PreFox: Firefox on your Pre | webOS Nation

PreFox: Firefox on your Pre 77

by Derek Kessler Sun, 19 Sep 2010 12:47 am EDT

PreFox - Firefox on your Pre We haven’t often lamented the built-in web browser on our webOS phones, but in all truthfulness it is lacking in some areas and hasn’t evolved all that much since the initial release of webOS. With the appearance of default web browser selection (continually grayed out) in webOS, it became clear that Palm intends to open up the market to additional browsers. What we’re seeing now is among the first for webOS, and it’s called PreFox.

As the name would imply, it’s Firefox for your Pre. Specifically, it’s a port of Mozilla’s mobile-bound Fennec browser to webOS. Shoehorning it into the appropriate packing was a five month ordeal for developer Dave Townsend of Fractal Brew, and there’s still plenty of work to be done to make it fully useable. The developer notes that testing has only been done on Sprint Pre, and that it wasn’t until more recent releases of webOS (specifically the versions that support C and C++ coding) that it was even possible to make it work at all. There are still some bugs (notably the Too Many Cards error) to work out, but it does work.

Townsend notes that work on PreFox is slowing at this point due to the nature of finding and identifying bugs. To that end, a request for additional beta testers has been put out, with instructions for installation and bug reporting available at the PreFox website. PreFox is, of course, in rough beta form, so while it is functional, it’s not yet to the point of serving as a full replacement browser for your webOS device (it is very very slow and sometimes crash-prone). That said, it’s still plenty promising with tabs,  rudimentary extension support, and more; we can’t help but be interested.

Source: Fractal Brew; Via: Alice Carback on Twitter



Tabbed browsing would be nice.

Careful about knocking down a developer. We know tabbed browsing will be nice. This is a VERY early push. Let's test it and post our bugs where the developer would like to see them. This is a project we really shouldn't bitch about and cause the dev to leave.

I hear you on this being an early push and needs testing. But where did you get all the other stuff from? People/devs shouldn't be so sensitive.

Shouldn't be, but are. And sometimes open source types are the worst. If I had a dollar for every online primadonna who can't hack a little criticism, I'd probably not be showing up for work tomorrow.


i don't understand the point of tabs when webos has cards... but then again I usually don't have more than 3-4 tabs open.

Tabs would be easier than swiping across the entire gesture area.

I agree, tabs would be a nice option but its not necessary.

very nice

any other features missing from stock browser? Find on page option, etc?


That must be the single most missed feature for me - fighting for the spot with a "return to top" feature (there is a patch for that).

I sure hope it has that option. Does anyone know? I can't emphasize enough how important a find on page feature is for me!

UPDATE: It does have a find on page option!!! That makes me sooo happy!!

any other features missing from stock browser? Find on page option, etc?

Nice to envision the possibilities of using a more powerful browser on my webOS device. Thank you Dave Townsend for all your hard work. Lets do some beta testing webOS nation!

Nice to envision the possibilities of using a more powerful browser on my webOS device. Thank you Dave Townsend for all your hard work. Lets do some beta testing webOS nation!


Why doesnt firefox and opera just release a browser for webOS. Oh god why not?

It takes some focused effort to properly change the UI for a phone compared to a desktop. Getting something that can display a web page just requires the code and some porting work, but the UI...try fitting everything on a small screen so you can still have the control you want without taking up the entire screen.

For some reason it won't install on my Pre (Sprint) via Preware?

I would like to send the error log but I'm not sure where or whom to send it to?

Anyone know?


I'm happy to see someone developing for WebOS. I don't see tabs being a factor with WebOS 2.0. It will have card stacks which will make it a lot easier to switch between sites.

seems very buggy at this stage. I will try my best to find all the bugs or glitches in it right now. Im on a govnah 1ghz sprint pre and it runs fine until it crashes. I love being a beta tester :)

"it is very very slow and sometimes crash-prone"

Sounds like Firefox to me.

I hate Firefox on my PC, why would I want it on my Pre? The only thing missing from the browser on the Pre is the ability to search to page.

Don't forget the memory hogging and leaking! Sprint Pre's need not apply.

