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Mozilla Software Technology

Mozilla Rolls Out Firefox 3.6 RC, Nears Final 145

Posted by Soulskill
from the onwards-and-upwards dept.
CWmike writes "Mozilla has shipped a release candidate build of Firefox 3.6 that, barring problems, will become the final, finished version of the upgrade. Firefox 3.6 RC1, which followed a run of betas that started in early November, features nearly 100 bug fixes from the fifth beta that Mozilla issued Dec. 17. The fixes resolved numerous crash bugs, including one that brought down the browser when it was steered to Yahoo's front page. Another fix removed a small amount of code owned by Microsoft from Firefox. The code was pointed out by a Mozilla contributor, and after digging, another developer found the original Microsoft license agreement. 'Amusingly enough, it's actually really permissive. Really the only part that's problematic is the agreement to "include the copyright notice ... on your product label and as a part of the sign-on message for your software product,"' wrote Kyle Huey on Mozilla's Bugzilla. Even so, others working on the bug said the code needed to be replaced with Mozilla's own."
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Mozilla Rolls Out Firefox 3.6 RC, Nears Final

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  • Inglorious Netscape days, or sneaked in by some saboteur into Mozilla/Firefox?

    • by oahazmatt (868057)

      Inglorious Netscape days, or sneaked in by some saboteur into Mozilla/Firefox?

      I thought the new, hip thing to do was blame it on your contractors.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Rogerborg (306625)
        Dollars to dimes, the Microsoft code was from a Chinese contractor who stole it from Netscape.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ozmanjusri (601766)
        It was reference code made widely available by a Microsoft technical evangelist in 1999. The contractor's probably a CEO by now, and quite capable of assigning blame of his own accord.
    • by TrisexualPuppy (976893) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:08AM (#30738230)
      Actually kind of makes me wonder. I keep getting updates pushed like crazy, and just about every time that I restart my browser (running a pretty stable system, so it may be days or weeks), I get a new Firefox update. You push off the updates and say "never" or "ask me later," and you are completely ignored because it starts updating when you restart your browser regardless of what you checked. Incredibly patronizing. Makes it hard to run an old version. There may be security risks with old versions, but at least they're generally known a little better than the ones known in the new versions that are being crammed down your throat on a daily basis.

      Then for some of my clients' intranet sites, there's this thing about not being able to turn off security for "risky" (certificate broken) sites that pose no threat but I have no control over and have to add an exception for every time. The browser.ssl_override_behavior setting is there, but it is completely ignored now, just like the "never update" option.

      Every new version of Firefox removes my control a little more, and it has gotten really old. It makes me wonder what version 3.6 is going to bring--if anything--and why they keep changing things for the sake of changing them.
      • by ls671 (1122017) * on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:39AM (#30738782) Homepage

        > I get a new Firefox update.

        Have you tried disabling updates if that's what you want ?

        Preferences -> Advanced -> updates...

        • Is there a way to disable the disabling of my Flash plugin when they decide it's not safe for me?
          • by BZ (40346)

            For a soft-block, the user is prompted whether to disable the known-vulnerable plug-in.

            There are also provisions for a hard-block. This would be _very_ unlikely to happen unless a plug-in had an announced security vulnerability being actively exploited and disabling it doesn't break too much, so not likely at all for Flash. If it did happen, there is no user-facing UI to turn off the block. That said, you could edit blocklist.xml in the Firefox install to remove the relevant entry. Or edit nsBlocklistSe

      • I have a prehistoric Moz sitting on an old distro that I have kept since it picked up my webcam before the next release started ignoring it. Back then it wasn't 'self aware' to phone home and check for updates. Didn't see the point as I was using the distro less and less, but the Moz skin http://themes.mozdev.org/themes/negativemod.html [mozdev.org] sure is beyond compare, and I've kept it that way since.

        Hmmm considering one poster below said to stick to 'browsers of that era' if your RAM is 'of that era', I think I'd g

      • by CAIMLAS (41445)

        Ya know, you could just deny Firefox from writing to its own installation directory. That would be the ideal way to prevent such a thing, yes?

      • by jesser (77961)

        You push off the updates and say "never" or "ask me later," and you are completely ignored because it starts updating when you restart your browser regardless of what you checked.

        There are no "never" or "ask me later" buttons on the dialog I think you're talking about. There's a "Restart Firefox now" button and a "Later" button. The "Later" button installs the update the next time you start Firefox.

