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Paul R. Coen 11-08-2005 10:24 PM

Mozilla vs. Firefox
 
What on earth makes you think we aren't going to? Or that we haven't been discussing it? Ripping out Mozilla isn't quite as easy as you think it is, since a decent number of people are using it for email as well. There are support and training issues, not to mention distributing the software, importing users' cookies, bookmarks, etc. It isn't just a "flip of the switch". We migrated from Netscape Communicator to the Mozilla Suite - again, some of the same code, not a big change. It was extremely labor intensive.

As for your download speed difference between browsers, that's almost certainly your firefox configuration not being set to use the campus proxy server.

I'd expect Firefox to be on the computers for next fall, and maybe on refreshed configurations before that. There's a whole range of other issues around it, and there probably won't be an announcement and a timeline until we have the whole thing fleshed out a bit more.

Frankly, Firefox (until 1.5 comes out) is based on the same HTML rendering engine that the Mozilla Suite uses. I regularly test things in both browsers, and I don't see a huge difference most of the time.

On the p2p front - we're not blocking it, we're just not letting it eat all the bandwidth. If enough people are running it within that limited amount, yes, it's going to be pretty unusable. You may think that's blocking, but it's not. There's not much we can do about it, given the resources available, unless we're willing to let everyone else - students, faculty and staff trying to get stuff done - suffer. Please remember - in the evening, faculty, staff and commuting students are depending on connecting to Drew via our internet connection to get stuff done.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Noah C. Rosenfield
at least AIM is acting better now. emphasis on better, because it's still having problems like file transfers stopping mid way through. i just have a couple things to say...


firstly, drew needs a new browser. this is not a matter of i would like a new browser, it is seriously becoming a necessity. mozilla is outdated! almost NO websites are designed around it anymore, so please, get a new contract or whatever and get Firefox instead! it's made by the same freaking company but it's also the second most commonly used browser which means that it will work better with more sites because companies design there sites to work well with it. Mozilla used to be popular like, 3-4 years ago, but now guess what, there are a LOT of website which are incompatible with mozilla, so please, just get firefox as the campus supported browser...please. just please do it.

and as for why i don't just use firefox as my default web browser? it gets crappy connectivity and transfer rates. i can download a file using mozilla at a good 80 KB/sec sometimes, but firefox never gets over about 8 KB/sec. so, once again, PLEASE GET FIREFOX AS THE DEFAULT DREW BROWSER! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! IT'S SO MUCH BETTER! AND EVERYONE WILL LOVE YOU

next, as far as you realizing the legitimacy of some p2p's and that's why you don't shut them down completely, i gotta say, i don't really see it. i can't even get a connection to limewire 90 percent of the time, and i can connect to a host even less often then that. so as far as p2p being not blocked entirely, i'm really just not seeing it....


Golbanou Tabatabaie 11-08-2005 10:40 PM

Well if I only had the codecs for VLC then I would probably be partial to VLC,

however

I have all the codecs for WMP, so I am partial to it.

And you better believe it's damn fancy.

11-09-2005 12:00 AM

would you be so kind as to then provide an instructional as to how to set up Firefox to work optimumly with drew's network set-up since there is no way that i would have any knowledge of it??? if you acknowledge the superiority of firefox why don't you just put both on there and use mozilla for mail and firefox for browsing? or just advise users to download firefox and give them an instructional on how to configure it if it's some kind of contract issue?

11-09-2005 12:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by noah
i can't even get a connection to limewire 90 percent of the time, and i can connect to a host even less often then that. so as far as p2p being not blocked entirely, i'm really just not seeing it....


how is letting p2p through, even 10% of the time, blocking it? If it were blocked, it would NEVER go through.

I'm actually looking forward to firefox 1.5, though, as it's supposed to be MUCH more stable. Although, my crashes are the fault of my extensions, but that's another story.

11-09-2005 12:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Noah C. Rosenfield
would you be so kind as to then provide an instructional as to how to set up Firefox to work optimumly with drew's network set-up since there is no way that i would have any knowledge of it??? if you acknowledge the superiority of firefox why don't you just put both on there and use mozilla for mail and firefox for browsing? or just advise users to download firefox and give them an instructional on how to configure it if it's some kind of contract issue?



More complicated instructions can be found here, but basically:

Tools>Options>General>Connection Settings>Automatic proxy configuration URL:>fill in http://proxy.drew.edu/




John D. Muccigrosso 11-09-2005 01:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kevin P. Egan
Actually I find the VLC media player is actually superior to all media players. It comes with as many codecs as anyone could want. If I ever have a media file I cannot play with winamp and wmp, I know that vlc can. And the latest version came with a snapshot feature, allowing easy screen caps without having to rely on 3rd party utilities or the print screen command.


Yes, VLC has great codec support, but for the skin, the QT Player is best.

