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26 October, 2006

How to update Firefox

I've just updated Firefox 1.5.0.7 to Firefox 2 on my office PC.  On reflection, I think I acted too soon, as a number of core extensions (er...) and themes aren't compatible yet.  I won't be updating on my home PC, at least until the automatic 'check for updates' pushes it at me.  For my own future reference and perhaps the interest of others, this is what I've done:

I suppose I should have timed it, but installation and configuration were really straightforward; ten minutes at most, and that counts time spent reading menus in case anything had changed.

  • Installed the basic package over Fx1.5, using the 'Custom' option to decline the DOM Inspector & Feedback Agent. Incidentally, ensure Fx is fully closed (check Task Manager to verify 'firefox.exe' really isn't running), as there's a risk of losing Bookmarks in the 'handover'.
  • It automatically verified compatibility with extensions & themes and checked for updates but, as usual, an additional 'forced' check for updates found more. Unfortunately, some important ones were missing.
  • Checked the 'Options' submenu. My selections had been carried-over from Fx1.5, so I only made one additional amendment: turned off automatic spellchecking.
  • Following Lifehacker's instructions, I used 'about:config' to:
    • Decrease the minimum tab width, to minimise scrolling. Fifty pixels (half the default) is enough for me.
    • Restore the Fx1.5 style of tab closing: one 'close' button at the right of the entire tab bar rather than one button per tab.
    • Prevent prefetching of unselected pages.
    • Remove the 'Go' button from the address bar.
  • Configured the built-in search facility:
    • Removed engines I don't use, via the dropdown menu.
    • Reconfigured the ones I kept, by manually editing the .xml files in /Program Files/Mozilla Firefox/searchplugins/.
      Specifically, I renamed 'Amazon.co.uk' and 'eBay.co.uk' to 'Amazon' & 'eBay' (I'm in the UK, so I know they're .co.uk sites) and changed the Google URL from 'www.google.com/firefox' to 'www.google.com/'. [No. Don't.]
I'm missing 'Clone Window' (for tab cloning), the 'Undo Close Tab' extension was more convenient (on the right-click context menu) than the new inbuilt utility (on the drop-down 'History' menu), and I'd like the comfort of my preferred theme ('Someorbityellow'), but otherwise the new version seems okay up to now.

[More tweaks.]

[Update 16:36: The 'Undo Closed Tabs Button' extension satisfactorily replaces 'Undo Close Tab' – the option is added to the context menu when in the tabs bar. 'Clone Window' is almost replicated by 'NewTabURL', though with significant problems, so I'm only using it as a stopgap.]

[Update 16:51: Yay! 'Orbit Yellow 2006' replaces 'Someorbityellow_nb'.

That was a little more fiddly than I initially thought, but I think I've almost replicated all the functionality of Fx1.5, with the bonuses of FX2's security updates and additional features. I'd still recommend waiting a while, though, as the stand-in extensions I found aren't quite as good as the ones I had originally, which hopefully will be updated to Fx2 compatibility soon.]

[Update 17:16: Nope, 'NewTabURL' is more trouble than it's worth. Avoid.]

[Update 27/10/06: My mistake: I'd been using 'Clone Window 0.2.5' which was incompatible with FX2's 'Find Updates' utility. By downloading a fresh copy of version 0.2.8, it's updated perfectly.
That may be worth trying for any other apparently incompatible extensions/themes: check the numbers of the most recent versions available from Mozilla or the plugin authors' websites. If they're newer than you have, download them afresh.]

[One more update 13/06/07: If 'about: config' is a little daunting, try the more user-friendly interface of a Firefox plugin, 'Configuration Mania'.]

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