Firefox is my preferred Web browser on Linux, and one of the reasons I like it so much is due to the various extensions that are available for it. Whether you hate or love Firefox itself, the extensions are what usually turn the tide as to whether it is used, and Firefox has some great extensions that really enhance the Web browsing experience. I wanted to share a few of my favorite Firefox extensions, so here goes.
Ads and banners are a staple of the Internet. We know this, and many just try to ignore them as they surf along. And while ad revenue helps out the providers of the site you are visiting, they don't necessarily help you -- often they will hinder you because waiting for those ads to load tends to slow down the entire page. AdBlock Plus is a great add-on to get rid of them. When you first install it you will get to choose a subscription list to use, which is a list of filters to block. The "EasyList (English)" list, if you do your browsing in English, is a very good list of filters that auto-updates and should cover the majority of your needs.
Another cool extension is the Firefox Showcase extension. On the Mac, I liked the OmniWeb browser because it allowed you to use thumbnails of Web pages as "fat" tabs; Firefox Showcase can do the same thing. With it, you can have a sidebar that displays thumbnails of the Web pages open in existing tabs. Clicking on the thumbnail will shift focus to that tab. If the sidebar isn't your thing, the showcase can be done in a dedicated tab, or in a separate window.
As a tinkerer, I like playing with other browsers and I think that some browsers render pages better than Firefox. But when I look at these extensions, it makes me realize that in the end, a better browsing experience can be had with Firefox because it is so extensible. I don't know how much I would enjoy using the Web anymore without AdBlock Plus, NoScript, and Greasemonkey. Extensions like Firefox Showcase aren't what keeps me using Firefox, but they are fun to play with.
Vincent Danen works on the Red Hat Security Response Team and lives in Canada. He has been writing about and developing on Linux for over 10 years and is a veteran Mac user.