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Last post Author Topic: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"  (Read 9562 times)

zridling

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Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« on: May 17, 2007, 10:59:02 AM »
Wired's Scott Gilbertson and Michael Calore ask what happened to their light, tight browser that seems to have gone bye-bye in More Firefox Bloat? Say It Ain't So, Mozilla:

Since then it has attracted millions of users, generally set the agenda for browser development and unseated Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the de facto monopoly in the field. But, with Firefox 3.0 poised for release this summer, the "IE killer" is in danger of morphing into an early Fat Elvis, if increasing numbers of die-hard fans turned reluctant critics are any guide.



For me, Firefox extensions are like drug interactions — use more than 8-10 at a time and memory starts climbing. Otherwise, it's been fine for me.

dk70

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2007, 04:50:34 PM »
The official information might shed some light http://wiki.mozilla.org/Firefox3 right down to weekly meeting notes or more directly the builds forum at Mozillazine http://forums.mozill...g/viewforum.php?f=23 Only for the very interested.

Lashiec

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2007, 12:12:26 PM »
It never wasn't a *light* browser to begin with, it was fast, that's true, but it's a fact that of the three major browser, he is the fattest in memory.

Really, I saw this one coming. Firefox 2 strange design decisions bugged me a lot, they were minor, but these minor things is what makes great programs. And I told to myself that Firefox 3 was the make it or break it release, as Firefox 2 was seen by many people as your regular update, that is, it losts the coolness factor. This was the moment I decided to go full with Opera, and since then I'm in a honeymoon ;D. Oh, I'm so crazy, look what I said LOL. And I was one of this die-hard fans, well, I'm a fan of Gecko since the Mozilla days, so Firefox is the natural evolution.

It's my opinion that the ultimate thing in charge of Firefox problems is the XUL toolkit. Who knows. Anyway, we'll see what happens in the future. At least memory problems would probably be a thing of the past, since they coded a garbage collector in latest alphas.

Edvard

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2008, 11:15:46 AM »
Pavlov, a Mozilla developer, has a very easy-to-read explanation of the memory-usage improvements made in Firefox 3:

http://blog.pavlov.n...efox-3-memory-usage/

They not only put in a garbage collector, they used entirely different memory allocation code (Jason Evans' jemalloc), timers for cached pages, automatic flushing of uncompressed image data, and optimized the code for cycle breaking.
The results?
Quote
...
Conclusion

Our work has paid off.

We’re significantly smaller than previous versions of Firefox and other browsers.

You can keep the browser open for much longer using much less memory.

Extensions are much less likely to cause leaks.

We’ve got automated tools in place to detect leaks that might result from new code. We’re always monitoring and testing to make sure we’re moving in the right direction.

All of this has been done while dramatically improving performance.
...

Fat Elvis? Don't think so, even if the rhinestones and stagelights might still carry a bit of weight...
« Last Edit: April 14, 2008, 11:19:58 AM by Edvard »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2008, 04:09:51 PM »
Interesting article (and hopefully positive future for Firefox).

I use Firefox 2 about 99% of the time and I still like it. Tried Opera but didn't get on with it and missed RoboForm a lot.

My biggest gripe with FF2 is the speed of startup - any news on whether this is improving with FF3 ?

f0dder

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2008, 04:29:21 PM »
Carol, iirc there's some article that mentions they not only switched to jemalloc, but also managed to shave off a substantial number of allocations during startup (I think it was in the ~50k range? Don't have an URL handy, it might very well be the one Edvard linked). Hopefully that'll do something for startup speed...
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nosh

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2008, 04:46:14 PM »
I tried it yesterday after reading that it's way more responsive than FF2 on some blog. Maybe so for some people, but it certainly didn't feel that way to me. Wonder how badly it'll crawl when the remaining 80% of my extensions that are incompatible right now catch up.

My biggest gripe with FF right now other than the "speed" issues is the crap extensions leave behind after they're uninstalled. Can't they have a robust install/uninstall engine that forces a clean uninstall?

Lashiec

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2008, 06:31:09 PM »
My biggest gripe with FF right now other than the "speed" issues is the crap extensions leave behind after they're uninstalled. Can't they have a robust install/uninstall engine that forces a clean uninstall?

