Fennec Alpha 3 for Windows Mobile

We’re very happy to announce the availability of Fennec Alpha 3 for Windows Mobile. There are lots of great features and fixes included in this release. You can find the release notes here and a cab installer here. Personally, I’m turning off my iPhone to switch to a Windows Mobile device with Fennec.

The first thing you’ll notice is the improved start up time. Brian Crowder took Vladimir Vukicevic’s original dabblings for Firefox on Windows CE and produced a cross platform fast start daemon for Mozilla.  Stay tuned to his blog for a post I’m going going to nag him to write about it. One caveat is that this faster start up time doesn’t take effect until after you reboot your phone (hey, this is Windows after all).

The next thing you’ll probably notice is the much improved panning. We’ve implemented a tile cache rendering system (much like you see on google maps) that allows us to cache previously rendered content and avoid duplicating the work.  This has also allowed us to switch over to native scrolling surfaces which has greatly improved panning performance. Roy Frostig goes into much greater detail on this in his blog post on the tile cache.

Also helping out panning performance has been Robert O’Callahan’s compositor work, which reduces the amount of native widgets we have to deal with when rendering or scrolling and a change to keep track of the invalidated regions ourselves rather than rely on the system do it.

But wait, there’s more! If you’re running a phone other than the HTC Touch Pro, you’ll notice we now support a wider range of screen resolutions through the use of CSS media queries, which really show’s the power of our XUL based front end. And if you are running on the Touch Pro, go a head and run your finger around the edge of the directional pad.  That zooming you see is the result of Alexandru  Cristei’s work to support the touch sensitive directional pad on HTC’s Touch phones.

There is plenty more work to do (after all this is an Alpha release), but in writing this blog post I realize just how much progress we’ve made since Alpha 2. I hope you’ll give it a try, put it through its paces and enjoy. Oh, and file bug reports.

Update: There is now a shortened url for the cab installer bit.ly/wma3cab

The Conversation {32 comments}

  1. Topher {Friday September 4, 2009 @ 3:09 pm}

    I just tried it on my Samsung i760. After the install I rebooted, looking for the faster startup times.

    It took 23 seconds for the splash screen to appear. The splash screen was visible for 52 seconds. Then it went away, and appears to have crashed completely. It’s not listed in my task list or processes list.

  2. Mike OBrien {Friday September 4, 2009 @ 3:20 pm}

    On HTC Touch Pro 2 (CDMA), it works… But very slowly.

    Also, Weave 0.6 reports it’s incompatible. Without Weave, Fennec is basically useless to me.

  3. blassey {Friday September 4, 2009 @ 4:31 pm}

    @Topher It takes 5-6s for me to see a window. Not sure what’s going on for you, but you might want to try rebooting your phone and trying again.

    @Mike OBrian Weave 0.6 (which the version available from AMO) is not compatible, but 0.7 is. Which, as noted in the AMO description, you can get it from here:


  4. Richard {Friday September 4, 2009 @ 7:30 pm}

    I also have installed the software on a Samsung I760. I have had the same results. Very slow load and when the Fennec screen finally comes up, the green bar goes about 3/4 of the way and the program dies. I have rebooted twice.

    I am running Windows 6.1 and I installed it on the storage card.

  5. Richard {Friday September 4, 2009 @ 7:43 pm}

    Update to my last post. I uninstalled the program and reinstalled it on the device as opposed to the storage card. It starts faster, but still crashes at the same point.

  6. blassey {Friday September 4, 2009 @ 8:01 pm}

    @Richard Unfortunately your phone only has 64Mb of RAM. We’re targeting phones with 128Mb or more for the best experience.

  7. rimey {Friday September 4, 2009 @ 9:23 pm}

    installed on SE Xperia… splash popup, splash gone, and nothing happen after that.

  8. Maxzillian {Friday September 4, 2009 @ 10:05 pm}

    Tried it on a Treo Pro. Difficult to figure out the interface, especially the zoom in and out feature as I apparently have to double tap the screen to do this? Program response to inputs is so slow it’s hard to figure out what does what. Even at that, the zoom is so far out that text is near impossible to read. Resource use is also considerably high where internet explorer uses 22%, Fennec uses 32%. Usually with nothing else running, this puts the Treo Pro around 80% total memory usage.

    However, pages do seem to load marginally faster where IE usually likes to hang up. The keyboard UI is an annoyance that is difficult to figure out how to turn off. I do, however, like how the program overrides the screen and uses all the space available (However, not auto formatting text to fit the screen is a shortfall). Very handy and not too hard to figure out once you use it a few times. I did manage to receive a call and transferred from it to Fennec with no issues!

  9. Ketira shena Pretara’sedrin {Friday September 4, 2009 @ 11:07 pm}

    Forget the LG Incite, then – it only has 96M of RAM available. Not sure on other LG phones, but mine won’t support your program.

  10. Richard {Friday September 4, 2009 @ 11:22 pm}

    I suggest you might want to let users know about your high memory requirements up ron then. There is no mention of a memory requirement in your release notes.

  11. kaye {Saturday September 5, 2009 @ 12:33 am}

    Well, that rules out my tmobile dash. I agree, the ram requirement should be in the notes.

  12. Jigar shah {Saturday September 5, 2009 @ 2:14 am}

    Yes..this is true for FF also. And its not just about memory. If i had less disk space, FF does not start. Didn’t knew whats going on. Then realized this disk space issue.

