back to article Firefox 3.6: I am more than my Monkey

The last time Mozilla released a new incarnation of its open-source Firefox browser, the main concern was the JavaScript engine. This time around, the open-sourcers have far more on the brain. Due as early as next week, Firefox 3.6 hardly ignores JavaScript performance. Mozilla claims a full 20 per cent boost on the SunSpider …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish they would...

    focus more on improving the UI (which looks ancient on Windows 7 tbh), instead of developing features like HTML5 video using Ogg Theora, which isn't even a industry wide standard yet, or their own font formats.

    1. James 127

      ....they don't need to

      isn't that what themes were invented for?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      I agree

      I also prefer staing gormlessly at the application rather than use the application for web browsing.

      If the colours were prettier, I would use Firefox more.

      Mines the coat with drool down the front....

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, becausing looking nice is far more important than functionality, isn't it?

      The UI looks fine on Windows 7.

      If you don't like it, get yourself a different skin and stop moaning.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ooh yes,

      Sod functionality, what we need is another Fisher Price Interface for the kidz.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Too Easy

      Changing the looks? Just cosmetic.

      Even dedicated FF users (translates into "too lazy to change to something else") could do with basic performance improvement, and an end to memory guzzling.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I agree, the current UI is horrible

      Firefox look fugly as hell on Windows 7. I haven't touched it for a long time because of this. IE8 is my primary browser and Google Chrome is an excellent backup.

      But the Firefox 4.0 mockup themes are wonderful, and I can't wait for the alpha build to come out. It's one of the most beautiful UI's ever.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Vertical Tabs

        I'd have switched to IE8 too, if I could find a way to move the Tab bar to the left side of the screen, instead of across the top (the Tree Style Tab extension is the first thing that I install on Firefox these days!)

  2. AJames
    Thumb Down

    Require new plug-ins? Really?

    And quite messing with the plug-ins! Plug-in developers need stability. I don't want Firefox 3.6 telling me that it won't let me use my old plug-ins that still work fine.

  3. /\/\j17

    I am glad they...

    Didn't mess around with the UI (which is familiar and easy to use tbh), instead of changing it for the sake of changing it and making life much harder as Microsoft have with Office 2007/the Windows 7 Quick Launch Bar and System Tray changes.

  4. mittfh

    Improving the UI

    Actually, if you read their blogs, they are working on reducing the amount of screen real estate taken up by menus / toolbars / Awesome bar / tabs etc. - with some improvements in 3.7 but the big changes will be happening in 4.0.

    It's just that being a multiplatform browser, they need to carefully work out a UI that not only looks good, but looks good on multiple platforms AND doesn't alienate people used to using the [ File / Edit / View / History / Bookmarks / Tools / Help ] menu system to navigate.

    The worst thing they could do is blindly impose a radical UI change like the Office 2007 ribbon.

    As for things such as HTML 5 video, you need the support in the browsers BEFORE web developers start including the content, as they'll only include things in formats which are supported by a large portion of web browsers.

    The whole point of the exercise is to facilitate an increase in the adoption of FOSS audio/video codecs (and associated software), so there's less chance of the web community being bitten in future by companies claiming patent rights on proprietry codecs and demanding payment for their use.

    1. John Sanders

      They will break the UI that's for sure

      "The worst thing they could do is blindly impose a radical UI change like the Office 2007 ribbon."

      This is exactly what they plan to do, and what the industry as a whole is doing nowadays, it is the perfect excuse to sell another version of the same app doing a few things it wasn't doing before... just change the interface entirely and "voila" new version.

      However there is still some hope, this 3.6 version fixed many things for me, for once it feels really fast and uses less memory. I think this is what 3.5 should have been.

      Now if they could stop breaking extensions from release to release...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How about making sure it doesnt crash every day. The last couple of updates has improved stability a lot but it still crashes.....

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I use it everyday

      and it never crashes - i suspect your pile of Bullmer crap on your hard drive is the problem...

    2. blackworx

      I do get a few random "crashes"...

      ...but always just after I've closed the browser. I suspect IEtab is the culprit, but since it's not happening when I'm actually trying to do something, I've never bothered trying to find out. Half the time when it's something like that it gets fixed in the next release (whether browser or plugin) anyway so any time spent investigating is pretty much wasted.

  6. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Bah, humbug

    Better for support for the HTML 5 form items such as input.list, would be very much appreciated by developers as they will mean fewer JS libraries for common controls: faster and easier to maintain. Once again Opera is leading the way: Opera 10 already supports most HTML 5 tags and for the pre-alpha10.5 has more goodies (Linux version released a few days latter)

  7. gareth 5

    @AC RE: I wish they would

    why are you worried about them updating the UI it is functional and can be skinned to your hearts content

    to be honest i think UI's have been getting far to childlike of late i want something clean and professional that doesn't eat 20% of the system resources because it looks good

    function is surly much more important that form

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

      Hardly a surprising opinion . . .

