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What’s up with Firefox? (recode.net)
326 points by cpeterso on Jan 25, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 384 comments



Regarding FirefoxOS, Mozilla erred in focusing their efforts on cheap, crappy phones¹ that were only available in places like Spain or India, and not getting first-tier phones into the hands of as many hackers as possible, as quickly as possible.

By focusing on low-end phones and not Nexus- or Galaxy-class handsets, they lost sight of the fact that smartphones are aspirational devices. People want the best phones they can get, with high performance and high-resolution screens. They don't care about libre software or the Open Web if the devices on which it runs are perceived as inferior. (Everyone I know uses either an iPhone or a reasonably performant Android phone, and I don't run in wealthy or tech circles much these days.)

Look at the runaway success of the iPhone. It wasn't cheap, but because it was clearly a quality device, both regular people and developers clamored for them. (Remember the hue and cry when Apple initially said they wouldn't provide a market for third-party apps?)

If Mozilla really wanted to spur interest in FirefoxOS among developers, they should have set up kiosks at every Fry's Electronics in the greater S.F. Bay area (on the doorsteps of Apple, Google, Facebook) to sell decent, unlocked phones directly. People would have lined up to buy them just to hack on them. I would have seriously considered buying one as an alternative to a Nexus phone, if one had been available.

1: Ars Technical eviscerates a $35 FirefoxOS phone: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/10/testing-a-3


With respect, this seems very Bay Area short-sighted. Mozilla was open about targeting cheap, crappy phones, which my understanding makes up a very significant portion of the Android phone ecosystem. They were looking at those Spain, India, China markets, yes, and nailing those markets didn't really depend upon the opinions of comparatively extraordinarily rich Bay Area denizens or hackers. If you can afford a Galaxy s5 right now, even if you have to budget a bit, you are not the market that that OS was for (my understanding). Similar to that Facebook Internet thing - it wasn't for us, it was for people who can (and do) live two years off one of our paychecks.

EDIT: I just read that review you linked and it suffers the same problem - a total lack of perspective. The only critical error I can see is the lack of internal battery to keep time synced, which will be a major setback for browsing because of authentication and whatnot. Other than that, the sorts of people spending 35$ on a phone do not care about the three different materials, the thickness, the shitty camera, etc. I've seen the most horrifying, hackneyed together internet connectivity solutions in China that to mock a 35$ phone for being "too thick" is to be just... out of touch.


Just a precision about this "shitty camera" that Ars Technica loved so much. When we (Mozilla) did the development, we had reference devices from the SOC vendor (Spreadtrum). For sure this was not a high end sensor, but it was taking good pictures, not blurry or out of focus. So what happened? Well, one of the OEMs decided to save pennies by using a different sensor, but forgot to make the driver changes... (they also cheaped out on the battery which ruined the autonomy).

The lesson here, and where we failed, is that if you don't have control over the full stack you're shipping (hardware and software) and can't manage the QA and sign off process before shipping, you expose yourself to bad surprises.


It depends indirectly on their opinions, though: those markets (like everywhere else) get a significant proportion of their apps from Silicon Valley, and every missing app makes a new platform that much less competitive.

Anyway, crappy hardware cares more about software efficiency. Firefox OS struggled massively with performance, to the point of absurdity; targeting low-end hardware with that is an idea that only ever made sense on paper. Supposedly it was just a temporary problem, optimizations were coming… eventually...


I don't know why they didn't look in the USA. I don't want a cheap crappy phone but I think $500 or more for a phone is insanity (and not because I can't afford it). I want a decent phone for under $200. Right now I'm using a Moto G which has been great for me. I would very likely have bought a Firefox phone if I could have simply to not be entangled with Apple or Google.


> They were looking at those Spain, India, China markets, yes, and nailing those markets didn't really depend upon the opinions of comparatively extraordinarily rich Bay Area denizens or hackers.

It does when those Bay Area hackers are the ones who decide whether or not they will port their app to your phone.


> It does when those Bay Area hackers are the ones who decide whether or not they will port their app to your phone.

The mistake is rather that for closed protocols you are dependent on the Bay Area hacker to port the apps instead of "everyone can implement the open protocol".


> They were looking at those Spain, India, China markets, yes, and nailing those markets didn't really depend upon the opinions of comparatively extraordinarily rich Bay Area denizens or hackers. If you can afford a Galaxy s5 right now, even if you have to budget a bit, you are not the market that that OS was for (my understanding).

GP's point is that targeting these markets was a mistake. Their strategy was fundamentally flawed from the start.

> Other than that, the sorts of people spending 35$ on a phone do not care about the three different materials, the thickness, the shitty camera, etc. I've seen the most horrifying, hackneyed together internet connectivity solutions in China that to mock a 35$ phone for being "too thick" is to be just... out of touch.

Again, GP's point was that the idea of selling a $35 phone to China was what killed Firefox OS in the first place.


> With respect, this seems very Bay Area short-sighted. Mozilla was open about targeting cheap, crappy phones, which my understanding makes up a very significant portion of the Android phone ecosystem. They were looking at those Spain, India, China markets, yes, and nailing those markets didn't really depend upon the opinions of comparatively extraordinarily rich Bay Area denizens or hackers.

If Mozilla was targeting the market for cheap, crappy phones, they were also targeting the search market on cheap, crappy phones. Unfortunately Yahoo, Bing and Google, the companies who comprise nearly all of Mozilla's revenues, need access to extraordinarily rich markets to justify their bids. It's not clear to me that they'd be substantially better off if the Mozilla phone was considered a success.


I think the idea would be something along the lines of scale, and locking down an untargeted market. A sort of long-term plan, maybe hoping to corner a huge (greater than 1 billion) population of folks whose families might one day be targetable by ads for purchasing things and are already inside the ecosystem, or merely pulling a 1$ profit off a 35$ dollar phone... times 1.2 billion sales. I mean pie in the sky but I don't think "these people are poor" means there isn't money to be made.

There's also government social welfare contracts to consider, or good faith agreements with a government that allows you to corner a more profitable market (you provided five hundred thousand affordable phones to our people, so we'll let you lay fiber through our country / get through our Great Firewall / whatever).


> I mean pie in the sky but I don't think "these people are poor" means there isn't money to be made.

Yea, but you don't "bet the company" on it if the opportunity is smaller.


Firefox OS was not a "bet the company" project. Mozilla is financially very healthy.


You'll have to take that up with Mark Mayo:

> Mayo says it took the focus off of Firefox. “It was close to a bet-the-farm effort,” he said.


Read page two of that review again? I have no issue with the physical device, its terrible performance was ultimately what prompted my essay.


So if their strategy was a good one, why did it fail?


The Firefox team assumed that Android would be an expensive, bulky OS that wouldn't fit into sub-$120 phones -- leaving lots of room for spartan little Firefox OS to own the low end.

Not so. Android decided to do cheap and lean, too. I did some price comparisons in emerging markets back in 2015, and everywhere that Firefox OS tried to play, there was an Android alternative available at a comparable price. More details are here:

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/537661/firefox-maker-batt...


Poor execution.


It was the right strategy as well, target people just getting a smart phone, and those who were not invested in the app ecosystem.


Two years ago, at the same time Firefox OS phones were coming out, I had the chance to test a bunch of 3.5" screen size, android 4.2 running phones from China that cost $40 each. The Chinese phones had the full play store and were worlds better than the Firefox os.


I'm a Spaniard and can offer a bit of perspective:

Firefox OS was doomed the day they partnered with Telefónica. It's a massive juggernaut which phagocytes every startup they touch, assimilate their talent, then destroy the rest.

For those who don't know Telefónica, it's something akin to T-Mobile or AT&T (maybe even bigger, not sure). They had to change the name and branding of their phone division, a massive feat in both cash and brand recognition a few years ago to clean up their shitty reputation because people hated them so much.

In the tech side that HN may be interested in, they earn money by winning government contracts and developing crappy tech like a regular consultancy. They have a very high tech R+D division which I'm sure does wonderful work but their projects don't seem to surface.

In summary, if you see something "developed by Telefonica" it should turn your alarms on.


I'm a Mozilla employee, and though I wasn't directly on FirefoxOS I did work with and serve that team. Telefonica was by far the most engaged partner we had, they had good engineers and seemed genuinely committed to the success of the project. There were lots of disagreements on product direction, sometimes we were right and sometimes they we right. Ultimately we were both wrong - I don't think there was a winning product strategy. Not on the high end or the low end. In that situation everyone ends up with bad feelings.

It does make it hard to learn from the experience though. Maybe the lesson is about learning how to quit at the right time.


I want to second that.

I'm a Mozilla employee and I was very deeply involved in Firefox OS work.

On the engineering level, Telefonica was very helpful and working with them was actually a good experience. (can't say the same about all partners :().

Hindsight 20/20 is a powerful bias and it's easy now to talk about why FxOS wasn't meant to be.

All I can say, is that we tried our best and designed a pretty usable device in the end - just week ago I launched my Z3 with latest nightly of Firefox OS 3.0 (from April 2016) and damn, it's actually pretty nice and super smooth, and I'm speaking as a user of the Pixel.

I deeply believe that there's room for an open source operating system and that web stack is a good platform to base it on. The legacy of Firefox OS in form of tons of spec work and engine improvements (Firefox memory usage!) makes it much easier to do this now and I hope someone will.


I agree zbraniecki! And that's part of pain... we actually learnt a lot, enough to know how to do most things right now.

But anyone building a new mobile OS will be facing the elephant in the room: will you get the top 5 apps to run or be ported on your OS? Without that, no way you can succeed. For FxOS, the unwillingness of Whatsapp to build an official app was more damaging that all the other reasons I read about.

