Alphanumerica's Total Recall Crash Recovery

Friday June 2nd, 2000

Alphanumerica has put up version .01 of their Mozilla crash recovery tool, Total Recall. If Mozilla crashes, Total Recall will remember all the pages you had open at the time of the crash, and the contents of any form fields on those pages. The next time you start Mozilla, the pages will be listed under the "Crash" menuitem.

Total Recall is at version .01, and works well in Unix, buggy in Windows, and not at all on Mac. The next version will work on all platforms and be bundled with the next revision of the Aphrodite package.

I think this really shows how extensible Mozilla is, and how Mozilla's architecture allows gives developers an opportunity to contribute useful features to the community. That will be the real benefit of the work that the Mozilla developers have been doing. Skins are great, and they will be very popular, but extensions and utilities will prove the worth of Mozilla's open architecture.

#1 neato!

by gerbilpower

Friday June 2nd, 2000 6:34 PM

But shouldn't Mozilla not crash at all once we're in the "home stretch"?

Okay, maybe I was idealizing a bit, but in case in the RARE situation that in the future Mozilla does crash, I will forever worship Alphanumerica as the new Net God ::overwhelmed by memories of emotions experienced from lost work due to the browser crashing::


#2 Re: neato!

by basic

Friday June 2nd, 2000 10:17 PM

Yeah! Lets try to make this obsolete. But don't lets forget that some of us still run Win9x and Mac8.x . Even if Moz become crash proof it doesn't mean that the OS is.

#4 Re: neato!

by gerbilpower

Friday June 2nd, 2000 11:36 PM

Oh yeah, I run Windows ... okay then this will be truly essential :)


#5 Re: neato!

by luge

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 2:02 AM

Yeah, really. I mean, this is a neat trick- I'm sure windows users would love to have a similar tool for the whole OS :) But it is sort of sad to throw up your hands and accept that it is going to crash, instead of fighting crashes tooth and nail. Unix users and programmers generally don't accept that attitude, and it shows- XFree and the Linux kernel are every bit as complex as Mozilla, and they are rock solid. I understand that (relative to those two) Moz is a baby, but still... sort of disappointing.

#14 Re: Re: neato!

by gwalla

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 5:20 PM

Of course, even hardcore veteran Linux kernel hackers can't prevent somebody from accidentally kicking the power plug!

This will be useful for conditions like that even when Mozilla itself becomes rock solid. It can also be used if the platform Mozilla is running on crashes.

#28 Re: neato!

by Tanyel

Tuesday June 6th, 2000 12:37 PM

What kind of work can you lose because a Web browser crashed?

#29 Re: Re: neato!

by gerbilpower

Tuesday June 6th, 2000 3:10 PM

Such as really long emails, or URLs that took me forever to find but I didn't get a chance to bookmark it before it crashed.

But loosing emails while I was typing them pissed me off, but it's not much of a problem now since I moved away from web based email and my fingers very eager to hot-key the save command.


#31 Re: Re: neato!

by asim

Wednesday June 7th, 2000 12:26 PM

Try Java applets. Or, as another mentioned, long CGI forms.

It's an annoyance only, to be sure, right now. But, if you're doing intensive data entry with it, that's a major loss. I develop CGI apps for a living, and have to keep such issues in mind when designing forms. For today, right now, it's not a big deal for the majority of people. But the web is growing FAST,a nd we have really only scratched the surface of what we can do with it. Or, try this. The folks at Jabber ( are devising a Instant messaging standard. This standard menas you could do IM from a web browser, or a Java app. Many companies are starting to depend on services like this, and it's nice for people on the go to be able to IM from a browser of a Java server. But, if the browser crashes, there goes your IM. Even better, one suspects that this work will apply to Mozilla-based applications, like ActiveState's Komodo. If so, that means a (nearly) crash-proof IDE! As someone who runs Norton CrashGuard at home, I can can it can be useful at times -- and a bloody problem at others. But I still run it. :)

#3 Translucent Menus in Mac OS X

by ToriDan

Friday June 2nd, 2000 10:25 PM

If you go the the Alphanumerica's Total Recall site you see a screen shot taken in MacOS-X. Question: Is there any way to get the translucent menu's, that are going to be all over X when it comes out, integrated into Mo' I'm taken a guess that Mo' runs in "classic" mode on X, with it's own widgets, so this won't be possible. Please correct me if i'm wrong.

#6 Re: Translucent Menus in Mac OS X

by danielhill

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 2:17 AM

I don't think that's Mac OS X. It looks like the Aqua theme running on Linux (probably Enlightenment, I'm not really a Linux expert) because the titlebar font is wrong :)

I think it is possible to get translucent menus, just a matter of changing the stylesheet for the XUL.

#9 Re: Translucent Menus in Mac OS X

by ERICmurphy

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 8:38 AM

Alphanumerica caused a similar confusion when they were using a BeOS theme for their screenshots. People were wondering if the BeOS Moz port was really that far along.

