Firefox 32 – a Test in Slackware

Slackware64 14.1 runs the Firefox 24.x ESR (Extended Support Release) out of the box. Over at Scot’s Newsletter Forums, I commented about how I got a chance to see FF 32 in Win 7 on my cousin’s laptop that I was working on earlier this evening. It looked identical to Chromium/Chrome.

Well, I found a SlackBuild script and the source for FF 32 in the Slackware Current repos. COOL! I’m compiling now…

Whew! We’re burning up some CPU cycles in all four cores to compile this baby. It’s been going for over 30 minutes now. It better not error out on me after all this time.

Still building…

Well, that was some compile. On this relatively fast quad core machine it took 1.5 hours to build this app from source. Wow!

Anyway, it’s built and installed in my Slackware now. I’m not so sure I like it. In appearance, it’s a lot like Chromium/Chrome. However, in leanness and efficiency, it’s a totally different beast. Sadly, the old-fashioned extension methods in FF are a bit primitive compared to the slick Chrome Store addon process. Also, the old FF Sync does not work. You have to create a new FF Sync account to use it with FF-32.

I set this new FF up to be quite close to my Chromium/Chrome browsers. I used the very same or similar extensions. I also used my mini-custom dial home page. I have the preferences set up in a similar fashion. There’s still some work to do. I’ll play around with it a bit more tomorrow, maybe. Here’s a look…

Sadly, like I said… it looks like Chromium/Chrome, but it ain’t them. Looks are deceiving.

If you run Slackware and want to try this baby out, a word of advice… you’ll need a good bit of free RAM and a fast processor to compile this from source. The slower your processor, the longer it will take. Be patient.

You can get the FF-32 source tarball and the SlackBuild script in the Current repos on your favorite server. Here’s the server I used…

ftp://slackware.oregonstate.edu/pub/slackware/

You’ll find it in: /pub/slackware/slackware64-current/source/xap/mozilla-firefox/ – 64bit or
/pub/slackware/slackware-current/source/xap/mozilla-firefox/ – 32bit

You know the SlackBuild routine by now, but just in case:

  1. add source tarball and the SlackBuild script to a temp build directory
  2. make the script executable – #chmod +x {script name}
  3. run the script – #sh {script name}
  4. once it’s built (it’ll take some time – go have a smoke, eat some dinner, walk the dog), you’ll find the .txz in the /tmp directory.
  5. to install – #installpkg {package name}.txz

That’s it. Have fun! 🙂

Later…

~Eric

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Pale Moon Browser – a Review

I’ve been married to Mozilla Firefox (and Thunderbird) since I came to GNU/Linux full-time nearly 8 years ago.

I’ve tried other browsers: Epiphany, Midori, IceSkunk — er… I mean Weasel (in Debian), Konqueror (an old fav), etc. I never could get them to do the things that I wanted my browser to do. I used to heavily customize my FF, even using userChrome scripts to manipulate things under the hood. However, lately I’ve gotten FF pretty much just the way I want it. It’s not too bloated. It’s not to graphics intensive to display. It’s just right, in other words.

Unfortunately, sometime in the past few months, FF has developed some CPU cycle hogging tendencies that really are beginning to aggravate me. It usually happens when I first open the browser. Now I clear-all when closing my browser, so I’m starting it back up with minimal overhead. Still, for the first few minutes of operation each day, it gobbles CPU cycles to the point where it actually freezes up while trying to load two or three websites in tabs.

I’ve done all the usual: make sure extensions/plugins are all up-to-date, start in Safe Mode, start with a fresh profile, etc. FF still displays this annoying habit of jamming up CPU cycles when you first start it up. Oh, well… I almost suspect Adobe Flash, but can’t blame everything on them. 😉 When this happened to me first thing this morning, it got me motivated to maybe find a browser alternative to FF for a while.

