Classilla: Building a secure web browser for Classic Mac OS
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Classilla 9.3.3: Installation and Release Notes

This document discusses basic usage and installation instructions for this version of Classilla. For more tips, suggestions and help, you might also want to read the official Classilla FAQ.

  • Download Classilla 9.3.3 from SourceForge (23.7MB, StuffIt archive).

IMPORTANT: This version of Classilla is alpha-quality software. Although improving, there are known bugs in this version and it is possible you could experience crashes, information leaks or data loss. You use this software at your own risk. Read this page thoroughly before installing Classilla on your computer.

Classilla is provided to you under the Mozilla Public License.


Classilla: Now Optimizing For the Mobile Web

Starting with version 9.3.0, Classilla is transitioning from a "desktop" browser to a browser focused on accessing mobile content. Mobile content has always been a better fit for OS 9 machines as their CPU and RAM limits are similar to today's mobile devices, and their browsers have similar limitations, particularly feature phones and low-end smartphones. While desktop content will still be accessible with Classilla, Classilla will by default start to advertise a user agent mimicking a typical mobile device in order to preferentially fetch mobile content if available. You will be able to configure this in the preferences as before.

The upshot of this and other related internal changes will not only be to facilitate accessing sites that perform better and have nearly the same functionality, but improved stability and overall utility on our aging but still useful Macintoshes.

System Requirements

Classilla requires any Power Macintosh with at least 64MB of RAM (virtual or physical), 100MB of free hard disk space and MacOS 8.6 or higher. A G3 processor with 128MB of physical RAM and OS 9.1 is the recommended minimum. (Although Classilla will run on OS 8.5, due to various bugs in that version we strongly advise updating to OS 8.6.)

Classilla is compatible with Apple Virtual Memory and Connectix RAM Doubler 9, but this may cause unpredictable performance problems and is recommended only for those systems with low physical RAM ceilings (such as the PowerBook 1400). You will observe better performance with adequate physical memory and Virtual Memory off, and better still if you use a RAM disk for your cache. You should also make sure you have adequate disk cache in the Memory control panel, as poor disk caching can also slow Classilla down.

If you are using a system with 128MB of RAM or less, or want to run Classilla on a system with less than 64MB of physical RAM, please see the section on Running Classilla With Low Memory below.

Upgrading From a Previous Version of Classilla

If you are upgrading from any previous version of Classilla 9.x, your old profile, bookmarks, preferences, mailbox and other user information will transfer directly to Classilla 9.3.3. You do not need to create a new profile to use this update, although as with any update, you may wish to backup your profile (which is normally stored in your hard disk's Documents folder, under Mozilla).

If you have any special plugins installed, be sure to copy them to a separate folder, and copy them back to the Plug-ins folder after installation, as this process may overwrite them. Be sure to merge the two folders together; Classilla periodically offers updates to plugins and you should make sure you are using the latest versions available.

If you have any special Byblos stelae installed from versions prior to Classilla 9.3.3, please move them to a Byblos folder in your Documents folder to preserve them, or they will be overwritten by the update. Classilla looks for stelae in both places.

When updating from versions prior to Classilla 9.2.1, your NoScript whitelist will be erased when you update to this version. The format of the whitelist changed in 9.2.1 with the introduction of Script-B-Gone, and is not compatible with older versions. If you wish to keep your whitelist, take note of the sites you have selected so that you can re-enter them manually after the update. To avoid corrupting the whitelist backing store, Classilla intentionally does not copy your old whitelist to the new whitelist format.

Classilla is provided as a StuffIt archive, compatible with version 5 and later of StuffIt Expander. You can unpack it by dropping the archive on your StuffIt Expander icon, or opening it with StuffIt Expander.

To replace your old Classilla, make sure you have quit Classilla, then drag the Classilla folder inside the unpacked StuffIt archive to your Macintosh's Applications directory to replace the old version. Assuming they have the same name, the Finder will replace the old folder with the new one. You may then delete the archive folder. To start Classilla, open the Classilla folder in your Applications folder and double click the Classilla application. Do not delete or move files in the Classilla folder, as they are essential for its operation.

