How should I go about moving to Firefox?
September 2, 2008 1:38 PM   Subscribe

Where is the best place/what is the best way to download Firefox and appropriate extensions?

I am ready to make the switch, but am so far behind the times. Whereat is the best way to download, get extensions (in a group one would assume), etc.

What other advice would you offer regarding changing over and/or re-starting up?

Thank you for your input.
posted by mr_felix_t_cat to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Umm, here?
posted by chillmost at 1:42 PM on September 2, 2008

And then maybe here?
posted by chillmost at 1:43 PM on September 2, 2008

If you have any involvement with web development, definitely get the Web Developer Toolbar, JSView, and Live HTTP Headers. Indispensable.
posted by greenie2600 at 1:45 PM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Adblock Plus + Adblock Element Hiding Helper + NoScript. Stop ads, speed up page load times by preventing banners from being downloaded, control which sites are allowed to run scripts on a page.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:54 PM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

There are a couple of Firefox+extensions bundles out there, but, so far as I know, most people start with vanilla Firefox and add them themselves.

Here are some of the ones I like:

Tab Mix Plus -- improves tabs
Password Maker -- allows a single password to unlock individual passwords on a per site basis. A bit of a pain to configure.
MR Tech Toolkit -- massively improves extension management
Personal Menu -- replace the menu bar with a single icon on the navbar and buy back some screen real estate
Flashblock -- no Flash unless you explicitly allow it
posted by Zed_Lopez at 2:10 PM on September 2, 2008

A Lifehacker list of frequently-used Firefox extensions. See the comments for more suggestions.
posted by puritycontrol at 2:12 PM on September 2, 2008

About.Com's comprehensive guide.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:53 PM on September 2, 2008

In addition to the other ones above (flashblock is glorious), check out Greasemonkey. One nice script is the Youtube Title Adder, so you always know what video you're being linked to. Plus, many other good ones.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:12 PM on September 2, 2008

Download FireFox from Mozilla, at the link chillmost provided. It's a very easy install, just like any other program you've loaded onto your computer.

After that it's up to you which add-ons you want. Everybody is different in their preferences, but in my experience (and in that of some of those above) the essential add-ons are No-Script and Adblock.

No-Script prevents all websites from running Javascript. This, of course, will totally break and/or cripple your favorite websites....which is why you add them to the 'whitelist' so No-Script knows to ignore them when you visit. Other sites you visit (like the ones linked on the MeFi front page) can be temporarily whitelisted so they'll work while you're there, then No-Script automatically takes them off the list when you close your browser. No-Script also blocks most plug-ins, so Flash applications are covered under its umbrella. (In other words, to my knowledge you don't need Flashblock and No-Script.) You can allow blocked individual page elements (like a Flash game in the middle of a webpage) by clicking on them (sometimes repeatedly). Allowing websites over and over can take some getting used to, and other people who use my computer are often frustrated, but I've grown accustomed to the ritual. It's worth it.

Adblock is similar to No-Script, but it works off a blacklist. It takes some effort to get it off the ground at first, but eventually it runs unattended. Again, visit your favorite websites. After the page loads, you can click on the Adblock button to pull up a list of every individual element on the website. Every image, every script, and every remotely-called URL is listed, and if you click on one the URL of the element will appear in the list at the bottom. You can change the URL before you add it to the blacklist, to generalize that entry past the specific instance. For example, a few of the listings on my blacklist go like this:


Only one of those looks remotely like a URL, and even that one has asterisks in it. Those asterisks are wildcards, so anything can go there. My browser will block any URL that has the string /ads/ in it, no matter what's on either side of it. will not display on my browser when it is called by whatever site I'm visiting, because I have told Adblock that it is an ad and I don't want to see it. So building your blacklist takes some time, but once you've done it for your favorite sites you won't have to touch it much, if ever.

Again, in my experience everything else is gravy. I choose to run Stylish because I like to make the comment box on MeFi wider and keep other sites from serving me text that's too small for my poor eyes; RamBack because my computer's old and FireFox 3 eats my RAM; and Greasemonkey because there are some genius MeFites who write cool scripts that increase MetaFilter's functionality with it.
posted by carsonb at 4:38 PM on September 2, 2008

It's probably better not to install too many extensions, until you figure out which ones you'll really use. Though Firefox 3 generally uses less memory than Firefox 2, loading lots of extensions could still slow it down. (I don't know which extensions are the worst offenders, though - anyone?)
posted by lukemeister at 7:01 PM on September 2, 2008

I'd go with Firefox, AdblockPlus, and NoScript as the standard install. (When I get conned into setting up a computer for someone in my family, that's what I normally put on if the person in question doesn't express any other preference.)

Personally, in addition to those I have Google Browser Sync (neat, but I hear they're turning it off soon) and Greasemonkey (for the MeFi hacks) installed, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend those broadly to anyone. They fulfill very specific needs, rather than being general make-web-browsing-better/safer/awesomer tools.

Also, on my laptop I have a couple extras that are useful for mobile use over cell-data connections: ImageLikeOpera, which stops all images from loading except ones you click on (would also be good for dialup), and FoxyProxy, which easily changes proxy tunnel configurations.

This of course assumes you don't have a religious, political, or moral objection to AdBlockPlus. Discontinue use if it causes headaches, nausea, or unexplained guilt.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:38 PM on September 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

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