Firefox Browser Upgrade Now Available



Firefox Browser Upgrade Now Available

Version 1.5 offers improved usability, security.

Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service
Friday, September 09, 2005

Users will find significant enhancements in usability, performance,
extensibility, security, and privacy in the test version of Firefox
1.5, the first major upgrade of the popular open-source browser since
the launch of Firefox 1.0 in November of last year.

Beta 1 of Firefox 1.5 is now available as a free download, according
to an official from Mozilla, the subsidiary of the nonprofit Mozilla
Foundation that is charged with developing, marketing, and
distributing Mozilla products.

Multiple Betas

Code-named Deer Park, Firefox 1.5 will have a second beta version
slated for October 5, and then very possibly two or three follow-up
releases starting in late October. A final version will probably
launch in November or December of this year after the early releases,
says Chris Beard, head of products and marketing at Mozilla.

However, computers running the Firefox browser could be open to remote
attack as a result of a buffer overflow vulnerability reported today
by security researcher Tom Ferris. Vulnerable versions of Firefox
include all those up to 1.06, and even version 1.5 Beta 1 (Deer Park
Alpha 2), released on Thursday, he wrote in a posting to his Web site,
Security Protocols, and to the Full Disclosure security mailing list

Ferris said he reported the bug to staff of the Mozilla Foundation,
the organization behind the Firefox browsers, on Sept. 4, but had no
idea whether they were working on a fix for the problem. The problem
is caused by a bug in the code Firefox uses to process HTML (Hypertext
Markup Language) links in Web pages, Ferris said.

Links pointing to a host with a long name composed entirely of dashes
can be crafted so that Firefox will execute arbitrary code of an
attacker's choosing, he said. He also supplied a piece of code
demonstrating the flaw. Last month, Ferris reported a critical flaw in
fully patched versions of Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer 6
running on Windows XP Service Pack 2. The flaw was acknowledged by
Microsoft, but in that instance, Ferris did not reveal any details of
the flaw or how it could be exploited.

Successful Year

The beta releases are primarily aimed at software developers for
testing and feedback, but anyone interested will be able to download
the software, Beard says. The follow-up versions, called "release
candidates," are closer to what the finished product will be.

After years of absolute dominance over the browser market by
Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Firefox has emerged as an alternative,
holding between 7 percent and 8 percent of usage market share,
according to various market research studies.

"We've had a pretty successful year following the launch of Firefox
1.0, and we're continuing to see very strong demand," Beard says.
Mozilla estimates there are between 40 million and 50 million active
Firefox users, defined as people who use the browser on a daily basis,
and the browser is downloaded hundreds of thousands of times every
day, he says.

Although Firefox's adopters are predominantly technically savvy users,
mainstream adoption has been increasing, and version 1.5 is expected
to help further the browser's popularity among the nontechnical, Beard

New Features

Beta 1 of Firefox 1.5 will offer faster Web site navigation, due to
advanced capabilities for caching and prerendering content, Beard

The product's tabbed-browsing feature has also been improved, as users
are now able to rearrange pages by dragging and dropping them, he

Improved as well is the Live Bookmarks feature, which lets users
access RSS (Really Simple Syndication) or Atom content-syndication
feeds. Live Bookmarks' ability to detect the presence of feeds on Web
sites has been sharpened, and the browser will now flash an icon in
the URL bar if the site being visited offers a feed or feeds, he says.

In terms of security and privacy, the biggest improvement is an
automated update feature that makes it easy for users to keep their
browser current with the latest enhancements and patches available,
Beard says. For example, with the current version users have to
download the entire browser again to get updates, but with Firefox 1.5
users will be able to simply download the patches, speeding the
process, he says.

The updates will be downloaded in the background in bits and pieces,
so as to not interfere with the browsing experience, and users will be
prompted to install them once the patch has been completely
downloaded, he says.

Moreover, the automated update feature also will take into account the
add-ins a user has installed, to ensure compatibility between the
browser updates and the extensions, he says.

Meanwhile, the browser's ability to block pop-up ads has been enhanced
so that it catches more of these ads, he says. Also in the area of
security, Mozilla has made it easier for users to clear private data
from the browser's Web site history log, cache, saved forms, cookies,
authenticated sessions, and saved passwords, he says.

Mozilla has worked with partners and community developers to create an
ever increasing number of add-ins, or extensions, that users can plug
into their browser to bolster a wide variety of functions, such as
security, content-syndication capabilities, and Internet searching, he

"We're using our extension space as a virtual research and development
effort to test out new capabilities for the browser before they are
incorporated," Beard says.

Version 2 in the Works

Mozilla is already in preliminary plans for Firefox 2.0, due at some
point next year, Beard says. As the development of Firefox continues,
the project is being helped by the creation of Mozilla Corp. in
August, he says.

"It lets us work very effectively with our open-source project and
network of volunteers and contributors, but it also now lets us engage
in commercial activities which you expect to see from a software
organization," he says.,aid,122459,tk,dn090905X,00.asp

"People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents."
-- Andrew Carnegie, 19th-century robber baron

Thorsten Duhn

Firefox Browser Upgrade Now Available [...]
Beta 1 of Firefox 1.5

I would not call a beta verion an upgrade.
A beta version is not intended for usual end user.


Old Gringo

Thorsten said:
Firefox Browser Upgrade Now Available

Beta 1 of Firefox 1.5

I would not call a beta verion an upgrade.
A beta version is not intended for usual end user.

I took a look at it and only a couple of the extensions are
compatible. Might just as well wait awhile.

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question