I already had Opera installed on my Slackware, so I updated it. I then installed Chromium (not Chrome, but close enough) from a SlackBuild from Alien Bob’s (Eric Hameleers) repository. You’ll be getting a substantial donation, Eric, if I can ever get my personal finances in order again. Anyway, I played around with both Opera and Chromium for a while. I’m just daunted by the amount of work involved to get them to do what my FF already does so well. It’s going to be tough to break away from FF, I thought…

Well, Fran (Li’l Bambi @ Scot’s Newsletter Forums) mentioned an alternative that I had heard of, but had forgotten all about up until I saw her posting today. She mentioned The Pale Moon Project. I immediately went over to their site to have a looksee. I was impressed with what I saw there. What really had me jumping for joy was the fact that Pale Moon would work with existing FF profiles. That would save me a lot of work when it comes to setting up. So, I figured I’d give it a try.

A screenie thumbnail of my Pale Moon browser

Since I’ve run Slackware as my primary operating system on all my machines for almost 8 years now, I knew that I’d probably have to compile this on my own from source code that I downloaded from the Pale Moon folks. Well, surprise! Their little tar.bz2 package actually has a minimal install script included. It worked like a champ in Slackware. No muss, no fuss. I had the browser installed in less than a minute. All I had to do after that was copy my default FF profile into the Pale Moon directory and change the profile.ini to point to it.

Whammo! I’m using Pale Moon right away. It opens the very first time looking and functioning 99.9% like my FF; Bookmarks, extensions, addons, plugins all working right off. Impressive! I’ve been using this browser all afternoon today. It hasn’t burped once. The only time I see any significant CPU usage is when scrolling on highly graphic intensive pages, like Bing Image Search or similar, but nowhere near the CPU usage that FF was displaying. It also seems to be a bit faster to respond, but that could just be my imagination.

Of course, I haven’t tested thoroughly, but after the few hours that I have been using Pale Moon, I’d have to say it’s a solid little app. I would definitely recommend it to folks who love their FF, but want something just a wee bit lighter. Pale Moon is based on FF 24.5 ESR, which is perfect for me because that’s exactly the version that Slackware 14.1 is using right now; 100% profile compatibility.

I like it. You might, too. Give it a shot. And if it turns out you do like it, click that little donation button on the Pale Moon website. $5 or so wont put you in the poor house. 🙂

Have fun…

~Eric


Adobe/Google Backroom Boogie

Well, I don’t know who is bending over for whom, but there seems to be some strange bedfellow action going on here.

Gregg Keizer @ ComputerWorld writes:

Adobe today said that it would stop offering direct downloads of Flash Player for Linux, telling users to move to Google’s Chrome browser, which bundles Flash with its updates.

*Emphasis mine.

OK, well then… let me state my case plainly for Adobe: KISS MY ASS! You’ll NOT be dictating to me what/how I use my own equipment in my own home. I don’t think I’ll follow your orders to use Google Chrome. I happen to like Firefox, Opera, and Seamonkey. What’s that you say? No more Flash for me. Unless you figure out a way to disable my current Flash plugin, my Flash will be just fine.

Besides, there are open source alternatives out there. Ain’t it great?!

So, pardon me Adobe for being blunt here, but PISS OFF! And take your not-doing-any-evil-as-long-as-greed-doesn’t-count pal Google along with you.

There. I feel better now.

Later…

~Eric

Further reading: Adobe to Linux users: Get Chrome or forget Flash from ComputerWorld


Browser Testing

Check out the interesting results from this Lifehacker article:

Firefox 7 is set to be released today, and with a big focus on performance, we thought it time for another round of browser speed test. We pitted the four most popular Windows browsers against each other in a battle of startup times, tab-loading times, JavaScript powers, and memory usage, with some surprising results.

OK, so it’s a Windows ONLY test. Still, pretty interesting.

Results:

  1. Opera 11.51: 82%
  2. Firefox 7: 73%
  3. Internet Explorer 9: 47.5%
  4. Chrome 14: 43%

Opera is a damned good browser. Always was. It doesn’t get the respect it deserves, though.

Later…

~Eric