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Mozilla Firefox 40 has squeaked out to the world, and features the usual ragtag bag of stability, performance UI improvements plus critical security fixes.

By now the release should have found its way into the Update Manager on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, 14.04 LTS and Ubuntu 15.04. If you don’t have it you can run an apt-get update check to fetch it.

Once you’re newly upgraded you’ll be wondering what’s new. To fill you — and us — in, let’s take a gander.

New Firefox 40 Features

A close up on what's new in Firefox 40
A close up on what’s new in Firefox 40

First things first: the elephant in the room.

The biggest  headline change arriving with Firefox 40 is for the sole benefit of those running the super-shiny, info-hungry Windows 10. If you’re interested in the changes, and as a great many of you dual-boot through gritted teeth, you may well be, be sure to check out Mozilla’s official blog post on the matter. 

Firefox 40 features a batch of other changes, too.

 The release notes call out “improved scrolling, graphics, and video playback performance with off main thread compositing” for Linux users.

What does this entail? Mozilla’s Nicolas Silva explains:

“With [off main thread compositing], Gecko does the compositing work on a dedicated thread. This thread is never waiting for the main thread, so we can make sure it runs smoothly. This lets us, for example, have video decoding threads talk directly to the compositor which improves video playback dramatically.”

OMTC paves the way for further improvements down the line, including improved hardware acceleration with OpenGL (though this relies on Firefox switching to GTK3, a process still underway).

Firefox 40 also provides protection against malware by warning you of potentially unsafe or unwanted software downloads as you browse the web.

While not strictly a Linux-specific concern, most tricksy malware distribution methods are dumb. I’m sure you have seen those fake embedded system pop-ups telling you to ‘update Flash’ (not to the real one, of course) or ‘clean your system now’ (yeah, why don’t I clean my clothes with mud while i’m at it?) on your web travels.

The downloads that these sites and methods are trying to hawk are (largely) useless on Linux, but the fact they’re dodgy is still good to know.

Elsewhere in Firefox 40:

  • Redesigned add-on manager
  • Suggested Tiles use your browser history to recommend new sites (US only)
  • A warning is shown for browser extensions not signed by Mozilla 
  • JPG scaling is now faster and uses less resources
  • Firefox Hello lets you set an open tab as conversation topic/context
  • Developers can make use of a new page ruler highlighting tool

Get Firefox 40.0 for Linux

Firefox 40.0 is a free download and is available to download directly from Mozilla website.

If you’re an Ubuntu user running 12.04 LTS, 14.04 LTE or the more recent 15.04 release and have an older version of the browser installed you will receive this latest update automatically. There’s no need to add a PPA, download something from an obscure website or faff around creaking symlinks to the official binaries.

Let us know what you think of this release, or Firefox in general, in the comments section below. 

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