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Firefox 2.0 'Beta Candidate 1' Released 368

Krishna Dagli writes to mention that a Firefox 2.0 Beta Candidate has been released to the public. Ars Technica looks at some of the included features such as tab scrolling, anti-phishing measures, and an integrated spellchecker. From the article: "There is an option to search for updates for any extensions that have been broken, but it was not able to update any of the extensions I had installed. Fortunately, Firefox has been integrating many useful extensions (like the ability to drag and drop tabs to new locations) along its development, so this is not as big of a problem as it might seem. The browser seemed quite fast and stable, although I did not perform any benchmarking tests. I found one really obscure bug, where if the user clicks on a help link when a preferences dialog box is open, a new copy of Firefox will load without the user being able to switch back to the original either through Alt-Tab or the Windows task bar."
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Firefox 2.0 'Beta Candidate 1' Released

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:27AM (#15697356)
    Copied & pasted from the arstechnica forum:

    PLEASE DO NOT DOWNLOAD THESE BUILDS

    Unlike the real Beta 1 release, the RCs for it are only intended for internal use, and are not mirrored. Thus widespread distribution of these links stands a good chance of DDOSing the poor Mozilla servers, which are only hosting these for internal testing.

    Furthermore, we're already in the process of spinning RC2 builds with a half-dozen fixes.

    We're hoping to get Beta 1 out this week; until then please just be patient and wait a few days longer, or else grab nightly releases if you must have something up-to-date.

    Note that these release candidates will NOT properly auto-update to anything in the future.
  • Its up to RC3 (Score:5, Informative)

    by DuncanE ( 35734 ) * on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:28AM (#15697363) Homepage
    The article links to RC1.

    You can aleady get release candidate 3 [mozilla.org]

    Or you could wait a few days an get the actual beta.
  • Keep up with IE (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:28AM (#15697364) Homepage
    Is the new release really deserving of the 2.0 moniker? It's hard to say, given the fact that it looks and feels very much like 1.x.

    Hey, to be honest, if you want to keep up with IE, you gotta start jumping up in numbers. To the general jo-blo user, IE is light years ahead of FireFox just simply cause it's on version 7 versus version 2.
    • Does that strategy actually work? Internet Explorer 4-6 weren't substantially different, nor has Windows been since Windows 95.

      Yes, I know, "under the hood" Windows 95 and Windows XP aren't much alike, with 95 having DOS roots, and XP having NT roots. I'm talking about interface here.

      Hell, even Slackware has done it. [slackware.com]

      • If you go for a number-based versioning system, you have to make big jumps. It's hard for Joe Average to see the difference between 1.3.7 and 1.3.8 and 1.4, but 1.0 to 1.5 to 2.0 is an easily understood gap.
      • Does that strategy actually work?

        I think it's all a big game, but seriously I think there's a point where you have to cave in and raise the numbers. Developers can't be all gung-ho about NOT raising the version numbers cause otherwise users will never feel the need to update to the newer version. Example :

        You have FireFox 1.1, Now FireFox 1.2 has come out ... probably not a big change, not going to upgrade. Now 1.3 comes out, same thing, who cares. 1.4 hmmm they must just be fixing minor things. 2.0
        • IE 7 comes out, hmm better update, something important, good God!, never trusting version numbers again...
      • But...interface is in what it does not what the menus at the top look like.

        IE4 is significantly different from IE6. Most notably different is that:
        1) Nearly all of the things claimed actually work.
        2) DOM support
        3) CSS support

        In practice, that means that there are a lot of things that you can do (and Websites you can go to) with IE6 that you can't with IE4.

        Firefox 1.0 to 1.5 is a pretty big jump too, IMHO, because rendering works right most of the time.

        Before, if you did funky things with div manipulatio
      • Does that strategy actually work?

