Monday, April 21, 2008

Firefox 3 extension compatibility list

Great Mr. Polvi maintains this list for you, go check out your beloved extensions and (hopefully) enjoy Firefox 3! :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A reference for my macrumors signatures

MR's sig is limited to 300 char or less. So I will put links here, mainly in 3 categories:

1. About firefox itself
  • Whats new in Firefox 3. Introduce new features you can find in firefox 3, strongly suggest firefox 2 users read them

    Pt1, Pt2, Pt3,
    Pt4, Pt5
    (MR Copies are here, here and here, Here )

  • Whats new in Firefox 3 nightly build (mainly mac version), these are the bleeding edges changes happening on firefox's developer build. May or may not important for normal users

    Check it out here
2. about extensions
  1. Personal recommended addons (mostly are cross-platforms):

Thursday, April 10, 2008

what you can expect from Firefox 3, pt4

There are many changes that are subtle but very nice, hopefully you won't miss them! This part I will introduce two features that intended to improve the ease of use.

7. Passwords....
When we type in
a pair of username/password and click "login", Firefox 2 will pop up a
dialogue ask if you want to "save the password", "not now", "never for
this website"..

However, what if you are not
sure whether the passwords/usernames you just entered is right or not?
popup won't go away until you pick a choice...

Now, In firefox 3, it will only display a info bar on the
top of the page, it will stay there until you leave the page or choose
an action. And it will NOT force you to make choice before the successful login process!
Never again remember the wrong passwords

8. Download Manager

Download Manager has been re-designed. Many handy tools you might like...
firefox will not automatically remove file's name from download histoty
list, due to improved mechanism of database, now you can keep all your
download histoy (you can still right click to remove them manually)

Now first take a look at this manager

right click individual download will give you these options

In the download manager, you can find the information related to each download, they are:
when each of the files was downloaded.
Names of the files
websites from which the files were downloaded
Size of the downloads

Now, did you see the search field at the bottom of download manager? and YES, you can search your download by all the info listed above.
search by its name

Search by the time you download it

Search by the websites from which the file was downloaded

Search by size of the downloaded files

There are even more new exciting things about the downloading in firefox 3
Now you can now resume downloads after restarting the browser or resetting your network connection.

And You can check the status of active download from status bar

I will be talking about some even subtle changes in firefox next time, stay tuned.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Move firefox 3's find bar to the top of the window, instead of bottom

1. disable extension compatibility check (you can install "nightly tester tool" for this)
2. install userchrome.js extension here
3. goto your firefox profile folder, go into folder "chrome", open
userchrome.js with text editor (must be plain text editor). append this
to the bottom of the file

/* The following makes the FIND toolbar appear at the top of the screen instead of the bottom */
var tabbrowser = document.getElementById('appcontent');
var findbar = document.getElementById('FindToolbar');
var browser = document.getElementById("content");
tabbrowser.insertBefore(findbar, browser);

save the file, restart firefox

it would look like this
Click image for larger version  Name: findbartop.png Views: 0 Size: 188.9 KB ID: 111226

Sunday, April 6, 2008

How to Create a new firefox profile under OSX

This is such a common question, I feel like I should put it down here so I can reference later.

Profile, is where firefox keeps everything about your settings, extensions, themes, boomarks, extensions.

When firefox behave strangely, 99% of the chance that you can correct the problem by creating a new profile.

Be warned, new profile will erase all your settings, You can export bookmarks and passwords first, but you will need to re-install extensions and themes.

The location of profile under OSX is

~/Library/Application Support/Firefox
("~" means your username, "cris" as an e.g., in the Fig)

Ok, lets get started:

  1. export your bookmarks, this can be done from bookmark manager of firefox.
  2. copy out passwords files from old profile, so you can put it back to the new profile and preserve your passwords.
    the files you need to copy out for the passwords are:

    signons*.txt (passwords, usernames, encrypted)
    key*.db (key to the encrypted files)
  3. Once you get bookmarks and passwords backed up, go ahead delete folder "firefox" (or rename it in case you want to be safe and restore it once you found out new profile doesn't solve your problem...)

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Robot, The great story about firefox 3

Just a pic, you might be able to see the story line through firefox beta 2, 3, 4, and 5.

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How to run Firefox 3 Beta 4, beta 5, and later build on Stock EEE PC 701

EEEPC 701 has ASUS Linux (a derivation of Xandros) pre-installed. It has gtk 2.8 and very difficult to update it to gtk 2.10+ which is required by firefox 3 beta 4, beta 5 or, presumably, final version.

