Category Archives: PlanetFirefox

Mega status update

I’m terrible at remembering to send out regular status updates, so here’s a belated list of things I’ve been up to recently in Firefox-land…

* CrashKill. We’ve been making a big push to reduce Firefox crashes. I’ve largely been working with 3rd party crashes (eg bug 519340). Some of these 3rd parties are very responsive and quickly work to resolve the crashes their product is causing, others are… less so. It was surprising to me to find that other software is directly responsible for a huge number of Firefox crashes… Antivirus software, Flash, and malware seem to be the worst.

* Firefox on Tegra. Working on getting Firefox 3.6 running well on Tegra netbooks, and diving into localization issues so we can fully support Windows CE like other platforms.

* Firefox application updater. I mentioned in a previous update that my fix for bug 517102 made the updater 3x faster. I’m working on what should be another big performance and reliability boost in bug 529464.

* Password manager fixes and features. These have been in-flight for a while, but unfortunately didn’t make Firefox 3.6. But I’m pushing to wrap them up in coming weeks and get them into the next release. Notable changes are bug 499417 (refactoring the “master password” code, a first step to bigger changes), bug 499233 (finally killing multiple master password prompts on session restore), bug 465636 (add timestamps to login metadata), and bug 223636 (support automatic login for HTTP Auth).

* Rewriting the Weave’s crypto backend (bug 513798). Last year I rewrote Weave’s crypto code to use NSS (Firefox’s own crypto library) instead of OpenSSL. That’s been working swell, but it’s a binary component, and is a real pain to deal with when making Weave available on other platforms (like all the new mobile devices we’re working with). Dan Witte recently landed JS-Ctypes, which allows JavaScript code to call into native libraries. So now I’m porting the Weave C++ code to JS to take advantage of this.

* Using CSS Transitions in HTML5 video controls (bug 521890). David Baron has added support for the CSS Transitions spec to Firefox trunk, so I took a look at having our HTML5 video controls use this feature. When I implemented the controls for Firefox 3.5, I had to use a pile of JavaScript timers and callbacks to implement the fade and slide effects… CSS Transitions GREATLY simply doing such things. Currently blocked on one issue.

* Performance work. Noticed an issue with Necko not caching protocol handlers well (unknown what the perf impact is yet), looked how often we check perferences at runtime (a LOT, no bug yet), and am starting to look at the impact of all the timers we have firing and how they might be impacting power usage. Also investigating a problem with restoring maximized windows. We inefficiently restore the size, which slows down opening a window on Tegra devices (which generally use maximized windows).

* Got a speedy new Windows 7 desktop, and have been getting it configured and running.

My next big project is finishing up Doorhanger Notifications, which are a critical UI feature for the revamped Firefox 3.7/4.0 themes. Matt Noorenberghe started the implementation this summer as an intern, so I’ll be wrapping that up and making it fit updated designs.


Sneaky software installs

The Mozilla Plugin Check page was released today, so I loaded it up to see the latest changes. “Looks good,” I thought, and skimmed the list of plugins it displayed for me. Quicktime, Silverlight, Flash, and… Woah, wait.


On my OS X box? How the fuck did that get there? I sure don’t remember installing it. Grrrr!

A little web searching later, and I found my answer. It’s silently installed with Flip4Mac (a set of Quicktime components to allow playing Microsoft proprietary media formats on OS X), which I had installed a week or two ago to try something, and then promptly forgot about. The installer doesn’t have a word to say about it, unless you click a little “Customize” button on the 5th screen on the install:

That really annoys me. Silent, sneaky software installs are evil, evil, evil.

At least Flip4Mac includes an uninstaller, so I ran that. It’s actually a package, so you’re confusingly prompted to “Select the disk where you want to install the uninstaller software.”, but it was otherwise painless. Now to just restart my browser, check about:plugins, and…

GAHHHH! It’s still there. Their uninstaller uninstalls the Flip4Mac bits, but not the Silverlight plug. Solution:

rm -rf /Library/Internet Plug-Ins/Silverlight.plugin/

It’s finally dead, Jim.

Making progress

If you’re running nightly builds of trunk or Firefox 3.6, you may notice a smoother progress bar while installing the nightly updates…

The old progress bar behavior had always seemed a bit odd to me — it would do nothing for a bit, move to about 15% point, and then suddenly finish. I didn’t get around to looking at why it did that until I used the updater on a Windows CE netbook. The device is a lot slower than a normal system, so the unusual progress bar movement could appear frozen for over a minute! That’s really poor UI feedback, so I set about fixing it.

You can read the gory details in bug 517102, but the end result is that the progress bar now tracks progress more accurately, and the updater runs 3 times faster too!

Is the tree REALLY green?

While sheriffing yesterday, I was a bit confused when dbaron asked if I was looking into all the orange. The tree ( looked mostly green, except for a handful of earlier Talos oranges. So, yadda yadda, it turns out that most of the test boxes report to a separate tinderbox tree now — There are similar splits for the 3.6 and 3.5 trees.

This was probably announced somewhere, but 3 other developers also didn’t know this was the case. So, I figured a blog post was in order.

Tinderboxpushlog already includes both sets of data, and I’ve just updated to use both sets as well.