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Mozilla Firefox 2 Alpha 1 Available 327

Mini-Geek writes "Code-named Bon Echo, the first Alpha of Firefox 2.0 is now officially available. You can download it at From the article: 'Here are some new features in Bon Echo Alpha 1 that require feedback: Changes to tabbed browsing behavior, New data storage layer for bookmarks and history (using SQLlite), Extended search plugin format, Updates to the extension system to provide enhanced security and to allow for easier localization of extensions, Support for SVG text using svg:textPath'"
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Mozilla Firefox 2 Alpha 1 Available

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  • But... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Onymous Hero ( 910664 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:08AM (#14971583)
    Will it use less memory than 0.x / 1.x ??
  • SQLite (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kevin_conaway ( 585204 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:09AM (#14971593) Homepage
    We all know that Firefox has had (and still has) a lot of memory issues. Will embedding a database in memory help or worsen these issues?

    I haven't used SQLite, can anyone with experience using it please comment?
    • Re:SQLite (Score:5, Informative)

      by G)-(ostly ( 960826 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:14AM (#14971645) Journal
      I forsee no problems. It's a surprisingly minimal addition to a software package, and the problems with Firefox's memory management are very likely in unrelated modules.

      "SQL" engines tend to evoke images of hulking software packages like PostgreSQL, SQL Server, and Oracle, but those things do an awful lot more than the typical desktop app needs, and the SQLite engine is much, much simpler in order to meet that lesser demand.
      • It's probably more efficient than the current state of storing history / bookmarks. At least this was designed to rapidly query data. With the amount of bookmarks I have now compared to 5 years ago, this will be great.

        Will it support adding metadata to the bookmarks a la spotlight so that I can finally rid myself of the limiting hierarchical organisation I have now?
    • Re:SQLite (Score:2, Informative)

      by LurkerML ( 668881 ) []

      The website says 250KiB fully configured. That is tolerable, i think.
    • Re:SQLite (Score:4, Informative)

      by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:22AM (#14971723) Journal
      We all know that Firefox has had (and still has) a lot of memory issues.

      We do? Funny, I've been running FF since the 0.8 days (Phoenix) and have never had any memory issue. In fact, I've never had any issue other than one mini-crash which forced me to use a default profile until I pulled up my old one. Further, I've installed FF on several different systems, including W98, and not one of those systems has ever had a memory issue.

      Looking at the FF boards it appears the issue is not so much with FF but the multitude of extensions that people think they need to install.

      • The issues appear when you use more than one major app on the machine on a regular basis. They're not too bad now, but they were horrible several years back, and it's not just becuase machines have more RAM. rking+set%22&btnG=Google+Search&meta= []

      • Same experience for me. I swear is has to do with some extension that people are running. I only run flashblock and Web developer.
      • Re:SQLite (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Jjeff1 ( 636051 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:43AM (#14971915)
        I have firefox on windows xp with latest adblock and filterset G updater, nothing else.

        I've noticed that web pages that refresh themselves cause a run-away memory situation. Specifically the win32 MRTG package from open innovations [] causes FF to use huge amounts of memory. It auto refreshes graphs I think every 10 seconds. If I leave a graph up on screen and leave for the weekend, FF will be using 1.8 GB memory when I come back on Monday. I've been unable to find out if this is a known problem or not, so I've not submitted this as a bug.
        • I have the same issues with one of my web mail clients. Gmail doesn't cause any serious issues (takes ages to up memory usage to anything noticable,) but one of my work based accounts, running mailEnable, will ramp up memory usage over an 8 hour period to 700+ megs. The thing is, it does it on my SUSE 10 x86_64 notebook and on another Windows XP SP2 notebook, but not on my desktop, which is also running SUSE 10 x86_64. The notebooks are just running adblock, while my desktop has that plus Grease Monkey,
        • Re:SQLite (Score:5, Informative)

          by MooUK ( 905450 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @12:18PM (#14972198)
          Adblock itself has had, and still does have, memory leak problems. The original maintainer shows no inclination to deal with them. It's generally recommended to use Adblock Plus, which has fixed most of these problems and also has useful new features, such as whitelisting. The maintainer of Adblock Plus has also shown strong interest in debugging and fixing any problems, including memory leaks.

          There's a few problems that can cause leaks in FF itself which have been fixed in the main trunk. Almost all of those fixes are supposed to be included in 2.0.
        • Re:SQLite (Score:3, Informative)

          Why do people use adblock? Isn't that what the hosts file is for?

