Firefox 64-bit will live on through nightlies after user backlash

By on December 26, 2012, 5:00 PM

Mozilla is backtracking on its decision to kill the 64-bit version of Firefox following heavy backlash from users. Last month, managing engineer Benjamin Smedberg called for coders to cease development of the 64-bit builds, calling them a "constant source of misunderstanding and frustration" due to lousy support for plug-ins, performance enhancements and bug fixes, which effectively made 64-bit users second-class.

To an extent, it sounded like Smedberg thought Mozilla would be doing folks a favor by forcing them to use the 32-bit browser, which is better supported all around. However, many 64-bit users disagreed quite strongly with that notion -- especially those who regularly hit the 4GB memory limit of the 32-bit browser. That negative response has prompted Smedberg to announce a modified plan that serves as a compromise.

Although Mozilla still plans to force 64-bit users on to a 32-bit version of Firefox through an automatic update, the developer will continue to provide nightly builds of the 64-bit browser. It seems this move would help transition those running 64-bit variants to a more secure 32-bit version of Firefox, while folks who are hell-bent on running the 64-bit version can always redownload and reinstall it after the forced migration.

Additionally, Smedberg plans to change the default first-run and update page for 64-bit builds to tell users they're running unsupported software. He also wants to disable the browser's crash reporter, enable click-to-play plugins by default as well as reduce engineering loads by discontinuing 64-bit tests and on-checkin builds -- we're not entirely sure what that entails, but it simply sounds like less developmental focus.

"After I announced my decision to disable 64-bit Windows nightlies, there was significant negative feedback. After reviewing that feedback, and consulting with Release Engineering, I believe that we can keep a set of users happy by making a modification to the original plan," Smedberg said. "I do hope that the projects and developers who are interested in win64 will work together to maintain this build configuration. I am interested in hearing from volunteers who want to become the 64-bit build maintainer. I will also set up a discussion list specifically for win64 issues, if that would be valuable."




User Comments: 12

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1 person liked this | Guest said:

Waterfox seems to be doing just fine. Funny how Mozilla cant seem to get it right.

If Mozilla were to focus on 64 bit right now, in the next year or two they will have a huge advantage over the competition.

Hell. The last time I have a 32 bit computer was like 7 years ago, if not more. Although I have few 64 bit apps, the ones I do have run perfectly, no problems at all. I cant say the same for 32 bit, dispite it being the "standard" I seem to have many problems with it (this could be because it is the industry "standard" and more of the weak programers are using 32bit)

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Yea I started running Waterfox after that announcement, just our of curiosity really

Have not seen any issues at all, my primary browser of choice is Opera though, and they do have a 64-bit build aswell

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I could have predicted this, when they said they were halting production of 64-bit. It's the 32-bit they should be fine tunning and then halting.

jacques said:

And we live on through nineties

psycros psycros said:

The "constant source of misunderstanding and frustration" is Mozilla's constant breaking of addons through meaningless code changes.

Guest said:

I dont understand this reluctance to go 64 bit. Why does firefox not build on 16 bit anymore ? Because its outdated ! 32 bits will be outdated in the nearer future too.

I am a heavy ff user(32 bits) and trust me even right now I can see firefox taking around 1.5 Gigs of my computer ram. I am definitely sure no matter what anyone says a 64 bits firefox will handle this ram better than the 32 bits and it will definitely ask for even more ram. I want it to ask for more ram but efficiently!

Its time firefox, focuses at 64 bits. I dont care about plugins becoming incompatible!

Guest said:

Firefox is a disgrace of a web browser.

In all my life I have never used a terrible and awful web browser.

Firefox is painfully slow and never seems to work correctly. Everytime something with Flash is loading, Firefox keeps freezing and hanging. It now takes over 1-2 minutes for the browser to respond.

Firefox...you suck.

PC EliTiST PC EliTiST said:

This is the usual PR move followed by Mozilla when there is a backlash.

Unfortunately, Fx will become Opera sooner than expected.

Camikazi said:

Firefox is a disgrace of a web browser.

In all my life I have never used a terrible and awful web browser.

Firefox is painfully slow and never seems to work correctly. Everytime something with Flash is loading, Firefox keeps freezing and hanging. It now takes over 1-2 minutes for the browser to respond.

Firefox...you suck.

Never seen this problem, maybe it's an add-on you have installed that is not working right. Flash works perfectly on my Firefox and it is as fast as any other browser plus has much better add-ons.

Guest said:

Actually you should try the new 64bit browser Cyberfox

http://sourceforge.net/projects/cyberfox/

It was created out of a need for a better and more stable option than what waterfox is

The Developer from Waterfox still has not gotten his act together on coding his version of the firefox browser

He still has not released an udate of waterfox to version 17 yet

Cyberfox had an upgrade to 17 the day after firefox released version 17

Also the man developing this new Cyberfox browser constantly answers any question posted about it

Where Mr Alex (waterfox) has a tendency to ignore people even though he is online

Clay Slape Clay Slape said:

I've been in IT now for 31+years. While it is true that software changes slower than hardware, I see a time in the next 5-10 years that there will be a move in technology away from 32 bit systems and head strictly into 64 bit and 128 bit system architectures. Having said that, it would be in the best interest of the OPEN SOURCE movement to stay on top of these changes in technology.

I am a user of Firefox Nightly (64 bit Version of FireFox) and I am loving it. Though I am not a programmer, I do IT support and build networks for a living. I see trends in the changes Microsoft and Linux moving to 64 bit systems as a status quo leaving the 32 bit montage behind.

In this industry, you either stay on the cutting edge and keep up with the industry leaders or get left behind in their dust. It is in the BEST interest of FIREFOX to move to the 64 bit platform as soon as possible seeing that there is more to offer in that platform than on older 32 bit systems.

Guest said:

" It is in the BEST interest of FIREFOX to move to the 64 bit platform as soon as possible seeing that there is more to offer in that platform than on older 32 bit systems"

also, dont forget to demand your money back, since you are in the business

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