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Tagfirefox

Remember to Breathe

During a long chat with Nick, I discovered a solution to one of my long standing problems. I had a list of advice to myself on Google Keep. Not wanting to set it as my browser homepage I tried to make a habit of going to that page everyday. This obviously did not last very long, and soon, there was an item on my todo list that said, “Figure out what do to with advice to yourself”. This stupid, and funnily worded todo item remained on my list for almost a year.

Until of course Nick showed me his homepage. Yes, he had built a homepage for himself, long before the flood of “start page” browser plugins. Among the links to commonly visited pages, and the nine different search fields, what intrigued me most was the word “breathe” randomly written in the middle column. Refresh the page and the word changed to “simplify”. He had programmed it to pseudo-randomly choose from a list of words that he had selected. Jackpot!

breatho logo

Not being as old-school as he is, I decided to make a “start page” browser plugin. This was around the time of the bittersweet Mozilla announcement:

By the end of 2017, and with the release of Firefox 57, we’ll move to WebExtensions exclusively, and will stop loading any other extension types on desktop.

breathe screenshot

With support being added for chrome_url_overrides in Firefox 54, I started work on Breathe. A WebExtension that shows you a message from your pre-decided list every time you open a new tab.

You can download the extension from AMO right now, I am still working on getting it published on the Chrome Web Store (Update: Published!). If you don’t like waiting (for the Chrome version, or for updates) you can install it directly from the source.

Make Firefox fast

Recently, I have been trying to untangle myself from closed software, and move to open source and free (as in speech) alternatives. The first switch I made was from Chrome to Firefox. I was always a Firefox fan, but after college, when the only computer I had was a borrowed 8 year old MacBook Pro, I had no choice but to switch to Chrome for it’s speed.

Even though I have a fast computer now, I was a bit skeptical about Firefox’s performance. I use it often for testing and the speed did not compare favorably with Chrome. Upon a friend’s suggestion I installed the Developer Edition and was pleasantly surprised to see the improvement that Electrolysis brought! After a few days of using it, I decided to do some more research and stumbled upon a config that lets each tab run it’s own process. I set the process count limit to 128 and since then it has been smooth sailing.

These features exist in the normal versions of Firefox too, but are hidden behind config flags. To set them, go to about:config and set the following:


browser.tabs.remote.autostart true
dom.ipc.processCount 128

Restart, and see multiple browser processes (Activity Manager on Mac OS). Enjoy your new 128 Foxpower browser, yes foxes are better than horses.

Update: Based on when you’re reading this, you might need the Developer Edition or the Beta version of Firefox for this to work.