        MS called their new games console "Xbox 360" because it has a 3 in it. They were afraid a 2 would make it look inferior to the PS3. Effective? Maybe. Stupid? Definitely.
    • Right...You remember what happened to WinAmp? Where went WinAmp 2.x??? or 4.x??? For all intents and purposes, WinAmp *ought* to be at 2.x becuase nothing notable has really changed. I think the whole version number issue is more marketing hyperbole than anything. This sort of thing can back-fire on people who know better.
      • What? Winamp Went to 2.94 or so, prior to 3.0. Yes, it skipped 4.x, but that was to indicate that 5.x was not a sequential development from 3.x.
  • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:28AM (#15697368) Homepage Journal
    An integrated spellchecker sounds dangerous - pulling up a long /. comments page could cause my CPU to melt down...
    • Hopefully it only spellchecks text input fields. If not, then I'm right there with you.
    • I have been using then 2.x BON ECHO Release for quite some time. I haven't looked back. At first there were only few things that seemed ok. But the longer I used it, the more I realized that what I have is really nice. The spell checker is barely noticeable, but sometimes it doesn't work that well. Sometimes it will give you the options for a mis-spelled word that has nothing to do with the word itself. I think as time goes by things like that will improve. It does seem to start faster. But there is not muc
    • Duh... the spell checker only checks the text you type.

      It's not there for the slashdot spelling Nazis to check spelling on web sites.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:29AM (#15697377)
    There have been other add-ins that check spelling in browser forms, such as IESpell for Internet Explorer and GNU ASpell (which I currently use with Opera) but these require user intervention to start the spell check for each field. Firefox 2's checker automatically highlights misspelled words with a dotted red line.

    The Spellbound extension already does this for Firefox.

    -Eric

  • On related news ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by rabalde ( 86868 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:31AM (#15697387) Homepage
  • Users beware (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:32AM (#15697392)
    This is not an end-user product. It's not even a beta version. It's a release candidate that may or may not become a beta. Do not bet your business or your precious bookmark collection on this release. Extensions and themes will be disabled and only very few can be reactivated by updated versions. Most authors have not yet made updates for their extensions and themes. If you want to test the Firefox beta 1 release candidate 1, backup your profile first.
  • by johansalk ( 818687 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:33AM (#15697404)
    As if alpha, beta, and RC weren't enough?
  • by Venotar ( 233363 )
    Has anyone tried any of the RC's with the various Google extensions (notebook [google.com] and browser sync [google.com]) installed? Any word on how well they work?
  • by bigbigbison ( 104532 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:37AM (#15697437) Homepage
    Over at Shacknews, there was a message posted asking people not to download this [shacknews.com]
    Heads up for Firefox lovers.

    There's a bunch of links floating around Digg, Ars Technica, etc. for Beta 1 RCs. Please don't download these. These are internal builds we're using to test out Beta 1 before releasing it. The ones out there are already obsolete, they won't auto-update to anything in the future, and worst, this stuff isn't on the mirror network, so people are kind of DDOSing the Mozilla FTP server. Just be patient and we'll hopefully have Beta 1 out within the week.

    Thanks,
    Your friendly Firefox developer
  • by also-rr ( 980579 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:41AM (#15697457) Homepage
    They can rename it the Mozilla Suite and then some people can come along and release a lightweight browser with none of the cruft called Firefox.
    • by TheFlyingGoat ( 161967 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:19AM (#15697743) Homepage Journal
      Whoever marked this as a troll is a tool. It's pretty funny, but also kind of true in the eyes of a lot of people. The reason I switched to Firefox wasn't because of the neat features, it was because it used less memory and was significantly faster than IE. With every release Firefox has gotten more and more bloated, to the point that it is taking 42mb of RAM to display only this thread on Slashdot. IE is taking 22mb to do the exact same thing. That's just rediculous.

      I really wish Firefox would go back to the lightweight browser it once was. The power was the ability to have extensions to do anything you wanted, but it was my choice which ones I wanted using my system resources.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @01:03PM (#15699651)
        With every release Firefox has gotten more and more bloated, [...] That's just rediculous. (emphasis added)

        Congratulations! You've demonstrated, far more eloquently than I ever could, why an integrated spell-checker is so important in this day and age :)
      • by WuphonsReach ( 684551 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @04:10PM (#15701350)
        The reason I switched to Firefox wasn't because of the neat features, it was because it used less memory and was significantly faster than IE. With every release Firefox has gotten more and more bloated, to the point that it is taking 42mb of RAM to display only this thread on Slashdot. IE is taking 22mb to do the exact same thing. That's just rediculous.