Paul, what's the advantage to using the proxy when on campus? Is the non-proxy traffic not shaped the same way?

Kevin P. Egan 11-09-2005 01:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by John D. Muccigrosso
Yes, VLC has great codec support, but for the skin, the QT Player is best.

Paul, what's the advantage to using the proxy when on campus? Is the non-proxy traffic not shaped the same way?

I agree that the skins are limited, but when I am playing a movie in full screen, I honestly dont care what the GUI looks like. Its a personal preference of mine, I tend to care more about functionality than the look of the player.

John D. Muccigrosso 11-09-2005 01:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kevin P. Egan
I agree that the skins are limited, but when I am playing a movie in full screen, I honestly dont care what the GUI looks like. Its a personal preference of mine, I tend to care more about functionality than the look of the player.


I agree about full-screen. I find that VLC is a bit better than QT in that regard, but usually because I'm playing a poor-quality download, often with a non-standard (=bad) format.

By "skin" I also meant all the bells and whistles of the player. I have QT Pro and it beats the heck out of anything else out there. Certainly the codecs it supports are better than Real's or WMP's, or maybe it's just that too many people use crappy codecs for those two.

E. Axel Larsson 11-09-2005 03:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Noah C. Rosenfield
would you be so kind as to then provide an instructional as to how to set up Firefox to work optimumly with drew's network set-up since there is no way that i would have any knowledge of it??? if you acknowledge the superiority of firefox why don't you just put both on there and use mozilla for mail and firefox for browsing? or just advise users to download firefox and give them an instructional on how to configure it if it's some kind of contract issue?

Zach answered your question about the proxy config.

As Paul said, Firefox uses the same HTML rendering engine as Mozilla suite (until 1.5 of Firefox, which is in beta right now, so it is not the version of Firefox most people are using anyway). They are both based upon the Mozilla Gecko rendering engine, so page rendering should not be different between the two browsers.

The University cannot simply advise people to download and install software that we don't support. There is more to deploying and supporting a browser in an enterprise environment than simply telling people to install it on their desktops. For one, we must support pseudo-roaming profiles for faculty and staff desktops and labs so that users bookmarks and settings follow them around. We do this by redirecting user profiles to the F: drive on networked desktops. That means that there has to be a customized (individually for each user) a profile on the F: drive procreated automatically. That doesn't happen by magic. We needed to write code, as part of our account provisioning system, to build those profiles when new accounts are created.

On notebooks we don't redirect profiles, so that they function off-campus. Of course this means that there is no roaming capability on notebooks. It also means that we need to create a customized user profile on the notebook automatically the first time a given user logs in. This is done automatically by a piece of our (again, developed in house) custom computer deployment and personalization system. (See this conference paper for more information on how that works.)

It's fine if you want to install Firefox and use it. In fact, I'm using it right now to write this message. You can install it and customize the settings as appropriate. In order to do that for 2,500 users, we need some automated tools and a plan. It is not a huge investment to update the deployment and provisioning systems to support a different browser, but it is nonetheless an investment. At this time their is still some question about the future direction of the email service that we are providing and what shape that will take in the not to distant future. Since the browser and mail client are presently the same, it makes sense to defer a change to the browser until we have a decision (and an idea of budget) on the email front. Given that the HTML rendering engine for both browsers is the same, their was not a sufficiently compelling reason to go ahead with changing the default browser ahead of the email issue.

I would be curious to know which websites you are finding work in Firefox but not the most recent install of Mozilla Suite.

Also, you seem to have some misconceptions about the Mozilla Foundation and the license under which its work is released. The Mozilla applications are Free (as in speech) open source software. The University does not have to negotiate any contract or pay anything to redistribute the software.

E. Axel Larsson 11-09-2005 03:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by John D. Muccigrosso
Yes, VLC has great codec support, but for the skin, the QT Player is best.

Paul, what's the advantage to using the proxy when on campus? Is the non-proxy traffic not shaped the same way?

I'm not Paul, but I'll answer your question anyway. :)

The chief advantage of the proxy server on-campus is not that it has higher priority for HTTP than other clients going out to the internet (it doesn't) but that it is more efficient at fetching web pages. Generally Squid (the open-source proxy software we use) is really good at using HTTP 1.1 pipelining to pre-fetch everything your browser needs to render a page with one TCP connection (this is something the browsers are all terrible at for whatever reason). Pipelining gets rid of some of the TCP connection set up and tear down overhead going out to the Internet. The proxy also caches stuff on its local disk (static HTML and images only) so this improves performance if multiple users access the same thing.

Really it just boils down to the fact that it seems that the Squid people are much better at writing super efficient HTTP clients (in terms of the use of the network) than the browser people. That's fine by me. We can just let the browser folks stick to the rendering and making the page look pretty on the screen and leave the network I/O to the people writing the proxy code. :)


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