You can keep multiple versions of Classilla on your computer if you prefer the features of earlier versions, although you should make sure that the desired version opens your saved pages and URLs as they will all have the same creator code. When opening old versions, if you make any changes to the NoScript white list, they will be reset when you restart versions 9.2.1 or later.

If you experience problems with installation, report it with the Classilla Report-A-Bug system. Please do not file issues on Google Code; a triage reviewer will do that for you if needed.

Upgrading From WaMCom, Mozilla or Netscape 7

It is recommended that you start with a fresh system and delete previous profiles and versions of WaMCom, Mozilla and Netscape 7 from your Macintosh, as they may conflict with Classilla's proper operation. In addition, there are new recommended default settings that previous profiles will not incorporate and incorrect versions of these settings may cause adverse performance. To clean your system, delete and remove the WaMCom, Mozilla or Netscape folder from your hard disk, then the Mozilla (or Netscape) folder in your hard disk's Documents folder, then the Mozilla Registry (or Netscape Registry) file in your System Folder's Preferences folder, and then empty the Trash. You may also wish to restart your Macintosh and/or rebuild your desktop to complete the process.

If you wish to keep your old bookmarks, you can save the HTML bookmarks file from your profile and replace it after Classilla starts for the first time. You may also decide to keep your mailbox files, although you will need to re-enter your login and server information. Do not keep or alter any other files. Replace these files only when Classilla is not running.

Classilla is provided as a StuffIt archive, compatible with version 5 and later of StuffIt Expander. You can unpack it by dropping the archive on your StuffIt Expander icon, or opening it with StuffIt Expander. Drag the Classilla folder inside the unpacked archive to your Macintosh's Applications directory to copy it, then delete the archive folder. To start Classilla, open the Classilla folder in your Applications folder and double click the Classilla application. Do not delete or move files in the Classilla folder, as they are essential for its operation.

If you have no profiles (which will be the case if you followed the instructions above), a new default one will be created for you with default settings and bookmarks, and Classilla will try to connect to the default Classilla Start Page. If this occurs successfully, your installation is complete.

Otherwise, if you have an existing WaMCom or Mozilla profile and have decided to preserve it anyway, Classilla will attempt to use it. You should make sure that it acts correctly and that your settings were preserved, and read Known Problems below to determine what settings, if any, need to be changed.

If you are attempting to remove a profile (or your old profile), or add a new one for another user, you can access profiles when Classilla has started up by going to Tools > Manage Profiles.

If you wish to keep your old browser, you should still make a separate profile in Classilla so that you still get the benefit of the updated settings. You can still transfer your bookmarks and mailbox files to this new profile once Classilla has started for the first time. Replace these files only when Classilla is not running. To start Classilla in the profile manager, double click Mozilla Profile Wizard, not Classilla. Make sure that the expected application starts, as Classilla uses the same creator code.

If you experience problems with installation, report it with the Classilla Report-A-Bug system. Please do not file issues on Google Code; a triage reviewer will do that for you if needed.

Running Classilla With Low Memory

If you have more than 128MB of RAM installed in your Macintosh, you do not need to read this section except if you are trying to optimize your Mac's memory usage.

For optimum utilization of your Mac's RAM, Classilla uses two forms of memory: preferentially its fixed allocation, assigned in the Finder, for the majority of windows and tabs that are open, but also temporary memory, primarily for images, if it runs out of regular memory. You can access the application's memory settings from the Finder by finding and selecting the Classilla application in the Classilla folder, then pressing Command-I for its Get Info box.

Classilla requires approximately 40MB of RAM to start in a functional state using a single window. You should not set its memory allocation lower than this minimum, or you may make it impossible for Classilla to start up. This minimum is intended for systems that just barely reach the 64MB RAM mark. You should avoid opening multiple windows or large numbers of tabs on these systems, as this may cause the browser to run out of memory and quit unexpectedly.

Classilla prefers at least 60-80MB of RAM in order to keep multiple windows open. The preferred allocation is intended to grab this amount of memory for systems with 128MB of RAM or more, although on systems just at 128MB of RAM it may prevent other applications from getting sufficient memory. In that case, you may reduce it down towards the minimum, but be advised that opening large numbers of simultaneous windows and tabs may cause Classilla to become progressively more unstable as you reduce its fixed memory allocation.

