Mozilla provides more details on Firefox 3.0 RC2
The official release notes are now live on Mozilla's servers, along with Release Candidate 2 of the organization's next Web browser, which was published yesterday.
The festivities began yesterday -- two days ahead of schedule -- with the publication by Mozilla of a package that ended up being confirmed as Release Candidate 2 of its Firefox 3.0 Web browser. The final release certainly appears on schedule for "mid-June," which is true to what the organization has promised users for several weeks.
Thus far, BetaNews tests have shown RC2 to be mostly solid. We noticed the absence in the new custom installation option of DOM Inspector, a tool developers use to look into the code for a page's Document Object Model (for pages that use DOM). There's a good reason for that, as confirmed this morning in Mozilla's release notes: DOM Inspector was separated from the 3.0 code base, and is now available as a free add-on.
Upon installing the add-on this morning, for reasons we haven't been able to trace so far, RC2 crashed. This was with a full complement of Web pages spread over two open browser windows. Upon recovery, however, RC2 pulled up all our Web pages and so far is running the new DOM Inspector add-on smoothly.
Ever since Beta 3 of FF3, we have not seen any evidence of the same leak, and this fact alone lends substance to Mozilla's claim that any of its FF3 pre-releases could easily replace FF2 today for most users. (Those who prefer a multitude of customizations and add-ons will still need to wait a few weeks for them to be officially approved for FF3.)
But this does not mean FF3 doesn't produce a big memory footprint. Granted, I'm the heaviest Web browser user there could ever possibly be, but on an average day, my active FF3 pre-release consumes up to 400 Mb of memory in my 2 Gb production system. However, apparently due to FF3's improved memory allocation, that footprint is stable. I can overload FF3 with pages with active scripts and even running videos, while noticing far less of a performance hit on other running applications than with FF2.
A few years ago, my friend and colleague Angela Gunn wrote for her USA Today blog (the evidence of which has apparently been wiped clean from the face of the planet) that Firefox 2 was the "worst upgrade ever." To paraphrase Pres. Johnson, if you lose Angela Gunn, you've lost the everyday American user.
But in the same way that Windows 98 SE was easily the greatest Windows 95 upgrade ever produced, there's a very genuine possibility now that Firefox 3 will be the best Firefox 2 upgrade in human history. We'll keep testing, of course, and we'll let you know more.