  13. blassey {Saturday September 5, 2009 @ 11:20 am}

    @Ketira, kaye and others: To clarify, Fennec has run on devices with 64 and 96Mb of RAM (reliably on the 96Mb device). The real trouble is that typically there are other programs running in the back ground taking up memory, particularly on carrier branded devices. If you have a 64 or 96Mb device, please give it a try. There is work going on to handle low memory situations better which should make it in for release.

    @rimey: out of curiosity did you try starting it again? any luck?

    @Jigar shah: Operating systems use disk space to back virtual memory. When you get critically low on disk space, you’re essentially getting critically low on virtual memory. The system will then fail to allocate memory to programs that are running.

  14. zac {Saturday September 5, 2009 @ 4:19 pm}

    Running a 6.5 wm rom on att tilt (htc Kaiser).

    installed, rebooted and ran ff. it was running in about 20 seconds, and there was never a splash screen. it seemed to navigate to new pages fairly quick, but using the gui was a bit…jerky. it definitely followed my finger swipes to bring the side panels up, but it was not real smooth.

  15. DJ {Saturday September 5, 2009 @ 5:17 pm}

    Tried it on a i780. Get not enough memory error. Fair enough Alpha software.

  16. Fabrizio {Saturday September 5, 2009 @ 10:05 pm}

    I found it almost unasable on Xperia for its slowness.

    Once I got also the phone completely frozen (needed to remove battery)
    I am having 256MB of RAM out of which 137 available before running Fennec

  17. Matthew {Sunday September 6, 2009 @ 3:57 am}

    Do you plan to support Windows Mobile phones that don’t have a touch screen? Here’s another T-Mobile Dash user that would love to try Fennec out 😉

  18. Ken {Sunday September 6, 2009 @ 6:44 am}

    Viewing this page in Opera Mobile on an HTC Touch Pro because Fennec’s user interface is so unintuitive and there is zero documentation. As an earlier poster noted, the text is so small and the response so slow I don’t know what did what.

    Although the Touch Pro Dpad is supposed to zoom in and out, it has no effect at all on the zoom. Double tapping seems to zoom in, but only a little bit. The next double tap zooms out.

    Swiping right shows some stuff though I don’t know what it is. swiping left closes it and opens another menu. cant close a nenu without opening another one so i can never get back to just a web page.

  19. Mike {Sunday September 6, 2009 @ 8:01 am}

    Tried on TOuch Pro 2. Keeps crashing randomly. Pages don’t seem to ever load.
    I like the interface and it seems like you might be on to a winner if you can sort out the core functionality.

  20. C Gent {Sunday September 6, 2009 @ 8:31 pm}

    This would not work on a AT&T HTC Fuze running a custom XDA Developers ROM (RRE’s latest). It opened up and would not connect to the internet no matter what I did.

  21. Dan {Sunday September 6, 2009 @ 10:52 pm}

    Running on T-Mo Touch Pro 2, WM 6.5 Rom,
    Installed to device memory, 80% of the program memory was free at the time of running application,

    Browser loads rather quickly after reboot,
    pages load really quick and is responsive for a bit of time.
    after browsing the web it crashes.

    not very stable for release,

    the options and menu selections not really easy to navigate.

    zoom in/out (using the zoom in on touch screen) would be nice,

    nice idea, hoping for more updates

  22. Joe {Monday September 7, 2009 @ 8:37 am}

    Running Mighty 6rom with wm6.5. Splash icon comes up but browser never starts. Fennec icon stays illuminated but nothing ever happens

  23. MozLover {Monday September 7, 2009 @ 12:04 pm}

    – Love the tab functionality
    – Love the firefox extension capability (installed No-Script, no support for AdBlock Plus yet)

    To improve:
    – Cannot close software keyboard
    – Cannot control zoom precisely
    – Back-button on device does not work
    – screen refresh is still slow when zooming in and moving to another part of webpage.
    – program start-up

    Tested on:
    – HTC Touch HD (WinMo 6.1, Dutch original ROM)

  24. Adam {Tuesday September 8, 2009 @ 9:50 am}

    Is this compatable with Windows mobile 2003 as I have the old Imate PDA2k?

    Would be greatful if anyone could advise
    Thanks in advance :0)

  25. blassey {Tuesday September 8, 2009 @ 12:22 pm}

    @Adam no, Windows Mobile 6 and later.

  26. Chuck Norris {Tuesday September 8, 2009 @ 1:31 pm}


  27. Mike OBrien {Tuesday September 8, 2009 @ 5:49 pm}

    @blassey I downloaded Weave 0.7, but now don’t know how to install an xpi file from my phone’s file system. Am I missing something obvious?

  28. blassey {Tuesday September 8, 2009 @ 8:32 pm}

    @Mike you can either enter the url of the xpi in the url bar or its path using a file:// uri. We don’t support any sort of file picker UI to install the xpi at this time.

  29. Tom anderson {Wednesday September 9, 2009 @ 10:09 am}

    I also have only 64Mb of RAM, a lot of crashes.

  30. Cortaflex {Sunday September 13, 2009 @ 9:02 am}

    Everything just crashes!

  31. xik {Monday September 14, 2009 @ 10:59 am}


  32. Daniel {Thursday September 17, 2009 @ 4:05 pm}

    Had some software problems in the beginning
    but now it works perfectly!


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