Manual deinstallation is more enjoyable ;). Besides, apart from loose files, and extension settings in the files, not much crap is left around. Remember that you can always test extensions in a separate profile.

nosh

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2008, 06:41:01 PM »
Quote
Remember that you can always test extensions in a separate profile.
Very true, I have a separate profile set up exactly for that purpose - there's just one problem, I never end up using it!  :-\

P.S: I'm going to have to look up "enjoyable" once again in the dictionary now. :P
« Last Edit: April 14, 2008, 06:43:19 PM by nosh »

wreckedcarzz

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2008, 06:47:07 PM »
I use Firefox 2 about 99% of the time and I still like it. Tried Opera but didn't get on with it...

My biggest gripe with FF2 is the speed of startup - any news on whether this is improving with FF3 ?

Ditto - Opera didn't "click" with me. But it did launch faster than FF - takes about 10 seconds to load up for me when I have any more than 3-4 tabs open (Opera took 2-3 sec). And I only have 10 plugins! :o

iphigenie

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2008, 01:50:43 AM »
To be honest there was the same kind of talk when FF2 was in beta, then most people just moved to it anyway. People say the same thing every time there is a new version of a tool like this "oh no bloat!" "oh no, design over substance".

What is there for FF since all the functionality is in the plugins? FF has become a web-rendering widget engine, but that makes the core product weak, and they are working on strengthening it. Makes sense to me. Don't rely on the add-on makers for basics anymore.

It helped early on to be tiny and lean and leave it all to the add on writers. That serves a geeky crowd well. Once you go for more market share (they didnt dream of that back then) this approach starts to backfire. Normal people installing FF just wonder what the fuss is all about, it is a "bah" product out of the box with no plugins.

Also a lot of functionality which was earlier done in things like add-ons, we now know how to do on the web, in a cross-browser way. So again, people wont install an add-on they will use a web app, and FF is again under pressure, since the advantage some of these add-ons gave is going away. And it has had as many security holes as anything else recently, so that advantage is gone.

I left FF after 1.5 - FF2 just rubbed me the wrong way, it was more instable and of course the existing plugins didnt work so I had to use plain FF again, and that is when you notice that FF is actually pretty lame without the plugins. I didnt want to use it plain, neither did I want to spend hours hunting plugins.

Also by then the FF community was starting to become really annoying and arrogant, so I bailed out. I dont like fanatism about anything, and it certainly is totally out of place on mundane things like software. Whatever it is you feel "evangelic" about, it's probably not that great or that important that you really ought to go around telling people to repent from their own software and use yours. ugh. I dont like FF only sites (eg: "Sorry, but we do not support the Opera web browser. However, Stumbleupon works well with Mozilla-based browsers, free open-source ones based upon Netscape Navigator. Our Toolbar doesn't work with Opera because it relies on browser features which Opera does not have. Mozilla and Firefox are ad-free, fast & stable, with banner/popup-ad blocking and tabbed browsing features. Install one now before joining the Stumbleupon community" Yeah, right.)

Most enthusiastic FF users do have a really good browser that works exactly like they want it to, but they spent 200 house over the last 3 years getting it that way. And they forget that.

I used slimbrowser, used kmeleon, and now opera. I am a lazy user and I spend a maximum of 1 hour over 3-4 sessions tweaking a piece of software. That's it. And I dont particularly like the plugin lottery.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2008, 02:04:10 AM by iphigenie »

Carol Haynes

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2008, 04:14:19 AM »
Not the version of Firefox I know. Having just reinstalled my system from scratch it took me less than 10 minutes to get FF2 resintalled from scratch - and that included downloading the latest build and the handful of add-ons I find essential.

In some ways I find it pleasantly surprising just how fast FF is at the moment. It still opens faster than IE (with 5 tabs) even though IE is essentially preloaded into memory at Windows startup.

One of the big problems in all Windows systems is that EVERYTHING gets slower over time - even when you make the effort to keep your house clean and tidy. The only reason I can think this might happen is the registry as you can clean off all crap from your system and defragment, clear out unused apps etc. but after a while it just doesn't seem to make any difference.

