Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Firefox 1.5

So, I've been using it a while (at work - still hasn't entered Gentoo's stable releases). What do I think of it?

Well, it's been hard work. Probably the single most painful upgrade I've ever done with FF.

Mainly down to extensions, but not entirely. The auto-update didn't seem to work too well, instead I had to manually update a few things. Platypus' current version doesn't work at all with 1.5, I had to get a beta off a mailing list. Themes are doing odd things. etc etc.

I also had to re-create all my Greasemonkey scripts from scratch. However, they're more reliable now, which is a plus. Also, I was able to discard one that never worked too well: a script that stopped links opening a new window. FF 1.5 has an option in the preferences that allows you to specify what should happen if a link wants to open a new window. I disabled it altogether: If I want a link in a new window or tab, I'll do it myself. I don't care where the author wants it to open, it's my browser.

There were a couple of minor issues that I think are Portable Firefox specific - Flash didn't work out of the box, I had to copy it across from my old 1.0 plugins folder. And the splashscreen, pretty tho it was, had to go: I don't want a big advert that I can't hide telling my co-workers I'm opening up non-work software. But that was a simple enough ini file change.

But, after all is said and done, I've now got everything sorted out and working the way I like it again. All functionality is available. So, in most ways, nothing has visibly changed: The page rendering does seem a little quicker, but only because I was looking for it. Certainly going back & forward to pre-rendered pages is far faster as it no longer renders anew each time.

Overall, tho, it's a bit of a let-down. There's really nothing I'm doing with FF 1.5 that I wasn't doing with 1.0. I know lots of behind-the-scenes stuff has changed, and it can do SVG now and all, but really, as far as my typical browsing goes, nothing is any different. I don't mind tinkering much, but I can't help feeling that many less-patient FF'ers will be rather irritated by having to do a lot of work for no apparent benefit.

But having said that, the minor tweaks that are apparent, such as cached rendering and the "new window" link option, do make for a subtly (sp?) nicer browsing experience. They haven't added anything new & different, but numerous things that were old & dodgy are gone.

Overall, then: A slightly arduous upgrade path resulting in a slightly nicer browser. I'm neither impressed nor disappointed.

Had they made it less memory-hungry (It's using 72MB right now) I might have been genuinely impressed, but since both my work & home PC have hundreds of MB free at any given time, I can't honestly say I care too much ;o)


Erez said...

I just middle click everything.

10:53 PM  

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