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It’s time to give Firefox another chance (techcrunch.com)
1674 points by uladzislau 56 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 712 comments



I was extremely skeptical of all the changes they were doing - I said it myself 100 times, "they're just building a Chrome clone, they're killing all the features I like in favor of speed".

But here I am, running Nightly because holy shit this thing flies. Their work has paid off and they're not even done yet. Webrender is coming, it's not quite stable enough for daily use yet (mostly just graphics glitching and integration performance issues as far as I could see), but there's a lot of work being done and it's only getting better.

Their whole "Project Quantum" eliminated the UI performance issues that used to plague the browser and they're improving security sandboxing all the time.

To those who loved the power and control like myself, they still offer a ridiculous level of configuration flexibility and extension APIs - while no longer as powerful as they were - are still better than other browsers on the market today.


The amount of work, the extent for how long they've been doing so, all relative to the funding they got.. it's even painful to think about. Chrome shadowed them overnight, had Google infinite wallet and started from scratch. Mozilla became the old slug..

Since then they got Rust off ground, servo yielding good fruits, firefox cool n quiet.

Once again kudos.


That is not representative of either the time frame or the resources available to Mozilla. Mozilla has had Hundreds of millions of annual income through their search associations [1]. It’s surprising how they’ve wasted that amount of money to finally in 2017 build a browser that can compete again. This is 9 years after google chrome was released!

They have absolutely no excuse for falling this far behind. They squandered a lot of money, while neglecting their core business (their web browser).

I still hope they’ll keep it up. I have been a Firefox fan ever since beta 1. Hopefully they can recover their market share loss.

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


While Mozilla has had quite a few projects that didn't really pan out, I'm not sure you're giving them enough credit.

They developed (well... became the first and most significant major backer of) an entirely new programming language, purely for the purposes of building a better browser. And then devoted tons of resources for years into developing Servo, a massive and complex project that is only being realized now. I'd rather they think big and be ambitious like this, than be yet another stagnating tech company kept alive by former glory.

Also, it's unfair to argue that they have neglected the browser. Firefox is a massive legacy codebase that couldn't be cleaned up without breaking A LOT OF THINGS, and at every step in the process they faced people begging them not to break their things, despite the alternative being the continued rot of Firefox's internals. But they did try, for years, to move forward without breaking everything - it just came at the cost of glacially slow and cautious progress.


> Firefox is a massive legacy codebase that couldn't be cleaned up without breaking A LOT OF THINGS, and at every step in the process they faced people begging them not to break their things, despite the alternative being the continued rot of Firefox's internals.

I've made a couple small contributions to Firefox. Though I'd been a Firefox user for years, this never occurred to me until I looked at the source in 2015 and saw TODO comments to upgrade a C++ operation to something available in C++11 (that's C++ released in 2011) when Firefox dropped Windows XP support.

I was surprised at the time that so much of the code was ES6. My mentor pointed out that web app companies might need to wait a few years for users to mass-adopt ES6 browsers. On the other hand, Firefox can use ES6 everywhere in its own code where JS makes sense, since it's only going to be running on latest Firefox JS engine.

I think Firefox hit full ES6 compatibility first among the browsers because there was this extra incentive to modernize the codebase.

Chrome didn't have to build off of the Netscape source, so it didn't have the same legacy problems in 2008 that Firefox did. I think Mozilla has done a remarkable job keeping pace with Google, taking this into account.


> something available in C++11 (that's C++ released in 2011)

Nit: The standard was finalized in 2011 - August 2011 to be more specific, so quite late in the year. Full compliance in various compilers was not achieved for quite some time after that - MSVC being quite problematic in that regard.

Major projects - esp. those compiled on multiple systems across several compilers, like Firefox - absolutely could not just go ahead and start using C++11 in 2011.

I was really into native development around that time, and C++11 was the first time I was exposed to the complexities and gotchas around standardization vs. implementation. I've stopped paying as much attention since, but I believe C++14 fared much better.


> I think Firefox hit full ES6 compatibility first among the browsers because there was this extra incentive to modernize the codebase.

A number of ES6 additions were initially Firefox extensions (though some standard-track features like comprehensions also got removed).


> I was surprised at the time that so much of the code was ES6.

FWIW internal firefox code has had ES6-like concepts before ES6 itself; and many of these made it into the final spec in some form.


>I think Firefox hit full ES6 compatibility first among the browsers

Wasn't it Webkit that hit that first? Whereas Firefox at the time was just 93%.

https://twitter.com/webkit/status/728643624464883712?lang=en


You could be right. I tried to fact check myself and couldn't find a reference to which browser hit 100% first. I did see this article about safari shipping modules first, though:

https://www.contentful.com/blog/2017/04/04/es6-modules-suppo...


The above poster is also neglecting to realise Mozilla is not a normal business in it for profit (as far as I understand it - correct me if I'm wrong.)

https://wiki.mozilla.org/Mozilla_Foundation_Projects

The foundation has a crazy long history of funding open source and various pursuits. Comparing their style of execution to google is just rediculously unfair on so many levels.


Not only that, but it fails to recognize how much money Google has 'wasted' on projects they went on to kill off. They have quite a reputation for it. Google just has a lot more money to 'waste' on research.


Are you confusing the not for profit mozilla foundation and the for profit mozilla corporation here ?

The foundation had engaged in tax evasion over the money raised through the corporation and ended up settling with the IRS by paying a $1.5 millions fine[1], they had provisioned $15 millions for this fine, suddenly they got a few unexpected millions to spend on whatever.

I agree that comparing mozilla to google makes little sense as mozilla was working for google in exchange for 85-95% of their revenue. Without google paying mozilla for their users privacy, mozilla would have had to find an actual business model and would not have had the option to wander away from their core product.

On the other hand, without mozilla google would have been mostly the same though would have probably missed some data about millions of users .

[1]: https://www.cnet.com/news/mozilla-gets-lucky-settles-irs-aud...


Is there a difference? Is there a reason we say Google and not ABC?

The seperation is purely legal and financial, no?



I don't know what you're trying to defend here, high ranked people from mozilla admitted themselves they made bad decision and wasted money and time and developers on the wrong things instead of focusing on their core product[1].

They've also been criticized for years for their business model being too dependent on a single income source contrary to their values. They did nothing about it until it became clear that they were losing the game. IMHO this is bad management for years.

[1]: https://andreasgal.com/2017/05/25/chrome-won/


Their core product, Firefox, has always been on shaky ground. They need to diversify. Firefox will always be at the mercy of multiple other parties.

First, OS manufacturers who have unlimited power to steer users toward their own browsers. This was true in the Windows days, and it's an order of magnitude more true in the mobile world where one of the leading platforms, iOS, won't even allow "real" versions of competitors' browsers onto their devices.

Second, they're at the mercy of purveyors of web content. How screwed would Firefox be if a couple of major sites like Facebook and Youtube started treating FF like a second-class citizen? FF already kind of feels like a second-class citizen sometimes; as far as I know Google Hangouts still doesn't work on FF: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/google-hangouts-tempora...

So, in the long run, Mozilla is going to have to do something about their tenuous position.

Realistically, they can't blow the doors off of incumbent browsers (Edge, Safari, Chrome) like they did back in the IE6 days. That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Microsoft, having achieved dominance, had literally disbanded their browser team despite the fact that IE6 was atrocious. But that will never happen again. MS, Apple, and Google each have gobs of engineering talent allocated to their browser efforts and the only way Mozilla can excel its way to the front of the pack is if the other three major browser vendors simultaneously slack off at once and give FF an IE6-like opening.

