Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
To defend the free web, save Mozilla (psyq123.wordpress.com)
163 points by Rondom on Nov 28, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 156 comments

Firefox is not the only thing that Mozilla does that is worth supporting. Their Mozilla Research projects, like Daala, Rust and Servo, are really neat and I believe deserve support, so I don't want Mozilla to go away. It is however true that some strange decisions were made in the past year, like the forced pocket integration as well as stopping the development of Persona before it was even ready etc., but they do work on interesting stuff nonetheless and are often the only major player in W3C to be on the right side of many issues, so I still think that they deserve my donations and hopefully yours too - nothing good would come from Mozilla failing.

It's also worth remembering that Firefox WAS a research project. At the time, general consensus was that web browsers would be just a part of a suite of content-specific internet browsers: email, news, calendar, etc...

The fact that you could ditch all of that and just render web pages better and gain market share was a surprise.

No, the Mozilla suite was based on Netscape 4, the "Communicator" suite -- totally '90s.

We did Firefox as a pirate ship within Netscape and made it the lead product/project when we spun out Mozilla Foundation. See the roadmap update that Dave Hyatt and I wrote in 2003:


The Mozilla suite had become SeaMonkey and was a separate and tertiary project (after Thunderbird, after Firefox).

This was not "research" (I'm a founder of Mozilla Research along with Andreas Gal and Dave Herman, btw). This was our one and only shot at making a come-back. By 2003, the '90s suiteware craze was over.

i like mozilla but they are more concerned about bringing firefox to black boxes like iphone than open platforms like Ubuntu Phone

If I were in charge of project priorities at Mozilla I would make that same decision all day long. The potential user impact for capturing even a small percentage of iOS users would dwarf the total number of Ubuntu Phone users. I'm not saying I would be against working on an app for Ubuntu Phone, but if resources were constrained and I had to make a choice, it would be an easy decision for me.

It's an old diatribe. Pre-Firefox Mozilla poured a lot of effort in the (complex and temperamental) Linux market, with little to show for it. Firefox was very much a Windows-first project and it paid off immensely.

Mozilla walk a tight rope.

You say that like it's a bad thing?

> I think it’s a good idea to donate money to Mozilla to reduce the dependence on Yahoo

This is a fool's errand. Mozilla's revenue in 2014 was $323 million: https://static.mozilla.com/moco/en-US/pdf/Mozilla_Audited_Fi...

The sum total of the proposed public donations to Mozilla will be off by an order of magnitude or two. And there's no reason to believe that public donations will change Mozilla's bizarre course of actions such as forced Pocket integration, or lack of any U2F support.

> Mozilla's revenue in 2014 was $323 million

It's amazing that there's such a massive amount of money even for having ~10% market share and declining.

Given how many people are clamoring for something like what Firefox used to be, you'd really think someone would step in to make a really first-rate browser. One could even be forgiven for using existing engines (Webkit, Blink, V8, etc), so long as the UI were exceptional. Instead, all of the Webkit frontends are barely usable at all (Midori, Vivaldi, etc.)

The lack of serious competition in the browser market is quite unsettling.

If people want something conservative, why don't they try SeaMonkey? That's still run by Mozilla and under active development.

I've just noticed a tendency for these Firefox discussions to completely ignore SeaMonkey.

I like SeaMonkey a lot, but I'm quite worried about its long-term health. They've had a lot of trouble building new releases lately.

It also takes a lot of work (not just userchrome.css hacks, but outright extracting omni.ja(r) [and its intentionally corrupt header that prevents most tools from being able to extract it], hacking at the XUL layout, etc) to make it look even remotely like it belongs in 2015 (the default is right out of 1995.)

And then there's quite a few serious limitations. The cookie manager is all but impossible to use, there is no web inspector (required to use Adblock well these days), no network debugger tools (great for writing/debugging web servers), fullscreen controls don't work at all, etc.

That said, SeaMonkey's probably my best shot going forward. I keep trying to switch to Chrome, but it's just so darned inflexible.

I have no idea what you're on about with what decade it looks like it belongs in.

Cookie manager works fine for me.

For the development stuff, I use Firebug.

They have about 15%, and that's 15% of a huge market: every single person with an Internet access uses a web browser. That's about 3 billion people last time I checked.

15% of 3 billion is still 450 million, which is a lot of users.

In addition, a web browser is pretty easy to monetize because it's the entry point for the web. The default search engine has the lion share but there are other revenue streams (like non-default search engine, for ex. Amazon, the unfamous pocket button...)

From the number you said, they're monetizing less than $1 per user per year, and actually I think it's a bit low. It may be due to them not monetizing on European users where they have a strong market share (about 22%).

> The lack of serious competition in the browser market is quite unsettling.

Is there any major corner of software with competition as healthy as the browser market?

>The lack of serious competition in the browser market is quite unsettling.

A browser is just the most complicated piece of software that there is.

The rendering backend and Javascript portion, absolutely. The total lines of code for all of Firefox (Gecko, Spidermonkey, etc) rivals the Linux kernel.

But I fail to see why we can't have a full-featured browser front-end that uses Webkit, V8, etc as libraries. We have a lot of these projects, but they are always very spartan on feature-set, portability, extensibility, etc. It's almost always a team of 1-5 hobbyists, instead of a serious team of full-time employees. At $30m per 1% of the market, there's a whole lot of money to be made.

Just make it look like a native app on each major OS (Windows, OSX, Linux, BSD), let me move all the toolbar buttons around, let me put my tabs where I want them, let me load my ad blocker and script injector, don't spy on me, don't pack it full of adware, and I'm a happy camper.

There have been companies that tried to commercialize rebranded Chromium: RockMelt comes to mind. They did not succeed.

The reason, to my mind, is simple: unless your underlying technology is better, there's little reason why users should choose your fork over the engine's official skin, which is always going to have better integration, will be first to get new features, gets security updates first, etc.

For ~$30M per 1% share of the browser market, I'm surprised that:

1) There aren't more competitors 2) A subgroup of them hasn't agreed to a conformant subset of HTML/Javascript/CSS and stuck to it

When one of your competitors (Google) controls a bunch of the most widely-visited web properties (Google Search, Gmail, YouTube), it's pretty hard to not implement the things they want to use there.

Donations to Mozilla don't fund Firefox development, they go to the non-profit foundation, which uses the money for things like open news, open science, policy work, etc.

If you have enough steady donation you can close Mozilla Corp which was created initially to handle business contracts with Google and a few other early business partners. Although Mozilla has many contributors, most of the bulk works are still completed by full time employees.

I believe Wikipedia runs entirely off as a Foundation, but I think they have attracted enough fund to support development and operation.

Perhaps it's easier for the general public to see the value in Wikipedia. The convenience, breadth, and availability of this resource as a repository of knowledge have never been rivaled. That's simply not the case with browsers. In recent memory, there have always been options, albeit meager at times, so the perceived cost of losing one browser may be significantly less.

EDIT: Typo

> Mozilla's revenue in 2014 was $323 million

In other words, if every Firefox user paid $1/year, donations would more than surpass the amount that Mozilla makes from Yahoo.

