Firefox OS was never a real product, but a PoC.
IMHO, Mozilla should absorb the Tor project and focus on Free Web technologies, e.g. a really Free email service and a Free cloud storage service.
Yes, I intentionally use capitol F for Free.
How to raise money? Freemium model.
A good email+cloud storage service, with the optional pay model for using a custom domain.
And stop attacking the Linux distros for the Firefox trademark (forcing them to create the Iceweasel fork) or including proprietary services (e.g. Pocket) forcing the creation of the Icecat fork.
Just be a Free and Open browser, with some good cloud services, and make money within a Freemium model (allowed by Free Software Foundation policies).
Tor has too many legal and ethical issues around it for Mozilla to take that kind of risk.
> And stop attacking the Linux distros for the Firefox trademark (forcing them to create the Iceweasel fork) or including proprietary services (e.g. Pocket) forcing the creation of the Icecat fork.
Debian made a bunch of changes to Firefox and was still calling it Firefox. Debian also objected to Firefox's trademark policy despite Debian's trademark policy for their own trademark being virtually identical. This happened years ago and years before Pocket even existed.
Pocket code in Firefox is open source, you can examine it yourself. And, due to lazy loading, it's never even called if you don't interact with it. You can right-click and remove the button and never worry about it again. Using Pocket was to add a much-requested feature to Firefox without Mozilla having to invest to development hours into building something that already existed.
1. It's true that the Debian didn't initiate the schism. Mike Connor (Mozilla) told the Debian folks to stop distributing branded builds that weren't QAd by Mozilla.
2. When doing a build, it has always been trivial to create an unbranded version. Unbranded versions are what you'd get by default. At this point, I haven't run a build in years, but it would be surprising if this weren't still the case.
You can see the client side code but what Pocket is doing with all the data on the server side is completely opaque and source is unavailable.
This is no different from search integration. There's local code that lets you do Google/Yahoo/etc searches from the home page or the awesomebar. What these sites do with your data on the server side is unknown.
Bundling Pocket outright, like Mozilla was just another Silicon Valley company, was very shortsighted.
Also, I would not particularly call those search engines a great comparison. They are simply keyworded bookmarks - you set the URL and when you enter a character or click the icon it loads the bookmark. The extent of integration was the search options menu where you can add any website's search field and it inherits the icon from that website, so its generic.
And you can build a pretty accurate profile of a user from analyzing the content people mark to "read later" (and how long they spend reading them).
Your timeline is off by about a decade. IceCat was first released in 2008 and the GNUzilla project has existed since 2005. Firefox added Pocket support in 2015.
Debian's rules don't allow things that aren't free-free, and blocked the copyright-encumbered logo. Mozilla was protecting it's trademark and branding. Debian calling it iceweasel basically replaced the branding so that it could be used under Debian's rules. It turned out to be a fairly amicable result - debian still gets the software with full utility, and mozilla keeps their branding coherent (branding is important to making money with any model, but especially freemium).
Also, this licensing stoush was ten years ago; it's not like it's fresh wounds.
* The logos might be under a free license
* The logos might not even be shipped (not a big deal for Perl and Python, which are primariliy command line applications)
* The trademark protection only includes the name, not the logo, and so it doesn't force the owner to defend its usage to keep the trademark.
For example https://www.drupal.com/trademark mentions a drupal icon which is subject to traemark, and a logo, which is not (unfortunately the log link is a 404).
Yeah, Drupal has the wordmark branding and the community branding as separate things. I just brought up these examples because all of them have Debian packages that apparently have no issues being named after the project but there are of course numerous others.
Mozilla protected more agressively its Firefox brand to cope with malware-stuffed clones which were hijacking the name.
Projects such as VLC or Android protect their brand too, Chrome is only available through official closed-source builds, many linux distributions only package chromium.
VLC is still gets packaged by Debian as VLC and even branding intact I believe. Chrome is a little different since you can't even build it so Debian's interest in including it instead of Chromium isn't probably all that high anyway.
(All packages get this treatment, no upstream software release vendor gets special privileges.)
For many average users, the term "Firefox" reminds them of the slow browser they used to use before switching to Chrome.
For more advanced users, the term "Firefox" reminds them of the browser that includes ads (even if these are being removed), has unnecessary functionality built in (Pocket, Hello), and has undergone questionable UI changes (Australis).
