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Mozilla Firefox is a graphical web browser developed by the Mozilla Corporation and a large community of external contributors. Firefox, officially abbreviated as Fx or fx and popularly, but improperly, abbreviated FF, started as a fork of the Navigator browser component of the Mozilla Application Suite. Firefox has replaced the Mozilla Suite as the flagship product of the Mozilla project, under the direction of the Mozilla Foundation (Wikipedia, retrieved 18:54, 12 October 2007 (MEST)).

As of october 2007 market share is about 15%. Market share in education is probably much higher.

This page is not maintained, see Browser extension for some slightly more useful information.

Standards support

Firefox 2.0

Natively, Firefox 2.0 supports these major standards:

  • HTML (almost completely, e.g. not the "link" element)
  • XHTML 1.0 and 1.1 (almost completely)
  • SVG (partially)
  • CSS 2 (partially)
  • JavaScript and ECMAScript 3 (including DOM 1/2 and XHMLHttpRequest)
  • MathML
  • XSLT 1 (almost completely)
  • XPath
  • RSS
  • XLink (only a little subset)
  • XForms (to what extent ?)

It does not support

  • SMIL
  • X3D (but on PC's there exist plugins)
  • XSL/FO
  • VoiceML
  • DOM 3

Firefox 3.6

  • Support for some HTML 5 elements like canevas, video and audio.
  • Toolbar skins
  • Private browsing
  • JSON support
  • Support for location aware browsing
  • Theora video (used by OGG container)
  • Full CSS 2.1 support. Since version 3.0 Firefox passes the Acid2 test.
  • Better CSS3 support, e.g. media queries. (CSS 3, i.e. its many modules are still mostly working drafts as of Aug 2010. Some made it to candidate recommendations.
  • SVG improvements (transforms)
  • Better JavaScript engine, support for EXSLT (XSLT extensions), etc.
  • A score of 94/100 for the Acid3 test, which particularly focuses on the Document Object Model (DOM) and JavaScript
  • ....

Firefox 4.0

As of Aug. 2010 still in Beta.

  • WebGL
  • More HTML5 draft stuff
  • Interface improvements, e.g. support for multi-touch devices
  • CSS3
  • WebM, a new Multimedia container format for videos, sponsored by Google.
  • Better or different programming interfaces, a new JavaScript engine

Things that don't work well

  • Management of helper applications for Mimetypes. Daniel K. Schneider thinks that this is a nightmare, in particular on Linux.

Useful extensions and add-ons


“Add-ons are installable enhancements to the Mozilla Foundation's projects. Add-ons allow the user to add or augment application features, use themes to their liking, and handle new types of content.” (Wikipedia, retrieved 15:05, 25 August 2010 (UTC)).



“Plugins help your browser perform specific functions like viewing special graphic formats or playing multimedia files. Plugins are slightly different from extensions, which modify or add to existing functionality.” (Add-ons for Firefox, retrieved 15:05, 25 August 2010 (UTC)) Typical plugins that most people should have (also on other browsers):

  • PDF
  • Java
  • Flash

In addition you can install

  • QuickTime
  • RealPlayer
  • Various VRML/X3D clients, plus other even more "exotic" multimedia formats...
  • Windows Media Player
  • Shockwave.

To check your plugins, click on:

  • Plugin Check. This page also attemps to check whether your plugins are up-to-date.

Installing more than one version of Firefox

Under Windows

Under Ubuntu

Here is an explanation by example. You may have to become root or add sudo in front of each command ...

(1) Go to the install mother directory, e.g. /usr/local

cd /usr/local

(2) get the thing from, e.g. from

For example:


(3) Look at it

tar jtvf firefox-4.0b5pre.en-US.linux-i686.tar.bz2

(4) Extract

tar jxf firefox-4.0b5pre.en-US.linux-i686.tar.bz2

this will create a firefox directory.

(5) Move the directory

mv firefox firefox-4b5

... of course, a real Unix person could do steps 2-5 with a single step. I am not.

(6) Create a backup of your profiles

  • Become yourself again if you were root (for the following operations).
  • If you are afraid, create a backup first.
cp -rp ~/.mozilla/firefox ~/.firefox-backup

(7) Crucial - Create a new profile for the new version.

  • Else you will be very sorry, e.g. your default profile will be overwritten.
  • Read Command line arguments (MozillaZines).
  • Now, use your "normal Firefox" to manage profiles.

Alternative (a): The following command will launch a new instance of Firefox, i.e. just the Profile Manager.

firefox -no-remote -ProfileManager

Then click on "Create Profile", e.g. call it version4-testing

Alternative (b):

firefox -no-remote -CreateProfile version4-testing

(8) Now cd to the newly installed Firefox directory and type:

./firefox -no-remote -P version4-testing 

Of course, make sure that the profile version4-testing exists. Or at least that you don't start Firefox without the -P switch. no-remote means that you can have another version running at the same time (roughly).

(9) Enjoy,


  • For FF 4, enable WebGL: After downloading the browser, enable WebGL: type about:config into the address bar, search for "webgl", and double-click "webgl.enabled_for_all_sites" to set it to true. (from Getting a WebGL Implementation).


Other overviews
  • Mozilla Firefox (Wikipedia). In addition, Wikipedia will have a page for each major version.