I don't think every user is going to pay $1, no, but just to put that into perspective, it's not a prohibitive sum of money.

EDIT $1, not $5: https://blog.mozilla.org/press/ataglance/

Wikipedia, with their incredibly visible donation campaigns and ubiquitous user base, raised some $75 millions last year and $52M the year before.

Assuming that every user would donate is wildly off-target. I'm sure Mozilla could raise respectable numbers too, but I'm not convinced this is what we should focus on to get things to change.

> Assuming that every user would donate is wildly off-target

I'm not sure what point you're refuting, since the original post says:

> I don't think every user is going to pay $1

The comparison is an illustration of the average donation necessary per user, not a prediction that every user will donate the mean amount.

My point is that it is, in fact, a prohibitive sum of money. I'm arguing that realistically, if Firefox were to make a donation drive, it would be nowhere near what they currently make from Yahoo, the Wikipedia figure gives a pretty real sense of scale in my opinion.

> the Wikipedia figure gives a pretty real sense of scale in my opinion.

As noted below, Wikipedia raises that amount because that's what they need. They could easily raise more if they wanted or needed to.

Mozilla already does have a donation drive; the question we're discussing is whether it would be beneficial (and practical) for Firefox to shift its business model to rely more heavily on user donations.

Currently, Mozilla does not raise more because they don't need to - it's not their primary source of funding, and so they're not as aggressive with their donation campaign as they could be.

Wikipedia could raise more if they tuned up the rate that banner is showing. They don't because they have more than enough.

They could also tune up the rate if they turned the site into a pay-for-view site. What's your point again?

It is.

As a comparison, the EFF received only $13 million in annual donations according to their last annual report: https://www.eff.org/document/fiscal-year-2013-14-audited-fin...

> As a comparison, the EFF received only $13 million in annual donations

The EFF is hardly a relevant comparison. Most Firefox users have no idea what the EFF is, but most Firefox users do know what Firefox is. (And even if they don't, and just know Firefox as "the Internet", as some users don't understand what a browser is, it's still a lot easier to tell them what Firefox is and why it's important than to explain to them the work the EFF does and why that's important.

I am not speculating here; I am speaking as someone who donates to both Mozilla and the EFF and reminds his non-tech friends and family each December to do the same.

The challenge with getting a critical mass of Firefox users to donate is not in convincing users that their web browser is worth ~10¢/month, but in the friction required to get them to make a payment the first time[1].

[1] (This is the exact challenge that basically every non-profit ever has faced with recurring donations. Some are better at solving it than others.)

Normal people do not care about the EFF and have no idea what it is. What EFF products does your grandma use?

How much does Wikipedia (something normal people actually care about) raise?

$45 million in donations and contributions over the 2012-2013 fiscal year. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ce/Wmf_AR12...

(That's the Wikimedia Foundation and does not include the local chapters such as Wikimédia France.)

For an American, no. $5 USD is nearly 100 Moldovan Lei. In other countries, it can amount to 2 ~ 3 days worth of food.

Thanks for the link. It would have never occurred to me than Mozilla spends $320M a year.

Have you seen their new San Francisco headquarters, on the waterfront at the Bay Bridge?[1] Wow. What a location. Who gets the corner office?

[1] https://www.google.com/maps/@37.7895755,-122.3886589,3a,75y,...

WoW right on the Embarcadero, that can't be cheap!

On a different note .. devoted Mozilla web browser user here since 2003. I forget what it was called prior to Firefox.

Phoenix, then Firebird.

(user since Phoenix 0.1 here :)

Netscape Communicator / Navigator. ;)

No, user of firefox since. I was using Netscape in '89 or so but that doesn't count.


That appears to account for 210k of the 320k[0]. I wonder how it compares with similarly sized enterprises (~1000 employees).

[0] I'm interpreting "software development" as "salaries".

Note that "salaries" would include some of the marketing budget too, right?

On the other hand, "software development" probably includes non-salary costs like offices, hardware, payroll taxes, and whatnot.

Anyway, in terms of comparisons to other companies the usual estimates I've seen put the cost of an employee to the employer at somewhere around 2x salary. So employing 500 good software developers will probably run you at least $100 million. If they're mostly in the Bay Area, probably a good bit more; even starting salaries there are over $100k for strong just-out-of-college hires last I checked.

Unpopular opinion, but why should it be the community's burden to save a company that takes in over $300m in revenue (and apparently spends every bit of it) each year and, let's be real, hasn't managed to keep up or evolve along with the web? Why is it up to us to save them if they haven't really tried to save themselves?

I love Mozilla -- as a concept -- and I want to live in a world where Mozilla and its products still exist. But I can't remember the last time I used Firefox. And yes, it's partially because I'm a Mac user, but it's also because I can't choose ideals over a superior product.

That Mozilla languished on the desktop is sad, but almost understandable. IE languished too. (Microsoft was smart enough to replace it, even if the replacement did come years after it should have), but to languish on mobile is just inexcusable.

Firefox Phone was a project that could have worked for certain markets for a very brief period of time, but they had to know they started too late and were going after an ever-shrinking market when they started.

Sure, it would have been great for HTML5 to win over apps. It didn't happen. It's likely never going to happen (not until the next mobile paradigm shift happens anyway).

But instead of focusing on building the ultimate browser -- desktop or mobile -- I don't know what Mozilla did. I really don't.

But now they are struggling. And it puts the good work they do in jeopardy. And that's sad. But since when is it my responsibility (or yours) to subsidize a company with a $300m annual run rate who can't help itself. A company with very opaque goals and no roadmap.

I'm all for saving Mozilla but it needs to show me it wants to be saved.

I don't understand the web developer tools of Firefox. I've forced myself to use it for 2 days, I don't find my way around. Even IE is better now. For the rest FF is pretty equal to Chrome, so if they improve the developer tools they can count me back.

Google wasn't fighting fair. To allow the Chrome team to run free advertisements on the world's most popular website and to allow them to install their browser by default on the world's most popular mobile operating system, well, it's jus dirty. You could advertise IE6 that way and get significant adoption.

I agree that being the default is an unfair advantage, but there is a grey zone for sure. Most applications we use have defaults of some sort, so what cutoff should we use to determine the unfair ones consistently?


Yep. Firefox is still a great browser. I'm looking toward the Servo-based version.

I really try my best to stick with Mozilla, but their changes in the last year or two have been more then dissatisfying. Like the author said, they have added completely unnecessary things and reduced the customization ability in a several occurrences.

I have written a rant about Mozilla a couple of months ago that I still think is relevant: https://blog.r3bl.me/en/mozilla-dissatisfaction/

Although I'm all up for supporting free and open source software, the situation with Mozilla has became shady enough that I just want to move away from it. Unfortunately, I have nowhere to go. Midori is still not completely usable, I just can't convince myself to switch to Chrome or Chromium because I genuinely feel uncomfortable using them, IE/Edge are only available on Windows so they're practically useless to me, Firefox forks are really nothing groundbreaking, Vivaldi is not open source...