OSes are commodity vehicules for apps, which are rightly what users care about. This gives a lot of power to prominent apps, which are often silos themselves - so maybe the fight to give is to displace these!


Thanks for both your replies, yours and Ian's

I've also known Telefonica engineers and they are some of the best. Maybe my bitterness against the behemoth clouded my words and I apologize for that.

The problem, as Lance said, is their inability to execute anything that doesn't provide them a direct, noticeable impact on sales (said to me by a Telefonica exec)

What I'm truly sorry for is the fact that the Firefox OS flopped. As an engineer, I know that you can build an awesome product but the execs may trash it if it doesn't go in the expected direction. And, with Telefonica, that happens too often.


Just a note that I have a Firefox OS powered Panasonic TV and it does its job fine. I didn't know it was running Firefox OS until I powered it on for the first time after purchase and saw the logo.

It does have it's glitches (TV guide screen UI is very unresponsive) but I have few complaints. The Youtube app probably gets some usage as well as screen mirroring from Android/Windows PC.


You can all be correct here - the Telefonica people may have been excellent, but the Telefonica machine is unable to execute, simply by being so inefficient. Meanwhile the brand is damaged almost beyond repair.


"For those who don't know Telefónica, it's something akin to T-Mobile or AT&T [...] they had to change the name and branding of their phone division [...] because people hated them so much."

Comcast. The word you're looking for is Comcast.


More similar would be Verizon which was the despised GTE back in the 1980s.


Here in NYC, Verizon was the despised NYNEX.

A more recent example would be the merger of the despised Time Warner Cable with Charter, now renamed to Spectrum.


> By focusing on low-end phones and not Nexus- or Galaxy-class handsets, they lost sight of the fact that smartphones are aspirational devices.

Yeah, I remember when Firefox OS first came out, and when I heard of Mozilla's strategy of starting in the third world and then moving up, I knew Firefox OS was doomed.

Why? Because it reminded me of something I heard about car platforms, years ago. Back in 2002, GM introduced a pair of cars in the European market both based on the same platform: the Vauxhall Vectra and the Saab 9-3 (not the first generation of either nameplate, but the first to share a platform). GM made sure to introduce the Saab first. Why? Because Saab was a premium brand and Vauxhall wasn't. GM knew that "Saab built on Vauxhall technology" wouldn't fly -- people would see it as Saab degrading themselves by raiding a mid-level car for parts. On the other hand, "Vauxhall built on Saab technology" would go over very well -- people would see it as Vauxhall incorporating elements of a premium car.

The moral of the story is: you don't release a budget model and work your way up; you release a premium model and then bring it downmarket to cultivate the image of bringing luxury technology to the masses.


> it reminded me of something I heard about car platforms, years ago. Back in 2002, GM introduced a pair of cars in the European market both based on the same platform: the Vauxhall Vectra and the Saab 9-3.

Your comment actually reminded me of an old Top Gear episode [1][2] where they described how Saab were instructed by GM to change only the body and the badges of a Vauxhall Cavalier when producing the Saab 900, but they ignored them and modified so much that the two cars only shared 1/3rd of the parts [2, 03:59]. The same thing happened again with the Vauxhall Vectra and the Saab 9-3, but to an even greater extent.

It certainly sounds like Saab didn't want to be associated with GM or Vauxhall or use any of their inferior technology or parts.

[1] http://www.topgear.com/videos/jeremy-clarkson/tribute-saab-p...

[2] http://www.topgear.com/videos/jeremy-clarkson/tribute-saab-p...


On the other hand, you look at what ARM is doing to x86.

80% as good for 20% of the cost wins. You just have to be willing to accept selling for 20% of the cost.

The problem Mozilla has is that their hardware is not going to be any better/cheaper than somebody else's because it is somebody else's, and they can't undercut Android on price because Android is free.

What might have been an interesting strategy is to create a Firefox-branded version of Android that ships Mozilla equivalents to the Google apps.


I think completely separating them and not marketing them as X build on Y would be the better move. At least according to positioning theory from marketing.


They could only get carrier support in select countries and that was what was helping pay for development of the platform. And trust me, even if they had had them available for developers in the Bay area, I don't think developers would have cared. The hard truth is the APIs just weren't robust enough to do anything beyond the same HTML5 apps we already saw across Android and iOS, and it ran like dogshit.

The main problem with Firefox OS and also Canonical's Ubuntu phone was that they treated the lowend market of certain countries like second or third class citizens, assuming the cheap price would make up for the fact that there were no apps and the performance was terrible. What those companies didn't count on (but frankly should have), was that Android would just get cheaper and cheaper and the those countries would be fine with running two or three year old hardware (especially since apps frequently support old versions), rather than running a second-class OS.

I would always ask Mozilla what they would do when Android simply got as cheap, and I never got an answer that was in any way encouraging. And the answer was, they would accept defeat and give up.


I think it goes beyond both of these comments. So Plasma Mobile does support two high end phones, but only two and they're already outdated (Nexus 5 and OnePlusOne). Neither have an sd slot either.

A friend of mine had a Firefox OS phone at one point that she got for free at a conference, and I just remember at the time it was very difficult to even purchase a low end model outside of Europe at the time.

Part of it is carrier lock-in, but another huge factor is that you can't just install Firefox OS onto any old mobile device. Back in the late 90s/early 2000s, you could install any Linux on any PC/x86 system. PC was and still is a solid standard. The mainline kernel does a really good job of supporting the PC, both old and new (with really old support getting dropped and forked into things like the Linux/386 project for people who still use 386/486 embedded systems).

There is nothing similar for the ARM market. There is no standard. Almost no phones support Device Tree config (and definitely none of the flagships). With Windows and Linux, you install your base, you might need to install some drivers/modules and then you're done. ARM is a spec sold to SoC manufactures and then vendors attach whatever the fuck they want to whatever random pins. There's no unified boot loader. No standard way of determining devices. No standard platform. ARM isn't a platform. It's just an architecture.

http://penguindreams.org/blog/android-fragmentation/

There are plenty of x86 chips out there that aren't in PCs (The Wonderswan and the PS4 are both great examples of totally-not-a-PC), but they are the exceptions.

Ubuntu Mobile could have changed all this with the Edge. We may have finally had some standardized phones for open source and alternative operating systems. As it stands, every rom you see out there has to be customized for the hacked-n-patched together kernels of each and every single phone. It's not always an issue of binary drivers and no standard Kernel ABI, as some of these vendors patch things deep in the kernel in totally hacky, non-upstreamble ways for their kludged together hardware. Combined with binary blobs, closed baseband firmware, etc. etc. it's just a mess.

Currently there is no, convenient hackable mobile device platform, and that's keeping us from the same Linux revolution on embedded devices.


Windows on ARM is standardized with UEFI+ACPI, but that's only because Microsoft didn't half-ass it.


But I thought those bootloaders were still locked to Microsoft's signing key? So even if you have UEFI+ACPI on WinRT devices, you still can't install Linux can you?


Secure Boot was broken and Grub is running in UEFI mode perfectly. Sadly, Linux doesn't support ACPI on ARM 32-bits, so you don't get beyond early kernel init


They were simply too late to the market, but they had to do something, if they stick to the same course they will always have a very small slice of the mobile market as most people don't replace the browser on their mobile

I'm surprised that Google and in particular Apple aren't coming under scrutiny from competition watchdogs as Microsoft did with IE in the early 2000s.


Google has an incredible amount of money invested in our federal government here in the US. Including at least one former FTC Commissioner in their pocket. :)

Competition watchdogs in almost every other first world country, however, are investigating Google for various antitrust claims.

Apple doesn't get a lot of scrutiny from competition watchdogs because they aren't a monopoly anywhere. Heck, outside the US, the iPhone has a pretty tiny market share.


Google spent $0/year lobbying until Microsoft and the "Fair search" coalition did a lot of anti-Google lobbying in the US and the EU. They also didn't start building up a patent warchest until they were involved in a patent thermonuclear war.

I don't find patents or lobbyists particularly agreeable - but for an organization of a certain size to go without them in the 21st century is likely a very expensive strategic error.


Google's PAC, NetPAC, well predates the formation of FairSearch, by at least two years.


An important difference is that you have a choice between iPhone and Android, where you had no choice but Windows.


At the time you had Mac os (or early iterations of OSX), desktop Linux, Beos, os2, etc.


Sure, but Windows had (and still has) a monopoly on desktop operating systems. Being a monopoly doesn't mean you have 100% market share, but rather that you're (a) the dominant player, and (b) your market share is considered sufficiently high that it can be leveraged to modify the market forces themselves. When you're a monopoly, additional antitrust requirements apply to you that don't apply to the lesser players in that market.


In 2001 when the lawsuits were happening Windows (Desktop and Server) had 80% market share, Android has 88% now. And while you can switch to iOS it's prohibitive in that you have to buy dedicated hardware.

In 2001 if you wanted to switch off Windows you could buy BeOS, Linux, or OS2 and run it on the same computer that you had windows on. Back then I did just that, switching from Windows to BeOS when BeOS was made free, I did my university work on BeOS running on a Toshiba laptop that came with Windows.

Right now if you have an iPhone or Android phone you have very little option to switch operating system on your device.


Android doesn't have 88% of the US market, only the world market.[0]

Also, what got MS in trouble was their contracts with hardware vendors. Companies like Compaq were required to pay MS for a Windows license even on computers they sold without Windows installed, and that was an abuse of MS' power. If Google is charging companies for Android even for phone they sell without Android installed, that would be analogous.

[0] "While Android continues to grow its share of the global smartphone market, it is actually losing share in the U.S. Kantar’s data shows Android phones making up 55 percent of U.S. smartphone sales compared with more than 60 percent in the same period a year ago." http://www.recode.net/2017/1/11/14239038/iphone-apple-androi...


