Why I'm not switching to Firefox 3 just yet

Daniel Pataki
Jun 22, 2008
Updated • Feb 8, 2015

I don't usually write opinion posts much here on gHacks, but I thought I'd share my views with you about all major Firefox releases (and all open source major releases in general).

Since Firefox, WordPress and other big-big community oriented projects rely so much on the community that empowers them, it is often the case that new releases split that community.

If you've installed Firefox 3, chances are that half your addons didn't work anymore. While it was easy enough to tweak them so that they would work again, most users may have struggled with the technical process and either waited for the author to update the add-on or curse Mozilla for breaking it.

Especially since much of the data is now stored in database formats instead of simple text files, many of the extensions can't work. Also, for me even with the very last release candidate Firefox shut down from time to time for no apparent reason.

These are the reasons I'm not upgrading, I'll wait a month and then make the jump when all the extensions I can't live without are upgraded. The hassle of upgrading is a problem with all open source stuff, however I think this can hardly be broken down to "differences between commercial and open source".

If a commercial app gets an overhaul, no matter how great, you get maybe 20-30 new features but even that's pushing it.

With Firefox that many features are added daily with extensions, themes and so on. So in essence, when you have some problems after upgrading, it is a necessary evil most of the time.

You can hardly expect all authors to jump every time there's a new release, and anyway, many of them have developed their extensions prior to the final release, so you still have a lot to work with.

As a final note I want to say that despite the fact that this upgrading can be a hassle sometimes I have great respect for everyone involved with open source development and want to thank them for all the great extensions they've given us.

If you can't upgrade an extension, be sure to monitor its progress, even if you find a suitable alternative you can download the original when it gets its upgrade as a means of thanks to the author.


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  1. JbRd said on January 11, 2009 at 6:02 am

    I swithed to seamonkey

  2. Shannon said on July 2, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Ever since I got Firefox 3, I’ve been getting SO many internet crashes that I can’t even count.

  3. Globetrotter said on June 28, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    I like FF3, and got all my add-ons working again. However, I only have ONE concern… although I love the new awesome location bar, it calls up history from secure sites as well! So if you use gmail which is on https , anyone that uses that computer after you can see the subjects of every single email you typed. Yes, they can’t access it (if you logged out) but they can still view the subjects of the email in history. This to me is quite a serious security concern.

    There must be a way you can at least quickly switch off the location bar’s ability to call up history if you e.g. visit an internet cafe.

  4. Mathieu Clerte said on June 26, 2008 at 1:24 am

    I have upgraded to 3 beta because the Firebugs addon is WAY better than the previous versions.

    Well that’s me, I’m the kinda guy that installs beta versions onto production servers :0

    hehehe ;)

  5. David Bradley said on June 24, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    I guess it is in a way (you still see those ads in UK newspapers, by the way), but if you’re working in Firefox and want to fire up Photoshop at the same time, it’s quite handy to be able to release that chunk of memory, while PS grinds up to speed.

  6. avoidz said on June 24, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Sounds like those “Internet speed boosters” we used to hear about years and years ago, which did very little to nothing to improve performance. But hey, if it works for you, go for it!

  7. David Bradley said on June 24, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    It’s quite easy to make Firefox release its grip on memory, apply the hack and then when you feel it’s getting out of control, simply minimize it.

  8. avoidz said on June 24, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    “You people…” – That all-too-familiar arrogant opener.

    Hard to say about the memory issues; Firefox still gets up around the 90-100MB mark, but I think that’s to be expected with six or more tabs open, and after several hours browsing.

  9. Jojo said on June 24, 2008 at 9:31 am

    btw: Has FF3 really fixed the memory issues recognized in earlier versions?

  10. David Bradley said on June 24, 2008 at 9:31 am

    “You people just don’t get it” – such a pleasant tone to take, BillyG. “You people”, indeed…

  11. BillyG said on June 24, 2008 at 1:28 am

    You people just don’t get it – I use FF specifically because of the add-ons I choose. The FACT that 60+ of mine didn’t work left me no reason to keep using what to me is an inferior product vs. FF2.

    Just because your add-ons work has absolutely nothing to do with mine, unless they were the same, and apparently, they aren’t.

    I also said that I tried the ‘force’ tweak, and no it didn’t work for me on my box. You do know no 2 boxes are the same, right?

