(Follow up to: The Firefox 3.5 fiasco)
I'd like to inform the audience that the people over at NSS, the sub-system which is responsible for the disk-trashing behavior of Firefox 3.5 (and the accompanying delays on startup) on some systems, has worked on a fix for this which appears to be scheduled for FF 3.5.1. You can read the discussion by starting here (which lands in the middle of the bug comments, but the comments above the one linked are basicly bickering comments over what to do to the symptoms instead of really fixing it at the root)
It's good to know that the NSS folks finally listen in and will use CryptGenRandom when available (it's a windows subsystem method) and will only revert to disk-based entropy collecting when CryptGenRandom isn't believed to be as solid as it is on 'modern' OS-es like Windows XP and up. I still think that MS has patched Win2k's kernel code enough to make CryptGenRandom (which is essential for the TCP stack as well) solid enough, but it's their call (IMHO, people should make choices based on evidence based arguments, but as Win2K is rather old and no longer supported by MS anyway, it's not such a big deal)
Let's see whether this patch will turn out to be as good as it looks today. I'm glad Mozilla is keen on fixing this pronto, as FF 3.0 is scheduled to be non-supported software starting in January 2010.
So what can be learn from all of this as a developer? In my opinion, the true lesson to learn here is that no-one is perfect and that it's key to keep listening to what our users experience when using the software we wrote, so problems can be solved better and choke points can be dealt with. It's all too easy to simply close the eyes and ignore problems reported by perhaps a minority of the users by cooking up excuses for not dealing with them, but that's not the solution: the problems won't go away by ignoring them, the vocal minority might actually be representing a big non-vocal group or worse: a big non-vocal groups of ex-users. That's not to say that every problem ever reported by a user should immediately be fixed: unless you have unlimited time and resources, it's practically not doable to achieve that, but we should at least try and investigate whether these reports might cover bigger problems, might affect bigger groups than a sole individual.