That's why I am switching to ESR branch of Firefox: to only have to deal with the new crap Mozilla introduces, once a year. I think I'll also need to create a script to run after installation or something like that, which will set the defaults right for me. It is a good idea for Ubuntu and some other programs too, anyway.

From your rant: Mozilla doesn't actually make money from integrating Pocket with Firefox.

Yup, I'm aware of that now, but you can't blame me for thinking that it did a few months back.

This is the most unbelievable and I heard it before: when an open source software starts including proprietary bloatware like that, one might think there is money involved...

> including proprietary bloatware like that

No matter how many times it's disproven, this meme just never ends, does it?

The Pocket client code is free and open source, just like Firefox itself[0]. If the user uses the Pocket feature, that code makes HTTP requests to another server, which runs a mixture of FOSS and proprietary code. If the user does not use the Pocket feature, it does not.

Remember that we are talking about a web browser, the primary function of which is to do exactly that: make HTTP requests to another server that may be running proprietary code[1].

[0] Pocket's client is arguably more free than Firefox is, if we look at the fact that Iceweasel is distributed with the Pocket logo included whereas Debian cannot include the Firefox logo for its patched builds.

[1] Unless you only use your browser for accessing http://fsf.org, but at that point you're probably using Lynx or Seamonkey anyway.

>Remember that we are talking about a web browser, the primary function of which is to do exactly that: make HTTP requests to another server that may be running proprietary code[1]. //

So IYO Firefox should modify the UI to add a button to integrate every website?

Adding a product logo for another (presumably for profit) company in a major browser is probably worth millions of dollars as past of a marketing effort - doing it for free is even more strange.

Presumably as an open organisation Mozilla have a meeting report somewhere detailing the people who made the decision and their rationale?

Adding company logos by dictat to the browser when there's a perfectly good addon system needs a clear argument from a company that supposedly champions freedom in software. They also re-added the logo on the next release IIRC (or was that the chat to debacle).

> Adding a product logo for another (presumably for profit) company in a major browser is probably worth millions of dollars as past of a marketing effort - doing it for free is even more strange

Saying "no money changed hands" does not make it any better. If anything, it makes the decision for Pocket integration by Mozilla less Lawful Evil and more Chaotic Evil[1], which is scarier.

Edit: clarified that I'm referring to the decision, not Mozilla itself

1. I don't think Mozilla is evil, but the alignment system is my best explanation of my understanding of the bizarre decision

I think you're misguided in defending Pocket by focusing an implementation details. You're ignoring that user data and freedom is also at the heart of the discussion. Mozilla put Pocket right in front of their users and actively encouraged them to use a US-based, proprietary service.

> The Pocket client code is free and open source

That's meaningless in the bigger picture. Defaults are powerful. Mozilla added a feature to Firefox (arguably bloat by making the UI more complex) which encouraged their users to give their data to a third party company, one not bound by Mozilla's goals of openness, transparency and freedom. The alternative was to wait and build a similar feature into Firefox Synx which offers true user freedom (self hosting) and really respects freedom (no data harvesting). See the discussion in the bugtracker. That's why users like me disagree with the Pocket decision. The client code is irrelevant.

"If the user uses the Pocket feature, that code makes HTTP requests to another server, which runs a mixture of FOSS and proprietary code"

I want the code to take a piece of HTML source, and extract only the meaningful text body from it. Show me the code that does this for me.

No? It's not open source then, it's proprietary. That's the only meaningful code.

The client code of Pocket != client code of Firefox. Firefox is a web browser - it's client is where the value is. Pocket's browser (like Google's code for it's homepage, and Apple's code for Siri's sleek interface) is 1% the value of Pocket.

> No matter how many times it's disproven, this meme just never ends, does it?

I can tell you from personal experience that trivial things like facts or proof have no bearing on popular misconceptions, and trying to change the narrative is unrewarding at best, and counterproductive at worst. Tilting at windmills, and all that.

There's a reason nobody believe there is no money exchanging hands: if there is no profit for Mozilla in including Pocket, then there is no explanation as to why it is included. It's useless bloatware. I could "understand" if Mozilla was selling us out and being paid to do this. If they are not, nobody is benefiting, and it should be removed.

Even if there is no actual money being funnelled to Mozilla itself, that does not mean there isn't a financial kickback behind the scenes to upper executives that is not on the books, or other incentives not being handed over in cold cash.

Just because the Mozilla Foundation itself is a non-profit, does not mean that the people at the top of the food chain are not the same scummy types you find in any for-profit corporation.

"if there is no profit for Mozilla in including Pocket, then there is no explanation as to why it is included."

That's clearly wrong. After all, I can think of at least one big reason right off the top of my head. For example, Pocket may well share a set of political priorities that, as noted elsewhere on this thread, get frequently trampled in forums like the W3C.

In other words, as long as your smart enough to recognize that alliances can be formed for non-monetary reasons, it's easy to imagine several other reasons for Mozilla's choice.

That doesn't mean those reasons are correct. It just means that insisting that money is the only possible explanation is both demonstrably wrong and—in the absence of any real evidence to the contrary—slanderous in effect.

If you have evidence, fine. But if all you have to offer is nasty speculation based on shoddy reasoning, don't be surprised when you get downvoted judiciously.

> that does not mean there isn't a financial kickback behind the scenes to upper executives that is not on the books

This is a very serious accusation to make, especially without tangible (as opposed to circumstantial) evidence.

Have you ever worked closely with upper management? I have personally worked with 3 CTO's at medium-to-large companies who have taken advantage of external relationships with partners to personally profit. I mean cash and benefits deposited in their individual hands, not the company's coffers. It's amazing how far executives in power will go to pad their pockets with extra dollars. Perhaps more incredible is how much you observe when you gain the trust of such people - I've never really understood why I find myself in a position to see these events taking place.

So yes, my personal observations over the years have made me extremely critical of any "business deal" wherein there is supposedly no "deal".

That just means that those 3 examples made you cynical. It doesn't mean that ALL upper management is corrupted.

And as others pointed our, their financial statements are public.


Their financial statements are public, they can't just hide the money coming in.

If Mozilla would bring back useful Firefox customization options that were removed for no good reason, it would be great... maybe they are getting like Google and have to many engineers... a budget cut could help with that. But for the record I still use Firefox as I think that it is still the best option.

I heared from several Mozilla volunteers that it's not anymore the geek-friendly organisation it once was, but a corporate behemoth run by men in suits.

After they pushed out Brendan Eich, there's no hope for change. Rest in peace, Mozilla.

Check out their GlassDoor reviews if you need any further proof. [1] Lack of focus is the biggest concern. It's a shame, really.

1: https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Mozilla-Reviews-E19129.htm (access with Google referrer to get all the reviews)

The most interesting part about the Glassdoor reviews is the trend over time.[1]

Overall Ratings Trend

  4.0 Dec 2013
  3.7 Jun 2014
  2.9 Dec 2014
  3.3 Jun 2015
  3.2 Overall

  2.7 Senior Management
  3.2 Career Opportunities
  3.5 Culture & Values
  3.9 Comp & Benefits
  3.9 Work/Life Balance

  43% Positive Business Outlook
  55% Recommend to a friend
  62% CEO Approval
The other part of the story is reflected in the number of jobs open: 39 (not counting the 16 internships).[2]

[1] https://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Mozilla-Reviews-E19129.htm...