          If you don't know what I'm talking about, the Hosts file lines in Windows\system32\Drivers\etc\
          think of it as a blacklist.
          Windows won't allow those sites to connect to you, thus, No ADS!
          If you are thinking, golly, that's alot of typing, my hosts file is 421k. You can copy paste from others off the internet.
          that's one less process, smaller footprint, and speeds up browsing somewhat, as the ad connections aren't made so the crap isn't lo

    • Re:SQLite (Score:4, Informative)

      by bperkins ( 12056 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:36AM (#14971844) Homepage Journal

      The memory usage problems have been related to the image cache. (I've heard that this is often caused by an old version of the adblock extension)

      Using SQLite to store profile information will probably have little impact the memory usage problems people see.
    • All browsers have lots of memory issues. They also all have security problems, they crash under lots of different situations, have many kinds of CPU use problems, and thousands of other kinds of bugs. What else is new?

      I don't think embedding a database will noticably impact memory usage. The most noticable change will be that your bookmarks, cache, and other parts of your profile will not be corrupted or lost nearly as easily. The dataloss problems SQLite will fix are much more severe than the memory prob

    • I have to wonder how much is gained by moving bookmarks and prefs from plain text files (HTML & JS) to SQLite's binary file format. It's not like their bits of data that need complex searches done on them.
    • FWIW, I am using yesterday's trunk build and there doesn't appear to be any memory problem at all. With several Firefox windows open each with a few tabs the firefox-bin process is using 65 MB RAM. This is on Ubuntu Dapper.
    • What was wrong with the html bookmarks file? Was it broke? Did it not work?

      Granted that SQLite has a small footprint ,but not as small as a flat ascii file like html or xml. And why add complexity? It is very nice to be able to "export" a bookmarks file by just coping it or by opening a text browser and cutting and pasting into an email. I understand that SQLite's storage is also just a flat file, but is it in a commonly understood human readable format like html or xml? Or do I have to learn to parse a
    • Re:SQLite (Score:3, Informative)

      by zerblat ( 785 )
      Firefox already includes a database, mork, which is used for e.g. storing history. The problem with mork is that it's a completely braindead format (it's text based, but definately not human readable), it's practically unmaintained and it's almost imposible for third party programs to read.

      So, this will make all the data that Firefox stores accesable to others, and hopefully all the mork-related bugs will just disapear.

  • So is this any different than the Firefox 2 alpha that wasn't released yesterday?
    • This one appears to be an officially released alpha.
    • Re:Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Denyer ( 717613 )
      Yeah. This isn't a dupe, which we could probably do with a tag for on the article...

      It's still just an alpha though.
    • So is this any different than the Firefox 2 alpha that wasn't released yesterday?

      Yes, this one is officially released so they get *two* days of hype about an alpha release.
  • takes me back to the good old days when it was new, fresh, and charmingly not yet seemingly perfect, but so much the best choice!
    • (raises eyebrow) Getting an Alpha takes you back? Pff. I used to have a cron job that would download and compile Mozilla Nightlies every night on my Solaris box. It would automatically back up the current version just in case the new version didn't work in the morning. Every morning it was a new and wonderful experience to see how stable Mozilla would be today, if it would even run, and if there were any new features.

      Back then we didn't have no "Alphas". We had semi-stable code snapshots called "Milestones" and we liked it that way! ;)
      • Well, back in my day we would download "Hourlies" to our abacuses and sit around wondering "WTF is the Internet?!"
        • Why would bcattwoo run a web browser on his abacus when he has no idea what the Internet is? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense! Look at me. I'm a slashdotter defending a major browser vendor, and I'm talkin' about an abacus! Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen, I am not making any sense! None of this makes sense! And so you have to
      • I was one of the authors of getmoz [ [] that would do just that, dnld the latest, backup your old copy, install the new, migrate bookmarks, etc. I *think* I got started with Mozilla sometime during M20 (? can't recall if this is the right milestone or what ?) Back then one night would reveal a bunch of changes that would/would not be there the next day...a fun time!
    • Alphas. Wonderful machines, years ahead of their time. If only they'd succeeded, ah, *lovingly pats his ev5*

      What's this about a web browser?

