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Microsoft proves the critics right: We’re heading toward a Chrome-only Web (arstechnica.com)
354 points by Vinnl 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 352 comments

I use FF as my daily driver on all devices. It is a very, very, competitive browser compared to Chrome and it's offshoots. In some area's, or with some plugins, it wins, and in other's it looses. I also really like the that Mozilla is actively involved in activism and thereby does a huge service to our safety/privacy online (refer to the recent DarkMatter story).

I'm sad FF share is declining. I wonder what I can do to counter this trend.

Keep using Firefox! Encourage everyone you know (without being too obnoxious of course) to switch. Help them switch if they’re receptive to the idea. Support them in staying with Firefox if they have extension requirements, workflow concerns, whatever.

The pitch for Firefox should be easy nowadays. Talk about how it’s privacy-focussed while still being competitive with Chrome in performance and ease of use. A lot of people know that Fa$ebook is evil and gobbling up all their data, but they don’t feel like there’s that much they can practically do. Switching to Firefox and using Containers is something anyone can do easily.

Of course there’s probably bigger things that you could do. But thinking locally (if you’re not already) is absolutely required before you then think globally, IMO.

I wish I could agree, and if I were experiencing a different situation, I would be in the same camp.

Firefox 65 keeps crashing on my Linux box. I've tried downgrading to 64 and below. But whatever updates were installed when I installed FF65 also crash FF64 and under.

It was either change OS or let FF go. I've since moved to brave browser, but would happily go back to FF if/when I figure out and troubleshoot the issue.

I see that you've unsuccessfully tried to install various versions of FF. The problem might be in your FF config, which persists across versions and types (stable vs nightly).

The ~/.Mozilla/firefox folder contains all your FF profiles, there should just be one profile named something.default. Delete that folder and start FF and it should work.

That folder does contain all your settings so those will be lost (and you can also copy this folder to other computers to copy your entire FF configuration :).

That's a shame :(

FWIW I'm on 65.0.1 (64-bit) on Ubuntu 18.04.2 and have had no major issues. I use Firefox exclusively and use my browser heavily all day long.

Firefox has been rock solid on my Linux box for the past 6 years or so. Are you downloading it from Mozilla, or from your distro’s package manager?

I've done both. Same issue. :(

Interesting - I use Fedora 29 and the defaul fedora repo version of FF with no issues on my end. I know that doesnt help, but it sounds like something specific to your setup (which I know still isn/t much solace :( )

Same, FF65 on F29 only browser I use no crashes on 3 different machines, one intel GPU, one RX460 (forget which) and one RTX2080.

Do you mind sharing any Crash Report IDs from your Firefox's about:crashes page? They should point to the crash stack trace, which might be fixable or at least suggest a workaround.

Also on FF65 on Ubuntu (KDE Neon) to be exact, and runs like a charm. Yes it hogs memory (with lots of tabs open), but Chrome does that too, so I consider something outside my realm of control.

which distribution are you using?

I had serious stability problems on Fedora a few months ago which sounded just like yours - I've since switched to debian for other reasons (with same exact profile data) and things are fine, which made me suspect something in the runtime or build toolchain is different and triggered some subtle bug.

not to blame fedora specifically (and who knows if this was a 'me' problem); but distros do differ slightly esp. w/r/t kernel params/threading/builds etc.

Might be worth trying FF ESR or running in a different distro container to see if this helps (yes, not convenient, but..)

also possibly rebuild your profile (pretty sure I tried this.. but anyhow)

It would help Firefox if you filed a bug report.

crashing is from LLVM and X11 on amdgpus

I wish duckduckgo had supported Firefox in addition to building their own privacy focused browser https://duckduckgo.com/app

Firefox on Android supports extensions and adblockers like ublock! This is a huge advantage.

I use both uMatrix and uBlock on Firefox for Android. I must say, compared to desktop both are comparatively awkward to use. It'd be nice if Firefox could overhaul the way extensions are handled on Android.

As an example the reload button in the extensions screen does not work (it doesn't seem to open in the context of the current page). As well I needed ages to find out that after opening the uMatrix screen I had to tap the phones back button to get back to the originating page.

It does not work for the first tab opened in the browser. It works for all subsequent tabs you open. Related bugzilla issue: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1410749

Thanks for the feedback :-). However opening new tabs doesn't help for the following workflow:

A site breaks due to missing Javascript. I open uMatrix in via the Firefox menu. The matrix page is displayed in a new tab. After changing settings I press the refresh button on top of the uMatrix page (that's my workflow on desktop). Only the tooltip is shown (it says "Press shift to bypass browser cache", but the originating site is not reloaded.

If you think it's worth opening a bug report for uMatrix, I'll gladly do so.

Firefox did some great things to increase speed in the last couple years (Servo!) but their share still seems to be declining or constant which leads me to a scary thought: Chrome and ilk are just too big to fail.

It’s possible Chrome is large enough they could be objectively worse and sites just optimize to Chrome or people just end up not caring about alternatives.

I Wish Mozilla could come up with a some kind of promotion system where all indie developers who have apps, websites, blogs etc. could request our users to use Firefox instead of chrome. For example a "Best Viewed In FF" image or Some kind widget in app.

Actually, I'd argue Mozilla wouldn't want a "best viewed in Firefox" campaign since the standards should apply to everyone, even if some browsers do better with some feature sets than others. There are already existing ways to show your support, such as https://mozilla.github.io/for-firefox/

I'm a Mozilla employee. I'm not speaking for the org as a whole, but I share your view, and I'd expect most/many other employees to agree with you on that point.

Pages should strive to be compatible with all browsers, and self-dealing in the space of compatibility is something that would go against the ethos and mission (IMHO, and I would expect many others).

That said, I expect that we would support a similar campaign, just advocating for Firefox using other points instead of "best viewed" style compatibility.

