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Firefox 3 Draws Near

The third major release of the browser that ended Microsoft Internet Explorer's monopoly is almost here. Mozilla Firefox 3 will ship on Tuesday the 17th. To mark the occasion, the non-profit behind this open-source browser hopes to set a new world record -- most downloads of a program in a 24-hour span -- on that day.

Like a lot of programs these days, however, Firefox 3 has been available for months already in pre-release form -- first as an alpha last summer, then a beta starting last winter and, for the last several weeks, in "release candidate" builds. The arrival of the "finished" version may be a formality for many people; I myself have now put Firefox 3 on every computer but my desktop at the office.

Despite beta software's deserved reputation for unreliability, using Firefox 3 has been almost completely drama-free. The only problem I've found so far have been add-ons that don't work, which I expect will be updated for the new browser soon enough.

It may be that I could have written my Firefox 3 review weeks ago (as one of my competitors did). But I'll save it for next week, when I can test-drive what most people will still recognize as the real thing.

For now, I'd like to get your take on Firefox 3 if you've already made a release-candidate build your everyday browser. Does it deliver what you wanted? Where does it fall short? Do any Web sites not look or work right in it?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 13, 2008; 10:28 AM ET
Categories:  The Web  
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I have been using Firefox 3 on my Linux box at home for a couple of months now and I have not had any problems. Same reliability as before.

Posted by: Raghu | June 13, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I've been using FF 3 RC1&2 since they were released. It's been a great experience. It's fast and about 99.99% reliable. All of my major (Flashblock, Adblock, IETab) add-on's work. I love it!

If you want to crash FF 3 RC1 or RC2, go here:

Posted by: Anton | June 13, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I'm too busy running my Gmail beta through its paces.

Posted by: Ronnie | June 13, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Biggest drawback so far is that Google Browser Sync has not been updated....and no indication that it will be.

Posted by: Add Ons | June 13, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm not an obsessive browser extender, but I've long liked the cleanliness and organization of Firefox over the latest incarnations of IE. The bar layout of IE is very disorganized to me, and options make it difficult to minimize space and still have what you need. I think the new Firefox is generally faster for me. I also like the fact that it offers color management for my calibrated monitor. Firefox also seems to be consistently more in line with W3C standards, which I'm sure is very true of F 3.

Posted by: paul | June 13, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Running FF3RC2 on XP here @work. Adblock, Forecastfox, Gmail Notifier all work properly.

In keeping with FF tradition it uses a huge amount of memory. Currently using 100Mb (yes, Mb) Only Visual Studio is using more. Thunderbird 2, in contrast, uses 30 Mb.

Posted by: wiredog | June 13, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Memory creep seems to be resolved. Faster loading than version 2. Nice extras. Very stable so far.

Posted by: Jmundstuk | June 13, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I liked FF3RC2 but had to uninstall it and go back to FF2, since the Google Toolbar isn't compatible with FF3 -- yet.

Posted by: Pattie A. | June 13, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I have been running FFRC1 and 2. I have noticed a considerable increase in pop-unders. Not sure why

Posted by: CB | June 13, 2008 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Google toolbar not compatible with FF3??!!! I get all my bookmarks there and use AutoFill. Maybe I should hold off on downloading FF3 on Tuesday, if ever. If that's the case, I would then rather wait until Internet Explorer 8 comes out this fall unless Mozilla makes FF3 compatible with Google toolbar. Mozilla may be losing me as a customer.

Additionally, launch date on Tuesday? Not so fast. There is a good chance of delays, so stay tuned.

Posted by: Joe | June 13, 2008 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Uh Joe, Mozilla isn't responsible for add-on compatibility, that's the add-on writer's responsibility, so you should be annoyed with Google. FF3 has been in development for a long time. Plenty of add-ons work just fine.

There is also no chance that the launch date will be delayed. They didn't commit to a final release date until they were sure it was ready. Each successive RC has been rock-solid and they have been overly-cautious if anything. Thanks for the unsubstantiated FUD though.

Posted by: Boyd | June 13, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

How is it for web development? FF2+Firebug drives me crazy by crashing a few times a day.

Posted by: slar | June 13, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

I've been using Firefox 3 RC2 since it was released. No problems that I can think of, just an insignificant rendering problem on one site. I like the ability to save tabs and unfinished downloads when closing Firefox--this is a great feature for a person like me who suffers from slow and unreliable Internet connections (I'm in China). The new bookmarks system is nice, since I am no longer required to categorize each new bookmarks.