For web developers, the term "Firefox" reminds them of the extra effort they still need to expend to test their creations in a browser that fewer and fewer people are using.
For others, the term "Firefox" will now remind them of this failed mobile OS project.
"Firefox" as a brand had a great reputation 5 years ago. But that reputation has eroded away since then.
Most "normal" users who used Firefox before Chrome came around are savvy enough to understand that software improves and evolves. There's no doubt that Chrome gave Firefox a much-needed shot in the arm.
Many developers/advanced users, including myself, see Firefox as a bastion of freedom in what is otherwise a land grab by major OS vendors, an attempt to further increase their lock-in. Users remember Firefox as the browser that was so flexible, Firebug was possible, which sent every browser vendor into a tizzy to try to clone the featureset natively. Users remember Firefox as the browser that gives them control over their experience, unlike Chrome which babysits and won't let you interfere with Google's need to harvest data.
Mozilla has always and will always be a tinkerer's vendor. These people are not going to be offended when reasonable experiments are conducted, nor when reasonable experiments fail, as Firefox OS did.
The biggest grudge I hold against Mozilla is really more about the community than the company itself, and that's the Brendan Eich debacle.
Power users, or users? Among the crowd here, sure. But in the rest of the world?
unlike Chrome which babysits and won't let you interfere with Google's need to harvest data.
Firefox has been getting more and more nannyish and chromelike with every release.
* There's the "let's throw out semantic versioning since Chrome already did it"
* There's the UI rework which sacrificed information density and usability for what I evaluate as a weak attempt to look more like Chrome.
* There's the "thou shalt not install plugins from places other than we say is okay" rule that was recently implemented - which Chrome did first.
* There's the upcoming "all your plugins are going to break, many permanently" when XUL gets thrown out and the new hotness won't have feature parity at release (in other words, Firefox plugins will be as limited as Chrome plugins)
Firefox never followed semantic versioning. Versions 2.0, 3.0, 3.5, 3.6, and 4.0 all had equally major changes to them. It's worse if you look at the internal version numbers: 1.8, 1.9, 1.9.1, 1.9.2, 4.0. The change to the rapid-release model was driven more by the pain of the protracted Firefox 4 release than by trying to ape Chrome.
> There's the UI rework which sacrificed information density and usability for what I evaluate as a weak attempt to look more like Chrome.
Actually, Firefox started developing the design before Chrome did. They just took far, far, far longer.
You may be mixing Australis up with the theme work done for Firefox 4.0 (which moved tabs to the top by default and added the orange Firefox menu button). The early work on that would've been contemporaneous with the earliest public versions of Chrome (2/3/4)-- the design that would become Firefox 4 started being shown off in public around the fall of 2009.
As a long time firefox user this is the one that hurts the most. I honestly hope someone forks firefox to preserve this functionality. I know it is a losing proposition in the long run, but right now my only option is to not upgrade firefox (which isn't an option for very long). I post this here to vent and with the hopes that there already exists a project to preserve XUL functionality and I am simply unaware.
P.S. I use tab groups, a native feature, and have been dreading this ominous warning that appears whenever I open them: "Heads up! Tab Groups will be removed from Firefox soon." I can't even disable the warning.
I've been a happy user of it more many years.
Once you use it, you'll wish you'd found it sooner ;)
Can you name three good plugins? Removing an insecure legacy tech is not a big problem when the extension API is right there.
Three good plugins? Have nine. Here's my plugin load right now:
* Privacy Badger
* HTTPS Everywhere
* Calomel SSL Validation
* Vimperator (which used to be Pentadactyl before Mozilla decided that I can't use it anymore)
* DevEdition theme enabler
if I wanted to use Chrome and have its limitations, I'd fucking use Chrome.
And I have zero faith that they will fix those limitations by launch time either. seeing as how their attitude towards adding features nobody wants (Pocket, Hello, Australis) or removing features people actually want (installing whatever plugins I damn well please without a nann^H^H^H^H approval process, accessing sites with broken certs) up until now has been to ignore all feedback and just do it anyways.
XUL may well be insecure legacy tech that performs a useful task for you, and that's why care is being taken to make sure the important extensions continue to work in the new Web Extensions world.