Again do not read too much into my specific choice of words. It could not worded that "Use the best standard adherent browser like FF" or similar.

If Mozilla's mission is a more open and standard compliant web instead of walled gardens that message needs to be conveyed to ordinary users and explained as to why it is better. I am not a copywriter so I do not what that messages should be but I think it should be done.

Of course - I'm not assuming anything much about your suggestion. It seems like a great idea in fact.

I personally don't have a read on how much support there would be among well known independent/commnity-aligned services for such a campaign. If there did exist a widespread sentiment of that sort, it'd be great.

I use firefox all the time, but the do a terrible job at creating a good browser that I can recommend to people. Biggest problems:

1. Tab handling is horrible compared to chrome. Vertical tab plugins are theoretically better, but are broken by the new extension system. If you install the plugins you still get tabs across the top.

2. Handling of native themes. Mozilla started attempting this and failed miserably with obviously no QA. They will match my themes dark background but not match the lighter colored text, making the inputs black on black.

3. Non-native UI's. They can support a cross platform UI framework but not a cross platform browser?

4. Whatever the hell is going on with that hamburger menu, they seem to change it all the time and I can never find my bookmarks.

The spend so much on experiments, rewriting things in rust, switching UI frameworks and barely used experiments like webasm and webgl but won't invest in making their core browser experience better. They're stuck doing things that are fun for developers to work on.

I wish I could trust Firefox not to be basically the same evil Chrome is if it gets to roughly the same position. It has already betrayed the trust of its userbase twice in recent memory.

False equivalence. Yes, Firefox has screwed up, but the errors were relatively minor compared to the privacy tire fire that Chrome is, and the errors were corrected quickly when pointed out.

It depends on what your threat model is. A lot of people prefer the no doubt privacy tire fire that Chrome is over the security tire fire that Firefox has become. It's one thing to trust Google, quite another to trust Mozilla and ever more 3rd parties which it adds to Firefox.

In my old version of Linux I've been using straight Firefox primarily for one-off financial transactions. On the scratch installation of the new version I'm now reminded again of all the intrusive third party screwups. I'm moving my primary browser, with shields like a very paranoid uMatrix, to Chromium to party address the privacy issues, and have about decided to also install Chrome, starting it up just for my financial transactions and then exiting. I think there's a lot lower chance Google will siphon off my account information than one of Mozilla's current or future 3rd party partners, especially as Firefox's declining market share makes it ever more desperate.

Last time I checked there were no third-parties bundled in Firefox.

Ubuntu 18.04, stock Firefox installed with the desktop, version 64.0.1, has in your face "Recommended by Pocket" items. One encourages me to use DuckDuckGo, but....

Pocket is owned by Mozilla.

But you're right, it does include support for Google search, by default, which is a third party. Not that that'd leak your financial details.

> Pocket is owned by Mozilla.

Does this really matter from the user perspective? It's still bullshit.

Well, it means there's no third party to trust.

Yes it matters that the third party you are talking about is not actually a third party at all.

According to Wikipedia, it's run as an "independent subsidiary". Echoing AnIdiotOnTheNet, it's in your face bullshit that clearly tells us about Mozilla's mindset today.

The Firefox security story has sailed compared to Chrome's, Pocket was independent but bundled in from June 2015 to February 2017, the Mr. Robot stunt, and Cliqz. Through the lens of corporate governance, three strikes and you're out till a long period passes with good governance.

Support for X search doesn't matter in the start up a browser with a single tab to do a financial transaction and then close the browser, which is how I've been using a single installation of Firefox, and will now be using Chrome. That scenario doesn't demand a good session manager, something that Firefox's transition to Quantum has ruined as I say in another comment in this topic.

It's absurd to complain about pocket and use it as an excuse to use a browser made by fucking google.

> According to Wikipedia, it's run as an "independent subsidiary".

It still means its goals aligns with Mozilla's, so you have to trust them as much as you have Mozilla. (Though of course, it should have been open sourced by now.)

But really, if three strikes and you're out is your policy, you really shouldn't use Chrome - it has an order of magnitude more strikes, and they are far worse, at that. But to each their own.

You're confounding security with privacy strikes. How many 3rd party vulnerability security strikes does Google have? And I distrust Pocket at least as much as I distrust Mozilla.

> You're confounding security with privacy strikes. How many 3rd party vulnerability security strikes does Google have?

Well, you were referring to Cliqz, Pocket and Mr. Robot, which where trust issues, not security issues. Google has at least as many of those.

> I distrust Pocket at least as much as I distrust Mozilla.

That makes sense, because they're the same. You should distrust Google even more.

It should be obvious I disagree in scoring Cliqz, Pocket and Mr. Robot as security issues. Of course, many if not most security issues are in the subset of privacy issues as well, but surely you see the difference between not wanting others to know what web pages you've visited and not wanting your bank account emptied by a criminal?

And when it comes to security, not hazarding my bank accounts and credit cards beyond what's unavoidable in doing business on the net, Google is massively more trustworthy than Mozilla. If for no other reason than Mozilla having entered its corporate endgame.

Firefox is not fit for purpose for any of my use cases, although I've still have a copy of Waterfox that I can move to my new Linux installation with a abandoned but adequate session manager for one use case. Maybe Mozilla will fix those two dozen plus bugs and feature requirements for a good session manager before no one cares anymore and I'll continue using that line of browsers if/when Waterfox becomes unsustainable.

There is absolutely nothing you can say that will make me use a program that doesn't work for me, and Firefox does not work for me except for the most casual of browsing.

> not wanting your bank account emptied by a criminal?

So are you saying that Cliqz, Pocket and Mr. Robot led to emptying even one person's bank account?

I don't know why you keep bring up the session manager. If you don't like Firefox's features, fine, go ahead and use another browser and ignore Mozilla's role in protecting the open web. But it has nothing to do with security or whatever.

> Well, you were referring to Cliqz, Pocket and Mr. Robot, which where trust issues, not security issues. Google has at least as many of those.

