those dangerous four words: “I’ve had an idea”

My heart sank when I saw these words: Firefox user interface guru. And yes, he’s had an idea. A suggestion: rather than a fancy new UI, how about having a crack at stability? FF 3, and the later FF 2s, were and are crashy, hangy, and inconsistent. It regularly (daily) gets its knickers in a twist and either fails to blit the screen, hangs, reads from the keyboard buffer extremely slowly, or just crashes without error messages, warnings, logs or anything else. And the “Save and Quit” function doesn’t work, which is probably connected with the fact that most crashes at least let you restore the tabs, but some lose even that.

If they want a new idea, what about having a crack at whatever is to Firefox as Firefox was to Mozilla, a lightweight, fast, rugged cut-down version of the bloated original? They could keep only the rendering engine and things like SSL, and make everything else an extension. Personally, I’d use Konqueror if it had equivalents for the various extensions I use. Anyway, Mozilla thinks Firefox is an operating system. And the thing about operating systems is that stability, security, and affordances for applications are the first and indeed only things that matter. Fancy user interfaces can be applied later.

5 Comments on "those dangerous four words: “I’ve had an idea”"

  1. Ah, so that explains it: seems to be getting worse with each update too. Bugger. Why can’t these people ever finish a product and go on to the next one?


  2. Two lightweight webkit browsers that are interesting me greatly at the moment are arora and rekonq. Both are slightly buggy as you would expect from alpha/beta code, but certainly nimbler than Firefox.

    One of the stated aims of Arora is to avoid becoming another Mozilla browser and to have as many features as possible implented outside the core code in the form of extensions.

    Rekonq is also promising to keep it simple, although I can’t find any intention to implement an extensions, so it will either be knowingly limited and lightweight, or start bloating over time.

    For now, however, there aren’t any real alternatives to Firefox. 🙁


  3. What about Chrome? The beta was released with some fanfare last summer, and then… nothing.


    Doug M.


  4. To be fair a lot of the crashes seem to be associated with the flash plugin (at least on Linux, dunno about Windows). I found stability massively improved (although still not 100%) after setting up flash to run via nspluginwrapper, which runs it in a separate address space so it can’t bring down the browser after having one of its sound synch/locking fits.

    nspluginwrapper was originally created to allow you to use 32-bit plugins with 64-bit firefox, but stability is an added bonus. It ends up being a bit like the way Chrome does plugins (fork() and IPC makes more sense than cramming stuff into the same process? who could have guessed?)


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