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Tell HN: Using Gmail? You will be force logged into Chrome
532 points by ronilan on Sept 8, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 323 comments
So, it turns out Chrome 69 is a lot more than just redesign of the tabs and removal of the www from the url.

I'm using the Mac version of Chrome (Version 69.0.3497.81 (Official Build) (64-bit) to be pedantic).

Up until two days ago, logging into gmail and logging into chrome were two different things, as they obviously are (one is a web service the other is a web browser, to be pedantic again)

I would usually be logged into gmail in the browser, but would only log into Chrome on special occasions and/or with specific accounts.

As of today, if I hit www.gmail.com and log in, I'm automatically logged into Chrome. If I log out of Chrome, I'm also logged out of gmail.

This can't be a bug... can it?

It started with an older version. Logging into Google automatically linked your Google account to the settings page.

At least in the last version, clearing your private data (ctrl-shift-delete) no longer deleted Google cookies. To completely log out required manually digging into the advanced settings and then rebooting the browser.

Google fundamentally doesn't respect user privacy, and people should use Firefox.

I completely switched whenever FF quantum was released to stable. The experience is amazing. I will say I think chrome dev tools are better though.

I tend to reach for Firefox's dev tools (or a node REPL) more often these days. Firefox has a much better CSS editor. I will run some dev tools in Chromium but avoid it for browsing.

Once I saw that my account was linked to Chrome/Chromium without my permission, I cleared everything out of Chrome and stopped using it as a secondary browser. My secondary browser is now a separate Firefox profile:

    alias ff='firefox -ProfileManager -no-remote &'

The big feature I'm waiting on in Firefox is live reloading/editing for scripts.

It's a huge advantage to be able to pause a script in Chrome, edit the source code, and have those changes injected back into the script. Chrome will even rewind the stack if I edit a line behind where the script currently is.

I use Firefox for all of my personal browsing and for some of my development. But I really miss that feature.

Edit: that and making it easier to debug Node from Firefox. It's still kind of a pain in that area.

Which Node REPL would you recommend?

I use the standard one.[1] Open a terminal and type `node` to start it or run a script with Node's debugger[2] and drop into a REPL from there. I sometimes use Slimux[3] to send code snippets from Vim to a REPL in another tmux[4] pane.

[1] https://nodejs.org/api/repl.html

[2] https://nodejs.org/api/debugger.html

[3] https://github.com/epeli/slimux

[4] https://medium.com/actualize-network/a-minimalist-guide-to-t...

To be honest, I've come to much prefer FF's devtools. You might want to take a look at [Firefox Developer Edition](https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/developer/), it adds quite a few nice features that are helpful for development. [This article](https://hacks.mozilla.org/2018/05/new-in-firefox-61-develope...) is a bit old, but a good look at the type of stuff that it adds.

I keep hearing how awesome FF quantum is. I always have a copy of FirefoxDeveloperEdition for the occasional compatibility testing, and I keep coming back to it over the last few months, the last time being yesterday, but it just feels as sluggish as ever, whereas Chrome just feels snappier until there are hundreds of open tabs. Am I using it wrong?

Also, Firefox tabs are as ugly as ever (lots of thick lines), and the search bar drop down is cluttered as hell. I thought I’d hate the Chrome 69 tab style, but I got over it in a couple of hours; whereas for Firefox I simply can’t.

To add a little bit to my UI complaints: I recall that one of the original designs goals of Chrome was to reduce the chrome (ref: 2008 Chrome comic book). Over the years I’ve had a number of UI complaints with Chrome too and actually switched to Opera multiple times, but overall I think they did a good job at hiding the chrome and presenting what really matters. On the other hand, Firefox UI elements and cues stand out and intrude even after disabling everything I can find. Maybe some people prefer that for “usability”, but I personally prefer minimal UIs (hint: Apple user) and find them perfectly usable.

Try using a large blocklist[1] in your hosts file and installing umatrix[2] and/or ublock origin[3] to block garbage scripts from loading. I don't know if that will help, but that's what I'm doing and Firefox is as fast or faster than Chrome.

[1] https://www.google.com/search?q=hosts+blocklists

[2] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/umatrix/

[3] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/ublock-origin...

I confess that I have uMatrix in Chrome but not FF, but I do use pihole, and it’s not really a third party scripts problem, FF feels slower on perfectly clean sites.

Maybe it has something to do with the combination of your OS and Firefox versions. I've just tested a few sites (without umatrix, but with Firefox's built-in privacy protection) and they are about the same speed according to the network console. Sometimes Firefox is slightly faster, other times Chrome is slightly faster. (Ubuntu 16.04)

I have performance issues with heavy sites because I use many extensions. Sometimes, I disable all extensions and it stills sluggish on Facebook for example, but the issue goes away when I use a new profile. Maybe you can try it.

This is my experience as well.

I really wanted Firefox to be a replacement for Chrome but it’s so much more sluggish that it’s not even a comparison.

Chrome does seem faster and better to me too. Nevertheless I switched to Firefox some years ago (and I’m quite a Google fan). It is good enough for heavy use.

I've found the dev tools to be equivalent for most things but each has a couple features the other doesn't. I'm often switching between the two when debugging complex issues.

In general I find the UI for manipulating CSS and the DOM easier in Firefox. The Javascript Debugger in Chrome tends to work a little better when jumping in and out of 3rd party libraries, Firefox will just give up trying to break in your code and just dump errors in the console.

Meh... as long as it's not Safari Dev Tools I'm happy.

Also, last time I checked the Firefox UI uses more screen real estate, leaving a little less space for the content. The difference with chrome is small, but clearly noticeable. If Mozilla fixes this, then they have an additional user ;)

Perhaps setting the UI density to “compact” will help? I like minimal UI, but Chrome’s feels a bit too minimal. I think Firefox on compact is a perfect balance.

For everyone looking: Hamburger menu -> Customise -> at the bottom Density -> Compact.


I also completely overlooked that setting, even though I had changed many others away from the defaults. Thanks for pointing it out!

Thank you very much, learned something new. I removed the Title bar too, makes ff more compact than chromium.

I've got an instance of both Chrome and Firefox open on MacOS right now, and the UI's use exactly the same amount of space. The navigation bar on Firefox is a little thicker than Chrome, but it's made up for with a slightly thinner tab bar (since FF tabs don't have the blank space above to make them look like physical folder tabs).

