The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
Same mission, same folks...just a different name

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How's This For a Killer Feature...Stability?

The race to review Firefox 3 has begun. My TouchStone for News, LXer; doesn't go through half a cycle without someone posting a review of the newest Firefox. That's a good thing. Now, things for us have changed here in the past year. I can no longer test distros, applications and hardware the way we used to. Our "fire mission" now is to make sure disadvantaged kids who don't have computers and/or Internet access get them. You may have also heard that we have launched a first-of-a-kind business where we actually install Linux on home and business machines, then teach them how to use it.

No...beta testing has slid pretty far down the ladder of priorities for us here. However it's good to read the progress of these apps and distros...they are our bread and butter.

Unfortunately, some of the bread is getting moldy and someone left the butter out to spoil.

This last bunch of complaints came in a wave. We received 8 calls in two hours about the same thing. At first, I began looking for a correlation for this phenomenon. It was simply odd that so many calls would come in concerning one thing. Then it tapered off to about 4 calls a day, and they have been coming in steadily for the last week.

Firefox is broken.

It's been broken for a long time.

And from the reports I've been reading, it's not getting fixed in Firefox 3.

What seems to be with random abandon, Firefox is crashing and it's crashing on the same web pages, with or without extensions and it begins doing it after about the third distro update. I've reproduced this problem on hardware ranging from a brand new HP to my old Frankenputer blunderbuss. One of the biggest annoyances is that one of my favorite websites, crashes 100 out of 100 times....and I mean with a quickness it crashes. Being one that needs to keep an eye on their offerings several times a week, I've learned just to sigh and click on Konqueror to go to Zareason.

That is really without excuse. Konqueror, after using Firefox, is...well...I don't want to knock Konq, but it just doesn't give the active Internet user the features they may need for heavy and sustained browsing. You think not? Check into your Gmail account and tell me what it says right across the top. Here, let me paraphrase it for you.

"Use a real browser if you want to see all of this site."

I don't want to hear about the new features you've managed to invent for Firefox...I don't care how well it manages memory now. I could care less about the new and improved search bar.

None of these things mean a friggin' thing to any of us if the damn browser won't stay open long enough to research the problem.

And please...bug reports are dutifully submitted. Mine is laying on top of the 7 thousand of them already filed in the month of March.

Today is only the 12th. It would seem others might have noticed the same problems.

I'm not here to ask anyone to fix this...surely I am not about to ask Mozilla to do it...I really wouldn't want to bother them with such trivial matters. After all, these problems don't occur in the Windows edition anywhere to the degree they exist on the Linux side so far be it from me to bother the fine folks at Mozilla about this any more.

A quick google of this shows the problem specific to my sniveling to be wide-spread and frustrating to thousands. To be fair, and I normally don't give a rat's rectum about fairness, the problem isn't just Firefox but seemingly any Gecko-powered browser. See the attached screenshot for the smoking gun.

Ah...I hear The Mantra and throw my thanks skyward for it being true. Linux is about choice...

Luckily, one of those choices is Opera.

The other is to stop the second HeliOS Solutions annual donation to Mozilla until this is fixed.

Give us a fixed product...last year's check seemed to clear the Mozilla bank account quickly enough...I guess it wasn't used for R&D....maybe by FireFox 4 we can have a stable browser.

A memo is going out to all HeliOS Solutions affiliates in the morning. Firefox is no longer to be used on our installs until this problem is fixed. Sure Opera is closed I care right now? Give me a browser that works at least as well as IE at least half the time and as Arnold says...

I'll be back.

All-Righty Then


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear of your trouble with Firefox. I agree, it needs some work. For what it's worth, on OpenSUSE 10.3 I can hit ZaReason without incident.

That's the good thing about the choice you mentioned, whether it's a different distro, or a different browser, there's plenty of options. Sometimes closed source is still a better choice, for exactly the reasons you've pointed out.

The moral arguments supporting open source provide no justification for unstable software. We still need to put out a good product if we want to change hearts and minds. Fortunately, things trend better in open source all the time, so keep the faith - sooner or later they'll get it figured out. Hopefully sooner.

kozmcrae said...

Ahem, isn't Firefox 3 still in beta? It's available in my distro's (PCLinuxOS) repository but I thrive on stability so I haven't dared touch it. Thanks for not treating the "konq" too shabbily. I don't use it often as a browser, but when I do it's a finely oiled machine. I love dragging and dropping from a Web site to a folder on my HD. Mozilla will get it right. I wish, just once as a matter of principle, they would fix the problem in Linux first and not pay homage to the false God from Redmond.

Unknown said...

You know fellas, much to my embarassment, this really did sneak up on me a bit. Wasn't there talk about being blind-sided by a bus not too long ago...?

Here's the rub. Many of the people we have switched over actually used firefox in it stands to reason they find a "comfort point" within the Linux environment, right? Well in Windoze, firefox never crashed like this so deductive reason would leave one to believe that it must be Linux that sux. That's a tough line of reason to argue.

Now, in fairness (damn, there's that word again), Linux due to its constantly evolving kernel is a moving target for our guys and girls who develop. I came off as harsh and I meant to. Even with a constantly changing Kernel, it seems that this could have been dealt with. In Windows, the kernel isn't messed with on a weekly basis as it is in Windows so it stands to reason there would be more stability...but by the same token, we have some of the brightest minds in the world working on this system.

You would think...Right?

No, Konq is a workhorse doubt but they deserve their share of slap-abouts as well. They say there are mouse gestures in Konq. Have you ever been able to get them to work? With the degree of Carpal Tunnel I suffer, I might work with Konq if the damn gestures would work...hell who knows...kde 7 will be out sometime in the century, maybe then...

or not.


Unknown said...

When I have multiple tabs open in an Ubuntu or Ubuntu-based system, I will experience a crash every now and then. In other words: Firefox segfaults.

I have a feeling it may have something to do with how the binary is compiled. Perhaps if it were compiled for the specific CPU in question, it wouldn't be an issue. SwiftFox was quite stable for me, but I don't use it because the person who puts it together doesn't appear to be following the Mozilla Tri-License to the letter. That's just my opinion anyway.

Anonymous said...

Helios, as a consumer I enjoy having choices. For that reason I keep Lynx, Firefox, Netscape 9, Opera, and Seamonkey installed. I do work at things that make smaller footprints in the sand (for particular reasons). I have started using Opera 9.50b and it it has been working well. Firefox 3b3 is not always removing itself from memory (as happened on my machine when 2.0 came out) and I have to hit the CLI and kill the process (well, I don't have to but it is the quick and dirty method...and it works). I have seamonkey installed with just the basics. Composer is installed with the browser. I like having it on hand for quick copy, paste and save or print when I don't want everything on the web page (and there is no print friendly version available). I may have to work in a Windows centric universe but choose to have multi-OS apps (I love those that are also multiplatform, but I don't get much opportunity outside of x86 systems. I have heard of this IE7 thing but I don't know or care much about it. I still can't figure out how integrating IE into Win95 amounted to anything but MS BS (oh, I think I understand now; I just had to write it out and read it). I am in a mood that will only cause you to think I am less than sane. I'll stop and go take my meds now.
P.S. I still must applaud Opera for the Notes tool. When I wrote the above I could see no verification word in the graphic box. I did my copy to notes, refreshed and copied back to the comment box. I don't mind a bit of convienence.