        Incredibly patronizing.

        Perhaps, but the alternative is far worse for the vast majority of users.

        Makes it har

    • by BZ (40346)

      The former.

  • well super (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by wampus (1932)

    Is it possible to check for updates as a normal user on Windows yet?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by yakumo.unr (833476)

      No because this is a Release Candidate. 'Normal' users using release (final) software, only get update notifications for release software.

      Anyone on the beta update channel would have seen this RC available as a normal update any time from several days ago.

      • Re:well super (Score:4, Insightful)

        by wampus (1932) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:00AM (#30738078)

        Ahh, slashdot. Come for the condescension, stay for the pedantry. Unpriveleged users don't get offered or notified of updates in 3.5. You can't even use the built in facility to manually check for an update. It is actually less secure to use Firefox as an unpriveleged user than it is to run as an admin unless you actively go and see what the latest release is.

        • Actually as I get prompted for UAC elevation on updates I hadn't realised this was a problem and just assumed your original post was written with condescension and/or bad English.

        • by theCoder (23772)

          The Firefox install I have on my Windows machine at work gets updates all the time, and my account isn't a local admin. In fact, I just started it, and it applied updates from the last time it was running. I also used the "check for updates" menu item to find that there was another version available (I don't usually use that machine, which is why there were so many updates).

          It is running XP. Maybe this is a Vista/7 problem? Or maybe it's because I installed Firefox using the user account, so that accoun

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Isn't the whole point of being a normal user on Windows that the OS shouldn't let you install those updates?

      • by ls671 (1122017) *

        Yes, but a notice for normal users that an update is available and that they should notify their system administrator would be nice I guess. Enabling updates for normal users might seem nice from a home desktop user perspective but it is a no go in corporate environments.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Firefox is horrible to administer in corporate environments already. Adding a hidden pref that is only settable at the system level wouldn't make this any worse.

    • If you need to have an updated version (or install extensions, etc.), use the portable version. It's meant to be installed to USB, but it works just fine from a local drive.

      http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/firefox_portable [portableapps.com]

      • by wampus (1932)

        Gaining write access to the appropriate parts of the system isn't the problem. Finding out that I'm three security updates behind on my home machine is.

        • by Korin43 (881732)
          Maybe they should take the Microsoft approach and just ignore bugs for a couple months and hope they go away..
  • by ironicsky (569792)
    Did not read the article, but as long as they finally fixed the memory leaks I'll be happy.

    What memory leaks you ask?
    I have 1 tab open(This slashdot article)... my only add on is the Google Toolbar.
    Firefox 3.5.7 is using a whopping 174Mb of ram.


    Firefox doesn't properly clear out memory of closed tabs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Drummergeek0 (1513771)

      Seconded, I tend to leave my browser window open at all times on my machine, and every other day or so the mem usage hits over 1GB and slows my computer slows to a crawl. It would be wonderful if they fix that because I am seriously considering changing browsers because of it.

      • Re:Memeory Leaks (Score:4, Interesting)

        by bschorr (1316501) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:44AM (#30738886) Homepage
        Every now and then I'll bounce the FireFox app (close it, tell it to save and quit so it comes back up with the same tabs, restart it) and it generally comes back up using about 75% less memory than it was using when I closed it.

        Though I can't point to any actual crashes that have resulted from it, seems like it would just be best practice for FireFox to be at least somewhat respectful of system memory (I do run other apps too ya know?) and try to keep itself tight when possible. If it were only 10% then I probably wouldn't care, but when I can open the same handful of tabs in 75% less memory...
    • I'm at work using IE 7. I just closed down to one tab after heavy use, and IE is still at 64 megs of physical memory, and 180 megs of virtual memory. Sound like Firefox wins there.

      The only browser I've seen that can properly close memory from closed tabs is Chrome.

      Firefox INTENTIONALLY AS A FEATURE (not a memory leak) does keep fully rendered pages, with full history and the cache of X rendered pages, for some time after you close the tab. You can right-click on the tab bar and reopen recently closed tabs.

