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The end of the road for Firefox 2
Mozilla plans rapid abandonment of 2.x branch

 9:51 pm on Nov 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

By some accounts, the Firefox browser is now responsible for a full 20% of web traffic. As the number of Firefox users grows, so does the need for top-quality support; 20% makes for a large number of potential attack points. So it is interesting to note that Mozilla is now planning to end Firefox 2 support in the near future, perhaps before the end of the year. This change could leave a lot of users - and not just Firefox users - in a difficult position.

(...) There is another important aspect to this story, though: this decision will affect users well beyond those who use Firefox. The end of Firefox 2 support will also bring an end to support for the Gecko 1.8.1 platform. And this version of Gecko is used by several applications beyond Firefox, including Camino, SeaMonkey, Sunbird, Miro, Instantbird, and Thunderbird. All of these platforms currently use Gecko - the soon-to-be-discontinued version of Gecko - for HTML rendering.



 5:49 am on Nov 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

I don't know any IT and web people who use IE anymore

I spent last Spring/Summer working for a UK NHS Trust. In common with 95%+ of the UK it is a solid M$-house & uses IE6 throughout - approaching 4,000 users.

I do not think that folks outside of the UK realise just how successful M$ has been in locking government/large commercial houses to M$ products. Including MSIE, of course.


 1:29 pm on Nov 18, 2008 (gmt 0)


Yes. There seems to be an underappreciation of just how many people have no choice at their place of employment. I come from an intranet background at a very large govt agency. All IE. Tens of thousands of people.


 1:47 pm on Nov 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

And that is why you don't use a non-commercial product (for longevity)

Everyone slags off MS browser etc. but at least it is developed and supported by a commercial entity.

You can't have your cake and eat it - when the going gets tough you actually need to stop messing about and make a commercial reason for something.

Good stuff - can't stand open source.

Huh? You do realize that the reason they are discontinuing Firefox 2 is because Firefox 3 was released a while ago?

Even your hero Microsoft still does not support earlier IE browser versions as they are antiquated and insecure.


 10:51 am on Nov 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

Users need to understand that updating their software is no more optional than checking the water in their car radiator.

Programmers need to understand that they should write better code.

When Firefox 3 came out I tried it (and dumped it because of the "awful bar"). I can't remember exactly when that was, but I do remember reading that support for Firefox 2 would be discontinued in November 2008, so this story isn't exactly big news.



 4:48 pm on Nov 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

When Firefox 3 came out I tried it (and dumped it because of the "awful bar").

You do know that you can have Firefox 3's location bar change back to Firefox 2's using some preference changes. You can even get a theme to use the old back and forward buttons instead of the keyhole layout.

That's one of the nice things about Firefox, it's highly customizable.


 7:24 pm on Nov 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

You do know that you can have Firefox 3's location bar change back to Firefox 2's using some preference changes.

The last time I checked, you can't!

I believe you can change the appearance using an extension and I believe you can change settings to stop favorites being searched, but the old Firefox 2 algo vanished completely when Firefox 3 was released. If you know different, I'm all ears.



 7:38 pm on Nov 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

^^^ Not sure about using user preferences.... But guess what! There is an add-on for it.


I won't slack any browsers but add-ons are awesome and are a big reason I use FF.


 7:39 pm on Nov 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

I believe that this combination of settings will disable the favorites and history items from showing up in Firefox 3 final and later:

And you can get the old look with the oldbar extension:


 9:53 pm on Nov 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

But, the fact remains, the location bar algo of Firefox 2 is still not available (or wasn't a few weeks ago when I looked). You can switch things off and you can change the appearance but you cannot restore the old behaviour - not unless someone has taken the old Firefox 2 source code and recreated it and I don't think they have.

Of course, all of this begs the question "what on earth were they thinking?" It's all well and good creating new behaviours but it's disrespectful of users to not provide the old behaviour. It's the sort of attitude that I expect of Microsoft not open-source programmers.

To me, this single aspect of Firefox is (was) it's best feature and they broke it. I'll probably switch to Opera - not because it's any better in this regard but I much prefer Opera's download interface.



 10:20 pm on Nov 19, 2008 (gmt 0)

The biggest difference between 2 and 3 is that 3 takes into account bookmarks and when you visited the sites. Those settings I just gave you turn off all of those features if you'd like.

