Current Mozilla Fennec / Firefox Mobile builds on Windows

Aside from my main work machine I own a tiny Acer Netbook. It’s not the best device around with limited processing power and much more importantly, a 1024×600 screen. Using Firefox on it isn’t exactly a joy because you often get horizontal scroll bars and the vertical size of the content is tiny if you have the title bar, the navigation bar and the tabbar open (even with bookmarks-toolbar and menubar disabled).

Some time ago I tried using Fennec and while it’s definitely not perfect, the way zoom and scrolling is handled alone makes it the better alternative for touchpads and tiny screens. In Fennec you drag to scroll (which with your off the mill Synaptics touchpad means double-tap, then move) and double-tap without moving to zoom in on a paragraph (which really is immensely useful if your screen is too small to fit a whole lot of text onto it without making it so tiny that it’s hard to read). Besides, all UI-elements are hidden unless you scroll to them (tabs on the left, settings on the right, location at the top).

When Fennec was first released, there were a couple of Win32 builds available, but apparently support for Windows was dropped with the release of the 1.0 version.

Luckily, you can still use it on Windows, courtesy of Mozilla’s XULRunner platform which Fennec uses internally: Just grab a recent Fennec Linux build, drop in a recent XULRunner build for Windows, edit the application.ini to allow for newer versions of XULRunner and you’re set.

Grab a normal Linux build from
ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mobile/nightly/latest-mobile-trunk/
(currently that’s fennec-1.1a2pre.en-US.linux-i686.tar.bz2)

And a XULRunner runtime from
ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/xulrunner/nightly/latest-trunk/
(currently that’s xulrunner-1.9.3a4pre.en-US.win32.zip)

Extract the Linux Fennec built somewhere and remove the xulrunner directory.

Then, drop the xulrunner win32 runtime in its place (you can also remove the shell scripts).

Take the xulrunner-stub.exe from the xulrunner directory and drop it into the main Fennec directory. You can name it any way you like (mine is simply called Fennec.exe). You’ll need mozcrt19.dll DLL as well, just copy it along.

If you get an error about XULRunner being the wrong version, just open application.ini in a text editor and change MaxVersion to reflect the version you use.

And that’s it: Now you’ve got the best browser for your main computer and your netbook 🙂

One thought on “Current Mozilla Fennec / Firefox Mobile builds on Windows”

  1. Thanks for the post! I recently fixed the build problems on win32, so you can now find nightly Windows builds of Fennec again.

    None of the active Fennec developers are using Windows on the desktop, which makes it harder for us to find and fix problems there. If you notice any problems, feel free to let us know (#mobile on irc.mozilla.org is the best place).

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