Archive for the ‘Firefox’ Category

W3Schools: April 2010

May 9, 2010

An update (last post covered data to the end of 2009) on the browser stats at W3Schools.com

Usual disclaimer: data is just for that site, but they keep old numbers up that show trends VERY well.

Trends:

IE as a whole still is still showing major decline, with IE 6 and 7 gowing downhill at about the same rate.

Opera and Safari are flat at low levels. Firefox is flat at a high level.

Chrome and IE 8 are both rising.

Discussion:

The pool of IE6 users represents XP machines that have not been upgraded.  It cannot realistically grow larger.  People who have not upgraded from IE6 probably never will on their current machines; the decline of IE6 is likely caused by old machines failing and new ones (mostly Win7/IE8) being bought to replace them.

IE8 is thus rising, but I don’t think they are getting almost any converts from non-IE browsers.  Watch for each successive IE release to be weaker than the last.

Chrome is scooping up users left and right.  The net effect is that they are taking away IE market share, but I’m going to speculate that a good number of people are still switching to Firefox, while others switch from Firefox to Chrome, with an overall effect that Firefox is flat.

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An Open Letter to Mozilla: RE Ubuntu

January 28, 2010

This morning I noticed a link to this article that caught me off guard: Ubuntu is changing it’s default search selection in Firefox for the next release to Yahoo because they are going to pay more (than Google does).  Now, I don’t much care for Yahoo (especially now that they use Microsoft for search since I REALLY don’t like Microsoft ;) but this is a wakeup call and this needs to be said:

Mozilla needs to make an official repository for Ubuntu.

It can support Debian and all the other DEB-based systems too (that would be awesome), but it NEEDS to be primarily aimed at Ubuntu because that’s the most common distro (I love this graphic from Google)

fedora debian ubuntu suse | opensuse

Ubuntu does a poor job of keeping Firefox current as releases age; Karmic is using the 3.5 series and Jaunty the 3.0 series.  I understand *why* Ubuntu does it that way (ala Debian’s update everything) but internet-facing apps ESPECIALLY the browser should be kept up to the most current stable version and I think that Mozilla would agree.  A stable Thunderbird 3 for Karmic would be nice too!  All of this can be neatly housed in a repository.

Opera and Chrome maintain repositories AND make 64-bit Linux versions for them; its time for Mozilla to do so as well.

As Ubuntu continues to gain popularity, I want to see Mozilla apps getting updated just as fast as on other supported platforms.  Make a repository and people WILL add it to Synaptic.

Update Jan. 29: for now you can add the Firefox Stable PPA to get 3.6, though I did have some issues at first (see comments) and suggest a clean start (backup your bookmarks and then import them).

Update May 25: they also have a Thunderbird Stable PPA.

Microsoft lies to your face about browser security

January 20, 2010

Microsoft’s Head of Security and Privacy in the UK has told TechRadar that people who jump ship from Internet Explorer after the recent spate of bad headlines risk ending up on a less secure browser. With France and Germany both advising a move away from Internet Explorer, things are far from rosy for Microsoft’s browser […yet] Microsoft’s UK security chief Cliff Evans insists that a non-Microsoft browser is the worse option. “The net effect of switching [from IE] is that you will end up on less secure browser,” insisted Evans. “The risk [over this specific] exploit is minimal compared to Firefox or other competing browsers… you will be opening yourself up to security issues.

Let’s fight FUD with facts…

Vulnerability Report: Mozilla Firefox 3.5.x
Unpatched: 0

Vulnerability Report: Google Chrome 3.x
Unpatched: 0

Vulnerability Report: Opera 10.x
Unpatched: 0

Vulnerability Report: Apple Safari 4.x
Unpatched: 0

Vulnerability Report: Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.x
Unpatched: 24
Most Critical Unpatched: Extremely critical

Vulnerability Report: Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.x
Unpatched: 11
Most Critical Unpatched: Extremely critical

Vulnerability Report: Microsoft Internet Explorer 8.x
Unpatched: 4
Most Critical Unpatched: Extremely critical

My recommendation if you use Windows: make sure the version of IE that’s installed (because you can’t uninstall it!) is the latest/least vulnerable (IE8) and then install at least one of the non-IE browsers listed (personally I always recommend Firefox :) and then use THAT.  Of course, you could always switch to a Mac or Linux…

Related: Internet Explorer – Endless Security Problems

Update Jan. 21:

Firefox released version 3.6!

