Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Firefox Beta Update

I've gone back to the "old" Firefox, version 1.0.7. While the beta version was noticeably faster, there were a few things I didn't like. I had trouble opening Windows media files, such as video news stories. The player window would open, but there was no picture, only sound. I couldn't stop or pause it. Another of Fulton's Favorite Firefox Features, friends, was being able to move among open tabs using the CTL+TAB keys. I was disappointed to find that this did not work in the beta. When these issues are resolved, I'll go back to the beta.

One of the reasons the beta is so fast is that it uses link prefetching. Link prefetching downloads, or prefetches, links and other documents from a web page that you're viewing and stores the items in the browser's cache. When you access one of the prefetched items, it can be served up quickly out of the cache. But you may also get cookies and web pages in your browser's cache from web sites that you did not visit.

Mozilla's browsers all do this, but the Firefox beta's prefetching is on steroids. Mozilla has posted information on prefetching.

Prefetching may present some security issues for users and bandwith use problems for web developers. This article explains how.

You can disable prefetching by following these instructions:
1. Type "about:config" the address bar.
2. Scroll down to the setting "network.prefetch-next" and set the value to "False".

You can also delete these files by clearing your browser's cache and cookies. Be careful not to delete any cookies you want to keep.

Here's more information on problems with the beta. Scroll down to Known Issues.

So the trade-off is speed vs. possible security issues. You make the call.


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