Not sure if this holds in Linux or Windows.

EDIT: In fact I just noticed that Chrome was outdated. After upgrading it to the latest build, it uses more screen real estate for the UI than FF Quantum's latest build. The difference is even more pronounced if you have bookbar bars turned on.

If you haven't seen it, you can put dev tools in its own window.

The biggest feature holding me back from using Firefox is the inability to drag multiple tabs at once. I often "split" a chrome browser window into two this way, or combine two chrome windows into one.

In Nightly you can, using CTRL to select them. It's still a little buggy, though.

Oh cool. Thanks for the tip! Hopefully they polish it up and get it out.

This extension lets you split multiple tabs from a window to a new one: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/multiple-tab-...

It's not as pretty or intuitive as Chrome's “shift-click and drag” approach, but it works well enough.

The only reason I use chrome is the easy debugger hookup for VSCode. If anyone has any tips on how to get that running with FF, I'm all ears!

This probably won't be a satisfying answer to you, but I've found VS Code and WebStorm to be roughly equivalent in terms of features (although I never have been able to leave WebStorm because of a few features that others would probably consider "bloat").

Debugging in Firefox works great!


I got it working together really fast (like 3 minutes) last time, but earlier this summer it took me 30 minutes or more and before that I couldn't get it working.

Of course now it just seems obvious and I cannot understand what I did earlier.

Use a separate Chromium installation for dev tools

Alternatively, Brave browser seems to Un-Google their Chromium based browser: https://brave.com/download-dev/

"Brave Core will arrive in beta form in late September and in major release form most of the way through October" https://www.cnet.com/news/brave-ad-blocking-browser-gets-chr...

I'm avoiding Chrome-based browsers as much as possible. I don't think monocultures are a good idea.

I tend not to install browsers and other important software from the internet. Is this packaged by any major distro ? What are the blockers ? Non-free bits, analytics etc. ? Honestly, I wouldn't pick a browswer unless it's packaged by fedora/debian.

To dump this privacy setting json https://gist.github.com/meets2tarun/2161e544f4c458c2f07641ca...

to your system. https://www.chromium.org/administrators All solved. It survives updates/reinstalls.

Intuitively, I use chrome only for non google pages and FF for google services. Is that a good approach?

Yup, it's quite old, likely two years or more. And notably, Chromium also has this feature, at least if you enabled the sync previously.

I agree, sadly its never that simple. I tried diligently (all in) to use Quantum when it came out, for over a month. It just wasn't stable/fast enough when running a larger number of tabs. I'm hopeful it will get there soon and I can ditch Chrome but its just not there for me, yet.

You might want to try it again. I have over 80 Firefox tabs open in multiple windows, multiple containers, and two Firefox profiles. It's still extremely fast.

Last time I tried Firefox, a few months ago, tab switching was painfully slow as compared to Chrome. I intend to give it another chance soon, though.

What about a hardware upgrade?

Lol - no. My computer isn't that old. Chrome switches tabs instantly. Firefox doesn't. I'm not going to buy a new computer to find out if Firefox will then switch tabs faster. Also, I've read similar complaints from others. Maybe it's faster now - I dunno. When Firefox's tab switching is faster, I'll give switching another go.

Are you using any plugins to achieve this number of open tabs and and still have good performance?

It appears to work fine even without extensions (Ubuntu 16.04, Firefox 62), but I have some garbage-blocking extensions installed.

In my main Firefox profile, I use umatrix[1] to browse the WWW with all CSS and JS turned off by default, enabling them only when needed. Reader mode makes most articles readable with a single click.

Firefox's built-in privacy protection is also enabled.

If a website doesn't work with my settings, it takes about the same time to override the CSS/JS settings than the difference between an unblocked page load and a blocked page load. Pages load much faster in general, so it's a net gain in free time.

I also use Stylus[2] to turn off all CSS animation and add custom styling to websites.

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

[2] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/styl-us/

Thanks. I'm also a fan of umatrix.

I'n curious why you disable CSS, obviously I understand why you would want to turn of JS. Is this part of the override for Stylus to work? It didn't look like it from the link.

It might depend on your system resources, but I have +300 tabs open right now and I don't experience any problems. The only thing that's a bit slow is if I restart the browser, it takes a bit long to start up.

Firefox for Mac has animation-related speed issues that don't occur in Windows, that may explain the discrepancy between your experience and the GP's.

Why would you want so many tabs open in the first place? Is this really a common way to use a browser?

> Why would you want so many tabs open in the first place?

Some reasons:

- Ctrl-clicking to open tabs since I can then load them in the background (because I'm impatient, and because I don't want to get distracted by clicking into all the references in the main tab while reading.

- using tab tree extension I can then easily see what path lead to some interesting page I found

- by default, if you type ab address you already have open in another tab, Firefox will jump to that tab.

> Is this really a common way to use a browser?

Yep. Bot extremely common but I do it and a number of other HN-ers as well. Mozilla seems to be aware of it and seems to have it in their performance tests or something.

My workflow is the same. I'll usually have 100 tabs open on a particular device, going up to nearly 1000 tabs across my phone, laptop, and desktop in rare instances.

I'm currently using FF 61, I've been using FF for a decade, with no special configuration. I currently have over one thousand tabs open, no sweat. Of all the reasons to prefer Chrome to FF, I don't understand how performance on larger numbers of tabs could possibly be it.

> Google fundamentally doesn't respect user privacy, and people should use Firefox.

This has been true for a many years now but I still see tech people ignoring it completely.

I no longer believe tech people are very intelligent. They are easily lured into whatever good looking tech comes along and will sacrifice their privacy at the drop of a hat.

Tech people were never very intelligent. By definition, they were (and are) informed/educated in one specific discipline, but that has no correlation whatsoever with being intelligent.

This is true regardless of the discipline. You can meet astoundingly stupid heart surgeons, astrophysics PhDs, etc.

"Yes, it's true: I am a rocket scientist" often quothe one of the stupidest persons I have had the opportunity to meet on this ball of dirt, because he had a PhD in aerospace engineering.

That said - he was good looking, had a reasonably good sense of humor and knew where the good parties were - so he could be forgiven this small vanity.

"Google calls the feature "Identity consistency between browser and cookie jar" and a Chrome representative on the official Google Chrome Help Forum confirmed that this is the intended behavior.