I'm pretty sure it wasn't 80% of the Desktop market. More likely 90%+ according to what I could find, with MacOS being in the 3-4 percent and Linux at less than 1%.

And yeah, sure, you could run OS/2 or even BeOS, but these never reached statistically significant penetration.

Just as today you can run Sailfish, or Cyanogen/Lineage, etc... the latter supposedly has a market share of 3% or so. Better than BeOS, Linux, etc... in 2001.


> Remember when we prosecuted Microsoft for bundling a browser with an OS? Imagine the future we'd live in if we'd be willing to let one tech company amass that much power.

> Thank God we nipped that in the bud.

https://xkcd.com/1118/


The alt text on this comic is beautiful.


It ain't quite accurate, though, since we can write "Fa¢ebook", "Goog£e", and "App£e" ;)


¢ doesn't quite do it, though...


Fac€book?

Alternatively, ƒacebook, but that's probably too subtle (and a minor currency anyway).


It's not like it was before. JIT engines made the situation more complicated. The security problems are hard.


That's a pretty lame exuse: if anything, OS integrated JIT engines are likely to be less secure, and a more diverse engine ecosystem makes attacks less attractive. Witness how JIT engines don't cause many problems (and never really have caused many problems) on desktop. Which isn't to say they're immune from security risks, just that there are lots of other components that pose just as many risks (or more), which are not (or cannot) be avoided - not least of which the first-party JIT.

Furthermore, many exploits don't care if their running on a JIT or on a scripting engine - that's an implementation detail. And if you really cared about security, you could design a verifiable native subset (as several systems have done) - webassembly shows that even slow standardization processes that need much more complicated cross-device compatibility can move meaningfully in that direction.

Disallowing non-first party JITs completely for security reasons is at best delusional, but more likely intentionally anti-competitive. Minor security bonuses are just gravy.


Also, as noted elsewhere in this thread, the App Store rules explicitly ban third-party browsing engines, so it doesn't help even if you go without a JIT entirely.


> OS integrated JIT engines are likely to be less secure,

I imagine you never used a mainframe OS.


I never have - what are you getting at?


Most of them use "OS integrated JIT engines".


Yeah, but on the other hand there are only a handful of companies that make Browsers, and even fewer that make browser engines. The vendors could pay Apple to audit the codebases and it would be worth it to be on the platform.


> (Remember the hue and cry when Apple initially said they wouldn't provide a market for third-party apps?)

No, I don't. But all my friends wanted an iPhone and they're not programmers.

I think most people didn't know or even consider one could develop apps for phones at the time. Or why would someone want apps on a phone. Or even what an "app" is. They only knew "programs" on Windows.

People bought what was available. There were starting to appear some apps for Nokia phones but it wasn't widely popular. It was also a hassle to download / update.


There was a huge outcry I remember it well, ironically Apple only wanted web apps which put it at a significant disadvantage to Windows Mobile, Symbian, Palm OS, and Blackberry based phones.

The wow factor of the UI and interface design more than made up for it though, but there is a famous interview where Balmer laughs at the iPhone because it was expensive, had no keyboard, and no applications whereas Microsoft was selling millions of Windows phones a year with all of those.


Then I guess you don't remember it all that well - even at the introduction people made fun out of the lack of 3rd party apps and consistently criticized it. Symbian smartphones were already pretty popular (at least her in EU).

And to counter your anectode - pretty much none of my friends wanted an iPhone and they're not programmers either ;P


People very well knew what apps were and why they wanted them on a phone. Especially as phones were slow back in the day and had slow 2G networks (original iPhone), an app was a much more fluid experience than a touch-website.

In fact people wrote apps for rooted iPhones before iOS came out with official app support and an Appstore.


As an app developer pre-iphone, people certainly didn't know what apps were.

It was crazy how after apps came to the iphone suddenly people did know and there was even a little cachet to it.


As an Indian who bought the Firefox OS phone, I second the cheap phones strategy being what killed it. I remember it taking so long just to open an app and say search or even to open the marketplace, I gave up very often. Forget about developing for them. I think it is atleast partly because of the bad hardware, I don't know enough innards of the OS itself to say whether it was inefficient or not.


> ...[ignore Spain and India, target SF]...

Because what the globe needs is yet another company pandering to tech elites and ignoring the huge numbers of people out there of modest means? I mean seriously, Apple does all this stuff you're saying, pulling in devs with the shiny stuff, and targeting the SF yuppie... and this helps the people in Spain and India how? Not to mention that you're talking about the market segment already occupied by Android. Mozilla was trying to cater to those left behind.

Mozilla's raison d'etre isn't to push libre software per se. It's to enable the masses; libre software is merely an asset in that mission.


...tech elites...SF yuppies...

Read again what I wrote: the point was to get the phones into the hands of hackers, so they would write apps and create that ecosystem to ultimately benefit people elsewhere. (If there's a place with a more active hacker culture than the Bay Area, let's bring the phones there.)

I agree with amyjess' point made elsewhere. A quality phone is the means by which you get people interested in a platform, particularly developers. I think that's what's happening with Android and iPhone, in that the first phones are expensive, but the cost is spiraling ever downward. I just would rather see a freer alternative succeed, and hoped FirefoxOS would be it.


The hackers in the bay area are more interested in shiny iphones than up'n'coming tools for the masses. You'd be better off doing it in Europe, where there is a stronger hacker culture towards doing stuff 'for everybody', plus much more familiarisation with i18n issues. In this bay area/startup bubble we live in, the default refrain is "I don't want to fiddle with the underlying machine", and that's not the kind of mindset you want for an underdog that is never going to be as polished as the market leader.

> iPhone ... but the cost is spiraling ever downward

The iPhone 1, the one that got people excited, was US$400. The iPhone 7 is US$650 (for the bottom model). Inflation in the US has not been 50%+ for the intervening decade.


Interestingly this is also the path Sailfish is taking. The launch of a fairly lowend device with Intex didn't see a rush of devs from IN (not surprising) but resulted in the forums and marketplace comment sections being flooded with incomprehensive and often abusive blabber. Hope they got paid well by Intex.


this


Just because you don't care about freedom doesn't mean no one cares about freedom.


(I'm writing this in Firefox Beta for Android, for what it's worth.)

You misunderstand--I desperately wanted FirefoxOS phones to succeed, precisely because an Open Web and free software is important, and ultimately a phone that can run any arbitrary software or OS. I know FirefoxOS wasn't that, but it seemed to be a step in the right direction. But if a phone is a lousy application platform and if developers can't be enticed to hack on them, then the question of freedom is moot.


It is very important to use Firefox: For Microsoft, Apple or Google their "free" browser MUST eventually be a pawn in their corporate strategy. It's one thing to use a service from a company, but conceding this crucial puzzle piece to any one company? I don't know about that. Mozilla takes money from Google and others, but ultimately depends 100% on a free internet.

One could argue which browser is a little ahead in any area, and which one needs "revitalization", to use a word from the article, but Firefox would have to seriously fall behind before I would switch browsers. Do you think ad-blockers would be a thing if it was between Chrome, Safari and IE? A lot depends on a single number: Firefox' market share.


I agree with you. Have confidence in a international company whose main revenue is internet advertisement is not the best way to grantee people to have the Internet freedom.

Browsing with a Google browser make me feel like riding an Exxon car.


How many people would still use Chrome if Google rebranded it as "DoubleClick Chrome"? :)


That's genius, you can do the same for any Google service and double check your own response. :)


Firefox has also been a pawn in Mozilla's corporate strategies many times.

They changed Firefox users' default search engine to Yahoo, not only in new installations but overriding existing settings, after Mozilla cut a deal with Yahoo.

Mozilla also backed EME, eventually, a big threat to free internet as we knew it, among many other things.

If you take this history into account, portraying Firefox as being unblemished by Mozilla Corporation's monetization schemes and guardian of the free internet is just romantic fiction.


> They also backed EME,

No they didn't. They argued and fought against EME until it was clear that there was no way they would win. At that point they implemented it so that they could stay relevant, without it their market share would be even lower and they'd have zero chance of getting market share again.

And market share isn't a "corporate" concern, it is vital to their non-profit mission.

All that being said, that doesn't mean I'm happy with everything they do. Just arguing on that one point.


You just gave details on how and why they flipped their stance on EME. And you're essentially saying they traded market share for their principles about free internet. You're basically agreeing with me.

> At that point they implemented it so that they could stay relevant,

...instead of fighting it without giving up.

> And market share isn't a "corporate" concern

This literally makes 0 sense to me. Do you actually believe this? Market share share is vital to Mozilla Corporation's business, which they have been using to cut million dollar deals with Yahoo, Google, etc. I don't wanna go all the want and say "you're the product", but they basically monetize their collective user base. So regardless of how they/you spin it, I don't buy that it's not a corporate concern.


To be clear, I meant market share isn't solely a corporate concern. Certainly it is in the corporation's best interest, but it is also a very big interest from a non-profit/altruistic perspective.


Don't forget the Pocket integration that nobody asked for.


A trip down memory lane: (a brave stance)

"Bug 923590 - Pledge never to implement HTML5 DRM": https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=923590

From 2013: https://brendaneich.com/2013/10/the-bridge-of-khazad-drm/

From 2014: https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2014/05/14/drm-and-the-challen...


Content blockers would exist for Safari, yes. Apple doesn't depend on ad revenue or tracking and therefore this differentiates them from Google.

Seeing as Firefox has terrible market share on iOS, and Apple still offered Content blocking... I think it's clear Firefox has no impact on the matter.


For most people (at least on Macbooks) the logic is this: this extension isn't on Safari.. -> Chrome. Hey, my battery life is cut in half -> Firefox. Battery life still cut in half, but now scrolling sucks too.. -> Safari with substitute extension


For me it's which browser am I least likely to get my machine owned. I'll be happy to switch back to Firefox when they aren't near the bottom of that list.

http://www.cvedetails.com/product/3264/Mozilla-Firefox.html?...