Posted by: William | June 13, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Seriously, I would like to see the Google Toolbar be compatible with FF3 before launch. Otherwise, Mozilla should develop a way to import Google bookmarks into FF3. I need a faster browser, but I don't want to lose quick access to my bookmarks as well as my e-mail notification icon. If I could import my bookmarks easily, then I would download and try out FF3. I would not be surprised if the launch date is delayed, especially on Tuesday morning, after seeing how Windows XP SP3 and system updates got delayed at the last minute.

Posted by: Joe | June 14, 2008 2:00 AM | Report abuse

We would all like to see Google Toolbar compatible with Firefox 3, and have been working with that development team to that end. Hope to have some happy announcements about that next week.

Posted by: Mike Beltzner | June 14, 2008 9:30 AM | Report abuse

I have no interest in Google Toolbar, so this isn't an issue for me. But if it's all that popular an add-on, seems very likely that the developer will have a new version soon. For those who consider it a deal-breaker, don't update Firefox until there's a new Google Toolbar. The rest of us will gladly update in the meantime.

It's not Mozilla's responsibility to get Google Toolbar updated.

Posted by: BW | June 14, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I've been using FF3 for 2 weeks now and the only significant issue has been with Hotmail. Like FF2 there is a compatibility issue with how Hotmail is displayed. It was never resolved and I had hoped FF3 would do it. No such luck, Hotmail only displays the abbreviated version and not the faster full one.

Posted by: David | June 14, 2008 1:11 PM | Report abuse

With respect to the comments by «Joe» and others, I can say that the Google Toolbar developers are on top of this issue and have indicated on the «Google Toolbar for Firefox» forum that an FF3-compatible toolbar will be coming very soon, presumably shortly after the FF3 release to the general public. Let us hope that they can deliver - in my experience no other toolbar comes close to delivering the value of Google's product....


Posted by: M Henri Day | June 14, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Loved it, but the Google Toolbar's absence resulted in a reinstall of Firefox 2.

Rob, maybe Google will tell YOU when their toolbar for Firefox 3 will be available and if they do, PLEASE LET US KNOW.

Till then, it will probably be Firefox 2.

Posted by: BRUCEREALTOR | June 14, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

blah blah blah Google Toolbar blah blah blah. That is what you suckers get for getting in bed with Google.

Posted by: slar | June 14, 2008 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Well, I'm tired of high RAM usage with the browser, so I have switched back to Internet Explorer 7 and downloaded the Google toolbar for it. Now my web surfing has greatly improved with slightly faster downloads. Whenever FF3 gets the Google toolbar for it, then I'll give that a try.

Posted by: Joe | June 15, 2008 9:22 AM | Report abuse


High Ram usage with Firefox 3 has long been solved (I've tested the trunk builds since the late alpha stage). It does use a bit more memory than IE 7.0 since it's a stand alone browser (like Opera and Safari for Windows) rather than integral part of the Windows OS as IE 7.0 is. But once you start bringing up several tabs at once, watch IE 7.0 memory usage hit the roof where Firefox 3 maintains better control. However, since it appears you haven't even tried Firefox 3 yet then you wouldn't know that the memory problem has been solved now would you? And remember, the more extensions you load into Firefox, the more memory you're going to use regardless of Firefox 3's better memory behavior.

Posted by: kmb42vt | June 15, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse


I've been using both the "Web Developer Toolbar" and the "Firefbug" 1.2 development builds (Firefox 3 only). I just did a search on Firefox Add-ons and found Firebug 1.2 beta 3 has just been released on the 13th so perhaps you have it already--if not, I've provided the URL below. I've been using the previous development builds with no problem (version 1.0.5 is not compatible with FX3 and crashes the browser frequently).


Posted by: kmb42vt | June 15, 2008 1:16 PM | Report abuse

It crashed on me after 30min of usage - main window just disappeared, I haven't seen this kind of crash in any the older version.

Posted by: MineWorker | June 15, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Ok, what the hey, I'll write something too since I'm here.

Right now I'm using Firefox 2 to write this, but I also have Firefox 3 RC2 and have been playing with it, and I will update it to RC3 after I get done here. It disappoints me that Firefox 3 RC2 does NOT pass Acid3, and I've read that Firefox 3 probably never will and that we'll have to wait till Firefox 4 for that.

