back to article Firefox 15 offers fewer leaks, more frags

Another month, another Firefox update. But although Mozilla's breakneck release pace can be bewildering for some users, new Firefox versions continue to bring performance, stability, and security improvements – and in the case of the newly released Firefox 15, some nice goodies for gamers. "Although its roots have been around …

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Meh

cleanup?

All well and good (except perhaps the auto-update), but have they made it stop dropping those damn "C:\nppdf32Log\debuglog.txt" files all over the place? The last update didn't.

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"... thousandths of milliseconds."

Or 'microseconds', as they are called.

Why do they need microsecond timing on graphics generation when the viewable result changes only about every 20 milliseconds (roughly)?

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Re: "... thousandths of milliseconds."

Hiya- the article didn't state 'viewable results', but rather 'interactive content'. In the case of a game, you would want the underlying physics engine to be at a far greater temporal resolution than the output, otherwise you would have cumulative rounding errors when game elements interact. You probably wouldn't need as much as Mozzilla are crowing about, but it doesn't hurt to build in some headroom, does it? Otherwise, you might start making comments in the style of "No one will need more than 637 kb of memory for a personal computer"

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Re: "... thousandths of milliseconds."

Why do they need microsecond timing on graphics generation when the viewable result changes only about every 20 milliseconds (roughly)?

Possibly because more complex games will involve multiple rendering passes, probably with tunable parameters for LOD and the like, and being able to budget accurately can make all the difference between being able to hit your window for accurately syncing to the next frame update or not. Just a little drift and you end up losing frames. You might also have to account for vsync, and being off there will really screw things up.

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Didn't a previous Reg article...

... suggest we all disable WebGL as soon as possible?

OOPS! My bad, I didn't realise the claims were disputed a week later...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/20/webgl_/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/16/webgl_security_threats_redux/

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Seen any use? Even advertisers ignore.

Having seen opera support all and more on mobile, I have yet to see one, single, real usage of webgl and especially standard cam input support.

All poor opera mobile got was "OMG changed permissions, 1 star!" comments from Android idiots who doesn't get a single clue from what opera and Firefox tries to achieve. Save the ignorant from spyware apps.

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Unhappy

Easy update?

"the new code achieves this by downloading updates in the background, installing them alongside the old version of Firefox, and then applying them with a simple, fast file-copy operation when the user is ready to make the switch."

From 14 to 15 it's still the same as before - got to Help/About, click "Apply Update", and it restarts - with the same version number as before and no error or warning message.

No mention at all that you need to switch to a Windows account with Administrator privileges, then wait for the update to download again because it can't see the copy it already downloaded.

Do they really assume that every Windows user runs with Administrator privileges as standard? Or that every user who doesn't knows to switch accounts although they give no message about that?

(Yes, I do know to do that - but I still check to see if they've fixed it yet.)

Still, I suppose it's possibly better than the programs which give a totally weird error which has nothing to do with the needed privileges - and far too many programs do that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Easy update?

On my mac appears that it tries a partial update, fails and dowloads the whole lot. No need for admin though, which I find a bit disappointing.

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Re: Easy update?

If you know enough to separate your admin from your user account, I see no reason to remind you of that fact. If you don't know enough to switch the accounts, chances are you're already running in admin mode anyway. Sad but true.

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Re: Easy update?

@Christoph

"No mention at all that you need to switch to a Windows account with Administrator privileges, then wait for the update to download again because it can't see the copy it already downloaded."

Ah, that old problem again. I don't know why the Mozilla folks apparently refuse to see this one.

However, forewarned by your post I fired up FF in a non-admin account in Windows 7 to see what happened here.

It immediately took me to an update page for the mobile version, but there was a Desktop tab to click there, and I downloaded the Windows version from that (17 MB). In the downloads window I right clicked on the download, and chose Open Downloads folder.

From there I could right click on the downloaded file and choose to run it with Admin rights. That ran OK.

