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Posted: 3/11/2005 1:17:44 PM EST
Firefox Is Heading Towards Trouble

March 8, 2005
By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

I love Firefox.

It is, without a doubt, my favorite browser ever, and I've used almost every one that ever rendered a Web page. No matter what the operating system-Windows, Linux, heck, even NetBSD-one of the first things I do now with any of my boxes is to install Firefox on it.

I'm not alone. There have been over 25 million downloads of Firefox since version 1.0 hit the streets in fall of 2004. It has come out of nowhere to shrink Internet Explorer's share of the Web-browser space for the first time in years.

Firefox is also gaining software support. In addition to smaller open-source add-on programs, mainstream helper applications like Yahoo Toolbar and Google Desktop Search are now coming to Firefox.

Last, but never least, Firefox is more secure than Internet Explorer.

So, what's not to like?

Well, several things if you must know.

First, I said Firefox is more secure. That doesn't mean it's perfectly secure. You still must practice safe Web surfing to avoid phishing attacks and the like, and make sure to keep the browser patched up to avoid known security problems like the IDN (International Domain Name) bug.

Unfortunately, Firefox hasn't done a great job of making it easy to get its patches.

Click here to read about Mozilla's recent security upgrade, Firefox 1.0.1.

While Firefox does have an auto-update feature, the rollout of its first security patch, Firefox 1.0.1, was delayed for several days because of server overload problems.

Then, when it was rolled out, it was done slowly-20,000 downloads an hour-so as not to overwhelm the servers.

This is not good. In February, according to WebSideStory, Firefox was up to 5.69 percent of the Web browser market. Mozilla's avowed goal for Firefox is to get it up to 10 percent of the market this year. If Firefox does hit those kind of numbers, its back-end infrastructure must be built up or there's no way it can mount a serious threat to IE.

Quality assurance back at the servers also needs improvement. When the Mozilla Foundation first started pushing the automatic updates to Windows users out on Feb. 28, what actually ended up happening was that the Windows update was served up to Mac and Linux users!

Boy, did that do them a lot of good!

Besides, this 'update' isn't really an update. It's a complete new installation of Firefox 1.0.1. Can you say annoying?

To further confuse Windows users, the default installation of this 'patch' leaves you with entries for both the now-gone older version and the new one in Windows' Add or Remove Programs control panel.

It's a known bug that's been around since June of 2004 and it's still not been fixed. I am not amused.

Next Page: Is Firefox burning out?

It's not just Windows users who are facing a rocky upgrade route: Firefox 1.0.1 wasn't available for Linux and Mac users at all until several days later.

You would hope that as Firefox popularity grows by leaps and bounds, these kind of problems would be fixed. I wish I could be so optimistic.

Mike Connor, a core Firefox developer, writes in his blog, "In nearly three years, we haven't built up a community of hackers around Firefox, for a myriad of reasons, and now I think we're in trouble. Of the six people who can actually review in Firefox, four are AWOL, and one doesn't do a lot of reviews. And I'm on the verge of just walking away indefinitely, since it feels like I'm the only person who cares enough to make it an issue."

If Firefox's reviewing developers, the key people of any open-source project, have burned out on the project, Firefox is in a lot of trouble.

Forget about trying to get new and better versions out. They're not going to be able to keep up on security fixes and bugs. For example, it used to be that if you ran Firefox you never saw annoying pop-up ad windows.

That was then. This is now.

Today, instead of pop-ups, there are sites that feed you pop-unders: advertising windows that deploy under your current Web browser window, which you then see when you close your window.

It's annoying, it needs to be fixed, and if Connor is correct, I don't see that happening anytime soon. A Firefox extension, Adblock, can make the pop-under problem more manageable, but you must set it up manually for it to work.

Forget about Microsoft coming out with IE 7 to challenge Firefox. If Firefox rots from the inside out-the way so many other programs, like the original Netscape browser, did-then it's not going anywhere much beyond where it is now.

How will Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7.0 release challenge Mozilla's Firefox? Click here to read more.

Here's the long and short of it. If the Mozilla Foundation and Firefox friends like Google don't start spending money-right now-to hire more programmers, more project managers and more servers, it won't matter how many ads in the New York Times Firefox supporters take out, Firefox will have already reached its high tide of popularity and we can only wait for the ebb to begin.

eWEEK.com Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been working and writing about technology and business since the late '80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.
Link Posted: 3/11/2005 1:20:33 PM EST
"Never trust a MAN with a hyphenated name. "

This has been a short, terse, yet witty and profound comment for your reading pleasure.

Concept used without permission and stolen blatently from SGTAR15.

Link Posted: 3/11/2005 1:38:00 PM EST


Here's the long and short of it. If the Mozilla Foundation and Firefox friends like Google don't start spending money-right now-to hire more programmers, more project managers and more servers, it won't matter how many ads in the New York Times Firefox supporters take out, Firefox will have already reached its high tide of popularity and we can only wait for the ebb to begin.



idiots! that's the reason IE sucks. there is no way to have more programers than to make it open source.

