FirefoxOS appeared at a time when there was huge potential being actively being pushed forward and innovated on by the two largest tech companies in the space, and people already had two great options to choose from. It filled no real need, and nobody wanted it.
For Mozilla to stay alive, they need to pick a space that is currently desperately needed but being ignored by large corporations and the government: privacy and identity. Mozilla could be the champion of the Snowden era, yet instead they're distracting themselves with IoT, VR and other shiny new toys.
(And yes, I realize that users don't care about privacy. But nobody cared about web standards, either: it's all about packaging. That's Mozilla's strength.)
Mozilla is a non-profit with a mission (https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/about/manifesto/). It's time they start acting like one again.
I'm hoping that this might mean they can direct some resources towards Persona development again. Or at least experiment with something new in this area.
Re: privacy / security, I really wish they hadn't dropped Thunderbird.
I really wish Mozilla would change their mind and start developing this again. It feels like they expected all major websites to support it on the first year, and, when that didn't happen, they decided to drop it.
Pastery looks awesome. It appears that you're using Pygments server-side?
Why would a pastebin site need auth/login/userids ?
All I can think of is editing pastes, but isn't it easier to just create a new (anonymous) paste instead of editing ?
I'd prefer not to have accounts, and Ghostbin tries to avoid keeping identifiable information around, but they do come in fairly handy for maintaining control of the things you've pasted and the right to revoke them.
Session cookies aren't quite up to the task, since they can't stick around forever and are difficult to bring with you between workspaces.
(edit to elaborate on "avoid keeping identifiable information": account names are hashed, the account never stores user identification, and a paste doesn't track which account created it. For most intents and many purposes, the creator of a paste is anonymous. We could get into drawing correlations between all the pastes owned by an account, but I'm not particularly interested in sitting around and doing that.)
Though, these can be solved with tokens per post, it's tough to remember/maintain multiple tokens, doesn't work out in practice.
I don't think I'd have started Pastery if I'd seen Ghostbin, as I was looking for a pastebin that wasn't ugly, and I hadn't found any that qualified.
Have you had any abuse problems at all?
Does the same stand for Persona?
Perhaps instead of asking Firefox to do the legwork we should be contributing some of our own time to the projects we want to see succeed.
"with Mozilla Labs somewhat sudden dissolution, we were unexpectedly asked to demonstrate traction and commercial adoption that simply wasn't there."
Commercial adoption? What does that even mean in the context of MoCo? What does MoCo sell? And 24 months? Makes no sense, even for MoCo. Google is consistently a small player in the Cloud Computing Platform space. Their response: "we're not going away." MoCo has scores of millions in the bank. I'm still baffled.
Obviously, it doesn't need adoption to "survive", but it does need adoption to succeed in its goals: rescuing users from stupid hack-job login systems.
I would compare it more to Chrome: Google made Chrome with the goal of getting the web to work better for some people, so they could more easily consume Google's various services. You could say that Chrome's bottom line was "increased Google service adoption": if Chrome renders faster and provides more HTML5 features, then Google gets more and happier customers for their products.
Mozilla doesn't have "services" that Persona is a loss-leader for, but there's still that same ROI calculation of whether Persona is achieving its goals, and measuring adoption rate is a good proxy for that.
The important thing, that Mozilla failed to do, was to actually understand what an adoption curve for something like Persona should look like, and what things affect it. They needed to heavily advertise it (to developers, not to users!) over about two years, and then start looking at the adoption curve.
On top of that, I'd argue IM + video/audio chat that respects privacy is something that desperately needs better solutions.
I'd push software forward, and then innovate on protocols. Peer to peer might be the only way to achieve true privacy.
Although the market for centralized secure messaging is currently being served adequately by the likes of Signal and Telegram, centralized messaging platforms inevitably leak metadata.
I don't want to belittle the work done by teams that have already started work on distributed messaging platforms like Tox and Matrix (and my own proof-of-concept, Toc ), but Mozilla is in a much better position to tackle the problem of decentralized, private messaging that also has great UX, and not just in terms of sheer resources:
1) They have (or at least had) a decentralized identity management platform in Persona.
2) They have a decentralized, zero-knowledge data sync platform in Firefox Sync.
3) They have a lot of influence in the web standards community that they can leverage to push a new federated messaging protocol to succeed XMPP.
This is the kind of work that I think Mozilla should be doing, because they can do it better than anyone else who's willing (i.e. not for-profit corporations, because they have very little to gain by building decentralized apps and federated protocols that have no lock-in whatsoever).