>This is an intended behaviour if you are using the same Google Account for your Gmail and Chrome. If yes, you'll be signed out of Chrome when you signed out of Gmail account.


Good news is that it is possible currently to disable the feature. Doing to breaks the link between the Google Account in Chrome that is used to sync data and Google accounts on Internet sites.

Note: Google may remove experimental flags like the one described below at any time. As long as it turns up when you run the steps below it is supported.

Here is what you need to do:

1. Load chrome://flags/#account-consistency in the browser's address bar. Google Chrome should display the flag Identity consistency between browser and cookie jar at the top.

2. Set the flag to disabled with a click on the menu and selecting disabled from the context menu.

3. Restart the Chrome browser.

Chrome breaks the link between the Google account in Chrome used to sync data and Google accounts that you sign in using the browser on Google sites."


Alternatively just get Firefox, use https://ffprofile.com/ once, and stop dealing with Chrome.

Ta-da, no more spyware.

Yes, this move is a deal breaker. Defaults matter, so I'm switching to Firefox.

I just did the same. After having used chrome since pretty much version 1.

Thanks for the site tip, I will use that site from now on.

Calling that behavior "spyware" is a bit of a stretch.

Why? Because it’s google? I get no advantage out of the feature, and it primarily serves to gather data on me. To me, that’s spyware.

Personally, I'm going to sign into both anyway. One less thing to sign into saves me time. That makes me happy. I dunno if I'm in the minority or not. But, it's a feature that at least some people find useful, so, I think branding it spyware is unjustified. It's not like it's a keylogger sending my data to who knows where which no reasonable person could ever find useful.

People similarly dismissed concerns about information Facebook was sharing with third party apps that seemed to just provide quick entertainment like "the which celebrity are you most like quiz!" Years later, it turned out to be part of a massive data-mining operation meant to get information about voters.

You could point out reasons why this isn't the same thing, but you'd be missing the point. I, as an individual, can't fully assess the privacy impact of every single piece of technology I use, and what seems to be a benign feature backed by a corporation I trust could be anything but.

That being the case, we need to adopt certain heuristics to help defend our privacy. Granting as few permissions as possible for applications we use, and avoiding using a single identity across all of our devices is a good way to mitigate that risk.

Are you an individual that is willing to reduce your privacy a bit for added convenience? That's perfectly fine. But the ethical thing for Google to do would be to make this an opt-in feature, rather than an opt-out. The fact that they made this browser/Google Account sync the default was no accident. They want to gather more data on their users, and know if their users were stopped and prompted to think about whether or not they actually wanted this convenience, they would have less participating users. So they've made the unethical choice, and made this an opt-out feature.

I use Gmail at work. I don’t want it to auto log me in.

That's fair. Saying it's a feature you don't like is reasonable. IMO, calling it spyware is too much.

I'm curious what the privacy implications are with having a work managed gmail account. While I know that in many cases the 'employer managed gmail' can be read by the employer, it isn't clear whether this also applies to bookmarks and other stuff. Recently chrome has started associating bookmarks with gmail/google accounts (if you are logged into that account) which I have never heard of a browser doing before. Pretty lame if you ask me, and it is spyware.

Besides possible privacy issues one major problem with google accounts is that google doesn't work with "accounts". It works with "people" or "corporations". So if they think that corporate account X and private account Z are actually same person (decided by some obscure algo) they will link them in their DB and in case of any infraction, real or not, they will hellban both of them. And as we know there is no such thing as human support or appeal process with google. Don't use your private accounts anywhere where they might be linked, not even for password restore field. There are already enough horror stories about people losing gmails, youtube channels and so on, forever.

Every browser that offers "sync" (which includes Forefox) must associate your browser data with your account.

Your anecdote is a sample size of one that shouldn't be extrapolated from.

Personally having my entire browsing history linked to my name and sent off to a company for analysis and profit is a concern, and this is a deal breaker for me. As such I will no longer be using Chrome as my default browser.

Your anecdote is a sample size of one that shouldn't be extrapolated from. Right back at you.

Personally I think auto login should be opt in and never a default or requirement.

Specially when it's Google. They are super creepy and facilitators of a future where users have zero privacy but don't have the intelligence to care about it.

So, Google is making people stupider? Thank goodness we have you here to warn us with insightful analysis such as Google is "super creepy"!

I also warn kids about not following men giving them candy.

To me it's obvious, to others it's not. Just look at Google usage. They are absolutely creepy.

Google does some things that I think are very cool. Google does some things I don't think are so cool. None of the things that Google does, however, can in any way be compared to the things that a child rapist does. Making that comparison is wrong.

1. Less than 1% of the users are going to both hear about and understand those instructions.

2. Google can say >99% of users "prefer" the new setting.

3. Tighten the lock-in.

How does this tighten the lock in?

You assume that the feature will result in some net benefit for Google (at some potential expanse to users/public) but there's no such guarantee.

Historically, the great Google products are made from scratch (or bought early) and stand by themselves. Their not-so-good products or features are the result of some elaborate corporate thinking that comes out under phrases like "Identity consistency between browser and cookie jar".

So, while they (may) think it tightens the lock-in, it (may) actually end up doing the opposite and be a disservice to everyone.

Why is it harmful to log in once to both apps that use the same account in the same browser?

Gmail and Calendar already share the same login. Is that hurting anyone?

Multiple users may use the same browser/devices but different Gmail accounts.

Even ignoring the (many) privacy implications, this causes problems for syncing across devices. Lets say I share a computer with my partner, but we have separate phones. Should I need to check which Gmail account is logged in before bookmarking something? Why can't we share a Chrome profile across those 3 devices while still maintaining separate Gmail accounts?

> Multiple users may use the same browser/devices but different Gmail accounts.

Why would they use the same browser logon. Sure they might use the same be, sure, they might even not use a different user account on the computer, but your are suggesting that they would use the same Google account to log into the browser yet different Google Accounts to log into Google.

That seems improbable, and likely to have unintended privacy implication that account consistency would mitigate rather than exacerbate.

My parents share computer accounts; heck, they even share bank accounts. It is not implausible to me that you'd want to have separate emails, but also want all of your bookmarks to sync across multiple devices regardless of who they belong to.

