The Mozilla development team released Firefox 3.6, codenamed Namoroka, on 21 January 2010 after some anticipation; Firefox 3.5 was a step forward in features but two steps backward in performance. As a minor update, Namoroka was a chance to optimize the last release.
So, now that it's out, did it alleviate some of these problems? Well, let's find out by looking at what 3.6 offers over 3.5.
First and most visible is support for skins, called personas. Firefox developers have been tinkering with the XUL format and they cite its power. They also claim that it has been under-utilized, so personas were a "natural addition."
Firefox's plugin system also received an overhaul, and now lets the user know when a plugin is incompatible. Mozilla also included support for full-screen Theora and WOFF, the Web Open Font File format, as well as additional but otherwise unspecified performance and security enhancements.
Overall, it's a nice list of bullet points for the bump from 3.5 to Nakamora, but the fact that performance wasn't a priority already points away from optimization and to new features. And the features are actually not new at all, but fixes for issues that should have been taken care of during the initial design stages or other numerous upgrades.
For instance, Firefox has been skinnable for years using XUL, and personas are just a hack to this system that allows the user to use bitmapped images as toolbar backgrounds. You are not mistaken if you just had a flashback to Internet Explorer 3.
Plugin incompatibility usually occurs when a plugin was written for an older version of the plugin system, which demands a question about the wisdom of upgrading the plugin system for Nakamoru the first place. But that's just how Firefox developers roll.
Several of the changes are plainly just developmental masturbation. For example, Theora is the least-used web video codec, with ⅛ the penetration that the newer QuickTime X has. And WOFF is an open standard that Mozilla wants to support for political reasons that isn't actually in use anywhere.
If a private company with an opaque development model like Apple can apply the breaks and optimize an entire operating system, à la Leopard to Snow Leopard, why can't a public, transparent development team be bothered to do the same for something much less complex like a web browser?
And we're expected to report bugs and donate to them? No thanks. First, they need to quit dicking around in nature reserves and get back to doing their jobs. Or maybe there are too many developers? In any case, Firefox continues its slow descent into bloated, steaming software development Hell.
Until Mozilla can optimize Firefox, say no thanks to Nagasaki and any other cutely-codenamed pieces of trash.