Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Mozilla Firebird 0.6

Yesterday saw the long-awaited release of Firezillanix Phoebird 0.6, or whatever it’s called. I’ve been using it on and off in the past, and I have to say this latest release is probably the most polished yet.

It’s fast (although Mozilla is catching up), it has a clean and uncluttered interface, it has more themes than you can shake a stick at and it’s only a 6MB download. If you don’t mind using software that hasn’t been tested fully and is still a bit rough around the edges, then get yourself a copy.
I am, for the most part impressed, but I do have some concerns:

  • The first is that there is no help file, but I imagine this will be written when it comes around to integrating Firebird with the Mozilla trunk. That said, the Mozilla help file is also lacking in areas.
  • The extensions support is flaky. I added the Site Navigation toolbar addon and it wouldn’t appear. It also took a restart of the browser to disable it, but nothing told me that.
  • Theme switching isn’t polished, but they know about that so I won’t rant too much. And at least in most cases you don’t have to reload the browser to change the theme.
  • Probably my biggest gripe relates to the Options dialog, which replaces the Preferences window. While I like the new look, and I’m glad it has been simplified, it becomes less useful for more savvy users like me. Currently, Firebird has two methods of changing preferences – the Options dialog, and about:config. The first is aimed at less-able users, and the latter is aimed at Mozilla experts. There’s nothing in between for people who want to modify advanced settings, but don’t want to manually modify confusing text strings. If any of the Firebird developers are reading this, how about a button called ‘Advanced Options’ which brings up another dialog similar to the one already used in Mozilla to configure the other options that have been taken out?
  • No easy way to add more search engines. Yes, you can go to MyCroft, but how many users will know that? There should be an ‘add more engines’ link somewhere in the UI.

Other than these concerns, I am generally impressed by what I see.


  1. I’m suprised I beat you to reporting this one Neil! I agree with your comments, although when I tried to download Mycroft a while back from the extension page, it came back with page not found or something similar. I consider myself pretty good with ie, but with mozilla, you end up feeling a right beginner as there are so many hidden tweaks and bits missing that you have to addon before you end up with a good browser. The style switcher in the status bar is another good addon to install…..

  2. The delay was down to me giving it a good once over before making any preliminiary judgements. I did that with NewsMonster – said it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, and then had to uninstall it the next day because of stability issues. I didn’t want to do that again.

  3. firebird’s journy through blogdom

    The Mozilla Firebird 0.6 web browser has been out for nearly two full days now and I’ve taken a minute out of my Sunday afternoon to check the reactions across the searchable blogosphere.

  4. “how about a button called ‘Advanced Options’ which brings up another dialog similar to the one already used in Mozilla to configure the other options that
    have been taken out?”
    In the mean time, you can load the URI:
    To load the same preferences panel that Mozilla SeaMonkey uses.