This is just not true. Not all functionality enabled by XUL can be executed with Web Extensions. Perhaps this will be so in the future.
> ...and that's why care is being taken to make sure the important extensions continue to work...
Who decides what extensions are "important" and therefore worthy of working in this new "web extensions world"? I guess my point is that if there were true parity between web extensions and XUL there would be no need for concern. However, that is not the case and we know many extensions cannot be recreated. Therein lies the problem. Many users will be negatively affected by this change and I am still trying to understand the benefit. For example, why are Web Extensions mutually exclusive to XUL extensions? I get that supporting both is inelegant, but it at least reflects the current reality of Firefox usage.
We should be careful to separate XUL-the-layout-system from XPCOM (really, Firefox's XPCOM components). The layout features of HTML and standard CSS have entirely superseded the layout features of XUL in the ways that matter. (There are some exceptions—the tree view control is often cited—but there are lots of HTML substitutes for these things, and XUL has so many problems that on balance the downsides outweigh the upsides at this point.)
What you're actually referring to is the XPCOM components provided by Firefox. It is true that Web Extensions, as of this moment, do not replicate all of that functionality. However, as I said before, that isn't a valid argument that XUL should be kept around forever any more than the fact that 16-bit DOS apps have direct control over the hardware is a valid argument that DOS support should be kept around forever.
> For example, why are Web Extensions mutually exclusive to XUL extensions?
Well, they aren't. But the reason for Web Extensions is to deprecate XUL extensions, and the reason for deprecating XUL extensions is that XUL is legacy, insecure tech.
> that isn't a valid argument that XUL should be kept around forever any more than the fact that 16-bit DOS apps have direct control over the hardware is a valid argument that DOS support should be kept around forever
I don't think I argued that it should be kept around forever. The point I was refuting was that Web Extensions are ready to replace existing firefox extensions. At some point it will be true that Web Extensions are as capable as existing firefox extensions. At that point deprecating existing extensions make sense (or slightly sooner). Lots of people rely on existing extensions. Taking those extensions away without a real alternative solution is just rude to end users. This move may be past due from a security standpoint, but it is extremely premature from a user experience perspective.
As far as I'm concerned, every single Firefox extension I currently use is important, regardless of what Mozilla thinks of their importance.
I also have several extensions that I wrote myself for my own personal use. I'm not looking forward to having to modify them, assuming they'll even work with the new model.
This is a good example of the Firefox brand being tarnished.
The name "Firefox" used to make me think of empowerment, and being able to get so much more out of the web browser and the web experience.
Now when I think of "Firefox" it makes me think of uncertainty, of broken extensions, of my time being wasted updating my own extensions, and of enduring all of this for little to no benefit to me.
Even if you don't want those architectural improvements, a lot of people do, and I find it hard to blame Firefox for doing what's best for the needs of the majority of its users.
And I really don't care if Firefox is or isn't using XUL. As a user, that's quite irrelevant to me.
However, as a user of Firefox, I am weary about being put in a position where the extensions I depend on no longer work, and either I don't have any recourse (if what the extensions do is no longer permitted or possible) or the recourse involves a large expenditure of effort on my part (rewriting my own private extensions).
The friction of using Firefox has been steadily increasing over time for me.
At this point, it's only the Firefox-specific extensions I use that keep me from switching to an alternative browser.
I know I'm not alone.
Many in the Firefox community already went through the broken extension experience back around Firefox 5 and we are not eager to go through that again.
If Firefox users do experience problems with these upcoming extension changes, then I fear it will be the last straw for many of us.
And if there's one thing that Firefox and Mozilla really can't afford right now it's to lose more users. There are very few of us, relatively speaking, as it is.
The XUL removal is annoying but in theory the new system should be able to support almost everything the old system did. It's not going to be like chrome where you can't even change the tabs.
The extension signing is about the only thing nanny-ish, and they're trying not to restrict people. For the most part it's an automatic scan, they won't block you based on what your extension does, and you can personally use a build that doesn't care about signing. It's not perfect, sometimes there are delays, but they're trying. They don't want to be a massive malware vector.
I can not understand refusing to let people install their own plugins unless they use some other random build.
What's the actual problem being solved here? If you've already got malware on your machine with the ability to install plugins in the browser, don't you have bigger problems than an unwanted toolbar popping up?
