Obligatory Firefox 4 Review [Surprise!]

Ok, so I’m not the first to the post here.  I’m just another behind-it-blogger.

I’m primarily a linux user but have to maintain one Windows 7 virtual machine for work.  The update process for Windows is a real tough one: Help, Check for updates.  Boom, Firefox goes to town, downloads the new version, then prompts you to install.  So easy even your MIS department can do it.

It came back up quickly, with all tabs intact.  Nicely done.

Unfortunately my cookie extension was not compatible, sending me off to locate anther one.  Because there are so many extensions with the word cookie in them, allow me to suggest Cookie Monster.

UI CHANGES

Well, let’s face it: everyone seems to be talking mostly about user interface changes.  In fact, it seems to be the only thing people are interested in from new releases.  Sometimes it seems to be the only thing the designers allow to concern them.

In this case, my first impression is that that the design changes seem arbitrary.  The bottom bar, where I’m used to seeing status and plugins has gone missing.  Some icons have been moved up to and moved around on the bar.  I’m not seeing any reason for this.  There is now an add-on bar.  I am also not seeing the value here… why not simply keep the existing bar?

Bookmark and Reload have been moved all the way to the right, at the end of the url bar.  While I suppose this makes sense organizationally, I find it inconvenient.

I use an add-on called Disable Menu, which does what the `upgrade’ does: hides the menu.  It was useless on Windows, while it worked on linux.

Another favorite is LittleFox, which makes everything take up less space to maximize what the browser displays.  When I removed this, I got a look at the stock view.

Yuck.

But then again, I hate everything.

Again, I’m just not seeing the reason for the redesign.

WHAT ELSE?

Tab groups allows you to name a group of tabs.  I see this coming in handy in the near future.

As for performance, it seems to be a bit more snappy but not to any great degree.  Will advise further as I use it.

WHAT OF LINUX?

If it’s not in your distro’s repositories (which it won’t be), you’ll need to download it from Mozilla.  It comes in a tar.gz package, which must be uncompressed and the browser will run from there.  It will make use of your existing settings.

For *buntu, learn how to get your packages installed here. [thanks, JP]

I suggest you try it.  If you don’t like it, delete the uncompressed folder and you’re back to your previous version.

UPDATE…

After a few more hours, I have discovered that the complaints about moving things around can be satisfied by simply re-moving them to wherever makes sense (aka where they used to be).  Also check under the VIEW menu to move the tabs bar back, if this is important to you.

I enabled the add-on bar and dragged icons back to it.

The linux version seems to be more stable thus far – the Windows version has been less than perfect.  The session restore has bombed out twice…. nothing serious.