I’ve held off upgrading to Firefox 2.0 for quite some time. I tested several betas and release candidates, but just didn’t have time to fool with them. I beta tested the 0.3 through 1.3 versions of Mozilla’s browser, but I’ve gotten too lazy to experiment. Now that I’ve got Firefox the way I want it, I want to have it welded.

Unfortunately, if I want to take advantage of certain improvements, that isn’t possible. For example, FX2 fixes the annoying memory leak that made v. 1.5 such a hog. I’ve had this version running for two hours now, and it’s only using about 65 MB of RAM, with two windows and about a dozen tabs running. Version 1.5 would have gobbled at least twice that by now.

Extensions, which Mozilla now calls “Add Ons,” are what cause Firefox to kick browser butt, IMNSHO. I like Opera fine, but it has too many things I don’t need, and lacks things that I use constantly. I won’t use Internet Explorer, although 7 is much improved, because I have absolutely no reason to think it isn’t riddled with unexplored security faults that won’t be discovered for months – if then – so I don’t know whether it will do what FX does (but I doubt it).

Anyway… last night I had an hour to kill, so I downloaded Firefox 2 again and set about checking out the extension deal more seriously. I had been put off by its repeated complaints during installation that my add-ons weren’t compatible, so I’d left it at that each time and gone back to v.1.5. Last night I discovered that compatible extensions are available, but you have to search a bit.

Most of them can be found on the Mozilla Add-On page. Several of the more useful ones have been collected here as well. Others – Notefish, for example – can be downloaded from vendors’ sites. FX2 comes with the Google Toolbar installed, so you don’t have to worry about that. Mine even saved my configurations across the versions.

I assume that the reason the add-ons don’t update automatically is that there is some major change in the Gecko engine that drives Firefox 2. Since few of them seem to be compatible, if I were you I’d uninstall my v. 1.5 extensions before upgrading. That will avoid having a bunch of dead extensions in the Add-On manager and having to figure out which need uninstalling and which don’t. Just start clean, and you should have no problem.

I’m going to go clean out my Add-On manager now. 😉

Interesting statistics: When IE7 was released a couple of weeks ago, users downloaded 2 million copies in the first day. When FX2 was released, Mozilla dumped 4 million copies in the first 8 hours! Of course, Micro$oft will be upgrading you to IE7 on Upgrade Wednesday, whether you want it or not, so it’s got a big edge there. If you don’t want the upgrade, be sure you set Automatic Updates to “ask me first,” then Just Say No. Or not. No real good reason not to get it. It’s definitely improved, and you might need to use it for something… sometime… maybe…

[tags]Firefox, extensions, add-ons, Bill Webb, Bill’s Web, browsers, Internet Explorer, Opera[/tags]