Mozilla Firefox

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See also: Open-source | Web browsers | Mozilla



Formerly: Phoenix, Firebird

Web Browser available for a long list of operating systems (Windows, OS X, *Nix, and more), Firefox is free, standards-compliant, and open-source (GPL).

Currently the second most popular and arguably better web browser, Firefox is taken from the Mozilla Suite application, developed for speed and security. Unique to Firefox software, new releases do not often have more new features but instead improved infrastructure. New and unique features are instead generally left to a broad and strong plugins and extension community.

Firefox has become a model for many other open source projects with a focus on extensibility, simplicity, and portability (cross-platform). Its popularity has surprised Microsoft, the open source community, and given way to the possibilities of Web 2.0.

Version 1.0 had 6 million downloads on the 24 November 2004 (from it's non-developer homepage Spread Firefox). As of mid 2006, the software is fast approaching over 50 million downloads.

Firefox vs. Mozilla Suite

Firefox is the direction that the Mozilla project will be heading in as of versions 1.6 and beyond; a simple browser framework supplimented by extensions to add extra features. The result is a low footprint and highly customizable Web solution for both developers and users that holds a variety of advantages over any other browser.

Unlike its founding application Mozilla, it includes only a simple browser component, not a suite of applications (email, chat, HTML editor, etc).

Firefox is faster than Mozilla and takes up around 1/4 the system memory (Mozilla uses ~20 megs versus Firefox's 4 megs) on Windows XP and likely similar numbers on other operating systems. Firefox also has more skins available than Mozilla, despite being a younger project.

A Firefox Firefox Wishlist has been created and will be sent to the developers once a sufficent number has been added.

Quote from the homepage:

"Mozilla Firefox is a redesign of the Mozilla browser component, similar to Galeon, K-Meleon and Chimera, but written using the XUL user interface language and designed to be cross-platform."

Add-ons: extensions, themes (skins) and plugins

  • Firefox extensions
    • Mouse Gestures
    • PrefButtons, new items for Firefox toolbar
    • Session Saver (as seen in Opera)
    • Wikalong (wiki sidebar)
    • IE View - for those few pages that still require IE.
    • SpiderZilla - download entire Web sites.
    • FireFTP - FTP client inside your browser. Very useful and small footprint.
    • AutoHide - for full screen, to hide even the toolbar.
    • Download Statusbar - collapse downloads into the statusbar (a progress meter in base of the window).
    • Cookie Button - immediate control over cookies
    • Prefbar - One of the most popular - common preferences in checkboxes. Images, cookies, flash elements, and more can all be flipped on and off for a given site.
    • UndoCloseTab - re-open accidentally closed tabs. (built-in feature in Firefox 2.0)
    • Autocopy - just highlighting text sends it to the clipboard - no "Ctrl + C" necessary. Ala mIRC.
    • Dict - Reading a page you don't know definitions for? Easy standards-friendly pop-up window format.
  • Firefox plugins
    • ActiveX (for Mozilla and Mozilla Firefox. Careful, possible security hazards. Only use if you have to.)

Project info


Originally titled "Phoenix", the Firebird name was chosen after Phoenix Technologies complained about the similarity of names. Firebird was the proposed solution, but met resistance from the Firebird relational database project. In the end, Mozilla Firefox became the official name of the project.

Useful links:

Bug reporting