JK (well, not about the real Firefox, though), the idea of different web browsers is pretty nice, I'm glad someone's out there doing what they can.

Must be more to it then, cause I don't find my FF installations (three) slow at all.

Almost all (estimated 98%) of crashes I experience is caused by/when filling the screen with YouTube videos (Flash issue!?).

Yeah. get a mac so that you dont have to worry about flash at all unless Jobs tells you its ok.

Get. A. Mac.

Or just download Chrome. Or just get rid of the crappy extensions you have on your Firefox install. I use Chrome on Linux and Firefox on Windows (with a Chrome theme, yes, I'm ashamed, hahah) and it's about the same.

Not. Everyone. Wants. To. Be. A. Sheep.

Not. Everyone. Talks. Like. This. Unless. They. Are. 10. Years. Old.

Most. People. Like. Windows.

See. How. Annoying. This. Is?

I agree with slaughtering the language and how annoying it is. However, it's also annoying someone would refer to a person who uses a Mac as "sheep", when you state "Most. People. Like. Windows." Isn't using what "everyone uses" the very definition of "sheep"?

Anyhow, I appreciate the effort the developer has put into this port. I'll give it a try. I like choice when it comes to browsers, especially if it means we get things we don't currently have with regards to functionality (find on page). :-)

No, a "sheep" is someone who believes the hype - basically, a person who takes a fanboy's opinion as the honest truth and gets the product for that reason, neglecting to do any research on their own to see if another product (popular or not) would better suit their needs. Basically, a fanboy will have a reason to use whatever system he uses and will give you a list of reasons why. A sheep has no reason other than someone told them it was the best.

No, being a sheep means following what the majority are doing blindly. So using windows would be being sheep.

Beyond that, some of us use our Macs for things you can't do on a Windows computer, like editing video using Final Cut and Color.

don't know what your talking about. i've been using firefox for years and it's hands down the best browser i've ever used. i've tried opera, chrome. ie. all have issues.

I agree.

I've never had an issue with Chrome. Firefox is the lowest and most crash prone browser I've ever used. *IE doesn't count a browser*

I would say that over 95 percent of the crash problems people have had with Firefox are tied to the Flash plugin not meshing properly with the browser. When Firefox 3 first came out, I had some nasty crashing issues with Firefox. Browse to a page, crash, do this or that, crash, etc. I eventually came across a solution, which was to use the "flash cleaner", which purged flash from the system. I then did a fresh install of the Flash plugin, and ALL of my Firefox crashing problems went away. Firefox is now as stable as anyone could hope for on my system.

I did run across some problems with the early versions of Firefox 4 that were caused by the Feedback add-on which comes(or came) with the Firefox 4 betas that were causing many issues for me.

If you have any complaints about Firefox, they should be related to NOT protecting the browser from broken plugins.

so it says you can find this on the pre fox website? Wtf wheres a link for that? And someone mentioned they had it on preware... It's not in my preware... How do I get this?

Great effort.

Nice to hear Dave's project is progressing... Kudos to him!
Haven't tried it yet (just downloading/installing it through Preware) but apart from some kind of 'find-as-you-type' ability in default webOS browser, I don't really need another one (that's not to say I'm opposed to seeing choice in that field on webOS) - except it would be very nice if there was Firefox Home for webOS. As can be seen on (Firefox Home UserVoice forum) there's already a suggestion for this (don't be a stranger to drop by and vote for it BTW) and someone from the Firefox Home team kind of acknowledged but only that it's an interesting idea about a month ago. Let's see how that turns out.

There are four problems with the Pre browser that make me want either an upgrade or replacement:

1. Reloading the page
2. Forgetting URLs
3. Forgetting cookies
4. Fubar display of various Wiki-based sites.

1. Reloading the page

There is a patch for that.

2. Forgetting URLs

If the address is "lost", a gesture + R (refresh) often helps.

3. Forgetting cookies

My experience with that issue seems to be that some sites "get confused" when logged in to from several devices.

4. Fubar display of various Wiki-based sites.

Don't understand what you mean by that ... F_cked display/layout, as if the CSS get messed up?

