Aurora goes Firefox Developer Edition

Mozilla announced a few days ago a new flavour of the Firefox browser called Firefox Developer Edition. This new Firefox edition is in fact replacing the previous Aurora version. Just to add some background how it was structured until a few days ago:

  • Nightly – nightly builds of mozilla-central which is basically Mozilla’s HEAD
  • Aurora – regular builds published for openSUSE under mozilla:alpha
  • Beta – weekly builds for openSUSE under mozilla:beta
  • Release – full stable public releases as shipped as end user product for openSUSE under mozilla and in Factory/Tumbleweed

There is a 6 weeks cycle where the codebase goes from Nightly to Aurora to Beta to Release while it stabilizes.

Now as Aurora is replaced to be Firefox Developer Edition I am also changing the way how to deliver those to openSUSE users:

  • Nightly – there are no RPMs provided. People who want to run it can/should grab an upstream tarball
  • Firefox Developer Edition – now available as package firefox-dev-edition from the mozilla repository
  • Beta – no changes, available (as long time permits) from mozilla:beta
  • Release – no changes, available in mozilla and submitted to openSUSE Factory / Tumbleweed

A few more notes on the Firefox Developer Edition RPMs for openSUSE:

  • it’s brand new so please send me feedback about packaging issues
  • it can be installed in parallel to Release or Beta and is started as firefox-dev and is using a different profile unless you change that default; therefore it can even run in parallel with regular Firefox
  • it carries most of the openSUSE specific patches (including KDE integration)
  • it currently has NO branding packages and therefore does not use exactly the same preferences as the openSUSE provided Firefox so it behaves like Firefox when installed with MozillaFirefox-branding-upstream

ESR and Thunderbird under KDE

A quick update about recent changes in Mozilla applications for openSUSE.

With the release of Firefox and Thunderbird 11 (and Seamonkey 2.8) the older versions (10) got obsolete as always. But Mozilla created ESR (Extended Support Release) for Firefox and Thunderbird based on versions 10 and will maintain them for a longer time. Please read the FAQ about the details. For openSUSE we will not switch to these versions for different reasons but I’ll provide these from the buildservice repository mozilla. You should be able to install the current versions (10.0.3) of Firefox and Thunderbird by choosing firefox-esr or thunderbird-esr (there is also xulrunner-esr) in your package manager if you added that repository before. Please note that this is opt-in only and it’s not possible to install latest normal version and ESR versions in parallel. They are using the same profile directory and therefore I didn’t give them a separate installation directory neither. It’s also a bit risky to jump between ESR and normal versions because of the profile. So as normal version gets higher every six weeks the riskier to jump back and forth. Basically those ESR versions should probably be used only if really necessary but I still wanted to provide that possibility. If you install the ESR versions and found issues please let me know. Because of the renaming and parallel usage of the branding packages I might have missed some packaging foo to make updates in every case smooth.

A similar topic is about Firefox 3.6 and Thunderbird 3.1. The latest round of updates (3.6.28 / 3.1.20) was most likely the last one and people should start switching to more recent versions. That also means that 11.4 will get Thunderbird 12 as replacement for 3.1.20 with the next round. Other versions are already on the latest packages. (Evergreen will likely switch to the ESR versions btw.)

And about the last announcement (from my “quick update”) people might notice that Thunderbird 11 now got at least some of the KDE integration from Firefox as people kept pinging me about it. (And Firefox’ KDE integration is also back for the official updates!)


Mozilla based web authoring applications

I’m not a web designer really but I happen to be kind of responsible for packaging two web authoring applications in openSUSE which are SeaMonkey’s Composer and KompoZer. While the SeaMonkey integrated editor is somewhat limited (AFAIK) KompoZer (which was forked from Nvu at some point) has more advanced features. But KompoZer development seems to be pretty slow and it misses quite some of the new web stuff which is around nowadays. In addition the current version is BETA for quite some time now and seems to have a major issue in openSUSE 11.4 and 12.1.

Because of that I finally had a look at BlueGriffon (written by the same developer as the Netscape/Mozilla/SeaMonkey Composer and Nvu) as it seems to be in active development and supports quite some of the new HTML5 and CSS3 stuff and created an initial openSUSE package available in the mozilla OBS repository for testing now. There is also an openSUSE feature request to make it available.  If you are a web developer or already know BlueGriffon please give the package a try and send your feedback.

My plan for the openSUSE distribution would be to keep SeaMonkey’s Composer (basically anyway because it’s a part of SeaMonkey which is to stay), add BlueGriffon and drop KompoZer. If you see a reason why that might be a bad idea based on your experience as a web authoring application user please let me know.

Looking forward to your feedback!


on Macaw, Aurora, and Miramar

With Firefox 4 released a few weeks ago it’s time for me to look into what comes next.