[2] https://careers.mozilla.org/listings/

It shouldn't be totally dismissed, but GlassDoor suffers from the same disease of all review systems: a pissed off engineer is far more likely to write a negative review to warn others and/or stick it to their former employer than a happy one would think to go and write a positive review.

(For a sample size of one: I'm happy at my current employer and couldn't possibly be bothered to go put a rating for them on glassdoor. Moreover I find sites like that are often more in the parasitic class of the internet anyways, so not sure I want to donate my time and information to help them prosper in the first place.)

You're slightly better off than with a random internet poll in that the pollee is at least claiming to have first hand information on the subject they're answering questions about, but it's still hopelessly biased and you shouldn't even try to reason about trends or comparisons from that data. Better to take individual statements from the testimonies on there (with a huge grain of salt) and leave it at that.

GlassDoor shuts off your access to the site if you don't provide it a review and salary information. (Unless you're a cheater and pretend to have come across it through a Google search, like myself.) In this way, it is less likely that GlassDoor experiences this problem compared to the average review system; anyone who uses it must participate, not just angry people.

I thought about donating once, but not after that and all the other employee harassment and sjw bigotry.

The fact that Mozilla seems to rile opponents of social justice makes me think of donating to them.

Agreed. They annoy all the types of people that I'd much rather not work with, and I honestly believe that Mozilla is better off without them. I don't care how irreplaceable they think they are. Nobody's irreplaceable, and there is plenty of talent and skill out there that isn't associated with such noxious people.

Mozilla's hardly alone here. Plenty of other open source communities are like that. It's just they get the most flak, for some reason.

No organization can simultaneously satisfy SJW strictures and be good at its original mission. What's happened to Mozilla is very sad, because its nominal mission is one I believe in too.

Eich chose to step down due to community pressure; the board never tried to push him out. Mozilla was hemorrhaging users due to completely ignoring their concerns for years before that bigot left.

You have no idea why I stepped down, or about anything else that went on behind closed doors.

People I trust at Mozilla told me there was no user hemorrhage either while I was CEO or (due to the #Nozilla counter-action) immediately after I left.

From statcounter and netmarketshare (both not great as reliable measures; each uses different methods), anyone can see that user attrition was ongoing and worsened in the last two years, with a little temporary recovery when Yahoo! started distributing and promoting Firefox (this recovery seems to have ended). But there are too many confounders that could be to blame, including Flash-related problems, the lack of process-separation (increasingly required by Google web apps), and Australis.

Calling me a name because you assume things about me not in evidence simply makes you look like the only one here who hates out-group members because they don't conform to your in-group. Save it.

> You have no idea why I stepped down, or about anything else that went on behind closed doors.

I'm going off what Mozilla has said publicly: "Brendan was not fired and was not asked by the Board to resign. Brendan voluntarily submitted his resignation. The Board acted in response by inviting him to remain at Mozilla in another C-level position. Brendan declined that offer. The Board respects his decision."

Source: https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2014/04/05/faq-on-ceo-resignat...

You're absolutely right that I have no idea what happened behind closed doors. If you'd like to speak to that, I'd be very interested in listening. What you've said in this thread doesn't contradict anything I've said about you voluntarily resigning.

> Calling me a name because you assume things about me

What is there to assume? You donated money to a group that was formed for the sole purpose of taking rights away from people. Rights that you enjoy, rights that caused harm to no one, rights that had no effect on your life otherwise. There's nothing at all ambiguous about what you did. It was an objectively terrible thing to do. I cried on November 2008. That was one of the hardest months of my life, and I don't even live in California. I can't imagine how much harder it was for all the families trapped in limbo as the courts decided whether to dissolve their marriages.

A bigot is "a person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own." You don't like gays marrying? I don't even care, good for you. But what you did is even worse than that: you took action to legally prevent them from enjoying the same rights you have.

I'm sorry if you don't like the word, but you donated that money, and I didn't write the dictionary. I hope one day you'll come to understand what you've done and apologize, but it's been seven years, so I'm not holding my breath.

And the "intolerant of intolerance" response is nonsense designed to do nothing more than shut down debate.

> Save it.

I'd love to. On this issue, you lost. Marriage equality is the law of the land, and you can't vote our rights away this time.

Personally, I'd like nothing more than to not hear your name again. But every article on Mozilla at HN brings you up again and again. (And of course, we're also stuck with Javascript.)

Parroting the FAQ shows bad conscience. Obviously it is not a complete account.

I am absolutely right about stuff that was inside the non-disclosure firewall and none of your business -- good to read you acknowledge that (finally!).

If we don't agree on rights, duties, definitions or reasons for long-standing laws, there is no point in arguing. Socrates said something like that. But for the record you are woefully ignorant of California law and its recent history, in particular D.P. law and why it was passed and amended. Anyway, no marriage was in limbo, as then-AG Brown stated in mid-2008 what every first-year law student knows: ex-post facto laws are unconstitutional.

If it's all about feelings, there's no point in arguing. My stance, along with that of ~7M others, hurt your feelings, and I'm the proxy for all those voters (many of whom have not changed their views). So be it.

Finally, I never wrote anything about "intolerant of intolerance", of course. But I am enjoying your whinging about JavaScript. Ta!

Three of them resigned when Brendan joined the board. To say that the board never tried to push him out sort of glosses over that point.

No, the three board members resigned before I was appointed. They did not resign to try to push me out, since I was not "in" yet. Two of them did not resign because of anything about me in particular.

One (Ellen Siminoff) had planned to leave at the end of 2013, and since she wasn't staying, she didn't want to vote to appoint me only to depart right after voting. That was a clean situation.

I'm bound by non-disclosure not to comment on the other two cases, but this much I'll say based on public info disclosed by others: John Lilly left the board rather than appoint me, as he implied with some tweets at the time. His leaving had nothing to do with Prop 8; he never mentioned it.

Here's what I think happened in the press: Alistair Barr of the WSJ was working on a story about Mozilla being in trouble because Google would not renew its search deal for Firefox, which was due to expire later in 2014 (a highly unlikely claim, but a good link-bait thesis); and also because Mozilla had run for over a year without a new permanent CEO since Gary Kovacs left (true, and a cause for concern among many).

Barr's story was under construction at least as early as February 2014, and it got hot and neared publication later in March as board members resigned. Those of us at high levels at Mozilla believed someone at or near board level who had recently left the company was sending rumors to Barr.

This WSJ story broke on March 28th, and it was summarized at that end of my first week as CEO as "board members resigned a week ago", but then one more week passed, and the Prop 8 story grew bigger due to okcupid, and the "week ago" became bogusly rewritten ("retconned") in many online accounts and comment threads as "three board members resigned over Prop 8".

That never happened. No board members resigned over Prop 8. Mozilla's FAQ on the whole affair says this plainly, and it's accurate on this point.

In that case I stand corrected and obviously got my facts very wrong. I appreciate you clarifying this matter!

