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Mozilla Software Upgrades

Mozilla Firefox 3.6 Released 284

Posted by timothy
from the when-browsers-compete-you-win dept.
Shining Celebi writes "Mozilla has released Firefox 3.6 today, which adds support for Personas, lightweight themes that can be installed without restarting the browser, and adds further performance improvements to the new Tracemonkey Javascript engine. One of the major goals of the release was to improve startup time and general UI responsiveness, especially the Awesomebar. You can read the full set of release notes here."
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Mozilla Firefox 3.6 Released

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  • Switch Proxy Tool (Score:5, Informative)

    by wbav (223901) <Guardian.Bob+Slashdot@gmail.com> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @03:54PM (#30850046) Homepage Journal
    If you have the Switch Proxy Tool, I strongly suggest you disable it. Caused all sort of issues when upgrading. If you've already upgraded, right click on the shortcut and run in safe mode, there you can disable it. YMMV.
    • by ottothecow (600101) <ottothecow@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @03:56PM (#30850080) Homepage
      I used someones firefox with these persona things already installed...it was awful, I couldn't see which tab was what.

      It was like giving myspace page designers control over your browser

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I just installed the persona add-on and checked out a few of the themes. You're right, most of the non-solid ones like the Marshall Amp and the DJ one with the turntables on it are annoying because they distract the eye and add visual clutter to the workflow.

        Additionally, the graphics from the themes as described above have that pixellated, dithered, low-res look to them. It's like stretching a 400x300 picture to desktop wallpaper.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ottothecow (600101)
          yup, I am typing this from freshly upgraded firefox. I put my mouse over a few of the persona styles and they had nasty dithering effects (and I am not on a large display).

          This is why people complain about bloat...what is the point of this junk? Weren't there already addons/themes that let you do this kind of stuff? I hope that mouseover to change style stuff only works on mozilla domains...because I see a whole new way to make the internet an awfully annoying place...screw animated gifs and blink tags

          • Re:Switch Proxy Tool (Score:4, Informative)

            by jesser (77961) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:15PM (#30851498) Homepage Journal

            This is why people complain about bloat...what is the point of this junk? Weren't there already addons/themes that let you do this kind of stuff?

            It's the first step toward replacing Firefox's old theme system with a better one, where themes are smaller and easier to create. (It's not there yet, since you can't replace buttons, only backgrounds.)

            While we have both systems in place, it might seem like "bloat", but in the long term it will allow Firefox to use significantly less memory and have a simpler user interface around installing themes. It's a fight against bloat.

            I hope that mouseover to change style stuff only works on mozilla domains

            Correct, it only works on sites that are whitelisted for extension installation. By default, the only whitelisted sites are the mozilla sites for extensions and themes.

            • by Requiem18th (742389) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @06:56PM (#30853362)

              Personas could work AND WAS ALREADY WORKING as a lightweight theming replacement without being tied to the browser code as an addon.

              REPEAT: It already works as an addon.

              This is essentially an unremovable addon like that MS .NET addon that MS shoved down our throats.

              Look, I have for the most time defended Firefox ever increasing features as progress. I already don't think they managed their "awesomebar" well at all, I like it but many loyal users didn't and instead of making it an option or an extension they gave it a hip name to add insult to injury.

              But now they are taking an already working addon into the browser.

              The thing I liked about FF was it's modularity, it's what caused the browser to split form the mozilla suit in the first place. This is a step into the wrong direction, into a more monolithic application.

              Why do FF developers hate their own extension framework dammit!?

              • I am also not a huge fan of the awesome bar (though the new IE bar also sucks).

                Sometimes it is nice but other times I will be typing part of a domain (which is what I still do...since I am used to thinking about domains and not title tags) and it will decide to give me shit that it thinks is more relevant than what I am currently typing.

                If I start typing a domain, odds are I am looking for something in that domain and the best way to handle that is to give me increasingly deep directory tree entries in

              • This is essentially an unremovable addon like that MS .NET addon that MS shoved down our throats.