Seeing how hostile most of the western governments are toward privacy on the internet, that's probably not the best long term strategy for Mozilla though. They could quickly find themselves labelled terrorist organisation ( by mistake ) and have their account frozen ( by mistake ) for a long period of time ( due process, can't rush those stuff )
Here is a recent article about it http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/11/tor-should...
I'd love to see it happen, but who would the money come from?
In the internet-landscape, Mozilla is the one that tries to intervene on the user's behalf against commercial interests. Maybe they thought they could do the same for the much more competitive mobile market.
The bigger problem i think is that Mozilla didn't make a phone that appealed to influencers - the high tech crowd similar to the early adopters for Firefox. Instead they tried to go for the emerging markets that was already well served by other alternatives, and who aren't ideal early adopters. From what i saw the user experience and quality of their Platform wasn't top notch either (and html apps still suck in 2015).
Ubuntu was on the right track with Ubuntu Edge (the Indiegogo campaign showed that there was definitely a demand for it), but they set their goals too high and since then they seem to be dragging their feet in getting into the market.
On Android you can install a custom launcher to get rid of that annoying Google Search bar, you can replace Google Search with DuckDuckGo's app, you can install Firefox for Android on it and completely replace Chrome, you can install apps from third party sources like F-Droid or Amazon's Appstore. In Marshmallow the previously broken permissions system has been finally redesigned. Chrome for Android is pretty cool lately, as it also does push notifications, the app manifest and it does a much better job for making web apps first class citizens than Safari on iOS or Firefox on Android or whatever Opera is doing. You can actually run Facebook in your Android browser now and pretend that it's a native app.
And Android is also open source, I mean yes, while it's dependent on Google's Play services, like for push notifications or its location services, those can be replaced and Android is very much fork-able. Hey, Amazon did it.
Ubuntu was doomed from the start and Android is light years away from its competition imho. I mean, experiments are cool, but if your mobile OS is less usable than Android from 5 years ago, that's a failed experiment.
You could go with custom launcher/mod/rom/ route but that brings its own possible set of problems - performance, battery life, broken functionality (some banking apps wont run on rooted phones), more spyware(from launchers), etc. It is not an acceptable solution for the masses.
Amazon - well they are just another company trying to ransom/loot you. Cyanogen mod is promising if they can overcome challenges (how many apps work without google play services?).
Furthermore Google play services is deeply embedded into android, whose key purpose is to ransom you to the highest bidder. Android is fundamentally compromised by the conflicting business interests of its primary developer (Google).
edit: I wouldn't say that Ubuntu was doomed from the start, but they certainly missed the boat.
"If you build it they will come" isn't a valid benchmark when there's already two options with massive market share that consumers are more or less happy with.
(Since it's talked about in some replies, I live in the US).
If there was to be any market interest, I thought their targeting and marketing efforts like this were pretty spot-on.
(Not implying there is any correlation between those two last facts.)
I live in Poland and I was lucky that I could easily find a cheap FxOS phone, which actually I am using now. This is the only truly private phone available here. It is a pity that Mozilla abandoned it. Bigger pity is that people do not give a sht about their privacy and open standards.
The feedback I received from the people that tested the platform development wise was that they had not built it yet.
So that explains the lack of marketing.
Somewhere in the FF OS 2.x series, an upgrade seriously made the keyboard unusable, and I never knew where to turn for bug trackers / support. I had also tried to make IPv6 work, experimented a bit with the app system.. I'm an average programmer, but I participate in a few large projects.. Firefox has always been a mystery to me, with lots of code names and hard to use bug tracker.
Huge fan of Mozilla otherwise, so hurts a bit to say this.. other than that, it was a functional phone for 2 years.
Android ... 81.2%
iOS ... 15.8%
Windows Phone ... 2.2%
Others ... 0.8%
Android ... 82.6%
iOS ... 14.1%
Windows Phone ... 2.3%
Others ... 0.9%
@downvoter: it's a forcast by the well known IDC, also the current market share (2015) is interesting on its own
Of course, there's relatively little that truly takes advantage of that set up, and making the user experience more pleasant would make a huge difference, but android understands mouse and keyboard input just fine. Microsoft may be somewhat further along on this front, but I don't think it's as much as you think - the apps that can run in this way are not full windows applications, and there are relatively few of them at present.
But that is going to soon change as MS is working with Intel to launch Intel powered phones (x86). 