They all said they didn't resign because of Eich. Sure, they could have been lying. But I'd rather not get into divining intentions and back room discussions none of us were privy to.

I'm all for freedom of speech and quite opposed to the recent college campus behavior of throwing huge fits over anything remotely politically incorrect. Anyone is free to think whatever they want about my marriage and that of others, but the law should always treat people equally. When Eich donated money (and thus most certainly voted) to literally strip existing equal rights away from a minority, it ceased to be about just speech and opinion, and instead became something quite vindictive and nasty.

I'm not going to get into whether it was right to pressure a company over a certain number of employees and/or when they reach a certain position in the company; I'm just going to say that I don't care for Eich's donation to Prop 8 (nor for his design of Javascript, but that's a separate discussion.)

> it ceased to be about just speech and opinion, and instead became something quite vindictive and nasty.

A few points to ponder (from a non-American):

1. It was a bad precedent. How would you feel about pro-lifers hounding a CEO out because of a donation?

2. His opinion is/was not extreme or unusual. About half of the American population share his views.

3. Is it reasonable to expect the full-range personal of views (and voting patterns) of a CEO to be agreeable to every employee?

My personal take is that the episode showed that no one has spine at Mozilla. Around the same time, people were raising concerns about Condoleezza Rice being on Dropbox's board; Dropbox's response was "we value her, she's not going anywhere" - and that was the end of it.

I shouldn't have to say this, since what I said should stand on it's own merit: but I disagree with Eich's politics. However I don't think that it had any bearing of his capability and execution as a CEO. If my boss is professional & courteous when dealing with me, I couldn't care less if he were a KKK Grand Dragon.

> How would you feel about pro-lifers hounding a CEO out because of a donation?

This is difficult to compare. A donation to keep an existing right versus a donation to take an existing right away. For these to compare, it would have to be a donation toward a proposition that stripped women of the right not to have an abortion, which is nonsensical.

> His opinion is/was not extreme or unusual.

That's a horrible justification. There used to be majority support for slavery, segregation, anti-miscegenation, etc.

> Is it reasonable to expect the full-range personal of views (and voting patterns) of a CEO to be agreeable to every employee?

Like I said, I didn't want to get into who should be able to say what when. But if it's free speech for Eich to make that donation, then it's definitely free speech for people to protest against him for making it as well. Again, no one forced him out. He resigned voluntarily. The people complaining held zero power in Mozilla.

> If my boss is professional & courteous when dealing with me, I couldn't care less if he were a KKK Grand Dragon.

Even if you were a black employee? I'm not sure I could be so magnanimous, but kudos to you for that :D

FYI: I am a black employee, but as I said, not American. It goes without saying that I'm speaking only for myself. YMMV

Really? Where did they say that? I read they couldn't comment because they weren't authorised to say anything. And no less than the New Yorker said "the company [Mozilla] claimed, rather implausibly, that the resignations were unrelated to the C.E.O. search." [1]

John Lilly has since given statements that he resigned because of Eich's stance of Proposition 8. [2]

1. http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/how-mozilla-lost-...

2. https://mobile.twitter.com/johnolilly/status/451816637113438...

> John Lilly has since given statements that he resigned because of Eich's stance of Proposition 8.

The tweets you link to do not say Lilly resigned because of Eich's stance on Prop 8. Lilly said, "this was not about political values but about leadership when confronted with a difficult conversation."

That's dissembling. The "difficult conversation" was about Prop 8 and Brendan Eich's views on gay marriage.

No, John Lilly did not mention Prop 8 while on the Mozilla board, or resign over anything to do with it. He didn't see it coming either.

I stand corrected then! Thanks Brendan.

Hounding Eich out of his job was bad for Mozilla. They lost my support and that of many others who were repelled by the political correctness slant of the organization. Those board members who resigned -- good riddance. The gay employee or employees who said they couldn't work for him -- go work somewhere else. Didn't Obama also say in 2008, before his views "evolved", that marriage = man + woman? Didn't the proposition pass, meaning a majority of California voters agreed with Eich and Obama?

Partisan politics and social justice causes have no place in a technology organization. Obviously that doesn't mean, injustice is OK. But freedom of speech and freedom to hold one's own views on a subject without fear of being fired or pressured to quit should be held sacred. Bye, Mozilla.

Thanks for your support. One small corrective point that I think is important:

I know of no LGBT employees who worked for me and said they couldn't keep working for me. I had conspicuous support from some really good LGBT-identifying folks (who've all since left, if I'm not mistaken).

The Mozilla Foundation (not Corporation) employees who tweeted asking me to resign in the first week (on March 27, 2014) never worked for me. I don't know and don't care who among them identified as LGBT or anything. They too seem to have mostly left.

I was at Mozilla from founding onward for over 16 years, by the way.

This idea that certain political positions are about "rights", so we can't talk about them, vote against them, or donate to organizations opposing them, is sickening.

Imagine your being ousted from your job for donating to the EFF, because the EFF supports encryption and is used by terrorists? Your donation to the EFF is literally killing babies.

Can't you see you're abusing the language of equal rights to demonize your political opponents? Donating to a mainstream cause is a perfectly normal thing to do. I hope that society never moves against any of your current positions and retrospectively calls you a monster.

> so we can't talk about them

You're absolutely perfectly fine talking about them. Anyone who disagrees doesn't value the freedom of speech. (And sadly, that's becoming quite common on college campuses these days. But I don't align myself with them.)

> vote against them, or donate to organizations opposing them, is sickening.

Voting to take rights away from consenting adults because you don't agree with their lifestyles is sickening.

I'm not sure how I'd feel about a donation to an organization opposing rights in general. But this was specifically targeted toward persuading voters (with shady, misleading and outright false advertisements) to vote to take away rights. Not quite the same as just saying "we oppose this."

This crossed the boundary from speech and became action. A very harmful action that demeaned 5-10% of the population.

> Imagine your being ousted from your job for donating to the EFF

False equivalence. The EFF isn't lobbying to strip a minority of their pre-existing rights, because "eww" or "religion."

Further, he wasn't ousted from his job. People complained, so he chose to resign. If it's freedom of speech for Eich to make that donation, then it's freedom of speech for people to protest that donation. You can't eat your cake and have it too.

> Donating to a mainstream cause is a perfectly normal thing to do.

Majority support does not justify what is right.

> I hope that society never moves against any of your current positions and retrospectively calls you a monster.

I've gotten into plenty of trouble and lost supporters over my positions against political correctness. I don't think I'll ever be in a position as powerful as CEO, though.

Still, I hope no one ever pesters me to resign from my job. However, I would never, ever vote to take rights away from a group of people I disliked, unless there were lack of consent issues (eg peodphilia) involved. So I don't believe I'll ever be in the same exact position as Eich.

Eich was hounded out of his job. It's absolutely clear from the sequence of events. You can argue that he quit his job to end the controversy, but that amounts to the same thing.

In 2008, Eich's was the mainstream view. Even Barack Obama stated in 2008 that he believed marriage should be between a man and a woman.