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Anonymous Coward

Fire what?

Ohhhhh, is that STILL alive?

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Apparently it is. Some people must like really like slow, bloated and buggy browers.

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Anonymous Coward

I see the FF fanbois are out and actively downvoting.

I used to be a heavy user of Firefox, but tbh is increasingly becoming an irrelevance in my day. Like IE & Opera, it is only let out of it's cage for testing purposes now.

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Anonymous Coward

> "I see the FF fanbois are out and actively downvoting"

Or maybe some people on this site see an obvious troll that is not adding any value, simply dissing some software (like many do in IT) and feel that things ought to be more constructively handled?

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Ok, next question

How far along is this in their Boot to Gecko project? I really hope it comes along fairly quickly because it is just what the mobile market needs. If it's so easy and performs so well it could be quite a kick in the app shop nuts to Apple, Google & Amazon. I purposefully left MS off the list because they seem to be in stealth mode even with all the hype.

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Android needs esr too

Although everyone likes innovation, the size and no backwards compatibility for mobile is and will be an annoyance especially for enterprise.

I am away from Mozilla community for a long time with bad memories but if you have a word there, know how to intervene, push for an ESR release for mobile. The powerful and tested extension tech with a stable version can be big deal for both Mozilla and Android in enterprise.

A central configuration, deployment tech can come later. Better hurry or Microsoft can surprise everyone _again_.

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Anonymous Coward

Tried the game - total fail

On Windows 7, it crashed Firefox 15 every time. Tried Chrome, and the game wouldn't finish loading - just stuck on "Preparing data".

HTML5, it's the future. God help us...

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kit
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Re: Tried the game - total fail

I have quiet different experience with firefox 15. After download the latest flash player , I open no fewer 5 flash players at the same time for hours without a single flash on a 64bit window 7. Yesterday I used firefox 15 beta 6 from 8am to 3am 18 hours straight witout a single crash.

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Re: Tried the game - total fail

Worked flawlessly here, driver problem?

Are you using an intel chipset or old graphics drivers?

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kit
Go

Re: Tried the game - total fail

Indeed, it is a intel system with a 22nm ivybridge cpu, I try to keep the driver up to date from time to time. what is interesting with firefox 15 , it is faster than chrome when visiting web pages, though it's startup time is a little bit slower, but no more than a second or two.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tried the game - total fail

Worked flawlessly here, driver problem?

Are you using an intel chipset or old graphics drivers?

AMD Radeon 5870 with the latest Catalyst 12.8 drivers, on a fully patched Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit (Intel i7-870 with 8GB RAM).

Firefox 15 is stable in every other sense, but fails spectacularly with every attempt to play this HTML5 game.

Which raises the question of how wise it is to shoe horn into the web browser functionality that it was simply never designed to support. I can see major security vulnerabilities arising out of this kind of development, whether that be in the broswer, the OS, or now the graphical hardware drivers - it just adds weak link, another vector for attack.

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fast file-copy operation

Who said that, and WTF? If they want it to be fast and simple, why aren't they using a simple fast file-rename operation?

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Re: fast file-copy operation

Because of the risk of a race condition. It's similar to a problem ext3 had when you tried to overwrite. The point is that the process of overwrite places the critical files in flux. Suppose a sudden STOP or power failure were to occur at that very instant. Think Murphy. When the system comes back online, it doesn't recall there was an overwrite in progress, so you essentially have a half-mangled file that's good for nothing. Thing is, with the copy operation structured as it is, you have a redundancy: you still have an intact version of the new files, so you can just try again. You only remove the installation copies once the overwrite is verified.

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Boffin

Is the browser really the best "app engine?"

While it was interesting to watch that video demo of BananaBread running in Firefox 15, I couldn't help but pause for a moment as ask myself why this kind of stuff is being done at all. Or maybe the more correct question to ask in this situation is should it really be done at all? Before you make up your minds and decide to down-vote me, please hear me out.