The privacy implications here are in regards to stuff like Google stripping search terms off of urls from competing services. Caring about that doesn't mean you will necessarily care about hiding search history from your partner. Even with syncing passwords -- both of my parents know how to log into each other's Gmail accounts. Anecdotally, that is relatively common for older generations; sometimes they'll even ask each other to check their email if a computer isn't nearby.

If you have sync turned on in that scenario, you are going to end up with bookmarks and passwords that randomly disappear depending on who was logged into what when they were added.

And sure, you can get around that by just not using sync. The privacy implications are still worse in that situation, because you no longer have a choice not to log into Chrome. But even if you don't care about that, it still seems like a strict downgrade in functionality. You lose the ability to sync bookmarks between computers and you lose the ability to easily share logins.

The response to, "hey, you made this feature less useful!" probably shouldn't be, "well, but you won't notice if you just stop using it." It's hard to make that sound like an upgrade.

The most likely approach there is not to "log into the browser" at all. I don't, I have separate profiles on every system.

If you share a computer with someone else, each of you should have your own user accounts. Then each user account will have its own profile data, including which accounts are logged in.

Not sure why you're being so harshly downvoted, Chromium and derivatives have pretty solid profile switching. Doing this would actually be less work than signing out/in to other accounts.

It doesn't solve the problem I brought up - I was asking how to avoid switching profiles if I was sharing one between multiple people. GP's suggestion was to switch profiles.

Suppose I and my partner want to be able to bookmark something and have it show up on both of our phones. Is there a way to do that without sharing a Gmail account? That seems like a pretty common use case to me that was pretty easy to do before Chrome tied them together.

On Firefox, that use case would be trivial. You just sign all your browsers into one account and then use the web normally like you've always done.

> GP's suggestion was to switch profiles.

No, my suggestion was to create separate user accounts on the shared computer for each person--i.e., each person logs in to the computer with their own user account. That would make all of the website logins separate for each user, without anyone having to switch profiles in their browser.

However, I apparently misunderstood your problem; you don't want everything separate, you just want gmail separate while still sharing Chrome profiles. You're right that my suggestion won't solve that problem.

> Is that hurting anyone?

It's actually hurting me: I'd like to be able to sign into YouTube on an untrusted device without signing into Gmail at the same time.

why sign into an untrusted device in any way without two factor authentication and incognito mode enabled?

Because a lot of us have a work Gmail account and a personal Gmail account.

Sure, and this would just result in two separate profiles in Chrome.

I don't want to be switching between profiles. I want to be able to see my personal Gmail and my work Gmail, and only sync up my work profile. Or alternatively, I don't want to sync.

It appears this only breaks part of the connection. I removed all Chrome data, created a new profile, activated that flag, signed into YouTube.

While I'm not signed into the browser, it has lifted my Google Account profile image into the browser, so it's still doing some sort of "consistency". It's clear the browser still knows my Google Account.

Image: https://imgur.com/hrEwPqX.png (Note, I confirmed that the about:flag "Identity consistency..." is set to Disabled before/after this screenshot again.)

I continue to be thrilled that I moved back to Firefox around Quantum.

After following these steps, the browser says it's no longer logged in, BUT I still see my Google Account image on the top right of the browser. It's still doing some sort of syncing between my Google Account and my browser. This is too much of a breach of trust, I'm done with Chrome

Just tried this and it doesn't work.

Once again G Suite customers get the shaft.

I have a personal Gmail account, and a business G Suite account, and this change makes working with the two accounts a complete pain. All my years of Chrome bookmarks/settings/etc. are associated with my personal account, so I want the browser itself to always be logged in with that identity. But I want to be logged into my business G Suite email account "by default" when I hit gmail.com, when I open Google Analytics, Drive etc. so I don't have to use the account picker a hundred times a day. It just doesn't seem possible. Argh.

I wonder if Google employee accounts were to be considered business G Suite-like instead of consumer Gmail like, all these kinds of problems that constantly keep popping up for G Suite customers wouldn't be fixed overnight.

Use Chrome Profiles feature which basically gives you an entirely separate browser. Each profile can be associated to an offline/local account or a Google account that syncs everywhere. It allows you to keep personal, work, and anything else completely separate.


This is not useful to me because it creates multiple windows. I don't want that separation. I want what I have now. It was very good.

You are looking for Firefox Containers. Single window, multiple profiles separated by colors in the tabs.

and every time you open a tab you have to open it via the container feature which gets irritating after exactly one time you forget to do it and just use ctrl+t

Does it actually work now? How do you manage two separate logins in a single window in Chrome. FF manages this with containers but I know of no way of doing this with Chrome.

I used to do this in chrome. You can click on your profile picture in the upper-right corner of the gmail UI to switch accounts. You end up having a different URL per user, like https://mail.google.com/mail/u/<number>, where <number> is 0 or 1 if you have two users. You can put these in bookmarks and have them open in different tabs.

I have bookmarks for the usernames in the URLs, much better than hoping they stay in the same order.


Awesome, thanks for the tip.

This also seems to work with non-Gmail URLs, where the "authuser" parameter is used (e.g. Google Analytics).

This is called "multilogin". You sure can bookmark them, but if you ever happen to get logged out and then you log back into them in a different order, you'll find that the 0/1/2 really do refer simply to "the <N>th Google account I signed into", so your bookmarks might not work.

Yeah, I would just log out of all of them and log back in with the desired order if that happened. That doesn't happen very often though.

Haha I wish I just had two. I have 6 separate accounts, 4 for various businesses that I use regularly. I have a particular order I have to log into them when setting up a new chrome install so that all my bookmarks work with their respective accounts (&authuser=1, &authuser=4, etc) in things like google cloud console, google domains, gsuite etc.

Note: for actually checking my email, I have ended up using mailspring.

Same here but I use Firefox Containers. Lastpass for password, which is not container dependent so I can auto-login in whichever profile I am on.

> I wonder if Google employee accounts were to be considered business G Suite-like instead of consumer Gmail like, all these kinds of problems that constantly keep popping up for G Suite customers wouldn't be fixed overnight.

I'm not sure if this makes much of a difference to your case. I imagine most employees are using different profiles for work and personal. I always did this.. it makes for a nice firewall as well between accounts (never need to worry about awkward history when I present to co-workers).

add a profile? I have 6 chrome profiles. One for personal, business, Facebook, Twitter, Chromium, Other. 3 of those are associate with different google accounts

The most straightforward solution is to create a separate Chrome user/profile for your work account. It's a great way to keep your private and organizational accounts completely separate. You can even sync all Chrome settings, extensions, and bookmars though the company account if they allow you to use your own devices.

