Firefox Web Browser
Friday, December 2, 2005; 1:00 PM
Mozilla's Mike Schroepfer was online to answer your questions about the Firefox Web browser. Firefox has been downloaded more than 100 million times since its release one year ago. Developers enhanced security and privacy features in the browser's latest version, which was released Tuesday.
A transcript follows.
Mike Schroepfer: Howdy everyone - it is a pleasure to get a chance to chat with all of you. I look forward to answering your questions about Firefox 1.5 and Mozilla.
Washington, DC: What are your top 3 favorite mods to firefox? After getting spyware, I switched from IE and I don't know all I can look for with Firefox.
Mike Schroepfer: In the past Addblock for blocking even more ads, flashgot for better downloading. There are some exiting new extensions the del.ic.io.us plugin, linkedin toolbar, and SAGE for RSS reading.
Baraboo, WI: A few months ago I paid to install Firefox, but have been unable to install it. Who should I contact to complain?
Mike Schroepfer: Firefox has always been and will continue to be a free product. You should never have to pay someone to download or install it. Please download the official version from Mozilla.com and see if that works for you.
Arlington, VA: I downloaded the 1.5 version the other night and it works just fine. I can't see any huge differences however. Is there any big new feature that I am missing?
Also any recommendations for Firefox extensions? I have the weather one, gmail notifier, and AdBlock.
Mike Schroepfer: You should see a number of nice improvements to the user interface: namely tab drag and drop and a new preferences panel. You should also notice faster web page load times and better popup blocking.
Next time we have an update you'll notice one of the best features of 1.5, our automatic update feature. This will download updates for you in the background and let you know when they are ready to apply. This will keep you up to the latest version without any hassle.
Houston, TX: What does 'Clear Private Data" accomplish?
Clear private data allows you to with a single-click remove any personal data stored by the browser including: cookies, history, web form entries, passwords, and download history.
New York, NY: 1. How will you avoid the same fate as Netscape?
2. What can you tell us about your partnership with Google?
Mike Schroepfer: We work closely with a set of search providers, including Google. The Firefox search features with Google have been very well received by our users. Google also employs developers to work on Firefox, as do many other companies. And Google has recently started a program of encouraging AdSense partners to distribute Firefox as well.
Princeton, NJ: Is there any way for a non-technical person to submit requests for features and/or changes for future releases of Firefox? Is there any way for someone to view a list of the features on track for inclusion into future Firefox releases?
Mike Schroepfer: Certainly! You can submit your ideas to http:/
Richmond, VA: I'm a Thunderbird/Firefox user without a lot of technical expertise. I have been to your technical assistance areas online, but have not found how to select Firefox as default browser from Thunderbird (using MAC OS 10.3 Panther).
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Mike Schroepfer: On Mac OS X, open the Safari web browser. Open Safari's Preferences. Then click "General" and in the first option for Default Web Browser, select Firefox.
Lorton, VA: Is Firefox going to start using patches for upgrades any time soon instead of having to download the _entire_ program each and every time?
Mike Schroepfer: Yes! Version 1.5 includes a new auto-update feature which will allow us to distribute only very small patches (10-15x smaller than full releases) for future updates.
Montgomery Village, MD: How would a publc investor invest in Firefox?
Mike Schroepfer: Thanks for your interest! Mozilla Corporation is entirely owned by the Mozilla Foundation, which is a non-profit tax exempt organization. The goal of the Mozilla Foundation is to serve the public benefit, not to maximize revenue. So the Mozilla Foundation and the Mozilla Corporation do not have and are not seeking investors.
San Diego, CA: How do you respond to people who say that Firefox is more secure because it's not as popular as IE, and when/if it becomes as popular as IE we'll see the same security problems we're seeing now?
Firefox is more secure because it is developed in the open, with thousands of experts around the world helping us to make sure the product is as secure as possible. We have support from individual and security firms who help us audit the code, test the browser for issues, and resolve them when necessary. This means we catch problems sooner and respond to them much more quickly than property products like IE.
Williamsburg, VA: What are your thoughts and opinions on the growing open-source phenomenon in the tech industry?
Open source software has become a mainstream phenomenon in the technology industry. This is reflected in the number of organizations using open source software to run their businesses, to build their products and in the support industries growing around open source software -- technical support, risk management, insurance, etc.
The open source software development method is also becoming better understood and adopted. In this method code is freely available for review and improvement, "peer-review" is a key aspect, and the ability of someone to lead software development depends on only on their ability and reputation. Open source development has been extremely successful in harnessing the abilities of technical experts all around the world to build a better product.
Alexandria, VA: I switched over to the Fox last spring, and the tabbed browsing has me hooked.
However, I must admit that I don't get the Live Bookmarks feature. What exactly does it do?