                MS didn't write the browser in the first place.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by visualight (468005)

                Man for some years now they've been just doing shit for the sake of doing shit (I've heard all the arguments, they're all BS). They have a bunch of "UI Engineers" that just can't leave anything alone. Every new version sends me on a two week hunt for hacks and about:config settings to undo it all. And that's not working anymore for everything. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm almost resigned to moving to opera or chrome with this one -unless they've finally fixed the address bar so I don't have to type 'w

              • by Ant P. (974313) on Friday January 22, 2010 @01:10AM (#30856532) Homepage

                Why do FF developers hate their own extension framework dammit!?

                Be careful what you ask for...

                Let's imagine for a second that you're writing a HTML web page with some scripting. If this were Chrom(e|ium) you could stop reading here; this is how their extensions work. But as a FF extension writer, you don't get the luxury of preserving your sanity.

                Take away all the HTML you know and replace it with XUL, a completely different XML language with a different box model. Actually, you can keep the HTML in addition. You can keep your CSS too - along with getting to learn a metric assload of browser extensions to the syntax and creative ways to hack the existing vocabulary to get results. Want to display an image? XUL doesn't have the <img> tag, or a box model with sufficient control to embed a background image, but hey you can use "list-style-image"! Oh and since it's XUL you get to have fun with overlays, which are like includes except they work in an XML/XSLT way.

                At this point, I'd like to mention the average human brain can only hold 7 items in short term memory at once. So far I've only named the bare minimum necessary to make a UI that does nothing. Now to make that clusterfuck do anything, you have to use a dialect of Javascript that makes COBOL look terse. Still not scared? Then you might survive extension-writing long enough to get around to the RDF stuff...

                I really don't blame them for hating it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Skratchez (1304839)
        This is true. The new personas features are butt ugly. Use Stylish (I recommend Gradient iCool for the nice dark black and blue) and the custom /. black with green text mod. It looks like an old CRT.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by xtracto (837672)

          This is true. The new personas features are butt ugly. Use Stylish (I recommend Gradient iCool for the nice dark black and blue) and the custom /. black with green text mod. It looks like an old CRT.

          This made me smile a little. It shows the reason why we (geeks) are *different* from the majority of "normal users".

          Normal users find myspace like pages OK, the more sparks and blinks and effects the better. Whereas we find green text in black background great.

          I love Green on Black (DarkRoom is a godsend for me). But everytime anyone else has seen my color schemes (I tend to work [program] in Linux using Compiz META+M inverted colors) they think I am crazy or antiquated (green and black has not been in vogu

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:22PM (#30850488)

        It was like giving myspace page designers control over your browser

        See? This is what happens when the Mozilla people come up with their own ideas instead of just implementing the features from the previous version of Opera.

        I keed, I keed!

      • by zullnero (833754) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:57PM (#30851136) Homepage
        Awesome. I love having as much freedom to make my browser as irritating to use to my jerk friends who don't ask for permission to use my machine as possible. It's just a thing I like to do.
      • by jesser (77961)

        Hopefully the lower-contrast, prettier ones will become the most popular and easier to find.

      • by FRiC (416091)

        It's not that bad, since the URL bar and the search bar takes up almost the entire width of the toolbar area, it's usually so hard to see what the stupid persona image is anyway.

    • SwitchProxy stopped working for me on one of the other FF upgrades, so I gave it up for QuickProxy, which also requires less babysitting and is easier for me to use.

    • If you have the Switch Proxy Tool, I strongly suggest you disable it. Caused all sort of issues when upgrading. If you've already upgraded, right click on the shortcut and run in safe mode, there you can disable it. YMMV.