This all seems a bit sensationalist. Mozilla tried a few other things, mostly didn't work out, maybe a bit distracted from Firefox. The decline from 2010 was about Chrome, not neglect (& maybe mobile, where they lacked a device).

I wouldn't say Firefox was leading the way or the biggest innovator in the last few years, but for me it's kept up-to-date enough not to feel at all neglected.


I've been using Firefox for years without any problems and find it much better (just as fast, more privacy-minded) than chrome.

I honestly don't understand (from a consumer standpoint) why people complain about Firefox. I can understand devs having browser preferences, but to say that "time forgot" firefox is ridiculous as a general user.


Same here.

I keep Chrome on Linux only for its developer tools, which are clearly more performant, and for its updated and sandboxed Flash.

But I only bring it up for those two features. Otherwise Firefox with a ton of extensions, including Tab Center, is my default choice. I don't see in what way it would be inferior to Chrome.

In fact, it has several user-level features that I miss in other browsers, such as column / rectangular selection of tables, automatic saving of form input, Ctrl+I dialog with a list of pictures in the current page, and so on. Don't tell me these are "power user" or developer features!

Firefox for Android is also very good, IMHO better than Chrome, and it supports uBlock, Stylish, and so on.


Adobe reversed its NPAPI support instead of being stuck on the 12.x branch Adobe now ships the current version of Flash to Firefox on Linux. https://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/otherversions/


I migrated back to Firefox from Chrome recently after hearing this news. Though Flash is becoming less and less relevant, but it was bit annoying before.


As a dedicated FF user: It feels significantly slower than chrome, it's hard to figure out what tab is killing things, and they keep making choices that I consider highly questionable.

I do love FF, and it is the browser I use everyday. But it's not without it's own warts, which Chrome is much better at hiding.


I've found that in recent times Chrome has started to feel bloated and slow and firefox (with minimal addons) feels much more zippy. However Firefox does seem to be a bit more temperamental when something else is using significant CPU.

Ultimately I prefer Firefox.


After version 50.0 I switched back from Opera. The deal is to get the e10s multiprocess windows on. It might be disabled because some of the addons. You can try to enforce it or like in my case with only uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger installed, it was on by default.

This browser is seriously fast now on Linux. I couldn't be happier with it. I've used it for weeks already, browsing a lot and it's still as snappy as when I installed it.

Good job. And soon we'll start getting the Servo stuff...


I've tried turning it on via https://wiki.mozilla.org/Electrolysis#Force_Enable, but it still doens't seem to be on per about:support unfortunately.

If you have any other suggestions for getting it going, I'd appreciate it.

One additional complaint I have about FF: It's hard to find out where to change the setting that I want. I constantly have to ddg for "How do I change $x" and I end up with 3 different answers for 3 different revisions. If anyone knows of a good resource for me to find this out, I would appreciate it.


Elsewhere in the comments section there were tips about an addon that tells if one of your addons is blocking e10s. Another useful tip was the dom.ipc.processCount setting. Before I cancelled my LastPass account I was using the 3.x version from them, which doesn't support e10s and crashed the browser when I forced it on. But still I was able to turn it on even though the browser was unusable.

I run this on Arch and Wayland, which might also add to the snappyness. What I kind of observed from all the comments was, that the OSX users were complaining the most about the slowness. Might be that the Linux version is faster then.


Exactly that, it feels slow. On my laptop I have chrome and nightly firefox which typically is faster than stable branch. I have tons of addons in chrome and only ublock in ff, and yet chrome feels much more responsive compared to ff.


Agreed. I prefer Firefox, but I recognise there's really not that much difference between Firefox and Chrome in terms of usability and features, they both seem about on par to me (some areas Firefox is slightly ahead, some areas Chrome is slightly ahead). The suggestion that Firefox is something "time forgot" is basically just trolling, someone looking for a reaction rather than something substantial.


The numbers don't back either of your claims, though - significantly more people use Safari and Chrome than use Firefox. I for one appreciate chrome for the fact that it syncs with my google everything, across all devices, google accounts, etc.

I'm probably going to hate myself for my blase attitude towards security when I inevitably end up on some massive dump of hacked accounts, but I've kind of given up on privacy/security. It's just so convenient to be able to pull up on my phone the tab I had open on my browser when I'm in the kitchen cooking, or whatever.


>"The numbers don't back either of your claims, though - significantly more people use Safari and Chrome than use Firefox."

The reason we're in disagreement is we're picking different forms of comparison. You're looking at popularity, I'm looking at technology. I don't dispute more people use Chrome, but that doesn't make it automatically better from a technical point of view. As I said before, technically Firefox and Chrome are fairly equal, and there are benchmarks and feature comparisons that back this up.


"It's just so convenient to be able to pull up on my phone the tab I had open on my browser when I'm in the kitchen cooking, or whatever."

FWIW, Firefox supports syncing tabs between devices as well.


The firefox syncing is awesome. FF syncing feels friendly and the Chrome feels like a stranger being 'overly' friendly.

Somehow I'm willing to sell most of the rest of my soul, but not my browsing history.


Yes it does. My 2 laptops and 2 Android phones all use the dame profile. Everything syncs, tabs, passwords, addons...


  for the fact that it syncs with my google everything, across all devices, google accounts, etc.
Shudders My god that's the last thing I'd ever want and exactly why I avoid Chrome and Android devices.


> significantly more people use Safari and Chrome than use Firefox

This is true. Significantly more people use "Safari and Chrome" than "Firefox". However, significantly less people use "Safari" than "Firefox". Chrome is the gorilla, Safari is waaaaaaay back in the pack.


It depends on whether you count "desktop" market share, "mobile" market share, or "both" (and if "both" how you weight it).


> I've been using Firefox for years without any problems and find it much better (just as fast, more privacy-minded) than chrome.

Then you must not value security at all.

Firefox is by far the worst of the modern browsers in how easy it's to exploit. Don't listen to me, listen to the experts [1] [2] [3]

I would go as far as to say that if Firefox is your main browser, odds are you're owned by multiple parties, and I don't mean nation states. This can not be fixed by iterative improvements, Firefox needs to die. By far the best thing you can do for your online peace of mind is to switch to Chromium/Chrome or (on Windows only) Edge.

[1] https://twitter.com/thegrugq/status/803693249789509632

[2] https://medium.com/@thegrugq/tor-and-its-discontents-ef51648...

[3] https://it.slashdot.org/story/16/02/12/034206/pwn2own-2016-w...


Your statement may be valid, but the two links you provided don't seem to have much to say on that topic. The first refers to a bug currently fixed in current GA Firefox, the second is a rant about Tor bundle. If reblogging snark is the standard of proof here, anyone could justify any "modern browser" as "worst".

My counterargument is that Firefox has always and continues to support tools such as NoScript and uBlock that prevent whole classes of attack. And Chrome, for example, is pwned like clockwork at every contest for exploitation. Behavior and not platform is the biggest determinant of security online.


If you're talking about Pwn2own, they've dropped Firefox from the competition __because it was too easy to exploit__ [1].

I quote:

"For the last decade, the Pwn2own hacking competition has pitted the world's best hackers against web browsers to try and find zero-day vulnerabilities in a live event. The contest, which is sponsored by HPE and TrendMicro this year, is offering over half a million dollars in prize money, but for the first time, not a penny of that will directed to Mozilla Firefox. While Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome and Apple Safari are targets, Firefox isn't because it's apparently too easy and not keeping up with modern security: "'We wanted to focus on the browsers that have made serious security improvements in the last year,' Brian Gorenc, manager of Vulnerability Research at HPE said."

How is that for a slap in the face?

Selectively reading what you like and ignoring the rest [an entire section in the second link is devoted to Firefox issues that have nothing to do with TBB, including the conclusion] won't change the basic facts. Another point those not in the security domain miss, is that there are plenty of exploitable bugs that are deliberately kept private. Those who have visibility in these circles (such as thegrugq) are obviously in a much better position to appraise how secure a software system really is. Trying to determine how secure Firefox is just from CVEs and bugs that are made public will only lead you to a piece of the entire puzzle. In Firefox case, even that alone should be enough to trigger RED ALERT in somebody's mind.

The best we can all hope for is for people to stop using Firefox and flock to alternatives that raise the bar significantly.

[1] https://it.slashdot.org/story/16/02/12/034206/pwn2own-2016-w...


And yet according to these sources[0][1], Firefox is back this year in Pwn2own. A quote from [1]:

> "Mozilla improved their security enough for us to warrant their re-inclusion in the contest," Gorenc said.

Firefox is fine. Like in every other browser, when security problems are found, they are fixed. There's a lot of work going into making Firefox a great and secure browser, and to call for abandoning it en masse is unwarranted IMO.

Edit: Heck, isn't it your own link[2] that claims that one of the security problems with Tor is their homogeny, that they all use the same browser and version? By that logic, abandoning Firefox is a bad move for overall security.

[0] https://blog.trendmicro.com/pwn2own-returns-for-2017-to-cele...

[1] http://www.eweek.com/security/pwn2own-2017-takes-aim-at-linu...

[2] https://medium.com/@thegrugq/tor-and-its-discontents-ef51648...


Look at the prize money for Firefox, lowest of them all. I think this proves my original point.

TBB is routinely attacked by nation states and other government groups. In that context, homogeneity is an important factor since they only have one target to focus on and considerable resources to use. By the way this is also another point against someone using Firefox. By choosing Firefox, you are choosing a browser that __you know__ is actively targeted by nation states and government groups, because it's used in TBB. You can safely assume said groups have multiple Firefox 0days.