Microsoft issued an emergency patch to plug the Aurora exploit which they apparently have known about since AUGUST. Here are Secunia’s updated IE numbers:

Vulnerability Report: Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.x
Unpatched: 23
Most Critical Unpatched: Moderately critical

Vulnerability Report: Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.x
Unpatched: 10
Most Critical Unpatched: Moderately critical

Vulnerability Report: Microsoft Internet Explorer 8.x
Unpatched: 3
Most Critical Unpatched: Less critical

W3Schools: 2009 ends with IE down, Firefox flat and Chrome up

January 9, 2010

Half a year has passed since I last blogged about the browser stats from W3Schools.com (usual disclaimer: they’re just for that site, but they keep old numbers up that show trends VERY well) and the summary is that in the last half of 2009, IE was down, Firefox flat and Chrome up:

The global graph from StatCounter seems to show a similar trend. The ‘flatness’ of Firefox is interesting though; I strongly suspect that it is still getting IE converts, BUT is also losing some users to Chrome. The only version of IE still growing is IE8 and that’s almost flat.

By comparison to Chrome, Opera is flat and Safari has only made minor gains (probably from preloads)

So as we enter 2010, it looks like the browser to watch is Chrome. When Firefox finally releases 3.6, that should help boost its usage.

Linux on the cusp of 2010

December 31, 2009

We’re almost at 2010 and so I thought I’d revisit my 2010: The year of the Linux Desktop post. But rather than start with Linux, I want to start with Apple…

I noticed a story “2010: The year of the Mac?” which derisively began “It’s almost a pathetic assertion: This year, the Mac will break out of its ghetto and become a mainstream computer for individuals and businesses alike.” The author doesn’t understand what Apple wants to be (that is to say, what Steve Jobs wants Apple to be ;) I wrote back in late 2007 that “Apple will tend to restrict itself to the mid-to-high-end market”.  And you know what?  Apple won it; they now get 90+% of sales of $1K+ systems; this is where the largest profits are made and Microsoft has effectively been banished from this segment. Apple also has done well with its iPhone and of course its iPods; these are tech products with significant market share that do not run a Microsoft OS and do not necessarily need one to interface either; as Microsoft absolutely requires monopoly conditions to maintain its business, anything that reduces dependence on Microsoft will cause its empire to shrink.  There are now persistent rumors that Apple is going to release some sort of Tablet Machine that will likely sell below $1K; this will further pressure OEMs that currently preload Windows to compete on price…

Which still doesn’t bring me to Linux yet ;) In the refs to the 2010 article I included a letter that I wrote to ESR regarding his predictions about RAM in computers: by 2008, he wrote, we should see 4GB of RAM in “low end” desktop machines and 16 GB in “high end” ones. However, this did not foresee the transition from majority desktop to majority notebook form factor, the current emergence of netbooks, which have begun to displace some notebook sales (see also here) and which tend to have Windows XP preloaded… at least for now; it uses MUCH less RAM than Vista did! ;) Notebooks tend to use less RAM than desktop machines and netbooks less than notebooks; it is still possible to buy a notebook (albeit refurbished) from FutureShop here in Canada with 512 MB of RAM!  Even the average netbook only has 1GB of RAM and low end notebooks typically come with 2, 3 or 4 GB of RAM.  All this has helped drop the price of off-the-shelf notebooks considerably.  Netbooks still tend to be in the $300 range (the same as last year, but with a larger screen and other ‘improvements’; Microsoft has been pushing for this to keep prices artificially high: “What’s the industry’s advantage in saying lets drive this thing to rock bottom…What we are enabling with Windows 7 [is the ability] to try to maintain higher average selling prices…This doesn’t have to be about who can get to $199 first.”)