      Then I'll just have to wait. At work, I ssh tunnel 95% of my traffic home and bounce it off my Apache server there. It's not fast (by design -- I need to limit my compulsive habits somehow). On occasion, I need to get to stuff fast, like big updates and PDF files. Switch Proxy and Flash

  • Pretty neat. (Score:5, Informative)

    by jayminer (692836) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @03:57PM (#30850088) Homepage
    Tried on Windows, performance improvements are immediately noticeable. Wastes less screen space by default. For those who are used to the old look-and-feel can feel a little awkward at first.

    Set extensions.checkCompatibility to false and you're good to go.
  • by mallumax (712655) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @03:57PM (#30850090) Homepage
    My javascript performance comparison between Firefox 3.6 and Chrome and Safari http://www.manu-j.com/blog/firefox-3-6-vs-chrome-vs-safari-javascript-performance/432/ [manu-j.com]

    As usual, Firefox performance on the v8 benchmark is pathetic where Chrome is more than 10 times faster.It is 24% faster than version 3.5.4 in V8 but it is clearly not enough. In the sunspider test, chrome is 2 times as fast as firefox. In this test, 3.6 is 17% faster than 3.5.4. Safari too comfortably beats Firefox in both these benchmarks

    • by Skratchez (1304839) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:03PM (#30850172)
      It's an improvement. That's what counts, some of us don't want to trade our lovely open-source browser for a product from Google or Apple, or MS for that matter. I can wait on javascript performance, TYVM.
      • WebKit is open source. Chrome is open source.
        • by mrdoogee (1179081) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:35PM (#30851906)

          Chrome is open source in the same way that OS X is open source.

          Sure they're both based on a open source project (Chromium/Webkit and Darwin/BSD) does not mean they are truly open source. Try to modify and redistribute either and see how long before either of their "parents" get all lawyer-ey.

          Remember kids, free doesn't always mean open source, and open source doesn't always mean free.

          • by Omestes (471991)

            I'm running Chromium on my Ubuntu box, and Chrome on my Windows box, and I honestly can't tell the difference between them, outside of the fact that Chrome phones home. Also Iron is pretty much a 1:1 Chromium port without the Google nonsense. So you CAN make a port of Chrome/ium, and no ones parents care. Webkit is a bit different, you can port Webkit to your hearts desire, but if you copy Safari's look and feel, your doomed.

          • by Simetrical (1047518) <Simetrical+sd@gmail.com> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @11:46PM (#30856068) Homepage

            Chrome is open source in the same way that OS X is open source.

            Sure they're both based on a open source project (Chromium/Webkit and Darwin/BSD) does not mean they are truly open source. Try to modify and redistribute either and see how long before either of their "parents" get all lawyer-ey.

            The analogy Chrome : Chromium :: OS X : Darwin/BSD is nonsense. You can't build an almost identical replica of OS X from open-source code, or anywhere close. Chromium is fully open-source, and it's essentially identical to Chrome. It's what the Chrome developers themselves use for development and testing.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by LordLimecat (1103839)

            Try to modify and redistribute either and see how long before either of their "parents" get all lawyer-ey.

            You mean like how these guys [srware.net] do? Theyve been around for close to a year now, and google hasnt said a peep (nor could they). Its not "sort of pretend" open source, you can modify, redistribute, etc as much as you like.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

            Sure they're both based on a open source project (Chromium/Webkit and Darwin/BSD) does not mean they are truly open source. Try to modify and redistribute either and see how long before either of their "parents" get all lawyer-ey.

            You mean like Iron? [srware.net]

      • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:10PM (#30851388) Journal

        These tests are mostly pointless anyway. They measure raw JS performance, which would matter if you'd be doing, say, number crunching. In practice, the most heavyweight operation that is likely to be done by scripts in a browser is DOM manipulation, and that's an entirely different thing. What does it matter if your super-efficient JS AOT compiler based on quantum branch prediction can call a method on a DOM object as fast as a plain native JMP, if the implementation of said method causes reflow and redraw of most of the page?

        Coincidentally, it's why Opera feels so fast for actual browsing while still using an interpreter for JS (and consequently sucking in any synthetic JS perf tests) - its interpreter is an order of magnitude slower than e.g. Chrome, yes, but it's got an extremely fast layout engine and renderer, so DOM updates are instantaneous.