    • Re:Memeory Leaks (Score:5, Informative)

      by mejogid (1575619) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:28AM (#30738566)
      Firefox at this point is really quite reasonable [dotnetperls.com] with its memory use - I can't get my head around the continual complaints. The only area where it's appreciably worse performing than Chrome is in UI responsiveness and this has significantly improved in 3.5. It also has far faster back/forward navigation through the cache and (although I don't have figures for this) it feels faster at displaying pages without extremely heavy javascript. There's also less flicker - most pages load in one paint rather than loading in sections. Besides that, web browsers have a lot of useful RAM caching they can do (your history, uncompressed images etc) - it hardly makes sense to keep browser usage below 174MB when even netbooks come with 1-2GB and that RAM can be used effectively to speed up the browser. Frankly, if you're too stingy to splash out on a stick of RAM use xterm with lynx or another browser from the era when that amount of RAM was normal.
      • by ultranova (717540)

        Besides that, web browsers have a lot of useful RAM caching they can do (your history, uncompressed images etc) - it hardly makes sense to keep browser usage below 174MB when even netbooks come with 1-2GB and that RAM can be used effectively to speed up the browser.

        You know those awful Office/Java/whatever preloaders? Those things that load the program in question when the computer starts, so that when you attempt to start the program, the already-running instance just opens a new window? The ones that end

    • by adiether (615494)
      Closing a tab, hitting CTR-ALT-DEL, and looking at how much memory Firefox is using is NOT a good indicator of a memory leak. A better indicator is how long and how much can you use Firefox. I can't remember the last time I ran up against Firefox being unusable because it was bloating. Also, to lay blame at Firefox's feet you would need to turn off all your plugins such as Flash, Quicktime, Java, etc.

      In a low RAM environment, Firefox is much more aggressive at keeping RAM usage down. Most computers t
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by TooMuchToDo (882796)
      RAM is cheap. My desktop rig has 8GB. I don't mind firefox using 500-1024MB as long as my browsing is snappy and I can get to old closed tabs for some time (hence the high memory usage).
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by lordmatrix (1439871)
        8GB RAM is 120 EUR. Thats a month of quality food for a single person. Saying hardware is cheap is wrong because it's not cheap. Not for the majority of the people.
      • by tepples (727027)

        My desktop rig has 8GB.

        Netbooks and old (paid-for) PCs tend not to even have enough slots for 8 GB of RAM.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by FudRucker (866063)
      RE: "Firefox 3.5.7 is using a whopping 174Mb of ram."

      and with most systems having at least 1 to 4 gigs of ram 174 megs is what?

      a pimple on a hippo's butt?
    • That's a feature, not a bug. Firefox maintains its own memory cache. If you're that desperate for memory... you should be using Opera Mini or Dillo or something.

      • by Kaetemi (928767)

        Okay, say, I open a few hundred tabs to Google.com. Every new tab adds more MB ram used. When I close all those tabs, no ram is freed at all. Usage can easily go up to a GB of ram with opening and closing the page enough times. When I open a new tab to Google.com again, more ram is used. That's definitely not a normal cache, it's a memory leaking cache. It's not because it's a cache that it doesn't need to limit it's ram usage.
        And they should use the hard disk instead for such a ridiculous > 1GB cache, e

        • by tepples (727027)

          And they should use the hard disk instead for such a ridiculous > 1GB cache, especially since I also need to be able to run 3ds Max or Adobe Premiere while Firefox is running.

          Just open the other program, and Windows will automatically move the cache to the hard disk where you say it belongs. It's called a swap file.

          • by V!NCENT (1105021)

            The entire reason for chaching in RAM these days with broadband is because it's a 1000 times faster (literaly) than the HDD. A swap is for poot-man computers that have their RAM completely full...

    • by xtracto (837672)

      Google Toolbar may be leaky. However I guess the initial amount of memory for Firefox is actually high (higher than say, Opera or IE).

      Right now I am using Firefox 3.5.5 on Win XP. I have 3 windows open:
      Window 1 with 13 tabs including Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Notebook and Slashdot.
      Window 2: 19 Tabs (some wikipedia, Eurostat sites, etc)

      Window 3: 2 tabs Google search.

      In addition I have the following extensions:Adblock Plus, Delicious bookmarks, DOM inspector, downthemall, fireftp, grasemonkey, pricedrop,

      • by xtracto (837672)

        Oh yeah... I forgot to add that I have been using the same firefox session for over one week now (since the beginning of the year) as I do not close or turn off the computer but hibernate.

        Firefox has come a long way from its leaky days. I was frustrated by the leaking but nowadays it feels OK for me.

    • As is noted for at least one or two years, you can disable that behavior.

      Also 174 MB (I don’t think you meant megabits ;) is not that much, if you calculate the size of the actual data, in its *uncompressed* form with a full parse tree. Do some calculations. You’ll be surprised at how big that actually becomes.

