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Get Firefox. Set a record.

Mark your calendars. Tuesday’s the day. People all over the world will be downloading Firefox 3.

Why? I’m glad you asked.

1) Firefox is an awesome browser, now with version 3 goodness. (It really is good. I’ve been using pre-release versions for a couple of months now, and it is Good.)

2) By downloading it Tuesday, you’ll be helping to set a world record for software downloads. Since this is free and open source software that’ll help lots of people hear about something with no ad budget. (It’s free. Who’s going to pay for ads?)

As for what’s so good about open source software: –Its focus is what the users want. (No stockholders to worry about.) –Because it’s open source, you have tens of thousands of geek eyes making sure it’s not carrying crapware, whether corporate or criminal. –Firefox, specifically, has hundreds of extensions that let you fill any specialized need you might have. (But a word of caution about extensions if you already use Firefox. See end of post.)

Speaking about specialized needs, one of mine is the absolute, can’t-live-without-it, do-or-die need for ad blocking. An extension called, amazingly enough, AdBlock, makes the web usable, and makes pages appear much faster because you’re not loading a bunch of useless junk. Another one is NoScript that selectively blocks javascript, flash ads, and any singing, dancing, blinking, annoying doodads you don’t need. (You can turn any of them back on if you want them.) That also means that an infected web page can’t load malware on your system.

With all the talk of Firefox 3, Opera fans (Opera is another open source free browser) have been pointing out loudly how much better their software is. So I went and had another look at it. (I gave up on it years ago when it put ads in a huge banner to try to force you to pay for a usable version.) Opera has no equivalent to AdBlock. (Yes, I know you can block ads with a whole lot of gymnastics, but it’s not easy.) So, as far as I’m concerned, forget it.

A word of caution. If you’re already using Firefox, 3 will install over 2. Since not all extensions are compatible with 3 at this point, you could suddenly lose some critical ones. This is not good. You can check the current status of add-on compatibility at alex.polvi’s site (via lifehacker).

Obviously, there ought to be an easy option to install 3 next to 2. For some braindead reason, Mozilla doesn’t take that route. (Probably a misguided desire to make sure everyone has the latest software. Point is, it should be a matter of user choice.) The workaround is to make a new profile in 2, install 3, but not start it until you’ve specified the option for it to use the new profile. Detailed instructions are here. It’s not difficult, but it is a bit tedious. Big demerit to the Firefox developers!

But, devs aside, Firefox itself is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, or for as long as you’re on the internets. Do your bit to let everyone know and download on Tuesday!

Technorati Tags: Firefox, Firefox 3