After my last Firefox update I saw that Mozilla told me 3.6 was available, so I figured I'd download it.
Let me say off the bat that Firefox 3.5 is a steaming pile of crap. It's no IE of course; it could literally take a dump in my lap and still earn more respect from me than Explorer. And don't even get me started on Chrome. Why would anyone base a browser off of Safari's codebase anyway?
But still, Firefox 3.5 sucks. It doesn't do much to alleviate the memory problems that 3.0 still experienced, although later releases have improved it somewhat. It's still about as crashy--it doesn't crash often but it doesn't hold up brilliantly to sustained use. And the earlier releases of 3.5 were notoriously bad at recovering from crashes.
My biggest peeve, though, and I use the word "peeve" lightly because I want to beat the crap out of the idiot responsible for this, is that 3.5 tags all its downloads with Zone.Identifier information. Firefox 3.0 started doing this to mimic Explorer, and really it's pretty stupid, but you can change your group policy settings on the computer if you know what the heck to look for. I did, and the problem went away, until 3.5. In Firefox 3.5, Zone.Identifier info is added onto every download regardless of policy settings. The fix for this was never put into a 3.5 update, for reasons I cannot begin to fathom. But it's fixed in 3.6.
On top of those indignities, the author of the Qute theme I like decided to completely break with artistic integrity and create a new version that looked more like 3.5's ugly default skin. The old version was no longer compatible with 3.5. Fortunately someone stepped up with a nice clone theme. This doesn't change the fact that the original author is a moron.
Alas, Firefox 3.6 made the pain of upgrading to 3.5 seem like a nice memory.
Let's bring on the epic fail first: 3.6 is SLOOOOOOOOW. It's supposed to be faster at browsing pages, but when it's idling it uses probably at least 50% more CPU cycles than 3.5. I tend to keep a lot of windows open so I stress-test this stuff, but good gads this is ridiculous. How can it perform that badly? The real question you should ask is how it can get any worse.
Here's how: Whereas if I restart Firefox 3.5 it only takes a couple of minutes to finish loading all those pages, starting up 3.6 is like trying to compete at Daytona with a lawnmower. 3.6's speed off a cold boot is atrocious. Instead of taking only a couple of minutes to finish loading everything and be responsive again, it takes more like twenty.
Let me repeat that: Twenty-minute startup. At best. I'm not exaggerating. Gads I wish I was.
One possible culprit for this change is the new use of personas. I'd like to go on record saying I like personas. I think the concept is great, and they look really nice. Their implementation is idiotic.
Personas don't actually work with themes, it seems, which is kind of a big strike off the bat. I guess they used to when they were just done as a plugin, but now not so much. Stupid? Yes, very. I had to use the ugly default theme to use personas. But even dumber is that you can't install them like themes; if you want to switch back to a persona you like, the browser is actually contacting their site to re-download the images and everything. This may have something to do with licensing issues, but screw that. It's just plain unacceptable. Mousing over personas by the way to see how they would look is viciously slow.
If Firefox 3.6 has any truly good points (personas are at best a wash because the fail is extensive), they're swallowed under the absolutely crippling performance problems. My only hope is that, just as Firefox 3.5 has gradually polished up most of its rough edges except for that frelling download bug and has noticeably improved in performance over time, so too might 3.6 improve once it gets to, say, 3.6.4.
It had frickin' well better improve. Until then, I'm back on 3.5. At least the devil I know has learned a few table manners since July and it doesn't handle like a team of drunken elephants. Great frelling gads.