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Summary:

Mozilla’s Firefox for Maemo isn’t quite ready for its already expected debut. A third Release Candidate just hit for Nokia tablets and while performance is marginally better, plug-ins were pulled out. That means no Adobe Flash just yet for this otherwise solid web browsing client.

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Is it just me or did anyone else expect the final mobile version of Firefox by now? I don’t think there’s an officially planned release date, but in mid-December word hit that the portable version of Firefox would arrive “any day now.” Instead, we’ve seen two release candidates — no, wait; make that three. The third release candidate arrives today for Maemo devices and I’ve already installed the 12.8 MB download on the loaner Nokia N900 I’m using. Here’s the funny thing though — Mozilla has disabled plug-in’s like the one used for Adobe Flash. That’s totally unexpected and it indicates some issues that need resolution before the final production version. Here’s what Mozilla says:

“Support for plugins has been disabled. On most Web pages that use the Adobe Flash plugin, the performance of the plugin didn’t meet our standards, and the interactivity and performance of the entire Web page was negatively impacted, especially on pages with multiple instances of the plugin. Advanced users can enable plugins for experimentation and testing purposes only. We are working on ways for the user to have control of which sites to enable plugins for, as some sites, like YouTube, do work quite well. That capability will most likely be packaged as a browser add-on.”

Note that extensions and themes are different from plug-ins, and their existence on a mobile client is ground-breaking. For example, with the Weave extension, the Nokia N900 can continuously synchronize with Mozilla’s servers so that my desktop browsing environment is essentially the same as that on my phone. That’s a huge win from a mobile device standpoint.

This release candidate also focuses on other performance improvements, which is good because I’ve found performance in prior versions to lag behind the native Nokia N900 browser — ironically, that’s a Mozilla-powered client, too. And after just a few minutes of using the new release candidate, I still believe the native browser is marginally faster. Others may see a variance simply based on the sites they visit, but for now, I’ll manage my own bookmarks manually and stick with the native browser which does support Adobe Flash.

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  1. I think the native browser on the N900 is much better too. I was disappointed in the Firefox browser, though I’m sure it will become a lot better with time.

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