Unlike Firefox (major pain point btw), you can run Chrome with multiple profiles at once, each in a separate window.

Firefox has had profiles since at least 0.8, released in 2004, when it was renamed from Firebird, more than four and a half years prior to Google Chrome's release. This code, however, was inherited from Netscape Communicator 4, released more than a decade before Google Chrome. Hell, Netscape 4 predates Google!

However, since the profile code is so old, it is not accessible from the main interface; it must be accessed via a command line flag. Chrome learned from this mistake and exposed it in the graphical interface.

It is utterly false however to say that Firefox does not support profiles.

Firefox also has Multi-Account Containers add-on which is much more lightweight than profiles: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/containers

Ah, yes, I forgot to mention that. This is basically Firefox learning from Chrome's mistakes after 10 years, just as Chrome learned from Netscape's mistakes. Chrome added in-browser support to profiles, then Firefox added preference and add-on sharing.

I don't quite understand your comment. I think you are assuming that Firefox's containers are like Chrome's profiles, but they're not.

I just wanted to add that I regularly run many different Firefox profiles in parallel, and it definitely supports that feature.

Granted the UI could use some work, but if you make a shortcut that brings up the profile selector it works pretty OK.

But my workflow! https://xkcd.com/1172/

That's a good suggestion, but I just don't need or want to maintain two sets of bookmarks, install each plugin twice, configure each setting in two places, etc. But I guess I'll have to... sigh.

You could use the work profile you create exclusively for gmail and analytics, etc. That is, you could leave that profile pretty plain, not mainting bookmarks and plugins for it.

This is what I'm currently doing as a workaround, and it's still annoying.

Firefox is most straight forward answer!

You might want to look into the custom URL feature of GSuite. https://support.google.com/a/answer/53340?hl=en

I have 2 accounts on my machine. One personal, one work. I’ll admit, I watch things on my personal machine (pornography) that I would not want mixed, even remotely, with my work stuff. Compartmentation.

For all of the features, paid G Suite users get the shaft. Google Home? Nope. Switching between accounts? Nope, that's a pain as well.

Just open your new Gmail and bookmark that page.

Log-out all your accounts from google, then the account you use the log-in first will be the account that gets logged in by default.

Related: Google also tightened the link between gmail and youtube. Logging into gmail logs you into youtube too (which is quite pointless at least for me). This had been the case for a while, but earlier it was possible to manually delete youtube cookies, which would log you out of yt but keep you logged into gmail. They removed this workaround a few months ago. My solution to this was to use chrome only for gmail, and use chromium for everything else. This is poor-man's isolation, for what should be a browser feature (like firefox containers). Also, extensions like cookie-auto-delete don't work nearly as well on chrome as they do on firefox due to long standing bugs in chromium that are likely not getting resolved any time soon. More reason to switch to firefox eventually.

firefox containers work great for precisely this use case

If it's a problem you should stop using both gmail and Chrome. Don't support companies that are anti-user.

My choice to use gmail was made by my employer.

I like my job.

How am I supposed to pass, again?

Are you sure? My employer uses gmail, which I access via Mail.app exclusively. I bet I open the web app maybe once or twice a year, usually by clicking a link in a calendar event.

It's perfectly possibly to use gmail-the-service without using gmail-the-app.

I find Mail.app to have a terrible UX, but I did try it, thanks.

My standing solution is to use one browser to log into big-G services, another to log into FB, and a third for everything else.

> My standing solution is to use one browser to log into big-G services, another to log into FB, and a third for everything else.

Check out Firefox container tabs.[1] You can isolate sites within one browser and save the associations between containers and tabs.

I use container tabs along with multiple Firefox profiles (for different combinations of browser extensions).

[1] https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/containers

I do the same - I use Safari for Google services (since Apple is unlikely to collude with Google), I use Chrome to browse Facebook (since Google is unlikely to collude with Facebook), and I use Firefox for actually browsing the web.

Why not use Firefox for Facebook as well? If your worry is Facebook tracking you across the web, you can use Firefox Containers to give Facebook it's own container when you're browsing facebook.com.

I'd never heard of "Firefox Containers" before - thanks, I'll look into it.

Excuse me?

Sorry, which part was confusing?

It's totally OK not to like Mail.app, of course, but I'll still posit that you choose to use Gmail in your browser. You don't have to. You do have alternatives, but prefer your current multi-browser workflow.

Again, that's perfectly alright! Just remember that if you reach the point that you can't stand it anymore, you do have other options available to you.

Have you tried Firefox's multi-account containers? They might be more convenient than using multiple browsers.

I have. Unfortunately, I run my screen at a scaled resolution, so Firefox routinely pegs a full core redrawing itself, and burns my battery like it was punctured.

Until that's fixed, I can't use it as my primary browser. This saddens me, because I otherwise love it.

EDIT: This is actually more reason for me to switch back to Linux; FF doesn't have this bug there.

Something like this came up the other day. Perhaps setting "gfx.compositor.glcontext.opaque" to true in about:config as suggested by pcwalton might help you until this bug is properly fixed?


It seems to have mitigated the issue some, but it hasn't eliminated it. I had somehow inferred from the web of related issues in the FF bug tracker that I'd need to use a nightly build for this to be effective.


Huh, I also run scaled and haven't noticed that. Is it possible it's an add-on causing the extreme cpu usage?

I heard rumours this might be fixed in FF64 or FF65. It's certainly very needed!

If you have a "zero inbox" type approach, I find Mail.app to be serviceable, but to each their own.

There are a few others to try. I used Airmail a few years ago. However, be on the lookout for "native" email clients that are really just web gmail wrappers.

I've been curious about Airmail, but I'm tiring of OSX, to the point that I'm leaning towards switching back to Linux.

I've been a user of Airmail for a couple years and it's great. That said, they just had a security breach on macOS so I've stopped using it on that platform. https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/08/22/exploit-in-airmai...

I think I'll go back but I'm not sure.

That article is from August 22 - I just checked in the MAS and the most recent Airmail update was the 25th and the changes specifically mention a URL security fix, so they may have addressed this already.