Mike Schroepfer: Glad you've enjoyed tabbed browsing - it is definitely hard to switch back once you've used it. Live Bookmarks let you view RSS news and blog headlines in the bookmarks toolbar or menu. You can then quickly review the latest headlines from your favorite sites, which are refreshed automatically. When you see an orange RSS icon in the location bar, that means the site can support a Live Bookmark
Richmond, CA: Who are the new firefox users? Is the growth of firefox stopped, or has it moved into a different kind of growth? I'm an enthusiastic firefox user, but the latest growth figures I saw were not terrible exciting.
Mike Schroepfer: We're continuing to see strong and growing demand for Firefox. Early adopters have been very technically savvy but we have increasingly seen adoption of Firefox by more mainstream users -- thanks largely to word of mouth referrals and our community-driven marketing. We're now launching exciting new community marketing campaigns like Firefox Flicks - with video testimonials and ads - and working with our partners to get the word out to the mainstream.
Toledo, Ohio: Has Firefox worked out any deals to be pre installed on computers? Have you contacted Dell or Gateway or any major computer seller to do so?
If you have, what were the results? If you haven't, why not?
Mike Schroepfer: There has been strong interest from several manufactures to have Firefox preinstalled on computers.
Anchorage, AK: I've downloaded ver. 1.5 and have a question about automatic updating. How often will the system look for updates? When Firefox browser updates are released, will you "push" them, i.e., will the system update itself immediately upon release or wait until the next "scheduled" interval?
We will be releasing updates to 1.5 about every 2 months. Firefox checks for updates about once a day - so within about 24 hours of the update being posted Firefox will automatically download it in the background for you and ask if you'd like it to be installed. So in short, when we have an update ready Firefox will update itself.
McLean, VA: Who are these fools who are still using Internet Explorer? Why? Firefox is so much more convenient with the tabs. When I used IE my task bar was loaded with IE tasks. Now there's just the one Firefox loaded. Also Firefox is more secure (for now) than IE.
Mike Schroepfer: We don't view IE users as fools at all. In many cases they are people who haven't heard of Firefox and don't know how much better their life on the Web can be. We'll be putting a lot of energy into helping even more people learn about Firefox. This is where you and the rest of our phenomenal user community can play a big role. Look around and see who you know that is still using IE -- friends, family, work colleagues, etc. Let them know how much better things can be, and help them install Firefox to give it a try. Check out www.spreadfirefox.com which is our community site for promoting Firefox adoption. Thousands of people have done this, and it has made the web a better place.
Washington, DC: I am running Windows XP Professional on a Toshiba Protege 2000 laptop. After using Firefox for almost a year, about a month ago it stopped working. I have uninstalled and reinstalled it several times and when I try to open it, it never completely opens and locks up and I get the "application not responding" message. IE 6, Netscape, Opera and the AOL browser work. No major changes or software additions were made to the computer.
Mike Schroepfer: Sorry to hear you are having difficulties. I'd encourage you to try out the latest version and see if that helps. If not there are many support options available for Mozilla products, including online documentation, community forums, newsgroups, and chat rooms. We've posted details on where to get help at http:/
Berkeley, CA: I was surprised to see on WashPost.com today that a new version of Firefox had been released several days ago. Why didn't the circle in the top right corner of my current version go red (the usual indicator that Firefox needed to be updated)?
Also, if I go to Firefox to download v. 1.5, will my current v. 1.0.7 be automatically uninstalled? (I don't want two versions on my already-too-crowded hard drive! As a former Netscape user, I'm familiar with having multiple versions stcking around.)
Mike Schroepfer: Since 1.5 is a major new version instead of just a security update, we want users to go and download the update directly from the website (getfirefox.com). I encourage you to do so as it is a great upgrade.
1.5 will install over 1.0.7 and import all of your cookies, preferences, and bookmarks. You'll only have 1.5 installed at this point.
Louisville, Ky: Congratulations on the continued growth in market share of Firefox. I've been a user for some time now, and am very pleased.
I'm curious to hear your opinion on websites that use ActiveX controls, or how other websites are only accessible with IE. Should Mozilla make riskier browsers for the sake of compatability, or is it the responsibility of creators to develop for all browsers?
Mike Schroepfer: Thanks for your support!
We work hard to make sure Firefox is compatible with as many sites as possible. It is unfortunate when sites use proprietary technologies such as ActiveX or code specifically to a particular browser.
Forunately the number of websites that code specifically to IE or use ActiveX is decreasing every day.
Atlanta, GA: I work in a medium sized business (2000 employees) as a system administrator. I would love to roll out Mozilla Firefox to all computers and replace IE, but there are no good tools for doing this. Anything on the horizon to solve this problem and get Firefox into the corporate world?
Mike Schroepfer: Firefox 1.5 has some additional features to support enterprise deployments, including changes in how Firefox managed Windows registry keys and where it stores profile data. We plan to support enterprise deployments through partners, and work is underway to provide Microsoft Windows Installer (MSI) packages and a Client Customization Kit (CCK) for Firefox. You can find more details at http:/
Mike Schroepfer: Thanks everyone for you questions and support!
If you haven't tried the latest version you can get it here: getfirefox.com.
For those of you with additional support questions please go to www.mozilla.com/support for help.
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.