I also hate the way dependencies build up over time ... I just installed Office 2007 but Outlook 2007 demands Windows desktop Search be downloaded and installed to provide the search functions. This is understandable because O2007 was designed for Vista and Vista comes with WDS as part of the OS. Having said that XP is now running much slower again and there is a lot of disk thrashing after startup. I decided to uninstall WDS and use alternative methods to search Outlook data but when I came to uninstall it I was presented with a list of about 20 applications that COULD potentially be affected if I decide to uninstall. Personally I can't see why most of them would be affected but who knows what sort of DLL hell I might enter into if I risk it. The upshot is I have a slower system now than I had and a piece of crap I don't want to remove in case it has knock on problems. I have had enough issues in recent months and having spent a few days reinstalling I don't want to do it again!

The upshot of all this is systems slow over time and become more complex and less responsive in some sort of organic fashion. It is easy to blame particular software (such as Firefox as I have above and in the past) but now I am not so sure.

FF is not perfect but when installed on a clean system it isn't as fast as Opera but it is pretty responsive. Having said that the expandability of Firefox makes it much more functional and adaptable than Opera.

All the Opera fans go on about how fast and good Opera is.  In some ways it is a bit like MacOS - if you are prepared to restrict your options by locking down the system (in Opera's case by banning extensions, in Mac's case by only allowing a small subset of available hardware) it is easy to make a system that retains its stability and speed but it is the open market place of Firefox (and even IE) and Windows hardware that make those platforms ultimately more trouble but also much more adaptable for users and attractive to developers.

f0dder

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2008, 06:17:41 AM »
Quote
even though IE is essentially preloaded into memory at Windows startup.
Ugh, would you please stop spreading that piece of false information? It really isn't. If you (on old enough hardware :)) time first- and secondary launch times of IE, you'll see a speed difference. People are all confused over this issue because things like the common controls were introduced with IE, but quickly became a set of core windows controls, used by many other apps...

Anyway, it makes sense to incorporate some plugin behavior as core program facilities - especially the ones that really are crucial for a good surfing experience, or those that are heavy and would benefit from being implemented in C++ instead of javascript (although the speedup for the JS engine in ff3 should help wrt. that?)

Imho FireFox starts pretty slowly, especially once you start adding those invaluable plugins. IE6 is king here, not even Opera starts faster than that. MS basically ruined that advantage with IE7 though, which starts about as slowly as a FF2 with plugins, and is very slow at opening new tabs.

I'd love Opera if it didn't crash on me all the time, didn't include silly things like chat and torrent in the core product, and had plugin/extension support. But as it is now, it's just not enjoyable for me to use.
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Carol Haynes

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2008, 07:14:29 AM »
Ugh, would you please stop spreading that piece of false information? It really isn't. If you (on old enough hardware :)) time first- and secondary launch times of IE, you'll see a speed difference. People are all confused over this issue because things like the common controls were introduced with IE, but quickly became a set of core windows controls, used by many other apps...

I was under the impression that Windows Explorer contains most of the core code for IE - which is why you can use IE to browse folders and WE to browse websites (OK with IE 7 the site opens in a new IE tab) ? Since explorer.exe is in memory from startup the iexplorer.exe just adds a thin veneer when IE is used - or am I completely wrong on this?

I was also under the impression that this is why MS said it was impossible to remove Internet Explorer from Windows (not least in the anti trust cases in court) and why using the remove option in the default apps options (such as replacing IE with MSN Explorer or Firefox) doesn't actually remove anything at all but just hides IE from the user's view.

f0dder

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2008, 07:26:20 AM »
Well, it's all component based. If explorer.exe recognizes you're typing an URL, it loads the IE component and lets that handle it. iexplore.exe itself is only a small stub that loads the IE COM objects.

Now, if you have "web view" enabled in explorer, it might very well load the HTML rendering components right away (as soon as you open a file explorer anyway, explorer.exe as a shell might not load that... unless you have active desktop enabled). I always disable webview anyway.

I'll have to admit I haven't done thorough traces or looked super-closely at loaded DLLs etc., but there's a noticeable speed difference on launching IE6 first vs. secondary times, especially on older hardware. (part of that speed difference is from loading the temporary files cache, probably).

