History of the Pale Moon project
This project started off as merely fiddling with the build process on
Windows, seeing first off if I could manage to make my own Windows
build of the Firefox browser and then seeing how my own builds compared
official ones. Finding the difference significant, the resulting
browsers (simply "my own Firefox builds") were given to a number of
friends to use, with very positive results.
This was back in the time when Firefox was still in its 1.5.x stage.
I have since built Firefox, Thunderbird and Seamonkey specifically for
different systems, gaining experience, learning the quirks and
following code development. Eventually, with Firefox 3.5.2, I settled
I found was an optimal compromise between speed, features and
useability of the browser. At that point in time, the Pale Moon project
was given shape, releasing the highly optimized browser to the public
from Oct 4th, 2009.
Since its release, it has become rather popular, with no less than
15,000 visits to the home page just in the first month of release. With
many downloads from a wide range of locations, not all of them
monitored or counted, it is anyone's guess how many people are actually
using it, but it has surpassed anything that was initially expected.
Feedback has been positive, and as a result of several requests from
people, a second build version was created of Pale Moon, to cater
specifically to the capabilities of Athlon XP and Athlon MP processors,
still extremely popular processors for systems used at the time. Later
on, a portable version was also created to allow people to take Pale
Moon with them on USB stick or removable drives.
the source code developed, so did Pale Moon, and a few major changes
have been made with the transition from 3.5 to 3.6 versions, and later
on to separate Pale Moon installations from Firefox ones. Always
attempting to strike a balance, some minor features were removed, and
later added again; feedback from the users has always been taken into
account, and the development of Pale Moon has therefore been given
shape, in part, by its users.
When version 4.0 of the Firefox code arrived, after extensive betas,
Pale Moon deviated further from its sibling by also making changes to
the standard UI (User Interface) layout. UI design choices made to
"innovate" the user interface, removing quite essential user feedback
and changing the layout of navigation controls were considered to be
poor choices, and have been altered to provide a more familiar, and
also more intuitive, interface to the browser.
At this point it was also decided to keep developing the 3.6.x branch
separately, while version 4 and later became the "next generation"
An accelerated major version release scheme was started on in early
2011, with ambitious plans by Mozilla to make faster changes to
Firefox. When version 5.0 arrived, though, it turned out to be a
release that could just as well have been numbered 4.1 or similar, as
there was surprisingly little that had changed, apart from correcting
some mistakes made in the implementation of 4.0. 5.0 can therefore best
be considered a "bugfix release" of 4.0, and not really a new product.
Version 6.0 saw a similarly small amount of changes and both 5.0 and
6.0 have been considered to be a continuation of the "next generation"
branch of the Firefox product started with version 4.0. As such, 4.0
and 5.0 were discontinued for Pale Moon. This trend was continued for later versions.
In Oct 2011 a new milestone was reached with Pale Moon 7: better
resource use, faster code, and maturation of the code base to a level
where 3.x now became depreciated in favor of this version - still,
the old branch continued to be supported and developed because there
was still a clear need for it, and remained the browser of choice for "special needs" environments.
From this point on, development on the Next Generation (versions 4 and
up) branch continued, following Mozilla Firefox for most major
releases, while the 3.6.x (Legacy) branch continued to see patches for
bugfixes, security issues and some performance improvements, including
continued support beyond Mozilla's EOL (End Of Life) date for the 3.x
Inevitably, though, the older engine stopped falling short of its
intended purpose, and as more and more sites became problematic, the
legacy branch was discontinued in the summer of 2012.
April 2012 saw another milestone with the release of version 12, at
which point the release schedule stopped following Mozilla's rapid
schedule of Firefox. From this point on, development of Pale Moon
independent and more specifically aimed at refining the engine and
features and implementing additional, Pale Moon specific features. From
this point forward, Pale Moon diverged from its sibling with each
release into a separate, independent browser not longer necessarily
tied to Firefox code development, although a close parallel was
maintained for extension compatibility.
With the release of Firefox 24 (and Pale Moon of the same version),
Pale Moon's already divergent development direction started to more
clearly separate from Firefox than it had already done before, by
focusing much more strongly on individual development of interface,
features and back-end, while adopting continued security updates
through Firefox's ESR channel. After a year of this development (and
turbulent times for Firefox with the growing dislike for the decisions
made about the browser by their development and management teams), the
decision was made for Pale Moon to completely and decisively break the
existing direct ties with Firefox (in the form of how it identifies
itself) and be a completely independent force on the browser market.
outline Mozilla has sketched seems to be to make Firefox more
than a browser, and to spread thin across different disciplines and
platforms in an
attempt to make a web-OS or swiss army knife out of it, as well as
increasing ties with on-line commercial ventures like Google. These
plans may look nice on paper, but would most likely see a vast
amount of practical issues when trying to implement them.
In addition, Mozilla touting minor bugfix releases of Firefox as
"major" releases (for the inherent buzz as many review sites feel
compelled to write an article with each major version release) and
constant changes in the browser (best left to beta channels) being
forced upon everyone has clearly led to "user fatigue" and even more so
"developer fatigue" where both users and extension developers get tired
of constantly having to change their way of working and coding, respectively.
Pale Moon will continue to use the well-known, fully customizable user interface, and will
not be following Mozilla's (and alternative rebuilds) move to the "Australis" user interface (by a
number of people dubbed "FireChrome" because of its likeness with
Google's Chrome browser interface) introduced in Firefox 29.
Instead, the current plan for Pale Moon is to stick to a stable,
solid, and easily maintainable base code that started off as Firefox 24 ESR (with a
number of reverted changes to keep maximum configurability as well as
important updates ported back from later Firefox versions) and to
maintain this code base for as long as it is feasible. If a later
version of the code base will eventually be switched to, it will only
be done on the premise that current configurability and customization
capability is retained.
Pale Moon aims to remain what it is at its heart: a fully customizable web browser.
"Added tools" are nice, but may not be adopted in Pale Moon if they go
beyond what should normally be part of a web browser for general use.
Halloween theme art by Laura Bevon
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2009-2014 Moonchild Productions - All rights reserved
Pale Moon's distribution is subject to the following redistribution license