If it is not possible to install more physical RAM in your computer, such as with systems like the PowerBook 1400 which are limited to 64MB, you can dramatically increase stability at the cost of performance by using a virtual memory manager. While this will make your Mac slower, you will be able to give Classilla more "memory" to use, and this will allow the application to be more stable. You can use Apple's Virtual Memory under the Memory control panel, or a third-party system such as Connectix RAM Doubler, both of which are compatible with Classilla. You should try to create as much virtual space as your hard drive is able to accommodate; it is recommended that you create a total of at least 128MB of memory or more (combined between your physical and virtual memory), and allow Classilla as close to its maximum preferred allocation as you can.

Mobile vs. Desktop Rendering

By default, Classilla advertises itself as a mobile device to websites, specifically the Nokia N90. This device has similar rendering capabilities and operation to Classilla's layout engine, and sites that offer mobile content generally present an appropriate version when this device fingerprint is seen.

Nevertheless, some sites have problematic or unacceptably limited feature sets when dealing with mobile devices. Most sites that offer a mobile version also give you a link you can click to select to use the full version of the site. Typically this is set with a cookie in your browser.

If this is not sufficient, you can change the user agent that Classilla sends to servers by going to Preferences and changing the setting in the User Agent panel, including restoring the default user agent Classilla used in 9.2.3 and previous versions. However, this may enable features Classilla may not fully support yet. This setting is sticky and persists until you change it, even if you navigate to a different site or quit the browser. If you start the browser with a custom user agent still selected, you will receive a warning.

In 9.3.3, certain sites are maintained on an internal whitelist and will automatically use a desktop user agent when they are accessed. You can change these preferences through the about:config panel; see issue C169. Suggestions for the whitelist are solicited and will be used to construct a default whitelist in these future releases.

Known Problems (Major) "What To Do If Sites Don't Work"

Although Classilla continues to eliminate known bugs, there are still multiple known issues in this version of Classilla which could not be fully eliminated before release. This bug cleanup effort still continues. Read this section carefully before you use Classilla.

The most important issues in this version of Classilla are listed below. If you experience problems, report it with the Classilla Report-A-Bug system. Please do not file issues on Google Code; a triage reviewer will do that for you if needed. For more tips, suggestions and help, you might also want to read the official Classilla FAQ.

  • Certain sites make Classilla quit unexpectedly.

    There are several low-level system bugs in both JavaScript and layout, the most serious of which may cause sites to appear wrong, leak data, allow sites to escalate privilege, or cause the browser to hang, crash or quit unexpectedly. Although this version of Classilla repairs many more of these bugs, others remain.

    Starting with version 9.2.1, Classilla now uses Script-B-Gone, a front-end to the NoScript script blocking extension, to help prevent these bugs from triggering with casual browsing. Just the same, however, you should only place sites in your white-list (described below) that you trust and appear to function correctly. If Classilla crashes, please note the URL for our bug report site, then save all documents, close all applications and restart your Macintosh. Report the bug when you resume your browsing session. Please note that some sites will not function fully with JavaScript disabled.

    Script-B-Gone, by default, disables JavaScript completely for all sites except those you white-list. You can access Script-B-Gone by clicking the S icon at the bottom right of the window. If there are scripts that are currently blocked on this page, Script-B-Gone will display the hosts and frames being referenced; once you have selected the choice you want, click OK, the page will reload, and the scripts will be enabled. You can also click Options to manually control NoScript. If all scripts are already enabled, Script-B-Gone will warn you and allow you to delete hosts from your whitelist to block them.

    If you choose to disable NoScript and use JavaScript on all sites, you may check the global JavaScript option in the Options window, but because of the known security issues is at your own risk.

    Some sites may prevent you from clicking links or viewing content while JavaScript is enabled due to these bugs. If the page you are browsing does not seem to respond to your activities or clicks, or does not show content that you expect, make sure that JavaScript is disabled and reload the page.

  • Certain sites make Classilla very slow to render or appear to freeze.

    There are several low-level system bugs in both JavaScript and layout, the most serious of which may cause sites to appear wrong, leak data, allow sites to escalate privilege, or cause the browser to hang, crash or quit unexpectedly. Although this version of Classilla repairs many more of these bugs, others remain.