My original point however is not that Firefox is insecure vs nation-grade attackers. __Every browser is__

There are plenty of criminal groups (ever increasing) and actors with limited resources that will focus on Firefox because it's easy to exploit. The fricking FBI was owning people with a Firefox 0day. The same groups would find Chrome or Edge too hard. This is of course a personal evaluation, given what I know from conversations with people in the security domain.

Let me leave you with this piece of (anecdotal) information: In my last job, we used to have new hires for exploit development pick a browser to work on for the first few months. Expectation being remote exploits, lots of them.

Most of them picked Firefox.


Firefox had no process isolation or web content sandboxing for years. It still doesn't in a lot of places even today. That meant that every little bug became a serious bug.

In contrast, RCE's for Chrome and Safari require chaining together a number of exploits - the most valuable of which is the sandbox escape.

Firefox are years behind on security - and in the meantime large number of people have abandoned it and you have an entire security community openly advocating against using or deploying it.

Yes, the security model is improving now (thanks in large part to code from Chromium) - but it's improved in the same way Adobe Flash security has improved, or Java security has improved - it will always have that huge weight of a bad reputation to carry, and it is still a far way from catching up to the norm in browsers today (check the incomplete features, bugs and open issues of e10s)

Firefox missed a huge opportunity in becoming the defacto secure and private browser - I know I don't love running Chrome/Chromium but I kinda have to


>thanks in large part to code from Chromium

This is false and misleading. The only bits Firefox plans to nick from Chromium are things like the C++ PDF reader which is a regression compared to pdf.js running in a nominally memory-safe runtime. The browser itself doesn't use code lifted from Chromium.



Something ruffled your feathers. Why do you want Firefox to be abandoned rather than improve it's security? For my and most other's mundane browsing needs Firefox _is_ secure enough. Mozilla is the only browser vendor actually innovating with Rust, Servo/Quantum and WebRender as examples, the first two give me hope that Mozilla really can tighten the ship and make a more secure browser than Chromium would be.


Nothing ruffled my feathers, I'm simply laying out facts. Feel free to ignore them.

There is no improvement for Firefox, it will never amount to anything given how rotten the codebase is. Unless they plan to scrap it and rewrite everything from scratch, with an actual focus on security from the beginning, which of course they don't. Slowly rewriting small parts of Firefox in Rust will do nothing for security, it's just more smoke and mirrors from Mozilla.

On the other hand, we have Google who were really the pioneers when it comes to securing the browser since they spent millions of dollars doing just that. Mozilla didn't even bother. Even their current attempts are laughable really in terms of scope and actual impact, it's just shitty PR aimed at people without security experience.

That's not to say that Chrome is a secure browser, but it has raised the bar significantly and it deserves wider adoption. Finally, we also have Microsoft who have probably spent even more than Google on improving security on Windows and are doing a lot of innovative security-related work with Edge [1].

[1] http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/09/window...


It's not "small parts." Quantum has big ambitions. For example, Stylo, a sub-project of quantum, replaces the CSS layout code with Rust. That's a large, key component.


Same here, I personally don't understand people who can use a browser that does not support Tree Style Tab. Serious browsing requires nested tabs on the side.


We have a performance sensitive application. Firefox is faster than ie but slower than Safari, Chrome and Edge.


If there's any way you can provide a link that can be used to reproduce the problem (either here or in private mail), I would be very much interested in investigating this performance problem.


Sure. Sounds great. I'd prefer private message - what is your preferred way to receive the link?


Thank you for the link! I have some more questions that I sent in email to you. Don't know whether those ended up in spam or something; could you check?


Email to my username at mit.edu would be great.

Thank you!


Open say 5 to 10 tabs with various twitter profiles loaded in them, does your Firefox still perform reasonably well? 3 twitter tabs open is enough to kill my performance.


So, because of one poorly designed shitty website you're moaning about FF being bad? You should be moaning about Twitter with its bliveted 8 tons of javascript in a 5 pount sack.

You can add espn.com, washingtonpost.com and nytimes.com to that list as well.

Blivetware.


It's a fair complaint when this doesn't happen on other browsers.

Your website doesn't have to have "shitty poor design" for it to lag FF. Compare scrubbing in this React player in Chrome and Firefox: https://hsreplay.net/replay/WpWzqzkCHTGdEmbguHUoiC

It comes down to issues in the Firefox JS/DOM engines.


The websites I called Blivetware are shitty on all the browsers I've tried. I guess it's truly YMMV...

In my experience, Twitter and ESPN can bring any browser to its knees


I'd rather a browser that can handle shitty websites than hoping every website will somehow magically be written efficiently. Especially since FF is the only browser I know of that can't handle multiple active javascript sessions. It's completely absurd if you think about it, I mean it's a browser, for browsing websites, which use javascript.


If I open 5 to 10 tabs with various twitter profiles loaded in them, and I won't notice much because of the icepick that I'll very shortly embed in through my ear.

However, I routinely run with tens of tabs open - usually 40-50 - and love the 'tab groups' extension so I can semantically group them (I have more tabs overall, but they're not all actively loaded). It can get a little slow with 50 active tabs, yes, but what doesn't? Modern webpages suck CPU and RAM dry.


Hmmm, this sounds like an interesting extension. Does it ACTUALLY unload them (and release the memory)? Well, even if it quit executing javascript, I'd be sold.


Ah, I've misled. I mean that I have a lot of tabs in groups, and FF doesn't load them when you start it up, just when you visit them. So while I have a 'map' of perhaps a couple of hundred tabs in those tab groups, only the ones I've visited in that session are loaded.


The same happens for me in Chrome. Twitter is the issue, not your browser.


Chrome tabs each have their own process though, so then wouldn't your problem be your PC?


Sure. But if three instances of a website can bring a fairly new machine to its knees, then there's nothing any browser could reasonably do to fix Twitter's massive JS bloat.


In my case, FF uses well less than 10% of CPU, yet the browser is extremely unresponsive. So no, it's not the machine, it is FF.


I do miss loving Firefox, which hasn't been the case since the 1.x days.

Then again, I think these days what I dislike is the Web itself. You can't have a lean, responsive browser like that and support enough of the "advances" of modern CSS and Javascript to render 99.9+% of the Web more or less correctly.


If you look at the cutting edge of browser tech lately, and you read between the lines as to why the browser makers are doing this, you can see that there's a pretty significant trend now towards browsers actually fighting the web itself, because once multiprocess is done and modulo a 2 or 3x rendering speedup that Servo may be able to bring (which will probably be the last advance of that size), the only way for a browser to feel "less klunky" or "speedier" than its competition will be for it to render less of the web. That is, the classic optimization of doing less work.

Which in this case means trashing all the shitty ads and plugins from 15 different sites and synchronous JS trackers, since that happens to be what's klunking up the web. Which, fortunately for the browsers, gives them cover to do this under the guise of working for the user, because there's a lot of truth there, but in some sense it's still just cover, too.

It is in some sense a change of an era; browsers are moving out of a phase of enabling and empowering content creators and slowly moving into active conflict with them. As slowly as possible in some sense, because it's scary for them, but it's something they're being forced to do. It's the same effect where computer users will blame "Microsoft" or "Dell" for the computer being slow, when the problem is actually a slow hard drive or something; eventually it stops mattering that it isn't "your" fault and you have to do something about it.

Big changes in the browser space in the next five years here, I think. Content producers so far have only tepidly fired back at ad blockers and stuff because they're still very niche, but they are getting less niche very fast now.


> once multiprocess is done and modulo a 2 or 3x rendering speedup that Servo may be able to bring (which will probably be the last advance of that size)

That's what we said for years about computing power and the Moor law's : "transistor can't get tynier than xxx nm". It happened anyway because there used to be that much economic incensitive to improve computer. Now research in micro processor is so expensive that the gain in computationnal power are found elsewhere. But there is always ways to improve things. The question is : "is there people eager to fund research". As long as the answer is yes, we'll find ways to improve web browser.

In the web there is so much money involved that the answer will still be yes long after servo shipped.


There is no ability to eternally speed up the browers without doing less work (in the sense in my comment), and while it may never technically limit to zero, it will plateau at some point. Just as Javascript performance pretty much has.


"I wouldn't say Firefox was leading the way or the biggest innovator in the last few years"

That's the thing for me. Before Chrome, Firefox was the big innovator (trailing only behind Opera, and even then).

Then Chrome happened, Firefox took a bit of a backseat (not as bad as IE or Safari, but enough of one to let Chrome become the big innovator), and Opera became a reskinned Chrome.

It'll be interesting to see how Mozilla approaches the next few years. Firefox still offers features that the other major browsers do not (for example, and critically to my own use case, it's the only major browser that supports any semblance of an equivalent to Tree Style Tabs), and the emphasis on an open and standards-compliant web could reinforce the historical reason why practically every user agent under the sun includes the word "Mozilla".


the poor state of e10s feels like neglect to me


To save some Googling if you're like me and have no idea what e10s is:

Electrolysis: https://blog.mozilla.org/addons/2016/04/11/the-why-of-electr...


Seriously. These "enumeronyms" drive me batty.


I love this word, enumeronym, though. It seems you may have coined it, as the only Google search result is your comment. The second may well be this comment. I hope it catches on!


Google suggests that the correct term is "numeronym" [1].

> According to Tex Texin, the first numeronym of this kind was "S12n", the electronic mail account name given to Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) employee Jan Scherpenhuizen by a system administrator because his surname was too long to be an account name. By 1985, colleagues who found Jan's name unpronounceable often referred to him verbally as "S12n" (ess-twelve-en). The use of such numeronyms became part of DEC corporate culture.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numeronym


What's the problem with e10s?


I assume the problem is just that it seems to be moving towards completion at a snail's pace. It certainly feels like I have been hearing about it for a LONG time without a stable release.


