeks, but I wouldn't risk it.

        If you don't like that, your other options are the slower release schedules of IE, Opera and Safari.

      • by antdude (79039) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @01:27AM (#37077200) Homepage Journal

        How long can we keep using v3.6.x without it being outdated and having security issues?

        Since I am a SeaMonkey user, I stuck with v2.0.14 and haven't upgraded to v2.1+.

  • by BigFire (13822) on Friday August 12, 2011 @06:00PM (#37074448)

    Great, another rounds of broken add-ons.

  • by Bloodwine77 (913355) on Friday August 12, 2011 @06:00PM (#37074456)

    I'd rather they add some easy way to let users install addons that say, "Does not support Firefox x.x". They can put a big disclaimer/warning/alert to make sure the user knows what they are doing, but with the Firefox rapid release schedule I am tired of having my addons break because of version string issues.

    One example is the Stylish addon. I am using the Firefox 6 beta in Ubuntu 11.10 alpha and Stylish refuses to install due to the version string. The addon info says it supports Firefox 3.6 - 6.0a2 (key part being "6.0.a2"). That tells me that it should work in later alpha/beta version 6 builds.

    Firefox really needs to address the issue of how addons determine whether or not they are out-of-date. The browser version is no longer a useful metric for that.

  • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Friday August 12, 2011 @06:00PM (#37074460)

    automatically block browser add-ons until users approve them, which should put an end to sneaky installs

    Exactly how are they going to block that? Anything FireFox has access to, so would an (admin-level) installer.

    Unless they're taking a signature from the add-on and some information unique to the user profile and generating a hash/code or that, and keep the hashing algorithm secret somehow?

    • by asdf7890 (1518587) on Friday August 12, 2011 @06:37PM (#37074812)
      It is probably more aimed at commercial entities installing their crap without asking, rather than malware authors. That way something that causes instability will at least have be mentioned to the user reducing the risk of Firefox itself being blamed - like an extension to the facility already present to disable extensions that are know to cause instability.

      While a malware author won't think twice about hacking around such a measure, a "legitimate" company will if they think doing so will create an opportunity for a competitor to give them bad press.
    • by julesh (229690) on Friday August 12, 2011 @10:03PM (#37076494)

      No, what they're going to do is change how add-on registration works in each release, and release a new version every week. This should confuse the hell out of the malware authors, and isn't actually any more work for the firefox maintainers than the current release schedule, which is almost as frequent...

  • by _xeno_ (155264) on Friday August 12, 2011 @06:10PM (#37074566) Homepage Journal

    I suppose it's no surprise to anyone who's been paying attention to Firefox development for the past several years, but for fuck's sake, listen to your users and stop with the version number inflation!

    Seriously, what makes this a Firefox 6 and not a Firefox 4.2? What new features does it add? Apparently the only really "stand-out" feature is graying out anything that isn't the domain name in the useless-bar. I mean, Awesome Bar.

    (Seriously, I like the concept, but I've had quite a few instances this past week where instead of finding "the page I was just on five minutes ago" it does something like "page 3 of this article you read two months ago" with no hint of the URL I'd opened literally ten times already that day. Awesome. Here's an idea, can Firefox try and fix it to make it useful? Like sort based on number of times a page was viewed, counting reloads, so that typing the URL to a forum doesn't find page 2, 3, 4, and 5, but never page 1 because I don't click on the page 1 link enough, I just reload the forum?)

    But back to the version number issue - quick, how many people know what version number Chrome is up to off the top of their head? Anyone?

    How many people using Firefox 5 here have literally forgotten that they're using Firefox 5, because the last really major update was Firefox 4? I still think of it as "Firefox 4" because it looks identical, and have to be reminded that they've inflated the version number for no useful reason.

    Seriously, stop blindly aping Chrome! If you're going to copy something Chrome does, try and understand it! For example, take removing the status bar. Chrome will expand the little URL popup that replaced the status bar if you continue hovering a link. Firefox 4 and 5 don't. And for some reason they randomly switch between left-aligning it and right-aligning the popup. And for fuck's sake, why don't you just expand the popup to fill the entire horizontal width of the window?! I've got the room to display the entire URL! Why doesn't Firefox bother doing so?!

    But kudos for aping (poorly) the feature in IE 9 that warns when third party addons have been installed and gives you the option of not using them. It's nice to know that you're going to go ahead and do that after crying about how it's impossible to do, even after IE had launched with that feature.

    • I suppose it's no surprise to anyone who's been paying attention to Firefox development for the past several years, but for fuck's sake, listen to your users and stop with the version number inflation!

