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I have the same problem with respect to setting the homepage. It occured when I went into tools->options and then manually entered the homepage address...for some reason the Ok button wouldn't do anything. To set the homepage, I went to that homepage in the browser first and then clicked the "Use Current Page" button, that worked.
As far as the first problem goes...I don't know. Maybe try reinstalling it. Did you download the GTK version or was it the GTK2+XFT? I'm not sure what the difference is though...I got the GTK2+XFT version for my Mandrake 10.
It seems to me that firefox 0.9 is very buggy, although it does start up faster than 0.8. One thing that's kinda simple but drives me up the wall is the size of the toolbar buttons. Even though I have them set to small, it seems like there's a lot of wasted space around each button. Also, the new version seems to require a new settings folder called .mozilla instead of .pheonix, no big deal though.
I still think that firefox 0.9 is by far the best browser out there for linux and windows.
That won't stop me from using Firefox, of course But I'm kinda disappointed here : 0.8 worked flawlessly for me and Firefox is a semi-big download for my dial up connection... but thanks for the replies.