It's ridiculous that someone should be considered an unacceptable type of person to be CEO because he donated $1,000 to a successful, mainstream proposition that passed, in a state of 35 million people, on an issue that Obama also agreed with! Nor did the bill "take away rights". Did all those people who quit the board or said nasty things about Brendan Eich vote for McCain-Palin in the 2008 elections? Highly doubtful.

Mr. Eich in fact stated that his personal views would not color his performance in a leadership position, and that he had nothing against homosexuality. When it became clear that he could not shake the controversy, he chose the high moral ground of resigning.

Losing this man, the inventor of Javascript and a key player at Mozilla.org for many years, was a real blow to the organization. It's never a good idea to politicize a technology organization whose mission is to create free and open tools for everyone, to be used all over the world by all sorts of people.

> Eich was hounded out of his job. It's absolutely clear from the sequence of events.

Oh, absolutely. No question. If not for the outrage, he wouldn't have resigned. My point is that he could have stayed on if he wanted to. They may have lost ~10% of their userbase, but they're hemorrhaging users at such an alarming rate these days that it'd hardly be a blip on the radar.

What is your alternative? Why is it free speech for Eich to donate to Prop 8, but not free speech for others to decry said donation? Should they have called for his job? Probably not, but as evidenced by Eich, people are allowed to say terrible things.

> In 2008, Eich's was the mainstream view.

Popular opinion is not a justification for discrimination.

The litmus test I go by is: "does it harm non-consenting living beings?", and if the answer is no, then I don't have to like it, but it's not my business to interfere.

> Even Barack Obama stated in 2008 that he believed marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Obama was for marriage equality in the '90s, but he was running for president in 2008. He knew he could lose the presidency if he said he supported it in 2008. I don't know how I feel about that, but I think I'll take it over McCain/Palin winning.

It's the same way we pretend every US president in history was a Christian. Yeah, and I have a bridge to sell you in New York.

> he chose the high moral ground of resigning.

The one thing I will give him definite praise for is his honesty: he could have easily donated $1000 to the HRC, said his views evolved, and the controversy would have vanished overnight. None of us could prove he was lying. I wish his views really had changed, and I would have forgiven him, but barring that, I respect that he's at least remained honest about all this.

> It's never a good idea to politicize a technology organization whose mission is to create free and open tools for everyone

In general, I don't like the idea of people being forced out of their jobs because of something they did in their spare time. (Especially around drug use.) I also understand that popular opinion could make the right thing to do that which would end up costing one their job. And indeed, almost no one called for his resignation prior to his promotion to CEO. I can sort of see the argument for how a CEO can represent the face of the company, but it's still a bit troubling. None of us are perfect, and a huge amount of people will protest absolutely anything you do.

But what I do know at the end of the day, is that people were absolutely justified in calling out what he did as completely unconscionable. And they had every right to boycott Firefox in response.

At least in my case, I never called for him to be fired. The damage to me was done when the board promoted him, knowing about this in advance as they did. I tried (and continue to try) to stop using Firefox, but Chrome is just so. awful. that I keep finding myself forced back. My kingdom for some real competition in the browser market.

>> The damage to me was done when the board promoted him

How was that damaging to you? Did he take your job?

Why do you constantly assume that he voted to take away rights? If you've been paying attention to what he did do in relation to same-sex couples you'd know what he has been working for years to get them equal rights. But through other means. This is hardly the same man that was portrayed in the attacks.

Your entire argument is based on a false assumption that just because he doesn't think redefining marriage is the only way to get those rights that he wants to take rights away.

There is a base assumption that anyone who disagrees with redefining marriage is unacceptably evil and wants to strip rights from a minority. This is false.

Redefining marriage is not a right, it's a tactic to give same-sex couples the same rights as married couples. Not everyone agrees with this tactic.

And guess what, the redefinition of marriage complete is now across the entire country and these people still don't have equal rights in many areas! Maybe he was on to something?

Don't assume someone is fighting against you just because he doesn't agree with a particular tactic.

"literally" in front of "strip... rights" is a red flag for b.s.


Didn't Mozilla just drop their contract with Google, saying they no longer needed that revenue? So their dependence on Yahoo was a deliberate and recent choice.

While I'm not arguing the ideal of an non-corporate support model, I am curious how it only took a few days to go from "We don't need the revenue" to "Save Mozilla."

Before the arguments were "Save Mozilla from Google" instead of "Save Mozilla from Yahoo". Spreading the reliance over multiple search vendors is at least a step in the right direction.

Firefox's deal with Yahoo (or any other search engine) is only valuable so long as Firefox has lots of users. And Firefox's market share has been dropping for years now. That's what the author is worried about.

If the global desktop share of Firefox fell from 31.64% in January 2010 to 16.53% in February 2015,[1] it represents a loss of 3.7% per year (15.11% / 49 months * 12 months / year). In theory, Firefox should reach zero market share in 3.7 years from now, just before the Yahoo deal runs out.[2]

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers#St...

[2] https://blog.mozilla.org/press/2014/11/yahoo-and-mozilla-for...

A linear rate is not very realistic here. Exponential decay would be better, but still probably completely useless as a predictive tool.

> Didn't Mozilla just drop their contract with Google, saying they no longer needed that revenue?

There was a clickbait title that just came up but the contract came up months ago and Yahoo won the bid for the US default search provider.

> Google will be a dominator and gatekeeper to the browser extension market [...] for Vivaldi and other browsers that implement the Chrome extension system and use the Chrome extension repository exclusively. This means Google alone decides which extensions get published.

This is completely untrue. Vivaldi is deciding what extensions get published by intentionally limiting themselves to Google's extension repository. There is literally nothing stopping Vivaldi from hosting their own extension repository for extensions that don't make it to Google's Chrome Web Store. They can also choose to support both repositories, so users can have access to extensions they already use in CWS, in addition to any extensions from Vivaldi's repository.

The article also states that V8 "has a real community behind it, with less control from Google" as if Blink is more strictly controlled by Google. This is false.

V8 and Blink governance are exactly the same. If you want to participate in the community, both projects have public mailing lists where anyone is allowed to put forward rational feedback and ideas regarding functionality and policy. Yes, the final word comes from Google, but there is no governance imbalance between the two projects as implied by this article.

I don't think it's untrue, maybe we're just reading it differently. The author isn't saying that Vivaldi is forced to limit themselves to Google's repository, only that because they chose to do so, Google does effectively have that control, and so Vivaldi et all aren't real alternatives.

Please note that Mozilla did not resist DRM in Web standards but they spent money on things like FirefoxOS that clearly wouldn't get anywhere. I am quite unsure if they are aligned enough with the free web ideals. I do not think more donations will change anything. At this point, the purpose of Mozilla is unclear to me. They basically make a substandard browser and follow industry hypes doing random things.

Please note that Mozilla did not resist DRM in Web standards

While they eventually gave up, they did resist it, and where the last of the major browsers to implement EME. They also provide an EME-free version of Firefox.

"You had one job"

We must "fight browser monoculture" by making Firefox the dominant browser instead of Chrome? Firefox would become "independent" if it became dependent on donations? This guy later on stresses that we must have free software engines, that we can't have Google owning most of the market. But Blink is licensed under GPL and BSD... So is Chromium IIRC.

