Mozilla Firefox is a free and open source web browser developed for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux coordinated by Mozilla Corporation and Mozilla Foundation. Firefox uses the Gecko layout engine to render web pages, which implements current and anticipated web standards. As of July 2012, Firefox has approximately 24% of worldwide usage share of web browsers, making it the third most widely used web browser. The browser has had particular success in Indonesia, Germany and Poland, where it is the most popular browser with 66%, 48% and 47% of the market share respectively.
Main article: History of FirefoxThe Firefox project began as an experimental branch of the Mozilla project by Dave Hyatt, Joe Hewitt and Blake Ross. They believed the commercial requirements of Netscape's sponsorship and developer-driven feature creep compromised the utility of the Mozilla browser. To combat what they saw as the Mozilla Suite's software bloat, they created a stand-alone browser, with which they intended to replace the Mozilla Suite. On April 3, 2003, the Mozilla Organization announced that they planned to change their focus from the Mozilla Suite to Firefox and Thunderbird.
The Firefox project has undergone several name changes. Originally titled Phoenix, it was renamed because of trademark problems with Phoenix Technologies. The replacement name, Firebird, provoked an intense response from the Firebird free database software project. In response, the Mozilla Foundation stated that the browser should always bear the name Mozilla Firebird to avoid confusion with the database software. After further pressure from the database server's development community, on February 9, 2004, Mozilla Firebird became Mozilla Firefox, often referred to as simply Firefox. Mozilla prefers that Firefox be abbreviated as Fx or fx, though it is often abbreviated as FF. The Firefox project went through many versions before version 1.0 was released on November 9, 2004.
Main article: Features of FirefoxFeatures include tabbed browsing, spell checking, incremental find, live bookmarking, smart bookmarks, a download manager, private browsing, location-aware browsing (also known as "geolocation") based on a Google service and an integrated search system that uses Google by default in most localizations. Functions can be added through extensions, created by third-party developers, of which there is a wide selection, a feature that has attracted many of Firefox's users.
Firefox has passed the Acid2 standards-compliance test since version 3.0. Mozilla had originally stated that they did not intend for Firefox to pass the Acid3 test fully because they believed that the SVG fonts part of the test had become outdated and irrelevant, due to WOFF being agreed upon as a standard by all major browser makers. Because the SVG font tests were removed from the Acid3 test in September 2011, Firefox 4 and greater scored 100/100.
See also: Browser security
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Firefox uses a sandbox security model, and limits scripts from accessing data from other web sites based on the same origin policy. It uses SSL/TLS to protect communications with web servers using strong cryptography when using the HTTPS protocol. It also provides support for web applications to use smartcards for authentication purposes.
The Mozilla Foundation offers a "bug bounty" (up to 3000 USD cash reward and a Mozilla T-shirt) to researchers who discover severe security holes in Firefox. Official guidelines for handling security vulnerabilities discourage early disclosure of vulnerabilities so as not to give potential attackers an advantage in creating exploits.
Because Firefox generally has fewer publicly known unpatched security vulnerabilities than Internet Explorer (see Comparison of web browsers), improved security is often cited as a reason to switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox. The Washington Post reports that exploit code for known, critical unpatched security vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer was available for 284 days in 2006. In comparison, exploit code for known, critical security vulnerabilities in Firefox was available for 9 days before Mozilla issued a patch to remedy the problem.
A 2006 Symantec study showed that, although Firefox had surpassed other browsers in the number of vendor-confirmed vulnerabilities that year through September, these vulnerabilities were patched far more quickly than those found in other browsers – Firefox's vulnerabilities were fixed on average one day after the exploit code was made available, as compared to nine days for Internet Explorer. Symantec later clarified their statement, saying that Firefox still had fewer security vulnerabilities than Internet Explorer, as counted by security researchers.
In 2010 a study of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) based on data compiled from the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) Firefox was listed as the 5th most vulnerable desktop software. Internet Explorer ranked only 8th on the list, and Google Chrome as 1st.
InfoWorld has cited security experts saying that as Firefox becomes more popular, more vulnerabilities will be found, a claim that Mitchell Baker, president of the Mozilla Foundation, has denied: "There is this idea that market share alone will make you have more vulnerabilities. It is not relational at all."
In October 2009, Microsoft's security engineers acknowledged that Firefox was vulnerable since February of that year due to a .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 Windows update that silently installed a buggy 'Windows Presentation Foundation' plug-in into Firefox. This vulnerability has since been patched by Microsoft.