        Have you mucked with?

        config.trim_on_minimize = true
        (Useful in some scenarios when nothing else works.)

        browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers
        (A better thing to muck with. When set to "-1", Firefox assigns it a value based on your total amount of RAM, I think. Setting it to a lower value such as 2 or 4 should result in less memory used. The Mozilla site has details on how this setting works [mozillazine.org].)

        Changing the second item from the default (-1) to a lower value (2) made a big difference in the amount of RAM that Firefox was chewing up on my system.

  • SVG (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:53AM (#15697544)
    Has the SVG support improved? For the more complex stuff - animation and interactivity?

    I've alway liked the idea of SVG overtaking Flash as the format of choice for more complex multimedia online, but nobody seems to use it very much. Any ideas why not? Why isn't the OSS community promoting SVG more?
    • Re:SVG (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nick.ian.k ( 987094 )
      It's because most browsers don't support it, and because a lot of people don't care much about graphics formats. Look how long it's taken the mighty PNG to come as far as it has.
    • Re:SVG (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RobertF ( 892444 )
      No. Firefox 1.5 and Firefox 2.0 use the same underlying Gecko rendering engine (Gecko 1.8 IIR). Gecko 1.9 brings many rendering improvements that Web Developer's would love, but they didn't use it. The reasoning the Firefox developers gave was that resynching Firefox with the new Gecko engine would take too long; they wanted to focus on features and have a new release ready to compete with IE 7.
  • i don't see the point in having an integrated spellchecker.. that's what FireFox plug-ins are for... the FireFox developers should concentrate on just building a solid stable browser and allow others to add features like spellchecker etc using the plug-in feature..
  • Do the developers plan on integrating popular extensions until the codebase is as bloated as Mozilla of the olden days?
  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:08AM (#15697650) Journal
    I am curious to see if the spel checker works. Yep... sure does.
  • by Theovon ( 109752 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:13AM (#15697689)
    Actually, I'm not opposed to all these nice new features they've added, although it might be nice to have some optional for smaller systems. Also, I am aware that Firefox developers fix bugs all the time. They're just not going after the REALLY BIG ones.

    My biggest beef with Firefox is that it still crashes frequently and has massive memory leaks that require me to quit and restart the browser on a daily basis. It doesn't take much to get Firefox to grow to 1GB in memory footprint and start causing my system to thrash. A fundamental flaw is that it does not release memory back to the OS, so when you close tabs and windows, the process doesn't shrink. While this isn't directly Firefox's fault, there are lots of ways around this that they refuse to implement. On the other hand, the true memory leaks ARE their fault.

    I once suggested a solution to their problems. The basic philosophy is that they want to fix the crashes. But at this rate, they never will, so it's better to find ways to limit the damage done by crashes. The best solution, IMHO, is to stop using threads. Instead, fork a separate process for each document and one more for the UI, and use IPC for them to communicate. This way, when a web page or plugin inevitably causes the browser to crash or even just grow too big, killing that one window or tab won't bring down the whole browser, and the memory it used will be returned to the OS. This will have the side-effect of making the browser much more responsive, because you're not kept from switching tabs while a DNS lookup hangs the browser for one document. Naturally, they didn't like my solution.

    I think stability isn't really all that important to them, at least not proactively; if you're just reactive to bugs, you're never going to get a solid product.
    • I have 1.5GB of DDR400 so maybe I'm in the minority, but as long as I've used Firefox (maybe a year before 1.0) I can count the number of crashes on one hand. No doubt there are inelegant programming solutions to many issues with the browser, but they are all but transparent from my experience. And I use about 20 extensions!
    • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @01:53PM (#15700109) Homepage Journal
      It doesn't take much to get Firefox to grow to 1GB in memory footprint and start causing my system to thrash.

      At first I couldn't imagine what could possibly make Firefox use 1 GB of memory, but then I realized that's probably the average size of a typical MySpace page...