I've also used Airmail on and off for years and quite like it, on both Mac and iOS. Mail.app isn't bad, but I've used labels heavily for years, including multiple labels on emails, and Mail doesn't seem to handle that scenario very well.

I'm a fan of Spark. It's not perfect, but it's the best of the apps I've tried.

Have you tried mailplaneapp.com?

That looks really nice. If I end up staying with OSX, I'll give it a try. Thanks!

No. Can’t recommend it enough, to be honest. Their dev team/CS is also extremely responsive (I generally hear from Lars). Honestly, it’s the only way I can handle using gmail regularly.

I can no longer edit but the first part got cut, instead the "No" can just be removed, to clarify.

I read it as a think-o'ed "No problem." anyway.

At least you can stop using Chrome, right?

Sounds like you've made your choice. A bad employer at a job you like is more important than software ethics. No need for my input here. But it is your choice.

> A bad employer at a job you like is more important than software ethics.

Using gmail doesn't automatically make them a bad employer. That is incredibly shallow and naive.

This mentality does nothing to help "software ethics" since it forces people to make an extremely unrealistic choice. I wouldn't expect anybody to quit their job over their employer using gmail. You're just pitting more people against the idea of standing up for software ethics by making it about extremes.

It is akin to telling someone, after an oil spill, that they don't care about the planet since they didn't immediately sell their car to quit buying gas.

This is the cheapest kind of hand-wavy, recriminatory internet "discourse". It's shallow, content-free, and leaves you feeling like the good guy for talking shit about other people's choices, which you've examined on exactly one axis.

I'm glad for you that you've found such a clear moral compass, but the world is, in my experience, rather subtle and complex.

I didn't mean to come across as "talking shit". I think almost all people (myself included) would prioritize their job over software ethics if forced into that situation.

But, what do you use for personal email? To avoid these kinds of issues I've been running my own mailserver for about 5 years.


The gmail address listed on my HN profile is for listing on public profiles.

Advice on a good mail service? I've got one foot in the door of really increasing my privacy online but one is still stuck behind with Google products.

Protonmail or fastmail are both decent.

Or cock.li, countermail.com, scryptmail.com, tutanota.com or vfemail.net.

I think cockmail would reflect poorly on my professional image, and I'm not really confident my friends would be able to take me seriously with that domain, but sure.

Indeed, but for some purposes, maybe? Also, they offer airmail.cc (innocuous) and tfwno.gf (not entirely obvious).

Seconding Fastmail if you want a good mail provider. They also provide calandars, contacts, notes and file storage in the package, but obviously can't match the level of integration that Google products have with everything.

The cynic in me thinks this is in anticipation of GDPR related challenges. Users that accepted a TOS are easier to track (at least, it's easier to mount a legal argument that some tracking and profile linking is ok) compared to users that never accepted anything at all.

next up: push for new standards that favor chrome over other browsers.

The gdpr agreement form on websites usually requires you to enable 3rd party scripts and cookies otherwise you get hit with endless popups about it. Someone should make a browser extension that automatically denies every gdpr popup.


This one aims to automatically close all such popups. It doesn't "deny" permissions, but that's what content blockers such as uMatrix are for.

This kind of chicanery is the reason I won't use Chrome for anything but browsing Facebook.

You don't even need that, install Firefox and use their container for Facebook:


Even better: Install Firefox and use nothing for Facebook.

That's not an option for everyone

Your live depends on facebook?

The life I've built depends on communication, and the people and groups I wish to communicate with mostly use FB.

The non-profit I volunteer with organizes everything over FB. The union I work under announces almost everything over FB. I literally never look at my FB "feed" but I've got 5 private groups that I check every day. If I stopped using FB, I'd be completely out of the loop with almost everything I do.

I suspect that's how a lot of the world operates. FB is free and easy and reliable and everybody already has an account. It lets people post text and photos and comments, and tag other people, and report when they've seen something. That's everything we used to use email for (and a bit more), but more convenient.

I got my first cell phone a couple months ago. It's a lot easier for me to live without a cell phone than to live without FB. No cell phone means I have to wait a couple hours to read my messages. No FB would mean I wouldn't get organization news at all.

Even for people who hate FB on principle, they've never suggested an alternative that meets our needs better today. Possibly Google's services could, but a significant number of people I know don't have Google accounts (or use Gmail), and the people who hate FB usually hate Google just as much. Possibly Yammer, but ditto everything (and Microsoft).

Decentralized social networks are a cool idea, but until FB starts breaking so bad that we're unable to communicate about our upcoming project, we have no reason to consider switching to anything else.

I love my relatives, and Facebook is how they communicate.

Don't they all have email addresses?

I'm not saying that you're entirely wrong, because I've used that rationalization for keeping Facebook in the past.

What I do instead is just maintain an address book of everyone I know and send them an update on my life every once in a great while. It's much more fulfilling.

How is that different from them asking me "don't you have a web browser?"

I'm already the black sheep of my family, I'm not going to make it worse because strangers on the internet told me to.

(I do take some precautions, like only using Facebook in a private window, and certainly never on my phone.)

If you want to live life by what your family thinks of you, by all means, do so. Respectfully, however, if you can't consider what strangers on the internet have to say, you're significantly limiting its usefulness to you.

I'll turn that hypothetical question you posed around and ask how saying that email isn't sufficient for keeping in touch is any different from saying "Who needs greeting cards? Just let Facebook tell you to post on someone's timeline when it's a birthday or holiday."

I'm not denying that Facebook has some utility, but it's changed our definition of keeping in touch to value mass quantity over quality. If one values quality communication, Facebook is completely unnecessary and can be replaced with email which is an existing, standardized, ubiquitous, and sufficient means of keeping in contact with people. Your family would be statistical outliers if almost all of them didn't have an email you could send to.

In conjunction with "your life depends on facebook?", I'm simply saying that while one can use Facebook, there is such a thing as a viable alternative with its own advantages. It's controversial, I know.

I never use chrome except with gmail and other google services where I have an account. I think there's a market for this kind of systema.

I'm surprised anyone privacy minded still gets concerned about Google as they've been pretty open about everything since the launch of gmail. They give you free stuff in exchange for ads.

Chrome must send data, even if you aren't signed in. Google has a shadow profile for you anyway, so if you use chrome, you're logging to google.

