Upgrading to Firefox 3

Firefox 3 Release Candidate 1 was released earlier this month. I’ve upgraded.

I tried switching to it a couple of months back, but gave up, since my favourite extensions were AWOL. This time around though, they’re almost all present. Since Firefox is now basically an operating system in its own right, with upgrade pain all of its own, and a couple of people have asked, here’s what I needed to do to get from Firefox 2 to 3:

Make a list of my favoured extensions

Namely, from most important to least:

Create a new Mozilla profile

This allowed me to keep my Firefox 2.0 settings entirely intact, a key step. Install Firefox 3, and start it with “firefox -ProfileManager”, then create a new profile and start with that.

Get installing

The following extensions from the above list were available by now for Firefox 3, through addons.mozilla.org:

Firebug was slightly trickier, since you need the 1.1 beta version, directly from their site 1.2 beta version, specially designed for Firefox 3 support, available only from their ‘releases’ page.

However, Greasemonkey, SubmitToTab, and MozEx were still missing. :(

Greasemonkey, thankfully, wasn’t too hard to find — the latest nightly build from this directory does the trick.

MozEx seems dead — the Firefox 2 support was added in a development snapshot, and there’s no sign of Firefox 3 support. This was in danger of becoming a show-stopper, since I spend all day editing text in browser textareas in Trac, Bugzilla, and Wordpress — until I found It’s All Text!, which is even slightly prettier and simpler than MozEx. yay. The only thing to watch out for is that after setting the path to the editor command, I had to quit and restart the browser for it to recognise it as valid.

SubmitToTab is the only desirable plugin remaining. It looks like it won’t be making it any time soon, but I’m prepared to live without it. ;)

Also, while discussing this on Twitter, Vipul wondered if XPather was available — turns out that yes, v1.4 of XPather supports FF3. Looks cool too; I’ve installed it ;)

Copy bookmarks

Exit the browser, copy the “bookmarks.html” file from the old profile directory (~/.mozilla/firefox/jocfzbfo.jm in my case) to the new one (~/.mozilla/firefox/7bkf89ws.ff3), and restart it.

I didn’t bother copying cookies — I’m happy to log in again on all those sites. (I don’t like carrying too much baggage between upgrades…)

I also opened the Greasemonkey user scripts dir (~/.mozilla/firefox/jocfzbfo.jm/gm_scripts), clicked on each script there, and installed them that way to FF3. A little laborious, but nothing serious really.


End result: I’m using FF3, and it’s working quite nicely. Memory usage is consistently below 300MB, so far — I haven’t seen any bloating yet, which is a big improvement. I’m probably going to stick with it.

One thing: I did have to turn off the new image scaling effect, however — text font size modification also now scales images to match, which is very annoying (and jaggy). No Squint allows this quite neatly.

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  1. Posted May 29, 2008 at 20:29 | Permalink

    Use Firebug 1.2 beta available at http://www.getfirebug.com/releases/ works a treat.

  2. Craig Hughes
    Posted May 29, 2008 at 21:21 | Permalink

    Instead of porting bookmarks around (and among various different machines), I’ve switched to just using the Del.icio.us bookmark plugin, which optionally just replaces the Firefox bookmarks with your del.icio.us contents. Like the new “star” feature in FF3, only your bookmarks live in the cloud, sync automatically, and you can tag things as for:xyz to draw them to other people’s attention. You can tag things as shortcut:abc or some such thing in order to get address bar shortcuts (in this case abc). The link above includes a better description and link to the FF3 beta addon which works great for me.

  3. Posted May 29, 2008 at 22:16 | Permalink

    No IE Tab?

    Comes in useful at times.

  4. Posted May 30, 2008 at 11:02 | Permalink

    @JK: good tip, I missed that. “Recommended for FF3” sounds good to me…

    @Craig: I used to use the del.icio.us bookmarks syncer, but gave up after it acted up once too often — can’t quite recall what the errors were, but I vaguely recall annoying timeouts and network failures.

    @Eoghan: I use a Linux desktop, IE Tab is a little pointless for me ;)

  5. Posted May 30, 2008 at 13:54 | Permalink

    Oops. Thought you might have been a cygwin fan or just disguising the profile path! ;)

    UA switcher is the next best thing for those IE-only sites. https://addons.update.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/59

    And the beautiful but pointless PicLens is coming “eventually”. http://www.piclens.com/site/support/faq.php

  6. Posted May 30, 2008 at 14:55 | Permalink

    I’m honored that you ranked No Squint above Adblock Plus, Web Developer Toolbar, and Firebug. :)

  7. Posted May 30, 2008 at 15:22 | Permalink

    hi Jason — happy to oblige, I love that extension ;)

  8. Posted June 20, 2008 at 15:00 | Permalink

    I’d been holding off upgrading till I found this post, very encouraging, thanks.

    Instead of porting bookmarks, try Foxmarks, which allows you to synchronize bookmarks across all computers you use as well as acting as a virtual repository for when you’re at a cyber cafe.


  9. Posted July 24, 2008 at 20:33 | Permalink

    Thanks for the pointer to It’s All Text. I’ve been avoiding FF3 partly since I don’t have issues with FF2, but mostly since without a sensible way of editing text boxes, they are unusable. Whilst I hope mozec comes back from the dead, It’s All Text looks like if may work.