Yes, but here's the thing: these issues have shown that Firefox is not at all more trustworthy, they just don't have as easy a time getting away with it because they aren't in the lead. I have no reason to trust that they won't be just as bad if they think they can get away with it.

They don't have an easy time getting away with it because they're largely a community project and exist with the aim of doing better. That will remain the case - even in the unlikely future where they'll be in the lead. In the present day, however, we don't even need them to be in the lead - they just need a somewhat significant market share.

Furthermore, trustworthiness is a spectrum, and Mozilla's issues are still peanuts compared to Google's. It's a valid stance to criticise those issues, but it's flawed reasoning to use those as a reason to jump to Chrome.

I'm not making an argument for which browser to support (what a stupid concept, who cares), I'm making an argument that Mozilla has violated its users trust in the past and no one should reasonably expect they won't do so again.

> (what a stupid concept, who cares)

The reason I care is because it's not about supporting a piece of software, but about protecting the open web, and therefore civil rights.

> I'm making an argument that Mozilla has violated its users trust in the past and no one should reasonably expect they won't do so again.

And I'm making the argument that you can expect Mozilla to not violate its users' trust anywhere near the extent that Google does, and that you can expect its community to keep it in line to ensure that.

> open web, and therefore civil rights.

Civil rights? Really?


I've made multiple attempts recently to switch to Firefox as my primary browser, but I never could stick with it.

1) It's simply not as responsive. They've worked really hard to keep up with Chrome, and I respect that, and the recent overhaul did make a big difference. But Chrome just feels like a piece of physical machinery, where Firefox still feels like a piece of software.

2) The dev tools are just not quite as good. As with general performance, they've always been very close, but there's just something about them that's off. Enough to disrupt my work.

3) Firefox mobile, at least on Android, has weird high-friction scrolling behavior that doesn't match the rest of the OS and feels terrible, and there's no way to turn it off.

I use Firefox for casual browsing on my gaming desktop, but that's about it. I'm rooting for them, but there are just improvements that still need to be made.

On the bright side, Chromium is 99% OSS (as opposed to Android, which is like 70% OSS). I think a fork could become a competitor if Google took the project in a direction that was just really egregiously bad. Let us not forget that Chrome's rendering engine, Blink, was itself a fork of Safari's WebKit.

Find the exact opposite (except for devtools, unfortunately that's still a real issue).

Firefox for me is MUCH faster on all hardware I use it on, without or without extensions.

Chrome feels bloated and sluggish... Firefox just flies, and never slows down. I don't understand where complaints of FF performance come from... personally, I've never experienced an issue, on my i7 desktop or my horrible m3 Surface.

To me, it's Firefox that feels like the physical machinery, while Chrome is a piece of software, and a bloated, creepy, predatory one at that.

It could be a platform difference. I mostly use macOS; sounds like you're on Windows.

I use FF on macOS and Linux; a bit on gaming Windows machine as well. On macOS it's about the same as Chrome, on Linux Chrome is comically horrible, even 1080p YouTube videos stutter (using GPU acceleration). Developing using Chrome under Linux (Ubuntu) was making everything super slow, e.g. debugging some JavaScript or GWT code was reducing performance of web app comparing to FF like 5x, making it unbearable.

Yes, it has been quite widely reported here and elsewhere such as the Firefox bug trackers, that the Firefox performance on Mac is quite inferior. Which makes me very sad. Though it does not seem to affect all Mac users

Firefox integrates into some platforms better than others. There are some proposed changes to fix this, but they aren't quick fixes.

>Write bindings to all relevant OS composition libraries. For Windows, we already have DirectComposition bindings, and for Linux, there are already bindings to Wayland. We need bindings for macOS Core Animation (which runs in the window server on relatively recent versions of macOS) and Android SurfaceFlinger.


On the Mac you can pick up performance improvements now by opting out of the OS's window scaling feature for the Firefox app.

Get info for the Firefox app in the Finder and select the option to "Open in Low Resolution".

Count me as one of the people for whom Firefox runs butter smooth on my Mac. Never slows down or gets janky.

Very strange how there is such wide discrepancies in experiences for Mac users.

If they want to gain market-share they should prioritize Macs, since most web developers these days prefer them. The more developers who use Firefox, the more it'll get tested with, the better support it'll have.

My understanding from reading the bug reports is that the general cause of macOS performance issues is understood, but to do anything about it with the current architecture would require pulling developers off WebRender development instead. Instead, work is being done to make things better there for when that's ready to ship on Mac.

Is there any way to provide incentives to devs to prioritize mac development? Like a bug bounty of sorts?

I'd happily contribute to a patreon or something if it meant increasing the chances of having a usable version of firefox on my mac at some point.

To think that Mozilla can have revenue of $500M+ per year, yet a Patreon might be needed to make their browser faster :-)

The problem in osx is not that it's slow, but the ridiculous amount of cpu (and therefore battery) it consumes.

For the people who suffer the bugs ( which seems to be a majority of users that have a retina display, and specifically those who use it set on high resolution) just opening firefox will quickly lead to the macbook's fans spinning at full throttle and battery drain. There are issues opened and development supposedly in progress, but it's been like that for months if not years. At this point I would take whatever could speed up the process...

If Firefox is chewing through all your CPU from the moment it opens you need to reset your profile.


I don't think Firefox can fix all the bugs at the same pace Chromium can.

I've uninstalled and installed Firefox several times during the years, in different machines even (MacBooks between 2013 and current models). Same feeling from most developers working at my workplace (~1000 devs in the building, not one using FF on a Mac ).

For some reason every time I talk about these bugs on the internet people treat it as a weird edge case I'm going through, but talking IRL with people about Firefox everyone seems to know how unusable it is in a Mac - not only in my circle of acquaintances.