As for not being able to really remove IE, that's partially because of the common controls issue - but also because a number of other applications depend on the IE html rendering controls. Some version of norton antivirus used it for it's UI, for instance >_<. Other applications use things like WinINet functions (InternetOpenUrl, InternetReadFile etc.) which are also done from IE components... see the picture? :)

It's wrong saying that "internet explorer is preloaded when windows starts", because (at least from my experience), large parts of it isn't. And the parts that are preloaded is stuff I consider to be part of the core windows, even if it was originally introduced with IE.
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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2008, 08:51:29 AM »
Quote
It's wrong saying that "internet explorer is preloaded when windows starts", because (at least from my experience), large parts of it isn't. And the parts that are preloaded is stuff I consider to be part of the core windows, even if it was originally introduced with IE.

But if, as you say, any bit of explorer uses a HTML view then surely the DLL is loaded? I forget now if webview is the default, but if it is then I suspect the HTML components will get loaded shortly after the machine boots and the users starts using explorer.

Quote
I'd love Opera if it didn't crash on me all the time, didn't include silly things like chat and torrent in the core product, and had plugin/extension support. But as it is now, it's just not enjoyable for me to use.

Just to say, Opera is modular, so chat and torrent are not "in" the core product. They are linked, but will be flushed out of memory when not in use IIUC. If Opera didn't compress its DLL they would not even hit memory.

And if you can reproduce a crash, I'd be happy to submit a bug for you with a crashlog. Opera even have a specialised assembler program to catch crashlogs: http://www.opera.com...ort/search/view/432/

----------
Firefox 3: I think this is the least bloated version they've released. The feature set is refined, they cut a lot of UI bloat with Places, which is more elegant and unified than the old system. The rendering engine is much more optimised CPU wise, and they've done a great job of nailing the memory loss. Firefox <3 was the real Elvis. I used to use Phoenix and Firebird all those version numbers ago, and they made Las Vegas Elvis look like Jet Li... 8) I couldn't be bothered to read the article, it sounded too much like linkbait to me...
FARR Wishes: Performance TweaksTask ControlAdaptive History
[url=http://opera.com/]

f0dder

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2008, 09:32:28 AM »
But if, as you say, any bit of explorer uses a HTML view then surely the DLL is loaded? I forget now if webview is the default, but if it is then I suspect the HTML components will get loaded shortly after the machine boots and the users starts using explorer.
I believe it's the default, yes... but I'm not sure when the html component would be loaded. Presumably not until the user navigates to a folder that actually has html components? :)

Just to say, Opera is modular, so chat and torrent are not "in" the core product. They are linked, but will be flushed out of memory when not in use IIUC. If Opera didn't compress its DLL they would not even hit memory.
It's windows default to discard unused memory pages, whether they're in DLLs or not... I just don't like features like this being included with a web browser, and would rather see them moved out to separate projects, and have the Opera developers focus on their browser instead.

And if you can reproduce a crash, I'd be happy to submit a bug for you with a crashlog. Opera even have a specialised assembler program to catch crashlogs: http://www.opera.com...ort/search/view/432/
It's usually been on pages with java (not javascript) or flash... so you might say "it's not an Opera problem", but I've had far less crashes on the same sites with IE and FF. There's also been some pretty random crashes, but those are hard to reproduce.

I'm not saying that Opera comes off as unstable, but it's just crashed a bit more on me than FF has - which is probably an oddity once or twice as month. But I guess I should test-drive a more recent Opera version to be fair.

I couldn't be bothered to read the article, it sounded too much like linkbait to me...
If you're talking about this article, it's not linkbait and definitely worth a read.
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cmpm

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #17 on: April 15, 2008, 10:09:51 AM »
I think firefox people are listening to the feedback.

And yes IE^ was good and customizable.
That's why I like Firefox with Google toolbar.
You can put icons anywhere, even up with the menu bar.
Like IE6.

Carol, you may want to use Minimize to Tray add on to keep Firefox running. Check 'minimize on close' option.
It pops up instantly.

Minimize to Tray enhancer doesn't do much more.
It allows 'start with windows'.
But that can be done by putting a shortcut in the Start folder.

I'd like an add on that auto sets Firefox to the home page when hitting the close button.
I sometimes find that I've left a page open that I meant to reset to my home page.

Opera was to much for me to learn new things imo.
It seems to be a very different setup.
Though it's still on my computer, I prefer firefox.

IE7 is history except when needed.
Who came up with that design anyway?
I guess simple was the idea.