>Currently Mozilla Firefox is a genuinely free browser, but it might not exist for long if main sponsor Yahoo! pulls the plug on their sponsorship and Mozilla can’t find a way to finance its development

There will always be a search company interested in being the default of the browser with the second largest market share.

>This guy later on stresses that we must have free software engines, that we can't have Google owning most of the market. But Blink is licensed under GPL and BSD... So is Chromium IIRC.

This doesn't mean much. Being open source is just the first required step. What teams/community contributes to a project matters too regarding it not being controlled by a single company.

If Google engineers stopped working on Blink tomorrow it wouldn't turn into some magically organic open source community project. That would take hard work, and tons of volunteers, and might not even happen.

I agree we all most stick together and support Mozilla, even if it is as something as simple as using it as our default browser. I've been a Mozilla (Netscape, etc) user since 1998 or whenever the first version came out, and I've always been a fan of what they stand for. Yes they've made a few mistakes, but nothing that can't be easily forgivable.

> "...with pages that only work properly in Google Chrome or its derivatives."

This is already well underway. Facebook's advertiser power tools will only work with Chrome.

I'm not a fan of another monopoly in the browser space, but the situation is quite different this time around. The largest being that Chrome is a branded version of Chromium, an open source project. The author is right that creating a browser from scratch is a often prohibitive amount of work at this point, but if Google stops allowing innovation or directs it in selfish ways in Chrome/Chromium, all that work is not suddenly lost to competitors. If pages only work in Chromium derivatives, then build your competing browser by refactoring Chromium. If all of the web rendering engines worked off branches of the same open source code base, I don't think you'd see many people working on the frontend crying, and nobody would be locked into a particular platform like we were with IE.

That said, I'm more interested in Mozilla's work on Servo (and Rust in general) than Firefox/Gecko. Looking at their roadmap[1], I was surprised at how soon its milestones are. If they hold to that timetable we may be seeing Firefox or a totally new browser steal first place before long, especially on mobile.

[1]: https://github.com/servo/servo/wiki/Roadmap

> If all of the web rendering engines worked off branches of the same open source code base, I don't think you'd see many people working on the frontend crying, and nobody would be locked into a particular platform like we were with IE.

> That said, I'm more interested in Mozilla's work on Servo (and Rust in general) than Firefox/Gecko.

These statements are contradictory. If you get what you want in your first paragraph, Servo won't be possible, ever.

The first not what I want, it's the future I think this article is actually predicting (as opposed to IE round two), and I'm saying it won't be such a crying shame.

Also not "possible ever" is pretty hyperbolic, considering the lock-in when IE had a monopoly was far stronger than it would be if Chrome/Blink got a monopoly. At the worst we'd have a permissively licensed reference implementation, which is a lot better than trying to be compatible with a closed source blob like IE.

Closed versus open source isn't a big deal in terms of difficulty of reverse engineering. It's relatively easy to figure out what IE does; Hixie even clean room reverse engineered IE's entire HTML parsing algorithm back in the day. Having to be bug-for-bug compatible with one engine with no sensible specification is what causes the problems.

I am all for supporting an alternative browser to the corporation-driven Chrome, Safari, and IE/Edge. Sadly, Firefox is no longer it.

I believe Mozilla has now become so totally disconnected from the values and principles that made Firefox and the like attractive to a certain set of users that it is beyond redemption.

I also believe Firefox is now so totally off the rails that it is probably beyond saving. It appears to have fundamental architectural issues that have limited development in some important areas, but instead of addressing those in recent years, there has been a string of not-entirely-popular UI changes, some high profile new features that it seems hardly anyone actually wants, and a bad and worsening loss of both flexibility and stability particularly around add-ons. This is not the browser I used to recommend, and it makes me sad.

I am now hoping that one of the forks, perhaps Pale Moon, will take over the community-driven, open-culture mantle that Mozilla once wore. I am also hoping that with Safari still running WebKit, Chrome now on Blink, and IE11 and Edge doing their own thing, there will remain sufficient need for co-operation in the browser community that we get back to something sensible in terms of standardisation and portability within the next couple of years.

Switched my main browser just last week from Firefox to Pale Moon and I couldn't be happier. It is like before firefox got off the rails. Certainly recommended.

I may be getting old, but why and how did we let web standards inflate to such an extent that only large corporations or organizations are able to build a competitive browser from scratch? There's so much money funneled into browser development these days and the results aren't entirely satisfactory for end users (DRM, security issues) and website developers alike, perhaps it's time to start over with something less bloated.

For better or worse, the answer to your question is clear if you consider the range of functionality that users now expect to be provided by any serious browser.

Browsers a few years ago had to render a page using HTML and CSS, supported some light scripting with JavaScript, allowed the inclusion of a small number of different image formats (primarily JPEG, PNG, GIF), and delegated any more serious interaction using plug-in technologies like Flash, Java, and ActiveX.

Browsers today have to render a page using somewhat larger versions of HTML and CSS, provide a professional quality language runtime for a much larger version of JS, implement a much wider selection of features and the APIs for that JS to use them, render graphical and multimedia content in various formats and allow that content to be generated or controlled in real time in addition to rendering the earlier basic images, potentially support a much wider range of functionality to adapt to different devices and interaction methods, and do all of this orders of magnitude faster to keep up with modern software architectures where a lot of the work is done client-side, and with a much greater attack surface to protect from a security perspective.

Some of these changes are "only" quantitative. For example, although the specs have evolved, the basic rules for rendering simple HTML and CSS haven't really changed that much for a long time. Some of the changes are still substantial. For example, introducing tools like flexbox has significant implications for your layout algorithms that simply weren't there before. Some of the changes are qualitative, like introducing entire new areas of functionality to support off-line use or real-time client-server communications, or providing production quality support for graphical presentation via canvas/SVG/WebGL and multimedia audio/video players, which is essential if you are trying to kill off any external plug-ins that would have been used for such things before.

> For example, introducing tools like flexbox has significant implications for your layout algorithms that simply weren't there before.

Not really. Flexbox fits in pretty straightforwardly once you have CSS 2.1. Pagination and writing modes would be better examples.

I suppose it depends on how you interpret "substantial". I think flexbox, where just the layout algorithm from the W3C WD runs to about six printed pages, qualifies -- it might be quite systematic, but it's still a significant chunk of work anyone implementing a new browser engine today would have to do that someone implementing a browser engine a few years ago would not. As you point out, it's also far from the only such change.

Because of momentum and backward compatibility. What you say may make sense from a purely technical point of view, but you are not considering that 99.999% of Internet users are average users. Without backward compatibility you have no way of winning. And with backward compatibility you have... the current mess of patches upon patches.

Mozilla deserves to die. That's how things work in the free marketplace. Sometimes, organizations don't age well and they have to go away. They're replaced by orgs that are more flexible and better able to address the gaps in the current market. Mozilla's decline is by no means the herald of a Google monoculture anymore than embedding IE in Windows was.

I, uh, Yahoo is paying them enough to stay afloat right now. In what sense has the market spoken here?