Regardless of whether Windows phone succeeds or not, I believe the path they are taking will eventually be where all the OSes will end up. The saying "The best camera is the one that is with you" may hold true for computers in the future.
Imagine hotels & coffee shops offering a dock for rooms/tables and the only thing you need is your phone. Plug it in and voila!, your personalized desktop with all its settings and data. This might even be secure, cost effective and more efficient method for portable desktop.
Plus people keep forgetting that there aren't any open options for the radio OS.
The second leg of UWP's 'write a single app and have it go everywhere' was mobile. We've all seen how that's been going.
The final (and biggest/main) leg is traditional Windows. They whiffed badly with the Windows RT devices. Now all the tablets are running the full-blown OS. That means they all run Win32 apps.
Win32 is good enough so why would a developer port their app to UWP when the first two legs are either unavailable or have a very small install base of customers?
All the new APIs since Windows 8 are only available in WinRT.
For example, the upgrade path to MFC is XAML, which is only available for WinRT applications.
From a software perspective, Android has supported this forever. From a hardware perspective, there've been Android devices where accompanying docking solutions was heavily marketed, though none in the last few years, because its something users keep not really wanting in practice, even if they conceptually like the idea in the abstract.
Plus, a substantial fraction of the price and size of a "second computing device" that's larger than your phone is going to be the display, so docking doesn't really solve much of anything (especially when the devices are all cloud connected.) There's zero friction moving between by Android phone and my 12" tablet -- with BT keyboard and, if I felt like using one, BT mouse. And I could use the BT keyboard and mouse with the phone itself, if I wanted to. Either device could connect to an external monitor via HDMI with an inexpensive adaptor (and either can cast its display via Google Cast.)
What, in practical terms, does docking solve?
And most people don't want to dock their computing device to their TV as a monitor; there are uses for TV-as-output device, and they're well-covered by things like Google Cast and similar technologies.
> You can take peripherals you already own and make a 1-plug docking station without significant cost.
Only if I already own peripherals; i.e., if I already have a desktop or a laptop that I use with external peripherals instead of just the built-in interface. And, I only need a "docking station" if those peripherals are wired, rather than, say, Bluetooth.
Which might be the case for the monitor, sure, but you can already do that. HDMI dongles or cables -- the only one-plug docking station you need in a world with Bluetooth mice and keyboards -- are readily available and not expensive for existing, non-Windows mobile devices.
The difference with browsers was that improvements in the browser led to clear improvements in web browsing experience, which even the least technically minded could notice. What changes in privacy and identity are Mozilla going to pioneer that result in obvious benefits that those who don't know anything about these issues (i.e. the majority) will notice and clearly attribute to Mozilla's products? I really wish there were such things but I have yet to see any presented.
No. I'm asking why the parent thinks people WILL care about such ethics.
Between "ethical ad-removal: keeps some ads" and "non-ethical: it removes all of them", I don't think most people will give it a second though to go for the "no ads" option.
And they certainly won't go out of their way to find if there an "ethical ad-removal" option even exists in the first place.
>I think most "ordinary" people do feel at least a tiny bit guilty about nuking every single ad on web sites that they use regularly. I know I do.
I think those are probably outliers. The same way people (millions) didn't give a damn about skipping ads with their TiVo's or what have you.
You're making up a choice that doesn't exist. No browser presents people with that choice. The choice is: by default you get ads. If they don't upset you, you do nothing. Only if they upset you a lot, you will seek out an ad blocker. Ethical ad blocking means blocking things that significantly degrade the experience of the page or harms the user (such as through privacy violation), while not blocking things that don't harm the user.
So the answer to your question, why WILL people care about ethics - I think they care about not being harmed by slow pages and privacy violation. That is a way of saying they care about other people being ethical to them, and not harming them. A browser that doesn't harm them by default is something they will like. Other browsers will not implement such defaults because there is no standard to support it and the parties who currently make browsers cannot agree on one because they are fundamentally conflicted by their commercial interests.
I will always use the "remove all ads" answer, no matter what.
I'm still on metered bandwidth. And when I'm not at work, ads are another vector for malware.
Firefox OS seems to be something between Android and IOS. They are trying to solve all the problems of those two but on the end are just average. Just another OS that really looks like Android for regular user.
Redesign everything and rethink the basics - go the way Windows Phone went, but with open environment and much more developer friendly space. Widnows Phone is an amazing piece of UIX and with great ideas, but it failed regarding supporting developers and making its store user friendly. This is where Firefox should aim, not another "better" version of something everyone knows to well.