Also, the importance of the browser is decreasing. Watch kids on phones. It's all apps. They don't do jack shit in a web browser. A web browser is something they use, at most, to look up homework answers.

The world is a better place for Mozilla's presence and I hope that, while keeping FF strong, they manage to figure out an Apple-like second act at some point.


>Also, it's unfair to argue that they have neglected the browser. Firefox is a massive legacy codebase that couldn't be cleaned up without breaking A LOT OF THINGS

They said that for Netscape too (compared to Mozilla/Firefox). At what point do they start writing nice extensible code?

Webkit based browsers don't seem to have the same issues.


Did you forget about the Firefox OS for mobile phones?


I don't get people complaining about FirefoxOS. It didn't work out because at that time, the phone hardware wasn't ready, and because they didn't have the political power and economies of scale.

But at least they tried. Everyone else just gave up and either accepted Apple's overpriced walled garden or handed over their deepest secrets to Google.


It was not about the hardware. It was their goals, and their partners.

First off their goals, effectively OLPC the phone. A cheap "smartphone" built on web tech that allowed the owner to modify the software as he saw fit.

This then clashed with the partners they found, carriers that had zero interest in owner-modifiable phones.

It was doomed from the start, but it allowed some execs to pat themselves on the back and tell their fellow gallery dwellers that they had done something for the third world...


The reasons it did not work were obvious when they announced it however.

It was never going to work, and didn’t. Should never had a cent spent on it.


It was worth a shot certainly, no company ever didn't undertake projects that didn't pan out in the end, at least somebody tried to break the smartphone duopoly. I can imagine the money being spent on much worse things.


Like you can't make mistakes in business, come on ! Who in this bloody comment thread did something as spectacular as mozilla ? As useful ? As hard ?

And without grave mistakes ?

Seriously get a reality check.


It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

- Theodore Roosevelt


wow, this! This is in fact m status message on Whatsapp since I learnt when recounted by Brene Brown


The question you should rather be asking is, who in this bloody comment thread didn't expect Firefox OS to fail, back when it was first announced?


FirefoxOS was a way out of Apple's proprietary walled garden and of being Google's product and information slave.

Maybe it was unrealistic to expect it to work out - one relatively small company fighting with Google and Apple - but I guess some people are optimists and want to believe that the world can be made into something else than corporate dystopia or whatever.


Firefox OS was the out of reality belief from mozilla that computer were dead in a handful of years to be replaced by mobile, combined with the absolute nonsense that they could compete without hardware manufacturer support.

Wanting to believe in something is a thing, neglecting your core product and users to bet on a personal belief is something else.


Maybe some of the hardware makers should have thrown some resources at the project.


What's in it for them that justifies the expense?


If I could have invested in half the tech things I've seen which I thought were bloody stupid ideas, I'd be a rich man.


Half is actually good chance, why didn't you invest in all of them?


1. I'm not a venture capitalist and startups don't/can't generally accept small investments.

2. I thought they were bloody stupid ideas.

I'm not convinced that investing in ideas I think are stupid because things I have previously thought were stupid did well is a sound strategy. All it shows is I'm bad at predicting what will do well, so it makes more sense for me to invest broadly across as many markets as possible.


Your comment reminded me of this xkcd. https://xkcd.com/1497/


I thought Firefox OS could've found a niche on low-end phones. There's still nothing fundamentally wrong with a phone OS that uses web technologies for its UI, Mozilla wasn't even the first to try it (the Palm Pre got there first). Also, there are tons of phone apps that are just websites in an application wrapper, so it's not like they had to start from scratch to build up their app ecosystem. Lastly, whilst Mozilla has stopped funding it, a fork of it lives on as a smart TV OS for a major TV manufacturer, so it did find a niche, just not the intended one.


> There's still nothing fundamentally wrong with a phone OS that uses web technologies for its UI

There isn't, of course. But that wasn't why it failed. It failed because it didn't answer any questions that weren't already answered, except for some (like "more privacy") that too few people wanted an answer to, to have a market. And that part, unfortunately, was utterly predictable.


As I said before, I saw Firefox OS's primary niche being low-end phones. In that market, many people barely care about the OS being run. They could've easily racked up some decent sales in this area without many of their customers caring about the long term benefits. In some ways, Firefox OS was a case of unfortunate timing, part of me wonders if it would've been better to have a longer incubation period to make the platform better before announcing it, but another part of me thinks that they had to release it when they did, before the vacuum that Symbian had left behind was completely filled by Android.


Google closed off the market with Android One. In another world they couldn't get it together, or weren't interested in low margin competition. Firefox OS was a reasonable bet, it could have paid off, even if the technology was manifestly limited at the time. I actually wish they'd kept it going as an ongoing experiment, with a very low budget, once they'd done the work to get it running on a device like the Nexus 5, you'd have thought improvements would flow almost automatically from the work on the browser.


It was also a really bad implementation. I developed for the firefox os reference phone before the launch - it was atrociously slow.

Think low end android phone (of the time!) running software that was 10x slower than android's.

It's really hard to describe how slow it was if you didn't personally use a firefox os phone. There were times when it felt significantly slower than a 386 running windows 3.11.


If those phones were actually available to buy. I wanted to buy one but they were not available to western europe, then were distributed over weird channels and turned out to have performance issues. So I gave up and got an older android phone for free.


Same for phoenix. This is nonsense.


>Like you can't make mistakes in business, come on ! Who in this bloody comment thread did something as spectacular as mozilla ? As useful ? As hard ?

Considering this is HN, and not Slashdot, probably several readers...


It seemed risky but innovation demands taking risks. Mozilla could use another “product” category than mainly just a browser.


> They squandered a lot of money, while neglecting their core business (their web browser).

They are not a business, they are a non-profit organization. And their aim is not to simply build a better browser, but to preserve the open web, and put control in the hands of the users. Granted, phoneOS was a failure, but given their mission, they had to try.


They are a non-profit organization owning a for profit corporation making tens to hundred millions dollars a year selling users data to search engine.

Notably this non-profit organization had provisioned $15 millions anticipating that the IRS might get into how a non-profit was actually for profit, it eventually happened and the foundation ended up getting a $1.5 million fine for their google income before setting up the for profit corporation scheme[1].

[1]: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/11/18/google_still_mozill...

The non-profit organization foundation


I really appreciate that they tried phoneOS, It was very disappointed that it didn't work out.


non-profits and research organisations can also have a "core business", it's just a different word normally for the main thing they were created for.


You probably forgot to consider how much money / effort have Google wasted on projects that did not pan out. Their flagship products, like Hangouts, still have long-standing issues.

Nobody is perfect, and making a good and desirable product is hard.


Since Ruth Porat came in as CFO Google has reduced other projects spending to $3.5B p.a on $80B of revenue - less than 5%

Mozilla has revenue of $420M p.a - I don't know what they spent on Firefox OS but it would have been a big bet (hundreds of millions?). At the same time their Firefox marketshare was reduced.


In 2015, they only spent ~$215M on software development in total, so they couldn't have spent hundreds of millions on FxOS alone.

Plus, I think that view - that FF marketshare was reduced, therefore they weren't investing in it enough - is shortsighted. The improvements that have been landing on FF lately are the result of work being done for a long time. And you can't just dump more money into a project and expect it to be finished sooner - see The Mythical Man-Month.


Well, most of stuff that make recent Firefoxes better, like Electrolysis or WebExtensions, was either initially made for or a fundamental part of Firefox OS.


FirefoxOS produced several useful artifacts, sure, but they were things like device APIs. e10s pre-dates FirefoxOS by many years, and unless there was some very long-term secret plan that they didn't tell the rest of the company about, WebExtensions came after FirefoxOS was shuttered.


