Wednesday Mar 25, 2009

OpenSolaris ships Firefox 3.1b3 with Open Video/Audio support

Firefox 3.1 beta 3 has been integrated into OpenSolaris development build. The users for OpenSolaris 2009.06 will be able to enjoy a lot of new features bring alone. Besides all the improvements for performance/security/TraceMonkey and many more, open video/audio support is my favorite.

As people rely more and more heavyly on the Internet, Open Web is becoming more and more important for the Internet users across the world. From my perspective, one of the meanings of "Open" here is that everyone have the equal power to access/participate to the content on the Web. However, one of the problems is that the current web is full of patent-encumbered codecs, which means that not every users have the equal privilege. Open video is definitely one of the approaches taken by browser providers (including Firefox) towards an much opener web. The integration of Firefox 3.1 (later called Firefox 3.5) gives OpenSolaris users an alternative for an opener path.

For the technical part, Firefox 3.1b3 "supports the OGG container format with the Theora video and Vorbis audio codecs for the <video> element".I notice that some people argued that OGG Theora is inferior to H.264. Well, that might be the current status. As Mozilla grants $100,000 (USD) which is administrated by "the Wikimedia Foundation to develop and support Theora", I believe that this will be definitely improved in the near future. On the other hand, hope that other organizations/companies can join Mozilla to push the open video/audio forward.

For OpenSolaris users, the age for open video/audio is approaching!

Update: the Firefox 3.1b3 contributed builds for Solaris 10 is also available.

Tuesday Dec 30, 2008

About running multiple versions of Firefox on one OpenSolaris box

As for some users, usually one version of Firefox is enough on one OpenSolaris box. For those who want to try different versions of Firefox on the same box, Bernd gives a nice tip in his blog.

I took the tarball approach instead of pkgadd to do this like he mentioned, especially when I want to verify certain bugs on certain version of Firefox or nightly. You might want to install multiple Firefox packages on your box and this blog is helpful.

There were a big bunch of Firefox/Thunderbird releases recently, including Firefox 3.1b2/3.0.5/ and Thunderbird 3.0b1. Please go to OpenSolaris desktop community for detail.

Saturday Sep 27, 2008

Firefox 3.0.3 builds for Solaris/OpenSolaris are avaiable

Just uploaded the Firefox 3.0.3 contributed builds(x86/SPARC) for OpenSolaris and Solaris 10 to Mozilla server. It's a quick wrap up for the 3.0.2 release several days ago to fix a critical bug. Please check the release notes for detail.

If you've already installed contributed Firefox 3.0.x(package format) on your Solaris 10 box, you could just pkgrm SFWfirefox and reinstall only the firefox package. It should work.

Monday Jul 21, 2008

Firefox 3.0.1 builds for Solaris/OpenSolaris are avaiable

The Firefox 3.0.1 builds are now available for download here. You can also join desktop dash discuss at opensolaris dot org to get the release notice.The printing should work for the builds.

Friday Jul 04, 2008

Update: Firefox 3.0 contributed builds for Solaris 10

Thanks all for the feedback. The updated version of Firefox 3.0 contributed builds for Solaris 10 have been uploaded to the Mozilla ftp server: pkgadd tarball.

There are some changes to these builds to compare with the previous:
1. Add "--enable-official-branding" to the build option. Now it's Firefox, not Minefield.
2. Update the font to make Firefox 3.0 consistent with Firefox 2.0 on Solaris 10.
3. Enable jemalloc on Solaris ported by Ginn. It'll decrease the memory footprint for Firefox 3.0.
4. Add "--with-system-jpeg" which should fix the crash issue related to jpeg images.
5. Update the startup script to store the configure files in $HOME/.mozilla/firefox. Now the tarball builds can run on a read-only directory.

Please note that all the glib/atk/cairo/pango/dbus/dbus-glib libraries stay the same in the new builds:
glib 2.14.4
atk 1.20.0
cairo 1.4.12
pango 1.18.3
gtk 2.12.3
dbus 1.1.20
dbus-glib 0.74
The pkgadd users can keep the old ones and just reinstall the Firefox package.

BTW, Ginn's performance patches have been applied:[1] [2]. The performance improvement on SPARC is obvious to me. And the latest Flash Player release has fixed the gmail crash issue.

Any problem, please feel free to raise it up.

Sunday Jun 29, 2008

Q/A: the Firefox 3.0 builds for Solaris 10

Got some questions about the Firefox 3.0 builds for Solaris 10. I think it's good to start a new post to explain it a little bit.
Would like to give some updates for the builds first. The tar ball builds were uploaded, totally four builds are available now(pkgadd: x86/SPARC, tarball: x86/SPARC). All of them were made on Solaris 10 initial release(FCS). So they are supposed to work on all the Solaris 10 and update releases.

