Mozilla Firefox 3

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Mozilla Firefox 3
File:Firefox-logo.svgFile:Mozilla Firefox wordmark.svg
File:Firefox 3.png
Firefox 3.0 displaying Wikipedia on Linux
Developer(s) Mozilla Corporation, Mozilla Foundation
Initial release June 17, 2008 (2008-06-17)
Written in C++, XUL, XBL, JavaScript
Operating system Windows
Mac OS X
Engine Gecko
Platform Cross-platform
Size 7.2 MB (Windows)
17.2 MB (Mac OS X)
8.7 MB (Linux)
Available in Over 70 languages
Development status Active
Type Web browser, FTP client, gopher client
License MPL/GPL/LGPL/Mozilla EULA (for binary redistribution)
Origins and Lineage

Mozilla Firefox 3 is a version of the Mozilla Firefox web browser released on June 17, 2008 by the Mozilla Corporation.[1]

Firefox 3.0 uses version 1.9 of the Gecko layout engine for displaying web pages. This version fixes many bugs, improves standard compliance, and implements many new web APIs compared to Firefox 2.0. Other new features include a redesigned download manager, a new "Places" system for storing bookmarks and history, and separate themes for different operating systems.

Firefox 3.0 had over 8 million unique downloads the day it was released, and by July 2008 held over 5.6% of the recorded usage share of web browsers.[2] Current estimates of Firefox 3.0's global market share are generally in the range of 8-11%,[3][4][5] and dropping as users migrate to Mozilla Firefox 3.5. Partially as a result of this, as of mid-December 2009, Firefox 3.5 is the most popular browser (when counting individual browser versions) passing Internet Explorer 7.[6]



Firefox 3.0 was developed under the codename Gran Paradiso.[7] This, like other Firefox codenames, is the name of an actual place; in this case the seventh-highest mountain in the Graian Alps.

Planning began in October 2006, when the development team asked users to submit feature requests that they wished to be included in Firefox 3.[8]

The Mozilla Foundation released the first beta on November 19, 2007,[9] the second beta on December 18, 2007,[9] the third beta on February 12, 2008, the fourth beta on March 10, 2008, and the fifth and final beta on April 2, 2008.[10] The first release candidate was announced on May 16, 2008, followed by a second release candidate on June 4, 2008, and a third (differing from the second release candidate only in that it corrected a serious bug for Mac users) on June 11, 2008. Mozilla shipped the final release on June 17, 2008.[1][11] On its release date, Firefox 3 was featured in popular culture, mentioned on The Colbert Report, among others.[12]

Changes and features

Backend changes

One of the big changes in Firefox 3 is the implementation of Gecko 1.9, an updated layout engine. The new version fixes many bugs, improves standard compliance, and implements new web APIs.[13] In particular, it makes Firefox 3 the first official release of a Mozilla browser to pass the Acid2 test, a standards-compliance test for web-page rendering. It also gets a better score on the Acid3 test than Firefox 2.

Some of the new features are defined in the WHATWG HTML 5 specification,[13] such as support for web-based protocol handlers, a native implementation of the getElementsByClassName method, support for safe message-passing with postMessage, and support for offline web applications. Other new features include APNG support, and EXSLT support.[13]

A new internal memory allocator, jemalloc,[14] is used rather than the default libc one.[citation needed]

Gecko 1.9 uses Cairo as a graphics backend,[15] allowing for improved graphics performance and better consistency of look and feel on various operating systems. Because of Cairo's lack of support for Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me and Windows NT (versions 4.0 and below), and because Microsoft ended support for Windows 98 and Windows Me on July 11, 2006, Firefox 3 does not run on those operating systems. Similarly, the Mac version of Firefox 3 runs only on Mac OS X 10.4 or higher,[16] but, unlike previous versions, has a native Cocoa widget interface.[17]

Frontend changes

File:Firefox 3.x download manager.png
New Firefox 3 Download Manager in Ubuntu Studio.

As for the frontend changes, Firefox features a redesigned download manager with built-in search and the ability to resume downloads.[18] Also, a new plug-in manager is included in the add-ons window[19] and extensions can be installed with a package manager. Microformats are supported for use by software that can understand their use in documents to store data in a machine-readable form.[20]

File:Firefox 3 Location Bar.png
New location bar auto-complete feature in Firefox 3.

The password manager in Firefox 3 asks the user if they would like it to remember the password after the log on attempt rather than before. By doing this users are able to avoid storing an incorrect password in the password manager after a bad log on attempt.[21]

Firefox 3 uses a "Places" system for storing bookmarks and history in an SQLite backend.[22] The new system stores more information about user's history and bookmarks, in particular letting the user tag the pages. It is also used to implement an improved algorithm for the new location bar auto-complete feature (dubbed the "Awesomebar").[23][24]

The Mac version of Firefox 3 supports Growl notifications, the OS X spell checker, and Aqua-style form controls.