        • by mallumax (712655)
          I used to hold this opinion (benchmarks != real world speed) until recently. But I have found that the test results compare favourably to real world usage. For example Google wave is sluggish on firefox while chrome has no problems with it.
          • Firefox doesn't have particularly fast DOM manipulation (thanks, XPCOM), so this doesn't contradict what I wrote. How does Wave fare on Opera?

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      Want to throw Opera in there?

      For the tests linked to here [nontroppo.org] the latest official release is slightly slower than Chrome, but the latest alpha build is significantly faster than chrome.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by causality (777677)

      My javascript performance comparison between Firefox 3.6 and Chrome and Safari http://www.manu-j.com/blog/firefox-3-6-vs-chrome-vs-safari-javascript-performance/432/ [manu-j.com]

      As usual, Firefox performance on the v8 benchmark is pathetic where Chrome is more than 10 times faster.It is 24% faster than version 3.5.4 in V8 but it is clearly not enough. In the sunspider test, chrome is 2 times as fast as firefox. In this test, 3.6 is 17% faster than 3.5.4. Safari too comfortably beats Firefox in both these benchmarks

      They should use Slashdot for testing JS performance. Click "Read More" to load a new discussion, then hit "Reply to This", type a response, hit "Preview", and count how many seconds it takes before you see the preview. May the best browser win!

      • by Zocalo (252965) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:41PM (#30850818) Homepage
        That delay is nothing to do with your browser - that's Slashdot scanning of a bunch of ports on your IP address. I spotted this a few weeks back when I made a post to Slashdot while running a "tail -f" on my firewall logs, although I've been aware of the lag a lot longer than that. It seems that if your firewall just DROPs the packets you get a delay while it retries a couple of times, whereas if you REJECT then it's a good deal quicker. There's some caching going on as well, once you've gone through this the lag disappears for a day or two, then re-starts. As it says in my .sig - WTF?
        • by spyder913 (448266)

          Wow... good to know. I rarely post because it takes so long for the preview to show up.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          They are checking to see if you are an open proxy, and will ban you if so.

          • An open proxy for what? SMTP?

            • by Zocalo (252965) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @06:33PM (#30852992) Homepage
              Not SMTP; HTTP. The ports scanned are all common default ports for web proxy applications like Squid's :3128, various ":8080" type combinations and such like. I'd have to go digging through my logs to get the complete list, but I'd guess there are about a dozen ports checked in total.

              What's so irksome about it is that it's a straight SYN scan done very slowly that impacts any users that have a firewall that DROPs packets with an apparently inexplicable delay of several seconds. If you really feel the need to do this, which the Slashdot team obviously does, it would be much quicker and less annoying for users do the scan at a faster rate without the two or three retries currently used. Better yet, kick the scan off in the background while the data is being entered data into the form and reject the post if necessary when the "Preview" or "Submit" button is clicked. Even if a post is submitted through an open proxy before the scan completes, Slashdot's delay between posts from the same IP will ensure that only one post can get through before the ban hammer comes down.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by xtracto (837672)

          Maybe it is possible to disable that via a Grasemonkey script?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by amRadioHed (463061)

          That delay is really annoying. If they need to do it they should start it in the background when you preview and then by the time you post it should be done and they wouldn't need to make anyone wait.

    • by Dan667 (564390) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:36PM (#30850704)
      The problem is there are just not the plugins for other browsers. Even though some folks are obsessing over rendering times, the extensions add to block flash, malware, adblock, etc make Firefox faster and the web more usable for me.
    • TBH I stopped caring about Javascript benchmarks (and benchmarks in general, really) when I realized you can pick benchmarks that happen to reflect the result you want to "prove".

      For example, someone else linked to this [fudzilla.com] benchmark (Futuremark's Peacekeeper) which puts Firefox 3.6 solidly ahead of Chrome.