The vast majority like the new location bar. It's far more functional and finds the sites you're looking for very easily. I'd wager that for over 99% of people it finds the site they want better than the old way due to a number of factors. As a hard-core geek who wants it exactly the way you want it (like a good percentage of the folks on this board) you can customize with hidden prefs, extensions, etc to a point. But Firefox did not achieve 20% by attempting to be all things to all people.

The most customizable browser out of the box is Opera in terms of base settings available to you, but it appeals to a very specific segment of people and will probably never exceed 1%ish of users. And it doesn't have extensions that allow further customization.

And I'd be willing to bet that you could code an extension to use FF2's algo in the location bar if you wanted to, but there's probably not enough interest among developers and users to do it. As an example, the oldbar extension which makes it look like FF2's results visually only gets a few thousand downloads a week, far less than 0.1% of the number of downloads of Firefox 3 per week.

[edited by: CritterNYC at 10:25 pm (utc) on Nov. 19, 2008]


 3:03 pm on Dec 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

Did you know that the content on webmasterworld looks exactly the same in IE6 as it does in FireFox3? Really, it does. I wouldn't lie about a thing like that.

Are you sure? While I don't think I've ever looked at WebmasterWorld in IE, I do know that the content of many, many, sites looks very different in different browsers.

It's always been that way - different browsers are based on different interpretations of standards* - and the problem is probably worse now than ever with that new development (CSS - maybe you've read about it?).

And, of course, browser differences are not only about appearance; there are other differences, such as speed, add-ons, tab management, bookmark management.

I'm surprised you didn't know some of that already - but if you've only ever used IE6, I suppose that's forgiveable!

*Except IE - Microsoft fought to be involved in agreeing standards, and then frequently chose to ignore the standards they agreed. But I digress.


 3:23 pm on Dec 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

I agree with Demaestro's sentiments entirely. Users need to understand that updating their software is no more optional than checking the water in their car radiator.

I agree, too. But not entirely.

Using outdated software really isn't the same as, say, sticking with last years Ford Edsel (or whatever they call it now).

The Internet changes continuously, particularly as regards security, and a browser does need to be reasonably up to date. Choosing to stay with outdated and partially obsolete software isn't quaint - it's seriously misguided.

But, having said that, phasing out support for FF2 so soon after the not-universally-welcomed launch of FF3, is a geeky decision that does FF (and Open Source) no favours at all.

It's not quite as loopy as M$ trying to force everyone onto Vista, but it's close. And even M$ eventually lightened up a little.


 3:25 am on Dec 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

And so today:

That’s it for Firefox 2… Update to Firefox 3 Today!

Mozilla is not planning any further security & stability updates for Firefox 2, and recommends that you upgrade to Firefox 3 as soon as possible. It’s free, and your settings and bookmarks will be preserved.

Also, the Phishing Protection service will no longer be available for Firefox 2 users. Firefox 3 offers a free Phishing and Malware Protection service, which will continue to protect you from online scams and attacks.

I just checked Analytics for a "general public" site that I run: 17.3% used Firefox in the past 30 days, up from 16.6 in the previous period.

Of those 17.3% (== 100%)

76% has been using FF3 in the past 30 days, vs 74% from Oct 17 - Nov 17
23% is still using FF2, vs 25%
1% is on FF1

Is Mozilla really this stupid? A substantial segment of their users does not want FF3!


 5:34 pm on Dec 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

On my home desktop computer, I have tried FF3 twice. Both times there was an odd bold font in the menus and dialog boxes. Very annoying - so I uninstalled, and returned to FF2.

Anyone any idea what to do about it?


 8:55 am on Dec 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

In agreement with Demaestro and Vincevincevince, I think using the latest version of any software is great. But what can we do in a situation whereby you start experiencing unusual problems after upgrade. Since I upgraded to firefox 3.0.5 I've seen my browser crashed several times a month. Not only that, incompatibility issues is more prevalent in 3.0.5 than in the earlier version. But I still prefer firefox to IEX any way.


 3:49 pm on Dec 23, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hello inetguru, and welcome to the forums.

You've summed up the dilemma that companies sometimes create for end users pretty well. In this case, I do think Mozilla will get FF3 straightened out pretty quickly. I know my problems with the earlier releases have now gone away.


 6:08 am on Dec 24, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Tedster, Thanks so much.

Nice meeting you guys in the forum. I guess this community should be a wonderful place to be. As per mozilla and its firefox, I hope they do as you rightly said. FF3 needs urgent attention. It could be quite frustrating at times seeing companies disappointing the end users of their products.

Merry Christmas to all celebrants in the forum!

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