Friday, April 04, 2008

Firefox Just Got Better

by: Burk Pendergrass

The safest most secure app for browsing the internet currently available just got better and has more improvements on the way. Are you ready for the latest Mozilla release? Firefox 3 Beta 4 is available for download, but before you go running off like some half cocked Microsoft groupie notice the "beta" tag.

Hello!! The internet is a dangerous place. The Remote Helpdesk 1 Team continues to be amused (we can no longer say amazed) at people who would not dare to venture into certain parts of a city but who seemingly rush into the internet's dark corners and dimly lighted streets ill prepared.

Before you sail into a storm baton down the hatches, and before you cruise into hacker, virus, trojan, and criminally infested areas of the world wide web at least darken the windows and arm yourself. Not to take appropriate precautions will assure your computer a visit to the infectious disease controls center if not the hard drive morgue.

Firefox developers have thus far proven themselves to the best at incorporating necessary safety features into their browser while preserving user options and cruise speeds. Online PC Repair folks feel they owe a lot of their success to getting their loyal users involved in the development and testing process. These folks, like The Tennessee Mountain Man, have helped keep the programs on track and the applications minimal. For instance, if a client wants twenty-five cents - give him a quarter like Mozilla tends to do rather that twenty-five pennies as Microsoft is famous for.

It takes a lot less resources to process one coin than it does to count twenty-five. Mozilla recognizing this has given the new "beta" release a lot of new features and improved compatibility while freeing up resources. The end result being a more nimble and faster overall browsing experience. At the same time they have enhanced Firefox's security.

Released to the public via the Mozilla website Monday, 10 March 2008, Firefox 3 Beta 4 is in the beta stage of any software's life cycle. Firefox 3 Beta 4 loudly proclaims that it is "for testing purposes only" therefore it is not for everyone. It you are a newbie or maybe even an intermediate internet user, the suggestion of the Computer Man would be that you use Firefox, the latest most stable full release until Firefox 3 is out of beta.

If you just can't wait for a better browsing experience Mozilla reports "the new release includes more than 900 enhancements from beta 3, including drastic improvements to performance and memory usage, as well as fixes for stability, platform enhancements and user interface".

But that is not the half of it... not by a long shot. "Firefox 3 is based on the Gecko 1.9 Web rendering platform, which has been under development for the past 31 months. Building on the previous release, Gecko 1.9 has more than 12,000 updates including some major re-architecting to provide improved performance, stability, rendering correctness, and code simplification and sustainability. Firefox 3 has been built on top of this new platform resulting in a more secure, easier to use, more personal product with a lot more under the hood to offer website and Firefox add-on developers improvements.", according to Mozilla.

Enhancements like these reported on the Mozilla website:

"More Secure

* One-click site info: Click the site favicon in the location bar to see who owns the site and to check if your connection is protected from eavesdropping. Identity verification is prominently displayed and easier to understand. When a site uses Extended Validation (EV) SSL certificates, the site favicon button will turn green and show the name of the company you're connected to. (Try it here!)
* Malware Protection: malware protection warns users when they arrive at sites which are known to install viruses, spyware, trojans or other malware. (Try it here!)
* New Web Forgery Protection page: the content of pages suspected as web forgeries is no longer shown. (Try it here!)
* New SSL error pages: clearer and stricter error pages are used when Firefox encounters an invalid SSL certificate. (Try it here!)
* Add-ons and Plugin version check: Firefox now automatically checks add-on and plugin versions and will disable older, insecure versions.
* Secure add-on updates: to improve add-on update security, add-ons that provide updates in an insecure manner will be disabled.
* Anti-virus integration: Firefox will inform anti-virus software when downloading executables.
* Vista Parental Controls: Firefox now respects the Vista system-wide parental control setting for disabling file downloads.
* Effective top-level domain (eTLD) service better restricts cookies and other restricted content to a single domain.
* Better protection against cross-site JSON data leaks.

Easier to Use

* Easier password management: an information bar replaces the old password dialog so you can now save passwords after a successful login.
* Simplified add-on installation: the add-ons whitelist has been removed making it possible to install extensions from third-party sites in fewer clicks.
* [Improved in Beta 4!] New Download Manager: the revised download manager makes it much easier to locate downloaded files, and you can see and search on the name of the website where a file came from. Your active downloads and time remaining are always shown in the status bar as your files download.
* Resumable downloading: users can now resume downloads after restarting the browser or resetting your network connection.
* [Improved in Beta 4!] Full page zoom: from the View menu and via keyboard shortcuts, the new zooming feature lets you zoom in and out of entire pages, scaling the layout, text and images, or optionally only the text size. Your settings will be remembered whenever you return to the site.
* Podcasts and Videocasts can be associated with your media playback tools.
* Tab scrolling and quickmenu: tabs are easier to locate with the new tab scrolling and tab quickmenu.
* Save what you were doing: Firefox will prompt users to save tabs on exit.
* Optimized Open in Tabs behavior: opening a folder of bookmarks in tabs now appends the new tabs rather than overwriting.
* Location and Search bar size can now be customized with a simple resizer item.
* Text selection improvements: multiple text selections can be made with Ctrl/Cmd; double-click drag selects in "word-by-word" mode; triple-clicking selects a paragraph.
* Find toolbar: the Find toolbar now opens with the current selection.
* Plugin management: users can disable individual plugins in the Add-on Manager.
* [Improved in Beta 4!] Integration with Vista: Firefox now has Vista-specific icons, and uses native user interface widgets in the browser and in web forms.
* [Improved in Beta 4!] Integration with the Mac: the new Firefox theme makes toolbars, icons, and other user interface elements look like a native OS X application. Firefox also uses OS X widgets and spell-checker in web forms and supports Growl for notifications of completed downloads and available updates. A combined back and forward control make it even easier to move between web pages.
* [Improved in Beta 4!] Integration with Linux: Firefox's default icons, buttons, and menu styles now use the native GTK theme.