    If a page takes a long time to display, it is possible that it is using advanced or complex JavaScript that is not fully supported by Classilla (or may require more CPU power than your Macintosh is capable of). You can stop any executing script by holding down the Command key and pressing the period "." key until you regain control of the browser. This will cancel any layout or script task that is currently executing. Note that some pages may not work correctly when you do this, and you should close the window or tab and reload the page after making sure that JavaScript is off, and/or that the site is not in your Script-B-Gone white list (see the instructions above). However, Classilla will normally detect a script that is taking an excessive amount of time to execute and, after a timeout period, give you a chance to safely abort the script or continue running it.

    Certain complex layouts may also cause Classilla to take an excessive length of time to display them, even if JavaScript is off. If Classilla is still taking a long time to render a page or seems to have stopped responding, you can also cancel layout in the same manner by holding down the Command key and pressing "." (the period key). Cmd-Period will then cause any layout or script task the browser is working on to stop. Hold these keys down until you have regained control of the browser. Note that this may cause portions of the page to be displayed incorrectly, as layout was interrupted before it could complete. If you consistently need to abort layout on a particular site, please report it to Report-A-Bug so that the problem can be further investigated.

    Using Cmd-Period as an "all-stop" is safe to do and does not require you to restart your computer, but cancelling a script task during its execution may leave the current document in an indeterminate state. After you cancel a JavaScript task, you should close the current window or tab then reload the page with JavaScript off. However, if you are completely unable to cancel and must Force-Quit Classilla from the OS to regain control, it is recommended that you save all documents, close all applications and restart your Macintosh.

  • When I scroll certain sites, my browser window gets garbled.

    Some sites use layout techniques that are not compatible with Classilla's usual fast scrolling code, even though Classilla can display them otherwise. If scrolling the page causes the display to become fragmented or garbled, hold down the Command key as you scroll to update using a different scrolling method. The alternative method is slower, but more compatible. When you release the Command key, Classilla uses its selected default.

    If you are on a site that requires you to Command-scroll frequently, you can toggle slow scroll on by default by going to View > Use Slow Scroll, which uses a slower but more complete scrolling method. You can also toggle this setting by pressing Command-Shift-S. This will reload the page. This setting is sticky and persists until you change it, even if you navigate to a different site or quit the browser.

  • Certain sites say my browser is not supported.

    By default, Classilla now appears to most sites as a mobile device (specifically the Nokia N90). Some sites such as banks and certain ASP-based systems do not properly handle browsers they don't recognize. If a site does not work on Classilla but does work on WaMCom, or the site complains it does not recognize your browser, this may be the problem.

    You can change the user agent that Classilla sends to servers by going to Preferences and changing the setting in the User Agent panel. However, this may enable features Classilla may not fully support yet. This setting is sticky and persists until you change it, even if you navigate to a different site or quit the browser. If you start the browser with a custom user agent still selected, you will receive a warning.

    Certain common and tested sites are known to work with Classilla as a desktop browser and are part of a built-in whitelist in 9.3.3. This whitelist will be progressively exposed to the user and expanded in subsequent versions.

  • I don't see everything on certain sites that I expect to see.

    If JavaScript is disabled, you may need to enable it for some sites to work at all. Remember that the default state for Script-B-Gone is to block all sites unless you state otherwise. Most sites that absolutely require JavaScript will detect this problem, and will direct you to enable it.

    Otherwise, although Classilla's layout continues to improve, some pages still cannot be viewed properly by the browser. For those few very intractable sites, Classilla includes a de-styling option which may allow the site to be sufficiently navigable even though its design will be significantly altered. To de-style a troublesome page, go to View > Use Style and select None, and the page will reload with CSS styles disabled. Use Style > None will persist until you re-enable style sheets, even if you navigate to a different site, or until you restart the browser.

  • Other known issues include the following:

    • When initially logging into Paypal, the browser may take an extremely long time to render the initial page after entering your username and password. This bug is known and is still being investigated. If the browser seems to have stopped responding while using Paypal.com, abort layout by holding down the Command and period "." keys until you regain control of the browser.

