General discussion


FireFox users are not happy campers.

By deepsand ·
June 08, 2005

Firefox Users Sound Off: Fix Those Bugs!

Even ardent Firefox fans can experience problems with their favorite browser. What are these bugs, and what can you do about them?

By Mitch Wagner InternetWeek

Use Firefox for a while, and you're almost certain to become an evangelist for the software, telling your co-workers and friends how great it is and urging them to switch. And should anyone dare to criticize your new favorite browser, you're going to get defensive.
But just between us (and the 800 million people who have Internet access), you have to admit: Firefox has bugs. Why shouldn't it? It's not magic ? it's real-world software. These significant usability issues and problems must be addressed if it's going to become a serious, long-term challenger to Internet Explorer, and not just a fad.

To first find out what these problems were, we asked people familiar with Firefox to tell us their pet peeves. We started at home with the TechWeb Pipelines editors, many of whom have at least a year's experience using the browser. And we asked readers to help. TechWeb Pipelines Editor Scot Finnie put out a call for Firefox problems in his Scot's Newsletter, and Reviews Editor Barbara Krasnoff asked for the same in the Desktop Pipeline Newsletter. All told, we received about 200 responses.

The results? In short, Firefox users cited problems with extensions, performance slowdowns, patches and updates, and incompatibilities with some Web sites. Printing was also a problem for some users.

Some complained they often have a problem re-starting the browser after shutting it down. And several mentioned that members of the Firefox community can sometimes have a bad attitude, blaming the user when a user comes to them with a bug report.

Here's a rundown of some of the most-mentioned issues:

Extensions: Biggest Blessing And Biggest Curse
Firefox's extendable architecture is both the browser's biggest benefit, and the source of its biggest problems.

The benefit comes because the core browser itself is lean and ? at least when it's working right ? fast. When you first download and install Firefox, the software provides only the basics for HTML rendering, saving bookmarks, and tabbed browsing. Many users are content with this plain-vanilla approach. But if you want more, you can have it: There are hundreds of plug-in extensions to refine your browser tab behavior, customize the user interface, and even play Tetris or check on the weather.

The problem: Some extensions are incompatible with others, or are buggy. This creates problems with Firefox performance.

"Every problem I've had with Firefox has been due to extensions," said user Bob Schuchman. "Often, the order in which they are installed makes a difference." Schuchman said his favorite extension is Tabbrowser Extensions, which modifies browser behavior (Note: Throughout this article, we'll link to extensions we think are useful, but we won't link to extensions that appear to be buggy or otherwise harmful).

Schuchman continued, "Even the author admits that he can't fix it any more and the Mozilla people warn against using it. Just today I've uninstalled it and tried to find extensions that will take the place of the features I was using. Not all of them are available."

He added, "The extensions just don't get the attention that Firefox itself does. I don't know what the solution to this problem is, but I agree that something has to be done to vet extensions better than what is being done now. Maybe the answer is including the most important ones in basic Firefox, especially those related to tabbed browsing ? the most important feature as far as I'm concerned."

Schuchman's e-mail suggests a solution to the extension problem: The core Firefox development team should be devoting significant resources to testing extensions for bugs, security holes, and compatibility with Firefox and with other extensions. Extensions that pass the tests would receive certification, and users looking for stability would be able to limit their Firefox use to just those extensions. More adventurous users could continue to try out new, untested extensions as soon as they come down the pike.

Moreover, the Firefox developers should offer an alternative to the bare-bones approach to installation. There are some plug-ins and extensions that most users will want to use, and Firefox developers ought to offer a download with those utilities pre-installed. We can argue over what the Deluxe Firefox should include, but we can start the list with Java, Apple QuickTime, Macromedia Flash, and Adobe Acrobat. Not all users will want these, but the overwhelming majority will, and users who don't want them would continue to have the option of using bare-naked Firefox as it is now.

Think you have problems with extensions? Here's how to diagnose the problem and fix it.

One problem I struggled with even as I researched this article: No standard way to uninstall extensions.
Or, rather, there is a standard way to uninstall extensions, and developers adhere to that standard almost all the time. It's that "almost" that's the source of the problem.

The normal way to uninstall extensions is to click the Tools menu, select Extensions, select the extension you want to get rid of, then click "Uninstall."


Curing The Crash

Firefox has crashed, and now won't relaunch. What to do? Here's a simple solution.

Locating Erring Extensions

Sometimes, a Firefox problem is in an extension that isn't behaving itself. Here's how to find out which one, and get rid of it.

This conversation is currently closed to new comments.

