Posts Tagged ‘firefox’

Browser update

Monday, June 15th, 2009

For a couple of days last week, I decided to try using Chrome as my browser, to see how it was. I’m using a build of Chromium on linux (my mac doesn’t have leopard, so I can’t run Chrome). I typically run the latest full release of firefox on my desktop, and the latest beta of firefox 3.5 on my laptop. Anyway, Chrome performed well. Complex pages (Gmail, Google Wave, and a bunch of OCR analysis pages I use) felt more responsive than in firefox on the same machine. The browser crashed once, but recovered gracefully. At one point, the gmail tab I had open stopped responding to my key presses. Chrome popped up a window saying that the page was unresponsive and gave me the option of closing it down. I waited and the tab recovered without intervention. It was cool that this was caught, though it really shouldn’t be happening in the first place. It’s still prerelease software, so it’s OK if that happens.

My main problem with Chrome is the same thing that bothered me when I first tried it out on Windows: the address bar. It just doesn’t rank things the way I expect and it’s harder to visually scan than the firefox awesomebar (which I thought was somewhat hard to scan to begin with, but improved a lot since the first time it was in beta). It also makes it somewhat tricky to go to websites that look like http://somehostname/ (without .com, common for intranet URLs).

Firefox is still my favorite browser in linux, though I’m glad to have more options. Since my browsing at work biases more toward very javascript-heavy sites and pages with huge tables and complicated layouts, chrome is more useful than it would be for a typical user. As of this week, I’m using both.

Google Chrome

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Continuing my series of biased reviews of Windows-only products…

Google Chrome is a free, open-source web browser from Google that currently only runs on Windows.

One of Chrome’s core aims was to be the fastest browser. There have been a lot of benchmarks to show cases in which this is and isn’t the case, but I’m just looking at anecdotal usage for now. Using gmail in Chrome feels faster than using it in Firefox 3 and significantly faster than IE7. I didn’t compare it to Firefox 3.1, which will have some significant speed improvements.

Another significant feature is process isolation: if one page crashes the browser, you only lose that tab, and if one page is using a lot of CPU or memory, you can figure out which one it is. I didn’t have any crashes or memory/CPU problems in the time I’ve used Chrome, so I haven’t actually used these features, but I’m glad to know that they’re there. There are plenty of times on linux and mac that I’d like to know which page is using the CPU, but I don’t know of a way besides guessing which tabs to close.

Chrome currently doesn’t support extensions, but I found that most of the firefox extensions I use are already built-in. Resizable textareas is built-in, with each textarea (e.g. a comment box on a blog) having a little handle for resizing. I use greasemonkey scripts from time to time, and greasemonkey isn’t built in yet, but you can enable it in some builds, with some caveats. Finally, I use firebug all the time when developing web pages. Chrome’s javascript console reproduces almost all the functionality of firebug that I use. I still prefer firebug, but the javascript console does work quite well. Plus, it doesn’t seem to have some of the performance implications that firebug does.

Chrome’s address bar, the Omni Bar, is a combination search box and address bar. Most other browsers separate these, but Chrome tries to intelligently figure out what you’re trying to do. I haven’t found this to be as good as Firefox’s awesome bar. For example, I’m currently writing this from To navigate to this page, I just type “post-new” into the address bar in firefox. It has an index of the URL parts, so the correct page comes up in the list right away. Chrome doesn’t quite get the right order for me:

Despite starring the page and following that path many times, it’s still not the top result. I use shortcuts like this all the time, so this slows me down a bit. To be fair, though, most of my other uses of the keyboard do work just fine.. this is a bit of an outlier.

I’ve been a big Firefox fan for a long time. I used it when it was called Firebird and when it was called Phoenix before that. If I were using Windows regularly, I’m not sure which browser I would use. Probably both. I’m also not sure if I’m more excited about Firefox 3.1 or Chrome coming to mac and linux. Luckily it doesn’t matter, because all those things will be happening anyway. Better to have too many good choices than too few.

Chrome accounted for about 5% of this blog’s traffic in the last month.

If you’re on a mac and want to keep tabs on Chrome’s status, see this status page.

I left out a bunch of features in this post, so you may want to view some short videos about them or just try Chrome yourself.

Market Share

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

(via asa)

I’ll admit it- IE isn’t as bad for the Internet as it used to be, but it’s certainly not pioneering anything great these days, so it’s good to see people switching to better browsers.

In case you’re new here…
Get Mozilla Firefox
Get Google Chrome


Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

SearchWiki was launched today, letting you edit your search results on Google. Here’s a quick overview:

I found the buttons to be a bit distracting, so I wrote a Greasemonkey script to hide the buttons. If you have greasemonkey installed and want to hide the buttons, try my script. You can show and hide the buttons by pressing ‘W’ on the keyboard.

I like SearchWiki, but I think this change makes it a bit better for me. Let me know if you find it useful!

Google Chrome

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

After years of development, Google released a web browser today. It’s a beta version of a free, open-source web browser. Currently it’s released for windows, but mac and linux versions are being worked on.

Learn more about Chrome’s features here or jump to the download page.

Since I don’t use windows anymore, I haven’t used it for any serious amount of time, but I have played around with it in vmware and it’s quite fast and pleasing to use. I won’t go through all the interesting work that went into the browser, but I strongly recommend reading this comic that Google sent out that explains the features, technical challenges and goals of Chrome. It’s surprisingly entertaining, especially if you have some interest in technical topics.

Chrome is a step ahead in terms of speed right now, depending on how you measure, but firefox is going to be rolling out faster JS performance soon, too. I think the web will be a better place for it.

Edit: Brendan Eich has some updated benchmarks showing Firefox’s TraceMonkey to be faster than V8.

In benchmarks (and in most respects) IE still sucks.

Firefox problem and workaround

Monday, July 21st, 2008

For a while, I’d been having a problem where firefox would beach ball (aka hang) a lot on my mac. It wouldn’t be hitting the CPU, which seemed quite confusing. This behavior was much more pronounced when I was on a high-latency connection, like the ones on the shuttles to/from work. Sometimes, the problem wouldn’t happen at all.

Last night I finally decided to look into this, and found this bug: if you’re using a proxy configuration from a PAC URL, the browser hangs when it resolves DNS queries (it’s the result of some apple weirdness). So, my workaround is to not use the PAC file whenever possible (I only need it a few times a day). I guess this is only a workaround in a certain sense, but whatever. Since I made the change, I haven’t had any beach balls.

I’ve installed the switchproxy extension to make switching the proxy on and off really easy.

More firefox 3 stuff

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

OK, I figured out another reason the location bar in firefox 3 seemed to busy for me. In firefox 2, it only includes URLs that I’ve typed in before, so when I type in ‘reader’ to get to Google Reader, I get one listing:


Now, the firefox 3 location bar searches the titles and URLs of the items in my history, not just things I’ve typed in before, so this includes a variety of URLs that aren’t too useful:


Almost all of these links will send me to the same place. Of course, I can delete all the entries I don’t want (use the arrows to select the entry, then shift+delete), but they’ll just come back after I visit the site again. I really don’t have a good solution to this problem. It isn’t a huge problem, really, as the URL I wanted was still first on the list. I’m tempted to say that it should notice that whenever I type ‘reader’ I’m selecting the first option, and then hide the remaining options behind a “more” button or something, but that sounds a lot like the way MS Office hides menu options: a feature I never liked.

By the way, you can run multiple copies of firefox at once (including different versions) if you launch it correctly. They just can’t use the same profile. Launch the second copy like this:
firefox -no-remote -profilemanager

To run multiple browsers and sync the profile info, you could try Google Browser Sync.