1. I have the patch. It still happens and of course, the chekerboard pattern persists as well.
2. That doesn't work for this particulr problem. If your network goes out (or is being slow) when loading a page in a card (as I typically do when browsing my rss feeds and want to see the original article) the browser actually forgets the URL. Refreshing it does nothing. If you go to the top, you'll see there's no URL loaded - it's the standard "enter a url or search" prompt.
3. Uh, I can be logged in on multiple PCs, and never have a problem. It is a Pre issue. For example, I have one site where every time I visit it, I have to log in again because the cookie doesn't hold over new broswer cards. This is dumb.
4. Yeah, it's jacked. Basically, the lines end up really short (holding three or four words) or the text gets cut off horizontally and you can't scroll, various issues. This is probably due to coding errors on the part of the web site, but the Pre should be robust enough to handle it (and judging by how it failed to load Precentral once because of an unclosed tag, it's not very robust as is).

> This is dumb.
Yes, but it's also a bug. I don't have such problems and it would be best if you reported such sites and the problems you're having to Palm (for all we know maybe the fix is on the way, but if you don't report, maybe that site of yours will keep malfunctioning even after the next webOS update).

For number 3, that is a common thing for sites to do. Many sites will set cookies to die after you close the window (which in webOS' case is the card).

It may be that they set the cookie to die on all mobile devices so as to "secure" the access.

Yeah, I suspected the cookie lasting until the browser closing was the issue here (which is compounded by the phone still forgetting cookies even if you select a "permanent" cookie), but then I think that's something Palm should try to find a way to deal with given how webOS works. In iOS, the web app ran in the background even if you closed it, so I never had this problem. However, this is not the case on the Pre and as a result, this problem arises.

I didn't even realize there was a separate idea on their UserVoice forum specifically for porting Firefox to webOS.

The link I've given above ( is for 'Firefox Home' project which is not a full blown browser but rather a way to access all your Firefox data like history, bookmarks and open tabs on your mobile device (currently only available for iPhone).

The idea which is more suitable for this post and I didn't know it was already submitted is at - titled "Please port Firefox to webOS".

Both are currently top ideas in their respective forums, still it would be nice if the webOS community let Firefox know what it wants. I personally voted for both.

P.S. Not really an advocate of any particular solution here but what I like about UserVoice is that you can vote on ideas for various products (like Mozilla's) on different sites ( is another one) with only one set of credentials.

The dev said on his site he needs additional people to help with the project as it is past his expertise...come on precentral community help him out!!

Just installed it. Lookinf forward to the future releases.

Even with it being in early still beats the pre browser in the acid3 test scored 97 on my pre

THe biggest missing feature on the Pre browser is the lack of a password manager. It's maddening. The cards replace tabs, which are impractical on a screen of this size.

Actually, the way tabs are implemented makes it quite practical. They are vertical tabs (in the form of page screenshots) that are only shown when you swipe the screen to the right. I thought it was a neat idea myself.

I been using it it needs lots of work but I like it so far

A. There is a gesture that allows you to scroll to the top or bottom of a page. It was in one of the Tips, but eludes me right now.

B. Tabbed browsing will have more of an impact on a slate/tablet sized device, but I am looking forward to trying it on my Pre.

C. Find on page would be awesome.

D. I never save passwords in any browser, mobile, laptop, desktop, wherever.

E. Does PreFox (and more importantly I guess Firefox) support geolocation (i.e. For using Facebook Places)?

According to there is geolocation with PreFox.

P.S. I'm going to find the beta now and give some feedback. Please do as well! Thank you to Dave for putting so much effort into this.

Yeah, um, I downloaded "PreFox" and "PreFox" is more like a "PreFail".

Hah. You try doing something like this and then tell the world how much you like what you did. You obviously don't understand the complexity of the project. It is in ALPHA stages for a reason.

If you don't like it, then you should notify the developer what you think should be changed, fixed, added, etc. rather than just give some stupid comment like "PreFail."

By the way, your statement was a "fail," as you couldn't even use proper English when you put the period outside of the quotes. What type of "Fail" would that count as?

Probably as much of a failure as using "fail" as a noun. :-) I agree with your other points.

Um, this is an alpha release. It's supposed to suck at this stage.

