Everything Previous Is Old

Everything prior to this post was imported from my old blog. They’re unchanged except for some format and spelling touch-ups. We’re still moving in and remodeling so if you’ve visited the old site there’s nothing new to speak of. We’re hoping to have the grand opening in a week or so.

Firefox 2 Is Here!

Hot on the heels of the IE 7 release, Firefox 2 is being released Tuesday. Google news had a short article from MacWorld which had a link to the files on an FTP server. The files are time stamped this morning. I decide to go for it. My only real concern is for the add-ins I’m using. And of those, Google Browser Sync is the only one I don’t want to do without. I’ll start with my Windows box and see what happens. It’s not a big deal if there are problems with that PC. It’ll be interesting to see how it compares to my recent IE 7 upgrade.

First I check my extensions:
Google Browser Sync 1.2.20060911.3: Google says it works with 1.5+. So a strict interpretation means it should work. Of course, experience says sometimes software vendors don’t mention an upper limit, especially for unreleased software.
Web Developer 1.0.2: The write-up on the Firefox add-ins page says it works with 2.
Yahoo! Photos Easy Upload Tool 2006.4.17: I couldn’t find any info on this. But it’s the least important add-in as I only downloaded it to evaluate Yahoo Photos and I haven’t started that yet.

So I download a 5.7MB file for the Windows install. (IE was 14.7MB)

I run the setup and it’s a very straightforward setup. I pick custom instead of standard. The only custom install options where the “Dom Inspector” and the “Quality Feedback Agent”. The default is to install them. I keep the defaults. The description of the DOM Inspector is “Inspects the structure and properties of a window and its contents.” The Quality Feedback Agent sends information about program crashes to Mozilla.

I’m asked where I want to install. The default is the same directory that Firefox 1.5 is in. I keep the default.

Next I’m asked where I want the icons created. All three locations are checked by default and I keep them selected. They are “On my desktop”, “In my start menu programs folder”, and “In my quick launch bar”.

The install runs. When it’s done I’m asked if I want to start Firefox. I do.

When starting Firefox checks the add-ins. The only one with a problem is Yahoo! Photos. I click a button to check for an update. There isn’t one. Firefox tells me it will disable the extension and periodically check for an update. No big deal, just means I can’t do bulk uploads to a photo site I’ve yet to use.

On the first start I notice two tabs open. The first tab is an intro page with links to release notes, the add-ins page and my home page. My previous home page is in the second tab.

A quick check shows the Browser Sync and Web Developer add-ins seem to be working fine. Things are going to well I decide to upgrade Firefox on my Mac.

Upgrading Firefox on OS X

I start up Firefox 1.5 on my Mac and make sure browser sync works by using the browser history that should have been synced. There it is. I download the Mac version. It’s a 17.6MB download that’s a DMG disk image file. I double-click the file. When it’s mounted the license screen is displayed. I accept and the typical “Drag this icon to Applications” screen is displayed as shown in this picture:

Install screen for Firefox on the Mac

I drag the icon to my applications folder. After agreeing to let it replace my older version it’s copied. I unmount the disk and start Firefox. I’m again told that the Yahoo! Photos add-in is incompatible. I again check for a compatible version but, as expected, there isn’t one. Just as with the Windows version, two tabs open. The first has the intro page and the second my home page.

First impressions of Firefox 2 are good. There’s now an “X” on each tab to close that tab, rather than one “X” to close the active tab. Unlike IE it still looks a lot like the previous version so there isn’t a radical change to get used to.


Now, to compare the installation to IE. First, the IE installation wasn’t too bad. But there were certainly more questions, screens and decisions with IE 7. The IE installation took longer. It was excessive, and maybe if I simply clicked through the screens the time might have been closer to Firefox. In both cases (IE and Firefox) I was upgrading existing browsers and they took the settings. Since Firefox is my primary browser, and I sync it between PCs there was certainly more to maintain during the upgrade. The first start up for Firefox was straightforward. The first start up for IE was cluttered with a selection for a tour and to view add-ons (many add-ons were being sold, which was a turn-off for me). IE 7 has a drastic change to the UI of IE 6 (arguably a good thing) while Firefox is similar to the previous version so there’s no hunting for a feature (at least not yet). Bottom line, IE 7 wasn’t enough of an upgrade to make it my primary browser in Windows and now with Firefox 2 it’s less likely. The changes a user (me) sees in Firefox are incremental. Speaking for myself they fall in the category of things I’ve seen in other browsers and liked.

The real test will come as I visit sites with each browser.

Firefox Plug-ins Added

On my newly installed Windows box… I Went to a couple of sites with Firefox today to force the installation of a couple of plug-ins. Installed the Java Runtime environment and Macromedia Flash Player. Both were added by clicking the icon for the missing plug-in. Firefox found and installed the necessary plug-ins. The JRE installed was J2SE Runtime Environment 5.o Update 6 from Sun. This also installed a applet in Control Panel. About shows the build to be 1.5.0_06-b05. The default settings (which I kept) are to check for updates the 3rd of each month at 1AM. I’ll be notified before updates are downloaded and installed. The JRE was also installed as a plug-in to IE and was enabled. The MS JVM is not on the PC.

Windows XP Install Log

I haven’t had a personal Windows machine in the house for several months, the final remnants having been removed in frustration on a patch Tuesday. Once of the required updates was the Windows Genuine Advantage Validation Tool. Microsoft had marked it high priority and required it before it would install any other security updates. The problem was, it was labeled “Beta”. Microsoft sends dozen of patches to my PC to fix software problems. But they were so concerned about piracy they felt it as more important to require me to install beta software to protect them (after all, all consumers are closet thieves) before they would let me install security updates to protect myself.