If you look back at what HyperText Markup Language was originally designed to be, it was supposed to be an easy way to create formatted documents that linked to one another on the Internet. In other words, it was supposed to be a more flexible competitor the the Gopher protocol. It was very simple, easy to learn, and just about anyone could figure out how to do it. That's why back in the 90's so many people were able to create their own Anglefire, Tripod, Geocities, etc. web pages-- because the barrier to entry was extremely low. I mean think about it-- even your grandparents could figure out that you could start a new paragraph with "p" tags, make your text bold with "b" tags, create a heading with "h1," etc. But somewhere along the lines someone forgot that HTML documents were supposed to be documents, and came up with the idea of "web applications." Soon, in the name of making these web applications act more like native desktop applications, we started seeing technologies spring up such as JavaScript, VBScript, ActiveX, Java Applets, Flash, and more.

This slow and gradual perversion of what web pages were supposed to be has continued over the past decade or so, and now we are getting to the point where we have WebGL and Canvas allowing us to create amazing full-blown games in browsers, Google's NaCl plugin that allows you to actually run native code in browsers, and the "Boot to Gecko" and "Chrome OS" projects that are trying to reshape the browser into a computer's entire operating system! Has anyone ever stopped for a moment and thought to themselves that maybe they have taken this "lets run everything in the browser" idea a bit too far? If you're getting to the point where your web application needs to run native code in the browser using the NaCl plugin you probably should have just written the entire application as a native application anyway, because you're even losing HTML5's one strength, cross platform support, once you start using native code in your web app! This wasn't what the browser was supposed to be-- it has been slowly repurposed from an application that was designed to deliver formatted documents to now practically being an operating system running on top of your operating system. And all of this technological advancement was achieved through kludge built on top of kludge built on top of kludge.

The most ironic thing of all is that the more that the W3C and the WHATWG try to make the Web act like a platform for native applications the more that they are losing potential users to actual native applications. Smart phones and tablets are steadily becoming the most used computing devices, right? And what do they have on them for everything? Apps. If you want to check your e-mail you don't visit your webmail account using your smart phone's browser-- you use the phone's e-mail app. Do you use your phone's browser to visit youtube.com to watch videos? Heck no, you use the phone's YouTube app. Do you want to read the New York Times? How about check Facebook? There are apps for that too! Pretty much the only time you use your smart phone's browser for anything is during those rare times when there actually isn't already an "app for that." Considering the fact that web applications, due to their lowest common denominator approach so that they can be (in theory anyway) cross-platform, will always only be a second best solution when compared to purpose-designed native apps. With the traffic of the entire World Wide Web starting to decline in favor of native Internet-connected apps, it almost makes me wonder if it is wise to still try to turn the Web into something that mimics these full-blown native "apps" when, by their very design, Web apps will always be outperformed by their dedicated native counterparts.

Look, I am no Luddite. I am in no way saying that we should bring the Web back to the days of 1997 with HTML 3.2. As a long time Web user, and someone who has done both server-side and client-side web development professionally, I can definitely say that I have benefited a lot from many of the advancements made to browsers over the years. But when I read about advances such as WebGL, the NaCl plug-in, and other such technologies that essentially turn the browser into more and more of a full-blown virtual machine with a mini OS, I can't help but wonder if all of that new functionality could have been better implemented on a platform that was actually intended to perform those functions instead of coercing what was supposed to be a document viewer to do it. You know, like creating a whole new cross-operating system platform designed from the start for these kinds of applications instead of continually tacking more and more features and API's onto a legacy document markup language and the application that was meant to render that markup language. Of course then again I guess that that was what Sun Microsystems was originally trying to do with Java and the Java Virtual Machine back in the 90's, and apparently that didn't work out so well either or else we wouldn't have felt the need to create full-blown Web applications complete with local storage, Web Workers, and real-time 3D with HTML5 in the browser to begin with-- we would all be running Internet connected purpose-built Java apps instead.