On a similar topic, Firefox 3 is scheduled to come out on the 17th, but Opera released it's latest browser, version 9.5, on the 12th. However, Opera can not do the things that Firefox can, and I just don't like it as much. I was interested in what Opera was doing because I read that Opera 9.5 Beta DID pass Acid3 -- so I installed to give it a try. Well, it didn't work for me. So... this final release of Opera 9.5 may or may not pass Acid3.

So far, I've been disappointed by these new browsers -- all of them. They take forever to come out, there is no significant jump in rendering speed, and they are just not living up to their own hype. Guess I'll just keep waiting...

Posted by: J | June 15, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

If you download the beta, it will automatically wipe out Firefox 2.x, so wait if you want features like the Google toolbar.




Posted by: brucerealtor | June 15, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I downloaded Firefox 3 RC3 but it somehow didn't import all of my bookmarks from, which was very annoying -- you never realize which ones aren't there until you need to use them and then you're left in the lurch.

It also had some weird login problems on a couple of sites I use: I kept logging in, but it kept telling me I needed to login, even after I had done so.

Finally, the default theme seems ugly and un-Mac-like to me.

So I went back to -- and my old bookmarks came back.

Posted by: JJO | June 15, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I have been using Firefox 3, second release, for a little over a week. I've experienced no problems other a few issues with addons.
I little the new interface over FF2 and seems to render web pages faster, at least to me. I have preferred Firefox over any version of IE since it was first released.

Posted by: Bob | June 15, 2008 6:45 PM | Report abuse

I've been using Firefox 3 since the beta versions came out (on Linux, Ubuntu 7.10),and I've been very happy with it. Although it's hard to construct a really definitive test, version 3 does seem to reduce memory usage by 30-40 percent. Sites that use JavaScript extensively (Google mail, for example) also seem speedier. The new bookmark / history database has better capabilities, especially for searching.

I've only found one curious bug, that only happens occasionally (perhaps once a week). I haven't been able to discover a way to cause it intentionally, but it seems to be associated with pages that have Flash content. The symptom is that Firefox seems to "freeze". Looking at the output of 'ps aux | grep firefox', there is a second instance of 'firefox-bin' running. What's odd is that killing that extra instance makes everything go back to normal. Whether this would happen with the Windows version, I don't know.

Posted by: Rich Gibbs | June 15, 2008 8:13 PM | Report abuse

FF3RC3 is working very well on my OpenSolaris2008.05 box !!

Posted by: EdwardOCallaghan | June 15, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Both FF and IE have their pros and cons, but your preference of browser depends on your needs. IE is used more by corporate businesses while FF is used by those who want to customize their browsing experience. I have has problems with FF2 before, but after reinstalling it several months back, it was running fine. That was, until two days ago, when the browser closed without any apparent reason. Since then, I have said that I've had enough and reactivated IE7. I have then discovered its missing potentials, including faster downloads, not to mention that it uses 25% of the RAM that FF2 consumes. Besides, I seldomly need to open multiple tabs, so high RAM usage has not been much of a problem with IE7 for me. For those reasons, I don't see how FF3 could dominate over IE8. I may end up being an IE8 user unless it is only compatible with Windows Vista. When I activate FF3, then I will see if it's worth keeping over IE7.

Posted by: Joe | June 15, 2008 9:59 PM | Report abuse

I don't get the big hubbub about the Google toolbar. What I'm I missing? I have FF2.0.0.14. I'll gladly upgrade to FF3. Hopefully my foxytunes, nosript, and adblock add-ons still work.

Posted by: Mike | June 15, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

Firefox RC Builds and previous release all crash on for me. When i check stock quotes and look at the Flash based graph of the price history the browser crashes everytime. I have used this to "test" every build that comes out and each one has failed the "test".

Posted by: Quinn | June 16, 2008 2:35 AM | Report abuse

I work with ff3 since ubunu 8.04. there are some bugs on language swithing in the text fields on the pages and on address bar. but at all , this is the best browser a ever used!

Posted by: Emil | June 16, 2008 2:37 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: poop | June 16, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

For those people missing the Google toolbar the Firefox addons GMarks will import your Google bookmarks and Autofill Forms will,well,autofill forms.

Posted by: Jeff | June 16, 2008 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I've been using FF3 for some time within IBM and find that all internal applications run without issue. I've given IE7 a test run, but found the performance was very slow, and some pages required special coding to get them to render correctly. Early IE8 builds are largely non-functional as well.
--Good luck to FF on setting their world record!--

Posted by: fritz | June 16, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

i just download the portableapps Firefox 3 Rc2, and went to google and it installed the toolbar! So Google appears to have a version of the toolbar for Firefox 3.

