Updating iOS on an ancient iPad 2 from 4.3

Recently faced an issue when trying to update an old iPad 2 from its original 4.3 OS. Back in those days even OTAs were not supported and iTunes was the only way to update. Since Apple has switched off validation for iOS versions older than 9, the iPad was going into an “Error 9” unusable state and there seems to be a lot of frustrated users out there who seem to be trying to update to iOS 9 from 4.X.X and failing to do so.

Some Googling turned up a suggestion to update to the beta version of iOS 9, and voila it worked. Unfortunately, you most likely need a developer account to actually download the iOS 9.3 beta file as the public beta is unlikely to work with iOS 4.3. Nonetheless, if you manage to get hold of the iOS 9.X beta version then definitely give it a shot.

Firefox 3 beta 2 and incompatible extension workarounds

I had posted earlier on my initial experiences with the Firefox 3 beta inside a sandbox, and decided to hold off on a full time switch to the beta as most of my favourite extensions were incompatible. The incompatibility status for the extensions has not changed, but I discovered an easy workaround (no hacking around xpi) today when looking around for a working mousse gestures extension.

All I had to do was to create a “extensions.checkCompatibility” boolean field in the Firefox about:config and set it to false. As you can guess, this disables the compatibility check for the extensions, and all the disabled incompatible extensions are enabled (with warning messages). Of course, this does not guarantee that the extension will work. Also the browser crashed on the first restart (the subsequent restart was fine though).

However, I was able to get most of the required extensions working this way (not extensively tested). They include Mouse Gestures, del.icio.us bookmarks, Greasemonkey (Update 22/01/2008: Greasemonkey just got an update today and is now supported on Firefox 3 beta), MR Tech Local Install (this one can override extension compatibility versions) and PDF download. Some extensions remain unusable though like Tab Mix Plus (possibly due to the architectural changes) and Google Gears (might be because I’m running inside a sandbox). Not a major loss, though I miss some of the tab tweaks provided by Tab Mix Plus.

I plan to use the beta inside the sandbox as my primary browser now that the extensions problems has been worked around. I’ll post my findings in in a few weeks, by which time some updates are likely to be available.

As for the changes from beta 1 to 2, check out the release notes. Of note is the fact that the rich interfaces of Yahoo Mail and Windows Live Mail are still unsupported.

There seem to be further tweaks to the memory usage (image below) and rendering. The interface hasn’t changed much, though a Smart Bookmarks folder seems to have been added to the bookmarks toolbar. The earlier location bar update that includes suggests autocomplete entries based on the page titles and not just the link text is quite a useful feature.

And to sign off here’s a comparison of the memory usage of v2 (top – gray) vs v3b2 (bottom – blue) with the same 8 tabs open in each, taken using process explorer. Note that there are fewer extensions in v3b2 and it is running in a sandbox.

Firefox 2 vs 3b2

Sandboxing Firefox 3 Beta and first impressions

The Firefox 3 Beta 1 (download) was finally launched this week, and from what I’ve been reading, it promises better memory usage along with interface tweaks. So, I decided to give it a spin. There were some basic concerns of course, like conflicts with my existing Firefox 2 setup, incompatible extensions and general instability/performance issues.

However, there’s also an easy way to overcome this problem using sandboxing software like Sandboxie and Altiris SVS (lifehacker article on using SVS). I had installed Sandboxie sometime back after reading about it in a few places. It is quite simple to use – you just need to launch the desired program using the Sandboxie tool. I went ahead and got the Firefox 3 beta and ran the installer in the sandbox. The thing to note about the sandboxing is that though the installation is in a sandbox, the Firefox settings (including extensions) from my version 2 installation would be used, but in a read-only fashion, so that compatible extensions can be used as on a regular upgrade, bookmarks are carried over, and so is the session restoring.

Anyway, the beta installed without any glitches. Then, on launching the browser, it notified me of a bunch of incompatible extensions (as suspected) – greasemonkey, mouse gestures, del.icio.us bookmarks, downthemall, tab mix plus to name a few. So much for hoping to use Firefox 3 beta as a version 2 replacement.

The interface tweaks were seemingly minor, but did make a difference. For one thing the toolbar paddings seems to have been reduced, which gives it a cleaner look. Then there’s the star in the address bar for quickly marking sites along with the places folder in the bookmarks toolbar which lists the recently and frequently accessed sites, tags etc. The bookmarking process has also been overhauled, with support for tags along with with a modified organizing interface. All in all, the interface tweaks are quite nice, without any drastic changes.

Coming to the performance, the memory usage did seem to be lower than version 2, especially after leaving it running for some time. In version 2, the memory usage gradually increases with time and number of opened tabs. This aspect seems to be a lot more efficient in version 3, in the beta itself. The interface also seemed snappier when switching between tabs, and opening new ones. Of course part of this could also be due to the fact that almost a dozen extensions were disabled in the beta due to incompatibilities. But, it seems we have something to look forward to on this front.

I have been seriously considering the switch to Flock (which is based on Firefox 2, and is compatible with many of the Firefox extensions) for the last few weeks after being bogged down by the version 2 performance. Firefox 3 seems to hold some hope on the performance front in addition to other improvements, and should be a welcome upgrade from version 2. However, I won’t be switching till the extension compatibilities are sorted out (if not for the extensions, I would’ve been on Opera). What about you?

Update: Found a couple of reviews on Ars Technica and ZDNet, plus a memory usage comparison