      . . . coming from someone who can't be bothered to use capitalization, punctuation, spelling, or grammar.

      Not that I agree with the AC, mind you, I just think your opinion is a bit rich coming from, you know, *you*.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    @Anonymous Coward

    "HTML5 video using Ogg Theora, which isn't even a industry wide standard yet"

    It only becomes a W3C standard *after* it's been rolled out across all the browsers and works the same. The days when the W3C said what everyone should do and then we all waited for browser makers to implement them correctly are long gone. In fact, they never once worked when they were with us.

    These days, the W3C provide a platform for browser makers to discuss ideas and work together to roll them out equally. Once that's done, the W3C takes a snapshot of what is known to work cross-browser and that becomes the standard.

  9. rhdunn
    Thumb Up

    Focus on this, focus on that

    The Firefox team *are* focusing on the UI -- they have a plan to revise the look and feel to make use of glass; the article discusses about the tab preview feature on Windows 7; they have worked on core support for glass and other features and are continuing to improve this.

    The Firefox team are also focusing on standards (HTML5, SVG, SMIL, ...); on browser performance; on memory usage; ...

    It is not like there is only one developer working on Firefox.

  10. Len

    Firefox has had SVG support for years

    The article suggests Firefox doesn't support Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG). That is incorrect, Firefox has had SVG support for years. They just weren't able to land all the improvements to SVG they were hoping to include in time for Firefox 3.6.

  11. Bob H



    Yet more delay to a decent SVG/SMIL implementation, stuck with Flash....

    SVG is one format I really wish would take off but I suspect it will languish. At least Webkit supports it.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Who needs them?

      Now that the HTML canvas is available I see little mileage in the XML route. Having something live Graphviz compute and render entirely in the browser brings flexibility and speed. See canviz for an example.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What ?!

    I think maybe they're getting to up their own ****. They're starting to LOSE users, perhaps their attentions should be focussed on "why" rather that adding more bells and whistles before time.

    a. I now have to re-install Flash EVERY time FF updates, not a problem for me but most users I know now claim Flash no longer works with Firefox.

    b. Memory usage .. normal usage for Chrome after a day is 32Mb (ish) , if I use Firefox, try more like 500Mb .. this is a bit of an issue for people who don't have 6Gb of RAM.

    c. Speed .. I'm sorry, but Chrome blows FF 3.5 out of the water, at least in terms of 'feel'. As it happens Chrome has a couple if it's own quirks, but when these are fixed, I won't be going back to FF in a hurry (!)

    1. Anonymous Coward


      a) Flash works fine with FF

      b) I have no problems with memory

      c) the speed is fine and is dependent on my broadband connection

      All of which means that it isn't Firefox which has a problem.

      It's either your hardware or your wetware. I suspect the latter.

  13. Peter Mount

    Hope they sort out the networking

    One major problem I've had with 3.5 is bad networking support.

    As soon as there's a problem somewhere between the browser and the server, Firefox starts using up cpu - usually on my MBP I hear the fans going wild when this happens. This isn't a Mac thing either as I get this on my Ubuntu laptop as well, and can reproduce this 9/10 times by breaking the network connection whilst retrieving a page from a slow server.

    I've managed to mitigate this a bit by using a Squid transparent proxy but 3.5 still doesn't last the day out without a restart - Chrome and Safari unfortunately beat it heads down.

    1. BlueGreen

      Never happened to me, mate

      I've used it for years (with and without squid, which I basically use as a blocklister). And regarding other's complaints of memory, I've regularly had 700 tabs open at once and it used 1.2 gig.

      May I suggest now as I've done before that it may not be the browser proper - I run without jscript or flash. Try disabling each then both of those and try reproducing it the problem.

      Also, when it does start cpu-banging, open the task manager (sorry, I use windows - I mean poke around with the mac/ubuntu equivalent) & have a look.

  14. MarkOne

    Who cares?

    Opera is where it's at. 10.10 is a far better browser that Mozilla ever produced, 10.50Alpha kills even Chrome V8 in Javascript performance and has hardware acceleration for all it's UI and page rendering.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      But it's still rubbish

    2. pedrodude


      It took surprisingly long for the Opera Fanb0is to start chiming in this time. Hopefully because they're becoming rarer...

  15. Robert Grant


    "We actually prioritize the network traffic for the tab that's currently in the foreground, because that's the one your looking it. The ones in the background can take a little longer."

    I'm normally looking at a page that's already loaded while waiting for my background tabs to load.

