Why Firefox 3.1 Beta Rocks

I know I’ve been emoting (anyone got a better alternate?) that I’ve grown too old and cautious to keep testing cutting-edge Beta stuff. That’s not really true. I still use quite a few software in Beta. But only from the developers I trust.

Firefox 3.1 Beta is one such app. But Cautious I remain. And use a Portable version. Not only because I can carry it around on my lifeline USB sticks. But also ‘cos it sooo much easier to keep my home and office versions updated. On Monday’s I carry my home version to work. And on Friday’s bring my now-updated thru the week office copy home to browse over the weekend. The occasional trip out of town has a copy stored on a USB. With a backup Profile uploaded to my FileQube (more about this service later) file sharing account.

So what’s better about Firefox 3.1 Beta vs. Firefox 3.0.4 (the current production release). Well, simply put the Beta is way faster; even before I tweaked its configuration. You can begin by applying TweakGuides Firefox Tweaks. As well as Darrell Norton Speeding Up Firefox The Right Way. And if that’s not enough for you, search Google for ‘firefox tweaks’. And to really make the 3.1 Beta zoom, type ‘about:config’ into the address bar and search for javascript.options.jit.chrome and set it to ‘true’. If you can’t find it, add it as a new Boolean entry. The JIT ensure that script-based web apps like GMail open at warp speed; even of relatively shitty Net connections!

Oh, before I forget: if you are wedded to some absolute can’t live without extensions, it’s unlikely they’ll work on the Beta. Until after you install the Nightly Tester Tools extension to force older extensions to work with your Firefox browser version.

And before you go extension nuts consider that the more the extensions installed. The slower the browser is to load. Which is where using a Portable version really helps. You can have multiple versions with specific add-ons. And a tiny tweak

Locate FirefoxPortableOtherSourceFirefoxPortable.ini.
Copy to the FirefoxPortable folder root folder (contains FirefoxPortable.exe).
Edit FirefoxPortable.ini and change AllowMultipleInstances = true

to the Portable app’s INI file means you can run these multiple variants simultaneously.

But I still don’t understand why Firefox doesn’t include a multiple thread download manager (DownThemAll is my add-in choice). Or a really good ad-blocking option (Adblock is a possible but it really eats memory and is unstable too). Or the ability to enable and disable Flash from the status bar (Flashblock offers better control). In a way the free TheWorld IE browser wrapper scores big-time over Firefox. With such features integrated into the browser.

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