B2G extensions were already WebExtension-based when its preview release landed in Firefox 42. e10s was indeed introduced way earlier, but Firefox OS and Fennec were its main users for a while, which for sure has sped up the development significantly. Same with things like APZ.


Not sure how this 2015 figure is relevant as according to Andreas Gal who started the boot to gecko project, the shift back to firefox browser and away from firefox OS happened in 2014.

2011 to 2014, that's 4 years. Enough for firefox OS to gobble hundred millions of dollars.


Doesn't google have more than one failed social network?


Buzz, Wave, Orkut, Talk, Hangouts, Google Plus, Allo, Duo, forced YouTube comments merge to G+


Wave was amazing!


Yeah, totally. I'm still puzzled as to why they killed it - at one point they told us "We only want to show it to a couple of invited people" and the next moment the message was that it didn't get enough traction. Go figure.

Edit: Although, thinking about it, it's really ironic how the Google project inspired by Firefly got canceled way too early.


Duo is certainly not "failed"; it's actually doing very well internationally. It has the best video quality at the least bandwidth.

If I launched an app that got over a hundred million downloads and had many millions of monthly users I certainly wouldn't call that a failure!


Duo is an MFA. Whatever GOOG did that's called Duo failed because I don't know what it is.


What's MFA?


multi factor authentication. https://duo.com/ which is not related to the google app.


That's what I thought MFA meant, I just didn't see the relevance. I've never heard of that Duo.


> It’s surprising how they’ve wasted that amount of money to finally in 2017 build a browser that can compete again. This is 9 years after google chrome was released!

I belive, that some tasks cannot be accelerated by additional money. There are tasks that needs time. Money may allow to deal with subtasks in parallel by many developer teams, but in complex system it leads to a lot of conflicts between parts of system, and only time can allow to settle them.

Browser is such a complex system. Old browser with massive amount of legacy is more so. Moreover if you develop the hole new language for upgrading, it becomes surprizing that mozilla have done it in less than 10 years.


You said that like anything they do is easy. But there is nothing technically, politically or economically easy in the life of mozilla. Add on top of that that they try as best as they can to have a moral stand, and i'm actually amazed they survived at all, yet alone made this come back.


I don't know exactly how things went down inside Mozilla, but I think their refusal to ditch their old extensions API was the biggest thing holding Firefox back. This wasn't due to poor engineering chops; I believe they simply didn't take the decision to inconvenience millions of users - many of whom were using FF perhaps solely because of the vast extension ecosystem.

I can't hate them for some of the projects they tried. FirefoxOS was actually something the world really fucking needed. We need an open mobile OS.


One of the key misconceptions about Mozilla is that Firefox is their "core business." It is not. Mozilla is not a company; their "core business" is not defined by their most successful software product. It's defined by their mission statement: "to ensure the Internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all."

They've used their $100-160 million (it has grown over time) budget for a lot of things in the last several years. Off the top of my head:

* Legal battles * Advocacy for open standards like HTML5 * Web literacy projects like webmaker and MDN * LetsEncrypt * Bugzilla * Thunderbird * NSS * Spidermonkey * Rust * PDF.js * Firefox OS * Development and support for open VR web standards * Supporting other, non-Mozilla open source projects like Tor and NTP

Remember that the goal isn't the success of any particular software product. It's pushing the debate and forcing other vendors to adopt and stick with OSS and open standards.

In short: yes, Firefox has lagged behind chrome in the last few years in terms of speed. But remember when IOS didn't support HTML5, or any competing apps? Remember when no one was serving the global south with mobile web capable devices? Remember when HTTPS adoption was at 3% and going nowhere? Remember when CSS meant days of per-browser testing and tweaks? You're welcome.


> Mozilla is not a company

Mozilla Corp. is taxable and had revenues of $329.5 million in 2014 per Wikipedia. Most of that money came from Google in exchange for making Google the default search engine in Firefox. Open internet and goodwill aside, Firefox is very much their core business.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Corporation


That said, the Corporation is wholly owned by the foundation, and are both run according to the Mozilla Manifesto. (moco employee here)


You can't say Mozilla and squander in the same sentence without referencing their phone OS.


Much of that effort has also gone into Firefox for Android.

Which I might say, it has been the only Android browser supporting extensions and quite a nice browser overall ;-)

Does Microsoft make a browser for Android? Does Apple?


Indeed, I'm pretty sure the phone efforts helped with memory usage and performance.


Around 2012 when they started Android still sucked, so IMO it was a reasonable choice. They also killed it off fairly quickly so no big deal.


It's also still considered one of the main-reasons for Chrome eating up all market share, that they now have the leading mobile OS under their control. You can invest a lot of money trying to remedy that, before it's actually a waste of money.

And a lot of technologies and standards that were developed as part of Firefox OS still are very much around today.

In terms of standards, they did a lot of work for camera and microphone integration, which they now needed again anyways with Google having pushed WebRTC to a web standard.

In terms of technology, the biggest thing is probably Asynchronous Panning and Zooming (APZ). Basically offloading scrolling, zooming and window resizing on the desktop to a separate thread.

If you remember how horribly laggy scrolling on Android Firefox was prior to Firefox 46, APZ is what fixed that.

And it's one of the main-reasons why desktop Firefox with multiprocess immediately felt so much better. (Released in Firefox 48, but extensions needed to be updated to be compatible with multiprocess, so most people here probably didn't experience multiprocess and APZ on the desktop until around Firefox 51.)


"It's also still considered one of the main-reasons for Chrome eating up all market share,"

I remember one reason Chrome gobbled up a lot of marketshare - it was the browser to install because it had Flash built in. Google definitely leveraged that, and then slowly roped people into the Googlesphere from there once they had the browser as your new default.


For a while, wasn't it quite difficult to install Flash without it also installing Chrome and setting it as your default browser? I seem to recall you had to find a fairly well-hidden link to a different Flash installer from the one the site tried to direct you to.


I use firefox on linux but when I need flash (maybe once a year) then I use chrome. I wouldn't be suprised if normal users that regularly depend on flash just want a browser that always works instead of switching between two browsers.


Not to mention how they constantly bug you on the Google homepage to switch to Chrome.


Yeah further proof for google that being sneaky Gets Shit Done.

We collectively need to factor this into our product choices and stop encouraging the sneakiest of them all.


I understand that it's quite trendy to shit on Google's parade these days.

But how exactly is bundling Flash player sneaky?

Or are you alluding to some sort of bait and switch that was executed to suck people into the Google sphere? If so, please explain! Chrome was never marketed as a privacy-minded browser, was it?


Chrome bundles the Flash Pepper plugin, but Adobe's Flash NPAPI plugin installer also bundled Chrome as an opt-out "make Chrome my default browser" setting. So a Firefox user downloading the Flash NPAPI plugin (for their Firefox) would, by default, end up downloading the Flash NPAPI plugin, Chrome, and Chrome's Flash Pepper plugin. If the user really wanted Chrome, they would have downloaded it instead of downloading Flash NPAPI plugin that works in Firefox and not in Chrome.


I didn't see it as shitting on Google because there are newer, "hungrier" companies that I think will do sneakier things and cross lines Google wouldn't cross. I think it was valid as a general talking point. We do need to be careful about who we support.

For example, there is apparently a $40B rural Internet access bill that Dems are pushing. I love greater access to the internet but I'm more than a little skeptical.


I thought the reasons that they lost market share was that they started cloning the chrome interface stripping out usable features (i.e. status bar) at the expense of fixing memory and performance issues. I stopped using Firefox when they removed the status bar and made it an extension and then went and bundled in a read later service extension.