      Honest question: are Sunspider and V8 better than Peacekeeper? What real-world scenarios are reflected by which benchmarks? If I want a benchmark that reflects performance relevant to my normal usage, which

  • by igadget78 (1698420) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @03:58PM (#30850106)
    Microsoft's patch vs. Mozilla's release. I can't wait. The Excitement is almost too much.
  • Just used Chrome (Score:3, Interesting)

    by treeves (963993) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:08PM (#30850236) Homepage Journal
    to download Firefox 3.6. I regularly use both. Just happened to be using Chrome when I came across this story and decided to upgrade Firefox. I used to use Opera a lot. Not sure why I stopped and why I can't stick with one browser. I guess Chrome took Opera's place as the lighter, faster browser for me while I keep using FF for the extensions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:08PM (#30850244)

    Proof that Firefox is heading for doom. Stop wasting time on making the browser look different than the fucking OS you idiots.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Nick Fel (1320709)
      Didn't Internet Explorer 3 have skinable toolbars in 1996? Transparency please.
    • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao AT hotmail DOT com> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:48PM (#30852166) Homepage

      Stop wasting time on making the browser look different than the fucking OS you idiots.

      Hear, hear, goddamnit, HEAR! Consistency is an essential quality of a good user interface. That's why I could never really stand Opera: you can make it look like anything, but good luck making it look like it belongs. And that's why I love Safari on the Mac, yet hate it on Windows: it looks alien to the system around it.

      Here's a tip -- go to the themes page [mozilla.org] and look for something that fits your OS. Looks like custom themes are immune to this Persona shit.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      Do you run Vista, or Windows 7? How many apps do you have now that fit with the OS now? I mean, even Office totally ignores Windows themes and gives you a choice of 3, incompatible ones - black, wimpy blue and silver.

      If its good enough for MS to scrap the (excellent) Window style guidelines and allow any old UI crap in, then FF is just another first-class app on Windows.

      (I'd mention Linux, but then it'd only turn into a Gnome v KDE flame :)

    • I'm still miffed that the resizing was nuked on the Add Bookmark dialog and you have to use an extension to get it back. WTF?

      At least the memory leak (not releasing memory when tabs are closed) should be gone...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:11PM (#30850304)

    One of the goals mentioned in the article was to improve garbage collection performance to make pauses shorter and animations smoother. Why not just use the video card to accelerate the graphical operations (plus any other GPGPU operations)? Flash and PDF readers have already done it. For that matter, Windows Vista or later UIs have already do the same. This will give performance edges over contemporary browsers.

    • I would assume that they either don't want(or don't have the manpower) to bog themselves down in the platform-specific and, for the moment, GPU vendor-specific, details.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MarcQuadra (129430)

      Firefox is based on Gecko, which uses Cairo Graphics, which has an accelerated OpenGL back-end as an output option.

      My guess is that performance when using an OpenGL-accelerated renderer is actually -worse- on non-compositing window managers.

      The rendering of pages wouldn't be helped by GPGPU stuff, since it's 'procedural' to parse and render HTML, it's not SIMD in nature.

      Apple's been sitting on accelerated 2D rendering of the UI, glyphs, text, and primitives for over four years now, it's not a panacea. I don

  • Scrolling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Majix (139279) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:29PM (#30850594) Homepage

    It seems the mouse wheel scrolling has been changed in 3.6. It's moving a much larger distance with each "click" of the wheel than before and if you scroll continuously it seems to accelerate even faster. My first impression is that I don't like it at all. It feels a lot more like Chrome, which isn't a good thing in my opinion, the annoying jumpy scrolling is one of the primary reasons I prefer not to use Chrome.

  • by bughunter (10093) <<ten.knilhtrae> <ta> <retnuhgub>> on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:39PM (#30850766) Journal

    The new tab now appears to the right of the current tab when you right click on a link and select "Open Link in New Tab."

    I just discovered that after about 5 seconds of "Hey, where'd my new tab go??"