Reinstalling Firefox on a Mac is not the same as doing a Firefox Refresh. The former only touches the executable while the latter cleans up cruft in your Firefox data (potentially lingering around from legacy extensions).

I understand that, but I assume both of those are still "shallower" ways of resetting than actually switching computers, which I've done several times (for unrelated reasons ofc) and I've seen no improvement...

Is that true outside of US?

I'm not sure. But the benefit it provides is a Linux-ish environment that you don't have to tinker with constantly to keep it running, which is a potent combination. And web devs don't care about fine-grained hardware control/compatibility.

You know, I wonder if it's GPU-bound. Macs often have weaker GPUs than Windows machines, and this could explain the inconsistent results people are mentioning in the thread.

You may be hitting this: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1429522

Firefox does not use Core Animation, unlike Chrome and Safari, which causes an extra full-window blit on GPU in some cases. It also uses a transparent window, so macOS has to composite the content behind the window whenever Firefox draws. I have a patch in there to improve things, as well as a crate planeshift to help the situation with WebRender, but the patch causes some usability regressions so it has not landed. In the meantime you can set gfx.compositor.glcontext.opaque to true in about:config to get an opaque window at the cost of rounded window corners and vibrancy.

I highly doubt this is the case. I can't tell the difference between my gaming desktop and my laptop with integrated graphics.

From what I've seen on the chromium bug tracker, Google has been on a ~5 year crusade to improve Mac performance. Around half the issues Ive seen include something like "We don't know what Mac does here, let's ask some people at the next conference" (these were core rendering performance bugs). I totally get why Firefox can't compete with that. It's fast on the platforms that don't seem to be hell-bent on making custom rendering slow.


"What if we stopped trying to guess what layers we need? What if we removed this boundary between painting and compositing and just went back to painting every pixel on every frame?

This may sound like a ridiculous idea, but it actually has some precedent. Modern day video games repaint every pixel, and they maintain 60 frames per second more reliably than browsers do. And they do it in an unexpected way… instead of creating these invalidation rectangles and layers to minimize what they need to paint, they just repaint the whole screen.

Wouldn’t rendering a web page like that be way slower?

If we paint on the CPU, it would be. But GPUs are designed to make this work."


Are you being sarcastic? I can't tell.

Any modern CPU and GPU can do a lot of DMA and copying of memory in a very short amount of time, but that doesn't mean it'll be efficient wrt. power... which is what I think you were 'complaining' about?

The GPUs can do it, push 60 page updates per second, but that is very energy inefficient way to do it.

You can feel this by playing any 3D shooter on your laptop and see the battery being sucked empty.

Nope. I'm on a Mac with a powerful GPU and Firefox still sucks.

Some anecdata: I haven’t had performance issues with Firefox on Mac for a very long time. I’ve had more issues with Firefox on Windows than I have on Mac.

As for Chrome, I used to use it a lot, but the privacy concerns and controls it comes with bothered me too much to want to continue to use it on any of my systems.

Firefox containers are also essential to me while browsing the web - I don’t know if Chrome provides anything similar.

I find Firefox to be faster on both Windows and macOS. (No idea about Linux—I've heard it lacks hardware acceleration there, so that's probably bad.)

On GNU/Linux, Firefox is a much more responsible than Chromium. Chromium randomly decide to eat 100% of a CPU core time for no apparent reason.

I am on mac. I run all 3 browsers. Chrome feels the most sluggish, with firefox the clear winner.

Firefox seems to perform especially well compared to Chrome if you have lots of tabs open at once (dozens or hundreds). The only exception to that for me has been roll20.net, which is nearly unusable for me with Firefox but works fine in Chrome.

Windows user here and I agree with OP that Chrome is much faster than FF.

I have a really hard time understanding where this commenter is coming from saying FF > Chrome. Have not heard anyone else with that opinion.

I recently switched to Firefox on Linux after 6-7 years of Chrome and I do use Windows and Mac laptop too.

1. On Linux - Firefox feels much more snappier than Chrome. Specically on Fedora, Chrome as a input lag which is non-existant in Firefox.

2. On Windows and Mac - Chrome is either on-par or feels snappier. I use either browser on these on two platforms.

3. On Android (galaxy-s8+), Firefox is fine but it integrates poorly with rest of the OS. Youtube links don't open in youtube app, searching for locations is bit of pain because Chrome produces Google maps hyperlinks.

I am still sticking to firefox though, because my main computer is Linux and Firefox is just to much better on Linux (lately).

Point 3 is by design. An Android icon will appear in the address bar if a native app is available. A tap on it will delegate the current URL to the app.

On Linux, Firefox can now run natively on Wayland (you have to manually enable it) while Chromium still can't (but the support is being added). The responsiveness difference is massive

I'm going to be honest I've pretty much never understood the appeal of Chrome over Firefox aside from it running separate tabs in separate processes, but that stopped being a distinction forever ago. I find the Firefox UI better and performance to be equivalent in most cases, and in all the ones where it isn't Firefox was better.

And I have a really hard time understanding where the OP is coming from saying Chrome > FF ;)

It is odd; I don't dispute that Firefox evidently has some performance issues for some people – there are enough reports from people on varied enough hardware that I don't doubt the authenticity of what people are reporting.

But personally, for me Firefox is noticeably faster than Chrome, and I know I'm definitely not the only one.

For reference: I run Windows 10 (currently 1803) on i7-7700K/32GB with typically 20-30 tabs across multiple windows; Firefox RAM consumption can be up to 4GB after a whole day's use like that. I never find the browser slows down at all, and is always immediately snappy and responsive... whereas Chrome, in a way which is hard to quantify or describe, does feel as though it's a few milliseconds behind me sometimes.

I also find the same on my truly atrocious m3/4GB Surface though (massively regret that one, "should be alright for what I need" I thought as I reached the checkout, should have known better). Chrome quickly kills the Surface, Firefox manages to keep going far longer...

