The Firefox Web browser hit a milestone last week with the release of version 1.5 in Mac, Windows and Linux flavors. It has graduated from its hacker roots and turned into a powerful, fast and easily customizable browser that anyone can use.
The latest release of Firefox improves speed and stability, allows changes in the order of sites opened in tabs, and offers many other improvements. One valuable new feature for those browsing on shared computers - or at work - is a one-click "Clear Private Data" function that flushes out any record of browsing, downloading or saved passwords.
Thousands of programmers under the guidance of the Mozilla Foundation have looked into every nook and cranny of Firefox's open-source code to improve it and streamline it. Many others have created themes, which change the browser's appearance, or extensions, which add all sorts of features.
There are extensions to remove flashy advertising and even some that change the way Google looks and functions. Firefox, available as a free download at getfirefox.com, is like the Volkswagen Bug: it's easy to tinker with, and when you're done your browser is like nobody else's.