Fennec – M9 (User Experience Alpha)

Fennec (Mobile Firefox) has reached milestone 9, which is also our first alpha! We’re calling this release the User Experience alpha. The last eight milestones were building up to getting a stable browser with an easy to use interface. We really want to get Fennec in front of as many people as possible and get feedback.

As with the previous milestones, M9 is targeted at the Nokia N800/N810 (Maemo) Internet tablet. Yes, we have made great progress on Windows Mobile, but no milestone releases yet. However, in addition to the native Maemo release, we are also releasing desktop versions of Fennec. That’s right, you can install Fennec on your Windows, OS X or Linux desktop too! We want you to be able to experiment, provide feedback, write add-ons and generally get involved with the Mozilla Mobile project, even if you don’t have a device.

The release notes have information on a quick start, how to install, what’s new, known issues and how to provide feedback. So if you’re interested in getting involved with Mozilla Mobile, install Fennec and tell us what you think.

Update: Madhava Enros, UX lead for Fennec, posted a video walk through of the application. Check it out.

Update: We noticed that the desktop builds had the mouse cursor turned off. This is good for touchscreen devices, but bad for desktop applications. We flipped a preference and updated the desktop builds. If you downloaded a desktop build and have the cursor problem, just download the build again, it’s been fixed.


  1. Adam Hauner said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 11:23 pm

    Visible mouse cursor is strongly missing on desktop Windows port…

  2. David Bolton said,

    October 16, 2008 @ 11:49 pm

    Is there a way to turn the mouse pointer on for the desktop version?

  3. Mark Finkle said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 12:12 am

    Yep, that slipped by us in the desktop versions. New desktop builds are coming up.

    or use about:config and set browser.ui.cursor = true

  4. Question said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 1:07 am

    What’s the relationship between current XULRunner and Fennec?

    We are building applications based on XULRunner, Is there any chance to migrating our apps to mobile devices?

  5. Andy King said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 1:12 am

    Pretty cool, but I don’t see a blinking text cursor in input fields.

  6. Fennec User Experience Alpha - Mobile Firefox | Front-End Book said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 4:52 am

    […] saw yesterday that Fennec, the Mobile Firefox Browser, had reached alpha, that is Milestone 9 and User Experience Alpha for Nokia N800/N810 (Maemo), no support for Windows […]

  7. Blair McBride said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 4:56 am

    Love the descriptions on the content and privacy preferences. Delicious delicacies!

  8. pseudotecnico:blog » Fennec M9 said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 5:35 am

    […] Fennec M9 (note di versione), praticamente la prima versione alfa per il browser mobile di casa Mozilla: come […]

  9. Bielawski said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 5:50 am

    IIRC Fennec is a XULRunner application, so running your XULRunner applications on mobile devices should be easy provided you don’t use any OS-specific features and the UI is small enough.

  10. flod said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 6:00 am

    Am I wrong or options (like Enable Javascript, Enable plugins, etc.) are not localizable? I can’t find the related strings

  11. Peter Robinson said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 6:07 am

    Is there build instructions for building this against xulrunner. I would like to get a desktop build of it into Fedora.

  12. Mark Finkle said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 8:12 am

    @Question – Like Bielawski said, Fennec is built using XULRunner and XULRunner is installed with Fennec. Yes, you can use that XULRunner to build and run your own XUL-based applications on any mobile platform we support.

    @Andy King – Know issue. See https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=458373

    @Peter Robinson – See https://wiki.mozilla.org/Mobile/Build/Fennec

    @flod – See http://hg.mozilla.org/mobile-browser/file/b394a7122c10/locales/en-US/chrome/preferences.dtd

  13. Christopher Blizzard · Fennec Alpha 1 said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 8:47 am

    […] for the lead-up to a mobile version of Firefox, has reached an important milestone: Alpha 1.  Mark has details up on his blog, including some good feeedback from people trying it […]

  14. Kurt (supernova_00) said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 11:14 am

    I posted 14 issues here

    Sorry, I don’t have time to search for and or file 14 bugs and I wanted to get these out in the open asap.

  15. Tomer Cohen said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

    I’ve tried the Linux version of Fennec, and most admit that it may be good for handhelds, but not usable for desktops –

    A. Mouse wheel is acting as Zoom-In/Zoom-Out and there is no visible scrollbars (a most for non touch displays).
    B. The preferences screen is broken. I can see the screen but not change things.
    C. I’ve thought that Fennec will use Firefox profile. It is not the case, but please note that the Profile Manager controls are not GTK themed.
    D. Devices with points would like the panels to appear when the mouse cursor touch the left/right edges of the screen.
    E. How do I do actions such as Copy-Paste? It seems that it is impossible but even my Pocket Internet Explorer can do it easily.

