Posts Tagged ‘google chrome’

Firefox Lorentz: Now Firefox Crashes More Like Chrome

Firefox has released a new beta of their web browser called Firefox “Lorentz,” a test build of Firefox 3.6.3 that’s designed to minimized crashes. Previously, when a plugin caused a crash in Firefox, the whole browser went down in flames too. But in Lorentz, this will no longer be the case. The page running the errant plugin will offer you the ability to submit a crash report while the rest of the browser remains up-and-running like usual. The improved stability is due to Lorentz’s process isolation, a feature which runs plugins as processes separate from the web browser itself.

Does this sound familiar? It should, if you’re a Google Chrome user.

Google Chrome, the speedy little web browser from the Internet search giant, introduced the idea of isolated processes when the browser launched back in fall 2008. As explained by a Googler on the company’s official blog, Chrome put “each tab in an isolated sandbox,” so it could “prevent one tab from crashing another.”

The same philosophy is now seen in Firefox’s latest. The Lorentz build, which initially focuses on just Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime and Microsoft Silverlight, isolates plugins in separate instances, too. The end result? A browser that doesn’t completely tank quite so often.

If you do end up with a page that goes rogue, however, the screen turns grey and you’re notified of the plugin crash by way of a text message and a sad-faced lego-like logo. (See picture).

This image also seems to be cribbed from Chrome’s playbook as it closely resembles the sad tab image that accompanies Google Chrome’s “Aw Snap!” message that appears when something goes wrong with a web page.(Then again, a sad computer icon isn’t anything new, as Mac users will certainly tell you.) But in this case, it’s another reminder of how Firefox, once thought to be leading the way in browser innovations, now seems to be following in Google’s footsteps.

That said, Firefox enthusiasts are sure to welcome this change. And if you want to get all hacker-ish, you can even configure Firefox to isolate more plugins, too, as the Mozilla Links blog explains (via LifeHacker):

To have the Adobe Reader plugin running on its own process, create a boolean preference in about:config, name it dom.ipc.plugins.enabled.nppdf32.dll, set it to true, and restart. For Java, the preference must be named dom.ipc.plugins.enabled.npjp2.dll. You just need to know the name of the library (which you get from about:plugins), and create the preference accordingly.

To try Lorentz for yourself, you can grab the latest build here.

Google aims to speed up the entire Internet with SPDY


There are many aspects of technology that can be tweaked in order to speed a user’s Internet experience up; web pages optimized, purchase a faster connection, or even just update software. Google has apparently bypassed all this, however… they aim to replace the HTTP protocol itself, with SPDY.

As the Google blog post reminds us, “HTTP is an elegantly simple protocol that emerged as a web standard in 1996 after a series of experiments.” It’s been great so far, though with initial tests of SPDY (pronounced “speedy”), it shows that it can definitely be improved. Google has currently set up a simulation of a typical household’s Internet connection, built a version of Google Chrome which is SPDY compatible, and given it a whirl. After loading the top 25 websites on the Internet, the pages loaded up to 55% faster than they did otherwise.

So, why exactly did Google do this? As you’ve hopefully gathered so far, it’s all about speed. Awhitepaper on SPDY has listed a few aspects of HTTP that are rather limiting:

  • Single request per connection. Because HTTP can only fetch one resource at a time (HTTP pipelining helps, but still enforces only a FIFO queue), a server delay of 500 ms prevents reuse of the TCP channel for additional requests. Browsers work around this problem by using multiple connections. Since 2008, most browsers have finally moved from 2 connections per domain to 6.
  • Exclusively client-initiated requests. In HTTP, only the client can initiate a request. Even if the server knows the client needs a resource, it has no mechanism to inform the client and must instead wait to receive a request for the resource from the client.
  • Uncompressed request and response headers. Request headers today vary in size from ~200 bytes to over 2KB. As applications use more cookies and user agents expand features, typical header sizes of 700-800 bytes is common. For modems or ADSL connections, in which the uplink bandwidth is fairly low, this latency can be significant. Reducing the data in headers could directly improve the serialization latency to send requests.
  • Redundant headers. In addition, several headers are repeatedly sent across requests on the same channel. However, headers such as the User-Agent, Host, and Accept* are generally static and do not need to be resent.
  • Optional data compression. HTTP uses optional compression encodings for data. Content should always be sent in a compressed format.