> I'm surprised anyone privacy minded still gets concerned about Google as they've been pretty open about everything since the launch of gmail. They give you free stuff in exchange for ads.

They're open about the fact that they use your data but not as to how they use it. Even if they were, they have a high motivation to abuse it further and further since that is their business model.

Besides, I don't see how being open about invading your privacy makes it not invading your privacy.

Sub out Google/gmail with Facebook and see how that reads.

They didn't tell people that they were buying their banking data. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-30/google-an...

Well they didn't tell people that they're not either...

Can you provide a source for the shadow profile claim?

A while ago I switched to Vivaldi. I have never been happier with a browser.

Even though Vivaldi occasionally releases tarballs, the main browser is a proprietary product. See https://vivaldi.com/privacy/vivaldi-end-user-license-agreeme...


Vivaldi source code[0] is released in .tar archives.

.tar archives are often referenced as tarballs[1].



Thanks, Vivaldi is literally the only "proprietary" software I use and had looked for the source before, can't believe I didn't know about this...

Unfortunately Vivaldi inherits some of Chrome's bullshit, like if you want to print something it will try use Google's awful cloud print thing tied to your account.

It even has the flag for this account-consistency feature. Who knows if it will be enabled - would you even notice if it was?

Last I checked, they still haven't had stabled cross-device tab sync.

Why do you like Vivaldi?

I'm using it but am fairly ambivalent.

I use Vivaldi because the CEO is Jon von Tetzchner. Here's a quote from him from a recent interview:

Q: Other browser companies tell us that too many options and features confuse users, and they remove or limit functionality based on that claim. Is that true in your opinion?

A: No. [...]


I didn't know this one. Love it.

I like the bookmarks, that I was able to customise it extensively, the sidebar is very useful and unobtrusive. I do like also that is based on chromium. All in all I feel like it has everything that other browsers have and just a bit more or a bit better.

Also the history view is a lot nicer than chrome, which is better than Firefox. Firefox's history pane is borderline unusable (search doesn't sort by last visit, it sorts by day and alpha or something weird like that).

If the view is set to "by last visited," Firefox's history searches are sorted by last visit. Maybe you had some add-on that changed the behavior.

I liked that they took the old Opera 12- spatial-keyboard-navigation paradigm.

This causes a few other problems. For example I use Hangouts Chat (chat.google.com) on my Google Apps account, and I also have a personal gmail. Ever since the change I have to log out from my personal gmail to use Hangouts Chat, because it is looking at my Chrome account and telling me that I'm not part of the organization. I can't switch to the Google Apps account at all.

Firefox has gained a feature called multi-account containers several releases back solving exactly this kind of problem in a slick way: Your tabs can be assigned to different accounts (represented by different colors/names/icons (which are configurable). Each account has its own cookies etc, allowing you to be signed in to any number of services while keeping them separated.

I use this feature heavily to separate different clients.

It's also the reason why Chrome/Chromium are now out of the question for personal use: Much to complicated to keep things separated.

But... Chrome has had this feature for MUCH longer than Firefox.

Chrome lets you have different accounts per window, which is nice. Firefox supports different accounts per tab, or the optional Facebook Container extension blocks communication to Facebook domains in all tabs outside of the Facebook container.

If you mean profiles, Firefox has had it even longer, albeit with poor UI.

Look I'm a contributor to Firefox and even I think it's a stretch to say that FF has multi-profile support. I mean the feature is technically there but it's unusable by everyone except FF nerds. It's a special kind of hell where something like

    FIREFOX_PROFILE_DIR=~/.profile1 firefox

    FIREFOX_PROFILE_DIR=~/.profile2 firefox
would actually be an improvement on the UX.

You need to make one shortcut[0]:

  firefox --no-remote -ProfileManager
Then just click that every time you want a new/different profile. It has a list, with Create, Delete, Rename buttons...

I do wish -ProfileManager implied --no-remote though -- I wonder whether there's a reason it doesn't?.

EDIT: I just found `firefox -P` elsewhere in the thread. Also it seems like -ProfileManager does imply --no-remote now. Yay!

[0]: Or a shell script in my case, but a shortcut is probably more "accessible".

But it is that easy:

    firefox --no-remote --profile /path/to/profile/directory

This is why setting up user profiles is handy in chrome. Keep one for work, one for home.

This is why it's handy to just use Firefox.

firefox's multiple profile support is crap. I actually do want multiple profiles that do things like sync passwords, bookmarks, extensions, themes across machines per profile. AFAIK firefox can't run multiple profiles at once

You can run multiple profiles at once in Firefox. I've been doing this for the better part of two decades with Mozilla browsers. You just need to add the no-remote option to your launcher.

`firefox -P`

But being logged into your personal Hangouts and using the work Chrome at the same time does not seem to work anymore.

Every Google product I've seen has an account switcher, usually in the top right corner, with either your display image or a letter in a circle, this includes Hangouts Chat.

Yeah it switches me back to the chrome account when I access Hangouts chat. There's no way to switch and visit, or switch after visiting. It always reverts to the chrome account.

A typical tendency in distasteful projects: couple everything, remove choice. Make it one-size-fits-all.

Switching to Chromium.

I've posted this a few days ago, but I switched from Chrome to Chromium to Firefox to GNOME Web (aka Epiphany) and it's everything I wanted: a stable and mature WebKit browser for all users (not just tech workers) with Firefox sync integration and no Google bullshit.

Chromium has this behavior too, at least if you enabled the sync previously—and it's not new, it's been around for a long time, like a couple years or more.

To make it worse, the Chrome account is always user id = 0. You can't have other account logged in first, then log into Chrome -- it will kick out the first account. This breaks all bookmarks that use particular user, i.e. contain /u/1 or /u/2. What a mess.

It probably is not a bug

Though "Chrome integration" with Google is pointless at best and an awful user experience.

I made the mistake of logging in w/ Google on Chrome mobile. Resulting in all my bookmarks being synced on the phone (because of course I want my desktop bookmarks on my phone. Obviously. Thanks Google). This is a mistake I'm not doing again.

Most people do want that, though. They literally want Google to sync everything for them. Makes sense to me, I don't see your POV to be super common, honestly, except maybe amongst the die hard tech people of hn and such.

In mobile I want/have the bookmarks that make sense for mobile usage. I believe this applies to most people.

Which is why there's a seperate folder in Google bookmarks for mobile bookmarks.