  • I've always wondered why bookmarks don't sort themselves by most often used to least recently. Maybe it will happen now. But the changes to tabbed browsing behaviour - hmm - I hope that means something like memory optimisation and not making it more like the tabs in Konqueror. Blech.
    • Personally, I'd rather the bookmarks were sorted in alphabetical order. Hopefully moving to an SQLLite backend will enable users to set up their own ordering preferences as they see fit.
    • by ILikeRed ( 141848 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:45AM (#14971927) Journal

      You don't need a database for sorting algorithms (think gnu sort), but what this will almost certainly do is complicate backup and transfer of bookmarks. I really can't understand what is wrong with a simple text file. Do they not see all the issues Microsoft has because of their registry format??? This is NOT a speed or sorting issue. (I could care less about the history, but don't think that will help anyone other than some possible edge cases there either.)

      This will also almost certainly kill any chance of reusage of bookmark data by other programs - which could be a really inovative area if the barrier to entry is kept low. They need to read the Art of Unix Programming [].

      • SQLite databases are a single file, so backing up your bookmarks should be the same... copy the file.

        I wonder if there is a password on the database. If not it could lead to bookmark injection attacks from other programs you install (that could also happen with the bookmarks.html file) like happens with IE. I think this is a great opportunity to create a bookmarks file that can't be altered unless you type in a password. Perhaps the SQLite password can be set during install and altered from within Firefox's
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @01:22PM (#14972829)
        They aren't doing this just to get sorting algorithms. This actually improves things because right now there are a number of different formats that Firefox stores data in. Look at your bookmarks.html(HTML), cert8.db(Berkeley DB), formhistory.dat(mork... don't ask). Using sqlite reduces the amount of code for accessing all of these formats and provides some degree of uniformity. Getting data from sqlite is pretty easy(and much easier than the current situation) because we have dozens of language bindings and tools to do it with.

        Yes I read the arguments against this is in AUP, but Firefox is an application that runs completely counter to most of what's in there. Firefox is never going to be a Unix application following the advice in AUP. It wants to be an operating sytem(or platform if you prefer), and not just an application.
      • by cduffy ( 652 ) <> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @01:44PM (#14973045)
        This will also almost certainly kill any chance of reusage of bookmark data by other programs

        Not at all. SQLite is extremely easy to use -- it has bindings for major scripting languages, and trivial queries can be run on the command line. I use the Python bindings in a number of my minor scripts, and it has frequently resulted in a massive performance improvement (as opposed to using flatfiles and writing the data-munging and analysis code myself).
      • Database vs Mork (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Richard_J_N ( 631241 )
        I am delighted to see this. Some of the mozilla stuff still uses Mork, which is truly and utterly horrid. I recommend reading this delightful code [] by Jamie Zawinski, which has a brilliant rant about it:
  • That's all? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Seriously - that's all the new features? How does that warrant a 2.0 label and not a 1.8? Firefox has been pretty innovative or good at putting great features together that Opera and Microsoft haven't done (yet), but now it seems IE7 has caught up in so many ways, but Firefox 2.0 will be just a minor, incremental update. Hell, bigger changes have gone in the post 1.0 releases. Come on...
  • SVG support (Score:5, Funny)

    by caluml ( 551744 ) <slashdot@spamgoe ... minus poet> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:14AM (#14971650) Homepage
    I hope more browsers end up using SVG. There are some very nifty uses that can be made of it - an example of which is the porn database - [] (how's it going, John? :) )
    • Not a very good example, since it's in closed beta.

      I was looking to see what you could do with SVG. Honest.

    • I'm hoping they'll have SVG animation for 2.0. For me personally, just constant rotations would do the job. There are other important things though. At least the status for animation features isn't all red any more. I suspect some of them will fall rather quickly once they have a couple done.
  • So Far So Good .... (Score:3, Informative)

    by abhinavmodi ( 737782 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:16AM (#14971667) Homepage
    Works fine on Windoze even after 2 hours .. No crashes or memory hogs. In addition, it is co-existent with Firefox.
    • Using it on Linux. None of the extensions were compatible, that's okay for now. The only improvement I noticed was that sound in flash actually works now. It's nice to visit and actually hear audio.

      Other than that, similar interface but the tabs organize themselves now. Also, the ACID2 test doesn't render properly.
    • In addition, it is co-existent with Firefox.

      Kind of . . . it's disabled all of my extensions, even when I start FF instead of Bon Echo.
  • what's really new? (Score:3, Informative)

    by scarlac ( 768893 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:17AM (#14971672) Homepage
    TFA doesn't say anything about new exciting features. I wonder what made them decide it to be 2.0 alpha instead of 1.6? Was it just so that they could reach the planned milestone?
    I read something about they were trying to optimize the renderengine, so it could support cairo and have hardware acceleration... no promises was made, but they expected it to be in 2.0 (correct me if I'm wrong).

