Mozilla Officially Releases Firefox 5.0

It looks like Mozilla is following through with their promise to churn out new releases of Firefox faster than ever. After just three months of Firefox 4.0’s official release, Mozilla is hitting the ground running with Firefox 5.0, which is out now for your downloading pleasure.

What’s new in this freshly updated version of Mozilla’s web browser? Well, you won’t see much change as far as good looks go — the GUI is practically identical to Firefox 4.0, but 5.0 now comes with support for CSS animations, as well as the usual improvements to JavaScript and memory performance.

Perhaps the biggest change to Firefox 5.0 is the relocation of the Do-Not-Track setting, which is now positioned at the very top of the Privacy tab in Options to increase discoverability. Do-Not-Track is a setting that was introduced with Firefox 4.0 that gives you the option to opt-out of websites tracking you for purposes such as catered advertisements. This should definitely strike a harmonious chord with privacy buffs. Firefox users on Android are getting the Do-Not-Track feature for the first time with 5.0, making it the first web browser to support this feature across multiple platforms.

Mozilla also included a new feature that will make closing tabs a bit more easier. They will now stay the same size while you’re closing them (very similar to Chrome tabs), that way you’re not jumping around the whole time.

However, you probably won’t notice a huge overall difference between Firefox 4.0 and Firefox 5.0, which should make you wonder if it’s worth upgrading. If add-on and plugin compatibility is an issue for you, I would steer clear for at least a short while until the developers update their add-ons to be compatible with the new version. About half of my add-ons are not compatible yet and most users who upgrade should expect the same outcome. If these aren’t of any concern, upgrade to 5.0. Happy browsing!

Firefox 5 Beta is Now Available

In case you missed it, the development team behind Firefox recently decided to dramatically increase the rate at which new versions of the browser are released. Coinciding with their statement that Firefox 4, 5, 6, and 7 should all be released in the 2011 calendar year, Mozilla recently released the first beta version of Firefox 5.

Some new features included in Firefox 5 beta include:

  • Added support for CSS animations
  • Added support for switching Firefox development channels
  • The Do-Not-Track header preference has been moved to increase discoverability
  • Improved canvas, JavaScript, memory, and networking performance
  • Improved standards support for HTML5, XHR, MathML, SMIL, and canvas
  • Improved spell checking for some locales
  • Improved desktop environment integration for Linux users

… and many bugfixes, including a 12-year-old bug affecting MathML and a 7-year-old bug affecting the location bar in new tabs.

One thing you’ll notice about applications with rapid release cycles (like Chrome, for example), is that individual updates won’t include terribly exciting features. As mentioned in Jeff Atwood’s fantastic The Infinite Version post:

Chrome has become so fluid that it has transcended software versioning altogether.

And the new features included in the newest version of Chrome? “HTML5 Speech Input API. Updated icon.” Try to contain your excitement.

Judging from reactions of the new Firefox beta, it looks like many users prefer the quick and silent updates of Chrome and hope to see it integrated in Firefox. As noted by Hacker News commenter dpcan:

I install Firefox for friends and family who I want off IE, and this actually embarrasses me a little. If I have to keep telling them to update, they will quit – or end up using REALLY OLD versions of Firefox and we’ll have an IE6 situation all over again soon but with Firefox.

Before updating to beta versions of Firefox, be sure to note that some (or all) of your extensions may not work initially with the new browser. Beta testing new versions of Firefox is a very important part of the software development process, so if you do give it a try, be sure to send in your feedback and report any bugs you find.

Have you given the new version of Firefox a try? Do you prefer Firefox’s update method or Chrome’s? Share with us in the comments.

How to Automatically Install the Newest Version of Firefox in Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope

firefox-logo-wordmark-verticalIt can take quite a while for updated versions of software to make it to Ubuntu’s illustrious software repository (the software must be customized and approved before it can be listed) – which has left Firefox users hanging for months waiting for it to be updated to version 3.5+.  Mozilla doesn’t offer the easy-to-use .deb installer for Firefox, so in this guide I’ll show you how to use Ubuntuzilla to update Firefox without Ubuntu’s repository.

Updating Firefox with Ubuntuzilla

Step 1: Download the correct version of the .deb installer from Ubuntuzilla’s download page.  Once downloaded, install it by double clicking the .deb file and follow the instructions.