Furthermore, how do you think people are going to react to plugins they use being suddenly switched off, with no recourse, other than downloading, installing, and configuring a new browser? (Which, by the way, misses that critical bit of security, leading back to the "why?" question)
I can tell you how I felt when Pentadactyl stopped working. It's enraging. https://twitter.com/TKWare/status/690580588416339968
When or if Mozilla can start merging the Servo engine or Electrolysis multi-process support into Firefox might be a good time. (I like the name Servo for the whole browser. :-) Like IE, Firefox has had a hard time shaking its old reputation (e.g., memory leaks and add-on breakage). A new brand says "this is something new; give us a try again."
What? GNU IceCat has nothing to do with Pocket. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_IceCat#Origins_of_the_name
What do you mean, exactly?
Service that's Free as in "Free Software"? We have enough of free MTA, MDA and MRA software, and while they can be always improved further there's need to start a new project. There are also a lot of packaging efforts, where anyone can find what they'll be pleased with (from source tarballs to build to one-click "rent a server and provision everything there, pre-configured" web-based buttons). And Mozilla have finally ditched their MUA (Thunderbird) recently, so I somewhat doubt they'll venture in that field again, even if they'd decide to make a web-based MUA (instead of desktop software) this time.
Service with some nice-to-hear policies? There are enough services that do all sort of pinky promises (and, I must admit, some try to bring some technological measures, but core email protocols don't allow much here, so it's mostly still relies on trust) of privacy, security and all sorts of stuff. Not sure if we need another one.
The search bar is an equally proprietary backend service, and pretty much universally funds Mozilla, but I don't hear many complaints about it.
Pocket was simply an extension that got bundled outright. After decades of Mozilla declining to include even uber-popular extensions in order to "keep up appearances" of being a neutral community project, they basically endorsed a random startup without any sort of consultation or public competition. That's what people objected to. If they had implemented a standard and just blessed Pocket as a reference implementation without bundling it, nobody would have complained.
Meanwhile, most FxOS phones (all three of them, I guess) are still stuck on 1.3 because Mozilla's update policy for it has always been even more broken than Google's.
I won't miss it. My Fire E has been a paperweight for the past year because it was just useless – the base OS was never on par with even Android 2, and the fragmentation killed the app market before it even existed.
If Mozilla handles FxOS for IoT like it did on smartphones (or like it handles Thunderbird), it won't survive another year.
I totally get that it's in a pretty shitty state if it can't update itself in 15 months, but for those of us that are technically able, it seems like an easy fix?
I could also just do the same with my beefier Android phone instead.
The default phones that FFOS comes with are pretty weak (except for the flame which wasn't that bad), but they have some pretty decent support for flashing popular phones.
I don't blame you if you don't do that, obviously -- android is definitely easier to use and update, and better supported than FirefoxOS. It's obviously completely OK to dislike FirefoxOS because of this, and choose to go with the more stable/simple option. Free up those brain cycles for something else.
Isn't going from Android to FFOS taking a few steps backwards?
That's the obvious assumption (as in lots of friends have said that to me IRL), but I don't think it's completely true that I've taken a step backwards. Generally a modern smartphone has to do a few things "well":
- Make calls
- Enable ecosystems of useful functionality through apps
The only ways I can see FFOS as a step backwards is because of the lack of availability of some apps -- some apps only support native clients for android/ios. However, a lot of the more interesting/important apps do also support web users (i.e. instagram, facebook).
As far as actual phone performance goes, a lot of android variants are so bogged down with vendor garbage, increasingly heavy android versions that FFOS doesn't actually lag too far behind. It is certainly not always as snappy as android, but I consider it good enough.
I can definitely concede that I took a step backwards in app availability, but I took a step forward in privacy, and the ability to debug/verify my mobile OS, and that's worth it for me -- I also managed to NOT drop all the actual important phone stuff (making calls/texting), which is nice.
Is driving a manual car a step backwards from an automatic one? Yes, but it's not so cut and dry as to "never step back into managing your transmission yourself, always let a computer do it". For some people, the tradeoff is worth it/compelling.
> We will end development on Firefox OS for smartphones
Other uses of the Firefox OS platform (at least the Gecko and Gonk layers) are still being developed, including for television:
> We will continue to assess the stack to determine fit with new projects coming through the innovation process [...] As of today, we have 3 projects that have passed the first gate including SmartTV, and about a dozen more projects are prepping for review.
