Bugs now a pandemic in Firefox 3.5

By Partho, Gaea News Network
Friday, July 3, 2009

mozilla restore sessionMozilla’s updated Web browser Firefox 3.5 comes with a host of new functionality and features as reviewed in our blog. But things are not running smoothly for the latest Firefox version. Well, I come across these titles Firefox BugDay, Catch Missed Blocker, Critical, and Major 3.5 bugs! in Mozilla’s forum. There’s much noise over the buggy behavior of the Firefox 3.5. To down the raised eyebrows Mozilla would be releasing a patched version of its browser, renaming it as Firefox 3.5.1. However, the bug fixes would take several weeks. In the meantime, host of bloggers are annoyed over the bug- prone Firefox suffering from slow load time, crashes caused by TraceMonkey JavaScript engine and more than 50 other foul-up.

According to the sources, Mozilla Firefox 3.5.1 is anticipated to be released sometime between mid to late July. It is likely to fix at least three of the 55 bugs in the new web browser. This probably leads to a hypothesis that Mozilla would be introducing a major update in Firefox 3.5.2.

Major Bug issue

The new Firefox 3.5 is prone to serious bug issues, as is evident from a comment by Jeremy on hothardware.com that reads

It’s seriously bugged is what it is

He adds that the Firefox load time went from a heartbeat or two to 50-60 seconds. The slow down issue would affect numerous other Firefox users.

Private Browsing Complains


Private browsing is one of the major security changes in the latest Firefox 3.5. In private browsing mode Firefox doesn’t keep any browser history, search history, download history, web form history, cookies, or temporary internet files. Only the files you download and bookmarks are saved. This mode is already present in all major browsers - Internet Explorer 8 InPrivate mode, Chrome 2 Incognito, and Safari 4’s Private Browsing. The test shows that private browsing in Firefox is not as convenient as with other browsers.

You can invoke private browsing either from the Tool menu or with Ctrl+Shift+P. In the private browsing mode Firefox 3.5 shuts down your open non-private browsing session and saves the session until you exit private browsing mode. Other browsers allow you to continue with both private and non-private sessions simultaneously. Moreover, they don’t shut down your existing sessions when you invoke private browsing mode.

Firefox displays private browsing in the title bar. However, when you quit the in private mode the non-private sessions are not restored automatically. You have to reload the Firefox.

In Internet Explorer 8, InPrivate mode is isolates the private from non-private sessions. Chrome in Incognito mode uses processes to isolate browser sessions for security. Safari’s private browsing mode

Premature release

The critical question that arises is that with over 55 bugs why didn’t Mozilla wait to release the Firefox 3.5. Already, Mozilla had to delay the release of Firefox 3.5 RC a number of times due to the lingering bugs that needed a fix. Now that more than 8 million copies of Firefox 3.5 have been downloaded since the release of the updated browser On June 30. Of course, it’s not expected to be a flawless browser after the first pass, but releasing an update with 55 bugs is an unlikely move from the browser major. It would have been a better move to work out on the kinks and make the first major update 3.5 as the next update.

For what we could make out, it’s probably the public scrutiny coming down hard on Mozilla Firefox 3.5 that compelled the browser maker to rush the latest browser in public.

Mozilla’s Amendment

Mozilla is planning to rush out a patch to address the bug issues cited by the users. The patched version, Firefox 3.5.1 would include the fix for browser’s JavaScript engine, TraceMonkey and upgrade the browsers performance in Windows XP.

Mozilla has scheduled a Firefox BugDay for its community to address the major 3.5 bugs starting from July 7. In it’s community quality assurance Web site, Mozilla provided a call to action that reads

We will try to narrow down any important bugs that were missed, or were regressions from Firefox 3.5, and get them into a point update quickly

Bugs apart, Firefox 3.5 features great improvements over the earlier versions. The new browser is speeding up to catch up with leaders Chrome 2.0 and Safari 4. It adds HTML 5 for richer video experience and location aware browsing. It remains to see whether Mozilla is able to increase its share in the browser market.


August 16, 2009: 8:08 am

So Firefox 3.5 has tons of bugs, why are you all surprised? Having worked in the software industry for 12 years and being a consumer of electronics for decades it’s pretty obvious that there’s a bug pandemic when it comes to software.