Posted by: Joe | June 16, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I think it's a scandal that Google with all their BILLIONS have not released a working toolbar for FF 3 .

No excuse at all.

Posted by: Incantoto | June 16, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Well, it WAS a scandal. They have finally released Google Toolbar for FF3.

Posted by: Incantoto | June 16, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

one of the features of Safari that i haven't been able to find on any version of Foxfire, including 3.0 RC is the ability to 'see' how the printed text will look.

i use this to try to save paper when i'm printing. for example, if i were printing your column today, i might choose to just print your words and avoid the comments.

i'm assuming there's either a Firefox Preference that would allow me to do this, or an add-on that would.

rob, if you or one one of your readers can direct me to this perference/add-on, i'd really appreciate it.


Posted by: valleydriver | June 16, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

google toolbar fails hard anyway. really, grow up and get over it, you're acting like big girls' blouses. appalling behaviour.

Posted by: ross | June 16, 2008 4:18 PM | Report abuse

RC3 Does not seem to work well with proxy servers. I keep getting the authentication window again and again. Besides, all of Google's sites keep giving me Access Denied errors :'(
Waiting for final release, and if that doesnt fix it, I'm going back to FF2 :(

Posted by: Rupspace | June 16, 2008 6:51 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why anyone would use Firefox for common web browsing. It's too huge, too slow. I do use Firefox (not that I tried any of FF3 RCs) but for web development. Haven't you guys heard about Opera?

Posted by: Nikola Tulimirović | June 16, 2008 7:09 PM | Report abuse

After hearing about proxy issues, errors, toolbar issues, etc., after I try FF3, if there is even one issue that disrupts my web experience, then I will immediately go back to Internet Explorer 7 for good. This new release better be better than the previous one. Of all the browsers I ever used, Internet Explorer 7 has been the only browser I never had any severe problems with.

Posted by: Joe | June 16, 2008 10:13 PM | Report abuse




6/17/2008 at 01:55 hours EDT

Posted by: brucerealtor | June 17, 2008 1:56 AM | Report abuse

Link does not work. Another indication that FF3 may blow and disappoint. No launch yet? Anticipating delays...

Posted by: Joe | June 17, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse


Try this link

That's Firefox 2 -- click Firefox 3 underneath.

Posted by: brucerealtor | June 17, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

It appears from all the comments that this update release of Firefox 3 is for pc's only. Too bad, I use it on my Mac iBook and have release
Maybe in a couple of months????

Posted by: Ronald Cichocki, Austin Tx | June 17, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Just downloaded and installed FF3 since it now supports the Google Toolbar. So far, it runs twice as fast as before, even slightly faster than IE7. I am having issues with installing the ad blocker add-on, though. I also noticed that it ran much slower on after viewing a map for some reason, but hopefully it will not be a widespread problem. So far it seems like it's worth keeping over IE7.

Posted by: Joe | June 17, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

@Ronald Cichocki:

There seems to be a Mac OS/X release of Firefox 3, as for previous versions. Try looking here:

(There is also a blog post specifically about Mac aspects of Firefox 3, by Josh Aas:

although the blog's color scheme is, IMO, unfortunate.)

Posted by: Rich Gibbs | June 17, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Google tool bar is crap, just like every other tool bar.. they are for, well tools, just, like IE users. There are plenty of Firefox plug-ins that have the same features and then some. Like Foxmarks, its the bomb, syncs up bookmarks and setting in Firefox between my computers.

Posted by: Vmod32 | June 18, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Overall, I like the new look of Firefox 3, but there are certain anomalies that have cropped up. My Bookmark Folders in the the Bookmark SideBar are no longer in alphabetical order. I've tried everything I can think of. When I have the library/organize bookmarks up, there is an Up/Down button that works until I return to the main Firefox page, then everything reverts to the out-of-order sequence.

Recently, I upgraded Adobe's Flash Player - formerly Macromedia, which was needed for the silly games and jigsaw I use on MSNBC. Now the game images appear, disappear with the slightest movement of the cursor. I truly attribute this behavior to Firefox 3, as this did not happen before.

And, the third and last thing I've noticed...on the MSN site there's a stock market quote list wherein a user can put in stock/fund symbols for real time quotes. This feature no longer works for me. Since, yes, you guessed it -- I installed Firefox 3.

I do like the tinted color of the Bookmark sidebar, which distinguishes it from the main page. I do miss the yellow tint on the URL bar that indicated an https site. Please bring that back.

Posted by: Ann Drew | June 25, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

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