That being said, the big issue is that it crashes a lot. On my Sprint Pre it already renders complex pages (like NYT or Yahoo! full site) faster than the built in browser. The scrolling isn't as smooth but there are no checkerboards ever, as far as I can see. It knows all my user names and passwords. It has find on page. And it has Fennec's excellent and innovative interface.

In fact, I'd say that if it ran stably and scrolled a little smoother, it'd already be better than the built in browser. This needs like a couple of weeks work by a couple of additional talented hackers, and it's the best browser on the webOS, hands down.

So please, check your negative comments at the door and let's support getting the best browsing experience in existence on our machines.

where can I get this at?

Idk, did you read the article?

while prefox has the ability to be way better than the native browser, Firefox its self is still a resource hungry application. I would much rather see something like Chromium-Browser imported. So much lighter and it still has all the tab features. But either way TY Dave. Your work is the ground breaking that WebOs needs.

So to install it you will need to be a bit of a Palm homebrew enthusiast and use tools like palm-install from the Palm SDK, webOS quick install or PreWare to install the latest package at

Just installed it on my 1ghz Pre. Runs better than I thought it would. It's good to have a secondary browser in case a specific site doesn't load properly on default browser.

Dev says he will try to add OpenGL hardware support in the future. Awesome potential. Flash integration should be pretty easy.

sounds good. I wonder if Mozilla was already tryna get this thing going though.

I don't know about everyone else, but I've never thought tabs would be that useful in WebOS just b/c clicking on some sort of tab will never be as fluid as just opening a new browser card. I'm sure there are a plethora of other features packed in. But I don't think tabs are a necessary one.


Firefox on a 3.1" screen? I really don't see the point at all.

But give me Firefox on a 4.5" slate with webOS 2.0, and watch me fly!

I hate apps. I avoir dthem as much as I can. I'd rather go on the web than live in a closed app environment. A large screen device with a fantastic web browser enables that.

If Rahul gets his way, the future of Palm is quite enticing. No more postal stamp screens, no more plastic, please!

Firefox on a 3.1" screen? I really don't see the point at all.

But give me Firefox on a 4.5" slate with webOS 2.0, and watch me fly!

I hate apps. I avoid them as much as I can. I'd rather go on the web than live in a closed app environment. A large screen device with a fantastic web browser enables that.

If Rahul gets his way, the future of Palm is quite enticing. No more postal stamp screens, no more plastic, please!

i'd beta test....but i'm on an att pixi+. If this even works on a pixi, i'm still sol because f'ing att is dragging their feet on the 1.4.5 update!!


There is a forum on about PreFox, look it up, and there is a link to where you can get it. I suggest you look it up directly from you Pre, so you can use Preware to download the app. Because the link gives you ipk to download. For more information, feel free to direct message me.

Twitter will not allow me to log in on prefox.

Just downloaded PreFox and it's working great on my Verizon Palm Pre. My 800mhz Pre scored 23,173 on BrowserMark! Just about what the droid x is posting. I get 19,000 with Palm's Browser. Nice!

tried it. was really slow and pretty unusable for me. seemed like its not sized to properly to the screen. uninstalled it pretty quickly. very Alphaish but that's to be expected at this stage. i'm sure it will smooth out in time. good luck to the developer.

Installed, yes I agree that it's very slow. I have an original sprint pre with govnah set at 1Ghz. It was actually faster after the first time. I use firefox on 3 different computers with ubuntu. Prefox synced with them no problem, bookmarks, passwords and all. It was very awesome...until it crashed. Govnah says my battery is discharging @ like 600 mA, and it gets hot. I think it's a pretty awesome start and I can't wait for updates.

It's good to see progress in this direction!

It would be even more awesome if Opera would release Opera mobile or Opera Mini mobile browsers for the Pre ( )

Unfortunately, they probably won't put the effort in until WebOS gains significant market traction. Let's hope that HP can change that, because the fact that you can have multiple browsers is definitely an attraction of WebOS!


Love the ideas of tabs! (I typically have about 8 tabs open on PC). Very exciting!

they've posted a link to the PreFox ipk. Enjoy.