So in conclusion... I don't dispute that some people find Firefox to be slower, but I know for sure that isn't true of everyone. I have no complaints whatsoever about Firefox performance and have been using it daily for 18+ months (switched from Vivaldi... now there's a browser which has performance issues, for me at least...)

What kind of GPU does your windows machine have? I'm curious if that's the differentiator.

AMD R9 series something or other.

My hunch is the CPU is the differentiator. Chrome eats RAM, FF eats CPU. Maybe someone with more knowledge here has a more educated guess.

I did recently update my BIOS and it improved FF performance dramatically, reinforcing my belief it's the CPU. Pre and post spectre fix or whatever.

I'd like to know how heavy your browsing is in terms of the number of tabs and windows that are open. In my experience chrome blazes it's competition when it doesn't have as many tabs open since it inhales the RAM unlike Firefox whose default behaviour is lazy loading.

This also frees up my RAM for other memory intensive operations leading me to use Firefox more often.

Typical day, at the end of the day (machine has been up for 8+ hours) I'll have 20-30 tabs (or more) open across 5+ Firefox windows.

Some of those tabs will be lightweight, like GitLab issues, forums or webpages I'm building, whereas others will be more complex sites and web apps... Office 365 apps, YouTube, social networks, Figma instances etc.

Firefox will consume sometimes 4GB or more by the end of the day.

I run an i7-7700K and 32GB of RAM though, so it's never going to get near a low-memory situation. I'll end the day with about 50% total system memory consumption... no app is individually too demanding, just I run a ton of things simultaneously and because there's so much RAM available, Windows never has to take action to kill anything or reclaim memory back again.

This is particularly evident in UWP apps (although I hardly ever use them)... if I open one at 9am and close it, I can then reopen at 9pm and it will be there instantaneously despite effectively being cold start from user perspective, because it's been suspended in RAM all day!

Right now I'm sitting at 50.2% RAM consumption, of which Firefox is using 2.1 GB over 7 processes.

Next biggest are Figma (400 MB on a big document), Microsoft Teams, Spotify... oh yeah, Electron RAM usage is still abominable. But I don't need to worry about it ;)

agreed... firefox is fab for me as well.. the only issue that i have with it is sped up videos don't pitch correct well. they sound a bit strange and I can't listen at speeds higher than 2x.

For me, Chrome runs much smoother than Firefox on macOS with the 2013 MBP.

where devtools is concerned - do you use Firefox Developer?

I don't no, just regular F12.

Sadly, I still find Chrome to be much easier to work with for dev than Firefox. Firefox has made great progress lately with the devtools, and the new bits like Grid Inspector are awesome, but it's sad the basics still aren't there.

It's the little things... Firefox still displays cryptic JavaScript errors with internal stack traces, whereas Chrome gives clear explanations and always links the stack to a line in my code. That's just one example, none of the issues I have are anything major really in isolation, but together, I find Firefox less efficient to dev with than Chrome.

The sad thing... I really, really wish this wasn't the case, because it unfortunately reinforces the point made in the article.

Despite all my best intentions, I do end up building for Chrome first. I loathe and resent that but it saves me time overall. Every new release I try Firefox tools again though and I'm confident they're going in the right direction... hopefully in another few months, I'll be able to report back and confirm I use Firefox as my primary dev browser too.

Just to complete this info, not the usual "Dev Edition" referring to beta/alpha, but Developer Edition for web developers, on http://getfirebug.com

I use Firefox exclusively. If a site only works in Chrome, I won't use it.

Stability and performance are about the same, in my experience. Neither are perfect. Though it's been at least a year since I really used Chrome so I can't say for sure.

I just came across a cool video sharing service called Loom this afternoon. Then I saw that it requires Chrome. Guess I'll never use Loom. Edit: And coda.io too.

YouTube works great with Firefox though.

Exactly the same for me. Except that I've never used Chrome in my life. I had to install Chromium once because a German government site I needed to use insisted on Chrome.

Firefox Mobile puts you seemingly in control by letting you install plugins like uMatrix, Privacy Badger, NoScript, Https Everywhere that are simply invaluable [0]. Once you start valuing your privacy, you'd see that no amt of fast scroll behaviour is going to convince you otherwise.

One thing you could try to see if Firefox speeds up by changing the number of processes it creates (defaults to 4) to 8, esp if you're on a machine with considerable RAM (16GiB+).

As for web-dev tools, doesn't Firefox ship a developer-only edition? Might want to try that out.

[0] On the flip side, you might want to try Chromium-based Brave or Vivaldi instead.

> Once you start valuing your privacy, you'd see that no amt of fast scroll behaviour is going to convince you otherwise

I highly value my privacy; I switched to iOS because of it. I only use Chrome at work. I've got comprehensive content blockers set up on mobile Safari, which is where most of my personal browsing happens.

> As for web-dev tools, doesn't Firefox ship a developer-only edition?

I'd assume that's a version designed for developers who work on Firefox itself, not developers who use Firefox to work on the web. There would be no reason for them to omit some of their dev tools from the regular builds.

> On the flip side, you might want to try Chromium-based Brave or Vivaldi instead.

I tried and loved Vivaldi for a little while, until I ran into a catastrophic dev tools bug (can't remember what exactly). I also enjoyed Brave for a while, but it ended up being too slow too (this was when it had an Electron interface instead of being a fork, so it's probably better now).

Firefox Developer Edition is indeed geared towards web developers. This is a pretty succinct summary of the specific features: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Firefox/Dev...

> I'd assume that's a version designed for developers who work on Firefox itself, not developers who use Firefox to work on the web. There would be no reason for them to omit some of their dev tools from the regular builds.

That is a an incorrect assumption:


And why would there be no reason to omit these tools? If they're only going to see the light of day when a developer is using them, they're a waste of space for the average user, correct?

>Once you start valuing your privacy, you'd see that no amt of fast scroll behaviour is going to convince you otherwise.