It's obviously ridiculous that this is something we need to deal with in the first place, but I'm definitely happy that I got one of the few TVs without a scummy OS.
The smartphone OS was always a vague idea that never materialized into anything. Part of that was probably a result of the frustration that we never really got that Nokia OS for lower-end devices. Instead we're left with Android.
I plan on making the TV OS a big parameter for the TVs I buy in the future. (Which feels about just as dumb as doing the same with future microwave ovens, but this is the world we live in.)
Fortunately I won't be buying a new TV within the next three years. I've genuinely been wondering whether I need to set up an intermediary Raspberry Pi ad-blocker to safeguard my Internet of nonsense at home.
As for FirefoxOS I never understood the point of it.
OpenMoko tried to be an open smartphone platform and failed.
Nokia did it for Symbian OS with web widgets and it failed.
Palm did it with WebOS, with the plus side of allowing C++ bindings for games, and it failed.
Android and iOS allow for web widgets and cordova like apps and there usually have bad feedback from users vs native apps.
Windows Phone allows for first class development with web based tech and few bother to use it, rather CoreCLR and WinRT.
OEM and network providers always have the final word, they learned not to let others follow Apple's footsteps.
That was a very far hard attempt from the begging.
I rather see Mozilla spending their efforts in Firefox, Thunderbird and Rust.
This is a bit short sighted. In the near future, we will only have 'smart' TVs to chose from.
Oh wait, if it has a built in TV tuner and speakers, it's just called a television. And we have those at Wal Mart in the US.
The haters will downvote, regardless of what I write.
The others will think that instead of Germany I could have written any European country name, because you just need to get into a regular store to find such dumb TVs.
For example, to change a channel:
1. Grab the remote, press "5", press "OK".
2. Put down the remote.
3. Wait five seconds.
4. Overlay with "5" appears.
5. Wait five seconds.
6. Channel switches.
I sold this shit a few months ago, and am now using my five-year-old dumb TV again.
But you can get commercial displays which are just TV-likr monitors without the extra features. It doesn't take much online searching to find them; consumer retail outlets, however, don't carry them because they aren't what the industry thinks most consumers want.
Maybe but right now, I just paid almost a $200 premium for 'smart' Samsung TV. Everyone in my family, hates the UI and complained about missing channels compared to our Roku and Chromecast. $35 later and everyone is happy again.
I guess you could also set up some smart devices with some log-in credentials on a guest network you activate once a month to allow everything to update without it being too invasive or something.
Such a shame they didn't focus on desktop, the timing was great with Windows 8 being a shit show.
The UI descriptions and mockups were overly complex and seemed like something designed for a computer rather than a smart TV.
I like how open Mozilla was about it. I just disliked the actual OS, and how it was made.
I'm not impressed with any interfaces, but at least my Panasonic's FxOS is better than my old Panasonic's.
I probably read like a broken record at this point:
Despite Mozilla dropping development on it, FirefoxOS is still not "dead". Open source things only die when no one has interest in them any more. AFAIK FirefoxOS is still the most open mobile operating system. If some other company decides to take up where mozilla left off, fork FirefoxOS, and do stuff with it, they can make a run at it (this is extremely unlikely).
The platform itself is pretty amazing already - It does all the actual "phone" stuff just great -- making calls, texting (minus a snafu with SMS group messaging on the version I'm on). The apps are web apps. The phone is almost literally one huge browser. There isn't that much more to add! Yeah it'd be nice if it had more "native" app support, but honestly, any site with a mobile website (or responsive design) has "native" app support. If you've used version 2.x, you're probably pretty satisfied with what your phone does now anyway. I know I am.
FirefoxOS will still be useful as long as people keep making apps for it (and again, apps are basically webpages, so even if it's not distributed on the marketplace, people can still webpages to homescreen), and it will be useful as long as people want to use it. It is already viable open source mobile OS. I am grateful to mozilla for taking the time to make it.
I'm excited to see what they do in connected devices, because despite the moves mozilla has made recently (hello, pocket, addon signing requirement), I still would much rather have them build software that was running on my toaster than anyone else.
[EDIT] - Also, check out the comments on the site. They're great.