Step 2: Close Firefox completely.  This may present some problems since you’re likely reading this guide from within Firefox, so write down the next steps or print this page.

Step 3: Start Ubuntuzilla by opening Terminal (typically under Applications –> Accessories –> Terminal or press ALT+F2 and type gnome-terminal.  Type the following command to start the program: -a install -p firefox

Step 4: Ubuntuzilla will ask you to confirm the correct version of Firefox, choose a language (US English users will want to use option 14), confirm your language choice, and enter your password before installing.  Once you have completed those steps, Ubuntuzilla will backup your current settings and begin downloading and installing the newest version of Firefox.

Step 5: If everything went well, you should see The new Firefox version X.X.X (fill in the blanks) has been installed successfully. Before finishing, Ubuntuzilla will give you the option let it automatically check for updates to Firefox and notify when they are available.

The newest version of Firefox will now be installed – it can be launched from your Applications menu or by typing firefox in Terminal.

Manually Updating Firefox Later

If a new version of Firefox is released and you want to update without performing a full reinstallation, you can use Firefox’s built-in update feature to streamline the process.

Step 1: Close Firefox completely.

Step 2: Enter one of the following commands in Terminal to launch Firefox as a root user:

In Gnome:  gksudo firefox &
In KDE:  kdesu firefox &

Make sure to type gksudo and not just sudo! Sudo will mess up your profile permissions, according to Ubuntuzilla’s wiki page.

Step 3: In Firefox, click Help –> Check for Updates.  If an update is available, it will be downloaded.  Click Restart Firefox Now when prompted.  Firefox will restart as root again, so close and re-open it and you are finished.

Spice Up Firefox’s Appearance with Personas

firefoxFirefox is a great browser, but despite all it’s usefulness it is pretty drab in the aesthetics department.  While the browser has always allowed you to install themes to modify its appearance, they have never been wildly popular nor particularily intuitive for the everyday user.

Personas for Firefox are lightweight, easy-to-install “skins” that can be changed quickly and easily.  New Personas are added every day to the Persona gallery, and users can easily create their own Personas.

Personas have a some great benefits:

  • They can be changed on-the-fly.  While browsing Personas, simply hover your mouse over a Persona to preview it in real time on your browser.  If you like it – simply click “wear this”!
  • Personas can be added, removed or updated by their designers at any time, without requiring a software update.
  • The software is open source!

Want to see what Personas can add to your browser?  Check out the Personas demo from Mozilla or go directly to the Personas page to install it and get started.  Once installed, you can check out the Personas gallery or be creative an make your own.

Personally, I’m really enjoying the Firefox B Persona.  Have a favorite Persona or have you created your own?  Share it in the comments!

Enhance Websites in Firefox with Greasemonkey

Greasemonkey is an extremely versatile add-on for Mozilla Firefox which allows users to install scripts that can make modifications to most HTML-based websites.  Greasemonkey can greatly enhance a website by changing the layout, adding new features, or increasing ease-of-use.

To install Greasemonkey, head on over to the Firefox Add-On Greasemonkey page and click “Add to Firefox”.  After restarting your browser, Greasemonkey will be active and ready to accept scripts (it should be noted that Greasemonkey will have no installed scripts by default). Continue reading “Enhance Websites in Firefox with Greasemonkey”

Thunderbird Fix: All Emails Show Attachment Icon (even if they don’t have attachments)

thunderbirdSoftware Involved: Mozilla Thunderbird, AVG Anti-Virus 8.0/ 8.5

Problem/Symptoms: All incoming emails in Mozilla’s Thunderbird appear as if they have attachments, regardless if they have attachments or not.  The attachment icon disappears immediately after opening the email (as long as the email did not legitimately have an attachment).

Solution: AVG automatically attaches an email certification message to all incoming emails stating, “No virus found in this incoming message.” which Thunderbird interprets as an attachment.  This problem has a very simple fix:

  1. Open the AVG Anti-Virus User Interface. This can be done by right clicking the tray icon.
  2. In the menu bar, click Tools –> Advanced Settings.
  3. Select the E-Mail Scanner tab, check the box next to With attachments only under “Certify email”. (See image below)

This will only add the “No virus found…” message to only emails with attachments, solving the false attachment problem.