    • The helper applications list is not always populated in Preferences. This is not a frequently used option, but if you need to modify it, see issue 111 for a possible workaround.

    • Installing extensions is not supported in this version of Classilla. This is by design due to multiple compatibility issues.

    • Type-ahead-find does not respond on all pages. The Find dialogue (Command-F) works more reliably.

    • If you close all other windows while a download is in progress, you will not be able to open any other windows until the download dialogue box is closed, even if your download is finished. To avoid this, keep at least one other window open at all times.

    • HTTP/1.1 Keep-Alive offers higher network performance but does not work on all sites and some will respond with Bad Request errors. This is a point of ongoing investigation. For this reason, Keep-Alive is set to off by default in this version of Classilla. If you wish to use the higher performance setting, which works on the majority of servers, you may enable it under Preferences > Advanced > HTTP Networking. If you experience inexplicable server errors, make sure that Keep-Alive is turned off. Some proxies may also require it to be disabled.

    • Support for mice with scroll wheels is incomplete.

    • Java-based applications may not behave correctly or start properly on classic Mac OS systems due to the obsolete Java Runtime Environments available for these operating systems. There is no known alternative. It is strongly advised that you not run Java applets or applications on the classic Mac OS due to multiple known security and stability problems. Classilla now defaults Java to off, and provides a warning in the preferences dialogue. To use the MRJ Plugin, which allows access to the most current version of the Apple Macintosh Runtime for Java, make sure the MRJ Plugin is in your plugins folder, and enable both Java and plugins. You should make sure that your version of the MRJ is updated to 2.2.4 or later (2.2.6 is recommended).

New Features

The following new features are introduced in this release of Classilla. Cxx numbers in boldface correspond to the issue number that tracked this issue or feature.

  • Byblos now can access stelae in both the application's Byblos folder and in a Byblos folder in your Documents folder (C221), which should assist the upgrading process. See the stele tecnical documentation.
  • Classilla's TLS/SSL support has been upgraded to support certificates signed using SHA-256 (C220), fixing HTTPS sites that may generate -8182 errors.
  • Classilla's TLS support has been upgraded to support Server Name Indication (C219), fixing many HTTPS sites that may appear to present certificates that do not belong to them.
  • Additional built-in Byblos stelae are added for Bing and DuckDuckGo's home pages to restore functionality.

Issues Repaired (Major)

The following major issues were addressed in this release of Classilla. Cxx numbers in boldface correspond to the issue number that tracked this issue or feature.

  • As a future-proofing measure, certificates signed with an unsupported algorithm are now converted to non-fatal errors and can be overridden (C218). Overriding certificate verification failures may enable a malicious third party to masquerade as a trusted site and should only be done as a last resort. Certificates that fail a supported algorithm are still treated as fatal errors.
  • As part of the overall TLS/SSL update (C218, C219 and C220), all SSL root certificates have been refreshed and new roots installed.
  • The base page for mail-news has been changed to a blank page, improving message display performance (C222).
  • A crash in layout on certain sites has been mitigated (C212).
  • When a built-in alternate user agent is in use, the browser will fix the version of Classilla in the user agent string on startup to avoid spurious messages that the browser is out of date (C216).
  • As part of the same issue, user agents are updated to current versions of Firefox (C216).
  • New easter egg.

Deprecated or Discontinued in this Version

Due to intrinsic security weaknesses in the protocols, SSLv2 support is disabled by default (C222), and SSv3 support is deprecated. Future versions will also disable SSLv3 by default and remove SSLv2 support completely.

Complete Change List

The following Classilla and/or Mozilla patches were applied or modified for application to this release of Classilla. Cxx numbers in boldface correspond to the issue number that tracked this issue or feature; Mxx numbers correspond to the relevant Bugzilla number where applicable (/m, /mm = modified for Classilla; /p = partial application). Due to technical differences between Clecko and Gecko, the scope of these changes may be different from that originally intended, and some patches required extensive modification for Classilla/Clecko.

Previous Versions

You can still download older versions of Classilla "while they last." Because of security and stability improvements in subsequent versions, you should only download the most current version for general use. These older versions are offered only for comparison purposes or for users who require or prefer the functionality of earlier versions. They are no longer supported or updated.

Prior to this version, you can still download:

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