Recently I’ve been having problems with Firefox taking an age to boot up. I’ve more or less fully migrated to Google Chrome, but still need Firefox for some pages that don’t quite work properly in Chrome. Thing is, it’s taking about a minute to load what used to be a quick browser.

After a dig, I found this little solution called Speedyfox. It is a tiny download (0.3Mb) and essentially all it does it optimise the Firefox database. It’s Windows-only at present but it’s knocked my load time down to nearer 10 seconds. Much more acceptable!

Oh, yeah. How much does it cost?

Nothing. My kind of price point.

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Firefox and Chrome have no security

Windows Internet Explorer

Microsoft have a nice new page telling you how great IE8 is and how it’s miles better than Firefox and Google Chrome. Well, they would say that. The “facts” they’ve put forward, however, are dubious to say the least.

Apparently Chrome doesn’t have crash recovery or tab isolation. Well, as far as I was aware, tab isolation (where if one of your web pages crashes, it doesn’t take the whole browser down with it) was one of the major features of Chrome. This makes crash recovery less of an issue, but if the whole thing does go belly up, then trust me – Chrome will recover, send info to Google should you choose and then ask you if you want all your pages back. If that’s not crash recovery, I don’t know what it.

Firefox, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t have tab isolation. Although it may be in v3.5 which is due out at the end of this month. This version also features “private browsing” where your history and so forth aren’t recorded on your PC. This is to secure your privacy. And ensure you can look at porn without your wife finding out. According to Microsoft’s little table, Firefox doesn’t have this… which is true for about 2 weeks. Chrome, on the other hand, does already feature it. If you’re using Chrome, try hitting Ctrl+****+N and you’ll find yourself in “incognito”.

OK, technically the table says that IE8 has “InPrivate Browsing and InPrivate Filtering”. Given these are copyrighted terms then it’s fair to say the others don’t have them. For some reason, though, MS is effectively saying their privacy is better than the others’, but not justifying it.

Security: IE8 has it, the other two don’t. Well, unless you add extensions. A fair point “out of the box”, but the sheer volume of plugins available for Firefox alone says that it’s got better protection. If you want more protection, download AVG‘s free antivirus. It offers a cobble-on for IE and FF which protects against malware.

As for “compatibility”, for some reason MS are claiming that IE8 is better as it works with more web pages than the others. I’d be really interested in knowing how they tested this. The only way to check if a page has rendered correctly is to look at it. And I seriously doubt they sat a handful of temps down and got them to check several billion web pages.

Microsoft’s claim that IE8 is best for development as you don’t have to install other tools has a flipside as well – bloat. If you decide you don’t want to use the MS tools then you’ll have to install other ones alongside the cludge already there.

Then there’s something MS don’t mention – user base. Where’s the link on the web page to download the Linux version? Or the Mac? Both alternative browsers are available for both platforms (Chrome only in beta on Linux and Mac, admittedly), as is Opera. Even Safari is available for Windows.

At the end of the day, pretty much every Windows user will end up with IE8 as a part of Windows Update. Non-Windows users can’t get it. So why bother trying to plug it?

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Desktop web apps

Mozilla Prism
Mozilla Prism

One of Google Chrome‘s unique (until now) features was an ability to take any web page and turn it into a desktop application. Mozilla have responded with a new Firefox plug-in called Prism which does pretty much the same thing.

The advantages are more screen real-estate (no bars across the top as in a browser) and that the “application” is separate from other web processes. So if one page locks up or crashes, it only brings itself down and not all the other pages you might have open at the same time.

Thing is, isn’t this just the same as opening a new (Firefox, Chrome, IE, Safari…) window via a URL shortcut then opting to display it with no toolbars? Or full-screen? I honestly don’t see anything actually new. Especially given that Firefox 3.5 promises and Chrome already delivers discrete memory use in each tab, so that if one fails it doesn’t down the whole browser.

As for differences between the two, Mozilla have the edge – Chrome is still not available for Linux whereas Prism is, although they don’t make it clear on the standalone application download link.

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Teething problems

Apologies for the lack of regular posting but I’ve been really busy the last few days.

I’ve just installed Ubuntu on my laptop (alongside XP) and I’m tinkering with the default Firefox 3 web browser. Annoyingly, it seems that the fonts or something are slightly different than in Firefox 2 on Windows, so the title of this blog is somewhat askew. That was always something I was going to look at anyway, once I found a theme I liked.

Even more annoyingly, it’s broken the theme I have for the travel blog by dropping the final “tabbed” link at the top to a new line. Grr. Time for some fixin’…