Q: What's the different between these four builds and the first binary?
A: The first binary was made on Solaris 10U5 box. I got a suggestion that the builds should be made on the initial release to embrace more Solaris 10 users. So I rebuilt them and uploaded.

Q: I've installed Firefox 2.0 contributed package. Will 3.0 conflict with it?
A: No. The package will install to /opt/sfw/lib/firefox3 and won't conflict with 2.0, which is in /opt/sfw/lib/firefox. And /opt/sfw/bin/firefox is just a symbol link to /opt/sfw/lib/firefox3/firefox. You can always make one yourself.

Q: Some extensions don't work.
A: This is an known issues for Firefox 3.0 across all the platform. I think the extension developers will update their package soon.

Q: Why does the installation directory needs to be writeable for the tar ball release?
A: Please refer to the thread here.

Q: I feel that Firefox 3.0 runs slower on my SPARC box than 2.0.
A: There is an known issue for Firefox 3.0 on SPARC box without Xrender. Ginn has provided a patch to improve this(thanks a lot). My own experience is that the performance has been improved a lot. There might be still posibility to improve.

Q: Is there any FF3.0 feature that could not be made available to the current rel for solaris10?
A: From my experience, all the features should be available for these builds. Please refer to the feature list.

Q: Will this bundle work on OpenSolaris 2008.05?
A: No. All these builds can only work on Solaris 10. We've provided the builds for OpenSolaris and Solaris Nevada here.

Q: TJHSST provided another contributed builds. Are both packages basically the same?
A: It's obvious that all the glib/atk... version are different between this contributed builds and the one provided by Sun. So I assume that there are some difference. To know about the detail, we need to get in touch with TJHSST first. But I don't find any contact information. So anyone know about this, please feel free to let me know.

Q: Is Minefield a post-Firefox 3 beta release? Is it based on the beta nightly builds, and thus not fully tested?
A: Actually, the builds Minefield were made from Firefox 3.0 source directly, with only several branding patches(performance improvement for SPARC for example). The reason for switching off the option "--enable-official-branding" is because of the quality concern. I posted the builds before Sun's internal testing and hope for some community feedback. With some users' replies and my own user experience, and also some internal testing(not full functional testing yet), I think the quality is good. Kudos to the Mozilla community.

Q: Is the new Firefox 3 Solaris 10 build(TJHSST) the REAL FX 3 release, fully tested and stable?
A: TJHSST should the right source to get the answer for this.

Q: Has anyone compared these two packages with each other on Solaris 10?
Any opinions on relative stability/functionality? Which do you recommend?
A: No, we don't have a plan to compare these two. You might have a basic idea about the builds provide by Sun. Please raise the questions to desktop dash discuss at opensolaris dot org if you decide to choose it. We'll move the contributed builds to Sun's directory soon.

Tuesday Jun 24, 2008

Enjoy Firefox 3.0 on Solaris 10

The Firefox 3.0 contributed builds are finally available for Solaris 10 now(x86 and SPARC), about one week after its official release. Also what's new and a nice flash for the new features introduction.

Due to the dependency on some libraries not included in Solaris 10(legacy GNOME 2.6), the contributed builds have been missing for some time. The contributed builds contain the following list of libraries each besides Firefox 3.0 package:

glib 2.14.4
atk 1.20.0
cairo 1.4.12
pango 1.18.3
gtk 2.12.3
dbus 1.1.20
dbus-glib 0.74

The list above should be the minimal set of libraries that's needed for Firefox 3.0 on Solaris 10. Both of the builds were made on "Solaris 10 3/05 s10_74L2a" with SunStudio 12, CBE 1.6 and gnome 2.20 spec files(with some tweaking). They are supposed to work on all Solaris 10 and update releases.

To follow the contributed Firefox package convention, all the packages will be installed to /opt/sfw directory. Any interests, please download it to a local place, bunzip and pkgadd it. Run "/opt/sfw/bin/firefox" should be fine(or add /opt/sfw/bin to your PATH). I've tried the builds on my "Solaris 10 5/08 s10x_u5wos_10" x86/SPARC boxes here with several extensions, they work fine. Well, it's better to wait for a newer flash plugin release to avoid known crash.

I'm not sure how the qulity exactly is. So any problem, please raise it up. It'll be good to talk about this in desktop dash discuss at opensolaris dot org.