      I’d like to see some memory map for Firefox anyway. Since when Opera can do it, so should Firefox. ;)
      My guess is, that Opera has something like a offscreen buffer that is in memory f

      • No offense to you, but you're parroting the Firefox team's take on this, and it's utter crapola. Firefox at this moment is taking 638 megabytes on my system, and I normally restart it when it hits 1 gigabyte. That is ABSURD. This is just normal browsing.

        I've basically concluded that the Firefox team basically can't fix it. It's not like this hasn't been a problem for a long-ass time. There is absolutely no reason Firefox should cripple computers if you don't close it after a certain amount of time. There is

    • by V!NCENT (1105021)

      Firefox keeps track of what you visited while running (cashin, can be turned of... *sigh*), so when you are 'closing' your tabs and you decide to re-open it or go backwards or forwards everything responds faster. If you close Firefox it doesn't have the cache in the memory anymore...

      RAM these days is dirt cheap. Preloading is what makes Vista and 7 use so much memory and I gladly run Linux with preload. Because guess what? On newer hardware these tweaks make your system actually faster. I hate uninformed pe

    • Firefox 3.5.7 is using a whopping 174Mb of ram.

      Put another way, that would be gobbling up an Earth-shattering 2.83% of the RAM in the desktop I'm typing this on. They should drop everything and get that down to no more than 1.4% of my installed RAM.

      Yeah, I know: best practices, bloat, netbooks, old computers, etc. Those are all perfectly valid reasons why all software should be well-crafted and should limit wasted resources. I just can't get excited about the raw numbers involved in this case.

  • Useless Summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by Necroman (61604) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:08AM (#30738226)

    The summary rambled on about bug fixes and other things that tend not to matter to the end product of FF3.6. Most of the people that read slashdot understand the release process for software. You releases a beta/RC, fix some bugs, release the pre-release. If all is good, you release the final product.

    It would have been more useful to cover new features and things that would interest the end-user. At least that's my point of view on the topic...

    Useful info from the article:

    Among the new features in Firefox 3.6 are built-in support for the scaled-down browser skins dubbed "Personas;" warnings of out-of-date plug-ins; support for new CSS, DOM and HTML 5 technologies; support for full-screen video embedded with the video HTML tag; and support for the Web Open Font Format (WOFF).

    TraceMonkey has also been refreshed to boost JavaScript performance, something Mike Shaver, Mozilla's chief engineer, bragged about last week on Twitter. "I am excited about upcoming JS [JavaScript] engine work, and I don't care who knows it," Shaver tweeted.

    • Re:Useless Summary (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Fackamato (913248) on Tuesday January 12, 2010 @11:14AM (#30738334)

      Agreed!

      I've been running beta5 and RC1 since it came out, this could very well be the final product from what I've experienced. Everything works, including all plugins (or are they called extensions, addons, or components...?).

      Much faster startup time (yes, this matters) and switching between tabs seem faster than ever. It's almost Chrome-like in speed now.

    • by Björn (4836) *

      It would have been more useful to cover new features and things that would interest the end-user.

      Here [mozillalinks.org] you go. It's for beta 1, so it's a bit old though.

    • Personas have been in Firefox before, then discontinued. You'll see a lot of submissions there from those days. I'm glad that it's back, but I am hoping for a utility that could make the earlier personas work in this updated version.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The fixes resolved numerous crash bugs, including one that brought down the browser when it was steered to Yahoo's front page. Another fix removed a small amount of code owned by Microsoft from Firefox.

    For a piece of software that's been actively developed for so many years, Firefox has way too many bugs that cause it to crash. The memory footprint seems to be getting bigger and bigger with each release and Firefox is noticably slower compared to Opera when it comes to rendering and general GUI responsiveness. I don't want to start any flame wars, I'm just sharing my experience and point of view, it just seems to me that Firefox has been on an unfortunate development path that will lead to its death befor

  • After 3.0, I've had severe performance issues with firefox off of a flash drive.

    Did I miss a switch somewhere? It has to be related to some new performance feature because the flash drive continuously flashes with 3.1+ and doesn't flash at all with 3.0.

    • by advid.net (595837)

      After 3.0, I've had severe performance issues with firefox off of a flash drive.

