Install Firefox 3.0 Beta 2 on Gutsy Gibson - Adventures in Switching to Linux

Friday, December 21, 2007

Install Firefox 3.0 Beta 2 on Gutsy Gibson

Wohoo!! Firefox 3 Beta 2 was released on December 18th with a lot of buzz. Download the latest beta here. I am finally getting around to running it (I am writing this post using it) and so far I am loving it. I am not going to go into all the details of what is new, I will let the Firefox 3.0 Beta 2 release notes tell you that.

I do wish it was easier to install on Ubuntu though. I first tried the Ubuntu Forums which suggested I use Synaptic to install the firefox-granparadiso package. That would have worked well except that didn't install Beta 2 but rather Gran Paradiso Alpha 8. Gran Paradiso releases are quite rough and I assume the name change during alpha development is to keep overly eager users from running something that isn't ready for anything more than testing. I also imagine there is some repository that has it but finding that would have been more work than the time it would have saved using apt-get.

Anyway, to install Firefox 3 beta 2, I did it the old fashioned way. I downloaded the tar.bz2 archive, extracted it, stuck it in my home folder and then created an icon for it on my top panel that runs /home/forrest/firefox-3.0b2/firefox.

When I first fired up beta 2 I got a nice little dialog letting me know that some of my extensions are not compatible. I expected this. I was actually surprised that some of the extensions did work. I know that there is an extension manifest that allows you to specify which Firefox versions your plugin supports so many of these may still work but the meta data tells Firefox they don't. I remember that being a BIG problem when 1.5 came out. It was less of a problem when 2.0 came out though because extension developers were more prepared for it.

Save Session does has an updated version that was then downloaded and installed but at this point I don't care about it anymore. Firefox 3 makes the Save Session add on obsolete with the long awaited (by me) feature that lets you save you current open browser windows and tabs.

Save Session is a feature that should have been implemented in version 2.0. All the internals were there when they implemented Session Restore so you wouldn't loose your open pages after a crash or a required restart to load a new Add-on. Also, about the time Firefox 2.0 came out, so did IE7 which does have a save tabs feature. Before save session I found myself occasionally opening up Task Manager/System Monitor to forcefully kill the process and save my open tabs.

Addblock plus, Gmail Notifier and StumbleUpon add-ons all still work. As long as those first two are still working, I'm not going to complain until a week or so after the final release for the other add-ons.

One fun thing to point out before the obligatory screen shot is the new first run page is really funny. And now for the screen shot:

And one final note since I just realized it. The improved GTK support is very nice. "[Improved in Beta 2!] Integration with Linux: Firefox's default icons, buttons, and menu styles now use the native GTK theme." Now the browser visually feels more at home with the rest of my desktop. Also, when I change themes around with Firefox open, it doesn't render the entire browser useless for a minute or so. I don't change themes that frequently but it was annoying if you change your theme while Firefox 2.0 was up and running.

Reviews and other thoughts (including some beta 1 stuff)

Update: Flash is not working. I am not sure what I need to do to get it working but it makes you realize that a lot of sites use Flash!

Update 2: I moved Firefox from my home directory to /opt and also got Flash working. To get Flash working I downloaded it from Adobe and then just copied to /opt/firefox-3.0b2/plugins and restarted.

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