Sunday, April 16, 2006

What is firefox? (For complete newbies)

In the last post, I discussed about open source software from the perspective of a computer user who doesn't know anything about computer besides what a full installed Microsoft System offer. I did talk about firefox as the first open source software I came across, so I plan to talk about it for a novice computer user who just need basic functionality and want to make computer use pleasant and fast.

Firefox is an internet browser which can take you to different websites, much like Internet Explorer . Firefox, is definitely faster than contemporary browsers, and can be used on any OS (Windows, Linux or Mac). Besides being faster, the interesting thing about firefox is the lightweight and the functionality it can offer. Lightweight doesn't mean much in todays world, where you use computers with extra large capacities, but features does.

As a newly downloaded firefox, its not very different from any other, and you have to find out somethings about it. You can use it as it is after you download it, but you can add a lot more to it. I will try to go through a very few of them one by one. By no means this list is exhaustive, but it should give you a very nice comfortable start.

After installing firefox, you should immediately go to "Tools - Extensions- and click on Get More extensions". You will get to see a mozilla website where you can find lots and lots of extensions. Extensions are very small program and can add functionality to your system. From what I think you should definitely download following extensions.

1. Tabbrowser Preferences: This extension will help you manage the websites in tabs instead of opening new firefox windows. You can play with tools -> Options -> Tabbrowser Preferences and you are good to go. I also found a nicer extension, "Tab Mix Plus" which lets you save a firefox session (which may have several tabs and windows), which you can open the next time you start firefox.

2. No Script: Firefox by default blocks many popups and annoying ads, but "No Script" is definitely good to eliminate the annoyance. It doesn't let any website use "javascript" on your system without your permission. You can allow some sites which you use frequently to allow to run javascript (javascript are small scripts run on your browser to to do multiple things like, playing a game, playing a song, opening popup ads, displaying advertisement etc.). Allowing the website to run javascript is as easy as clicking on the "S" sign on right hand corner of window and clicking again on right option.

3. Padma 0.4.4 (If you want to read Dainik Jagran or amarujala in firefox). Unlike BBC Hindi, some hindi newspapers doesn't use standard coding options and it is not possible for firefox to display them without specific extensions. In this case Padma. If you use linux, then the hindi fonts with Padma, looks very beautiful.

There are a number of extra things you can do with firefox, you can make live bookmarks to display the latest news from any of your favorite sites you want, you can make firefox minimize to system tray on right corner, when you minimize it (another extension), make travelling bookmarks and lot more. People have developed innumerable extensions for their specific requirements and that makes firefox experience really wondeful.

There is one more extension to firefox, which is Mozilla Calendar, but I will talk about that later.

I despise the way firefox looks when I download it. It appears pretty boring. So, we have a work around for that too. Go to Tools --> Themes --> Get more themes and you can see a plethora of beautiful themes . Pick whatever you want and use it. This will change the way firefox appears.

Again, if you are developer and don't like something, develop some feature for yourself or help Mozilla Foundation in developing firefox, or give suggestions or best, just enjoy whatever is up there. Just google and you will probably find the answer for whatever you are looking for. If you are lazy just type the words in address bar and firefox will search for you.

You should be able to use comfortable keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl-t opens new tab, Ctrl-w closes the tab, ctrl++ increases text size, and ctrl-- decreases), and you can find more about them in Help.

Enjoy Browsing,


PS: There is one more pretty and useful web browser, if you care about i.e. Opera. You will love its functionality too, but I guess that is not open source like firefox.

Category: Technology

1 comment:

  1. Opera is really good, and is actually the father of many features like tabbed browsing, mouse gestures etc. used in firefox. it also has a mail client integrated into it.

    A tip: If you want to make your firefox faster, install Google web accelerator ( )