I don't know how it is for other people, but the way Firefox's scroll works on mobile makes me want to not do anything on it. If Firefox were my only option to browse the internet on my phone then I just wouldn't.

Forgive me, but I dislike all this pandering. Obviously Chrome is good at what it does, but it still not the privacy-oriented browser of choice. A browser fueled by huge amounts of corporate money is generally going to look and act better, but at the end of the day, you're still corporately controlled, open source or not. If you want yourself (and the rest of society) not to be like that, then you have to step out a bit.

> it still not the privacy-oriented browser of choice

But multiple forks of it are, Brave being the chief example. The rendering and JavaScript engines do not impact privacy.

> A browser fueled by huge amounts of corporate money is generally going to look and act better, but at the end of the day, you're still corporately controlled, open source or not.

Partly true. They hold a certain amount of leverage, which I agree it would be great if they didn't have, but they can't just do whatever they want or people will simply jump ship. There's a ceiling on how hard they can push things in a given direction at a given moment. Of course they can push slowly over an extended period of time, which is the real danger. But I still think enough people are paying attention that the power center would shift if they started truly abusing it.

> The rendering and JavaScript engines do not impact privacy.

Actually they absolutely do. You need to do mitigations against fingerprinting in order to protect privacy.

That has to do with what gets sent over the wire, not with rendering content or running arbitrary code

This is kind of puzzling. Fingerprinting (among other things) render to a canvas, and then send the resulting pixel data over the wire. So yes, fingerprinting requires sending stuff over the wire, but it also depends on running arbitrary code and rendering behavior.

Fingerprinting with canvas depends your GPU and font installed. Don't think there are any way out without hurting the rendering performance servery..

Sure, Chrome feels better now. But if you want to have any say in what Chrome 99 feels like you should switch right now to Firefox.

In 10 years Chrome will be to internet browsers what Vista was to the OS. Bloated, over-built, poorly thought out, and a complete dumpster fire. By giving Google such a one-sided market share we're encouraging them to stop taking us seriously. They already don't, but at least right now they have to pretend.

Does anyone else remember how fast they added an opt-out of single sign-on to Chrome after the outcry from 69? We won't have the luxury of moving those mountains when Google has the last mountain around.

I switched quite recently, kind of out of principle. I'm trying to return from Chrome to Firefox every couple of years or so. I've been on Firefox for a few weeks now. And I've run into several issues that simply wouldn't affect Chrome, such as certain websites not working properly (eg. only today I had troubles downloading papers from academia.edu - works perfectly on Chrome). This really throws me back.

There's also plenty of little UX niceties you don't even notice on Chrome, but which are missing on Firefox. Eg. if you create a new bookmarks folder and you add a bookmark to it, this folder stays selected as the default option when you're adding another bookmark. This doesn't happen on Firefox for some reason.

Or, another example off the top of my head: I always customize my browsers so that the next tab gets open right next to the current one - not at the end. There are lightweight extensions for both browsers that accomplish just that. But only on Firefox the new tab jumps back and forth when you open it; opening at the end for a fraction of a second, then bouncing back where I want it. On Chrome it's instantaneous.

Or downloading files: Chrome automatically shows a download bar for an ongoing download, and you can open the freshly downloaded file right from there. Firefox doesn't do it. You have to manually tap a rather discreet arrow icon on the toolbar to open the downloads list. (Which you may even forget to, if we speak of a large download that takes several minutes). Maybe there's some extension for that, but Chrome has this by default.

Translating webpages is another one. There are several extensions available for Firefox, but not one of them comes close to the convenience Chrome offers by default in this regard.

I know a lot these are arguably petty things, but boy is there so many of them. And I think at least the majority of don't really fall into the "matter of taste" category. Chrome simply offers more polished user experience, and while these may be details, at the end of the day all these details add up.

I keep seeing reports of pages that work in Chrome but not in FF. What puzzles me is that people usually hold this against FF instead of holding it against Chrome.

The very few times I have experienced such a thing, a peek at the console tells me that FF is blocking the page from doing something insecure or otherwise harmful.

It reminds me of ActiveX stuff. Junky webcams still ship with an ActiveX control to embed video into their html page. When it doesn't work in FF or Chrome, some people think IE6 is a superior browser.

I don't know the reason behind your various broken pages. It could be something is wrong with FF. But it could also be that something is _right_ with FF. If you don't know which, why are you complaining about FF?

> I don't know the reason behind your various broken pages. It could be something is wrong with FF. But it could also be that something is _right_ with FF. If you don't know which, why are you complaining about FF?

I'm not complaining about FF. I'm complaining about my experience using FF. I'm not attributing blame, only stating facts.

Even if it's something wrong with the websites as you say, what matters to me is whether I can use them or not.

And by the way, quietly blocking the page without any sort of a message or warning to the user would be more evidence of bad UX in my book. I shouldn't have to go the console to find out how the browser decided to protect me, if that's the case.

I know where you're coming from. I never noticed how "close" you are to your browser until opera retired presto and switched to blink, butchering the whole thing basically. In comparison it seemed a hundred times easier when I switched from Windows to Linux.

Whenever I tried to share my woes with friends or colleagues who used Firefox or chrome, they just went like "well you can have feature x too by installing add-on y". But it was the little things, the way things worked in detail, were laid out etc. And it's very hard to explain this to someone who has always done it another way, or never got used to a certain feature in the first place.

I kept using opera 12 for almost two years after they retired it, until just too much stuff was inaccessible due to the browsers age. Then followed a confusing time of using Firefox, chromium and Vivaldi in parallel, eventually drifting to Firefox, in recent times driven by growing reluctance towards google and the building up of their browser (or engine) monopoly.

There are things missing in Chrome like their refusal to allow you to tab through the drop down list that appears when you type something, that was marked as will not fix like 10 years ago

We must be willing to make at least a few sacrifices to maintain software freedom, or we won't be able to keep it.