The main reason is google used its piles of cash to push their browser.

The side reason is firefox made counterproductive and unnecessary changes: removing the status bar, australis UI, removing the ability to disable script, dropping alsa support and many other useful features removed proving that user have no freedom of choice and no say. While adding unwanted things (DRM, pocket, hello, etc.) and not fixing broken things.

Some power users and long supporter would have sticked with firefox despite google's marketing, had it not piled bad move after bad move and not listening to its users.


To my knowledge, it was actually Google cloning the Australis interface, they just happened to release it earlier.

And no, these UI changes were not made at the expense of fixing memory and performance issues.

The reason why they didn't fix those memory and performance issues, is because it would have required introducing the (now introduced) multiprocess architecture.

That would have required breaking all extensions (which is now being done with Firefox 57, along with breaking them to switch to a new extension API). So, that would have pissed off power users even more.

And also just in general, you have to understand that power users are not that important for market share. They make up maybe 1%. If they bring their friends and family all along, then maybe 15%.

There's a big number of users that are able to choose their own browser, but are not power users by any means. For example, around 40% of Firefox users don't have any extensions installed [1].

[1] The figure is from Sep 2015, but I don't think things have changed much since then. And if anything, the trend has so far been for this number to increase. https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1229949


The main reason for chrome eating up market is google pocket depth and heavy marekting push through all mean avialable.


Now more than ever, I would actually prefer to be running a Mozilla OS phone. The reasons why it was important are even more relevant today with vendor lock-in and the continued flow of out-of-support devices.


Google has had quite a few failed projects too, although admittedly their phone OS has been more successful.


True story.


Exactly (saying this as a FF user since Mosaic times and writing in FF). There was money, millions of it, and it attracted many people who captured the browser, sidelined it, spent the money on their ideological pet projects (OS, ...) and then moved on, leaving the browser behind.

After decades of FF I will soon abandon it when it no longer runs vertical tree tabs.


You know that Tree Style Tabs 2.0 supports Firefox 57+ right? https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tree-style-ta...


I saw that - wish I could get rid of the obnoxious header though, just a frame on the left would be ideal.


There’s no API to do that yet from a WebExtension, but they’re working on it: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1332447 . In the meantime it’s possible to edit your userChrome.css manually to select the tab bar and hide it.


Sorry, that’s just not what happened. I think there’s an important lesson in what happened to Mozilla, so I think it is worth clarifying.

Chrome didn’t start from scratch (they used WebKit to start) and they didn’t overtake them overnight. Mozilla couldn’t decide what their focus should be for many years, and in that time Chrome grew thanks to Google’s infinite wallet. They made worthwhile risks that didn’t work out in the end, and during this period their core product stopped improving and they eventually needed an extensive and expensive rewrite.

I think the lesson here is this: if you’re going to invest in experimental products, don’t forget about keeping your core technology up to date.


And webkit did not start from scratch either, it started from KHTML. They had considered using firefox rendering engine gecko but it was too cumbersome and got dropped.


First, many years ago, they should have made an XUL IDE.

Then they should have focused on XML and giving the world an XML based web-browser, trying to drive XML further. XML would have had a much better chance on the web, if web-servers could have responded to URL encoded XPaths (or even XQueries in POST/GET), serving back XML Fragments which could have been XMLIncluded by the browser. They could have lobbied that.

Now we've got HTML5...


That sounds rather unpleasant from a user or non-XML-loving developer perspective. Such a heavy focus on XML for XML's sake would have guaranteed Firefox's decline into obscurity.


XUL was a horrible idea, certainly at the time. Firefox's UI felt sluggish due to it, certainly since I was used to Opera's blazing fast and responsive UI, which I stuck to for exactly that reason. I only had Firefox installed for compatibility reasons. People seem to forget that while IE was a mess, Firefox was only "better", not "amazingly fantastically better".

With computers having become faster, together with development thrown at it, that's not really an issue anymore, but developers have also realized these days that XML is far from human readable, and for the majority of applications it has been used for, simply a bad idea.


Both Chrome and Safari started with extant, open-source projects.

A rich set of lessons in what tends to happen with corporate uptake of a "common good".


Chrome wasn't started from scratch. From day 1 it was built on top of the legacy laid by WebKit, which in turn was built on top of the huge amount of work done under the KHTML project. v8 and sandboxing were its crown jewels.

If Apple hadn't open-sourced WebKit, it's unlikely Chrome would have happened.


I think KHTML, as a part of KDE, was open from the start?


Sure it was, but how much additional effort did Apple put into the code base by way of WebKit? Apple didn't need to open source that work, even if the original was open source, and I'm sure the leg up made a big time-to-market difference for Chrome.

Edit: Actually, KHTML is licensed LGPL, and that's a viral license if you make a derivative work. So I suppose Apple was forced to open source their changes when it finally went to market.


> Edit: Actually, KHTML is licensed LGPL, and that's a viral license if you make a derivative work. So I suppose Apple was forced to open source their changes when it finally went to market.

When LGPL code is linked with non-free code and the resulting work is distributed LGPL only requires that the changes to the LGPL code be open and that the object files for the non-free code are provided so that users can exercise their LGPL rights with regard to the LGPL portion of the work.

Apple could have separated out much of their work into separate files that contained no non-Apple code and that dynamically linked with the KHTML LGPL code and they could have kept those files closed. They would only have had to open the changes to the LGPL code.

If we accept the terminology that GPL is a viral license then LGPL is more of an immune system than a virus.


The reason webkit is known today, and not KHTML, is because Apple ignored their LGPL requirements.

First, they didn't publish anything for years. Then only obfuscated source dumps with all comments removed for many years.

It took ages until they published some source code, even longer until they opened their repository.

By that time KHTML was long dead, and development had centered on WebKit.

No, Apple is no saint in this story.


(Responding out of order)

> No, Apple is no saint in this story.

Nowhere did I say or imply that Apple was a saint. All I said was that LGPL allows linking with closed code and distributing the resulting work without having to make the closed code open, and that Apple could have structured WebKit in such a way as to keep most of their code from having to be made open.

This is the main difference between GPL and LGPL, and a big reason why the FSF now discourages the use of LGPL.

> The reason webkit is known today, and not KHTML, is because Apple ignored their LGPL requirements.

> First, they didn't publish anything for years.

They published their KJS changes in June 2002, shortly before they released products using it. They published their KHTML changes shortly after Safari was announced.

> Then only obfuscated source dumps with all comments removed for many years.

Citation needed. My recollection is that they published their code in the form that they used it internally. The difficulty for the KHTML developers in incorporating Apple's code was (1) WebKit was designed to do what Apple needed, which was not necessarily what KDE needed, and so the two were diverging, and (2) Apple was making a lot of changes that touched a lot of code making it hard to break it down to individual improvements that could be incorporated independently.


Also (3) Apple had poured way more resources into this than the khtml developers had available. Since Apple kept its work secret for business reasons, that meant that, once Apple published their fork, the sheer amount of changes overwhelmed the KHTML developers (WebKit wasn’t just a port of KHTML; it broadened support for html features)


Yes, but they didn’t even attempt to get it merged, nor did they provide the changes on a per-commit level, but only as a single sourcedump with all comments etc removed.

This made integration impossible.


Apple's JavaScript implementation is based on KJS as well. Arguably, Microsoft was hostile towards open source in general at the time, while Apple simply stole open source software.


It is not theft to use open source software in accordance with its license.


Legally they might have done the minimal amount necessary to not violate the license, but morally they've been a huge dick. "We have to open source our modifications to the code base, so here you get exactly one tarball of uncommented stuff."