The first to follow are maintenance updates for Firefox 4 which are now codenamed Macaw. 4.0.1 is in upstream beta testing for a few days now. At some point in future we will have a SeaMonkey 2.1 release which will  be (most likely) based on the same Gecko version as Firefox 4 and you can get 2.1b3 snapshots for that from mozilla:beta. From the same repository you can also install a new Thunderbird 3.3a4 (codename Miramar). Please note that this early package has no Enigmail support yet.

Now to some interesting changes which are coming up with Firefox development and releases. Mozilla switched to a “rapid release cycle” after the release of FF4. This means that we will see new Firefox major releases around every 6 weeks. Firefox 5 is currently planned for end of June 2011. Firefox now is developed through different stages before the final release where Aurora is branched already for FF5 and will enter the beta stage in a few weeks. A current Firefox Aurora build is available in mozilla:alpha.

This changed release process also means that there won’t be long maintained branches anymore which has an impact on how we deal with updates during a distribution lifetime. Nothing has been discussed on that topic yet though. Another fallout is that our Firefox packages will be standalone packages again after several years of being based on XULRunner. What will happen to XULRunner in the distribution is yet another thing we need to figure out.


Call for testing: Firefox 4.0b4 on KDE (and in general)

If you are brave enough feel free to update to Firefox 4.0b4 from the mozilla:beta repository. It will not install in parallel to previous versions but will replace your existing Firefox package. As always you want to backup your profile before so you can go back to your previous version without problems.
The latest package contains the KDE integration patches we had in FF3.x which are pretty much untested. So if you run KDE and want to give it a try please report issues you find in Novell’s Bugzilla.


Mozilla Summit 2010

I’m just back from the Mozilla Summit 2010 and I’m pretty excited about the demos I’ve seen there about the future of Firefox and the open web.
HTML5/CSS3 is most likely the next big thing on the web and Firefox 4 will be there to support it.
There is a really cool demo I would like to share: (note the dynamic real time content from twitter and flickr and also that this animation is not a video)

And once Firefox 4 with WebGL support will be out we will hit again the problematic situation on Linux about, OpenGL and graphics drivers. (And for this moment I still need to embed the above video as Flash object to not ignore the people using non-WebM enabled browsers ;-))


Firefox (Minefield) and WebM

Two days ago the initial support for the new WebM Media Format landed in Mozilla’s official version control system. So I finally had a good reason to start preparing the first set of Firefox 3.7/4 alpha packages for openSUSE.
As expected they are available through OBS’ mozilla:alpha repository. For easier testing the package can be installed in parallel to your stable Firefox release and does not use the official branding yet. Please note that firefox4 is using the existing profile directory and it’s strongly recommended to use either -P to get the profile selection dialog or back up the profile in ~/.mozilla/firefox. It’s not fully ported with all openSUSE specific settings, KDE integration and lockdown functionality yet. All this will be done along the way of regular updating to newer snapshots. Firefox 4 is still under heavy development and far away from a final (or even beta?) release.


Out of process browser plugins coming

Mozilla is going to release the next Firefox 3.6 maintenance update (3.6.4) with a new feature to run browser plugins outside of the main process. The biggest advantage about that is that crashing plugins do not crash the whole browser anymore which can be a great improvement for people experiencing regular Flash crashes. Actually for Firefox 3.6.4 that feature only is enabled for Adobe’s Flash plugin and only makes a difference on 32bit installations (as 64bit still uses nspluginwrapper which does a similar thing anyway).
In addition to that there was some rework on the crashreporter which should work for x86-64 and is using DWARF symbols now which makes breakpad’s symbol creation compatible again with our default debuginfo packages.
To get some testing on these new features I have prepared packages for the upcoming release in the mozilla:beta OBS repository. Feel free to provide any feedback as comment to that post, Bugzilla, or via IRC to me.


Crashes anyone?

Starting with Firefox 3.6 I’ve enabled the Mozilla internal crashreporter for 32-bit builds. Some people have seen that already unfortunately 😉 But anyway that is still a good thing as it makes your and my life easier to analyze what’s going on. This is more kind of a testing phase currently but my plan is go that direction because Apport seems to be no efficient solution in openSUSE just yet and Mozilla was interested in helping distributors to use their infrastructure (they also have the advantage of having more crash data available on Linux systems).
There are still some technical issues which are being worked on. There is no full 64-bit support in Gecko 1.9.2 and the breakpad implementation lacks DWARF support so if we support stabs+ debug symbols as used there we loose RPM’s feature of generating correct debuginfo packages.
Both issues are almost fixed but it’s unclear if we can fully support it with Firefox 3.6 already.


Firefox 3.6 released

(The number of my blog posts is getting inflationary somehow so I’ll keep it short)

Spread Firefox Affiliate Button

Firefox 3.6 has been released and obviously it’s already available for download from the openSUSE Mozilla repository for all openSUSE versions back to 11.0.
(As it is really fresh, some Addons might not be updated yet and as always the latest previous version 3.5.x is still available in the mozilla:legacy repo.)