Were I not a professional web developer who needs to use the best tools available, and were it not for the awful scroll physics on mobile, I'd probably put up with the rest and use it out of principle.

What are your specific issues with the scrolling? (Posted from Firefox mobile; I don't even use Chrome on Android anymore.)

The scrolling just does not feel like other native apps on Windows or Mac. It's slower. Most other apps, including Chrome, feel the same as other native apps when scrolling.

The odd font rendering is another problem. Fonts in Firefox look different than fonts in other native apps.

The friction is far too high. It's impossible to scroll more than one screen or so in a single swipe. It's maddening. I can't fathom why they didn't just use the OS default behavior.

FWIW, the release notes for Firefox for Android call out scrolling performance improvements in 3 of the last 4 releases. Might be worth taking another look :)

I have both Firefox and Chrome installed. I can't tell the difference between the two in terms of scrolling. On both I can flick and it keeps going for ages. It sounds like a bug to me.

It could have also been fixed. Last I tried was around a year ago.

Use chrome for dev work and firefox for everything else? Maybe exclude mobile if scrolling is so horrible. Mobile and desktop are different enough that it won't matter anyways that you aren't using the same on both.

Actually what annoys me more on mobile is that chrome seems much better at guessing right where I wanted to touch on non-mobile websites. On HN I can hit the upvote button easily, with Firefox I need to smash several times and sometimes even zoom in in frustration. OTOH I can just install ublock origin on ff mobile and make browsing much faster, especially since I'm using a rather old device; the difference is huge.

> I've made multiple attempts recently to switch to Firefox as my primary browser, but I never could stick with it.

I've been using Firefox since the Bush administration and never felt a need to switch. Like a lot of people, I experimented with Chrome in college, but at the time it didn't have an equivalent to many of the extensions I valued (ex: NoScript).

Could I get a slight performance boost switching to Chrome? Maybe. But I don't. I guess for the same reason I stick with my credit union - they accomplish what I need, I trust they won't screw me over, and I think the market needs to be more diverse. Getting an extra bit of percent in speed/interest just isn't worth the switch.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, I interned with Mozilla in the summer of 2014.)

I really have no problem with FF on Linux - I switched from Chrome right around the release of the quantum version of FF. everything is fast and works fine unless 1. It is a Google service that only runs on Chrome 2. MS service that only runs on Chrome

We are now getting back to IE days it seems .... :(

I have been using ff with noscript and have no desire to switch. If a site does not load with ff, I can do without.

> Chromium is 99% OSS

OSS but owned totally by google.

I don't believe such a product should get any credit for being OSS. It will never do what the community wants.

But it can be forked. Which means I can go start a Chrome competitor by myself, today, with zero up-front investment.

Good luck with making meaningful changes with zero investment.

At best, you could probably maintain a patch that changes some of the more Google-oriented behaviour of Chrome. A full-blown fork would never keep up with new development in Google or Firefox.

> maintain a patch that changes some of the more Google-oriented behaviour of Chrome

This exists as:


I worked for a team that did maintain a fork. It was an insane amount of effort just to keep up with the commits going in.

It's interesting to compare on slow hardware, where the performance difference is easily visible. On my Orange Pi 3 (4xA53), with no GPU acceleration, Firefox maintains smooth scrolling without any issues and Chromium is very yanky and sluggish (unusable).

The "better tools" is a common theme, but I suspect this is just a matter of switching being costly, in any direction. There are weird bugs in Chrome's devtools as well, such as misrepresenting headers sent - try to find the Authorization header for HTTP Basic Auth. When I see stuff like that, I wonder what else may be off.

I have a lame reason but FireFox won't play nice with my dark theme. That's most of what keeps me from switching. https://imgur.com/cebF7v1

I do like Firefox on Android though as you can block ads on it. Chrome for Android doesn't support plugins.

What is the last version you tested that with? I had that issue months ago but it was also fixed months ago for me.

That was from yesterday. Running 65.0.1, Ubuntu 16.04, Cinnamon with a custom dark theme.

Chrome is by far the slowest modern browser at large CSS animations. I had to dumb down a recent site I worked on to make it barely functional in Chrome.

DOM instruction speed, last I checked, was twice as fast in Chrome compared to Edge but still dozens to hundreds of time slower than Firefox.

Recycling is inconvinient. I have to carry my trash around until I can separate the trash at home.

Riding my bike everywhere is inconvinient. If I take my car to the grocery shop, I'm much faster and don't get wet, even if I'm wasting a lot of energy and causing more traffic.

Using ecosia is more inconvinient than using Google because 1 out of 10 times ecosia has no idea what I'm searching for.

My point being that no one is saying switching away from chrome is all roses. There is a small sacrifice to be made for what I believe is the greater good. I'm a developer and use Firefox as my development environment 99% of the time - the dev tools are pretty good. I do switch to chrome that 1% of times if I find a trickier bug to debug.

If we're sharing anecdotes:

1) Opposite experience for me: Chrome loads things slowly and performing actions on pages just feels far less responsive than FF. Chrome also seems to use insane amounts of memory for a few tabs, while FF is a lot more reasonable.

2) You're probably right on this one, I don't use dev tools often.

3) The whole reason I switched to FF on Android was to run uBlock. Can Chrome on mobile run extensions yet?

>3) Firefox mobile, at least on Android, has weird high-friction scrolling behavior that doesn't match the rest of the OS and feels terrible, and there's no way to turn it off.

And this problem has been around for years. It makes Firefox unusable for me on a phone.

My biggest issue is that they keyboard shortcuts are not the same. If you could select a "Chrome" keyboard-shortcut profile that'd be ideal.

I second this.

This is effectively 99% of my experience with FF. I have tried on a few occasions to make it my daily driver, but it just falls short in enough areas to make it too frustrating at the moment.

