A few days ago, the fine folks at Mozilla released Firefox version 29. The ridiculously high number itself is a result of their attempt to appear as on the ball as Google’s Chrome, which seems to release new versions just for sport. Anyway, this latest Firefox release was the first in a long long while to display any actual change in the user interface, again in an apparent attempt to keep up with Chrome. I’m not a fan of Chrome myself, and have always stayed with Firefox, largely due to Mozilla’s devotion to most of the principles of free and/or open source software. Nothing in particular against Google, but they do seem a bit nosy at times. The new interface for Firefox takes some getting used to. It’s not awful, but some buttons have changed and the tabs look different. Lots of folks seem to hate it. What we’re gonna do here is guide you through the easy process of returning Firefox to its previous user interface in appearance.
It’s pretty simple really. One add-on and you’re in business. Even if you like the new changes, this add-on is handy as it gives you additional things to tweak. The add-on is called Classic Theme Restorer (get it here), and will get your Firefox back to looking like what you’re used to and not like the Chrome wannabe its new appearance implies. Just download it, maybe play with a few settings, and Bob’s your uncle, as they say. I’m not gonna go to the trouble of doing before and after screen-shots, a step by step sequence of what settings to fiddle with, or any of that malarkey, mainly because it’s too much work and you’ll be able to see for yourself what’s changed and what changes back when you install the add-on. It’s really really simple to figure out what to do, and most of it gets done just by installing it. I’ve settled on a blend of features from both new and old, keeping mainly the new curved tabs from the new “Australis” theme, while changing a few things back to the old way. Lots of stuff to play with in the settings here. Have fun.
Just as a meaningless addendum, I actually don’t use Firefox itself, but rather Debian Linux’s “Iceweasel”, which is exactly the same, the only difference being the logo. Debian has insanely high standards for what constitutes “free”, which is in fact laudable but leads to things like this renaming because Firefox’s logo isn’t as completely free as it could be. It causes a lot of confusion for Debian neophytes in the help forums, that’s for sure. I kinda like being an Iceweasel user. Cool name. There’s also Icedove (renamed Thunderbird email program) and my favorite, Iceape (renamed SeaMonkey internet suite). Speaking of SeaMonkey, did you know this even existed? Yes, it’s still possible to use a full featured “internet suite” that includes a web browser, email and newsgroups client, and HTML editor all in one package. Pretty cool, and free of course, and maybe even useful for some folks. All of these things are from the aforementioned fine folks at Mozilla, which is what rose out of the ashes of Netscape years ago. I loved Netscape!
I’ll take an additional moment here to once more beat the drum for Linux and free software in general, of which Firefox is a great and probably the most popular example. I did a piece a while back on Linux, but to sum up, it’s easy to use, more secure, infinitely configurable, does everything the average user needs to do, is available in an astonishing number of flavors, and best of all, is completely free in (in many cases) every possible sense of the word. Freedom is good. Don’t let the Microsofts and the Apples fool you. Don’t be an insecure sheep. Give it a try. Or at least look into using some of the many great free/open source software products available for all platforms. Some of my favorites include VLC, which is a great player of almost any kind of media you can imagine, the GIMP, which does a lot of what Photoshop does and more, Clementine, an easy to use and lightweight music player/library program (among other things, it handles all 103,000 of my music files), FBReader, which will read almost any kind of e-book format, and of course LibreOffice, a full featured MS Office replacement that is quite compatible for most everyday uses. These are all completely free in every sense of the word, the most important being the freedom thing. The no money thing is nice too.
Keeping it short today, though I did find it necessary to prattle on in those last two paragraphs. It’s a disease. Thanks for reading and eschew expensive software. Freedom, like knowledge, is good.