    As to ‘if they don’t work by now, they prolly never will’, well I guess I’ll just be sticking with what’s good for me then:

    It’s funny how I had to dig around for that sucker too after I blindly immediately deleted the earlier version upon dl’ing FF3, but you can bet I won’t be making that mistake again with any software.

    First it was M$, then Google and their shenanigans, and now it’s Mozilla and their millions from Google. Man, if lightening speed Opera ever had the plugins I use with FF, I’d be so gone from Mozilla’s open-source, closed core software (nice call Rarst!).

  12. David Bradley said on June 23, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Add-ons not working is as good a reason as any to upgrade, it gives you the chance to strip down your install to the bare essentials.

  13. Sridhar Katakam said on June 23, 2008 at 6:46 am

    I find it laughable that some of you aren’t installing Firefox 3.0 just because some add-ons aren’t working. Did you guys even try upgrading the incompatible add-on’s max version number either manually or via MR Tech tools add-on?

    I have 21 add-ons installed and running just fine in Firefox 3.

  14. Rarst said on June 23, 2008 at 4:49 am

    >Please be careful, author. This article indirectly implies that somehow Firefox 3 is *bad,*

    Really? I think it doesn’t and I am far from Firefox fan.

    >Allot of people put a great deal of work into making a new, more powerful tool for you and everyone else to use, and AT ABSOLUTELY NO COST!

    And those people are making very nice money while at it. It’s hardly self-sacrifice.

    >As a reader, I’m excited to see new opinions, but please let those be well thoguht out, *informed* opinions!

    Any opinion is fine as long as it praises Firefox. :)

    On topic I wanted to add that it’s really not open-closed source issue… It’s more of open-closed system issue.

    Firefox is a mix of open possibilities through extension systems and “closed” core. Yes, it’s open source bla-bla-bla but it’s not like end user has a lot of influence over it. Try to make your own fork and suddenly you are crossing trademarks and need to change everything so none except geeks would be able recognize it as Firefox fork.

    Radically change core plugin framework in commercial app and your customers will bite your head off. But open source project can get away with it easily on “they are working for free” excuse. Except that “free” part is usually very untrue for big projects.

    I always considered extensions main “selling” point of Firefox. I think developers had their reasons but it’s still very weird to see that system slightly broken.

  15. Mark said on June 23, 2008 at 4:42 am

    There were a few add-ons that didn’t work for me when I installed Firefox 3 (final), but it wasn’t a problem. Like someone else said, it made me think about the add-ons I used and didn’t use. I currently have:

    Adblock Plus
    ChromeEdit Plus
    New Tab Button on Tab Right
    Nuke Anything Enhanced
    Show Picture
    TinyUrl Creator

    The benefits outweigh an extension or two that don’t work just yet.

  16. coco said on June 23, 2008 at 4:41 am

    At first i had the same feelings as you, however more extensions are updated everyday to FF3 compatible, hence they will be updated sooner or later so just bear with it for a while.

    Im currently waiting for 6 exts right now. esp swifttabs.

  17. kramed said on June 23, 2008 at 3:01 am

    I am sorry I moved so quickly. Even though only one of my extensions is not updated (Tab mix plus), the regular crashes without me even touching an input device has me frustrated.

  18. BillyG said on June 22, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I jumped in like a lot of other idiots did too, except I immediately uninstalled FF3 when 90+% of my 60+ add-ons weren’t working. Hell, even my theme didn’t work, and yes, I did try those 2 about:config changes.

    Maybe there were other ways to get them working, but my time was better spent uninstalling it and going with what I know works with my add-ons:

    I’d happily live with Opera’s speedier browser, but I hate those cookies that Spybot tells me about from them everytime. Maybe I’m just too ignorant on Opera right now, but I sure don’t here anything about lots of add-ons coming from them either.

    So, my XP Pro box stays with IE6 for my wife who hates FF just because, and I use it for testing along with IE7 Standalone, but the default is of course, still FF. From all the changes I’ve heard about – including search suggestions based on your browser history (which is the first thing I turn off anyway) with some new Awesome Bar – doesn’t sound so awesome to me at all. It’s a shame too, because I’ve been with FF religiously since my first day back in early ’05.

    I also use Safari for my Pandora listening, since I regularly recycle FF after heavy usage and then quickly run CC from a quick launch icon, and it luckily finishes before FF even opens so it’s no big deal, and just works! :-)

  19. Jojo said on June 23, 2008 at 1:14 am

    This is what I said last week on one of your FF3 posts – that I would wait until everything got a bit more settled before making the switch.