      Me too. I'm suspecting the url/keyword database, the one with the file keeping up growing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by minvaren (854254)
        It's the fact that they use SQLite to store so much data. Putting the firefox profile on anything but a local hard drive causes it to become completely unresponsive on a regular basis. I haven't seen any plans by Mozilla to fix this yet, but this completely kills Firefox in any work environment with roaming profiles.
        • If you go into Options and turn off storage of History then the performance issue all but disappears. A good idea for a thumb drive, but doesn't make much sense if you're mapping profiles over a network.

          • Thank you.

            This reduced the scale of the problem by about 90% or more.

            It's strange that this same feature doesn't hit firefox 3.0 in this fashion.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by asdf7890 (1518587)

      After 3.0, I've had severe performance issues with firefox off of a flash drive.

      That'll be the writing to the urlclassifier3.sqlite, file amongst others. I sorted this on my Ubuntu setup (running on a netbook with an internal SSD that had *very* bad write performance) by moving my profile to a RAM drive on boot (and rsyncing it back to the on-disc copy on shutdown and every now and again via cron). You might be able to do something similar on Windows if you have a decent RAM drive implementation but you are unlikely to have that in most circumstances where you are using a portable inst

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I love the new Gecko features, especially -moz-linear-gradient and -moz-radial-gradient. Huge bandwidth savings for gradient loving web developers out there.

    https://developer.mozilla.org/En/Firefox_3.6_for_developers

  • I don't quite understand how the Chrome guys do the updates, but it seems like dark magic: I never noticed ever needing a restart, but still, the executable is being updated, too. I have no clue how that is achieved.

    • by silentjay (979424)
      its the google update service running in the background doing it.....
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by at_slashdot (674436)

      If you do it manually it prompts you to restart it to benefit from the update, otherwise it does it in the background (if you run Windows, in Linux you need to use the package manager to upgrade it)

    • by Webz (210489)

      This is an unsupported guess.

      There's probably two versions of the executable: ones you have already running hot and one that's on the file system. If you update Chrome, it's probably updating only the reference copy on the file system and not the one you're running. So if you shut down all of your instances of Chrome, and then start one up again, it uses that new copy without mentioning anything to you.

      What would really be neat is if you could run different versions of Chrome simultaneously so that given th

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tepples (727027)

      I never noticed ever needing a restart, but still, the executable is being updated, too.

      Chrome runs a process per open page to isolate crashes. I'm guessing that as long as binaries of different versions communicate by passing well-defined messages and only binaries of the same version share memory, multiple versions of the Chrome engine can run at once.

      • by BZ (40346)

        Yep. That is exactly how they do it. They update the renderer executable on-disk, then switch to the updated version it the next time they need to start a renderer process.

  • Firefox continues to fall behind Chrome. Unfortunately, there's no web socket support in this release.

    • by BZ (40346)

      There's no web socket support in a shipping Chrome either, last I checked, just in the developer channel builds (the equivalent of Firefox nightlies).

      Do you want a list of things Firefox has that Chrome doesn't in terms of web capabilities? ;)

    • by compro01 (777531)

      AFAICT, SVG animation won't be in until Gecko 1.9.3, which should be in Firefox 3.7. Not sure if there is anything for this in the 3.7 pre-alpha.

      You can find more info on the SVG implementation status here [mozilla.org].

  • I am always dismayed by the lack of Linux x86_64 Firefox releases.
    I can download current releases of OpenOffice for Linux x96_64.
    Why is it so hard to find Firefox for x86_64???

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by supersloshy (1273442)

      IIRC, lots of popular Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu, have 64-bit versions of Firefox in their repositories (and with Ubuntu 64bit, it ships with it). If you're running the 64-bit version of Firefox, you might want to google the 64-bit flash plugin and how to install it if you use Flash at all (it works fantastic!).

    • by BZ (40346)

      Firefox 3.5 is slower when built 64-bit instead of 32-bit, because the jit shipped in that doesn't generate 64-bit instructions yet. It doesn't really make sense to ship a 64-bit build it if has worse user experience than a 32-bit one.

      Firefox 3.6 will have a 64-bit-capable jit. So at that point all that's needed to make 64-bit a tier1 platform is setting up the test infrastructure for it, hiring more people to do the QA for it (or finding more volunteers willing to do it, of course), and so forth. It'll

      • by BZ (40346)

        > Firefox 3.6 will have a 64-bit-capable jit

        Er, apparently not quite. It's there, but still not working well enough, so not enabled by default. Or so I'm told.

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