Firefox – Australis and add-ons and themes

Oh my!


I use Firefox for all of my browsing needs.  This is because Mozilla is one of the few entities left who are actually still striving and working to keep things on the Internet open and free as opposed to closed and restricted.  I also really like the browser itself because of the sheer amount of customizability that a user gets in the form of add-ons.

Since I am keenly interested in Firefox, I actually use two versions of it on my Linux desktop.  One version is the standard release version – 28.0 as of right now.  I also use the “Nightly” version, which is a very up-to-date version of the browser that can be used by anyone who wants to see what the Mozilla team is working on currently.

“Australis” is the name that Mozilla has given to a major user interface redesign that will become standard as of version 29.  I have been using it as part of the Nightly browser for at least a few months.  Under the hood, I can only give praise for the improvements to the code and the performance enhancements introduced.

But I’ve been only disappointed by the new look.  Not everything has to look like Google fucking Chrome, okay?  Before Australis, you could apply a custom theme to Firefox and make it look pretty much any damn way you wanted.  You could move stuff and controls and buttons around, add and remove them at will, and it was awesome.  Since my computer is rocking a retro look, I had some very retro themes installed.  One makes this browser look like Mosaic , and another made my Nightly browser look like Netscape.

But Australis makes all the old themes break, and it also breaks a lot of the old-style customizability.  You can still move stuff around, but not to the same extent as you used to be able to in the older version.  This made me sad because I could no longer use my swanky Netscape-like Firefox, and I had to settle for some weird-ass button placement that doesn’t match my preferred setup that I’ve used for years.

But then I read about an add-on called Classic Theme Restorer.  I knew something like this would come along from the add-on community.  It was only a matter of time.  Since installing this addon, not only can I use my Netscape theme again, but the Nightly browser is faster than it was before.  I am shocked at how much faster it is every time I use it now.  It starts faster, it resizes faster, it switches tabs faster.  It does everything faster since I installed this add-on.

So now I’m wondering why Nightly was so slow without this add-on.  Does having to render all those stupid Chrome-style curves and gradients really take up that much extra time?  It baffles me.  I have only ever seen add-ons slow down my browser, and since I only install add-ons that I need, I live with it.

Finding this add-on makes me very happy about Firefox again.  I’ll be able to keep using my silly Netscape and Mosaic themes for my retro-look desktop.