back to article Mozilla answers WebKit with first mobile Firefox 4 beta

Mozilla has released its first mobile Firefox 4 beta, offering test versions of the open source browser for both Google Android and Nokia Maemo. Codenamed Fennec 2.0, the mobile beta is based on the same Gecko layout engine as the desktop Firefox 4 beta, and it uses the latest Firefox Javascript engine – including the new …


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  1. Russ Tarbox

    I don't like Firefox.

    There, I said it.

  2. John Sanders

    Free speed.

    There's no such thing as free speed, those who advertise, or make software improvements based on specific hardware features on a processor instead of relying on improving the underlying algorithms... produce "fast" things like Firefox.

    See Firefox is fast, very fast, almost in the blink of an eye (a couple of days) goes from a 3-5 seconds boot time, to about 30 seconds to boot and another 30 seconds to be usable.

    It also slows down to a crawl if the site is heavy on JS very very fast, it also kills your CPU yield very fast, some times even for no apparent reason, and it does so, very fast.

    (I'm a heavy Firefox user BTW, just a bit tired of promises of a faster Firefox since v2.0)

    1. Ian Yates
      Thumb Up


      Have you tried any of the 4.0 betas?

      I switched from Fx 3.x to Iron (non-Google fork of Chrome) because of the speeds, but I missed my customisations and addons.

      When the first 4.0 beta came along, I gave it a whirl and was amazed at the speed difference.

      My history is 100MB+, and 4.0 takes it with no complaints.

      The latest update reinstated the Windows min/max buttons as well, so I have no current complaints about the interface. Plus, most of my addons are working :)

      The only stability problem I get now is the new plugin_container process that handles things like Flash; but that might be Flash causing the issue. Even my Fx memory is now steady at ~120MB with 20+ tabs over three windows.

      I still use Iron for some things; mostly the "private" mode, as it doesn't require you to close all current tabs.

  3. Dave Fox

    Application size

    I know it's a beta, and I know this is talked about on the blog, but the sheer amount of space this app takes up on the phone is absurd. Even if you move the app to SD card, there's still several meg left in /data/data.

    Mozilla - instead of trying to make it faster, why not try to make it smaller before removing the alpha tag and calling it a beta! With the limited storage space for most current phones, the custom dynamic linker mentioned in the blog is desperately needed.

  4. TeeCee Gold badge

    "Performance is critical in a mobile browser..."

    Hmm. Anyone who tried their old MiniMo mobile browser will know that this, which appears at first glance to be bleedin' obvious, is actually something of an epiphany for Mozilla.

  5. Miek

    Gave it a whirl ...

    But I think I'll stick with webkit

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Tried it on my Desire...

    I downloaded the beta onto my HTC Desire last night and the installer immediately failed - turns out it needs 30MB of available on-phone (not SD card) storage space to install. Once installed you can then move it to the SD card and all seems fine. However, after a few minutes of visiting sites - nothing flashy, just places like BBC News and here - the browser crashed, then crashed again not long after I restarted it. A couple of minutes later I had a look at the application details and found that it had amassed 30MB of data for itself all on the phone, and so once again my Desire was displaying its "low disk space" warning.

    Needless to say I've uninstalled it. Very disappointed.

  7. ThomH

    It's not really the same as IE was though, is it?

    WebKit attempts to subscribe to all relevant standards and is frequently updated and corrected when variations are found. Extensions it supplies are minor things that are easily removed. The engine is open source and used by multiple vendors.

    Internet Explorer, in the days before Firefox, was stagnant and explicitly aiming for non-standard aims. The extensions were things like ActiveX which were designed to be all but impossible to remove from a website without a rewrite. This was all controlled by a single company with a vested interest in locking out all other vendors.

    Diversity is a good thing, but let's not pretend that the one thing is the same as the other. In the same way, hyperbole is a bad thing, but I'm not going to pretend that this is anything like the same as the stuff churned out by Opera.

    1. aThingOrTwo
      Thumb Up

      Agree with all of the above

      Agree with all of that. And Mozilla have only got themselves for mobile sites being targeted at Webkit. They had no viable alternative to test against.

  8. PaulR79
    Thumb Down

    Firefox 4 betas - slow all round for me!

    I've tried the Firefox 4 betas on my laptop and they're very sluggish in use and quite often hang. I tried earlier builds of Firefox / fennec on my phone and found them incredibly slow and buggy so I hoped that I would get better performance with this release. Not a chance! I'm using it on a Motorola Milestone that's overclocked to 1.2GHz from a stock 550MHz and tweaked a lot for performance and speed yet loading anything sees it hang.

    Trying to zoom it hangs, sometimes it'll zoom but the text doesn't redraw very quickly and looks horrible. I could list more problems but this is my experience with all betas of Firefox 4 on the desktop and on my phone. The functionality is there, the useful extras are there but the performance and speed need serious work.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I was going to ask if it was still a whole 30mb, it's utterly insane.

  10. realseawolf

    Installer unpacking to phone memory

    It used about 15 Meg on the phone once installed. The installed app can be moved to SD on 2.2 Desire, but it's not what you think.

    When Firefox is started it unpacks into the phone memory on first start up and uses about 15 MB on the phone, so ends up being both 15 MB on SD and 15 MB on phone.

    If you delete the data on the phone you will lose all your settings and firefox will unpack itself again onto the phone on next startup and use 15MB of phone memory again.

  11. Andy ORourke

    Whats the problem with 30Meg

    I mean it's not like memory is in short supply, 8, 16 or 32 Gig is common now so OK, 30 Meg is big when you think that this is an application designed for mobile use so it could do to be compact but it's not too bad in the overall scheme of things? or am I missing something?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whats the problem with 30Meg

      @Andy ORourke

      An HTC Desire has only 147.8 MB of INTERNAL phone memory in which to install applications, cache and data. So "30Meg" is Fooking HUGE!!!

      Not even going to waste my time with the beta..

    2. PaulR79

      Missing something - internal phone storage

      Until recently the amount of internal storage on phones with Android has been quite low. Looking at my Milestone I have a little over 42.5MB storage left from however much I started with. Throwing on this beta will eat most of that up and I don't consider myself that big an app installer. If you have Android 2.2 you can move some apps to the SD card but not all. Those that do allow it will still use some of the phone's storage for some files. Even if you had a 32GB card you can't get around internal limits :/

  12. Anonymous Coward

    just like Firefox 4

    It's utter shit

    Thanks but no thanks, I'm perfectly happy with Opera mini on my Android and full Opera on my desktops. I too have sync... had it for years intact.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Bitterly disappointed :(

    Well what a let down this was. I know it's beta and everything, but seriously the UI is phenomenally horrid - whose idea was it to hide the tabs on one side of the browser window, and the settings on the other side, and not assign the MENU button to anything??

    And the font rendering is ghastly, the kerning is right off on 99% of the browser text.

    Pity as I was looking for a decent competitor to the stock browser (I've tried the other offerings like Dolphin HD but they're just too clunky and cumbersome)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Limited device support

      No support for pre Android 2.0 devices makes it worthless for a large majority of Android users (doesn't even load on my Hero despite it running Froyo).

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