Yeah, but it's a massive reworking of the FF internals, so it took a long time to complete. But I'm using it now, and it works pretty well.

My only hitch was needing to turn off some older add-ons. While Mozilla is still doing a slow roll-out, it disables E10s if it can't ensure your plugins will work. (One of mine was a HN add-on, amusingly.)

Most of the opoular add-ons are ready, though. To check, see: https://www.arewee10syet.com/


I would recommend the following add-on to know which add-ons are incompatible with e10s:

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/add-on-compat...


Of course, the reasons for it taking a while to get done are completely reasonable. :)


The e10s project actually stated back in 2009. The project was put on hold in 2011 because the architectural changes and add-on compatibility breakage was deemed insurmountable. In 2013, the project resumed and has been chugging away since.

You can see 2011-2013 pause in the revision history of Mozilla's Electrolysis wiki page:

https://wiki.mozilla.org/index.php?title=Electrolysis&offset...

I made a burndown chart of the e10s bugs in Bugzilla that shows the development progress. The bug high water mark was in 2016 and today at least 2,495 bugs (specifically tagged as e10s related) have been fixed:

https://people-mozilla.org/~cpeterson/burndown/burndown.html...


But e10s launched in Firefox 48 https://asadotzler.com/2016/06/06/firefox-48-beta-release-an... and hit 35% of all Firefox users by November. https://wiki.mozilla.org/Electrolysis#Schedule


It might be because it's running without you knowing about it? Preferences > Enable multi-process is checked for me.


Still doesn't work in a number of situations like if you have a touch screen.


You must be running Windows. I'm the Mozilla developer who is responsible for that. You'll get e10s on touchscreen in version 52.


Yeah that's correct. Awesome!


(I just clicked the reply button to you using my touch screen on e10s. This is Fedora 25, on Wayland -- Firefox is using XWayland.)


I think this is a Win8 problem. https://wiki.mozilla.org/Electrolysis#Schedule


I don't believe that I have that option at all here (Firefox 51.0 on Fedora 25).


This is kinda confusing, but that button only exists in Nightly and Developer builds. Here's how to check, enable, and force-enable it for regular builds: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Electrolysis#Testing


I did have to force enable it as a few plugins didn't official support it yet. So far it's been amazingly stable though and had sped up my browser considerably.


It's not process-per-tab like Chrome, it's just 2 or 3 processes.


> It's not process-per-tab like Chrome, it's just 2 or 3 processes.

Chrome is not process-per-tab - it's process per domain. (Even that's not true - sometimes tabs from multiple domains will still share the same process).

Firefox currently uses two processes (one for the UI, and one for rendering pages), but from a technical standpoint, that's the hard part, and that's what took so many years to develop. Once you have separated UI and rendering processes, going from 1 rendering process to multiple is relatively easy - you can already configure Nightly to do this, and Mozilla is basically just waiting for (a) e10s itself to rolled out more broadly, and (b) empirical evidence on what the right number of processes is, as (a) happens.

There are some downsides to doing true process-per-tab (the main one is that it's absurdly inefficient with memory), so ultimately Firefox will probably land on something in between (like Chrome and IE do).


Multiple content processes (two plus the browser UI process) are now enabled in Firefox Nightly (54).


What does IE do?


IE groups tabs into processes, so the number of processes scales sub-linearly with the number of open tabs, and hits a cap after a certain point: https://superuser.com/questions/586622/force-ie-to-use-one-p...


By default. You can have a process per tab if you want.


What's wrong with e10s?


A better question would be: what is e10s?


I know what it is, so why would that be a better question for me? If you want to ask what e10s is for your own information, that's fine.


Multi-process Firefox. One process for browser chrome and one or more for content. https://wiki.mozilla.org/Electrolysis#Overview


> And it has been paying more attention to mobile browsing. In late 2015, it finally brought out Firefox for iOS, after years of refusing to do so because Apple requires all iPhone and iPad browsers to use its own Safari engine under the hood.

Apple should be legally stopped from doing this monopolistic garbage.

> In my experience, Firefox today is still only a meh product.

I wouldn't say that, but I do admit that Firefox on Linux is moving pretty slowly. Since it's not the highest priority for Mozilla in general I assume, it feels like it lags behind development wise.


> Apple should be legally stopped from doing this monopolistic garbage.

IANAL but couldn't the MS case be relevant/provide precedent?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft_Cor....


From a legal standpoint Apple don't have a monopoly in the phone market comparable to what Ms had on the desktop.


It's true that Apple does not have — even in the US — the amount of market share necessary to be deemed a monopolist and subject to anti-tying laws for its browser. Android is a strong alternative, and as long as it remains so Apple will be effectively immune from challenge. The reason Microsoft was vulnerable to this is that its market share was much higher.

There is one thing that Apple does that Microsoft did not do: it prevents the user from designating a non-Safari default browser. Every link you open will open in Safari, unless you copy it and open paste it into another browser. Microsoft let users install other browsers and designate them as the default (I don't know if this was always the case, but it has been for a very long time.) I'm not sure if Apple has a technical argument for why this is necessary, but it probably won't ever need it because of the market share threshold.

FWIW, I am a recovering lawyer, and I spent a summer in antitrust law. So I'm not an expert, but I do know how to calculate a Herfindahl-Hirschman Index for the purpose of determining market concentration...


> It's true that Apple does not have — even in the US — the amount of market share necessary to be deemed a monopolist and subject to anti-tying laws for its browser. Android is a strong alternative, and as long as it remains so Apple will be effectively immune from challenge.

How does a strong alternative help solving the following problem. Let's say you are a video service provider, and want to offer MPEG-DASH[1] based service which relies on browsers supporting Media Source Extensions[2].

Soon enough, you discover, that iOS users can't use your service, not only because iOS default browser doesn't support MSE, but because they can't even install any alternative that does (Apple doesn't let them).

You are literally forced to implement something[3] in addition to MPEG-DASH to address a substantial amount of Apple users and in the process potentially pay Apple and Co. for implementing it because they own related patents, or you need to agree to ignore them (which means a loss of money for you).

TL;DR: Apple stifled adoption of MPEG-DASH, and forced you to do double work and in theory can force you to pay them money too. This is just one example, there can be many like that, another big one is video codecs and etc., but you get the idea. All that bottlenecks on the same restriction - ban on competing browsers.

Shouldn't this be a subject of anti-trust regulation? If they managed to do it, they have enough control over the market. But again, may be anti-trust law simply isn't equipped to address this? I see it as a major problem.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_Adaptive_Streaming_ove...

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_Source_Extensions

3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTTP_Live_Streaming


It's just a threshold issue — if they don't have enough market share, then they can't be sued for tying/bundling. The questions about video standards may be legit, but the assumption of antitrust law is that if there are strong enough competitors in the market, then competitive forces will pressure things in a consumer-favorable direction.

This doesn't hold true always, and certainly not in the short-run, but it's better than having every company with moderate market share being sued by any other company that wishes they had different features in their products.

I don't mean for this to sound harsh, and I wish iOS were more open in various ways that would make things easier for my startup, but I recognize that companies need to have autonomy to build products as they wish — except in rare cases.


I don't think anyone stops Apple from building products. But it's about banning competition, not about their products. And their influence on the industry is way too big to ignore it. So I'm pretty convinced, that what they are doing with excluding competition, shouldn't be happening. It's not about demanding features from them - let them produce bad browsers that are behind modern ones. It's about allowing better ones to be actually used by their users. I.e. choice.


The competition isn't another browser, it's Android. If you don't like Safari, use Android. As long as iPhones are a minority device in the market, regulators won't care what they do.


I already explained above, how Android doesn't solve the problem. The damage Apple are causing is real.


You make an excellent argument as to why an OS that limits software's ability to access device hardware, run native code, do raw networking, or implement JIT VMs and thus doesn't allow things like alternative browser engines is a bad idea.

Which is why I'm glad FirefoxOS failed.


I never bought into idea of the Webby OS, that Mozilla were pushing for. But at the same time, no one stopped Mozilla from allowing transforming Firefox OS into normal Linux, with Web runtime as one of the options, rather than a strict requirement. It didn't evolve far to judge really, what it could have been.


Depends on perspective. For MS I'm pretty sure we weren't counting servers, mainframes, etc. And them replying "just buy a Mac if you don't like it" wouldn't have been acceptable.

Apple has a complete iOS / iTunes monopoly in the iPhone/iPad market, which is pretty big. And Microsoft wasn't preventing the existence of alternative browser engines or banning apps competing with them, whereas Apple does.


It causes enough damage to browsers market however, which shows that their influence is sufficient to hinder competition. This should be a subject to Sherman Act or something similar. But I'm NAL either.


> From a legal standpoint Apple don't have a monopoly in the phone market comparable to what Ms had on the desktop.

Microsoft didn't restrict what software you could install on Windows. That creates a different market.

Someone who is buying a phone can reasonably choose between iOS and Android. Someone who already has a phone and is buying an app can't reasonably choose between the iOS App Store and Google Play. And someone selling an app can't reach iOS customers via Google's or Amazon's store. They're different markets.


Microsoft didn't restrict what software you could install on Windows. That creates a different market.

That's not the legal distinction. What got Microsoft in trouble is that they told PC OEMs that they would lose their volume discount for Windows if they shipped another browser alongside Internet Explorer. This was troublesome because, at the time, Windows had a 99% marketshare of PC operating systems, which was judged by the courts to be a monopoly.

Apple has nowhere near the same marketshare in phones. Therefore, Apple is free to do whatever it wants with regards to its OS, as consumers are free to switch to Android.


> That's not the legal distinction.

Market definition in antitrust?

> What got Microsoft in trouble is that they told PC OEMs that they would lose their volume discount for Windows if they shipped another browser alongside Internet Explorer.