  • Personas are not light-weight themes. In fact, they're not themes at all. They're more like little gadgets that you hook up to your web browser to customise one part of its UI. It doesn't even compare to a theme.

    But what's worse is that Mozilla is looking to depreciate themes in favour of Personas. From the Add-ons Manager, click "Get Themes". You won't see a page listing themes, but a page listing Personas. There isn't even a link there to the actual themes listing.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      someone said that they are the first step in making themes a bit more lightweight and extensible, that a theme is a collection of 'personas' which are individual UI modifications.

      So today, we have a background modification, tomorrow a font or tab or scrollbar or whatever.

      Maybe its a good idea, maybe bad, but that's the way it is with FF - you pays your money and you get changes. Its why you're using FF in the first place. I think we should stop giving them such a hard time over it sometimes - if they didn't

  • Personas...? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stan Vassilev (939229) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @04:48PM (#30850930)

    Mozilla has released Firefox 3.6 today, which adds support for Personas, lightweight themes that can be installed without restarting the browser

    I think someone just jumped the shark.

    I can't explain to myself how adding a theme engine on top of another theme engine was somehow near the top of their todo list.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zullnero (833754)
      It's a path towards creating themes that don't require a browser restart, which is and has been an annoyance since they started doing themes several years ago. Unfortunately, a huge number of themes already out there don't work that way. It seems like a preliminary step towards transitioning to how Firefox 4.0 will be dealing with themes. 3.5 and up are pretty much transitional upgrades to wean people onto 4.0 when it's released. Pretty ordinary release strategy, really.
    • Folks like being able to customize their browser. Chrome had been using this as one of its selling points in their online ads. Personas are simpler than themes and can be easily switched in and out. They don't require a reboot to apply. And you can try them out right on the site. So, we're likely to see more work going into personas than themes. You can see that there are about 400 Firefox themes available. And 35,000 personas. So, that's where the work is going.

  • Nice. Noticeably snappier. I like the idea of a path to themes I can apply without having to restart the browser. Browsing for the perfect theme will take a whole lot less time. The browser still takes up a bit of memory, but it's about what I expected. Just wish I could properly compare it to IE8 in Win7 without feeling like Microsoft is artificially deflating its memory usage numbers by offloading work into "operating system" processes.
  • The portable version of Firefox 3.6 from PortableApps.com was just released in 15 languages, too:

    http://portableapps.com/news/2010-01-21_-_firefox_portable_3.6 [portableapps.com]

  • by cinnamon colbert (732724) on Thursday January 21, 2010 @05:15PM (#30851494) Journal

    The GUI that pops up when you want to bookmark something - case study in bad design
    How about a real editor for bookmarks, with some minimal feature like export this folder (when you need to send someone a bunch of stuff)
    How about mozilla not being a jerk about extensions, and getting rid of the spam that makes it hard to see anything but the top 5 extensions big brother mozilla thinks you should have

    How about a stable platform for extension developers

    How about letting the world know how awesome FF+noscript+adblock is when you go to a site like YAHOO
    I hadn't been to YAHOO wihtout my little protectors, noscript/adblock/flashblock for some time and was astonished at how much ads have taken over the front page - how can people stand it

    how about giving the users some control over privacy, so we have the wipe things clean on exit menu again

    how about giving some users an idea of how much info the SOBs of the web, like google, are collecting

  • Fails for me. I kept on trying to use gesture to close tab.

    • For what it's worth, firegestures works for me on 3.6. It seems to be updated sooner than all-in-one does; I had the same issue during the 3.0->3.5 transition with all-in-one, when firegestures worked.
  • the best part of the Firefox 3.6 update is that it's offered to existing 3.5.x users. Not one of those weird 'major updates' like 3.5 was - which is why there are still 3.0.x users out there running old browsers.
    • by EkriirkE (1075937)
      a 10MB minor update? That's what the download screen said. I just took a peek at the primary download site and Windows download is listed as 8MB on the front page.

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