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Firefox Friday Five!

I just glanced at the world weather forecast and it seems, somehow, that it is sunny EVERYWHERE. Unless you're reading this in India or China, in which case the sun has already set -- but that's beyond the point! It looks like summer is finally here (unless you're in Australia, but it never gets cold there, so who cares) -- and with the balmy heat, a slew of new releases have been ejected from Mozilla and its multitudinous offshoots this week.

So let's get stuck in, chaps. Tasty stuff lies ahead.

1. What the world needs now is extensions, sweet extensions

At least according to Daniel Buchner of Mozilla Labs, anyway! Extensions -- add-ons, plug-ins -- remain the weapon of the elite. Does your mother use add-ons? Does she even know what an extension is?

The only real barrier to add-on adoption is knowledge of their existence. If your grandfather knew of an add-on that gave him up-to-date weather reports for his favourite fishing lake, do you think he would use it? Of course!

In the Labs post, Buchner tackles the problem of extension visibility on the Web. and how to get them into the needy hands of end-users. The proposed solution is simple: an HTML link tag. Much in the same way CSS and JS files are linked to websites, you could link an extension. It's very simple for the browser to then offer a link to the extension -- grab the test implementation Jetpack extension and give it a go!

2. Firefox 3.7 is Firefox 4.0

Much in the same way Firefox 3.1 magically became FF 3.5, this week we found out that 3.7 will be renumbered to 4.0! You should read the official announcement from Mozilla (and thumb through the slideshow -- or watch the video presentation from Air Mozilla!)

Unlike Firefox's lacklustre woo-personas 3.6 release, 4.0 will be positively brimming with new functionality. This is mostly due to the Gecko rendering engine update (1.9.3), but a ton of other things are also graduating from Mozilla Labs to the prime time. We should see some semblance of the Identity Manager, and that pretty add-on manager that Lee recently covered will be there too.

There's also a ton of developer-oriented changes being made to tie in with Mozilla's new extension platform Jetpack. I'll spare you the details though -- God knows I've harped on enough about Jetpack in previous weeks.

3. Mozilla CEO John Lilly to step down and chase excitement elsewhere

It will probably have absolutely no impact on your day-to-day use of Firefox, or indeed the Web, but a solemn bell should be knelled for the passing of John Lilly... bless him!

He joined Mozilla five years ago and only intended to stay for two as a humble employee -- little did he know that he would soon become the CEO! His 'acceptance speech' back in 2008 is, incidentally, a suitable read for a sunny Friday afternoon -- a blast from the past, really. Anyway, he's had two very successful years at the helm and will remain on the board of Mozilla Corporation, but he will now focus on venture capitalist stuff!

4. Nurse Mozilla is here to help: Plugin Check for Everyone!

Yes, your eyes do not deceive: that's the Mozilla Plugin Check running in Chrome!

Since the Plugin Check was first launched in October 2009 a lot of work has seemingly been done! Not only is every major plug-in recognized, the Plugin Check also works on every major browser! Chrome, Safari... and even Opera! Internet Explorer 7 and 8, due to the way they handle plug-ins, have limited support -- but the big boys (Flash, Java, etc.) are covered.

The Plugin Check, if you still haven't worked it out, checks your plug-ins to make sure they're up to date. Mozilla has recently been at pains to state that a lot of crashes and security breaches are caused by out-of-date plug-ins. The fact that Mozilla is supporting all major browsers is a delicious sign that community spirit and the betterment of the Web is still forefront in the minds of Mozilla.

Send the Plugin Check link to all of your friends and family! Heck, run it yourself just to make sure:

5. Finally, one for the Linux nerds (or Linux wannabes): Make Firefox look like KDE

Firefox Facts has highlighted another great theme -- if you're into half-baked Linux GUIs, anyway! Oxygen KDE is actually targeted at those that use Firefox with the KDE window manager, but there's no reason you can't use this on another operating system. Maybe you run a dual-boot system, or perhaps there's a bearded 'free as in beer' girl that you're trying to impress -- either way, Oxygen KDE is an accomplished and pretty Firefox theme.

Personally I don't like it -- I hate the dark-shaded progress indicator in the bottom right; feels like a scroll bar -- but the developer has helpfully provided a bunch of Stylish modifications that should keep everyone happy. Check the Oxygen KDE add-on page for more info!
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