What got Microsoft in trouble is that they had a monopoly in PC operating systems and tried to leverage it into a monopoly in browsers.

Apple doesn't have a monopoly in PC operating systems. They have a monopoly in iOS app stores. It's like having a retail monopoly for washing machines in the state of California. It doesn't matter how many retailers there are in Florida when nobody in California is going to drive to Florida to buy a washing machine.

It doesn't matter how many Android app stores there are when you can't buy an iOS app from them and you can't use Android apps on iOS.


Why is this reverting to marketshare of phones? It's secondary to the problem. It's about influence on the market of browsers, which also affects tons of other things in result, because so many services today are Web based.


(INAL so take this with the appropriate amount of salt)

Because it's illegal to use a dominant position in one market (desktop operating system in Microsft's case) to gain an unfair advantage in another market (browsers). Since Apple does not have a dominant position in any market so they're free to do as they please.

Note that the question what constitutes a market is not always easily defined. Apple obviously has a monopoly on iPhones or smartphones running iOS but I doubt you'll find a judge that sees that as a market distinct of the wider smartphone market.


Well, Apple's ability to stifle the progress of the browser market, demonstrates that their position is mobile market (which is causing the above) is dominant enough. Not sure how you quantify that influence from perspective of the law though, but practically their current influence is very damaging for the whole Web.


On the other hand Microsoft wasn't preventing people from installing an alternative browser, Apple is.


Apple lets you install alternatives, you just can't set them as default for opening links from other apps.


The browsers on iOS are little more than skins over Apples browser stack.


True, but in some ways this is Apple doing a favor for competing browsers. Imagine how loudly people would complain if Apple did the opposite — provided no support to other browsers, and left them to compete without Apple's inside knowledge of its OS and hardware. No other browser could come close, and we'd all be on Safari all the time. While it's not ideal to be forced to use Apple's rendering engine, at least we can access the many other features that alternative browsers offer.


What about the tablet market?


I was thinking that myself. Personally I think the entire App Store model they have is terrible. Let's take something really good about Linux (package management), now we'll make all the packages monolithic (eh, guess it avoids dependency hell at the expense of space) and also you can only use our one and only tightly controlled package repository (da fuck?!) oh and you don't get admin rights and you can't install 3rd party signing keys (?!?!)

You market it to the general public of non-tech people and no one cares. It looks fancy and shiny and you no longer need a stylus .. and doesn't crash twice a day like PalmOS.


In my few CLJS benchmarks that I did because I had to optimize something FF regularly beats Chrome by about a factor of 2.


Agreed.

I work for a large corporation and FF performs far and away better than Chrome. And I'm comparing Chrome Canary to FF stable build. You can probably say its not a fair comparison, but I do notice the performance difference when I'm testing our apps.


> Apple should be legally stopped from doing this monopolistic garbage.

mo·nop·o·ly məˈnäpəlē noun 1. the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service.

What's the iPhone's marketshare compared to Android again? You can't just decide to define a monopoly as something that's inconvenient or even abhorrent to you - words (and the laws that use them) have real meanings.


Anti-trust laws should be more complex than that. Having a disproportionate control over the market is already a problem. And Apple have control over which features in HTML gain adoption, and which not, by refusing to implement ones they don't like, and refusing other browsers on iOS. This has negative influence on the whole browser market, way beyond iOS itself.


Then don't buy an iPhone. Apple doesn't have a "monopoly", it's just defining the specs of its own product. If you don't like those specs, buy a similar product with specs you do like.

As for it going beyond iOs, well, it's still not a monopoly, since those other options exist. They aren't buying out/shutting down competition, people are simply choosing to not use the competition. And you can't hold that against Apple.


Literal monopoly is just one extreme example. Anti trust laws regulate more than theoretical extremes. As I said, Apple have enough damaging effect on browsers market, that even if I don't buy any iPhones, I can be affected by that damage. So your suggestion is missing the point. I explained it above, in the comment you answered to.


It's not about market share of phones, its about market share of browser engines. Apple controls 100% of the market on web browser engines on the iphone.


That's legally immaterial. Microsoft controls 100% of the OS APIs on Windows. The legal distinction is whether the consumer has an alternative. Microsoft got in trouble because Windows was literally 99% of the PC market. Apple has something like a 30% share of the smartphone market - not even close to a monopoly.


Well they do own the iPhone. Whether or not the "iPhone browser engine market" itself is a thing within the greater "mobile browser engine" market is kind of a grey area.


I agree with you, but Apple doesn't control the entire cell phone market. Also, if you make them allow 3rd party browsers, why not then allow 3rd party OS's and app stores on the iPhone as well - I can see how Apple would have a problem with that.


Apple is a hardware company. Theoretically.


The "theoretically" qualifier is unnecessary. The majority of Apple's revenue and profit is from hardware sales.


My point being, it doesn't necessarily follow that a hardware company would need to control the software on the phone to the extent that they do.

Also, the money from software proportionately, but even as a software only company (services, $5 billion) they make enough money to be a Fortune 500 company in its own right. I don't think it's evident at all that their motives are straightforwardly devoted to hardware.


Apple understands that the experience of using the hardware is incredibly important, particularly when they want to be able to command premium prices. This drives their control over software. The software is in service of selling the hardware. You could argue that they're selling the overall experience, but that similarly supports their relatively tight control over software.

Side note: services ≠ software


Apple should be legally stopped from doing this monopolistic garbage.

Apple isn't even close* to a monopoly in phones. Regulators could come down on Microsoft for doing the same thing, because, at the time, Microsoft had a 99% share of the desktop OS market. Regulators said that Microsoft could not use this monopoly to suppress competition in a legally separate domain (market for browsers).

The difference is that Apple has, what, a 30% share of the phone market? All Apple has to say is that if a consumer wants a choice of browsers, they're free to switch to Android.


But that doesn't change the fact that there are now millions of people pretty well locked into a platform (through iCloud, iMessage, proprietary integration with Mac, etc.) which are limited to a single browser and are forbidden to use another one.

A situation that is much worse than the IE6 one - switching browsers on Windows of 2000s was significantly easier and cheaper than switching out of the Apple ecosystem.

Monopoly can be defined as however you fudge the numbers. Your way of counting is like we'd say "Hey, Microsoft doesn't have a monopoly, there's loads of Linux routers and servers out there, so it's fine!". It ignores important properties on how Apples actions hinder free market.


    But that doesn't change the fact that there are now millions of people 
    pretty well locked into a platform (through iCloud, iMessage, proprietary 
    integration with Mac, etc.) which are limited to a single browser and are 
    forbidden to use another one.
Yes, but unlike Windows in the 2000s, there is a clear alternative to Apple. In the 2000s, if you wanted to buy a computer that didn't run Windows, you were out of luck. But you can totally buy a smartphone that doesn't run iOS.


But what does that matter? On Windows in 2000s switching away from IE meant a few minutes of time to install another browser. In 2017, switching away from Apple means >500$ of monetary expenses and significantly reduced integration of other devices around until you replace more of them. What use is that "clear alternative" there?


Malarkey. Apple has excellent security reasons to keep third party apps (Chrome, Firefox, ...) from using JITs on iOS. They've only recently allowed them to use the Apple JIT.


It's not a restriction on JITs that's the problem (though certainly it would be a limitation), it's this: “Apps that browse the web must use the iOS WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript.”


A bit more elaborate than this. They don't allow using iOS SDK for building applications which download and execute dynamic code. I was thinking about a legal workaround for it. What if someone has a non Apple SDK for iOS? Then building will become legal. Though they probabaly can put in a restriction, that they accept only usage of official SDK for their store. Either way, it's a very slimy anti-competitive restriction masked under pretense of security concerns.


> They don't allow using iOS SDK for building applications which download and execute dynamic code

While this is true, it's also explicitly that "Apps that browse the web must use the appropriate WebKit framework and WebKit Javascript"

Regarding a non-apple iOS SDK: "Apps may only use public APIs". this forbids anybody from making an alternative SDK.


> Regarding a non-apple iOS SDK: "Apps may only use public APIs". this forbids anybody from making an alternative SDK.

What stops any alternative SDK from being public?


Nothing, but iPhones only load software signed by Apple (on the app store), so said alternative SDK would be useless as Apple won't sign software made with it (and regardless, they won't sign an alternative browser engine as a matter of policy regardless of which SDK with was made with).


Nothing, but you couldn't implement an alternative SDK using the public APIs, since, well, the public APIs are the current SDK.


Not sure what you mean exactly. Let's say someone comes along, and re-implements all same APIs from scratch as open source. They'll be public, right?

But as TD-Linux said, Apple simply will refuse to accept it anyway.


Right, but you can't implement a lot of the APIs without calling into private kernel functions.


Whether the restriction is a problem or not very much depends on your point of view. Apple never comment publicly on these things but I imagine their argument hinges on two points:

1) Performance (and by implication UX)

2) Battery life

These are exactly the points Steve Jobs raised in his "Thoughts on Flash" missive from 2010: http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/. And this is the same issue: Flash was a runtime, just like third party JS runtimes.

Frankly, I'm with Apple on this one.

Jeff Atwood's post on Android JS performance might be getting bit long in the tooth ("The State of JavaScript on Android in 2015 is… poor" - https://meta.discourse.org/t/the-state-of-javascript-on-andr...) but, as recently as November 2016, he posted to the discussion indicating that performance still lags.

I can verify this myself. My 3 year old iPhone 5S equals or betters the performance of my one year old OnePlus Two, which I use for testing (and maybe I should blog on this topic). If you dig through Jeff's thread (warning: it's grown really long) you'll see that I wouldn't be having a much better time if I upgraded to a OnePlus Three.