That hasn’t been true for many years so what exactly is the complaint?


To be practical, it would have been significantly painful for Apple to adapt and improve KHTML by keeping their code and changes outside it and only dynamically linking to KHTML.

If it were just as easy (or even comparably easy) to carry on (and maintain) development via external linkage, LGPL would have been long useless.


So how come google doesn't have to opensource chrome?


hum, chromium? was it sarcasm?


> started from scratch.

Nope, they started with webkit and wininet for networking which together might be make a good browser demo.


Firefox beta is very nice. My only (big) regret is that APIs that make Vimperator work are getting phased out. I can't live without Vimperator.


Well, there's vimium-ff [1] which works pretty good for me.

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/vimium-ff/


I switched to it yesterday from VimFX. Basic stuff works the same as in VimFX, but:

- Yanking does not work at all.

- "Follow in new tab" (F) does not work. (EDIT: Working now, so maybe I did something weird yesterday.)

- "Open" (o) does not respect search keywords. "wikipedia Test" gives me a search for "wikipedia test" instead of the Wikipedia page for "test".

- Most of the shortcuts don't work on a blank page, or on "about:" pages. For example, when I open a new tab with "t", then change my mind and press "[Esc]x", it doesn't work. Nor does any other letter command.

I filed a bug for the first one, and it seems to be related to shortcomings in FF's clipboard API for WebExtensions, so I suppose that at least the last issue in my list is also related to what the browser allows WebExtensions to do. But at this point, I don't really care about filing more bug reports. I'm looking for alternatives instead. (Any suggestions?)


I am using this addon, but I'm having a hard time with it. I wish you could disable smooth scrolling when using "j" and "k"


Not on a pc right now, but there may be an option for that? Not entirely sure.


There's a checkbox to control smooth scrolling in about:preferences#advanced , but I just tried both options and didn't notice any difference, neither when using the touchpad nor with j/k in Vimium-FF.


I have smooth scrolling disabled in about:prefs, which only disables it on my touchpad, not with vimium-ff


I just found "Use smooth scrolling" under Vimium's advanced options. Might be this page: moz-extension://78ac0671-3b7c-4a05-8771-f46ecdb2b65c/pages/options.html#advancedOptions unless that random string is unique per-user and I just broadcast my password.


When I copy this URL into the addressbar and hit Enter, it just disappears. Probably a security feature.


That doesn't happen for me, I can access the Vimium options by copying the URl. Do you have the extension installed?


Uhm, "Vimium" vor "Vimium-FF"?


As I understand it, Vimium for Chrome and Vimium-FF share the same code base (https://github.com/philc/vimium), even the addon site for Vimium-FF just calls it "Vimium" (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/vimium-ff/).

So if it's in Firefox, it's Vimium-FF. (And I'm using Firefox, in case that wasn't clear.)


Or VideoDownloadHelper, or DownThemAll! :-(

That said my dev edition self-updated last night and... holy shit, the new Firefox flies!


Not sure what you're downloading, but have you ever given youtube-dl (https://rg3.github.io/youtube-dl/) a try? It's got support for tons of other sites than just YouTube. It doesn't have a GUI, but it's pretty simple to use.


youtube-dl-gui (https://mrs0m30n3.github.io/youtube-dl-gui/) is a cross-platform GUI for youtube-dl. It works well for me.


youtube-dl is great, but having a little gui icon in your toolbar was better


Why don't you switch to waterfox ? it has support for legacy extension and plans to keep them alive, it's even currently working on hosting its own copy of the addon store.

https://www.waterfoxproject.org/


Try qutebrowser?


When you consider where the funding they do have comes from, it's not surprising it happened. Especially with Bing / Yahoo starting to bid up traffic acquisition at the time, it's a strategic no-brainer.


Chrome didn't start from scratch. It was based off of WebKit which was based off of KHTML [0], the code has a lineage that dates back to at least 1998.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KHTML


But as a new project they didn't have to worry about breaking things, supporting current users, etc.


Not having baggage can be liberating. That phase is way smaller than most people realize.

One of the worst Chrome bugs was a short sighted attempt to remain compatible with a bad decision by netscape.

https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/chrome/DpOXzA...


You're not lying - I just downloaded it, and it is crazy fast. GMail (maybe not the best metric, but an important one for me) loads about twice as fast as in Chrome, and scrolling has no stuttering at all, even on very long pages.

I may actually make the switch.


Damn, I am commenting right now from 57.0b4 and it's so, so fast. It properly recovered the 50 or so tabs I had open from the prior version, and even as I rapidly clicked from tab to tab Firefox didn't skip a beat.

I never left Firefox though, it's been my primary browser for ~12 years. Fuck Chrome! I can say without a doubt that 57.0b4 is more performant than any Chrome / Chromium version that I've begrudgingly used to check if my client's sites are cross-browser compatible.


Fuck chrome? Whoa what did Chrome do?


In fairness I (and I suspect many others) refuse to use Chrome on privacy grounds.


Serious question, you think firefox has any quantifiable privacy benefit over chrome?


We'll, there's the obvious argument that any open source software is better for your privacy and security than any closed source software, just because you know what it's doing. Then there's chrome's history of repeatedly discovering "whoops, we weren't supposed to be collecting that"... For me, it was when a researcher noticed that chrome kept his microphone activated all the time, because it was passively recording and sending all your audio to google. That one even made it into chromium! Then there's the abuse of their products to force people into their browser and OS - like Hangouts only working on chrome, or chrome not enabling hardware acceleration for any device but Chromebooks, despite a years old (trivial) patch to do so, and years of testing reports. Arch Linux maintains its own version of chromium just to have that patch included.

But for me, it's the conflict of interest that makes the real difference. Fundamentally, Google as a company makes it's money by selling information about me and my behavior on the internet. That's it's objective. Firefox exists to promote open standards, OSS, and privacy on the Internet. If chrome at the moment doesn't seem to be contributing towards Google's objective, that's by definition only a temporary state of affairs. And I know which objective I would rather support.


It's a benefit that it's not owned by a company that collects your data to sells ads.


Are you sure it sells 'your' data? Or Chrome somehow acts as a tool for this purpose?


Google doesn't officially tell that Chrome tracks you more than other browsers do, but an ex-Google employee has said that "Google definitely uses Chrome user data and can track every click within it". https://www.siliconbeachtraining.co.uk/blog/ex-google-employ...


The article does not give any context and I am not sure what they meant by that sentence. Is it because you can log in to Chrome with your Google account?


I was actually thinking about switching to Chrome because of GMail (or rather Inbox). When I open Inbox in Firefox, it can take 20 to 30 seconds for the cursor to stop spinning and I have a 300 Mbps connection.


Hi! Firefox engineer here. Check out this reply: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15371068

If you're interested in helping me figure out what's going on here, feel free to send me a performance profile.


on which firefox version? have you tried nightly?


The first Quantum release (57) is now on Beta, so if you want something a little more stable than Nightly it's a solid choice.

It's always a good idea to back up your profile first (where your bookmarks/passwords/etc. live), especially when downgrading:

https://support.mozilla.org/kb/back-and-restore-information-...


I've been running Nightly and experienced the same thing with inbox. If I attempt to interact with it before fully loaded, inbox will freeze up for minutes at a time. Love everything else about nightly, this is my biggest issue.


Hi! Firefox engineer here, and I want to understand why your Firefox is misbehaving.

Would you be willing to provide us a performance profile? Instructions are here: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Performance...

Feel free to email it to me if you don't want to post the link publicly. I'm mconley at mozilla dot com.