Dormouse

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2008, 11:34:55 AM »
It's usually been on pages with java (not javascript) or flash... so you might say "it's not an Opera problem"

I think Opera is head and shoulders above FF & ie for usability, but I have used it for years. I still use FF & ie because some sites only seem to work on FF/ie and others on ie alone. I find Opera pretty stable (usually have about 30 tabs open, +/- 10 or so), but there are sites that freeze it. Only solution I have found to that is to guess the site and to close that tab quickly when restarting Opera before it loads whatever is giving the problem.

It's the most annoying thing about Opera, but Opera is pretty standards compliant and I don't know what more they can do other than become much more popular so those sites test their functioning with it as well as ie and the others.

Babis

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2008, 02:23:46 PM »

One of the big problems in all Windows systems is that EVERYTHING gets slower over time - even when you make the effort to keep your house clean and tidy. The only reason I can think this might happen is the registry as you can clean off all crap from your system and defragment, clear out unused apps etc. but after a while it just doesn't seem to make any difference.


That's the reason I use FirstDefense-ISR. I create an initial snapshot after a clean installation with windows fully updated at that time and only basic apps (without MS Office, AntiVirus, Firewalls, Image processing etc) and at any time I reboot to clean Windows, to start messing with registry and software installations again.

Now as for firefox it is definitely possible to do a clean installation at any time. The delay at launch is definitely due to some add-ons and you can test it by running a clean profile. High memory utilization add-ons include these that remember closed tabs, like Tab Mix Plus, but these add-ons are making firefox so customizable and my first choice.


Lashiec

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2008, 06:41:48 PM »
People say the same thing every time there is a new version of a tool like this "oh no bloat!" "oh no, design over substance".

With the new "native" themes, design has not won this time, brrr!

Quote
It helped early on to be tiny and lean and leave it all to the add on writers. That serves a geeky crowd well. Once you go for more market share (they didnt dream of that back then) this approach starts to backfire. Normal people installing FF just wonder what the fuss is all about, it is a "bah" product out of the box with no plugins.

Really, the majority of people don't know what an extension is, which is pretty normal, after all not everyone needs so many extra functionality, and they're perfectly fine with the stock Firefox.

MS basically ruined that advantage with IE7 though, which starts about as slowly as a FF2 with plugins, and is very slow at opening new tabs.

Greatly fixed in IE8, according to the reports. Fortunately :)

I was also under the impression that this is why MS said it was impossible to remove Internet Explorer from Windows (not least in the anti trust cases in court) and why using the remove option in the default apps options (such as replacing IE with MSN Explorer or Firefox) doesn't actually remove anything at all but just hides IE from the user's view.

Oh, you can, you can, is possible to remove IE6 from Windows, albeit not officially, and preserve the underlying components for other apps using the engine to work. Still, I think IE7 is far more decoupled from Windows than IE6. I hope they did the same with WMP, which is becoming less and less configurable with each version.

f0dder

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2008, 06:45:52 PM »
Lashiec: all the "get rid of IE6" does, afaik, is to remove "%ProgramFiles%\Internet Explorer" - which is nothing but ~300kb worth of shams for the COM components.
- carpe noctem

Lashiec

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2008, 06:51:37 PM »
I don't really know, since I didn't have a real desire to remove it from Windows 98, but the utility uses INF files to specify what it's removing, so it can be checked.

You can also try it live... on a VM of course :)

Carol Haynes

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #23 on: April 15, 2008, 06:55:03 PM »
I hope they did the same with WMP, which is becoming less and less configurable with each version.

Really I like WMP 11 more than previous versions. Maybe I am not very demanding but I think it works pretty well. I certainly prefer it to iTunes as a music and video player, and (at least on my system) it loads quickly (with about 30Gb of music and video in the library), has an instant search and sounds as good as anything else I have tried. Granted I don't use it for tagging (MP3Tag rules for that) - what else am I missing?

Lashiec

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Re: Is Firefox 3.0 the "Fat Elvis?"
« Reply #24 on: April 15, 2008, 07:06:08 PM »
Oh yeah, as a run-of-the-mill player is pretty good, but it bugs me that by default adds the media directories to the library, without asking first (even photos, why?), and that you can't remove "My Music" from the list of directories. I rarely use it, except for viewing DVDs with ffdshow as the decoder, but I prefer it to not index anything unless I tell it to do so.

At least, it does not rename music files like iTunes using strange schemes and with no good reason...