So, do I want Google to be allowed to run a version of Chrome on iOS that uses other than Apple's JS runtime? No, not really.

Do I want Firefox to be allowed to do that? Hell no. There are bound to be data points that contradict this but my experience is that Firefox on the desktop lags Chrome, Safari (OSX, obviously), Internet Explorer 11 and Edge in terms of performance and framerate. (Again, I should post about this, with numbers.) My extremely limited exposure to Firefox OS back in 2013 suggested it was slow as hell and not worth the bother of developing applications for (too many compromises required) - doubtless not helped by low spec hardware.

Apple pour huge resources into making their iOS JIT run like the wind on a hardware platform that they know inside out. Nobody else is going to be able to do that.

IANAL but I don't think the monopoly argument (think it's in the parent post) holds water simply because Apple doesn't, and is never likely to have, a monopoly in the phone market. If people don't like Apple devices, or iOS as a platform, they have a choice: they can buy an Android or Windows Phone device, and run all the apps they need (particularly on the former).

That wasn't the case in the late 1990s with Microsoft and Windows. If you were a nerd you could run Linux, and you could tolerate the limitations of Star Office or KOffice compared with MS Office, and Apple were just getting back off the ropes, so maybe you'd run a Mac at home. But if you were a non-techy and/or you wanted to get serious work done and be able to easily collaborate and cooperate with other people you were probably running windows.

At one point Microsoft's market share was something like 97%. 97%! In Q2 2016 Apple's worldwide smartphone market share had fallen to 12.9% (source: https://9to5mac.com/2016/08/18/android-ios-smartphone-market...). That's not a monopoly. It's not even within hailing distance of a monopoly.

Going back to my original point, iDevices and iOS are Apple's platform, and I do not object to them restricting what can run on those devices in terms of runtimes and JITs because I care about performance, UX, and having a decent battery life. Some people aren't going to like, but then they can choose one of the alternatives.


Sounds like your justifying it by saying nobody else could ever make an application better than Apple?


What I'm really saying is (I think) that's what Apple thinks and, thus far, I haven't seen any evidence to suggest otherwise. Of course somebody else could build a better browser for iOS, but how likely is that to happen?

I suppose the flipside to this argument is that you can at least offer users the option of alternative browsers without forcing them to take it, and then does it matter so much whether they're better or not?


> Of course somebody else could build a better browser for iOS, but how likely is that to happen?

This question can't be asked, when they forbid making one. So it doesn't even start.

It highlights the core of the problem. Anti-trust laws are supposed to preserve competition, because monopolies stifle progress and cause many other problems. This is exactly the case here. No one would make a better browser, because they are forbidden to.


I totally see where you're coming from, but I'm not quite buying into it.

The reason is that other manufacturers - Google, Samsung, LG, OnePlus, heck, even Microsoft, and a few others I've missed - are free to build, and have been investing heavily in building, better devices and OSs. Sooner or later they're going to start winning - Apple can't be top dog forever. Arguably they already are: Apple's share of the Smartphone market fell to 12.9% in Q2 2016, remember. Consumers have a lot of freedom of choice in the smartphone market and, again, it's arguable they're exercising it.

I just don't think there's an anti-trust or anti-competition argument to be had here. Now you may not like or agree with the way Apple are operating here but that doesn't mean there's a case to be answered.


> Apple doesn't, and is never likely to have, a monopoly in the phone market.

I addressed this here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13484860

It's not about "monopoly in the phone market". It's about controlling the browser market (more precisely, development and adoption of HTML features) through monopolistic ban of competing browsers on iOS.


I understand that argument, but I don't buy it, because Android has 80%+ of the smartphone market. If Apple actively tried to block the adoption of features that were good for users and developers it would blow up in their faces(1). How well did that work out for Microsoft with IE6?

That's not to say Apple don't have influence, but do they have the kind of strong-arm leverage you seem to be implying?

What would help is: can you explain to us what HTML (CSS, JS, browser API) features you're talking about?

(1) I suppose some might argue they did that with Flash, and it turned out quite nicely for them. But was Flash, as closed, proprietary tech, really a good thing for the web? For users? For developers? For the web?


> That's not to say Apple don't have influence, but do they have the kind of strong-arm leverage you seem to be implying?

Enough of an influence to force many video providers to use non-free codecs and HLS. I find such influence to be very damaging for the whole Web.

See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13486246


I don't know enough about it to know why they're not supporting MPEG-DASH on iOS (although, weirdly, desktop Safari does support it), beyond the obvious, "it's not Apple's HLS," answer. If it is just that - Apple don't want to support it because it's not their standard - then I'd be inclined to agree with you. Is there some technical disadvantage to MPEG-DASH vs HLS, or impact on the user, battery life, bandwidth usage, or whatever?


I actually don't consider their intentions to make any difference here. But the damage they are causing is real, and it spans many areas way beyond iOS itself. So IMHO there should be some way to prevent it legally. But again, may be current law doesn't address such situation. Then it should be fixed.

HLS is just one example. I brought it, to demonstrate how such ban on competing browsers can cause bad effects to everyone else, even to those who have nothing to do with Apple and its products.


Great to see Mozilla backing off from quixotic tasks like building a phone OS but I still feel like they don't understand what we need them for. They are the organization that we need to keep the client side of the Internet free and open.

Here's what that will take:

- Make Firefox the best browser in the world at the fundamentals: speed, stability, standards support.

- Become the free, open, OS agnostic app platform of choice: don't cede this frontier to Chrome and Electron. Make the open web platform the best platform for more and more apps. (MAYBE take a shot at a phone OS after the Firefox App ecosystem rivals Android and iOS.)

- Following from the previous bullet, quit wasting resources on browser UX experiments - browser UX matters less every year as web apps get freed from the browser.

- Be the absolute gold standard in user privacy and freedom - the stuff Brave is doing is the trail Mozilla was supposed to blaze.

- Invest in Thunderbird again and fix the client side of email - because messaging is just as important as the web and we are losing to closed competitors hard and fast there.

Mozilla's supposed to be our champion of an open web client platform. For too long they've just been a browser in decline and a bunch of random side projects. Cleaning up the browser is a good start but we need more.

From a passionate Firefox user (even though Chrome runs faster on Linux).


> Invest in Thunderbird again and fix the client side of email - because messaging is just as important as the web and we are losing to closed competitors hard and fast there.

I was right with you until Thunderbird. I look at Thunderbird as one of Mozilla's many distractions. We don't need another open source desktop email client at the expense of the browser.

So long as we have a secure browser, there are others who can provide secure email services with a web client.


> web client.

No thanks. I will keep using Thunderbird as long as I can.


To each their own. The point remains that this is not a necessary project for Mozilla to take on, nor was it a good use of resources for them.


You don't use Thunderbird, so you don't feel they should work on it. Gotcha.

I do use it, so I do.


> You don't use Thunderbird, so you don't feel they should work on it. Gotcha.

Not going to argue against a strawman. I've made my point clearly already.


I'm not the guy you're arguing with but this is literally the argument you're making. You're saying that Thunderbird is not necessary. That's an opinion. You likely hold this opinion because you don't use it. If you did use Thunderbird, you may feel differently. If you used Thunderbird and it shut down, you'd feel sad. You'd want them to keep working on it.

I say working on the I-5 freeway is a waste of time, because I've never driven on it. But thousands of other people do. And they probably feel that it's an important road in their lives. It's not a straw man, it's the other side of your argument. You just disagree. That doesn't make it a straw man.


While I would normally agree, this is the one "side project" I think they should have kept. We really need an imap5 or some standard which addresses the modern problems with email. Who else is going to represent the client perspective and maintain the reference client implementation without being a corporate shill?


Fastmail's JMAP sounds like a promising IMAP4 successor. I'd love to see it become widely implemented.


Plus Thunderbird is a huge C++ project. It seems like a modern desktop mail client could be built more quickly using Electron. There are already JavaScript libraries for IMAP. Thunderbird could be innovating on new client features instead of trying to keep up with the treadmill of Gecko C++ changes.


Not again, why would anyone prefer a bloated javascript based email client pretending to be a standalone one instead of a fast native one?

If I want a javascript one I can run a browser to access it.


I really don't need any innovation from my email client.


I'm calling it today: 2017 will be the year of the Firefox come-back. I recently started using it again after switching to Chrome when Chrome was initially released in beta. I'm more of a second-wave of adopters--not among the very first but before the masses jump on board. I predict that tech-savvy business users will start jumping back later this year and that by 2018, we'll start to see non-technical people (like my parents and in-laws) start to use it as family and friends begin to recommend it.

Why? Battery life and speed. Chrome is just a mess these days. Absolutely terrible on laptops.


Firefox is the only browser that has microstutters in the UI for me. That's a dealbreaker, I can't deal with it constantly pestering me throughout the day.

This has been happening on Mac OS for about three years now for me, multiple devices: two macbook airs, and a 2016 5k imac.

I wish I could use Opera but it's been bought by a chinese company.


They're working on a new renderer (quantum) to replace gecko and it is said to address this performance issue that has been plaguing Firefox for too long. ETA is late 2017.


I wish I could use Opera but it's been bought by a chinese company.

Well, there's Vivaldi.


This plus Firefox has Tree Style Tabs, which is the killer plugin Chrome doesn't have.


I've been using Mozilla's own Tab Center, which looks a bit nicer than TST and is e10s friendly:

https://testpilot.firefox.com/experiments/tab-center

I hope they just make it part of the standard release.


I've been pretty happy with Tab Center too. Tab handling is the one thing a browser has to nail for me and yet so many (including base firefox) do such a poor job of it.


no nested tabs :/ it looks like a toy plugin compared to TST


checkout "tabs outliner" on chrome.


I've tried it and it's just so clumsy I couldn't really use it.


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