    More to come.

  16. Hein-Pieter van Braam said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 1:07 pm

    I just tried Fennec and I must say that I am amazed by this very creative way of making a browser usable without wasting screen real-estate.

    There are of course small bugs, but this being an alpha I am not surprised, and I don’t think it matters at all to see that is an excellent way forward for the ‘mobile web’

    maybe it would be advisable to make an option to have either the tabs or the controls visible at all times for users with handheld devices with larger screen real-estate.

    It would also be a good idea to make the address bar hidable in the same way that the tabs and control panes are, for users with smaller screens.

    All in all I think this is a very intuitive and impressive way of webbrowsing on touch-based devices with limited screen real-estate.

    good show!

  17. raindog469 said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

    Awww, I don’t suppose you still have the “no cursor” binary around anywhere. I’m running Linux on a tablet and think that’d be a good way to develop. I guess I could just grab the source and figure out how to build it.

  18. Mark Finkle said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 1:21 pm

    @Tomer Cohen – Thanks for the feedback. Honestly, Fennec is not designed for desktops. It is focused on touchscreen (no-mouse) devices. CTRL+C and CTRL+V should work for copy and paste, respectively. Thanks again for the feedback.

    @raindog469 – go to “about:config” and set the “browser.ui.cursor” preference to “false”

  19. flod said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 1:22 pm

    Ops, you’re right! I don’t understand how I could miss that file this morning :-(

  20. Michael T said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 1:25 pm

    I just downloaded and tried out the Windows build. Very impressive for a first alpha!

    First thing I did was go to a test page with an AJAX chat application. It handles the ajax chat very nicely. The page is designed for compatibility with very little code specific to any particular browser and its nice to see this browser fitting right in and working.

  21. Ibrahim said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 1:26 pm

    Cool, this looks pretty neat. I’ll be testing this on a tablet PC so I can sort of test how the functionality will work. I guess on-screen keyboard will be provided by the mobile OS, though? Because otherwise it seems like this would be unusable on a touch-screen only device.

  22. Michael said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 1:42 pm

    Something that would be nice is an “editing window” for textboxes.

    As a case in point, on Opera on the Nintendo DS, when you select a text box, it will open a new window allowing you to perform all editing functions (like selecting and deleting text, and having a cursor…), and has an onscreen keyboard/handwriting recognition pane. It also has a button to switch back to the web browser when you’re done, one to cancel the edits, and one to submit the form using the data entered.

    At the moment there is no cursor in any text box, and as such, editing text becomes a bit of a blind task.

  23. Michael said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

    Also, please continue desktop builds.

    It would be nice to be able to do mobile web development without needing access to lots of different mobile devices — maybe include some emulation modes for some of the more popular devices to make it easier to work through.

  24. The MAZZTer said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 1:58 pm

    raindog: Go to about:config and set browser.ui.cursor to false.

  25. zeryl said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 2:27 pm

    any chance of a symbian (n95) port?

  26. JKoromi said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 3:03 pm

    Dunno if you guys thought about this, but I was playing with Fennec on Mac OSX and found it’s usability way nicer than FF, or other traditional browsers. I use a Wacom tablet which mimicked the touch aspect of the browser nicely. In fact, it was way more intuitive than I had hoped. It would be great to get this kind of functionality in Firefox. It always irks me that I can’t just hold the space bar down and move through a web page (just like photohop works when moving around the artboard). Being an illustrator it’s also annoying to switch pen to mouse all the time when I want to browse the net during a drawing.

    Just thought I’d drop my thoughts on it. Very cool app, much success.

  27. Fennec 1.0a1 w akcji Programy Nokia N810 Internet Tablet said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 3:06 pm

    […] Informacj? o filmiku znalaz?em tutaj. […]

  28. Trevor said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 3:15 pm

    Looks pretty slick on OS X….now, if we could just get this ported for the iPhone ;)

  29. Paul P said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 3:18 pm

    I have a web Page i use for links on my own web server and the Mac Port didn’t want to scroll to the bottom of that page. Its a split page with two frames. One is longer then the other and it stopped when it got to the end of the shorter one.

    Love the interface and where the tabs are etc. Nice one.

  30. schwaang said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

    If Fennec didn’t require a touchscreen, it might be a better fit for the OLPC XO-1 than FFv3, which runs just tolerably but still feels too heavy.

    I wondering if I install this on a Linux system, will it step on the existing FF install?