Sunday Jun 08, 2008

Firefox download day

Firefox 3.0 release is about to come in the near future. If you like what Firefox brings to the open web, please join the download day and be part of the world record :-)

Firefox 3.0 has lots of improvement, better usability, better performance, better security... Here is a video on some of the new features. Just like I can't live without tab any more. The new bookmark/history management has gradually became the indispensable feature for the future browsers.

Firefox rocks!

Monday May 19, 2008

Firefox 3.0RC1 testday -- participation and contribution

Sun China OpenSolaris desktop team cooperated with Mozilla Online to hold a Firefox 3.0RC1 testday in Sun China office on May 18th, from 10:00am to 6:00pm.

Testday is a traditional community event for Mozilla QA. 28 students from Beijing Capital Normal
University joined this event. The team here prepare the Solaris Vermillion b90 environment with Firefox 3.0RC1, including SunRay, x86 and SPARC. It's all black box testing by logging in Litmus and all the students experience what Firefox 3.0 brings to the end users. Finally, they passed 1400 testcases, about 70 testcases failed and the top studnet ran 200 testcases.

At the end of the event, we selected 5 top students from the crew, awarded them some prize and certificates. One student said she has never thought that to contribute to open source is this simple.

Some pictures can be found here.

Tuesday Apr 01, 2008

Happy birthday, Mozilla

Mar. 31st 2008 is a special day for the open source world. It's the 10th anniversary for Mozilla.

Ten years before, I was studying hard back to high school, trying to pass the college entrance exam to come to Beijing, without any idea about Open Source. And now, I'm enjoying all the power and freedom brought by Open Source: Solaris Nevada(GNOME 2.20/Firefox 3.0b4/Thunderbird 2.0.0.x/Songbird 0.5/StarOffice 8/DTrace/ZFS...).

Mozilla changes our life with 10 years' time. I really look forward to the next ten years.

Thursday Mar 20, 2008

The new crash reporting tool for OpenSolaris on Mozilla platform

Just before the Firefox 3.0 beta 5 code freeze time(several hours ago), the patches(bug 391361/423674) to enable the crash reporting for OpenSolaris on Mozilla platform are finally accepted by Breakpad and Mozilla. Many thanks for the review from Ted Mielczarek. And also the whole community to accept them at this last moment.

Then what is the crash reporting tool for? People who have Windows experience should know that there might be a dialog pops up after a process crashes sometimes. You can select "send the error report" or not. Well, this tool has the similar purpose. With it enabled on Firefox, we can send the crash report to the server and also query/view the report in detail. Then the Mozilla developers can prioritize the reports and fix them accordingly. Even more, some quality analysis can be done based on all the reports in the database. So hey, don't hesitate to send the report, that's a big help to the community:)

To make everything available to the Solaris users, several other things still need to be figured out first.

1. Get the permission to upload the Firefox symbols for Solaris to the community symbols server(The architecture might be helpful to understand). Then the server will be responsible to generate the final human readable report based on the symbols.

2. Add "OpenSolaris" to the server's platform list.

After that, this feature will be enabled for the Solaris contributed build for Firefox after 3.0, maybe also the Firefox packages for Indiana.

BTW, this could also be enabled for Songbird on Solaris.

Thursday Sep 20, 2007

The Solaris Tinderboxes for Firefox

Tinderbox is Mozilla's automated build system. With so many Mozilla developers across the world, it helps make sure the source code in a good shape. Some related introduction documents: 1 2 3

Firefox is the default browser for SXDE. Sun Beijing Browser team provides two Solaris Tinderboxes(x86/SPARC) on the Firefox-Ports page to track the Firefox trunk status on Solaris, with accessibility enabled and the automated tests deployed. Sometimes, the patch that works well for the other three platforms(Windows/Mac OS/Linux) will break the trees on Solaris. With Mozilla community's help, a small view has been created on the left column of Firefox Tinderbox main page for Firefox-Ports page which includes the Solaris Tinderboxes. Hopefully these two trees can get some attentions from the Mozilla community.

Thanks for this great help, Mozilla community!

Tuesday Sep 18, 2007

The future of Thunderbird

It has been about two months since Mitchell Baker's Email Call to Action. There are lots of discussion about this in the Mozilla community, and the change for Thunderbird also gives some impact for the Solaris future delivery plan.

From the very beginning, people have got used to the situation that Firefox and Thunderbird belong to one organization(Mozilla Cooperation), share the same amount of resources/development platform and have the same security updates/release schedule. But the difference release date between Firefox 2.0 and Thunderbird 2.0 has reflected that the MoCo focuses more on Firefox. As Thunderbird/Lightning have been delivered into Solaris Nevada and they are part of the SXDE product, we also have some concerns for the future of Thunderbird:
1. Support model. Currently, Mozilla cooperation promises 6 months' security support for Firefox 2.0.0.x after Firefox 3.0 is released. How is the support model for Thunderbird?
2. Release schedule. If Firefox releases some security advisories in the future, will the Thunderbird organization(MailCo) also do some security update at the same time?

