Firefox 4 Beta 1 Impressions (Updated)

As I have often professed, I am a dedicated supporter of Mozilla, especially their browser, Firefox. The first beta of the forthcoming version just dropped yesterday, despite an earlier false start. I, of course, downloaded it to take it out for a spin.

The first thing I noticed is that the Linux version hasn’t really seen very much UI love. Enough has changed that the OS integration theme I was using to make it fit in a little better with KDE is thoroughly broken. I do, however, very much like that the add-on manager now opens in a proper browser tab. I actually could see a lot more of the preferences handled this way and hope that is the future direction. Being a devoted user, I have tweaked around with the “hidden” configurations such as about:config. While the add-on manager doesn’t expose any more options, the greater space available makes it feel less cramped.

Pure anecdotal, the page load speed seemed much faster. I’ve switched away from some of the more intensive web applications I was using so don’t have as much of a feel for how much perkier JavaScript is on pages that make heavy use.

Unfortunately, as much as I would like to switch over to the Firefox 4 beta for everyday use, there is a rather distressing breakage on 64-bit Linux. Flash is totally inoperable, I suspect as a result of my having the abandoned 64-bit build installed and this first beta being a 32-bit build. I dearly would enjoy a web I could use without Flash but we aren’t there yet, so I am going to wait and see how this situation evolves with the next beta.

I may, also, in the meantime try to find or produce a 64-bit build of this beta. I don’t feel especially motivated, being very happy with the current 3.6.x packaged build I am running but I would like to help with testing and feedback if I could sort out the Flash problem say on a weekend afternoon.

Update: Thanks to @claudiom, I have Flash working.  The solution in my case was almost self evident.  I downloaded the tarred, gzipped version of the Flash plugin for Linux.  In the local directory where I originally unarchived the Firefox beta, I created a plugins directory.  I then unarchived the Flash plugin into that directory.  On launching Firefox 4 beta 1, Flash now works.

6 Replies to “Firefox 4 Beta 1 Impressions (Updated)”

  1. Flash works the same for me under 4.0b1 64-bit as under the stock Ubuntu 3.6 build on Ubuntu 10.04 x86_64.

    Note that Flash doesn’t recognize mouse clicks properly unless this hack for nspluginwrapper is in place — *exact* same problem in 4.0b1 as under 3.6 — http://helpforlinux.blogspot.com/2009/11/i-cannot-click-on-flash-in-ubuntu.html

    I’ve got nspluginwrapper and such already installed since ages, and it all seems to work just fine with, say, silly Flash games: http://games.adultswim.com/robot-unicorn-attack-twitchy-online-game.html

    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv:2.0b1) Gecko/20100630 Firefox/4.0b1

    Flash 10,1,53,64

    1. I haven’t really had any problems with clicks registering with Flash, not any more so than with OS X. The breakage I am experiencing with FF4b1 is much more severe than that, Flash objects simply do not render. I haven’t yet fired up the beta build from the terminal to see if there are any more informative messages there when hitting a page with a Flash widget.

      There are only a couple of things I use that are Flash but sadly they are pretty important and there aren’t practical alternatives.

  2. Have you tried dropping the 32-bit version of adobe flash into the plugins folder available inside of the root folder for Firefox 4.0b1? Just download the tarball with the precompiled 32-bit plugin, extract the tarball, and then move the plugin into that plugins folder I mentioned. Since you do have lib32 installed on your 64-bit Kubuntu install, the 32-bit plugin should make use of the lib32 libraries and should work under the 32-bit Firefox beta.

    1. I did that just now. I actually had to create the plugins directory under the FF4b1 install directory, but after that, Flash works same as it did with FF 3.6.x. Thanks!

      I’ll update the post itself to reflect the resolution of this one issue.

      1. No problem. I had forgotten that you had to create the directory and I realized when I checked my directory on my Slackware system that it wasn’t already there. I figured you would get the idea to create the directory so I didn’t bother posting a correction again. 😛

  3. Nspluginwrapper has always been a problem when running 64-bit Linux, at least in my experience. Back before there ever was a 64-bit Flash plugin, Ubuntu used nspluginwrapper and it would almost always cause Flash to hang. I’d end up having to kill nspluginwrapper and relaunch Firefox.

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