> In what sense has the market spoken here?

The fact the original article is a call to "save mozilla" isn't enough? Then look at Firefox's market share.

> prevent another decade of browser monoculture

Mobile is our protection against browser monoculture. Even if Chrome/WebKit/Blink/whatever browsers make up the vast majority of mobile, there's such huge variation between them and customizations added by OEMs that - much to web developers chagrin - a monoculture seems like a blessing by comparison.

There's also browsers in tons of devices like TVs, consoles, car dashboards, etc that add a staggering amount of variability. (Not to mention embedded browsers in other apps like Steam, anything based on Electron, etc)

The author misses the fact that desktop browsers aren't the most relevant web browsers anymore, and there's tons of variability and competing stakeholders even if Mozilla disappeared tomorrow.

Edit: Now if the assertion is that we need a nonprofit competitor in the web market, that's a compelling reason for Mozilla to exist (if it can stay sufficiently independent from its commercial benefactors).

There's nowhere near as much variation among WebKits as between WebKit and Gecko, or WebKit and Trident, or Trident and Gecko.

That's a pro. Variation sucks. What you want is competing contributors and stakeholders to ensure a single entity's interests don't win. I would argue the massive WebKit/Chromium ecosystem has lots of competing contributors.

> That's a pro. Variation sucks.

No, it doesn't. A browser engine monoculture means that a single engine's bugs and quirks become the standard. As a result the Web platform gets worse, and it becomes harder for new browser engines to enter the market.

For example: http://robert.ocallahan.org/2013/02/a-small-example-of-value...

> What you want is competing contributors and stakeholders to ensure a single entity's interests don't win.

That is not the case in practice with either WebKit or Blink.

> I would argue the massive WebKit/Chromium ecosystem has lots of competing contributors.

Not really. There are two primary ones: Apple and Google. Both organizations have essentially as close to absolute sway over their respective projects as to what Web platform features they implement and how they choose to implement them as to make no difference.

They still haven't released a 64-bit Firefox for Windows. Compound that with all tabs running in the same process and the demands of modern web and it's easy to run out of memory in Firefox on Windows these days. Their neglect of the vast majority of their users is baffling.

> neglect of the vast majority of their users

You are aware that both issues are being worked on?

Beta versions are available as 64-bit. Release 64bit builds are available on ftp.mozilla.org, but not offered on the main download page yet because of unresolved bugs.

> Compound that with all tabs running in the same process

That's something a lot of development effort is going into right now. Available in the nightlies if you want to help test.

Here is a link to 64-bit Firefox 42 release:


There's definitely something wrong if it's so hard to go to 64-bit. This has been their problem for almost a decade.

It's not hard to go to 64 bit. It's hard to go to 64 bit without any performance regressions.

(This holds for most performance-critical, memory-access-bound software.)

Hasn't it been 64-bit on OS X and Linux for a while? Presumedly those releases had acceptable performance, so what are the Windows-specific problems?

A few relevant notes:

1) The OS X and Linux versions of Firefox have generally been slower than the Windows version all along, even before switching to 64-bit. Largely because gcc (and later clang/llvm on Mac) generated slower code at least for this particular codebase than MSVC did. This is also why the Windows release versions of Firefox are in fact compiled with MSVC, not gcc.

2) Most benchmarking done by the press is done on Windows, and most of the users are on Windows. Performance regressions on Windows do in fact matter more, both in terms of actual user experience and marketing/perception than performance regressions on other platforms. I wish that were not so, but it is.

Anyone have a link for a bugzilla tracking bug for win64/win32 performance parity? I lucked out with a web search. It would be interesting to see what kind of things are being done for this.

not surprisingly, plugins seem to have been a big issue.

I think the issue here is that while Microsoft and Google have pushed forward with 64bit and multi-process browsers, Mozilla lags behind.

There's no doubt reasons for this that Mozilla can't fully control, but users have nonetheless voted with their feet.

It would be ideal of Mozilla was able to keep up, but the issue of Mozilla's declining share seems to have less to do with what Google is doing and more about what Mozilla is not doing.

Edit: I certainly don't mind if my opinion is in the minority, but please don't down vote simply because you disagree. That tool is supposed to discourage off-topic and "ad hominem" attacks, not differences of opinion. If I'm incorrect in my assessment, tell me why. =)

They did release win64 version actually, starting with v42, both DRM-crippled and EME-free versions. You have to do full install (it will pick up your profile), your existing win32 installation will not be changed to win64. Exactly like when Chrome started doing win64 builds.

Mozilla died the day Eich left. That's the day it became clear that the organized cared more about posturing than results.

i will admit i'm not expert on this, but i often see Google pretty much more than ok with another browser as implementing new technolgies. It makes things standardized if another broswer is implements newer technologies and not just one implementation from major browser vendor.

I think it's problematic to frame the question as whether or not someone can "compete" with Google. I think the entire browser ecosystem could change for the better if we built a "Meta browser". So the developer of the web page chooses which engine they prefer for rendering their site. The user only installs a single meta-browser, and if they don't currently have the preferred engine (as noted by developer in HTTP Headers) the user is notified and has the option to download and install that engine.

Here is a short blog post I wrote about this:


With a meta-browser developers don't have to worry about building a site for all major browsers. They could write for a relatively unknown engine and as long as the user has that engine installed it will work seamlessly when the user navigates to that web page.

What if the web page's developer specifies an engine not available on your platform (OS/hardware)?

It would definitely need to be more elaborate than how I described it in my original comment. But I imagine, for example, that could be solved with a list of "preferred engines", which of course would probably fallback to a default "user or system preferred" engine if none were available.

It's true it would become a small problem of its own (to try to figure out how to build for just enough engines to make it possible to render correctly on all computers) but I think that makes it possible for the entire ecosystem to have many more browsers and for a lot more experimentation to take place. Because the browser developer no longer has to worry about "Well, if I can't get enough market share to matter to developers, then there's no real point for me to build a rendering engine, since it will probably never be used". Instead if there is even a small number of people interested in their work, there can be a small community of developers who build for that engine, and it will be used (or at least recommended) when a user visits their websites.

Really? We're talking about the folks who capitulated on EME and brought DRM into their codebase. Very free!

It's hard to be a relevant web browser if your users can't watch Netflix.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. They should either focus on their core mission, or change it (to being relevant). Lack of focus/compromizing core values is a shortcut to failure.

Saying "it's 1hard to be a relevant web browser if you can't X" is an excuse that can be used to undo each and every point on Mozilla's Manifesto[1]

1. https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/about/manifesto/

It does seem that Mozilla can only be true to their stated values when it is convenient to do so.

Most internet users cannot watch Netflix, whether their browsers support DRM or not.

They see message like this:

Sorry, Netflix is not available in your country yet.

There's that promotion of freedom against discrimination due to the country you live in. Thanks, Mozilla!

If the web can only remain free as long as Mozilla gets paid, then it's not really free, is it?

I understand that people hate Microsoft and don't trust Google since their logo appeared on a PRISM slide, but the premise of this article seems a bit extortive.

"Nice freedoms you have there... be a real shame if anything happened to them..." Nah.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact