Firefox 5 Beta Is Here, What's New?

Martin Brinkmann
May 21, 2011
Updated • Mar 6, 2015

The first beta of the upcoming version 5 of Firefox has been released to the public. The release has been delayed by a few days which is a short time considering the delays during Firefox 4 development. The accelerated development cycle is now almost in full swing.

The cycle is complete with the release of Firefox 5 final. From that moment on, Mozilla can churn out new versions of Firefox in about 18 weeks which means that Firefox 6 beta is about three months away from being released.

So what's new in Firefox 5? The release notes mention support for CSS animations as the only new technology included in the release.

The developers have added support for version switching in the browser which Firefox users can use to switch between final, beta and aurora releases.

firefox channel switch

The channel switcher is accessible via Help > About Firefox / Aurora.

Another change is that the Do-Not-Track header preference has been moved to the Privacy tab of the browser's options for increased visibility.

do not track

Please note that this preference is just sending a do-not-track header to all websites that you open. The feature is only effective if websites and scripts follow the request.

Other areas have seen improvement. The developers have improved the canvas, JavaScript, memory and networking performance, standards support for HTML5, XHR, MathML, SMIL, and canvas, spell checking and desktop environment integration on Linux.

The full list of bug fixes in Firefox 5 Beta is available here.

So where can you download Firefox 5 Beta? You can check out my Firefox Download guide for the big picture or head over to Mozilla to download the beta from the Future of Firefox page.

Don't worry if you download Aurora instead of the beta. The new channel selector is included in both versions, which means you can use it to quickly switch from Aurora to Beta and vice verse.

What's your take so far on the rapid release cycle of the Firefox browser?

Update: It is no longer possible to switch between release channels as the option to do so has been removed from Firefox.


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Florin said on June 13, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Just installed Firefox 5 beta 5 in my Ubuntu. It manages better a stupid full of flash&scripts ads page where Firefox 4 had some problems while loading in other tabs also. Well done Mozilla!

  2. User said on June 6, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Faster release cycles is ok, as long as it doesn’t break existing functionality. This isn’t the case when it comes to add-ons, which are often not compatible with newer releases until those developers also get on the faster update train.

  3. vasa1 said on May 24, 2011 at 5:19 am

    You wrote:
    “The release has been delayed by a few days which is a short time considering the delays during Firefox 4 development.”

    There was no delay because there was no fixed date for the “release”. The only date announced was that of the merge and the merge occurred on schedule.

    You may want to see this:
    Please remember the source migration date may be different than the date an update is offered to channel users (see ht tp:// ww gle.c om/u rl?sa=D&q=htt p://b log.moz illa. co m/channels/2011/05/11/merge-dates-vs-release-dates/)

  4. douglas said on May 22, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I think rapid release is great, too. I have a feeling that version numbers are becoming irrelevant to the end-user are only important to the devs themselves.

  5. abhi said on May 22, 2011 at 8:48 am

    The idea of having Rapid releases is very good. If the development team can keep integrating more features into firefox in such short time , then why not? I think its a great idea.

  6. Asa Dotzler said on May 21, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Hey, Thanks! Martin!

    – A

  7. Asa Dotzler said on May 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Martin, no, that was the official merge date. What happened before that was just a test merge to make sure the merge mechanics and the channel changer feature were functional. Aurora and Beta release to user date is generally going to be a day to a week after the merge (while we qualify the builds, potentially turning off broken features).

    The document at highlighs and ads detail to what’s been in our plans from the beginning. Nightly builds go out as soon as they’re compiled. Aurora and Beta builds get qualified after the Merge. Final is qualified just before it’s merged so it ships on the merge date.

    – A

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm

      I see. I have modified the article to reflect that. Thanks for your explanation.

  8. Asa Dotzler said on May 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    The Beta release was not delayed at all. The date you were watching was not for the release to users but for the merge from Aurora to Beta. Please read this post.

    Opening your article with something that’s factually incorrect, like claiming that the release was delayed when it most certainly was not, doesn’t give confidence in the rest of what you wrote in this article or other articles on the site. Please make a correction.

    – A

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      I did not mean the merge date. Was one of the few tech blogs that did not report on that “beta release” back then. I meant that the release was supposed to be released May 17.

  9. Robert Palmar said on May 21, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    I do not mind a rapid release cycle if the changes are substantial.
    Minor changes should be rolled into the normal update process.

    More care needs to be taken not to break extensions which
    new Firefox releases are notorious for and on that point
    I still cannot customize Firefox 4 like Firefox 3 to
    the point I am running Firefox 3 until I can.

  10. jesus said on May 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    What about making firefox 5 beta a default browser? Does it have such capability?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on May 21, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      yes you can do that.

  11. Nebulus said on May 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    I’ll stick to my idea that releasing new major versions for any kind of software (not just Firefox) just for show, with minimum improvements is lame and it might eventually backfire.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.