Problems delay Firefox 3 launch

Web site problems hold up the launch of the Firefox 3 browser, but the inauspicious start to the attempt to set a download record is offset by a furious download pace.

Web site problems held up the launch of Firefox 3 on Tuesday.

The Get Firefox site went down near the 10 a.m. PDT launch time. Mozilla, the for-profit subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation that oversees Firefox development, said it was having technical difficulties with the site.

The Firefox 3 downloads surpassed 1.4 million before four hours had gone by.
Firefox 3 downloads surpassed 1.4 million before four hours had gone by. Mozilla

Mozilla hopes to set a 24-hour record for most downloads with Firefox 3, but the delay shouldn't affect that much. "The 24-hour period starts when the site goes live," spokeswoman Melissa Shapiro said.

Update 10:51 a.m. PDT: Mozilla said in a blog posting that the site should be available "shortly."

"The outpouring of interest and enthusiasm around Firefox 3 has been overwhelming (literally!). Our servers are currently feeling the burn and should be back to normal shortly. Download day will officially commence once the site goes live," Mozilla said.

Update 10:57 a.m. PDT: Popular projects are tough to bring to the Web for mass download.

Ubuntu's Feisty Fawn version of Linux was run over by Intenet traffic when it launched in 2007. Likewise, Sun Microsystems couldn't keep up when it released the source code for OpenOffice.

Mozilla is trying to set a record for Firefox 3 downloads. Site problems hampered the effort.
Mozilla is trying to set a record for Firefox 3 downloads. Site problems hampered the effort.

Red Hat has used BitTorrent to try to distribute download pain among many interested users of its Fedora version of Linux. That's not a great solution if you want to track your download record, though.

Update 11:17 a.m. PDT: The download page was back up for me, fleetingly--but it only showed the link for Firefox

Update 11:20 a.m. PDT: The site is up, and the download link is working for me. Let the record attempt begin.

Update 11:30 a.m. PDT: Whoops! The download I'm getting from the download pages is still for version I guess there's still some work to be done.

The Mozilla page redesign has a crazy combination of Firefox 3 graphics but Firefox files, but at least the Web site is crawling back.

Update 11:49 a.m. PDT: This is like's outage all over again: Now all I'm getting is "Http/1.1 Service Unavailable." The Web site is totally gone again.

Update 11:53 a.m. PDT: The site is working, both the Get Firefox site and the U.S. download page.

Also, for some more details, see the Firefox 3 release notes.

Update 12:01 p.m. PDT: The clock is ticking for the download record attempt. The official 24-hour period began at 11:16 a.m. PDT, when the download began working in Europe, Mozilla told me.

The redesigned Mozilla site was a hodgepodge of Firefox 3 and versions as it crept back online.
The redesigned Mozilla site was a hodgepodge of Firefox 3 and versions as it crept back online. Mozilla

Also, be cautious about updating: Firefox 3 will overwrite your Firefox 2 installation. The release candidate has been stable for me, but not all plug-ins are available; Microsoft warned that Silverlight 1.0 doesn't work on Firefox 3, and there could be other issues.

Update 12:05 p.m. PDT: Mozilla said on its developer blog that Firefox 3 is being downloaded at a rate of 14,000 copies per minute.

That's 13 gigabits per second. No wonder the servers were struggling.

Update 12:15 p.m. PDT: Say what you want about its ability to deliver the technology, but it's impressive what Mozilla has built around Firefox. A download rate of 233 copies per second is pretty staggering.

You can call the download record an attempt at a PR stunt if you want, but clearly it's more than that. Evidently there are a lot of people for whom using Firefox makes them feel like part of some movement.

Is it because it's open-source software? A way to stick it to Microsoft? Technologically superior? Helped by plug-ins? Something else? Weigh in below so those who aren't true believers can see why you are. Or send me e-mail at

Update 12:55 p.m. PDT: The Firefox 3 download counter (when it works) currently shows more than 875,000 downloads.

Say what you will about Google's plain-jane text-heavy Web sites, but they load faster than the eye candy such as all those pretty flags on the download counter page.

Update 2:46 p.m. PDT: Mozilla's Spread Firefox site shows more than 1.4 million downloads so far. The rate is tapering down--it's less than 10,000 copies per minute now.

Update 4:25 p.m. PDT: The download rate has wound down to about 5,400 per second, but the total has surpassed 2 million.

Update 5:20 p.m.: It looks like Firefox's biggest rival is being big-hearted about Download Day: Microsoft shipped an Internet Explorer cake to Mozilla.

The cake reads: "Congratulations on shipping. Love, the IE Team."

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