As of February 11, 2011, Firefox 3.6 had no (known) unpatched security vulnerabilities according to Secunia. Internet Explorer 8 had five unpatched security vulnerabilities, the worst being rated "Less Critical" by Secunia.
Mozilla claims, that all patched vulnerabilities of Mozilla products are publicly listed. However, the corporation has been caught multiple times fixing vulnerabilities silently or with delayed notice.
Main article: Mozilla localizationsFirefox is a heavily localized web browser. The first official release in November 2004 was available in 24 different languages and for 28 locales, including British English/American English, European Spanish/Argentine Spanish and Chinese in Traditional Chinese characters/Simplified Chinese characters. Currently supported versions 10.0.6 and 14.0.1 are available for 85 locales (76 languages) and 88 locales (78 languages) respectively.
Firefox source code is free software, with most of it being released under the Mozilla Public License (MPL). This license permits anyone to view, modify, and/or redistribute the source code, and several publicly released applications have been built on it; for example, Netscape, Flock, Miro, Iceweasel, and Songbird make use of code from Firefox.
In the past, Firefox was licensed solely under the MPL, which the FSF (Free Software Foundation) criticized for being weak copyleft; the license permitted, in limited ways, proprietary derivative works. Additionally, code only licensed under the MPL could not legally be linked with code under the GPL. To address these concerns, Mozilla re-licensed most of Firefox under the tri-license scheme of MPL, GPL, or LGPL. Since the re-licensing, developers were free to choose the license under which they received most of the code, to suit their intended use: GPL or LGPL linking and derivative works when one of those licenses is chosen, or MPL use (including the possibility of proprietary derivative works) if they chose the MPL. However, on January 3, 2012, Mozilla released the GPL-compatible MPL 2.0, and with the release of Firefox 13 on June 5, 2012, Mozilla used it to replace the tri-licensing scheme.
Trademark and logoEdit
See also: Mozilla Corporation software rebranded by the Debian projectThe name "Mozilla Firefox" is a registered trademark; along with the official Firefox logo, it may only be used under certain terms and conditions. Anyone may redistribute the official binaries in unmodified form and use the Firefox name and branding for such distribution, but restrictions are placed on distributions which modify the underlying source code. The name "Firefox" derives from a nickname of the red panda.
Mozilla has placed the Firefox logo files under open-source licenses, but its trademark guidelines do not allow displaying altered or similar logos in contexts where trademark law applies. Logo used for IceweaselThere has been some controversy over the Mozilla Foundation's intentions in stopping certain open source distributions from using the "Firefox" trademark. Mozilla Foundation Chairperson Mitchell Baker explained in an interview in 2007 that distributions could freely use the Firefox trademark if they did not modify source-code, and that the Mozilla Foundation's only concern was with users getting a consistent experience when they used "Firefox".
To allow distributions of the code without using the official branding, the Firefox source code contains a "branding switch". This switch allows the code to be compiled without the official logo and name, for example to produce a derivative work unencumbered by restrictions on the Firefox trademark (this is also often used for alphas of future Firefox versions). In the unbranded compilation the trademarked logo and name are replaced with a freely distributable generic globe logo and the name of the release series from which the modified version was derived.
Distributing modified versions of Firefox under the "Firefox" name requires explicit approval from Mozilla for the changes made to the underlying code, and requires the use of all of the official branding. For example, it is not permissible to use the name "Firefox" without also using the official logo. When the Debian project decided to stop using the official Firefox logo in 2006 (because Mozilla's copyright restrictions at the time were incompatible with Debian's guidelines), they were told by a representative of the Mozilla Foundation that this was not acceptable, and were asked either to comply with the published trademark guidelines or cease using the "Firefox" name in their distribution. Ultimately, Debian switched to branding their modified version of Firefox "Iceweasel", along with other Mozilla software.
Branding and visual identityEdit
Early Firebird and Phoenix releases of Firefox were considered to have had reasonable visual designs, but were not up to the same standards as many professionally released software packages. In October 2003, professional interface designer Steven Garrity wrote an article covering everything he considered to be wrong with Mozilla's visual identity. The page received a great deal of attention; the majority of criticism leveled at the article fell along the lines of "where's the patch?" Blue globe artwork is distributed with Firefox source code, and is explicitly not protected as a trademarkShortly afterwards, Garrity was invited by the Mozilla Foundation to head up the new visual identity team. The release of Firefox 0.8 in February 2004 saw the introduction of the new branding efforts, including new icon designs by silverorange, a group of web developers with a long-standing relationship with Mozilla, with final renderings by Jon Hicks, who had previously worked on Camino. The logo was later revised and updated, fixing several flaws found when it was enlarged.