Here is a work around that requires no installation of any packages, very safe way to run firefox beta 4, beta 5 on stock EEEPC 701.

This method is derived from this discussion at

1. download gtk 2.10, bring up a terminal by pressing ctrl+atl+T, type this code and press enter

2. extract it to a folder, e.g., gtk2-10, by type this code and press enter

dpkg-deb -x libgtk2.0-0_2.10.13-2~bpo.1_i386.deb gtk2-10

3. download firefox 3 (now in beta 5)

4. extract firefox 3 in file manager

5. go into the firefox folder, open firefox (scrip file in the folder, about 3.9KB in size) with text editor.

6. add "export LD_LIBRARY_PATH="/home/user/gtk2-10/usr/lib" after first line. the file should look like this

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH="/home/user/gtk2-10/usr/lib"

7. save the file, double click it to start firefox 3.

This is how it looks like, Enjoy

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What's new In firefox 3, Pt 1, Pt 2 and Pt 3

Rest of the post will be coming soon.

1. Turbo speed

When we talk about speed, there are several types involved:
app starts up speed,
app response speed (snapiness, beachball-ness)
page loading speed (download),
page rendering speed,
speed of reading from history (cache, when you click back/forward button of the browsers).
Javscript speed (dynamic content of the webpages).

Firefox improves in these area:
  • By rewriting most codes in cocoa, starts up speed is improved up to 2x, beachball has been almost 100% removed.
  • By increasing the default number of request sent to server by firefox, the page loading speed are up to 3x faster
  • Mozilla developers put alot of concentration on javascript, altho a minor fraction of most webpages, javascript becomes more important when surfing websites such as gmail, etc, which uses mass amount of client side javascripts. Firefox 3's javascript speed (according to sunspider test suite) will be 4.2x faster than firefox 2, and will be leading among all stable released browsers.
  • An added benefit is that firefox's UI is written in javascript, so this improvement also improve firefox's snapiness.
  • Firefox 3 is using a new backend 2D rendering lib called "cairo", which improves the page rendering of firefox 3 on mac greatly. I will talk more practical benefit of cairo in next post.

2. Less memory

a story here about memory stress test, firefox 3 beats all other browsers
Firefox 3 will be using a new memory allocator called jemalloc, which is the new memory management method in FreeBSD 7 (just released last month).

By using jemalloc, and all other memory improvement techniques (Picture decoding method, for example). Firefox 3 will start up using slightly higher memory, but the memory usage will cap around ~100MB (on my MB with 2G memory), and firefox 3 will release memory more frequently, in the end, firefox 3 uses up to 60% less of memory compare to firefox 2.

Pt 2 Its all about Cairo

Its all about Cairo
No, I haven't been to that beautiful city, the Cairo Im referring to is a new powerful 2D rendering library firefox 3 will be using on all platforms (windows/mac osx/linux). The advantages of cairo includes:
a vector graphics–based, device-independent API for software developers. It is designed to provide primitives for 2-dimensional drawing across a number of different backends. Cairo is designed to use hardware acceleration when available.

Project homepage
supported output targets include the X Window System, Win32, image buffers, PostScript, PDF, and SVG file output. Experimental backends include OpenGL (through glitz), Quartz, and XCB.
Except the improved rendering quality, This enables a lot of new powerful functions I will be introducing below:

3. Full Page Zoom

Full page zoom means when zoom in/out a webpage, the structure of the webpage doe not change. Obviously, that means the text, images, tables, layers, and Even FLASH content of the page are zoomed altogether when you perform zooming operation. (now you know how mobilefirefox will be working!)

more full-page zoom glory, shortcut is ++/-

Zoom with embeded video

This function was first offered by opera, followed by mobileSafari, Now firefox 3 will be jumping on the bandwagan as well. However, as always, firefox offers some flexibility on top of that, if you still like the text only zooming as in firefox 2, just check view->zoom->text only

The zooming level of webpage is site-specific and enduring, that means :
  • if you zoom a webpage, other pages of the same website will be displaying at same zooming level you jut picked as well.
  • each webite has different zooming levels if you change them, e.g., you can have on tab 1 with zooming level of 100%, at the same time, you can have on tab 2 with 150% zooming level, at tab 3 with 75%, etc...
  • firefox will remember the zooming level for the websites, next time you visit it, firefox will diplay the pages with the zooming level you last time visited it. restart of firefox, or OS will not erase these settings (of course you can change it anytime you want by press cmd++, or view->zoom->reset/zoom in/zoom out)

You might consider a big TV display with bigger content now....

you can finally zoom pictures to larger than its real size with HIGH quality, ever find the image on the website too small? now you have it, on top of whole page zooming where all elements (including pictures) zoom together, even when you are viewing a single picture, zooming is till available!.