It's not a bug -- it's asshole design.

This is just a grab at getting more user data. Where are all the Google employees who jump on any mention of Google to defend it with disclosures?

How is it more data? This only affects people who choose to set up Google accounts and then log in to them.

What do you mean? I have a gmail account but don't want Google to have my browsing history. How is that so hard to understand?

If you have gmail, consider using an imap client. it might take a bit of tweaking the configuration, but i'd say it's worthwhile.

They'll get rid of that loophole next. Monopolies doing monopoly things.

RIP federation-friendly XMPP gChat

I use my Gmail account as my secondary e-mail address and can confirm IMAP still works. I even use Office 365 e-mail as my tertiary e-mail address in an IMAP client. I have no idea which specific features I'm missing out; from my PoV IMAP4 is the standard and the rest is missing out on that with these proprietary web portals.

I thought I had this experience years ago, I'm surprised this is only happening now.

I use an email app (just regular Mail on the mac) to access my Gmail. Your email is stored and synced locally so it is accessible offline, and you don't get these shenanigans. Also I use Firefox.

But let's be honest, even if you aren't logged in, and aren't using Chrome, at this point if Google is not recognizing you it is only because they are pretending not to. I'd bet they have a pretty good record of my internet activity.

What they mean is to log into the sync feature which is part of Chrome .

This has been around for a long time. You’ve only just noticed it. It’s time you accept that Chrome is spyware and start using Firefox instead.

huh...so that's why chrome suddenly wants to sync my bookmarks to my gmail username.

Firefox it is then. This is a little too shady for my liking.

I stopped using Chrome entirely six months ago. Firefox it is!

Firefox Quantum is really, really good. I was a Chrome user for years but now use Firefox at home and work.

A+++ would recommend.

I was searching for apartments on zillow.com yesterday and a login pop up came up- which included another box giving me option to sign up with my Google addresses. Here's a screenshot: https://i.imgur.com/dYtg5u6.png

It did seem strange to me but I didn't bother because I was busy with the search. Now after reading this post this certainly does not seem strange anymore.

Edit: Like OP, I never logged in to Chrome, only on gmail.com.

Saw that for the first time yesterday. Was really, really off-putting. Felt like the website I was visiting knew about all of my Google accounts.

The Chrome Dev team is off the rails.

For long already I use many personas/users of Chrome simultaneously. It's very useful. Especially when you create a dedicated shortcut to a service/web-site on a desktop or even pin it to the taskbar. So I have direct Gmail icon on my taskbar that launches GMail as a standalone headless window and for a particular Chrome persona. Next is another GMail icon (it's possible to change icons if you need or turn on in W10 taskbar settings illustration of Chrome persona in the bottom right corner) with a different account via different Chrome user. They both work simultaneously. For social accounts I use one persona, for business another, for news and entertainment third. So every session very comfortably is saved and loaded only to a selected persona when I start the session. Since any link in any tab could be opened via a different persona/user it's not a problem to open a link from twitter or facebook in completely different persona where I'm not logged in for socials and basically incognito for the services.

Google will be doing everything to associate your behavior over all boundaries, device, profile, account, job and home as well as private stuff.

This is just one of the many changes that explicitly show that google wants all data aggregated.

You might get by for now by thus technique or that, but eventually Google will close those holes.

Personally I drop Chrome few months ago, tired by it's INVOLUTION. I also drop GMail about an year ago for a personal mail (which cost around 20 euros/year) and features standard IMAP and Roundcube instead of the monster WebUI that GMail have since few months.

Also I'm in process to ditch Google contacts on Android (actually sync-ed one-way via Goobook/XML files since vdirsyncer seems unable to sync many contacts) switching to Radicale on home server and DAVDroid on mobile.

For years I say to many ditching GMail&Google in general: you drop a working solution for another equally held by another company with a mission of making money. Now I have to say they were wright, I still drop a company for another but some others are less parasite than Google.

Sorry for my poor English, not my mother-tongue...

> This can't be a bug... can it?

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

(Hanlon's razor)

I imagine all the spooks and blackhats around the world utter a hearty chortle whenever they see someone cite that on the Internet. All they have to do for plausible deniability is plant a few obvious noob mistakes and, boom: that couldn't possibly be a backdoor, it's just a stupid mistake!

The real question is how Hanlon's Razor applies to itself.

You didn't say why this is important to you so it comes off as a bit of a complaint for the sake of it. Are you concerned about your web history going to your Google account? You can turn that off. Don't believe that will really turn it off? Then don't believe that Chrome wasn't already logging your web history without your knowledge. Is it sad that respect for privacy has degraded this far? Absolutely. Is the merging of Google website logins with Google Chrome browser login a significant decrease in privacy? I believe it really isn't at this point.

I've switched over to Firefox and it's quite fast and nice these days.

> to you so it comes off as a bit of a complaint for the sake of it.

People like you really rise my blood pressure. No, it's not important to him/her, bad defaults[1] are important for everyone because they are incorrect design. The correct design is not to synchronize anything before obtaining informed consent.

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

I'm sorry that I raised your blood pressure, and I take your point that I could have worded it better. I (admittedly quite poorly) attempted to push OP to get more specific. That was my only intention.

I completely agree about the dark pattern and I think that's a really good point that I didn't consider at all in what I said.

However, my argument regarding Chrome is that Google carries out tracking so pervasive that it basically doesn't matter any more if they throw a dark pattern like this in the mix. I am still trying to come to terms with how banal this evil has become.

People like you really rise my blood pressure.

May I suggest that this is a very ugly, condescending, dismissive way of talking to anyone. The phrase has no place on a forum like HN.

> May I suggest

Perhaps your suggestion could be valid.

Since you pointed that out, what set me off primarily is similar sentiment when parent hinted that op might be arguing in bad faith with "so it comes off as a bit of a complaint for the sake of it". General dismissive attitude of HN to anything privacy related (like this thread getting downvoted) only exacerbates things further.

I had a separate Ask HN. Tracing some of the history, including Google Analytics that is mentioned in my essay/overview, is quite interesting.

It was a long essay, and I admit I skimmed it, but my main takeaway is: Google gon get ya, almost whatever you're doing.

I am trying to trace the problems back to Larry/Sergey though. I am thinking of getting rid of the malware part to make it a bit shorter BTW.

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