The animal shown in the logo is a stylized fox, although "firefox" is considered to be a common name for the red panda. The panda, according to Hicks, "didn't really conjure up the right imagery" and wasn't widely known. The logo was chosen to make an impression while not shouting out with overdone artwork. It had to stand out in the user's mind, be easy for others to remember, and stand out without causing too much distraction when seen among other icons.
The Firefox icon is a trademark used to designate the official Mozilla build of the Firefox software and builds of official distribution partners. For this reason, Debian and other software distributors who distribute patched or modified versions of Firefox do not use the icon. The crash reporting service was initially closed source, but switched with version 3 from a program called Talkback to the open source BreakPad & Socorro. Other logos are also used for specific versions of the software or its derivatives:
- The current Aurora logo (alpha/pre-beta)
- The current "nightly" logo (experimental/pre-alpha)
- Minefield logo (former name for "nightly" Firefox)
The rapid adoption of Firefox, 100 million downloads in its first year of availability, followed a series of aggressive marketing campaigns starting in 2004 with a series of events Blake Ross and Asa Dotzler called "marketing weeks".
On September 12, 2004, a marketing portal dubbed "Spread Firefox" (SFX) debuted along with the Firefox Preview Release, creating a centralized space for the discussion of various marketing techniques. A two-page ad in the December 16 edition of the New York Times, placed by Mozilla Foundation in coordination with Spread Firefox, featured the names of the thousands of people worldwide who contributed to the Mozilla Foundation's fundraising campaign to support the launch of the Firefox 1.0 web browser. SFX portal enhanced the "Get Firefox" button program, giving users "referrer points" as an incentive. The site lists the top 250 referrers. From time to time, the SFX team or SFX members launch marketing events organized at the Spread Firefox website. As a part of the Spread Firefox campaign, there was an attempt to break the world download record with the release of Firefox 3.
The "World Firefox Day" campaign started on July 15, 2006, the third anniversary of the founding of the Mozilla Foundation, and ran until September 15, 2006. Participants registered themselves and a friend on the website for nomination to have their names displayed on the Firefox Friends Wall, a digital wall that will be displayed at the headquarters of the Mozilla Foundation.
In December 2007, Mozilla launched Live Chat, a service allowing users to seek technical support from volunteers. Because Live chat is kept running by volunteers, it is only available when they are online.
In February 2011, Mozilla announced that it would be retiring Spread Firefox (SFX). Three months later, in May 2011, Mozilla officially closed Spread Firefox. Mozilla wrote that "there are currently plans to create a new iteration of this website [Spread Firefox] at a later date."
Market Share Overview According to StatCounter dataJune 2012
|Browser||% of Fx||% of Total|
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Forbes.com called Firefox the best browser in a 2004 commentary piece, and PC World named Firefox "Product of the Year" in 2005 on their "100 Best Products of 2005" list. After the release of Firefox 2 and Internet Explorer 7 in 2006, PC World reviewed both and declared that Firefox was the better browser. Which? Magazine named Firefox its "Best Buy" web browser. In 2008, CNET compared Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer in their "Battle of the Browsers" in terms of performance, security, and features, where Firefox was selected as a favorite. In February 2012, Tom's Hardware compared Safari 5.1.2, Google Chrome 17, Mozilla Firefox 10, Opera 11.61 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 on both Ubuntu 11.10 and Windows 7 (Internet Explorer & Safari excluded from Ubuntu because of OS availability) in a "Web Browser Grand Prix". They concluded, that based on performance, Chrome 17 was selected as their favorite on Ubuntu – but they also concluded that on Windows, Firefox 10 was their favorite.
In December 2005, Internet Week ran an article in which many readers reported high memory usage in Firefox 1.5. Mozilla developers said that the higher memory use of Firefox 1.5 was at least partially due to the new fast backwards-and-forwards (FastBack) feature. Other known causes of memory problems were malfunctioning extensions such as Google Toolbar and some older versions of Adblock, or plug-ins, such as older versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader. When PC Magazine compared memory usage of Firefox 2, Opera 9, and Internet Explorer 7, they found that Firefox used approximately as much memory as the other two browsers.