    As to extensions, I have about 60 installed (and of course to my mind, they are all essential at some point or another), otherwise, why would keep them installed?

    It would be nice if Mozilla would provide a list (updated daily) of the current status of all extant extensions as to compatibility with FF3. I want to see if compatible now, dead or alive, and anticipated compatibility date.

  20. Robert said on June 23, 2008 at 12:35 am

    As mentioned above, Firefox 2 Portable can be run on your hard drive independent of Fx 2. You can use that as your testing ground. My only essential extension not yet updated for Fx 3 is Tab Mix Plus and even that one has nighties available which work just fine. And in my testing, leading to the upgrade, I discovered extensions to replace the one not yet updated. For instance, Digger replaced Uppity and Extension List Dumper replaced InfoLister.

  21. Fedorov said on June 23, 2008 at 12:00 am

    Moose, you are spot on with your comments, completely agree with you. The authors of most of these extensions have had the last 6 months to get new versions ready and out – if they haven’t then there is a good chance those extensions are already dead and unsupported.

  22. Bob Ross said on June 22, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    Every one of my extensions worked on release day..

  23. USBman said on June 22, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    @ Vikas:

    As some other readers have pointed out, please know that the security issue that you are referring to is NOT unique to Firefox 3, it is also present in 2.x. Regressing to 2.x does NOT make that issue go away.

    I would imagine that Mozilla will be releasing an update very soon.

  24. USBman said on June 22, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    Before you start thrashing a program, I’d suggest you at least give it a try – you said you haven’t even tried the final release version! …if it’s that you don’t yet want to *install* it, I might suggest Firefox Portable: http://portableapps.com/apps/internet/firefox_portable

    Please be careful, author. This article indirectly implies that somehow Firefox 3 is *bad,* just because 20-30 extensions aren’t being released every day, and that some of our familiar favorites don’t yet all work. Allot of people put a great deal of work into making a new, more powerful tool for you and everyone else to use, and AT ABSOLUTELY NO COST!

    The reality is that sometimes to move forward, as we learn from our past, we must try new things. Since those horizons are new, they can be unfamiliar and a bit bumpy – but this is where greatness comes from!

    Yes, I am a Firefox fan, but that isn’t relevant here – my comments could be applied to any similar situation. As a reader, I’m excited to see new opinions, but please let those be well thoguht out, *informed* opinions! Come on, Ghacks, get back to the quality that I know and love!

  25. Moose said on June 22, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    To be honest, if your favourite extensions haven’t been updated to Fx3 by now, they’re either never going to be unless someone else picks up the project or they add functionality that cannot work in the new version… Firefox 3 has been in alpha/beta for so long now pretty much every add-on should have been tweaked by now. I have about 25 extensions installed, a lot of which were not updated for Firefox 3 but still work if marked as compatible with the Nightly Tester Tools extension.

    Out of interest, which ones have broken for you? Have you checked the authors homepages as well as the Mozilla repository? There’s sometimes quite a version lag.

  26. Amos said on June 22, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    I was quite happy to use Firefox 3 from beta. The lack of extensions was quite refreshing – it let me decide what addons I needed and what were just wasting resource.

    Of course, you could always try forcing your extensions to run:

  27. Daniel said on June 22, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    I’ve heard about the security problem, but since it was also in FF2 as far as I know…

    I agree with you Fabio, I also only use about 3-5 extensions.

  28. Daniel said on June 22, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    Ah wait, let me clear things up. I have no problem with storing stuff in databases, or text files. I like the way the FF3 handles these things, but I have no problem with either solutions.

    But, since plugins were developed for the non database format they no longer work if they are not upgraded.

  29. Vikas said on June 22, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    Here’e another reason why I’ve reverted back.


  30. Fabio Cevasco said on June 22, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    I’m using Firefox 3 right now, and I don’t notice anything wrong with it. The trick is to remain “browser-independent”: I don’t install more than 5-10 extensions on Firefox and I use Opera and Safari as well.
    Just don’t get addicted to extensions (stumbleupon and del.icio.us are the worst), and everything will be fine…

  31. Rarst said on June 22, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    >Especially since much of the data is now stored in database format instead of simple text files, many of the extensions can’t work.

    For some people if they have SQL – every problem looks like database.

    It’s a pity that plain-text solutions seem to be considered kinda non-geek.

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