Mozilla is currently in the process of releasing new versions of the Firefox web browser. Stable channel users will be moved from Firefox 17.0.1 to Firefox 18 via automatic updated if the browser has not not been configured otherwise.
The new release is already on Mozilla's ftp server but not on the main site which means that there is still a slim chance that it will be replaced by another version. Most of the time though that is not happening and if you are experiencing issues with Firefox 17.0.1 you may want to upgrade right away.
Download portals such as Softpedia already list the new version for download on their sites.
You can download and install the version of Firefox on your system, it will automatically upgrade the existing versions, provided that it is also a stable channel release and installed on the system.
Firefox 18.0 is now supporting WebRTC - Web Real-Time Communication - which provides the browser with capabilities for voip, chat or video chat without the need for plugins or other third party software. The feature is disabled by default in Firefox 18 and needs to be enabled before you can make use of the new technology.
Enter about:config into the Firefox address bar to load the advanced configuration of the browser. If this is your first time read the notification and proceed. Enter
media.peerconnection.enabled in the search field and double-click the result of the same name. This changes the setting's state from false, which means disabled, to true so that it is enabled and ready for use. You may also want to do the same for
media.navigator.enabled which enables calls to
mozGetUserMedia(), and maybe
media.navigator.permission.disabled if you want to automatically give permission for use of the PC's camera and microphone.
While we are at it. Firefox 18 supports CSS flexible boxes but the feature is disabled as well in Firefox 18. Enter
layout.css.flexbox.enabled and double-click the entry in the results listing to set it to true to enable it in the Internet browser. You can read about the feature here on the Mozilla Developer Network.
Mozilla removed the ability to load animated Personas backgrounds in Firefox 18 to reduce the loading times of the browser. You can read about why that's been done in detail here. The developers have improved the loading time of the browser further by making improvements to the browser's tab switching process, and by getting rid of unnecessary certificate validations during startup.
Bug 726125: should get rid of a lot of super-slow startups. Due to an abstraction accident we ended up validating jars more eagerly than expected. Firefox would go on the net (on the main thread) to check the certificate every time a signed jar was opened. There are over 500 signed extensions on AMO with over 14million active users. See the following for background on the (now dead) feature that caused our jar code to go nuts: signed scripts and note on removal of signed script support. Thanks for Nicholas Chaim and Vladan Djeric for fixing this.
Firefox users behind proxies should also see noticeable performance improvements.
We have received a lot of strange complaints about Firefox network performance that we could never reproduce. Turned out this was because none of us used proxies. Patrick McManus discovered a lot of synchronous proxy and DNS code in our network stack.
Fix for this should also improve performance for people without proxies since proxy-autodetection code was also doing main thread IO. As a result all of us replacing sync APIs with async ones all of the existing proxy-related addons will have to be updated. Patrick is reaching out to addon authors to make sure addons are updated in time for the next release.
There is a third new feature that needs to be enabled in the about:config dialog. To enable this web developer related feature enter
devtools.inspector.markupPreview and double-click the parameter afterwards to set it to true. You will then notice a new preview area in Firefox's Web Developer tools.
The fourth and final about:config feature is
security.mixed_content.block_display_content which block http connections when you are connected via https to a service or website.
Other changes include a better image quality on Windows and Linux thanks to a new HTML scaling algorithm, support for Retina displays on OS X 10.7 and up and a print button for the built-in pdf viewer.
Web developers furthermore benefit from support for property window.devicePixelRatio, @supports and W3C touch events.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.