Pale Moon (web browser)

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Pale Moon
Pale Moon 26 displaying the Wikipedia's Home, on Windows 10.
Pale Moon 26 displaying the Wikipedia's Home, on Windows 10.
Developer(s) M.C. Straver
Initial release October 4, 2009 (2009-10-04)
Stable release 26.5 (September 28, 2016; 3 days ago (2016-09-28)[1]) [±]
Preview release 27.0.0 alpha 2 (July 28, 2016; 2 months ago (2016-07-28)[2]) [±]
Development status Active
Written in C/C++
Operating system Windows, Linux, macOS (only development builds available),[3] Android (current version: 25.9.5)[4]
Engine Goanna
Platform IA-32, x86-64[5]
Available in 29 languages[6]
Type Web browser

Pale Moon is an open-source web browser available for Linux (including Android) and Windows. It is forked from Firefox and is developed and distributed by Dutch developer M.C. Straver, who releases builds as Moonchild Productions.[8] It retains the fully customizable user interface as seen in the previous era (4–28) of Firefox, and focuses on the core tasks of web browsing. Starting at version 26, Pale Moon uses the new web browser engine Goanna, which is a fork of Firefox's Gecko.

Because it is a fork of Firefox, Pale Moon is compatible with most Firefox extensions and plug-ins.[9] Pale Moon will continue to support XUL and XPCOM based add-ons indefinitely,[10] in contrast to Mozilla's intention to deprecate them in Firefox.[11]


Pale Moon is a fork of the Firefox web browser, with a number of notable differences from its sibling:

  • Uses a user interface similar to the one Firefox 28 and earlier used (not Australis)
  • Exposes additional configuration options such as scrolling, status, and new features specific to this browser
  • Functional status bar and more freedom in customization
  • Offers a personalizable start page in cooperation with[12]
  • Supports Pale Moon-exclusive extensions and themes (e.g. Adblock Latitude[13])
  • Uses the IP-API service instead of Google's for geolocation
  • Uses DuckDuckGo instead of Google or Yahoo! as the default search engine
Pale Moon 8 running on Windows XP
Pale Moon running on Windows 7


Pale Moon on Microsoft Windows makes use of compiler optimizations by using the Microsoft C compiler's speed optimization, auto-parallelization, and auto-vectorization features, and targets Windows-based operating systems after Vista to increase performance of the browser.[14] It will not run on particularly old hardware as a result.[15] Pale Moon on Linux makes use of the -O3 switch in the GNU Compiler Collection.
Pale Moon on Linux as well as Windows is stripped of older processor support and additional features not specifically serving web browsing.[16]

User interface[edit]

The user interface of Pale Moon since version 4.0 substantially differs from that of Firefox. The status bar was reinstated by the authors to keep the information provided by web applications and messages about the current state of the browser accessible without being intrusive and to contain other status elements removed from the Firefox user interface, such as the webpage or file download progress bars. Initially this was achieved by bundling an edited version of an open source status bar extension, which became fully integrated into the browser core as of version 12.[17][18] Pale Moon's tab bar sits directly above the webpage display and below any toolbars, rather than utilizing Google Chrome's "tabs on top" design as Firefox did beginning with version 4, however tabs on top is supported, but not enabled by default. The developer also reordered UI controls with a goal to collect the control elements in the same place to improve the user experience from the usability point of view.[19]

Incompatibility with older hardware[edit]

For a while, version 3.x of the browser (based on Firefox 3.x source code) was maintained separately to provide support for older processors that do not support the SSE2 instruction set, which is required to run Pale Moon versions 4.0 and later.[20] In August 2012, the lead developer announced the end-of-life for that legacy Pale Moon browser citing dropped functionality, maturation of the next-generation code and increasing difficulty for back-port security patches (especially issues related to JavaScript).[21]

The main-line version of the browser no longer supports older hardware that is locked to Windows XP as an operating system,[22][23] but an official, specialized, Atom/WinXP and Atom/Linux-32 builds are offered to close that gap.[24]


The browser followed Mozilla Firefox's rapid release schedule before 12.0 was released. Subsequent versions adhered to select versions of the Firefox browser, and eventually the ESR 24 version of Firefox, with continued additional independent development on top.

The current (version 25 and above) versioning scheme of the browser is independent from other Mozilla-based browsers as the Pale Moon browser has broken its previous ties with the Firefox rapid release schedule and Firefox as a product.[25]

Artistic impression of Earth's moon tinted blue, as the Pale Moon icon

As of September 2016, Pale Moon 27 (codenamed Tycho), is in alpha.[26] It involves major changes to the code and enhanced functionality including full support for DirectX 11, HTTP/2, MSE/DASH, and ES6 (JavaScript) enhancements.[27] XUL and XPCOM based add-ons will continue to be supported, but Jetpack add-on support is to be dropped.[27] A release date has not yet been announced.