  16. Hedley Phillips

    What about the awful memory useage?

    Have they fixed this?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    MS APIs not working as expected. On a piece of software that competes with a MS product. Who'd have thought that?

  18. Roby

    why I prefer Chrome

    What I would really like is a version for netbooks. And by netbooks I mean MY netbook with its very slow solid state hard disk drive.

    I never realised quite how much Firefox writes to the hard drive, but when it happens on my netbook, the entire programme freezes for about half a second to a second. This happens after every page load, and at random other times. I've disabled just about everything possible, but it still happens.

    What's strange is it doesn't happen in Opera or Chrome or IE. It seems Firefox just hammers the HDD with tiny little files all the time.

    I remember back when I discovered Firefox in its early betas (Phoenix anyone?), and most people hadn't heard of it. It was billed as lightweight, stable and secure. It was so refreshing after a market with only IE.

    I can't help but feel it has strayed a bit from that early programme I used. Now it seems to be the slowest of the browsers (both at start up and rendering pages), uses up loads of memory (does it still have the leak?), and it crashes all the time. The only reason I still use it is for a very small number of very useful extensions.

    I expect it will continue increasing in size with each new version, but I suppose most software does. What it should have been was a very trimmed down browser, that you can pick the functionality you need by adding extensions. It wasn't supposed to be another Mozilla (SeaMonkey).

    1. drinkturps
      Thumb Up

      To Roby

      Use Flashfire. My little ee901 flies along with Firefox. Although it only works for XP.

      1. Roby


        Cool thanks, I will try it.

  19. Camilla Smythe

    Bugs are here......

  20. This post has been deleted by its author

  21. Bob Gateaux
    Thumb Down

    Why still they bang on with head against walls?

    Why he still scrape around looking for small performance boosting when we see clearly that browsers building with Jav will never give me the performance I need. Why they not use compiling language to write browser if they seek most gain? I use IE8 as it is giving me the speed and the security that I desire and he comes free with the Windows and looked after by the Windows update so we have no problems.

  22. blackworx

    Some serious trolling going on?

    Never seen so many deleted posts in a single thread on El Reg!

    1. J 3


      Yeah, but when I see a post deleted by the moderator, I ask myself... why? I mean, if it got past the moderator the first time, does that mean the Moderator is not perfect and change her mind, deciding later to delete it? Or are rejected posts now shown like that? (I wouldn't think so, but...)

  23. Anonymous Coward

    not really interested..

    When FF started to slow-down (which is has continued to do for ages) I switched. I now rely on Chrome (well IRON actually) as the speed dfference is unbelievable. If the new FF is as fast as IRON then I may consider switching back, if not, then they have lost my patronage (with or without a fancy UI and new APIs for developers).

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Paul Stevenson
    Thumb Up

    Looking forward to the new one

    I use FireFox myself as the main browser, with Chrome and IE8 as backups.

    I'm looking forward to the new version. I've only had the one browser crash since 3.5, but my only real complaint is the long start-up time on a clean boot, and the large memory usage (currently 170Mb, 7 tabs open and 4 hours use since initial boot)

  26. Tzephtan

    Ad block still wins the day

    I've always been a fan of Opera, and I switched to Chrome for a while as well, but recently I switched back to Firefox because ads are getting more and more intrusive, and I haven't found any other browsers with ad blockers like Firefox.

    Mine is the annoying ad resistant trenchcoat.

  27. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Sounds good to me.

    @AC: "a) Flash works fine with FF

    b) I have no problems with memory

    c) the speed is fine and is dependent on my broadband connection

    All of which means that it isn't Firefox which has a problem."

    a) Me too. Although Flash is a bit bloated. I don't have to reinstall flash all the time either.

    b) I don't have *problems*, but Firefox does leak and slowly bloat up in size. The unused (leaked) stuff just swaps out eventually for me, but nevertheless it should not be leaking to begin with.

    c) My speed is *adequate*, but working on speeding things up is a good thing, and compared to Opera and Chrome, there's a ways to go in this regards.


    @Robert Grant, "I'm normally looking at a page that's already loaded while waiting for my background tabs to load."

    That's fine then, the statement about it not mattering if the background tabs take a little longer... I don't think it's like it's going to load those tabs *slower*, it'll just load your front tab first if it's not already loaded. So this change won't help you but I don't think it'll hurt you either.


    Well, I'm running gentoo ~x86 on a few of my boxes so I guess I'll see 3.6 in a couple weeks then. Sounds good!

  28. Yeah Right 2
    Thumb Down


    I'd like you to imagine a balding, rotund man with torrents of sweat pissing from his pits, wandering back and forth chanting "MEMORY, MEMORY, MEMORY!" That's pretty much my position on the matter.