If you’d like to know the more in-depth details about the protocol, please check out the whitepaper in addition to the blog post linked earlier. Google may have a lot of different projects going on right now, but this one seems to be more exciting than usual.

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Rivals challenge Microsoft browser settlement


Three rivals of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser are seeking last minute changes to a proposal, that would see new users of Windows presented with a ballot screen of the top five browsers. Rivals believe that the current ballot screen proposal still gives Internet Explorer an unfair advantage.

After a complaint from the makers of the Opera web browser, the European Commission decided in January that Microsoft’s inclusion of Internet Explorer in Windows constituted an abuse of their dominant market position. In October, the Redmond-based company proposed a so-called browser “ballot screen”, which would display a list of the top five browsers to consumers when they boot a new computer for the first time.

The commission has asked Microsoft’s rivals, who still appear to be unhappy with the proposal, to comment on the company’s offer by Monday.

Oslo-based Opera believes that the ballot should be displayed on a screen that does not contain the Microsoft logo. “It would be like having an election ballot where the name or logo of one candidate is displayed separately, prominently up in the corner of the ballot,” said Mr. Lie, chief technology officer at Opera. “You wouldn’t want that.”

Opera also want Microsoft to prevent Windows from displaying the standard security warnings that occur when users download software from theInternet.

Mozilla, the creators of Firefox, are concerned about the ballot screen’s design. Displayed within an Internet Explorer window, the screen will list the five most popular browsers in alphabetical order from left to right, giving first spot to Apple’s Safari. Jenny Boriss, a Mozilla designer, criticized the display in a post on October 16th, writing, “Windows users presented with the current design will tend to make only two choices: Internet Explorer because they are familiar with it, or Safari because it is the first item.” She went on to suggest that the browsers be displayed randomly.

Mr. Lie has said Google, Mozilla and Opera will send separate letters to the commission, detailing their requests for changes.

European competition commissioner, Neelie Kroes, has said she will take Microsoft to court should they fail to agree to a fair settlement. However, Mrs. Kroes, who is likely to step down at the end of the year, has said she would prefer to settle open cases before leaving.

According to research firm Net Applications, Internet Explorer current has a 67 percent share of the browser market, following by Firefox with 24 percent. Apple’s Safari has 4.4 percent, Google’s Chrome 3.5 percent and Opera just 2 percent.

Fake PayPal screen dupes IE, Safari, Chrome


A hacker has created a counterfeit security-certificate that tricks Microsoft Internet Explorer, Apple Safari and Google Chrome into thinking a bogus PayPal payment page is the real thing.

Notably absent from that list is Mozilla Firefox, which apparently isn’t duped by the phony secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate. But a Microsoft security library is – and IE, Safari and Chrome all use the library to identify confirmed Web certificates for services, such as PayPal, that require secure data transfers, reports The Register.

“Even though the certificate is demonstrably forged,” wrote Dan Gooden of The Register, “it can be used with a previously available hacking tool called SSLSniff to cause all three browsers to display a spoofed page with no warnings, even when its address begins with ‘https.'”

The kicker? Microsoft has known about the gaping hole in itsCryptoAPI security library since June, when a hacker exploited it at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. And Microsoft still hasn’t fixed it.

“Microsoft is investigating a vulnerability in SSL in Windows presented during Black Hat,” a Microsoft spokesperson “Once we’re done investigating, we will take appropriate actions to protect customers.”

Until then, users should beware of any links that claim to take them to a secure PayPal page. People should navigate directly to the PayPal site instead, so they know they’re not being fooled into giving their information, including bank account numbers, to a hacker.

PayPal did not respond to a request for comment.