More Personal

* Star button: quickly add bookmarks from the location bar with a single click; a second click lets you file and tag them.
* Tags: associate keywords with your bookmarks to sort them by topic.
* [Improved in Beta 4!] Location bar & auto-complete: type in all or part of the title, tag or address of a page to see a list of matches from your history and bookmarks; a new display makes it easier to scan through the matching results and find that page you're looking for. Results are returned according to their frecency (a combination of frequency and recency of visits to that page) ensuring that you're seeing the most relevant matches. An adaptive learning algorithm further tunes the results to your patterns!
* Smart Bookmarks Folder: quickly access your recently bookmarked and tagged pages, as well as your more frequently visited pages with the new smart bookmarks folder on your bookmark toolbar.
* Places Organizer: view, organize and search through all of your bookmarks, tags, and browsing history with multiple views and smart folders to store your frequent searches.
* Web-based protocol handlers: web applications, such as your favorite webmail provider, can now be used instead of desktop applications for handling mailto: links from other sites. Similar support is available for other protocols (Web applications will have to first enable this by registering as handlers with Firefox).
* Download & Install Add-ons: the Add-ons Manager (Tools > Add-ons) can now be used to download and install a Firefox customization from the thousands of Add-ons available from our community add-ons website. When you first open the Add-ons Manager, a list of recommended Add-ons is shown.
* Easy to use Download Actions: a new Applications preferences pane provides a better UI for configuring handlers for various file types and protocol schemes.

Improved Platform for Developers

* New graphics and font handling: new graphics and text rendering architectures in Gecko 1.9 provides rendering improvements in CSS, SVG as well as improved display of fonts with ligatures and complex scripts.
* Color management: (set gfx.color_management.enabled on in about:config and restart the browser to enable.) Firefox can now adjust images with embedded color profiles.
* Offline support: enables web applications to provide offline functionality (website authors must add support for offline
browsing to their site for this feature to be available to users).
* A more complete overview of Firefox 3 for developers is available for website and add-on developers.

Improved Performance

* [Improved in Beta 4!] Speed: improvements to our JavaScript engine as well as profile guided optimizations have resulted in significant improvements in performance. Compared to Firefox 2, web applications like Google Mail and Zoho Office run twice as fast in Firefox 3 Beta 4, and the popular SunSpider test from Apple shows improvements over previous releases.
* [Improved in Beta 4!] Memory usage: Several new technologies work together to reduce the amount of memory used by Firefox 3 Beta 4 over a web browsing session. Memory cycles are broken and collected by an automated cycle collector, a new memory allocator reduces fragmentation, hundreds of leaks have been fixed, and caching strategies have been tuned.
* Reliability: A user's bookmarks, history, cookies, and preferences are now stored in a transactionally secure database format which will prevent data loss even if their system crashes."

Mozilla provides Firefox 3 Beta 4 for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X in forty different languages, and reports it can be removed without losing your bookmarks, web browsing history, extensions and other add-ons. Best of all - it is FREE ! Just download, install, and enjoy a whole new faster browsing experience if your computer meets one of the following system requirements.

Operating Systems

* Windows 2000
* Windows XP
* Windows Server 2003
* Windows Vista

Minimum Hardware

* Pentium 233 MHz (Recommended: Pentium 500MHz or greater)
* 64 MB RAM (Recommended: 128 MB RAM or greater)
* 52 MB hard drive space

Operating Systems

* Mac OS X 10.4 and later

Minimum Hardware

* Macintosh computer with an Intel x86 or PowerPC G3, G4, or G5 processor
* 128 MB RAM (Recommended: 256 MB RAM or greater)
* 200 MB hard drive space

Software Requirements
Please note that Linux distributors may provide packages for your distribution which have different requirements.

* Linux kernel - 2.2.14 or higher with the following libraries or packages:
o glibc 2.3.2 or higher
o XFree86-3.3.6 or higher
o gtk+2.0 or higher
o fontconfig (also known as xft)
o libstdc++5

Minimum Hardware

* Intel Pentium II or AMD K6-III+ 233 MHz CPU (Recommended: 500MHz or greater)
* 64 MB RAM (Recommended: 128 MB RAM or greater)
* 52 MB hard drive space

And, if you still have not tried Mozilla Thunderbird, get ready to kick Outlook Express to the curb!

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