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Shiretoko makes Firefox 3.5 speedy for the Mac

Developer makes Firefox much faster than Mozilla does, which means you needn't jump to Google Chrome just yet.

Reports (like this one on The Apple Blog) persist that beta releases of the Mozilla Firefox 3 browser have rendered it a "perplexingly sluggish performer" on the Mac. Despite Mozilla's speed improvements in Minefield, those tweaks haven't seemed to make it into beta releases of Firefox 3.

Until now.

As an open-source Web browser, Firefox is, of course, open to community tinkering. One member of that Firefox community, Chris Latko, has developed his own version of Firefox 3.5 beta, dubbed Shiretoko, and my informal tests confirm what The Apple Blog and others have been saying: it's mucho fast.

What it's not, however, is compatible with all the add-ons/extensions I use with my latest production release of Firefox (3.0.10): AdBlock Plus, Fasterfox, etc. This, however, is to be expected: Shireteoko is beta software, after all.

At any rate, if you have an Intel-based Mac and you've been disturbed by the sluggishness of Mozilla's Firefox 3 beta releases, and were persuaded by CNET's Stephen Shankland's suggestion that Google's Chrome-on-Mac blows Firefox 3 beta 4 out of the water in speed tests, try Shiretoko.

It may keep you patiently waiting for the next great release from the Mozilla Firefox team, rather than looking for Google's allegedly greener Chrome grass.

Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.