    • by WuphonsReach ( 684551 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @03:37PM (#15701083)
      My biggest beef with Firefox is that it still crashes frequently and has massive memory leaks that require me to quit and restart the browser on a daily basis. It doesn't take much to get Firefox to grow to 1GB in memory footprint and start causing my system to thrash. A fundamental flaw is that it does not release memory back to the OS, so when you close tabs and windows, the process doesn't shrink. While this isn't directly Firefox's fault, there are lots of ways around this that they refuse to implement. On the other hand, the true memory leaks ARE their fault.

      1) config.trim_on_minimize = true

      2) Install the leak monitor extension for a day and disable any extensions that it complains about. (Bugging the authors of those extensions is optional.)

      3) browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers - Set this to something other then -1 (such as 2 or 4). With 1GB of RAM, this defaults to a larger value. (Mozilla's wiki has the details on what "-1" translates to for various RAM configurations.)

      Firefox had a bad habit of eating up 350MB on my 1GB system. Now it's much better behaved (around 120MB) just by changing option #3 to a value of "2" instead of "-1". I've also disabled some of the extensions that the leak monitor extension complained about.

      I haven't used suggestion #1 yet.

      My biggest complaint is similar to yours, separate tabs should be separate threads rather then hanging all of the browser windows and tabs waiting on network activity. An implosion in one tab should only take out that tab (or worst-case that window).

  • extensions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:14AM (#15697701) Homepage
    why must firefox always break extensions?  I have yet to use one which did not
    work with a new version of firefox yet have many times had to manually alter
    files so that a new release of firefox would work with them (while waiting for
    the extension writer to make any changes he deems necessary beyond updating
    the version compatability).

    Why can't firefox have a 'try it one time' feature similar to windows and screen
    resolutions?  Let people use their extensions and if they crap out they can then
    be disabled.
    • You get my pseudomod for insightful! I'd love to see this feature, though I'm not sure it could be trusted in the hands of anyone but power users. I wonder if it will keep on checking for updates to previously out-of-date extensions or if we'll have to download them again.
    • I have yet to use one which did not work with a new version of firefox yet

      I have, although it seems pretty rare, last time on the change to 1.5 which changed some menus.

      many times had to manually alter files so that a new release of firefox would work with them

      Try the MR Tech Local Install extension, you can override the version compatibility on other extensions and dispense with the file changes.

    • Re:extensions (Score:3, Informative)

      by mfaras ( 979322 )
      What you're looking for is already done. The extension "MR Tech Local Install" does that among other things.
      When you install a new extension, and it's for an older version, it warns you and lets you bypass the warning.

      You can donwload the extension here [mozilla.org]

      --
      Luckily there are others that had before the same needs we have now
  • new firefox still doesn't pass the acid2 test.

    but i do like the built in spell check feature!
    • by Goncyn ( 472930 )
      There are no Gecko (rendering engine) changes in Firefox 2.0. It's based on the same version of Gecko that Firefox 1.5 was. Firefox 3.0 will be based on Gecko 1.9 and is expected to pass the ACID2 test.
  • In other news, (Score:4, Informative)

    by GeekDork ( 194851 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @10:37AM (#15698441)

    Still no inline-block [mozilla.org], and broken XMLHttpRequest [mozilla.org]. (Bugzilla links, so block those referrers.)

  • MEMORY USAGE OMG! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by seek31337 ( 520238 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @11:58AM (#15699105) Homepage
    Do any of you even know how memory usage works? Comments like "It's using 42mb just to display this page! IE is using 22." amuse me. Hello, memory caching. Is this page theonly one you've looked at before you loaded firefox?

    And where's the memory leak? I've been running my browser for 3 days, with gmail, and I'm not swapping memory yet. I only have 512mb on this machine. If it's a real memory leak, and not managed memory caching, then I will eventually hit swap, no? Please let me know how long I can expect for that to happen.

    Memory is extremely fast, so the fact that an app is taking up a whole 42mb of memory doesn't mean it's going to be slower than an app using 12mb. Memory usage is not an indicator of performance, or bloat. It's simply what the application has allocated. Also, with IE, there's parts of it integrated into the OS, if I recall correctly, so there's hidden memory usage you're missing.

    Look at how much paging the app is doing while it's operating. Run vmstat when running IE vs. Firefox and report those numbers. Wait, you can't do that.

    Never mind. Remain ignorant and opinionated.

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