Whats more, this zooming is cairo enabled, vector based, which give you much higher quality when the picture got enlarged! Take a look at this comparison of firefox 3 and IE8's zooming (thanks vlad & johnathan, left is fx3, right is ie8).

4. Draggable elements (with ghost image) from anywhere to everywhere

Its one thing that these draggable stuff are funny, it another when you find some of them are particularly useful. I got a list for you to try out.

What to drag: pretty much everything (other than buttons in webpage, drop down menus, etc), including text, link, image, combination of texts+links+images, tab.

How to drag:

for image: click and drag
for text: select, click and drag
for link: click and drag
for combination: select, click and drag

where to and what would the result be? pretty much you can drag element(s) to anywhere in the browser, urlbar, search area, tab bar, tabs, input area in a webpage, etc, here are the details.
  • Drag link/image to free space of tab bar will loading the link/image in a new tab
  • Drag link/image to current tab will load the link/image in current tab
  • Drag link/image to other tab (active or not) will load link/image in that tab
  • Drag link/image/text to a text area of ANY tab (active or not) will write down the link/image-url/text in that text area. (specially useful when you posting, blogging, etc, IMHO)
  • Drag link/image to url bar will load link/image in current tab
  • Drag text to url bar will perform same function as normal url bar input (I will talk more about this url “awesome bar” next time).
  • Drag link/image/text to search area will perform instant search (result in current tab) of the link/image-url/text)
  • Above mentioned operation can be applied exactly the same when you drag them to another firefox window
There are more you can drag, try for yourself!

Coming Up next, Awesome Bar and Security in a Box

5. Awesome Bar

the location/address/url bar of firefox 3 is dubbed “awesome bar”, for some good reasons. Lets take a look at it.
One by one from left->right are: favicon, urlbar, RSS button, Quick Bookmark button, Dropdown History (downwards triangle)

Site info button (favicon), it displays site icon as firefox 2, but also provide security information with different colors, detail in next section.

Dropdown history, click to show your most visited 12 pages.

Star button, one click to bookmark current page!, click again to customize it: move to certain/new folders, remove it, add tag(s) (Tags can be a search term in your urlbar input)
click star!

click Again!

urlbar, here, it acts like a spotlight search for your history and bookmarks,

what you do: type in any number of strings (1-oo)

what firefox will response:

Perform instant search in your history and bookmarks looking for the matches from title bar of the page, url of the page, or the tags you assigned to your bookmarks when you added them. Sorted matches result according to the visit frequency.

Ever have 100, 200, 500+ bookmarks and can't find what you want from the list? No MORE!
Input tags you assigned to your bookmark

Input one term

Input two terms

Input 3 terms (bookmarks sorted higher than history, as you can see.

PS. You can ignore the matches results and just press enter after input, firefox 3 will just perform google and/or feeling luck like firefox 2.

no matter its your previously visited websites (history)
or its you interested websites (bookmarks)
even if you only remember part of the title of the page
even if you only remember part of the url of the page
even if you only remember the rough category you used (tags)

Type and spotlight, awesomebar is ready for you!

PS. urlbar still retain the function as a google feeling luck search field. e.g., type "caltech parking" in urlbar and press enter, you will be redirected to, (will goto a google search page if no sensible result can be found...)

6. Security in a Box

Security, are you worried? Firefox 3 is more secure than version 2. Take a look:

Click the site favicon in the location bar to see who owns the site and to check if your connection is protected from eavesdropping. Color is used to remind you the status of the current page.
Normal Color: no security method is used
Blue: Transfer of data with current webpage is encrypted with SSL, TLS, etc, the page is verified by network security firms
Green: Current page is certified by EV (Extended Validation)

PS. Click the favicon (any color, anytime) will give you more information about the website.
PS2. The Cop's name is Larry in case you want to know

Firefox 3 will display a warning page you when you try to visit dangerous websites such as:
sites which are known to install viruses, spyware, trojans or other malware.
pages suspected as web forgeries.
You can try them out at Here. and Here. If you dont want to try, Here is how it looks:

Firefox will inform anti-virus software to check the file after downloading executables (windows only).

Next to Come: Ease of use, Passwords and Download Manager.

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