Firefox 9 fails

29 January 2012
Normally when you do an automated upgrade, you expect something to basically be the same as before minus a few unseen issues. Firefox seem to have decided to piss a load of people off such as myself off, but failing to grasp the idea of the conservative user. Such people want a reliable and familiar tool, not onr where they have to waste several days as their brain is thrown out of gear. In any case, the annoyances with the new Firefox 9.0.000001 came thick and fast:
Tabs on top
People dislike having to rewire their brain once they have got used to location of things. The only logical reason I can see for Firefox making this change is that they want to imitate Chrome. Look chaps, if I wanted that I would throw Firefox into the crapper and used the real thing directly. Right-click on menu bar (why this a hidden menu-on-menu rather than a proper menu option?), unchecked Tabs on Top, and problem solved.
Tabs not saved by default
Oh dear. The ability to save tabs is why I predominantly use Firefox and not Chrome, because it allows me to have an active set of web-pages that are of immediate interest without bloating my bookmarks. To make dumping them without warning the default shows a complete lack of foreward thinking. Maybe for new installations this is OK, but for upgrades then maybe people want to keep their tabs. At least you can get the old behaviour using the browser.showQuitWarning hidden option.
Switch to Tab
When you type in a URL and it is already open in a tab, it switches to a tab. If I wanted to see that tab rather than open a new one for the same address, I would have clicked on the tab. Maybe I actually want to have a second Facebook/Google/etc window open, but it seems this is not the way the Firefox developers think. I estimate the length of time between discovering this misfeature and disabling it to be under 30 seconds.
Broke themes & addons.
I have hated the default Firefox themes since about version 2, and major upgrades have inevitable resulted in me trying to find an alternative that I actually like. The only redeeming point, and this is not something Mozilla themselves can claim credit for, is that the Noia theme I use is well supported. In fact they've even shoved in a ton of customisation options so I can (almost) get back my Firefox 3 feel.
Combined stop/refresh
I prefer to have greyed-out icons than an icon that changes function. It seems this can be achieved by making sure the reload button is to the right of the stop button.
No status bar
Pretty much every browser out there had a status bar for URL previews because people (especially those who give a flying fuck about phishing and other dodgy links) want a preview of where a link goes. Having this preview pop-up is annoying, and thankfully someone has written an extension to bring this back. It was nice enough to even show my NoScript icon in the traditional place. Maybe the large number of $foo-4-ever add-ons is enough to give Mozilla developers the hint.
This seems to be part of a general trend of the free software community to make all the mistakes Microsoft has made in the last few years, in the foolhardly belief that whatever Microsoft do is the gold standard in user interfaces. Such an approach is better known as style over substance, and that is what led to Windows Visa bombing so badly I don't think Microsoft have really recovered.

Back in 2002 I started using a custom-modified version of IceWM built from source tar-ball, and have used pretty much the same code on every Unix system I have built since then. As a result a lot of the horrors of window managers written by stoned artists has passed me by, but it seems I might have to consign Firefox to the bin at some point if it continues down this path. The expert craftsman does not maintain productivity by having his workshop completely rearranged every 6-12 or so months, and neither does the seasoned computer professional.