    I guess the more comprehensive changelog (which isn't available yet) will reveal some more interesting changes - perhaps some nice performance enhancements?
  • ACID 2 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Agelmar ( 205181 ) * on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:17AM (#14971684)
    For those who are wondering - the 2.0 alpha build renders the ACID 2 test exactly the same as Mozilla 1.7.12. ( #top [])

    I don't personally think that the ACID 2 test is the be-all end-all test, but I know the question will be asked, hence the post.
    • Grab a nightly trunk build and it's quite a bit closer to the reference rendering. I believe the trunk is what's going to be Firefox 3. It has the newer Gecko.
    • Re:ACID 2 (Score:2, Informative)

      Firefox 2.0 is based off the 1.8 Gecko branch, just like Firefox 1.5 was []. 1.5 uses 1.8.0, 2.0 will use, 3.0 will use 1.9. There shouldn't be much difference in terms of rendering pages between 1.5 and 2.0.
      • Close, but not quite right. Firefix 1.5 uses Gecko 1.8.0 and Firefox uses Gecko Firefox 2.0 will use Gecko 1.8.1.
      • Gecko version (Score:3, Informative)

        by jonasj ( 538692 )
        1.5 uses 1.8.0, 2.0 will use, 3.0 will use 1.9


        1.5 uses 1.8.0, uses, will use, etc.

        2.0 will use 1.8.1.

        3.0 will use 1.9.
    • "but I know the question will be asked, hence the post."

      The more common /. question for a new product is:
      "Oh yeah, but does it run Linux?"
      And the answer is:
      In Soviet Russia, Firefox 2.0 alpha runs Linux!
    • Re:ACID 2 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 )
      I think it's probably a fairly worthless test when you get down to it, overly synthetic tests usually are. It reminds me of a test that was real popular back on the now defunct, a site devoted to MP3 encoding, specificly working on the LAME encoder. I can't remember the name of the test, but basically it was very loud low frequency drum-like sounds followed by high frequency clicks. Turns out, this was really problematic for MP3 encoders. Well because they had such trouble with it, it was seized u
  • XForms support? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VP ( 32928 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:22AM (#14971721)
    Is there a plan to add XForms [] support to Firefox, or will they be waiting for XHTML 2.0 []?
  • Firefox 2 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 56ker ( 566853 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:27AM (#14971761) Homepage Journal
    I just hope that the greater prevalance of Firefox leads to a greater number of sites supporting it. I've had problems with some sites telling me my version of 1.5 needs to be upgraded to an earlier version!!! The site in question was the Comedy Channels's website. To many website designers seem to still design for IE only or use version checking to serve different pages. People should stick to writing valid HTML code that works across all browsers instead of making their websites unusuable for those who don't use IE.
  • by Ulrich Hobelmann ( 861309 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:27AM (#14971763) Journal
    ok, some features most users won't even notice, and that deserves a bump to 2.0...?

    Well, Slackware did it. FreeBSD did it.

    Even NetBSD did it.

    I'm waiting for Mac OS 11.
  • by PoprocksCk ( 756380 ) <> on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:29AM (#14971779) Homepage Journal
    I've been toying around with the new alpha, and it has some interesting additions. But heck, the changes made do not warrant a jump in major version numbering in my books. But I guess that's because I'm used to how version numbers are in the Free Software world, where a jump in a major version number usually means there was a rewrite, or ABI was broken in favour of some fundamental changes.

    I'm definitely not seeing that here with Bon Echo.

    Not that this is a bad thing -- heck, I'm as much against featuritis as the next guy. But frankly I see less change here than from 1.0 to the Deer Park alphas.

    IMHO the #1 thing the guys should have focused on for the 2.0 release was to make Firefox a XULRunner application.
  • libstdc++ (Score:2, Informative)

    by calzplace ( 253241 )
    Note that most FC4 machines out there will need the compat-libstdc++-33 package for the library. Just an FYI. :-)
  • by Kranfer ( 620510 )
    I find it very strange that the winners of the recently posted FF Extensions contest do not work. The extensions that is. I like this alpha of FF 2 but I wish I still have the extensions / Themes I had before still working.
    • I find it very strange that the winners of the recently posted FF Extensions contest do not work.