It’s time to get a Windows machine back in the house. Since I’ve been having problems getting wireless working under Ubuntu on the laptop and I have all the original CD’s available, the laptop is a prime candidate for Windows. As I said, it’s not my primary machine, used mainly for browsing, watching DVDs and other things I can do without. It should actually be a pretty stable platform since not much gets installed on it.The PC is an HP Pavillion zd7020us laptop with 512MB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive. The OSQuest will contain the historical record of this incarnation of Windows on this PC.It took about 4 1/2 hours from starting the installation to a fully functioning (and protected) PC. Since I had the original mfg CDs the installation went very smoothly, as it should have. Here’s what happened.

And So It Begins

I started by booting from the Operating System CD that came with the PC. The CD had Windows XP Home SP1a. I deleted the existing partitions and allowed setup to create one big partition on the 80GB hard drive. I had setup do a regular format (I didn’t select “Quick”) which took an hour. After formatting the install took another 30 minutes with two reboots. The PC was not connected to any network during the installation since I didn’t want to find out how long an unpatched PC can remain uninfected while on the Internet.While the installation ran I used another PC to download Windows XP SP2 and Avast Anti-Virus 4.7 Home Edition. I also downloaded the latest network drivers from the HP website.Once the OS install finished I installed all the drivers and software on the Driver Recovery CD that came with the PC. This took 20 minutes and required another reboot. While the drivers were installing I changed some of the Windows Explorer settings: Windows Classic Folders, show hidden files and folders, show extensions, show OS files and display the contents of system folders. Since my first network connection was going to be wireless I installed the latest network drivers that I had downloaded from the HP website. This took 10 minutes and another reboot. I’m still not connecting the PC to the network. Next to be installed was Windows XP SP2 from the CD. This took about 15 minutes and another reboot. After the reboot I turned on full automatic updates when prompted and left the firewall enabled. Then it was time to install Avast Anti-Virus 4.7 Home Edition. This is a full featured anti-virus program that’s free for personal, non-commercial use. I’ve been using it with great success for a couple of years. A reboot was required and I let it do a full virus scan on reboot as it recommended even though the PC still hasn’t been networked. This took 20 minutes. Now that the PC should be somewhat protected it’s time to hit the network so I configure the wireless network.

Haven’t I Done This Before?

I’m almost two hours in and I’ve made my first network connection. I’ve got SP2 which is the latest Service Pack but there’s no doubt been a few updates since then. So I hit “Windows Update” and select “Custom”. It tells me I need a few things to update Windows Update itself. They are Windows Installer 3.1, an “Update for Windows XP” (which is Package Installer) and the Windows Genuine Advantage Validation Tool (no longer labeled Beta). The PC needs another restart.I run Windows Update again. It tells me there are 62 high priority updates, 8 optional updates and 8 hardware updates. The high priority updates are preselected while none of the others are. I go with these selections and begin installing the 62 high priority updates that are 34.5MB of files. The download took about 10 minutes and another 10 minutes was needed for the installs. Another reboot was required.I run Windows Update again. There’s no high priority updates. I select all 5 hardware updates for installation. I pick 6 of the 7 optional updates (down from 8 available prior to the high priority updates): Update for Windows XP (KB904942), MS .NET 2.0, MS Base Smart Card Crypto Service, Windows Media Player 10, Update for Windows XP (KB896344), MS .NET 1.1. I don’t install the Update for WMRDM which is an update to MS’s Digital Rights Management software. While I generally want to install everything MS wants to push to my PC I don’t want to give the impression I like DRM software. As for the two .NET’s, you’d think version 2 would be backward compatible with version 1, but that’s not the case. Anyway, these updates total 68.8MB, take a half hour to install and require another reboot. I run Windows Update again. There’s 4 new high priority updates, all for .NET and Windows Media Player 10 which I had just installed. The updates are 15.6MB and take about 12 minutes. There’s no reboot prompt at the end, but I do a reboot anyway to make sure there aren’t any problems. I run Windows Update again. There’s one new high priority update. Another .NET 1.1 update. This was 1.5MB, took about 5 minutes and required a reboot. I run Windows Update again. There aren’t any updates!!!! But I’m having so much fun installing updates I click on Microsoft’s recommendation and install “Microsoft Update”. Microsoft Update will update Windows, Office and other MS apps. Even though I don’t have any other MS apps on this PC the Windows Update website really encouraged me to switch to Microsoft Update, so I did. I ran Microsoft Update after it installed. There weren’t any new updates. So the final count is 81 updates installed (70 high priority), 1 update declined. This doesn’t include the “upgrade” from Windows Update to Microsoft Update. There were 4 required reboots and 1 optional reboot. In fairness, I probably could have combined two of the updates. But installing security patches along with new software and hardware updates just seemed to be asking for trouble.

The Home Stretch

A little over 4 hours in and I have a fully patched PC with anti-virus software. So what’s left?I download and install MS Windows Defender Beta 2 (version 1.1.1347.0) as an anti-spyware tool. I select the option to automatically download updates but not join Spynet. When I first launch Defender it updates itself and does a scan, all of which took about 3 minutes.Then I download and install Firefox Followed by the Goggle Browser Sync add-in for Firefox. Once the sync add-in is installed it pulls down my bookmarks, cookies, history, and cache. A quick check and it appears everything is there. I uninstall MSN Explorer, Outlook Express and Windows Messenger which had been installed by default. From start to finish it was about 4 1/2 hours. I didn’t get slowed down by any problems but I also didn’t cut corners. I took the default settings (like full format and a full virus scan) and put in a couple safety reboots to be conservative. Cutting them out would have brought things closer to 3 to 3 1/2 hours. No doubt I’ll need additional software and browser add-ins such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, but at this point I had a functioning Windows PC.