I'm not excited at all to see what they do with connected devices, because I expect them (and their partners) to have a go at it for a couple of years and then shut it down when the next shiny new market opportunity appears.
I have no idea why Firefox would have an advantage in this space over Google/Android. I'd also trust them more, but I just don't see it.
Plus, WebOS never actually got as far as FirefoxOS did on physical devices -- FFOS is powering phones for people all across the world right now. From what I remember WebOS got mostly relegated ot tablets.
I understand and share some of your frustration with their seemingly indecisiveness and willingess to drop certain projects to chase other ones. But can you blame them? They're trying to stay profitable.
So I think they'd have a little bit of an advantage becuase they've essentially ported the web model to run on embedded devices, and I think that could make it easier for manufacturers to integrate. Instead of learning to make some special kind of android app (+ ide support of course), manufacturers only have to worry about making webpages, and using some `window.mozFridge.changeTemperature` API, rather than something heavier.
My statement was more about trust than some implicit advantage in IoT (though I think the case could be made that they do have some advantages).
I really wanted this phone, but I was skeptical as to whether it could make a big enough dent given Apple and Android.
The card system that Google now uses IIRC was because one of the designers left WebOS and joined Google.
There is a difference between dead in popular perception and dead eternally. Eventually you will left with maybe one person looking at the code and then nobody ever looking at the code even on a monthly basis.
I feel that there is real evidence of Google influencing the regulatory landscape and we really need a viable alternative to google for people that can't afford an iPhone.
Google's data collection on android devices is so far past the creepy line (all under the dual use rationale of protecting users from bad things- cert abuse in chrome or malware prevention in verify apps).
A decade ago, Mozilla abandoned the Mozilla Application Suite in favor of Firefox, both built on the Gecko technology stack. Because a product ends doesn't mean the open source technology ends too.
(BTW, volunteers picked up the Mozilla Application Suite, renamed it to Seamonkey, and it still runs today.)
Alienating the first wave of developers... Way to go, Mozilla.
It finishes up with two slides of "tough lessons" basically explaining why it failed as a phone OS, and then "what's next?" containing connected device plans. So it's pretty well in line with the announcement.
Much of Mozilla's value is its influence; its ability to push for open standards that prioritize end user's needs. Before mobile, when ~20% of the world uses Firefox to access your service, you couldn't ignore them. But without a meaningful presence on any mobile platform, how much influence does Mozilla have?
IoT is another huge space and I hope they have success building influence there.
FirefoxOS is interesting I think.
Browser is enough feature for OS in these days. but... it was not so enough in real life.
The pivot from phones to "connected devices" was already announced before and this is just fleshing out that.
The language sounds a lot more like corporate-speak than what Mozilla's external communications usually are, I wonder if this is standard fare or if this team is coming from different cultures.
Something like "Mozilla stops FirefoxOS development to focus on IoT"
The submitted title was "Mozilla officially killed Firefox OS". Submitters: it's against HN's rules to editorialize titles like that. The site guidelines ask you to use the original title unless it is misleading or linkbait. Making a title more misleading and more linkbait is the opposite of that.
In this case we changed it to what seems to be the most relevant subtitle. That's ok for submitters to do as well. What's not ok is to make up your own sensational language.
I've always felt that Mozilla should rebrand Firefox as simply 'Mozilla'. The Mozilla browser. Using their dinosaur logo as the mascot. It just sounds hipper, more catchy, marketing matters. Normals seem to consistently mangle Firefox as 'Foxfire' among other oddities. I think this would help progress the Mozilla foundation/corporation's efforts.
For interesting mobile initiatives, we still have Ubuntu Touch to keep an eye on. Their phone->PC docking idea is pretty good and makes a lot of sense.
And throw away the last bit of brand recognition they have? Actually, they plan to do the opposite: call unrelated products Firefox Xyz because that's the brand that people know.
Firefox (then Firebird) should have been Mozilla Browser, and Thunderbird should have been Mozilla Mail . The codenames proved to be quite catchy though.
> Normals seem to consistently mangle Firefox as 'Foxfire' among other oddities.
Meanwhile in a parallel universe, normals consistently call Mozilla Browser the Godzilla Browser.
But if it were attempted, the Electrolysis launch would be the time.
You're about ten years too late: http://www-archive.mozilla.org/products/mozilla1.x/