The talk with Scott MacGregor early this month was great. That gave me lots of confidence on the future of Thunderbird. Currently, only two full time developers from MoCo are working on Thunderbird: Scott MacGregor and David Bienvenu. It's hard to advance the users' Internet Mail and Communications experience with the limited resources. That's why the Thunderbird guys want to have some change, to find their own way to make TB better, to stimulate innovation. However, change always brings uncertainty. It takes time for people to accept the change.

The latest official post from MoCo answers the questions as well: Mozilla Launches Internet Mail and Communications Initiative. It's a good news that "Nothing will change for current Thunderbird users. Mozilla will continue to provide Thunderbird users with regular security and stability updates as it establishes its new initiative, and remains committed to the needs of Thunderbird users", and "Thunderbird will be able to evolve faster to user needs" in the long term.

See also David Ascher's blog for future plan of Thunderbird.

Although there are some differences between Firefox and Thunderbird: "The products are different, the userbase is different, the international aspects are different", one thing I believe is that they both stimulate openness and innovation and make the online life easier for the public users.

GoGoGo, Thunderbird!

Thursday Aug 30, 2007

The DTrace workshop in Mozilla HQ

There will be a DTrace workshop in Mozilla HQ Aug. 30th -- Aug. 31st. Brendan Gregg(one of the DTrace gurus, the author of the DTraceToolkit), John Rice, Padraig Obriain, myself from Solaris Desktop team will give this workshop. The main purpose is to introduce DTrace to Mozilla community and help resolve some performance and memory issues in Firefox. We've already got some patches for DTrace framework, layout probes and Javascript probes, detail is in bugzilla bug 370906 and 388564. Hope them can be merged into Firefox trunk code soon.

Following is the ageda for the workshop:

    August 30th - Thursday afternoon after the lunch, presentation to wider audience on DTrace.
    \* DTrace Intro. Look at general Firefox issues such as startup time, what I/O is it doing, what files, what read access patterns and so on.
    \* DTrace Javascript. Introduce the probes, show how we can combine these probes with other PID probes to narrow the focus on specific areas.
    \* DTrace framework. Discuss general issues around the probe framework. Concerns raised already on cross-platform issues, maintainability and support on Mac.

    August 31st - in depth 1 day work shop with Mozilla developers to look at specific performance concerns and get answers using the probes.

If you're interested in the topics above and close to the Mozilla office, welcome to join us. If you're interested in using DTrace on Solaris, you could try the vmware images here.

BTW, the video will be put online. Please stay tune.

Tuesday Aug 21, 2007

Bank of Beijing announces the drop of Firefox support for the online bank

I'm quite astonished by a short message from my friend this morning. The main point is that Bank of Beijing announces the drop of Firefox support for the online bank system. Following is the Chinese version of that message. I don't get all the ideas about the reasons:-( The reasons why they do this is mostly about the compatibility of IE and Firefox. And they don't care about web standard so much actually.

I'll try to translate it into English below.

2、 Firefox为了兼容windows,linux,unix和max os,必须制作一种统一的浏览器内核,而实际上,这些操作系统的网页浏览方式是不一样的,所以在css,javascript,vbscript等网页脚本语言的调用方式上也是不同的,因此,在用非IE的浏览器上使用网上银行会出现样式错乱或者使用出错的情况。

The English version:

Hi there,

Thanks for your adoption and support to the Bank of Beijing personal online bank system all along. Please be informed that the newer version of the online bank won't support Firefox browser any more. The reasons are as below:
1. Firefox is an open source browser. The programming language needs to have the universal property. Although Firefox could add many security extensions(plugins?), some extensions are provided by the third parties which makes the language otherness even worse(?). This will bring some browsing problems.
2. To provide the cross-platform functionality for Firefox(Windows/Linux/Unix/Mac OS), it's necessary to develop a unified browser engine. However, different OSes have different browsing techniques, also different call method with the script languages such as CSS/Javascript/vbscript. So the online bank system will have style error or usage error with non-IE browsers.
3. The old version of the online bank are mostly static jsp pages, only a small set of style(CSS). And there are no big impacts if you use non-IE browsers. The situation is different with the newer version. It uses a lot CSS and higher version js syntax. So comes the compatibility issues for Firefox.

Based on the reasons mentioned above, we suggest that you could use IE bundled with the OS(Windows). Please understand the inconvenience. Hope that you can support us as always. Thanks.


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