      The usual reason for extensions "not working" is that the extension creators usually specify a maximum compatible version in the manifest. Quite often this is something like 1.5.*, as this is (was) the latest series for some time now. Naturally, this would exclude 2.0.

      Try opening up the XPI file in your ZIP program, and change the maximum supported version in the INSTALL.RDF file, and see if the extension wo

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:31AM (#14971804)
    A portable version of this build was just posted for those that want to use this with a separate profile: []
  • by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:32AM (#14971810)
    I mean, Mozilla used to be slow and steady, now they are firing out updates on .5 increments.

    Is this good or bad? I think Firefox will end up becoming bloated and bug ridden just like IE if they keep up this kind of product update cycle. Firefox 1.5 hasn't even been out for 6 months and they are previewing version 2.0.

    While I do think that some open source projects move a long at a pace that make snails impatient, I have found that this quick turnaround for FireFox versions isn't beneficial in the long run. I have found there to be more problems in each new version, and I have stopped using Thunderbird for several problems that haven't been addressed yet (such as opening up the wrong email when you click on a header).

    I think Mozilla should slow down a bit, or at least go back to the .1 version increments. If they are just trying to drive up the version number to match I.E.'s 7.0, then they will find that Firefox performs about as well as I.E. 7.0, or even less so considering it took Microsoft 10 years to get there.
    • How does what the size of the version increment deteremine how bloated or bug ridden software is? Anyway, Firefox 2 was available as a "preview" as soon as Gecko 1.8 branched off the trunk last year. The day after any stable branch is created, a new trunk build is produced that is the first preview of the next stable version. Is there some kind of problem with doing that?
    • So how exactly is version numbering related to the speed of development? Linux has been moving along in 0.0.1 increments for over two years now, yet most have been complaining about how much they've added to the kernel between increments. Debian's got a higher version number but I haven't seen anyone complaining about their rapid pace. Version numbering is either a) plain bookkeeping, similar to build numbers, b) some sort of interface/stability indicator or c) marketing, trying to create a perception of ho
    • I think the release numbering has more to do with the logic of post-1.0 branding. Now that Firefox has reached 1.0+ status it's supposed to be a public, finished product. Major corporations don't do point releases for each iteration. Big round numbers inspire trust in the non-computer savvy, which is the market that Firefox is trying to break into now. Let's face it, Firefox 2.0 sounds much more reliable for n00b or corporate use than Firefox It may ruffle some feathers in the open-source c
    • If the roadmap holds up (and it usually slips a few weeks/months), Firefox 2.0 will be released in September or so, 10 months after Firefox 1.5, I don't see how that's too quick.
  • Browser dreams (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MadFarmAnimalz ( 460972 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:41AM (#14971896) Homepage
    I'm not all that enthusiastic about yet another iteration of Firefox... It's my primary browser and I do like it, but it will never be the browser that I would regard as the ultimate.

    I envision a web browser which is the browser equivalent of Linux; a collection of simple programs performing very specific and narrowly defined tasks, all working through clean APIs or protocols. The HTML rendering being split off entirely, the javascript in its own library, image rendering separate, cookie management, security features, history management, bookmarks display, etc. Ideally, the various parts would be so simple that the barriers to development would be lowered drastically resulting in the organic rise of alternatives in the various segments; imagine having a flamewar over which js rendering plugin/library were better!

    Extensions are not the solution by far. The functionality decentralization necessary to realize the vision of a browser like this far exceeds what the design idea behind extensions was.

    Firefox will never be this. The only thing I've seen which might be salvaged into some sort of semblance of this vision is Kazehakaze, though that remains to be seen (I'm not sure you can even hotswap html rendering in Kazhakaze; I've never managed to keep it from crashing for long enough to test).
  • Screenshots (Score:4, Informative)

    by MagPulse ( 316 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:50AM (#14971957)
    Here [] and here [].
  • by GeekDork ( 194851 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @11:56AM (#14972012)

    Bug 9458 [] (referrer block for links from slash), "Implement inline-block in layout" hast its 7th birthday coming up.

  • by zero0w ( 572225 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2006 @01:48PM (#14973091)
    If you want to try out the latest 2.0 alpha version of Firefox without affecting your current 1.x installation, that they can run along each other, then you can check out this homepage for further detail (I have tried it, the tricks works for Linux version as well):

    Running multiple Firefox versions concurrently ox-versions []

The absent ones are always at fault.