Link Posted: 3/11/2005 1:38:41 PM EST
[Last Edit: 3/11/2005 6:25:59 PM EST by Max_Mike]
I to believe ForeFox may have reached or is about to reach its peak.

While I use Firefox because of several features it has... but there are serious problems.

1st updating FireFox is something the average user will not do because there is NO update feature. This is a serious problem.

2nd As time passes more sypware and slime are being written for FireFox this was unavoidable. It is now becoming a irritant .

3rd There are repeated reports and growing evidence FireFox developers are hiding flaws they have known about for months.

And finally 25 million downloads of FireFox just ain’t all that impressive especially considering many people like me have downloaded different versions dozens of time. IE still controls upwards of 90% of the US browser market. Meaning there are at most a few million FireFox users.

I suspect if IE 7 features tabbed browsing, modest security improvements, and has MS AntiSpyware integrated then this time next year FireFox will be a fading product. That will be a shame as FireFox was the motivator to get MS off their asses.
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 6:18:03 AM EST
The reality, for me , is that using firefox, I've not had any complete takeovers of my system by spyware. Happened all the time with Microcrap. MS tries to tie everything in together. That super integration gives the fox the keys to the henhouse, it seems.

Firefox is competition and competition is good.
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 6:25:32 AM EST

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:
I to believe ForeFox may have reached or is about to reach its peak.

While I use Firefox because of several features it has... but there are serious problems.

1st updating FireFox is something the average user will not do because there is NO update feature. This is a serious problem.




Ahem.


Link Posted: 3/14/2005 7:14:43 AM EST
Just learn how to secure your PC and you wont have any issues with IE. I tried FirFox once and didnt like it. IE for me. Fast, easy and no issues at all. Just learn how to secure your PC properly and you will be ok.
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 7:25:02 AM EST
I used Opera, Firefox, and limited times MS IE. But the way to avoid virus and such is run Spy-bot that monitors your computer's registery and it will inform you that something wants to make a change to the registery. At that point you can allow or deny the change. If someone wants to install malicious code on your computer they need to make changes to the computer registery.
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 7:30:47 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/14/2005 7:33:29 AM EST by HottNikkels069]
Firefox works great for me and I see no problems. In fact I've witnessed a significant downfall in the amount of Adware I get on my computer using Firefox. The tabbed browsing is great, I get no pop ups, all the plugins I need work, and it has a built in FTP (FireFTP) you can view page source easy, and it works in cooperation with Mozilla Thunderbird for me to use as a Email program :)

I will never go back to IE...


I've never experienced these "pop-unders" someone needs to stop going to pr0n/casin0 sites...

To quote:
"It's not just Windows users who are facing a rocky upgrade route: Firefox 1.0.1 wasn't available for Linux and Mac users at all until several days later."

I have a Linux machine and this machine is a dual boot Windows / Linux computer. Several days later... for a few fixes? Cry me a river...
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 7:33:03 AM EST
I'm just happy to have a reasonable alternative to microsoft

suits me fine and works well

Taffy

Mozilla keep up the good work
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 7:33:38 AM EST
As long as IE uses active X and the fact it is tied directly into the Kernel, it will continue to be a massive security hole.
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 7:35:32 AM EST

Originally Posted By eodtech2000:
As long as IE uses active X and the fact it is tied directly into the Kernel, it will continue to be a massive security hole.



+yup

Link Posted: 3/14/2005 7:59:19 AM EST
For the benefit of those that are not aware, Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is the Linux Magazine equivalent of John Dvorak. His job is to make loud, hyperbolic claims and then cash in on the flame war.

jafager
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 8:10:11 PM EST
There is some brower that starts with an "A" that I cant remember, always had good luck with it and it blocked alot of the pop-ups.
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 8:25:12 PM EST

Originally Posted By FieroLoki:
Just learn how to secure your PC and you wont have any issues with IE. I tried FirFox once and didnt like it. IE for me. Fast, easy and no issues at all. Just learn how to secure your PC properly and you will be ok.



+1 I tried Firefox, didnt like it, it kept losing my settings, the last straw was when it lost all my bookmarks.

I'm running IE with the new Microsoft anti spyware beta, it has blocked all spyware for the last three months.
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 8:36:34 PM EST
I never had a spyware problem with IE even going to many free porn sites
but I still prefer FF
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 8:38:17 PM EST
[Last Edit: 3/14/2005 9:06:27 PM EST by techdudenc]
.
Link Posted: 3/14/2005 8:45:31 PM EST

Originally Posted By Max_Mike:
I to believe ForeFox may have reached or is about to reach its peak.

While I use Firefox because of several features it has... but there are serious problems.

1st updating FireFox is something the average user will not do because there is NO update feature. This is a serious problem.



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