Mozilla Firefox 3.0 Alpha 2

The Mozilla Corporation have today uploaded the follow-up to their hugely popular web browser, Firefox. Despite not being featured on the Firefox homepage the files have all been uploaded to the Mozilla FTP site. English versions of Linux, Macintosh and Windows versions are available.

Link: Firefox Home | Forum Discussion (Thanks Rado354)
Download: Gran Paradiso Alpha 2

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Because many things in Firefox 3 are being rewritten. Many big things. Like:

  • The reflow branch: 2 years in the making, an enourmous effort that has squashed 100s of rendering bugs and cleaned up the code no end.
  • New Threadmanager: Which controls how various threads inside firefox run
  • Cairo: A new way of firefox drawing its graphics. Maintained by a totally seperate bunch of dedicated devs, this will allow firefox users to concentrate on firefox and not use their time getting the physical drawing process of firefox working on all platforms. Also paves the way for hardware-accelerated OpenGL rendering.
  • Units Fix: Which should get rid of all off-by-one rendering issues that firefox sometimes stumbles over, and also allow for accurate rendering on any platform (handheld, normal monitor, massive HD screens) at any DPI. Leads to proper zooming of page content from within the browser and whilst printing.
  • New Garbage Collector: Which will allow some memory leaks that are currently hard to address get fixed.
  • Proper Aqua UI Widgets on the Mac
  • Places: An SQL-Lite way the browser can store and retrieve data from the local machine. Which is more error-proof than the existing way, faster, uses less memory and which has caused a lot of excitement in the development community because it opens up some very interesting possibilities.

There's no way such grand changes like these could land on a stable branch (eg: 2.0); such wide-ranging changes always carry with them regressions and problems, so they will go into Firefox 3. And these are just some of the infrastructure changes that will be done. Afterwards, the Firefox 3 Requirements will also get implemented.

These large changes are the only way that Firefox's long-term stability and security can be improved like you want. But really, I doubt firefox is going to get bloated. Its mission statement is still to "Deliver the right set of features - not too many or too few. (The goal is to create a useful browser, not a minimal browser.)".

And if you think all that's a lot of work, Firefox 4/Mozilla 2 will be an enormous total rewrite of huge areas of Firefox. (ATM Firefox is built on a pretty old codebase and has remained backwards compatible. Firefox 4 will be breaking all backwards compatible code so it can all get rewritten to make it smaller and faster and more efficient.)

whats the point in another browser release? ... REALLY!?!?!

cause firefox 2 is ALREADY GOOD ENOUGH! ... why bother with more and more features which are rather useless... i say leave "extra" features etc to extentions.... cause like i say firefox already does pretty much everything thats needed from a webbrowser. god, i sure hope they dont turn this into bloated **** in a few years time... so far it's still good but usually stuff that keeps "adding" stuff to it usually one way or another ends up being bloated.

i think they should spend there time making firefox 2 faster and more stable etc and fixing security flaws and looking at the current code to make it faster etc etc ... than waste it with more or less bs updates to something that dont need to be updated with features.

Yeah, that's what Microsoft thought with IE6, and look where it ended them -- losing market share to Firefox. Same with the old Netscape to an extent. You stop working on a product, others will fill in for them.

When the reflow branch we merged back into the truck thousands of misrenders were corrected. There is MANY ways Firefox 2 could and HAS been improved without adding "useless" features. Hell you most likely think the bookmark/history systems are the same between firefox 1/2/3. Even the fact they are vastly different most likely does not sit well with you but Firefox 1's mork db was near impossible to work with by 3rd party software.
There is huge reworkings in the backend, the entire renderer is now different to fix/allow fixing of bugs on numerous platforms.
Huge things change and for the better, if you do not understand all these so be it, but please do not bitch and moan about other peoples grand efforts.

Firefox 9 in two years :D

No seriously, I am not using it anymore (because I am fine with Safari), but as a web designer I still like to see how browsers keep up to date. It's always fun to see that my website functions in more and more browsers :P

I thought it was x.y.z. x is a major code rewrite + many additional features and functioning; y is a feature implementation; and z is a bug fix. They already jumped onto 2.0 prematurely, I hope they don't pull an AOL on us and release a new major version every 6 months.

Please Note

  • The browser may consume excessive amounts of memory after prolonged browsing. In order to better handle memory issues, a new garbage collection system has been implemented. However, as the process of integrating Gecko into this system is still ongoing, there are some known leaks that result in large memory usage when the browser is used for a long period of time. A restart should resolve the problem, which will be fixed in Alpha 3.
  • The Cairo graphics system has drastically changed the way all text and images are rendered from previous versions of Gecko, so occasional misrenderings of non-latin scripts and fonts may occur.

And also It's not really a Firefox Alpha 2 release. It's Grand Paradiso, a Firefox trunk alpha to show infrastructure changes. There's no new user-facing features here at all. Once the Firefox 3 Product Requirements Document has been signed off and work starts on them, then you'll see *proper* firefox alpha builds (that will be named and branded Firefox).

So in the future, expect another round of 'Firefox Alpha 1/2/3 Released' articles.. which will be proper Firefox alphas, not gecko (Grand Paradiso) alphas like these are.

They are finally fixing the memory usage problem? About time. I have plenty of memory, but 130-200MB's of ram for 2 or 3 hours of browsing is just pathetic.