Flaming Potpouri for $100, Alex

Some random observations on Mozilla Firebird v0.6.1, for Mac OS X and Windows:

  • Warning: In the Mac version, holding CMD while clicking a tab closes the tab. Even if you’re working on a post via wikieditish in that tab. Even if you have alot of time invested in said post. You’ve been warned.
  • Finally got the Windows version to work on my work pc (Win2k). As noted previously, my clean install was crashing on startup. Consistantly. Even after some fairly thorough cleaning of old Mozilla install bits. Turns out it was crashing while trying to import IE favorites, and the IE Favorites tree has circular shortcuts. The solution is to move all Favs to another location (or delete them if you are feeling pyromaniacal towards your bridges), then start up Firebird. Once the import succeeds, it won’t try again, and you can restore your IE Favs if you kept them.
  • On the Mac, closing all browser windows has a curious effect. The menu bar reverts to Mozilla layout, including acces to the full Mozilla Preferences dialog and various debugging options. No parallel found yet in the Windows version.
  • The magic url about:config lets you edit many settings right in the browser window (but doesn’t work as a link in a page).
  • Scroll bars are not yet ready for prime time, at least in relation to themes. I’m currently using the theme Pinball, which does not appear to come with scroll bars. Instead, it depends on the default scroll bar implementation ( I think ). On my Windows install, switching to Pinball from another theme initially leaves the prior scrollers in place, but they break (i.e., look funky) when you scroll. A fresh restart of the app fixes the problem (assuming the theme is picked prior to restart). On the Mac, this theme never has working scrollers. This could be a bug in the theme’s chrome/rdf/other-mozilla-voodoo, but I’d hope the fallback behavior would, um, work.
  • Pop-up blockage belongs in the browser. Period. +1 for the good guys.
  • There’s a nifty extension available named StyleSelector that lets you choose alternate CSS stylesheets (or turn off all styles) right from the status bar. It needs an option to disable userStyle.css (the user stylesheet, see above) for those times when you think your ad-blocker may have whacked a non-ad.
  • To run Preference Manager in the Windows version, run MozillaFirebird.exe -p (as stated all over the Mozilla Site). This doesn’t work in the OS X version. Instead, use the trick from above in the list – close all Firebird windows. One of the menus revealed in the Menu bar will include the option to ‘switch profiles’. The resulting dialog provides access to the Preference Manager.
  • My Mac version won’t launch links from other apps… even after making a new profile, which is supposed to cure many ills. If I try (for example, clicking a link in Mail.app or NetNewsWire Lite) I get the cryptic error “Error launching browser window:no XBL binding for browser”. Update: This seems to be fixed as of version 0.7.1, more info here.

Conclusion: Firebird, thoroughly unpolished at version 0.6.1, utterly rocks. It is now my default browser at work, on my (personal) Mac, and on one of my three home WinPC’s (the other two will fall as soon as I have time).

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