Plasma Mobile has the right idea. Build the platform, let communities form around the layers above it (and below it) and just try to get people working together on one goal (especially since all these mobile OS projects are all using Qt, all using Wayland, all using Linux). Lets just hope the KDE guys don't vaporware this one like Plasma Active, it sure would be lovely if Unity 8 got rebased on top of it, and used xdg-app like the community is pushing towards. Firefox could even get in on it as the default browser with great integrated webapp support.
Also it sounds like your comment is technical point of view. Users dont care of that. If mobile system cannot attract regular users, then it is dead.
If you don't get on Sprint / AT&T / Verizon / Tmobile store shelves you are DOA before you even think about appealing to users switching.
But something like Plasma Mobile does not need to care too much about that. If it has the technicals right, and can run Android apps, it can be an enthusiast platform nobody else adopts because Google has strong armed manufacturer control to keep that kind of competition off store shelves if they wanted to. Its also incredibly expensive to buy market share like that, something none of these participants have the money to do.
Since we took the opposite approach, focused on product first and demonstrated user traction and sales the stores and carriers came to us to talk and it changed the whole power dynamic.
Every year brings several new mobile brands to the market. Most you will never hear of because they're not exciting or special. They don't focus on making users excited about their unique product, rather they focus on business deals that even if they go through end up in no sales.
This might be so in US, but in most European countries we buy our phones ourselves with pre-paid options.
Checked the ebay listings again, there are a few sellers from Australia, the USA but seems like the ZTE listing is gone.
The major problem of FirefoxOS though was trying to pitch the whole "everyone can (re)write apps" to a market that is all about user lock-in.
Every OEM and carrier wants to be the landlord of the phone "owner", taking a bite out of everything the user does with the device.
But if every app is a web page, and all the code is out in the open, it is quite easy for the user to disable and strip out rent extraction code.
And yes your right about Mozilla being distracted. And sadly they are not alone. The whole FOSS world seem hell bent on wasting energy doing all kinds of shiny projects and social outreach.
I'm tempted to call it the curse of SXSW.
> But if every app is a web page, and all the code is out in
> the open, it is quite easy for the user to disable and
> strip out rent extraction code.
And there is also the issue that if your app is just the web page, it is either universal and thus crap on all devices, or highly customized for each platform at which point it would be easier and less messy just to write it natively.
I was thinking of developing a really minimalistic almost commandline interface for my notes, address book, dialer and calendar.
I would love to see what cool creative people could come up with.
"it's all about packaging. That's Mozilla's strength."
On this we start to deviate. I think its all about platform. And you only get mainstream users on your platform if its awesome in the "mainly used" ways.
Its like the difference between a doctorate of psychology vs medicine. With one you can help people who really want to be helped, the other, you can give someone a flu shot and they are treated.
They have a real chance if they ride the social justice and progressivism train, though. It's hot and unlike privacy, people care about it a lot. They've already set the precedent with the Eich controversy. They just need to double down and start promoting it better. Take initiative instead of being reactive. Not too hard when the organizations you're up against are gigantic multi-billion-dollar companies who can't afford to fire every conservative employee, not comply with government regulations their audience views negatively, or kowtow too hard to diversity for fear of angering the technolibertarians.
OR will NEVER win. A secure and/or private thing that you can't use simply CANNOT win vs something that actually works. If it doesn't work well being secure or anything missing the point why people even get the tool.
Sadly many companies totally miss that and think they'll get lucky. That's sort of sad.
That's true. The problem is: what is a good product? Good is relative to what the insecure garbage on the market is offering. You can move fast, drastically add complexity, keep it extra cheap, and so on if quality or security aren't on the table. So, a good product that meets one's needs can look like a bad one if it's secure and makes right tradeoffs vs the "good product" that sells its users out.
One simple example is how several companies did high assurance VPN's whose trusted computing base was very difficult to hack. Yet, to get there, they had to eliminate most features competition was adding to their all-in-one appliances. I pointed out one could just chain them together with the high assurance solution being the interface to untrusted network. Rest of functionality can be in next device. Even such a simple scenario was almost always rejected as it was cheaper or simpler to have one do-it-all(-like-crap) device.
Apply such logic throughout entire industry and we have whole, insecure stacks that can't be made better without sacrifice. Nonetheless, companies keep trying with medium-assurance, full-featured appliances that are easy to configure. They sell very few and most go out of business. Enough said.