To give the browser a more native look and feel on different operating systems, Firefox 3 uses separate themes for Mac OS X, Linux, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. When running on GNOME, Firefox 3 displays icons from the environment; thus, when the desktop environment icon theme changes, Firefox follows suit.[25] Additional icons were also made to be used when no appropriate icon exists; these were made following the Tango Desktop Project guidelines.[26] Additionally, the GTK version has replaced the non-native tab bar that was implemented in Firefox 2.0 and instead uses the native GTK+ tab style.

The default icons and icon layout for Firefox 3 also changed dramatically, taking on a keyhole shape for the forward and back buttons by default on two of the three platforms.[27] However, the keyhole shape does not take effect in Linux or in the small-icon mode. The Iconfactory created the icons for the Microsoft Windows platform. In addition, separate icons sets are displayed for Windows XP and Vista.

File:Firefox 3 Strata Aero.png

Windows Vista and Windows 7 "Strata"[28] visual style.

File:Firefox 3 Strata XP.png

Windows XP "Strata"[28] visual style.

File:Firefox 3 Firelight.png

Mac OS X "Firelight"[28] visual style.

File:Firefox 3 Tango Blubuntu.png

Linux "Tango" at Ubuntu[28] visual style (icons changed based on applied GTK+ 2 theme).


Breakpad (previously called "Airbag") is an open-source crash reporter utility which replaced the proprietary Talkback. It is being developed by Google and Mozilla, and used in Firefox and Thunderbird.[29][30] This product is significant because it is the first open source multi-platform crash reporting system.[citation needed]

During development Breakpad was first included May 27, 2007, in Firefox 3 trunk builds on Windows NT and Mac OS X, and, weeks later, on Linux.[31] Breakpad replaced Talkback (also known as the Quality Feedback Agent) as the crash reporter used by the Mozilla software to report crashes of its products to a centralized server for aggregation or case-by-case analysis.[32] Talkback was proprietary software licensed to the Mozilla Corporation by SupportSoft.


Template:Firefox usage share Net Applications noted that the use of Firefox 3 beta rapidly increased to a usage share of 0.62% in May 2008. They interpreted this increase to mean that Firefox 3 betas were stable and that users were using it as their primary browser.[33] Within 24 hours after the release of Firefox 3.0, usage rose from under 1% to over 3% according to Net Applications.[34]

Guinness World Record

File:Firefox 3 Downloads.svg
World map of all downloads of Mozilla Firefox since June 17, 2008

The official date for the launch of Firefox 3 was June 17, 2008, named "Download Day 2008". Firefox was aiming to set the record for most software downloads in 24 hours.

Download Day officially started at 11:16 a.m. PDT (18:16 UTC) on June 17.[35] With the announced date, the download day was June 18 for timezones greater than GMT +6, which includes half of Asia and all of Oceania.

The large number of users attempting to access the Mozilla website on June 17 caused it to become unavailable for at least a few hours and attempts at upgrading to the new version resulted in server timeouts. The site was not updated for the download of Firefox 3 until 12:00 PDT (19:00 UTC), two hours later than originally scheduled.[36][37]

When "Download Day" ended at 11:16 AM PDT (18:16 UTC) June 18,[38] 8,249,092 unique downloads had been recorded.[39] On July 2 Mozilla announced they had won the record, with 8,002,530 unique downloads[40] and parties in over 25 countries.[41] As of July 7, 2008, more than 31 million people had downloaded Firefox 3.[40][42]

Gareth Deaves, Records Manager for Guinness World Records, complimented Mozilla, saying, "Mobilizing over 8 million internet users within 24 hours is an extremely impressive accomplishment and we would like to congratulate the Mozilla community for their hard work and dedication."[43]

Critical response

While the new functionality of the location bar, dubbed the "Awesomebar", was overall well received,[44] there were those who did not like it due to user interface and performance changes,[45][46][47] so much that extensions were made to revert it.[48][49] Firefox 3 received CNET Editors' Choice in June 2008.[50]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Coming Tuesday, June 17th: Firefox 3". Mozilla Developer News. 
  2. "Market share for browsers, operating systems and search engines". Net Applications. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  3. "Browser Version Market Share". Net Applications. November 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-05. 
  4. "Global Web Stats". W3Counter. November 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-05. 
  5. "StatCounter Global Stats". StatCounter. November 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-05. 
  6. Firefox 3.5 is world's most popular browser, StatCounter says, Nick Eaton. seattlepi blogs. 2009-12-21. Retrieved 2009-12-22.
  7. Gecko 1.9/Firefox 3 ("Gran Paradiso") Planning Meeting, Wednesday Jun 7, 11:00 am
  8. Reimer, Jeremy (2006-10-13). "Firefox accepting feature suggestions for version 3". Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mike Beltzner. "Firefox 3 Beta 1 now available for download". Mozilla Developer News. 
  10. Rooney, Paula (2008-02-26). "Firefox 3 beta 4 code freeze tonight, beta 5 release looks likely". ZDNet. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  11. Anick Jesdanun; Associated Press (2008-06-12). "New Firefox Web browser to be released Tuesday". Delaware News-Journal (New York: Gannett Corporation). Retrieved 2008-06-13. 
  12. "Colbert Report episode June 17, 17th minute.". Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "Firefox 3 for developers". Mozilla Developer Center. 2007-07-17. Retrieved 2007-07-17. 
  14. Evans, Jason (2006-04-16). "A Scalable Concurrent malloc(3) Implementation for FreeBSD" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-02-13. 
  15. "Mozilla Cairo Vector Graphics". mozillaZine. 2005-04-24. Retrieved 2007-01-24.  A page describing the future usage of Cairo.
  16. "Gran Paradiso - System Requirements". Retrieved 2007-09-11. 
  17. CNET staff (2006-12-12). "Firefox 3 (Gran Paradiso) Alpha 1".,1000001108,39285100,00.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  18. "Firefox 3 Beta 1 Release Notes date=2007-11-19". Retrieved 2007-12-05. 
  19. Cabello, Percy (2007-08-11). "First look to Firefox 3’s new download manager". Retrieved 2007-08-12. 
  20. "Microformats (Mozilla Wiki)". 2007-05-24. Retrieved 2007-06-03. 
  21. Cabello, Percy (2007-09-01). "Firefox’s password manager gets smarter". Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  22. Mozilla Wiki contributors (2006-10-16). "Places". Mozilla Wiki. Retrieved 2007-02-05. 
  23. 3.0a8 release notes
  24. Places:Fx3UIPlan - MozillaWiki
  25. Ryan Paul (2007-11-15). "A first look at the Firefox 3 visual refresh for Linux". Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  26. Alex Faaborg (2007-11-13). "A first look at the Firefox 3 visual refresh for Linux". Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  27. Alex Faaborg (2007-01-23). "Keyhole Shape". Alex Faaborg. Retrieved 2007-01-23. 
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 Firefox 3: Tango, Strata, Firelight - Mozilla Links
  29. Deploying the Airbag. BSBlog (Mozilla developer Benjamin Smedberg's weblog).
  30. Using Breakpad with Gran Paradiso (1.9a3). BSBlog (Mozilla developer Benjamin Smedberg's weblog).
  31. Bug 381099 – Turn on crash reporting by default (Win+Mac), bug tracker]
  32. "Mozilla Talkback server". Retrieved 2006-09-21. 
  33. "Firefox 3.0 BETA Gaining Market Share". Net Applications. Retrieved 2008-04-20. 
  34. "Firefox 3.0 Usage Share (EDT)". Net Applications. 2008-06-19. Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  35. The Official Download Day Time at
  36. Kelly Fiveash (2008-06-17). "Firefox 3 Download Day falls flat on face". The Register. Retrieved 2008-07-30. 
  37. The Mozilla Blog - Firefox 3 coming soon!
  38. Download Day is here!:: The Mozilla Blog
  39. Firefox 3 sets new Download World Record, I4U News
  40. 40.0 40.1 Spread Firefox | Download Day 2008
  41. "Mozilla, The Record Maker". 2008-07-23. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  42. "Live Firefox Download Counter". 2008-06-19. Retrieved 2008-06-19. 
  43. Naventi, Steve (2008-07-02). "Mozilla Sets New Guinness World Record with Firefox 3 Downloads". Mozilla. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 
  44. Seltzer, Larry (2008-06-18). "First Impressions of Firefox 3". Ziff Davis Enterprise Holdings. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  45. Muchmore, Michael (2008-07-30). "Firefox Alpha Improves the AwesomeBar". pcmag.,2817,2326835,00.asp. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  46. Brinkmann, Martin (2008-06-14). "Firefox 3 Location Bar Controversy". Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  47. ""AwesomeBar" is totally NOT awesome". MozillaZine. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  48. Spitzer, Seth (2008-02-14). "oldbar :: Firefox Add-ons:". Mozilla. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  49. "Old Location Bar :: Firefox Add-ons:". Mozilla. 2008-06-19. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  50. "Firefox 3 Browser reviews - CNET Reviews". Retrieved 2008-07-18. 

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