  31. Blake’s Tech Blog » Mobile Firefox Alpha 1 Released said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 3:33 pm

    […] smaller fox with big ears.  To see the details and download it for linux, windows, or os x go here http://starkravingfinkle.org/blog/2008/10/fennec-m9-user-experience-alpha/ Written by Blake in: Firefox | Tags: […]

  32. Mark Finkle said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 4:00 pm

    @schwaang – Fennec will not step on an existing Firefox profile. They are separate applications.

  33. doog said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 4:27 pm

    I *really* hope that you don’t leave the back/forward buttons hidden on the side in later releases. Those are the buttons that I use most frequently, having to waste an extra motion just to get to them is pretty annoying. If sacrifices need to be made perhaps the refresh/stop button and the bookmark button could be put there instead?

    How final is the interface, is this already decided upon, or is it up for discussion?

  34. James Reader said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 4:28 pm

    Any plans for a PalmOS release? I know it’s dated, but there are still a lot of faithful garnet-heads on the interwebs…

  35. Mark Finkle said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 4:36 pm

    @doog – moving the back/forward buttons into visible area won’t happen without really good reason. We are probably going to use a device hard button for “back”, so it will be easy to access.

  36. Chris said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 5:51 pm

    Any possibility of a BlackBerry release?

  37. Egypt Urnash said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 6:23 pm

    Intel-only binary for the Mac. Will it build and run on PPC?

  38. Firefox Mobile, el navegador de Mozilla para dispositivos móviles « Bloguear por bloguear… said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 7:00 pm

    […] Mozilla para dispositivos móviles Según se anuncia en Slashdot, Mozilla acaba de publicar la primera versión Alpha de Fennec 1.0, el Firefox para dispositivos móviles. A pesar de ello, también se están publicando versiones […]

  39. Tomer Cohen said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 7:11 pm

    I don’t agree with you that Fennec should be only focused for mobile devices. See the Ultra Mobile computers out there – they may have larger screen than the average handheld, but it is still too small to be usable with regular browsers.

    OLPC, for example, have some kind of mix between Minimo and the regular Firefox – if Fennec will be stable enough – OLPC owners will use it.

  40. Firefox Mobile Alfa1: per Internet Tablet e Windows…Desktop : Spaziocellulare News Magazine said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 7:26 pm

    […] conto del suo funzionamento. Vi lascio al video realizzato da uno degli sviluppatori. (fonte: Mark Finkle’s Blog e Mozilla […]

  41. xenovalent said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 8:16 pm

    Won’t start on my laptop (Dell Inspiron E1705, running WinXP SP2). All I get is the WinXP “Critical stop” sound; no windows (not even an error message dialog). Build ID of Fennec is 20081015230623. Ideas on how to get it running?

  42. What do you want to question today? / Using Mozilla’s Fennec said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 11:25 pm

    […] to know that Fenec Alpha has been released. It is meant to be a User Experience Alpha. So here is my feedback on my experience on OSX desktop version (with the hope that one day it will […]

  43. dinker charak said,

    October 17, 2008 @ 11:32 pm

    Some feedback:


  44.   Download Firefox Mobile aka Fennec M9 for Nokia Internet Tablet, Windows, Linux & Mac by Tech[dot]Blog said,

    October 18, 2008 @ 12:32 am

    […] (Mobile Firefox) has reached milestone 9 and this release is being called User Experience alpha. As with the previous releases, […]

  45. CalcProgrammer1 said,

    October 18, 2008 @ 12:41 am

    The Windows build looks great! The only thing is scrolling tends to bring up the side panels and top panel when you really don’t want it to. Even moving the mouse slightly left/right moved the panels into view. It gets annoying having them end up coming out unexpectedly. I think the threshold for left/right scrolling (or just the threshold for bringing out the panels) should be changed so that you have to scroll a bit more to get them to open. This will reduce accidental opening of the panels. Second, the panels are way huge…why? The address bar is twice the height of regular desktop Firefox. Mobile is about reducing size to fit screens better, not cluttering them even more with giant sized icons.

    Also, I couldn’t get frames to work. A site we often visit in my political science class, electoral-vote.com, has a US map where holding the cursor over a state brings up current poll information. These popups didn’t work while holding the stylus on a state (well, holding the mouse button on a state in this case). It doesn’t work in Opera Mobile 9.5b either, but it works in Minimo 0.2 and Opera 8.65.

    I’m quite impressed with the JavaScript, a 90/100 on Acid3? That’s amazing! This browser has tons of potential, the idea of the user interface is good, but it could still use some tweaks. I think putting a Back button on the top bar would be a reasonable idea, so you don’t have to keep pulling out the side bar. Sleek looks are nice, but more and more they are causing interfaces to become oversimplified and the lack of buttons means more scrolling or digging through menus and side bars to find what you want.

    Any particular reason why there’s releases for everything but Windows Mobile so far? I’d really like to test this on my PDA and I’ve seen the screenshots, it clearly runs on WM. I haven’t been able to compile because the guide on the Mozilla wiki never explains where you get the arm-wince-gcc.exe and other build tools required to build the mobile version (I only have the source files for them, which also don’t compile using make, wtf?).

  46. Mozilla Fennec’s first alpha released for Nokia N810, Windows, OS X and Linux » Unwired View said,

    October 18, 2008 @ 3:01 am

    […] mark finkle’s weblog Enjoyed the story? Get the news and updates as we publish them. To subscribe to RSS News Feed […]

  47. Fennec (Mobile Firefox) Alpha 1 Released | Butterfly Media Romania Blog - Marketing, SEO and WordPress said,

    October 18, 2008 @ 3:19 am

    […] Source: Link […]

  48. Koen Kooi said,

    October 18, 2008 @ 3:46 am

    Fennec packages optimized for various ARM architectures: http://www.angstrom-distribution.org/repo/?pkgname=fennec

  49. a guest said,

    October 18, 2008 @ 4:22 am

    Is Symbian Series 60 v2/v3 port planned ?

  50. Mozilla lanza Fennec Alpha 1, y lo analizamos said,

    October 18, 2008 @ 4:43 am

    […] interesante, ya que no sólo se ha lanzado para el Nokia N800/N810, sino que también es posible usar esta versión previa en sistemas operativos convencionales: Windows, Mac OS X  y Linux disponen de sus propias versiones de Firefox para que los usuarios […]

  51. Someone said,

    October 18, 2008 @ 4:48 am

    It’s great to see Firefox coming out for mobile platforms, but being brutally honest, if it’s not out on Symbian then it might as well not exist. Symbian’s got two thirds of the smartphone market worldwide and Opera’s out on Symbian.

  52. shinmai said,

    October 18, 2008 @ 7:47 am

    So you’ve got a version of your _mobile_ browser for OSX, but not for Windows _Mobile_? Gee, I guess that makes sense…

  53. Alan_K said,

    October 18, 2008 @ 5:38 pm

    Can somebody provide an “Openmoko-runnable” version, please ? My Neo FreeRunner is waiting for a real good mobile webbrowser…

  54. Michael Eh? said,

    October 18, 2008 @ 11:04 pm

    Too bad there isn’t a build for Nintendo DS…. their browser sucked but there is plenty of people trying to write a better one. Fennic might be a better choice.

  55. armanz-world » Blog Archive » Debutta il mobile browser di Mozilla . said,

    October 19, 2008 @ 2:21 pm

    […] anche rilasciando delle versioni desktop di Fennec”, ha detto Finkle in un post sul suo blog“E’ anche possibile installare Fennec su Windows, OS X o Linux desktop! Vogliamo che tu […]

  56. Mobile Device Bay » Blog Archive » Download Firefox Mobile aka Fennec M9 for Nokia Internet Tablet, Windows, Linux & Mac said,

    October 19, 2008 @ 8:09 pm

    […] (Mobile Firefox) has reached milestone 9 and this release is being called User Experience alpha. As with the previous releases, […]

  57. MarkC said,

    October 20, 2008 @ 6:46 am

    I just tried it with the remote-XUL application I’m currently developing. The basic app loads and works, but there are a few problems I’m experiencing:

    * I think the URL bar should be smaller – or at least provide an option for a smaller version. It takes up a lot of screen real estate unnecessarily.

    * My XUL menus are all disabled.

    * Almost all my input fields are custom widgets using XBL to provide extra functionality via popup panels – none of the popups work.

    I know that remote-XUL is likely to be way down on the list of priorities for Fennec, so I won’t hold my breath, but it’s so tantalisingly close to working.

  58. Ajaxian » Fennec (Mobile Firefox) Alpha 1 Released said,

    October 20, 2008 @ 9:46 am

    […] Finkle has announced the first alpha release of Mozilla’s mobile web browser, Fennec. While there was some discussion in recent days of progress on a Windows Mobile version, […]

  59. Mark Finkle’s Weblog » Fennec Alpha1 & Add-ons said,

    October 20, 2008 @ 9:48 am

    […] of the reasons we released Fennec A1 with desktop versions was to allow add-on developers to start hacking on Fennec add-ons. As long as […]

  60. Fennec = Mobile Firefox Browser | GubugIT said,

    October 20, 2008 @ 9:18 pm

    […] (Mobile Firefox) telah mencapai milestone 9 yang juga merupakan versi alpha pertama yang disebut sebagai “User Experience Alpha.” Walaupun pengembangan Fennec di Windows […]

  61. Emmanuel said,

    October 21, 2008 @ 3:37 am

    Another very good reason to use Fennec on desktops: its lower hardware requirements than Firefox will make Fennec a browser of choice for older computer.
    Couldn’t Fennec become the default browser of fast low-memory linux distributions like xubuntu?

  62. Dwayne Bailey said,

    October 21, 2008 @ 7:08 am

    Did a little test translation into Afrikaans. Only need to translate 1000 words, 80% is already done if you have a translate Firefox.

    This picture shows some issues from a localisation point of view:

    You cannot translate the writing on the splash screen, its a PNG file. Didn’t spend much time seeing if I could find the source file. Either we need to drop the text or work our how to give an SVG for the translator to translate.

    The direction text is longer in Afrikaans so the grey bar at the bottom looks odd. It should resize. I think on the mobile platform we might for the first time have to think about limiting size of strings in the target language.

    Its been nice playing with this, well done guys.

  63. Ethan said,

    October 21, 2008 @ 12:55 pm

    If this were available for iPhone with native UI/look/feel I would probably use it over Mobile Safari.

    Resizing looks horrible until you reload the page. Not a problem on a mobile device where you won’t be resizing, except if you want to switch from horizontal to vertical orientation.

  64. rebron.org » random tech said,

    October 21, 2008 @ 3:17 pm

    […] Fennec Alpha is out (Mozilla’s mobile web browser) […]

  65. Madhava said,

    October 21, 2008 @ 5:41 pm

    @ CalcProgrammer1

    Regarding “Second, the panels are way huge…why? The address bar is twice the height of regular desktop Firefox. Mobile is about reducing size to fit screens better, not cluttering them even more with giant sized icons.”

    On a small high-res screen, the address bar is what will seem like a much more reasonable size, with a height more or less dictated by the size of a tapping fingertip. 800×480 pixels is much larger on a desktop or laptop screen.

  66. Sheen said,

    October 21, 2008 @ 11:35 pm

    The Fennec is greate!!
    Hope to see windows mobile official version as soon as possible.

  67. Andy Smith said,

    October 22, 2008 @ 3:49 am

    Just few notes – the UI performance on N810 is just horribly slow and pretty much unusable. The innovations on the UI turn into usability hindrances with this level of end user performance. I am talking about the tabs and the control buttons what you get when swiping left/right.

    Running Fennec on N800 is less than optimal experience due to lack of HW keypad on the N800 device itself. This is an oversight on Mozilla’s design part and in the future I hope to see support for virtual on-screen keyboards to be better than currently.

  68. Mark Finkle’s Weblog » Fennec - Size Does Matter said,

    October 22, 2008 @ 2:28 pm

    […] of the feedback we received from Fennec Alpha 1 (and we have received a lot, thank you!) has been about the download and “on disk” […]

  69. Matt said,

    October 23, 2008 @ 7:31 pm

    Will it work on a Nokia e90?

  70. Stiri - Lumea Open Source în s?pt?mâna 13 - 19 octombrie 2008 said,

    October 24, 2008 @ 6:28 am

    […] Mobile, sau Fennec, a ajuns, într-adev?r, la prima versiune alfa! Nu am apucat înc? s?-l instalez, dar cu siguran?? voi încerca s? o fac pân? data viitoare […]

  71. PabloG » Blog Archive » links for 2008-10-27 said,

    October 27, 2008 @ 8:01 pm

    […] Mark Finkle’s Weblog » Fennec – M9 (User Experience Alpha) (tags: browser mobile Mozilla firefox phone software web web2.0 Internet OpenSource) […]

  72. Zach said,

    October 29, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

    The one thing I miss on Andoid… XULRUnner.

  73. Mark Finkle’s Weblog » Fennec - Here Come The Add-ons said,

    October 30, 2008 @ 10:21 pm

    […] big thanks to Mel and Chris for taking the time to support Fennec, even in it’s alpha […]

  74. Mark Finkle’s Weblog » XULRunner at MozCamp 2008 said,

    November 1, 2008 @ 12:39 am

    […] platforms. The ability to move XUL applications from desktops to mobile devices is fairly powerful. Fennec, for example, runs just fine on any supported XULRunner platform – without any […]

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