I think this differs highly per region. In some European countries, people are very privacy-aware. I know quite a number of people who refuse to use Google's services or Dropbox, because of privacy reasons.
As for security companies selling hardened phones, etc. They are typically very expensive and/or inconvenient.
Guess I need to try to market stuff in Europe instead. ;)
Re expensive or inconvenient
They're often perceived as expensive. Truth is most COTS is too cheap: corners cut everywhere to get it at that price point which gives unrealistic expectations on price. So, key firewall or server is five digits instead of three to four. Don't need many of them but good luck selling even one. Always will be an uphill battle.
Far as convenience, that can be improved on and some apps are very convenient. The users' cut-off point is the real issue. Do they want one thoughtless step for everything? Can't do secure comms that was as verification requires extra step somewhere. Same with trust or key mgmt in other things. Im with us eliminating unnecessary complexity & technical stuff but users need to meet us halfway on convenience angle.
Security and privacy are very hard issues to address. So any solution will be temporary, very restrictive or fall short of it's promise.
For instance you can't have total privacy even if you never use Google and use tracker blockers, erase your browser's fingerprint etc. you are still sharing information with servers you're visiting.
Notice that last part about downloading? That's the key. We could download Phoenix, and run it. I can't download FirefoxOS, and run it. My devices are locked to what they can run. If mobile appliances were like personal computers, then a Phoenix could rise. But it's a completely different situation, so there is no way to compete like you could with web browsers.
It's not ideal, as the integration points don't appear to be fully worked out and it doesn't always perform very well, but I'm sure it could be turned into essentially a downloadable FirefoxOS as a hook to try to get people to get a native device next time, if some development effort was available.
I actually always liked the idea of a FirefoxOS. Linux style operating system alternatives could need a proper fucking GUI and general average-user-oriented design. Firefox is amazing at that for a non-profit, they could actually pull it off.
It's based on HTML5, but because of how webrtc has to punch through firewalls, it uses one of their partners to initiate the connection (Telefonica?). After that it's mostly peer to peer.
In general, users don't want any ads at all showing in their browser.
They don't want them as part of web pages, they don't want them embedded in videos, and they surely don't want them as part of the browser itself!
This should have been obvious given the popularity of various ad-blocking extensions for Firefox.
Going against the obvious wishes of a product's users is something that's deserving of criticism.
I do block anything that I notice if it looks like a tracker, but I am ready to believe that Mozilla's description of client-side ad selection was correct.
Ads are enormously important for a lot of quality content out there to exist. Destroying them now, without good alternatives, is destructive to the web.
For a sort of analogy, the presence of pay-to-read newspapers hasn't precluded the presence of free-to-read newspapers (New York Times vs. Metro ), nor has free-to-read papers killed off pay-to-read newspapers, which are generally higher quality. Savvy digital content providers will find a way to still make money, even if it's not ads as they exist today.
Seems like a perfect example of self-destructive/tragedy-of-the-commons behavior to me.
There is no middle ground. It's not as easy as "your website offers so little that it shouldn't exist", it's simply "users block ads, and they don't want to pay for access", so there's really no great options here.
However, ad's don't have to be pure evil. Sure they might be not be preferred, but we can totally create an environment in which we have non-intrusive, non-privacy invading advertisements, it's just a matter of figuring it out.
The ad industry had enough time to figure this out and went from bad to terrible - from popups to distribution of trojans (due to a lack of quality control). It's not surprising that people are fed up with advertisements. Any loss of income is the publisher's own fault, because they allowed ads to get completely out of hand.
Bills gotta be paid, but when push comes to shove, users don't pay the bills for a lot of this type of content, so ad's are the only option left.
There is no middle ground.
I am surprised by the lack of imagination on a news site for startups ;). There are all kinds of possibilities that haven't really been explored. Music was considered to be a lost cause 5 or 10 years ago when CD had collapsed and everyone and their dog was using Bittorrent or other peer to peer networks. Now there is a quickly growing ecosystem of streaming music services.
And at one point people just wanted IE compatibility for their webpages to load.
If you accept that targeted ads are a part of the web eco system, then its absolutely within the remit of Mozillas mission to explore how to serve targeted ads while respecting privacy.
Are you the combo breaker?
I'm never offended by the presence of ads themselves.
Maybe it's because I grew up with them? Maybe I'm just more comfortable with ignoring them?
That the general public doesn't care about that is one thing, that all the people crtizising them here don't seem to care is another.