I've been noticing that gmail will seem to lose connection with Nightly Firefox on occassion after sitting a while (Win 7 PC).

Other than that Nightly is amaze balls.


Make FireFox work with FaceBook's Live Video feature - as in both viewing and broadcasting. You'll have me switch back from Chrome in a heartbeat.


Seriously, when we talk so much about the Web's portability, why is a major feature from a major website not even working on identically on the two biggest browsers? Since it's Facebook we can't accuse them of browser favouritism as they're browser neutral. I wonder what APIs are missing from Firefox that makes FB Live Video broken?


> Since it's Facebook we can't accuse them of browser favouritism as they're browser neutral

Favoritism isn't the only reason for these things. What often happens is that the website devs all use one browser and nobody tests it.

It's not like Google wants their sites to be broken on other browsers either (I presume), it's just that many teams at Google aren't bothered.

IIRC Firefox has the same WebRTC APIs as Chrome, so this might be reliance on browser-specific nonstandard behavior.

(Or it might not. It's worth looking into, but I can't because it seems like you need to ask for an FB live invite to investigate)

Edit: Figured out how to do it. Seems to work fine in Firefox Nightly.


> Favoritism isn't the only reason for these things. What often happens is that the website devs all use one browser and nobody tests it.

That is exactly the point the GP post makes. These things are supposed to be standardized and the standards well described, so basic things should work everywhere without any testing. But somehow for web, it is acceptable and accepted as status quo, even after years and years of smashing our heads against the wall of nonstandard, browser-specific features.


Yeah. Well, it's not just "features", it's also stuff like minor differences that the spec allows for (the spec doesn't spec everything). For example, assuming the order of elements in the indexed getter of getComputedValues().

There are also cases like where Google's U2F library doesn't work with Firefox's U2F implementation because Firefox's window.u2f is immutable, as a newer (IIRC draft) spec dictates, whereas it isn't in Chrome, and the library does `var u2f=u2f||{}` which errors in Firefox.


Can you try this in an install of Nightly? It's working for me.


Works in Nightly but the video quality is beyond garbage. 1080p webcam should not look like 320p. Chrome properly sees my camera resolution and uses it.


interesting, will file a bug


More interestingly - it will work with a forced-set resolution using ManyCam. Just not with webcam natively.


Not to mention Firefox for Android that supports extensions (uBlock etc.).


Unfortunately, for me at least, it's not a viable option. Firefox on android still feels significantly more sluggish than chrome. Plus, googles questionable business practice of embedding chrome into many apps, while making opening links very fast, adds another three clicks to someone not using chrome.


Set it as the default browser; it will work normally.

Firefox also supports https://developer.chrome.com/multidevice/android/customtabs .

It also has a very nifty feature (IIRC off by default) where if you click on a link instead of switching to Firefox it shows a "Tab opened in Firefox" toast which you can tap on to switch to. This means I can for example click on the links in an email whilst still reading it, and then switch to the browser later to read them all. This does make opening links two taps by default (tap on the link, and then tap on the toast), but there's no tap-hold so it's fast and nice. Plus my workflow prefers opening tabs that i look at later, not immediately.


Disagreed. I might have 3GB of RAM on this phone, but the browser(s) often get moved out of RAM. It's slower to start than Chrome/Brave. Cold-boot performance matters. I keep Firefox Beta around, and just checked, it's still almost twice as slow as Brave in a adhoc cold start test.


I'm not sure what you're disagreeing with, I was specifically responding to the "adds another three clicks" thing


I see. I thought you meant that as a default browser, there would be less chance for it to be swapped out, and therefore it would be sluggish.


> Firefox on android still feels significantly more sluggish than chrome.

Note that none of the Quantum work has been turned on for mobile Firefox yet. I hear it will be coming online in nightly this cycle, targeting Firefox 58.


The Quantum project includes more than Stylo and WebRender. There are lots of small performance fixes ("Quantum Flow") in core Gecko code that should improve performance on Android. Stylo for Android is currently targeting Firefox 59. I don't know if WebRender will support Android.


Firefox for Android Beta currently has the Quantum update, and it's buttery smooth!


I got the beta two days ago and oh my God this thing is super fast. I used to dread opening web pages, now it's my favorite thing! I am extremely impressed with the work they did.


That's interesting. I find Firefox Nightly on Android to be extremely slow compared to Chrome.


What's your setup?


I don't know what changed, but at last the terrible lag when moving the cursor on text fields is gone. Loving it.

I do have to find the webextension equivalent of half my add-ons though.


Yeah, and unfortunately some of the addons aren't even available :(


This is incorrect. The Quantum Flow work affects mobile Firefox.

The thing that is not on mobile Firefox is Stylo.


From a technical position that may be true, but one cannot discount the speedup you subsequently get if you run an ad/script/tracker blocker on mobile...


I just use a VPN application that host-blocks that stuff.


Sort of off-topic, but I'm baffled by how well host-blocking works still, given the trivial nature of the blockade.


I use the Brave browser to address this. It's based on Chromium with built in features based on Privacy Badger and HTTPS everywhere. It also replaces "Chrome view" so that if you click a link from an app and it opens up with the app, you're still getting the privacy features. And since it's Chromium based I don't see the sluggishness I do in Firefox for Android.


Hmm, you're saying apps use Brave instead of Chrome? That'd be amazing. I mean, you could block ads in apps that way. How does one enable that?

> And since it's Chromium based I don't see the sluggishness I do in Firefox for Android.

The point of the article is that you'll be able to have a quick experience with Android, without using that one tracker called Google.


> Firefox on android still feels significantly more sluggish than chrome.

Interesting because for me it's the exact opposite: Firefox is fast but when I need to open Chrome (webview or full) it's a slow and painful process (tested on two phones, one 3 year old). Maybe it's because Firefox has everything cached and Chrome needs to load from network... Not to mention full screen, aggressive ads :)


You can set Firefox as the default browser ("always use this app", not "once"), and the number of clicks becomes the same.

For instance, it takes me exactly one click to open a link from the HN app I'm using in Firefox.


Best i can tell, Firefox is doing something on Android during first (cold?) launch that just chugs the storage. The really problem source is that all this is stored in the cache dir for the app, and that can and will be flushed at irregular intervals. This resulting in Firefox doing it over again next time it is launched.


Well, my issue was mainly with render speed. The delay between scrolling and the site actually rendering in is the issue.


Your lucky, I'm dealing with an app crash every hour or so(if I'm lucky), ui freeze, then hang for 5 seconds , then ' email us the details box', before it restarts.

Trying the beta now though, fingers crossed!


The chrome embedding is in theory cross browser compatible. Firefox nightly supports the API. It's still possible for the embedding app to hardcode to chrome (which the Google app seems to do) but the Android developer page recommends the cross browser approach


Try Firefox Focus.


I really can't stand browsing without an ad blocker nowadays. This is the reason I do it at all on the mobile.


Yep, been using FF on Android for three years now. Its the best mobile browser around.

And ublock origin must have saved me hundreds of euros and days of time already. (God the internet with ads and trackers is terrible. Gizmodo has a dozen trackers, one of them is called summerhamster. True story).


I now use Firefox Focus as default html viewer for links. Very good.


Firefox focus is my mobile browser of choice to just look up a fact. No ads, cookies or trackers and bins your history on closing.


That's basically a wrapper around Webview, that in turn is chrome based...


That's true on IOS but on Android is the real thing


https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/focus-android/wiki/Archite...

Notice that they could not support Android 4.4 because they would require using geckoview.

Also, there is no way a browser of only 4MB can contain a whole web engine. The only Android browsers that get so small depend on webview.

Consider this, even the old Presto based Opera Mobile clocked in at 15MB on Android.


I think https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/focus-android/issues/13 is the relevant tracking issue.


true I forgot that (although it seems they forked brave but that's still webview)


I just have JavaScript off on my phone


Even if "they were just building a Chrome clone", it would still be valuable because of the privacy concerns


If they could only get near-Chrome speeds with significantly better battery impact that would also be a huge win.


Servo's multi threading actually improves battery life. Not sure how that translates to Firefox.


Right, and even if its latency is, say 1.5X that of Chrome(1), it's still better, for the same reason.

(1) Though I'm sure it's better than that.


That's why I've kept using it despite the slowness, but it's certainly great that now the lag is 0.9x that of Chrome!


what do you mean privacy concerns ? firefox is far from being a privacy browser outside of marketing.

Also chrome has had privacy oriented counterpart since the early days such as srware iron[1].

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


The long game, man. The long game. It can be devastating.

(Mind you, Chrome/Webkit did a similar thing 5-10 years ago wrt. JS performance. Basically, this is the good kind of back-and-forth competition we're seeing.)


I'm not even running Nightly, just switched to 57 beta. It's a big improvement on 55 & 56 (which already felt faster than older versions).


They broke something in the latest nightlies, my fans become really loud when I open it for a while (high CPU usage). You're better off in beta right now until they fix it.


I felt guilty choosing Chrome over Firefox, but it was just so much damn faster. Writing from Nightly now, glad that I don't have to sacrifice performance to switch over.


After years of Chrome I'm back on Firefox(beta).


And FF Developer Edition still lets you install unsigned extensions.


waterfox has been doing since firefox stopped doing it, actually waterfox is doing right everything firefox does wrong:

    Disabled Encrypted Media Extensions (EME)
    Disabled Web Runtime (deprecated as of 2015)
    Removed Pocket
    Removed Telemetry
    Removed data collection
    Removed startup profiling
    Allow running of all 64-Bit NPAPI plugins
    Allow running of unsigned extensions
    Removal of Sponsored Tiles on New Tab Page
    Addition of Duplicate Tab option
    Locale selector in about:preferences > General
https://www.waterfoxproject.org/


Actually, in stock chrome, it's much easier to install 3rd-party extensions than in stock ff.


Unless you are on Windows, there Chrome makes them impossible.


No, you just load an unpacked extension in developer mode. Hard but not impossible


That’s removed on every restart of the browser on Windows nowadays.


It flies towards the trash can. It could be fast as lightning it would a fast as lightning piece of crap without the couple dozen extensions I had to add to restore the features they removed, remove the unwanted change they made and just to add the basic but missing features.

I've moved to waterfox which offers support for the legacy addons and this move actually fixed a few of the annoying bugs I had with firefox. Among which speed was not one.


Just chiming in... I knew they were doing major replacements in parts of their engine but it started to become observably and blatantly obvious to me when doing cross browser testing. That thing makes chrome look like a lawnmower, it renders CSS with ease - here's hoping the reset of the browser gets the love it needs to bring it all together.


It's truly awesome. Overtime I associated FF with hung pages and poor performance but stuck to it just to get away from Google software. Am really happy with FF 57 (Quantum). It's really really good.

BTW, also using DDG for search, Outlook for email.


No worries. Faster browsers just mean that web developers can put more stuff in web pages, so everything will be back to normal.


A Chrome clone? How that opinion came out of you?


Not GP, but I imagine he is referring to the use of Chrome’s extension API, Chrome’s PDF viewer instead of PDF.js, etc.


One wonders why all the UI issues weren't solved long ago. Good that they're fixing them now, but what were they waiting for to decide to do it? (Rendering performance is a separate topic, that's been waiting on rust/servo.)


A Large part of the reason they couldn't easily address the UI performance was because of the old extensions.

The reason that Firefox switched to webextensions was in order to switch to a formal extension API that could be supported long term, instead of the old open integration API which made it difficult to readable without breaking all sorts of extensions.

There reason they adapted the web extension API that chrome uses, was because it largely made sense, was already pretty fleshed out and would allow extension writers that were already familiar with that to also target Firefox.


Also the fastest way to accelerate the bleeding of long time supporters and power users who would not be using firefox if not for extensions.


My outside perspective is that as with any other major project, backwards compatibility and the momentum of old code/bugs.

I don't think they've been "waiting" to solve the UI issues: it's been years of slowly deprecating old systems like XUL, and implementing new systems like e10s. That's been years of anger or at least angst for extension developers, as much backwards compatibility was broken one piece at a time.

The fruit after all that hard work is the new UI.


One might argue because they were "distracted" with making a phone OS and other endeavors.


Yeah, but that's nonsense that bad journalists write or Mozilla marketing people say, because it's more understandable for normal readers and makes it more credible that things will change.

The truth is that they were in a dilemma situation where they had to choose between not killing all extensions or fixing performance by introducing a multiprocess architecture (which required breaking all extensions).

So, the first thing they did was to simply wait. The performance issues were not that bad yet, so it just didn't yet weigh up to kill all extensions.

Eventually they started work on the multiprocess architecture. That was around 2012, if I remember correctly. They've been doing that in the background without visible results for the public for a long time. It's considered the biggest architectural change that Firefox ever went through, so yeah, that just takes time. Cleaning up technical debt that Chrome never had.

And then they also figured, if they already break all extensions, they should also switch to a new extension API in the same breath (because the old one has had big problems for as long as its existed). So, then they implemented that, too, in the background, in parallel, just to be able to throw it all on the table one day, so that extension authors would only have to rewrite their stuff once.


If this is referring to Electrolysis, that has been in stable Firefox for about a year now, and it was an initiative whose planning began in 2009. Seven years from inception to delivery is a long time, and indeed was largely attributable to trying to find ways to avoid breaking every extension in the universe, and then being forced to break every extension anyway, and then laboriously fixing up all the broken extensions over a very long period. After such a grueling task I don't blame them for coming to the painful conclusion that Firefox simply can't keep pace with other browsers while maintaining the all-pervasive legacy extension system, especially since Electrolysis was just a first tentative step towards effective multiprocessing.

Indeed, I'm one of the people who has suffered from losing legacy Firefox extensions (find me a substitute for LeechBlock, please!), but I can see how much of a burden it was for the developers to compete on performance and security, which I value more. I'm hopeful that Firefox will continue to add sane extension APIs to help close the gap with what was previously possible without regressing to the old quagmire. Fingers crossed, but they've done well delivering so far with 57.


The first Firefox release with multiprocessing work was one of the 3.6 ones where they shipped out of process plugins in a patch release. Judging by Wikipedia, that was 3.6.4 in 2010 (look for OOPP). I thought it was later…

Having to break legacy extensions due to internal changes is understandable. It would have reduced stress for the users if the new API was shipped first, then the changes made and the old one broken, though. Heck, they even thought of it first and did that - you may remember Jetpack. It never picked up steam because the APIs were too limited and too many people ended up resorting to the old APIs, though. Even now with WebExtensions they're shipping lots of new API extensions want in the same release that drops support for the old ones…

Oh, and they had multiple breakages as more and more things went out of process, not one giant one. That's life, really; things take time to build. I believe part of the pushback is that people just finished porting to e10s only to find that their new code will need to be rewritten again for WebExtensions.


That was Mozilla's official excuse for discontinuing Firefox OS.

I never said I agreed with it.


It seems to me waterfox has both legacy extension and multiprocess support.


exactly, too busy pushing resources into stuff that was not their core business while letting the competitors take their market.


