Friday, June 28, 2013

Compiling the Firefox codebase

Out of curiosity, I decided to take a look at the Firefox codebase, and compile it on my Mac. Mozilla's developer pages are great, with elaborate instructions on how to get the source code from the mercurial repository, to compiling and running the codebase on various platforms. You can find the details at: the Mozilla developer guide, and on Mac OS X they are as simple as:

  1. Get the source code from mercurial repository
  2. hg clone https://hg.mozilla.org/mozilla-central
    
  3. Install a specific version of autoconf (2.13)
  4. brew tap homebrew/versions
    brew install autoconf213
    
  5. Build Firefox
  6. cd mozilla-central
    ./mach
    ./mach build
    
    The build took roughly 2 hours to finish on my MacBook Air.
  7. Run
  8. ./mach run
    
The resulting build is similar to Firefox nightly, and includes all the bleeding edge features and instabilities, but is great for tinkering.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Back to Firefox

I have been using Chrome as my primary browser ever since it first came out, and have been pretty pleased with it. At the time I switched from Firefox because Chrome was the faster browser, and arguably had fewer memory leaks, and with its growing ecosystem of extensions and applications, I never felt the need to use any other browser.

However, lately I started having problems accessing some legacy sites that I needed for work, that employ Java for some of the content, and starting or joining WebEx meetings. Both problems are due to the fact that Chrome is a 32-bit browser, and the available Java and WebEx plugins are 64-bit for the Mac. Since Safari is a 64-bit browser, I used it for a bit as my backup browser to launch WebEx meetings, and access the legacy websites, but it was a minor inconvenience to use two browsers.

A friend sold me back on Firefox, with the cross-device sync feature--one that I heavily love on Chrome, the tab groups feature, and the recent memory leak fixes. I decided to give it a try again as my backup browser, and as time passed by, my Firefox usage increased to the point where it became my main browser.

Kudos to the Mozilla team for making Firefox a much better browser over the years.