Softpedia noted that Firefox 1.5 took longer to start up than other browsers, which was confirmed by further speed tests. IE 6 launched more swiftly than Firefox 1.5 on Windows XP since many of its components were built into the OS and loaded during system startup. As a workaround for the issue, a preloader application was created that loaded components of Firefox on startup, similar to Internet Explorer. A Windows Vista feature called SuperFetch performs a similar task of preloading Firefox if it is used often enough.
Tests performed by PC World and Zimbra in 2006 indicated that Firefox 2 used less memory than Internet Explorer 7. Firefox 3 used less memory than Internet Explorer 7, Opera 9.50 Beta, Safari 3.1 Beta, and Firefox 2 in tests performed by Mozilla, CyberNet, and The Browser World. In mid 2009, Betanews benchmarked Firefox 3.5 and declared that it performed "nearly ten times better on XP than Microsoft Internet Explorer 7".
See also: Usage share of web browsersDownloads have continued at an increasing rate since Firefox 1.0 was released in November 2004, and as of July 31, 2009 Firefox has been downloaded over one billion times. This number does not include downloads using software updates or those from third-party websites. They do not represent a user count, as one download may be installed on many machines, one person may download the software multiple times, or the software may be obtained from a third party. According to Mozilla, Firefox had more than 400 million users as of November 2010.
As of May 2012, Firefox was the third most widely used browser, with approximately 25% of worldwide usage share of web browsers. According to StatCounter, Firefox usage peaked in November 2009 and usage share would remain stagnant until October 2010 when it lost market share, a trend that would continue for over a year. Its first consistent gains in usage share since September 2010 occurred in February and March 2012 before making minor losses in April 2012.
For more details on this topic, see Firefox release history.
|Red||Former release; no longer supported|
|Yellow||Former release; still supported|
|Green||Current supported release|
Mozilla provides development builds of Firefox in the following channels: "Beta", "Aurora", and "Nightly". As of July 2012, Firefox 15 beta is in the "Beta" channel, Firefox 16 alpha is in the "Aurora" channel, and Firefox 17 pre-alpha is in the "Nightly" channel.
Features planned for future versions include silent updating so that version increments will not bother the user, although the user will be able to disable that function. A different looking user-interface called "Australis" is also planned.
Firefox for mobileEdit
Firefox for mobile 14.0 on AndroidMain article: Firefox for mobileFirefox for mobile, codenamed Fennec, is a web browser for smaller non-PC devices, mobile phones and PDAs. It was first released for the Nokia Maemo operating system (specifically the Nokia N900) on January 28, 2010. Version 4 for Android and Maemo was released on March 29, 2011. The browser's version number was bumped from version 2 to version 4 to synchronize with all future desktop releases of Firefox since the rendering engines used in both browsers are the same. Version 7 was the last release for Maemo on the N900. The user interface is completely redesigned and optimized for small screens, the controls are hidden away so that only the web content is shown on screen, and it uses touchscreen interaction methods. It includes the Awesomebar, tabbed browsing, Add-on support, password manager, location-aware browsing, and the ability to synchronize with the user's computer Firefox browser using Firefox Sync.
See also: History of Firefox#Extended Support ReleaseFirefox ESR is a version of Firefox for organizations and other adopters who need extended support for mass deployments. Unlike the regular ("rapid") releases, the ESR will be updated with new features and performance enhancements annually, receiving regular security updates during the year.
|Operating System||64-bit support|
|Mac OS X||Yes|
64-bit support for Firefox is inconsistent across operating systems. 64-bit is supported by Mozilla in Mac OS X and Linux, but there are no official 64-bit releases for Windows OS. Mozilla does provide a 64-bit version for their Firefox nightly builds, but they are considered unstable by Mozilla.
The official releases of Firefox for Mac OS X are universal builds that include both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the browser in one package, and have been this way since Firefox 4. A typical browsing session uses a combination of the 64-bit browser process and a 32-bit plugin process, because some popular plugins still are 32-bit.
Mozilla made Firefox for Linux 64-bit a priority with the release of Firefox 4, labeling it as tier 1 priority. Since being labeled tier 1, Mozilla has been providing official 64-bit releases for its browser for the Linux OS. Vendor-backed 64-bit support has existed for Linux based OS's such as Novell-Suse Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Ubuntu prior to Mozilla's support of 64-bit, even though vendors were faced with the challenge of having to turn off the 64-bit JIT compiler due to its instability prior to Firefox 4.