      A few stories under this is a story about Chrome 14. I am sure the comments there are saying the same thing. But can we move on already?

      Yes, Chrome and Firefox release a major version every 6 weeks. Chrome and Firefox raise the major version number every such time. And here on Slashdot people complain about those browsers doing it. But the vast majority of Chrome and Firefox users just use the browser, and don't care.

      If you don't like what Chrome and Firefox are doing, feel free to use another browser. Opera is good too.

  • by WebManWalking (1225366) on Friday August 12, 2011 @06:22PM (#37074654)
    FF6 has a new Tools > Developer submenu, and they moved Error Console, View Source and Web Console there. Moving View Source there was a big surprise. Any reasonable developer might get totally freaked out searching high and low for View Source if they didn't know about that move.

    In case you missed it, Web Console in FF5+ is like the console in Firebug when you have it set to enter JS commands at the bottom of the pane. But the difference is, Web Console is always available. It's not a plug-in like Firebug. So it's something you can count on, even if you upgrade and Firebug breaks in the new version.
  • Another upgrade? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tompaulco (629533) on Friday August 12, 2011 @07:40PM (#37075438) Homepage Journal
    I still haven't gotten Firefox 5 completely back to the old 3.6 look and feel, which was more workable and required fewer button clicks. The last nagging issue is the one that Firefox no longer displays in the drop-down the history of links in the current tab, so you can't quickly go back to the top of a rabbit trail that you started down. Sometimes that was my only way out of stupid sites that disable the back button.
    Oh, and the Federal Student Aid site (FAFSA.gov) only supports Firefox 3.5 and 3.6, one of which is no longer supported by FF and the other of which will also soon be not supported.
  • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Friday August 12, 2011 @08:20PM (#37075882)

    Firefox 3.6.19 forever! I am now treating Firefox like an abandoned application. Google developers have now taken over. It may still be the best current browser due to its useful extensions, but it is like a bad copy of Chrome and imho inferior to Firefox 3.6.19 in most ways.

    If I had to choose between Chrome and Firefox 4+, I really don't know what I would choose. Despite the horrible interface and all the badly implemented Chrome-ness Firefox 4+ still has unique functionality in the form of extensions like NoScript, Adblock Plus, and Scrapbook. They contain functionality that I just cannot live without and I haven't seen 100% replicated in any other browser. So I would probably be forced to stick with Firefox 4+ even though I prefer Chrome, Opera, and even MSIE in terms of the interface and usability etc.

    Sure Chrome has NotScript, but it just doesn't work very well compared to NoScript. It's not a viable replacement. I ended up using the built in javascript whitelisting functionality which was a huge PITA. It was like going back to IE4 when I had to manually add sites to security zones by actually typing in the URLs.

    If it some point a critical security flaw is found in Firefox 3.6.19 complete with exploits in the wild I may reluctantly migrate to Opera. Or maybe by that time someone will have forked Firefox 3.6.19 to at least apply security fixes as needed.

    As of today Firefox 3.6.19 is still downloadable for Windows and Mac OS X and is available as a binary in the repositories of both of the Linux distros I use: ArchLinux and TinyCore.

  • by surveyork (1505897) on Friday August 12, 2011 @10:53PM (#37076708) Journal
    For businesses and users worried about the fast update cycle of Firefox, perhaps they could consider using SeaMonkey. And, if they don't want SeaMonkey's chat and e-mail, perhaps they could make a fork of it, strip the unwanted features and... oh, wait!

    I'm not totally opposed to the fast development cycle but I think Mozilla could step down the version numbering pace a few notches. e.g. release a new update every 6 weeks, but call it Firefox N.x+1 or N.x.y+1 instead of Firefox N+1 (Firefox 5 would be 4.1 and 6 would be 4.2). Push up the "big version" once each year or so.

    Some fellow commenters have said it above: Mozilla don't listen to their users and ignore the obvious (e.g. huge memory consumption/memory leaks). Memory usage is better in Fx 7 and 8 thanks to the Memshrink project by Nicholas Nethercorte. However, they keep finding more and more leaks/inefficiencies. Some of them are caused by new features, some of them have been present for a long time, even with bugs filed about them. I hope they get their act together soon.
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Saturday August 13, 2011 @09:35AM (#37078668) Journal

    What, are they doing a major rev every couple of months now to catch up to IE's 9?

    Anyone else here having memories of the Slackware/RedHat/Debian version wars of the 1990s?

  • by SilverJets (131916) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @11:31AM (#37079254) Homepage

    Why did it take the developers this long to realize that people may not want a bunch a crap added to Firefox without their permission? Blocking the addition of features without express consent of the user should have been the default setting from the very beginning.

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