Boy, I _really_ didn't want to swap to Chrome. I'd held on through about a year ago, even despite knowing it was slower, a memory hog, and so on; at least this way, _someone_ on my team was viewing our site in FF and would notice discrepancies. I hated to let Google manage yet another aspect of my life.

But as some point, too much was too much. Unable to bear vanilla, Google-owned Chrome, I ended up in (closed-source!) Vivaldi. It was...alright.

About two months ago, I tried out FF Nightly. And by god, it's the best browser I've ever used. And the Nightly builds are (typically) _more_ stable than production-issue from other vendors.

So very happy to be back! Mozilla may have their issues, but I'll gladly take imperfect and pro-user over differently imperfect and profit-driven any day.


> And the Nightly builds are (typically) _more_ stable than production-issue from other vendors.

Yeah, I switched to Nightly a couple releases ago (I'd use Dev edition before that because in the past Nightly used to be really unstable) and it's been great. The only time I've been getting crashes are when I flipped stylo on early (which was to be expected), and a couple of random crashes here and there.

In fact, I've had more problems in Chrome (Stable) these last two weeks, where their devtools hanged everything in multiple cases and Netflix wasn't working at all. And Chrome isn't my primary browser -- I only use it for Hangouts and Netflix (Netflix is force of habit, it works great in Firefox now). (I used the devtools because I'm using the new rewritten devtools in Firefox Nightly and they don't have a prettyprint button right now)


> Netflix is force of habit, it works great in Firefox now

Netflix doesn't work great in either Firefox or Chrome, but that's not the browser's fault. Netflix only streams 720p video to Firefox, Opera, and Chrome whereas it will stream 1080p or better to Safari, IE 11, and Edge:

https://help.netflix.com/en/node/23742

You can see the playback details (formats, resolution, bit rate, etc.) of the video you're currently watching on Netflix by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Alt+D.

I use Safari to view Netflix though I'd prefer to use Firefox. I'm paying Netflix for access to 1080p video, but I only actually get 1080p video with Safari.


> Netflix only streams 720p video to Firefox, Opera, and Chrome whereas it will stream 1080p or better to Safari, IE 11, and Edge

Yeah, that's due to DRM.

The simple solution is to disable the EME plugin, and just pirate everything (while still paying for Netflix). You pay for it, and have a moral right to it, and you can watch it in 1080p or 4K easily.


If you pay for Netflix, you're paying for the right to watch anything currently available in their library. If you pirate stuff, unless you're careful to keep that library up-to-date with Netflix's, you won't have the moral right to it.


Well, that’s an interesting question. If you’ve made a reasonable effort to pay, but have not found an option, some countries even allow you to copy without approval of the copyright owner, legally.

So this is a question that very much depends on ideology and jurisdiction. (I, personally, think that if I pay for Netflix and Amazon Prime, I have a moral right to any older content, and if I pay for a movie ticket for newer content that’s twice as expensive as a DVD of which the cinema gets less than 10%, I have a moral right to rewatch it)


Maybe I'm missing something, but doesn't your OS have a native Netflix app?


My OS is Arch Linux.... so no


Yeah, I'm aware of that. IIRC a few years ago it was even worse on Firefox because of DRM issues or something (I don't recall).

Also in the past Firefox's media stack used to be a bit more RAM-hog-y, but that's no longer the case IME either. I still stick media stuff in a different browser so that if I'm doing a build or something expensive I can just close the browser.


I haven't crashed nightly (I'm running the developer edition nightly) in months, but I've seen some rendering bugs since they rolled in the overhauled bits. Not as much as one might expect from a bunch of new parts, though. The quality of Firefox is just generally very high.


> And the Nightly builds are (typically) _more_ stable than production-issue from other vendors.

I actually managed to crash nightly yesterday! Maybe this seems like it ought to be banal, but I think it says something admirable when users are surprised to remember that your pre-beta software is pre-beta. :P


I am more than willing to try Firefox BUT I need a couple of things :

-an extension to allow to treat chrome + firefox history and open tabs as one on all devices (basically what I already have with chrome on desktop + mobile)

-a password manager that integrates with both (this one should be easy enough .. just buy lastpass or an alternative).


So you've not used opera before they switch to chromium ?


OT, but (in case you didn't know) you can use asterisks to italicize text, so instead of _this_ you'll have this.


[flagged]


I think you're joking but it's the third time I heard someone say something like this today, so... profits don't pay your salary, your work pays for it.


Work with no profits (or revenue) would likely mean no salary. On the other hand, profits with no work sounds like a great situation.


> Work with no profits (or revenue) would likely mean no salary.

I'm pretty sure Twitter engineers get paid well. Same for Uber. They've got loses for a long time now. (But they have revenue) Profits definitely don't pay salaries there.


[flagged]


Mozilla (the foundation) is a non-profit corporation, but Mozilla (the corporation that creates the free browser) is a for-profit corporation. They're separate entities.

Of course, non-profit corporations are still able to turn profits as well. They just can't distribute dividends to shareholders.


To be clear: The for-profit is wholly owned by the non-profit; so there are no shareholders (except for the non-profit).

There are restrictions around what 501(c)(3)s can do. The existence of Firefox helps push the goals of Mozilla Foundation, and also bring extra money to the table of the non-profit (but not unbounded! There are similar restrictions on how much money can travel back that way)

This is not an uncommon pattern, see https://www.americanbar.org/publications/blt/2014/06/03_levi...


Yes, and to be clear, I don't have any issues with this setup. I just wanted to correct the original statement, because it annoys me when "for-profit vs non-profit" is used to imply things that it doesn't actually imply (lack of a profit motive). Or when people imply that being as non-profit means that the company can't or doesn't actually turn a profit.


Yeah, I get that, just wanted to add further clarification that there aren't shareholders etc etc


[flagged]


Profits are paid to shareholders. Wages are the cost your employer pays to allow you to generate more profit for shareholders.

"Profits are unpaid wages" is a nonsensical statement.


This is only true if your company operates to maximize shareholder value. If your company exists to serve its employees as its first priority, then your statement is false.


Normally the company, from its inception, exists to serve its employees—i.e. the founders. It might then not be in the best interests of those employees to hire more employees under terms that share large amounts of profit with them, if they could get close to the same talent while offering considerably less.


Companies can't exist to serve their employees as a first priority - because companies exist to make a profit.

Even if the owners care more about their employees than about profit, that profit still has to come first. No profit... sooner or later, no company.


This is an insane discussion, but I can't resist: By definition, "profit" is the share of revenue that is not needed for the existence and work of the company.

There's even a category of enterprises successfully working in such a framework. They're called–oh happy day–"non-profits".


Non profits don't give extra leftover revenue to employees, so it's still a bullshit statement.


Some do, like most German grocery store chains, real estate corporations, etc.

They are cooperatives, all employees and customers can vote on all decisions, and surplus profit is either reinvested or paid out to employees and customers.


> Companies can't exist to serve their employees as a first priority

Yes, they can.

> because companies exist to make a profit.

They may or may not. Companies generally exist to serve their owners interests, which may or may not be profit. And the owners may be the employees, as in a labor coop.

> No profit... sooner or later, no company.

You know there are not-for-profit companies, right? (Not necessarily tax exempt nonprofits, which have additional behavioral.and other restrictions.)


Looks like nonprofits and coops don't exist then.


"Profits are unpaid wages" is an argument from Karl Marx, which he explains in detail in his book "Das Kapital". You should read it.


I'm aware of it. I still think it's nonsensical.


No. Think of profits as a measure of economic inefficiency. If there is enough competition the companies would lower their prices until their profits approach $0. Ideally income always matches expenses.

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