Here’s how it works. Some group decides to create a piece of software to perform a certain task. They design it and then display it in carefully controlled tech demos. It is then released to the public and then that group moves on to other things. Once released the group couldn’t care less how miserable the experience was. If you manage to find a way to contact them, you’ll experience one of these three outcomes:
1) You won’t get a response
2) The bug will be blamed on other software on the system
3) The bug will be blamed on user error.

Seriously, is it any wonder that piracy is so massive in the software market? Who really wants to risk buying some $200 or more piece of software only to find it doesn’t work and get no support whatsoever from tech support? Hell, many of these companies even charge you for the honor of having their tech support examine the mess their software created.

Mike Drabik
July 7, 2009: 8:48 pm

I am not so much annoyed with the ‘bugs’ in FF 3.5. What gets me is that ‘Private Browsing’ mode has an issue: if FF is configured in ‘Options’ to always open in ‘Private Browsing’ mode one gets NO indication FF is in that mode - ya know - like Google Chrome does when one has it set-up to open in ‘Incognito’ mode using a command in the Windows short-cut.

I mean WTF - how in the heck am I supposed to know if somebody has diddled with FF’s Options settings and re-configured FF to remember everything without going into the Options every time I use FF? In Chrome I’d know that it’s in Incognito every time I use it - immediately.

I posted this issue at FF’s forum - only got a response that I have select “Private Browsing” mode each time I open FF to see it flagged for it. Again - WTF - why should I have to that when it’s obvious the Mozilla groupies could have supplied private browsing mode with a flag no matter whether manually selected or configured that way in the Options?

Guess I’ll be staying with Google Chrome until the FF groupies decide this is an issue worth addressing or some FF fan creates an add-on to show the same.

Benoît Gauthier
July 4, 2009: 12:14 am

I experienced serious issues with tab and history management in FF 3.5 (so much so that I reinstalled 3.0.11 over it — which worked fine). In FF 3.5, new windows opened in new windows instead of tabs (unless I Ctrl-clicked on the links), the history was simply inactive (the Back button remained permanently greyed out) and changes to Preferences were ignored. Searches on the Web for similar problems were unsuccessful. I don’t know what to think now.

Asa Dotzler
July 3, 2009: 9:55 pm

I think you fundamentally mis-understand how software gets made. That’s not your fault, really. Most people don’t know what really happens in building and releasing software. We (mostly) all eat sausage, but few of us have any idea what a sausage factory looks like.

What is a bit weak sauce is that you’re writing an article that implicitly suggests you do understand these things when you clearly don’t.

All complex software contains flaws/bugs. Browsers, some of the most complex software on the planet, all contain flaws — not just a few, but thousands or tens of thousands of flaws. Safari, Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Internet Explorer, they all contain more bugs than you can count. And that’s OK. Because most of those flaws don’t have a major impact on users or developers.

Of course, some do. And those are the sub-set of flaws that should and most of the time are fixed before a major release. But if all of them were fixed, you would never see browser vendors shipping bug fix updates and that’s just not the world we live in.

Firefox 3.0, at the time of 3.5 shipping, was up to version 3.0.11 — that’s 11 updates shipped to correct various flaws in the Firefox 3.0 browser. 11 updates in approximately 1 year, and that’s totally normal.

Complex software has flaws that are either not readily discoverable or whose impact isn’t necessarily obvious until tens or hundreds of millions of users are engaging with the software.

(and it’s not just Firefox that ships regular updates, Apple, Google, and Microsoft all ship regular bug fix updates for their currently released software.)

Yes, Firefox shipped with bugs. It shipped not with a few dozen bugs, but with thousands of bugs, just like every other browser out there. We tried to fix all of the flaws that would have widespread impact on users and Web developers, and we probably missed a few. That’s no different than any other browser.

The fact that you can peer into Mozilla’s suausage factory and cannot do the same for the other browser vendors makes it really easy to write negative Firefox stories but if you could see the process inside of Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc. you’d see much the same. No software is perfect when it ships (or ever, actually.) We do our best to address the most important issues before we ship a new release and that doesn’t stop when the new version is out the door. That’s why we offer stability and security updates about once every 5 weeks — to fix those issues that are recently discovered or prove to have larger negative impact than we’d thought. All competent browser vendors do the same.

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