Hopefully they are not far behind. Their last update sounded positive, except that they could use more people.

So, Alphanumerica, what's next? Amiga theme? Haha

#15 i'm sorry ;-)

by alliswell

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 5:39 PM

i took both of these screenshots and am the cause of this problem. i'm running linux and was using a beos theme the first time and a mac os x theme the second time i took screenshots of our work. the amiga theme is a good idea. i'll keep that in mind for the next screenshot...

#11 Fizzilla

by BigShu

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 11:44 AM

Mozilla should run in the Carbon environment when Fizzilla is released. It uses a carbonized version of most of Mo' but uses the FreeBSD rendering engine for faster rendering times. Rock!

#25 Re: Fizzilla

by mstearne

Sunday June 4th, 2000 4:40 PM

I was wondering about Carbonizing Moz. How Carbonized is Mozilla right now or is this Fizzilla's job? IE 5 is already Carbonized and hen OS X comes out it will probably be another 3-5 months before Mozilla gets Carbon. This will continue the myth that Moz is lagging behind IE. Any thoughts?

#7 eerhm...

by wouter

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 3:42 AM

I hope you don't mind me saying that I hope I don't have to use it much :)

#8 mail

by sdm

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 8:26 AM

Will this work for composing email as well? That's what I'm most concerned about when netscape crashes.

#12 Re: mail

by thelem

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 1:01 PM

If it really saves the values in forms then I expect so, but I can only guess.

#16 Re: mail

by arnoudb

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 6:58 PM

That would truly be *great*! Even though I've lost an email only VERY few times (even though I'm running Windows :). Win9x before, Win2K now. ROCK solid), I'm still afraid sometimes it'll crash. It only seems to do that when your email is important. Anway I hope I won't need this! But it's great just the same!

#30 Re: mail

by CaptnMArk

Wednesday June 7th, 2000 6:42 AM

It would be nice to make mail and browser run in separate processes.

This would solve the crash problem and also make things easier to debug.

#10 Where the real power of this lies.

by ToriDan

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 8:52 AM

I think that the real power of this lies not in recovering from simple browser crashes. But rather, recovering from crashes in the soon to be released programs running with a moz engine. Pretty soon there will be tons of apps that use moz as a base and since i don't think Total Recall can tell the difference between an app and a regular web page. You'll get recovery in all these apps as well. By the same token TR should recover from mail/news crashes. This might not work just yet, but it will. I think Alphanumerica is just building up the skills and the tools in prep for a kick ass devel platform. My 2c.

#13 Re: Where the real power of this lies.

by basic

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 1:07 PM

I'm doubtful about this. Could someone confirm this?

#17 Re: Re: Where the real power of this lies.

by petejc

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 7:43 PM

Right now it only works for the browser. It saves the the url, x and y position and width and height of all the open windows. It is at a very simple level right now, but it will grow just like anything else. This is just the first step.

#18 Security

by WillyWonka

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 8:56 PM

I'm wondering about one little security concern...

I'm at an online store. Filling out the form, I just entered my credit card number and the browser goes down. I get fed up with the crashes and leave. Someone else launches the browser later on. They notice the crash information, click on it, and presto, the other persons credit card info is written into the form for you.

Are there or will there be any safe guards against this?

#19 Re: Security

by basic

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 10:51 PM

Hmmm... maybe it can be turned off automatically for some forms and also a way to manually turn it off and on for the current site. Maybe even a list of sites to have it turned on or off. Maybe there could be an option to not load whatever was saved or the location of the file where the info was stored could be known so that the person could delete it or something.

#22 Hmm

by Tekhir

Sunday June 4th, 2000 1:26 AM

You normally, type in credit cards numbers on secure forms so let just dont back up secure form information.

#23 Re: Hmm

by thelem

Sunday June 4th, 2000 4:29 AM

That would make sense, forms are secure for a reason so there could also be other sensitive info.

#32 Re: Hmm

by gwalla

Sunday June 11th, 2000 3:10 AM

Also, don't back up password fields.

#24 Re: Security

by petejc

Sunday June 4th, 2000 11:15 AM

NO it is all just a matter of adding features. Like on/off, reset recovery file, etc. Like is said, the first step is getting the initial idea to work. Which is where things are right now. Then you add features.

#20 M16 coming soon!!

by basic

Saturday June 3rd, 2000 11:08 PM

According to the just updated milestone page M16 is due Monday!! 6/5/2K!!

#21 Re: M16 coming soon!!

by gerbilpower

Sunday June 4th, 2000 1:20 AM

But keep in mind that milestone dates aren't set in stone, so Monday isn't a guarentee ... but let's all pray to the Mozilla Gods that nothing will cause any delay :)


#26 Re: Re: M16 coming soon!!

by basic

Sunday June 4th, 2000 4:54 PM

The last couple of builds have been quite impressive. But with the build bar, I've decided to keep to the nightlies. M16 will be something I can recommend to friends though.

#27 this bring my eyes to tears n/m

by zaw

Monday June 5th, 2000 8:13 AM