    I personally couldn't care less about styling the UI after some Playschool product for four-year-olds. However, I guess that's important to a lot of people and would help market penetration, so fine. The other features sound decent and I'd like to have them, IF Firefox wouldn't eat RAM like a starving humpback at an all-you-can-eat krill buffet. HTML5 video and Flash video both suck when your swap is being beaten like Charla Nash after being thrown into the cage at the primate exhibit.

    Other people here have mentioned that the memory use has improved in this release. I hope that it's improved A LOT.

  29. heyrick Silver badge

    Fix downloads!

    The downloading is pathetic. It is a single linear start-to-end download that on my lowly 1Mbit connection tends to average 50K/sec. Assuming it doesn't just _SILENTLY_ give up half way through.

    I almost always try to download using Free Download Manager (even if this means starting an FF download and then copying the URL and cancelling the FF download...). This splits the file into chunks (most servers can do this these days) which means my connection can be maxed out at around 130K/sec. Plus it copes with download failures, plus it can even resume where it left off a day previous.

    Might not be a big thing for many (who seem to prefer a nicer UI - am I alone in thinking Win7 is _UGLY_?), but when you are messing with ISO images (Minix3, Ubuntu...) then you need a downloader that can rise to the challenge. Not one that will wimp out at the merest farting of a bird on the telephone line. Sadly it seems Firefox's downloader is the latter type, and that SILENT FAIL is *so* annoying.

    FF guys - JavaScript, fine. Tweak that. Pay less attention to HTML5 and video, YouTube et al are doing just fine without it. Make the actual _functionality_ of the browser (as it stands) better.


    1. A decent multi-part resumable downloader.

    2. In the list of cookies, you can delete cookies. How about an option to also blacklist them, as opposed to remembering the cookie URL and then remembering where in the settings you do the blacklisting.

    3. Likewise for images, the right-click menu should have an option to blacklist "this image" or "all images from 'this' domain" ('this' being the origin of the image, not the website).

    4. Without NoScript, it would be useful if the browser itself could warn about content being imported from other sites. Sometimes this is necessary (yimgs supplies all the thumbnail pics for YouTube), often it's analytics.

    5. The browser should be able to list *all* URLs eventually contacted (either in script or HTML) with an optional "never contact this [URL|domain] again" choice.

    6. How about a halfway house between normal use and F11 full screen, where the window is "normal size" but the URL bar, tab bar, and status bar "fade away" unless the mouse is moved to the top or bottom of the window?

    7. Surely the security and safety of the browser is inversely proportional to the number of cool new features thrown into it? I'd rather a solid browser than the latest bells and whistles. If this means you lose an arms race with Chrome, so be it. You'll eventually be though of as better for concentrating on user's privacy and safety rather than whether or not they can masturbate with one hand on the mouse...

    1. blackworx


      Get the "downThemAll!" plugin

  30. Trixr

    Caching where?

    The Firefox "Awesome Bar" - a means of quickly returning to websites you've visited in the past - now caches content, so it no longer reads to disk every time you touch it.


    Which is all very well, except I assume it's going to be cached in MEMORY. FF still consumes ridiculous amounts of memory, so yet another thing stored there for a few milliseconds gain in response time for looking up previously-browsed pages isn't really a huge priority from my perspective. More efficient memory management would be, but not a breath of a discussion on that in this article.

  31. BlueGreen

    @heyrick, @Trixr, @Bob Gateaux

    agree with 1, 6 & 7 very much. Regarding 2, FF does this. tools:options:privacy and under the 'keep until' dropdown, select 'ask me every time' (provided you've picked 'firefox will: use customsettings for history' first). Should be what you want. 3 & 5 are typically dealt with using blocklists (some addon will do this, use squid myself so don't know). Yu ask for more flxibility that usual (damn this keyboard!) but that's rarely needed; you tend to block everything from a given domain, not selectively. 4 isn't fair - that's the job of an addon.

    @Trixr: teh OS will cache read files anyway so if FFjust adds caching that's redundant. If it's any faster then they will almost certainly have done something else. The bookmarks/history/etc db is pretty small anyway.

    @Bob Gateaux: stop yer trolling

    What I don't like about FF (well, one gripe) is the lack of docs. There's a lot of functionality that I can't use e.g most people will know that if you type the forward slash / the you get a quick find box, but if you type the apostrophe you get the same but restricted to URLs - try it. There about:config stuff & loads more - just write it down somewhere, developers! It's too good to waste.

  32. blackworx


    Just found out that some upgrade in the last month or so has wiped my cookie whitelist and reset the settings to allow all/allow 3rd party.


  33. Indian-Art
    Thumb Up

    Firefox is the best

    A true leader.

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