Browsers compiled from Firefox source code may run on various operating systems; however, officially distributed binaries are meant for the following: Microsoft Windows (XP SP2/SP3, Server 2003, Vista or 7), Mac OS X 10.5, Mac OS X 10.6 and Linux (with the following libraries installed: GTK+ 2.10 or higher, GLib 2.12 or higher, Pango 1.14 or higher, X.Org 1.0 or higher (1.7 or higher is recommended), libstdc++ 4.3 or higher).
|Processor||Pentium 4 or newer with SSE2||Any Intel processor|
|Memory (RAM)||512 MB|
|Hard Drive (free space)||200 MB|
|Operating system||Windows XP SP2 or higher||Mac OS X Leopard (10.5) or higher|
|Operating system||Latest stable version||Support status|
|Microsoft Windows||XP / 2003 / Vista /||14.0.1||2004–present|
|NT 4 / 98 / ME||126.96.36.199||2004–2008|
|Mac OS X||10.5 (Intel) - 10.8||14.0.1||2007–present|
|10.4 - 10.5 (PPC)||3.6.28||2005–2012|
|10.2 - 10.3||188.8.131.52||2004–2008|
|10.0 - 10.1||1.0.8||2004–2006|
|Linux kernel 2.2.14 and newer
(with some libraries)
- Firefox 3.5.9 is the last version to work on HP-UX 11i, as packaged by Hewlett-Packard.
- Firefox 2.0 has been ported to RISC OS (i.e. not supported Mozilla).
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In 2005, the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation had a combined revenue of US$52.9 million, with approximately 95% derived from search engine royalties. In 2006, the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation had a combined revenue of US$66.9 million, with approximately 90% derived from search engine royalties. In 2007, the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation had a combined revenue of US$81 million, with 88% of this sum (US$66 million) from Google. In 2008, both Mozilla organizations had a combined revenue of US$78.6 million, with 91% coming from Google. The Mozilla Foundation and Corporation are being audited by the IRS with the possibility of having its non-profit status called into question.
Microsoft's head of Australian operations, Steve Vamos, stated in late 2004 that he did not see Firefox as a threat and that there was not significant demand for the feature-set of Firefox among Microsoft's users. Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has used Firefox, but has commented that "it's just another browser, and IE [Microsoft's Internet Explorer] is better".
A Microsoft SEC filing on June 30, 2005 acknowledged that "competitors such as Mozilla offer software that competes with the Internet Explorer Web browsing capabilities of our Windows operating system products." The release of Internet Explorer 7 was fast tracked, and included functionality that was previously available in Firefox and other browsers, such as tabbed browsing and RSS feeds.
Despite the cold reception from Microsoft's top management, the Internet Explorer development team maintains a relationship with Mozilla. They meet regularly to discuss web standards such as extended validation certificates. In 2005, Mozilla agreed to allow Microsoft to use its Web feed logo in the interest of common graphical representation of the Web feeds feature.
In October 2006, as congratulations for a successful ship of Firefox 2, the Internet Explorer 7 development team sent a cake to Mozilla. As a nod to the browser wars, some jokingly suggested that Mozilla send a cake back along with the recipe, in reference to the open-source software movement. The IE development team sent another cake on June 17, 2008, upon the successful release of Firefox 3, again on March 22, 2011, for Firefox 4, and yet again for the Firefox 5 release.
In November 2007, Jeff Jones (a "security strategy director" in Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group) criticized Firefox, claiming that Internet Explorer experienced fewer vulnerabilities and fewer higher severity vulnerabilities than Firefox in typical enterprise scenarios. Mozilla developer Mike Shaver discounted the study, citing Microsoft's bundling of security fixes and the study's focus on fixes, rather than vulnerabilities, as crucial flaws.
In February 2009, Microsoft released Service Pack 1 for version 3.5 of the .NET Framework. This update also installed Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant add-on (enabling ClickOnce support). The update received media attention after users discovered that the add-on could not be uninstalled through the add-ons interface. Several hours after the website Annoyances.org posted an article regarding this update, Microsoft employee Brad Abrams posted in his blog Microsoft's explanation for why the add-on was installed, and also included detailed instructions on how to remove it. However, the only way to get rid of this extension was to modify manually the Windows Registry, which could cause Windows systems to fail to boot up if not done correctly.
On October 16, 2009, Mozilla blocked all versions of Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant from being used with Firefox and from the Mozilla Add-ons service. Two days later, the add-on was removed from the blocklist after confirmation from Microsoft that it is not a vector for vulnerabilities. Version 1.1 (released on June 10, 2009 to the Mozilla Add-ons service) and later of the Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant allows the user to disable and uninstall in the normal fashion.