And this brings us, finally, to Linux. Currently about a third of netbooks are being shipped with Linux globally and this should rise to a majority by 2013. This is the beginning of Linux taking over the low-end of ‘desktop’ (that is, ‘not server’) computing. What I think will happen this coming year is going to be a convergence of technologies that are going to result in that sub-$200 machine, and it won’t have Windows XP or 7 on it.  But unlike the current generation of netbooks that are Intel Atom-based, these will run on ARM processors. Predictions include that 20% of 2010’s netbooks will have ARM processors and the amount will be over half by 2012. And while Google’s Android will be on some of them, Ubuntu stands to grab a large amount of the market with its 10.04 LTS release.

So, will 2010 be the year of ‘desktop’ Linux? I think yes, but in a way that I didn’t quite imagine in 2007. The “major commerical apps designed to run on Linux” aren’t “designed to run on Linux” per se; they’re designed to run in standards-compliant web browsers (e.g. Firefox) and are ‘free’ (gratis) ala Google (mail, maps, news, etc.)  The low-end of computing will be amazingly inexpensive, almost disposable in the new and uncharted sub-$200 range (the “race to the bottom“).  We probably will see lots of Asian OEMs that most in the west have never heard of before cranking these out (perhaps even toy manufacturers; look at this one that uses rechargable AA batteries! :-), while the bigger ones attempt to maintain their Windows-based notebook sales.

An example of what I hope to see for specs on a 2010 Linux netbook:

Ubuntu 10.04 LTS
Pixel Qi Monitor (10″) [read more]
ARM Processor (2 GHz Dual Core)
1 GB RAM (DDR2 or 3)
Fast SSD (8 or 16 GB)
Cost <$200

a backlit keyboard, lots of USB ports and wireless n would be nice too, but those would probably cost extra ;)

Update Jan. 7, 2010: An article mentioning ‘smartbooks’, an intermediate between smartphones and netbooks, and predicting ARM/Linux ones to do well in 2010. But THIS ARTICLE has the real deal; a gorgeous and incredibly thin 12″ ARM “smartbook” which “runs full Ubuntu plenty well”. Look at the pics and watch the video…

Browsers of Europe

December 21, 2009

I took a blank country map of Europe and colored it in; orange is countries with significant Firefox 3.5 plurality as per StatCounter, blue is the same but for IE, while red are countries with unusually high Opera usage (note that in the Russian Federation for example, Firefox 3.5 usage is actually slightly higher than Opera version 10.0, but it is remarkable to see the latter at >20%!)

The fact that browser distribution is not randomly distributed across European countries, but appears to closely follow traditional regional boundaries is somewhat surprising and suggests that there are significant cultural factors that affect browser choice.  Note for example the large gap that StatCounter shows between Germany with ~60% Firefox and ~25% IE (so over 2:1) and its neighbors France with 55~60% IE and 30~35% Firefox and Denmark ~60% IE and ~25% Firefox (basically the opposite).  One wonders how this will affect the IE ballot screen.  My suspicion is that it will increase non-IE usage, but only proportionally to existing non-IE usage; in some nations where Firefox 3.5 is close to the most used version of IE (especially where those countries are near the ‘Firefox region’… possibly Italy or Sweden?), that could well push it past a tipping point, but west Europe looks like it’s going to hold onto IE the longest.

Another wrinkle is Chrome; Google’s browser is making some headway in Europe and a brief eyeballing of the data gives me the impression that it will do very well in the coming years… but probably more in certain regions than others; the Balkans seem to have relatively high Chrome usage already (Chrome as the alternative to a majority Firefox would be interesting to see!) and some west European nations might eventually see Chrome nipping at Firefox’s heels for second place, but that’s too far out into the future to accurately predict.  I suspect that Safari won’t make too many inroads; I just don’t see it having massive appeal outside of Macs.  Opera will continue to maintain a substantial user base in east Europe, but my gut feeling is that with more browser choices, they will get further lost in the shuffle as ‘yet another alternate browser’ where they don’t have a major presence already.

And that’s how things look to me at the end of 2009.

High Firefox Usage Regions in Europe

December 21, 2009

This is from an e-mail I just sent out… it sure got the gears turning :)

Europe is the only major area where Firefox 3.5 has plurality:

http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-eu-daily-20091111-20091220

And in Europe I note the countries with significant Firefox 3.5 plurality:

Albania, Austria, Bosnia & Herzigovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia*, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland.