Pale Moon for Android was first released on August 3, 2014 as an APK on Pale Moon's own servers, beginning as version 24.7.1.[28] Version 24.7.2 could be downloaded from either the Google Play store or the Pale Moon servers.[29] Although Pale Moon originally supported all devices running Gingerbread (2.3) or later, the developer announced on November 7, 2014 that the minimum requirement would be Android 4.0 for the future versions.[30]

Pale Moon supports mobile Firefox extensions, but Firefox does not support mobile Pale Moon extensions. Pale Moon also uses Pale Moon Sync instead of Firefox Sync.[31] The application is built upon the Gecko source code for the desktop version.[32]

On April 16, 2015 the Pale Moon lead developer announced (via the Pale Moon forums) that he was considering abandoning development of Pale Moon for Android.[33] On May 8, 2015 it was officially announced that version 25.4.1 of Pale Moon for Android would be the last version developed by M.C. Straver,[34][35] but he was hoping that members of the Pale Moon community would pick up the project and allow it to move forward. To this point, no developers have stepped forward in an effort to further develop the Android version of Pale Moon. As a result, only security, stability and usability updates of Pale Moon for Android will be made going forward.

Current version of Pale Moon for Android is 25.9.5.


As of 2015, Pale Moon is in development for macOS.[36]


Like Firefox, Pale Moon's source code is released under the Mozilla Public License 2.0 except for parts relating to branding; likewise, officially branded Pale Moon binaries may be redistributed only under certain conditions to ensure quality.[7] The project's name and logo are trademarked and copyrighted by M.C. Straver, and cannot be used in e.g. third-party Firefox builds or other related products without the author's prior permission.[37][38]


  1. ^ "Pale Moon Release Notes". Pale Moon. 2016-09-28. Retrieved 2016-09-28. 
  2. ^ "Known issues in Alpha2". Moonchild Productions. 2016-07-28. Retrieved 2016-08-06. 
  3. ^ "Pale Moon 26.5.0 for Mac". Retrieved September 30, 2016. 
  4. ^ "Pale Moon for Android™". Retrieved September 30, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Minimum system Requirements at Home Page". Retrieved 2015-02-10. 
  6. ^ "Pale Moon language packs". Moonchild Productions. Retrieved 27 July 2015. 
  7. ^ a b "Pale Moon redistribution", Official website, retrieved 2012-02-16 
  8. ^ Snyder, Bill (2012-01-10), "Pale Moon: The Fastest Browser You've Never Heard Of", Consumer Tech Radar, CIO Blogs, retrieved 2012-02-16 
  9. ^ "Pale Moon: Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)". Moonchild Productions. Why do some add-ons not work (properly) with Pale Moon?. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "Pale Moon future roadmap". Pale Moon. 2016-05-09. Retrieved 2016-06-08. 
  11. ^ Kev Needham (2015-08-21). "The Future of Developing Firefox Add-ons". Retrieved 2015-09-07. 
  12. ^ "Browser Pale Moon Integrates New Personal Start Page" (Press release). Amsterdam: PRWeb. February 11, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Adblock Latitude". 
  14. ^ Firefox Optimized for Windows – Pale Moon Custom Built Browser, TECK.IN, 2011-04-08, retrieved 2012-02-16 
  15. ^ Wilson, Mark (2011-04-06), "Pale Moon 4: Firefox's leaner, meaner twin – and, whoa is it fast", betanews, retrieved 2012-02-16 
  16. ^ "Build Pale Moon for Linux yourself". Retrieved 2016-02-11. 
  17. ^ "Pale Moon forum". 
  18. ^ Pale Moon – Release Notes, retrieved 2012-06-01 
  19. ^ "About the Pale Moon layout in version 4 and later", Official website, retrieved 2012-02-16 [non-primary source needed]
  20. ^ "Pale Moon: AthlonXP", Official website, retrieved 2012-02-23 [non-primary source needed]
  21. ^ "Pale Moon forum". 
  22. ^ Moonchild. "End of Windows XP support in Pale Moon". 
  23. ^ "Pale Moon: The Web Browser Made For You", eCloudBuzz, 17 March 2015.
  24. ^ Moonchild. "Pale Moon Atom/WinXP builds". 
  25. ^ "Pale Moon forum". 
  26. ^ "Pale Moon "Tycho" alpha/beta". 
  27. ^ a b "The Future of Pale Moon". 
  28. ^ "Pale Moon for Android 24.7.1". August 3, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Pale Moon for Android 24.7.2". September 11, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Pale Moon forum". 
  31. ^ Moonchild. "Pale Moon Sync". 
  32. ^ "Pale Moon forum". 
  33. ^ "Pale Moon forum". 
  34. ^ "Pale Moon forum". 
  35. ^ Moonchild. "Pale Moon for Android". 
  36. ^ "Pale Moon for Mac OSX". Moonchild Productions. Retrieved March 25, 2015. 
  37. ^ "Pale Moon: Technical Details", Official website, retrieved 2012-02-16 
  38. ^ Moonchild. "Pale Moon branding information". 

External links[edit]