Thread display: Collapse - | Expand +

All Comments

Collapse -


by Jaqui In reply to FireFox users are not hap ...

this actually came up in the firefox development lists, the real source of the extention problem is that majority of extentions are 3rd party software, so the firefox group has zero control over them.

as for bugs, naturally no piece of code as complex as a browser is bug free.

Collapse -


by Oz_Media In reply to extentions..

And while I do agree with most of the article, it doesn't even address that the extensions are third party and not up to the dev team to debug.


It has a really good point in saying there should be "Certified" extensions that have been thoroughly tested, either by FF Dev or by a Dev test team that FF monitors and works with.

Moreso, these extensions woul dbe excellent if offred by a check box system and installed initially. Just check of your choices from the list of Authprozed extensions and either perform a web install of download all as one executable file. Almost like checking of custom install options.

THAT would be helpful especially in keeping NEW users hwo figure they'll give it a test run but don't realize they have to install all th eopther stuff manually. Then they run into FLASH and JAVA sites and even though it gives you an OPTION to install, they never work unless done separately.

This would work for new users! Just like IE, you get a package, but have aCHOICE what is installed.

Collapse -

Sounds like

by tagmarkman In reply to extentions..

Hey... this is the same argument I was having in another thread about Microsoft Windows. Third parties cause 80% of the problems. :)

Then the suggestion was to have certifications for Firefox... well Microsoft has a Windows Logo Program for their products (which requires a program to follow standard uninstall procedures or the Logo can be taken away.)

hmmm.... maybe we can learn something from M$. Maybe not volumes... but something.

Collapse -

It's deja vu all over again.

by deepsand In reply to extentions..

It seems to be human nature to want to be able to hold a single party responsible for any given situation, perhaps so as to minimize the amount of effort needed to deal with such.

Still, it's refreshing to see that the alt-anything-other-than-MS zealots are now getting a taste of reality. Just wait until the 1st really serious FireFox specific worm/virus/trojan hits!

Collapse -


by Jaqui In reply to It's deja vu all over aga ...

but since firefox also runs on linux, the vulnerability would probably come through windows and be for that specific version

actually, there has been 4 security vulnerabilities since it was "officially" released.

strongly recommended to be running fully updated version.

the vulnerabilities actually affected the suite as well, it came from netscrapes gecko engine.

Collapse -

Funny how that works isn't it

by Oz_Media In reply to ~l;~

FF offers a couple of patches due to a handful of vulnerabilities and the MS junkies have a pyjama party.

Yet MS couldn't find enough server space to even place a text list of the security vulnerabilities found in IE (not to mention those that were never admitted to or fixed).

I don't use FF because I believe I will be more secure from threats with it anyway.

I use firefox because it's faster for me, a LOT faster, and NEVER picks up spyware and blocks all the pops up ads and those annoying half page overlaid ads and crap you get in IE.

Just for the cleanliness it's well worth the time, the features and extensions just make it all that much better than IE again.

Collapse -

It will happen...

by hesperidae In reply to It's deja vu all over aga ...

Sure, there will be a FF specific worm/trojan/virus.
However the only people worrying about it will be
the same people who always have to worry about it.
It's a web browser, not a magic wand....

Collapse -

FireFox users ARE happy campers

by In reply to FireFox users are not hap ...

The article does a pretty good job of pointing out where the FireFox team needs to focus the next few rounds of effort.

IMNSHO, the title of your post is fallacious and does not match the article's content. FireFox users ARE happy campers. I am VERY happy about what FireFox is and am not unhappy about what it is not (yet).

FireFox is great because:

- It is very good at suppressing pop-ups.
- It is less vulnerable to the current malware.
- It is not under assault by all of the Microsoft haters.
- It has tabs, a great usability feature.
- It runs very well on all of my systems: Windows, Linux, and MacOS.

Collapse -

Sure we are...

by tagmarkman In reply to FireFox users ARE happy c ...

Of course we are happy.

Are there bugs? Sure! Compare that to other browsers out there an your going to see a lot as well. If you start adding the third party add on used in other browsers you're going to a huge increase as well.

The problem isn't about the bugs, the problem is about getting them fixed or at least identifing them and letting the user know what they are so they can do something about it (work around or whatever).

Collapse -

Depends of the camper.

by deepsand In reply to Sure we are...

There are those of us who, based on our knowledge, skills & experience, have expectations that are not greatly misaligned with reality.

However, FF has so far been harvesting the low hanging fruit, which includes a significant portion of less than well seasoned users.

The former may be happy; but, many of the latter are not.

Related Discussions

Related Forums