*An aside: wow, look at IE6, 7, 8 and Chrome each ~8%:
http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-MK-daily-20091111-20091220

Also note countries where the browser wars are completely different, like Ukraine and Russia, where Firefox 3.5 and Opera 10 are roughly tied for the top browser versions…
http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-UA-daily-20091111-20091220
http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-RU-daily-20091111-20091220

and Belarus, where nothing beats Opera 10:
http://gs.statcounter.com/#browser_version-BY-daily-20091111-20091220

Now what’s even more interesting to me (and a trend that I had previously noticed on the XitiMonitor (now AT Internet Institute; http://www.atinternet-institute.com/) graphs of market share) is that if you take that list of European countries and put them on the map, they basically (except for island Iceland) form a contiguous block:

Iceland

Finland

Estonia
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg Germany Poland
Germany Czech Slovakia
Switzerland Austria Hungary Romania Moldova
Slovenia Croatia
Bosnia & Herzigovina Serbia
Montenegro    Bulgaria
Albania    Macedonia
Greece

(hope that formatted well)

Thus:

* Finland (which has a rather unique history http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandinavia#Finland and might be thought of as another eastern baltic state)
* Baltic States: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltic_states
* Central Europe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Europe
* Balkans: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balkans#The_Balkans

This is somewhat remarkable to me that a web browser can clearly highlight cultural regions… I have noticed in the past that IE6 is very strong in China and the surrounding regions… Maybe I need to make a map :)

StatCounter: Firefox 3.5 to become world’s most used browser version imminently

December 16, 2009

Notice a trend?

Also, with Firefox 3.0 coming to the end of its life at the end of the month, we should see a good spike in 3.5 usage.

64-bit Flash in Ubuntu

November 9, 2009

So I upgraded to Karmic and Flash seems odd; it could be because I was running the 32-bit version in 64-bit Ubuntu (via the flashplugin-installer package; it seemed to work fine in Jaunty *shrug*) but whatever the reason, I decided to try Adobe’s 64-bit version of Flash 10.  It works well (seems a bit slower than 9, but at least it isn’t acting up) and installation is really easy!

(0) Uninstall Flash

(1) Download the .tar.gz file from the bottom of this page. (Link corrected Dec. 1)

(2) Extract the .so file (double click the .tar.gz and Archive Manager will start)

(3) Put it in the .mozilla/plugins directory of your home folder (go to your home folder, View -> Show Hidden Files, and create the plugins dir if it doesn’t already exist.

Done!  Restart Firefox and test here.

Update Dec. 16: version 10.0.42.34 was released on Dec. 8

July 2009 Browser Stats

August 2, 2009

I note that NetApplications, W3Counter and StatCounter all have their global July 2009 numbers up, so here’s a table:

	NA	W3C	SC	range

IE8	14.58	12.46	12.65	12-15
IE7	23.09	24.74	27.62	23-28
IE6	27.21	15.21	19.82	15-27
-------------------------------------
all	64.88	52.41	60.09	52-65

FF3.5	4.54	6.56	5.44	4-7
FF3	16.21	23.03	22.93	16-24
FF2	1.45	1.81	1.81	1-2
-------------------------------------
all	22.2	31.4	30.18	22-32

IE+FF	87.08	83.81	90.27	83-91

C2	2.37	3.11	2.85	2-4
S4	2.22	3.11	(<3)	2-4
O9	1.73	1.18	1.86	1-2

One will note that there is quite a bit of difference in the IE:FF ratios; NetApplications has the highest at about 3:1, while W3Counter has the lowest, at about 5:3  Another difference is in which browser version is the most used; NetApplications says IE6, while StatCounter says IE7 and W3Counter has IE7 less than 2% ahead of FF3.  Thus we are reminded that any individual source is not necessarily accurate and will have its particular biases so we should be careful when quoting exact figures; ranges and overall trends would be better.

Update Aug. 7:

W3Schools put up the numbers for their site and the trends are:

IE8 is rising, but not quite as fast as IE7 is falling.

IE6 continues down its path toward extinction.

Firefox and Chrome are still rising, together at about the same rate IE as a whole is falling.