In any case, I'm not saying it's wrong or right to add capabilities such as WebGL into the browser. I am personally still very much divided on the idea myself, and I can see both opportunities and pitfalls from the additions of such features. All I am saying is that we are getting to the point where we are trying to do so much in the browser now that we should start asking ourselves a little bit more frequently about why what we are trying to do needs to be done in the browser, and if it actually should be done in the browser at all. After all, there are already huge swaths of people that are using add-ons like NoScript and disabling Flash, Java, Silverlight, and Shockwave as it is to cut down on some of the Web's current in-your-face feature clutter and unwanted interactivity. To these people, Canvas animations, WebGL animations, and HTML5 videos are going to become that much more annoying stuff that they are just going to have to disable and block. Just because these new features are being defined by the W3C doesn't mean that they won't be used by advertisers to annoying ends like their past proprietary counterparts!

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Re: Is the browser really the best "app engine?"

"Just for fun" is as good a reason as anything else and better than most

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Re: Is the browser really the best "app engine?"

Yeah, it is. As I understand it, making the browser into an OS is a way to break Microsoft's desktop OS monopoly, and the invention of cloud connected services helps break their file format monopoly which they use to maintain the office wares monopoly, which they use to maintain the OS monopoly.

New problems for old.

But at least they're standards based problems in a market open to all competitors, who can work to offer solutions instead of having the overhead of decoding Microsoft's latest obfuscated file format, or being disadvantaged by not having special secret APIs.

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Facepalm

Re: Is the browser really the best "app engine?"

"Yeah, it is. As I understand it, making the browser into an OS is a way to break Microsoft's desktop OS monopoly."

Really? A web browser is the best way to "break Microsoft's desktop OS monopoly?" And what are you going to run this Microsoft-slaying web browser on top of? Windows? Windows is the OS that some 90% of the Web's users are going to be running any desktop browser on, so Microsoft's really losing out big there! LOL!

Geez man, if you're going to bring up wanting to break Microsoft's dominance of the desktop OS market, how about arguing to try to combat it with another desktop OS? You know, so that you're actually trying to fight a battleship with another battleship instead of trying to fight a battleship with only a small rowboat that has been painted "battleship gray?" You see, back in 1991 this guy named Linus Torvalds created this thing called the Linux Kernel, and with the help of some great tools, window managers, and other bits from various other teams and people there are quite a lot of nice desktop OS's that are out there based on it now. You know, like Linux Mint, Fedora, Debian, Mageia, Pardus, etc. You don't need to try to force the entire role and functionality of Linux onto a web browser. In fact you shouldn't. Let the web browser load web pages and the OS act like an OS-- that's what they're there for! Trying to make what once was essentially just a remote document renderer into something that can run interactive real-time 3D games, have local storage API's, and even run native code when NaCl is used is really redundant, and the Web probably isn't the most ideal service to try to piggyback all of that increased functionality onto, especially when so much of it can be done so much more efficiently and effectively through purpose-built native applications.

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Fewer and fewer new features every release

Anyone else notice the trend towards gradual nothingness in their releases? Compare the current release tracking page to this time last year:

https://wiki.mozilla.org/Features/Release_Tracking

https://wiki.mozilla.org/index.php?title=Features/Release_Tracking&oldid=345647

Has the rapid release schedule resulted in them gradually running out of new things to add? I guess this is a good thing maybe.

At least FF15 fixed the annoying bug with the latest version of flash in that flash content would disappear/glitch out every time you scrolled the page. Mildly annoying to say the least.

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Anonymous Coward

Palemoon

www.palemoon.org

that is all

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Unhappy

Buggy?

Installed this morning and started to watch Ch4 Paralympics and I've had lockup after lockup. Either Channel 4's online video has problems or more likely, this version of Firefox is a bag of spanners.

As there's no way I'll go back to IE, they need to sort this out soon.

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