It's been discussed in the past, but I'll just leave this here as a reminder: https://robert.ocallahan.org/2014/08/choose-firefox-now-or-l...

I would be very upset to see Firefox fade into oblivion. My at home workflow has Firefox baked in: separate containers for G Suite, Twitter, HN, for paid web apps, etc.

I don’t think that Chrome supports anything like Firefox containers, right?

Closest is multiple profiles but no, nothing as seamless as containers.

I think Firefox/Mozilla is still a bit on the "too big" side, and they've done some mollycoddling/anti-user-freedom stuff in the past too.

IMHO if you want to "protest" the browser monopoly, use something more like Dillo or NetSurf. They have no JS, so web apps are out of the question, but work well for the document-centric sites.

> I think Firefox/Mozilla is still a bit on the "too big" side

One of the machines I use is an old Dell Latitude D620 (2006, Intel Core2 CPU T7200 2.00GHz[0]) on a debian base. I can tell you from personal experience, on this machine, that Mozilla's latest Quantum Browser is heads above Chrome and their "clones".

It is so quick to load (even loaded with extensions), it replaced Pale Moon as the default browser for this laptop. I was stunned at the performance improvements in Quantum. I remain surprised, every single day, that the modern web has been made available on a laptop that's 13 years old.

All other Chrome-like browsers (Chromium, Opera, Vivaldi, etc) take much longer to load, cause the cpu to throttle (fans kick in) which can lead to overheating and shutdown issues. They are essentially unusable on that machine. Firefox Quantum, otoh, is snappy on this machine.

I say this because I'm genuinely curious by the "too big" comment. I honestly find it puzzling (unless you're comparing a modern, full-featured browser to Dillo or Links2/GUI: both of which are favs of mine for their use cases).

I had turned my back on Firefox for a few years because of performance issues, caching problems. They didn't just correct these issues, they've done so in a way few software upgrades have ever managed to do in my experience (dating back three decades) and have blown past their competitors from a purely performance standpoint.

[0] https://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core2+Duo+T72...

Anecdotally I have the opposite experience. On my 2 computers (MBP/Win10 Desktop) Chrome starts up near instantly and Firefox has a noticeable delay. I just tried it and it took about 5 seconds to load. Not that this is really a deal breaker anyway. On my MBP it also makes the fans spin up.

> On my 2 computers (MBP/Win10 Desktop) Chrome starts up near instantly and Firefox has a noticeable delay.

You may be experiencing OS caching. If you normally use Chrome, Chrome is already cached in memory by the OS and will open faster than something you haven't started recently.

> On my MBP it also makes the fans spin up.

I've noticed that Chrome tends not to do this while still being slower. This may be related to the way it uses more processes, which consequently requires more resources per operation (and thereby higher visible latency) but splits the load better between cores so that no individual one gets hot enough to require additional cooling.

In theory this could be "better" if the browser actually needed to use 8+ cores for some reason, but in general if that is happening it is some kind of anomaly or defect (like some adspam mining Bitcoin in javascript) rather than any normal behavior. And Firefox does use other threads/processes for most of the few things that actually benefit from it.

Exactly the same with me: I've been trying to use Firefox over the past month on a MBP, but Chrome is definitely faster (both UI-wise and seemingly with connections/requests - maybe Chrome is pre-empting some things?), and for me Firefox demonstrably uses more CPU across multiple cores, so laptop temp is noticeably hotter for the same sites, and fans spin a lot more, and battery life is worse.

Same here. Every few months when Firefox is in the news, I give it a try again, and I keep wanting to like it, but everything just seems slightly laggy compared with Chrome on my 2014 MBP.

I wasn't referring to the bloatedness (or lack thereof) of the browser itself, but the organisation. A Firefox-based monopoly would be just as bad.

I installed NetSurf when I saw your comment. It immediately crashed when I entered a URL of a website. Then I uninstalled it.

I would love Dillo and Netsurf to be usable web browsers on the modern web, unfortunately they aren't. We should be able to do better than 2 rendering engines though.

Arguably there are 3, depending how you view webkit vs blink; yes, they come from a common ancestor, but there's been quite a bit of divergence by now.

But yes, the loss of EdgeHTML (following a few years after the loss of Presto) is a sad thing for the health of the web.

NetSurf has the most hope for becoming a new capable engine, but a lot of work still remains to get it to feature parity. I love how it performs on very constrained systems, though.

One thing the article doesn't mention is the effect of Apple's browser engine policy on iOS. Forcing everyone to use WebKit may be anticompetitive, but it's also the main thing keeping the Chrome/Blink monoculture at bay.

Yeah, I've started to grow conflicted on that too. I used to hate it because Safari was lagging behind so far and users couldn't switch, but it also forces web developers to test for interoperability with at least one other browser engine, making it more likely to work in others as well.

Safari has caught up a bit, luckily, but it'd be great if it would actually compete with other browsers on features. Unfortunately, I guess if Apple opened up iOS to other browser engines, it'd also compete against Google's marketing machine and reach.

I too wish Safari was better about feature parity, but I console myself with the fact that WebKit is significantly more power-efficient than Blink, which is extremely valuable in a battery-powered portable electronic device. Maybe not as important for a desktop computer, but even there using less CPU means the browser works better when my computer is under heavy load (such as when I'm compiling).

It's not. Apple enforces whatever rule they want on their OS

Microsoft nearly got broken up for a much weaker version of this sort of rule.

The only market Apple has a dominant market position in is Apple phones. In the US and many of the other richest countries, Apple is like Pepsi in terms of market share; in the rest of the world it's more like Dr. Pepper.

(Yes, I know this is the Jolt Cola of analogies, I will stick to cars in the future.)


Well, it's a shame then. They were doing nothing wrong

I downloaded an extension to spoof my user agent this morning, haven't tried doing much yet, but messages certainly seem to work and that's 99% of what I do anyway.

I don't know why I couldn't have be treated to a "this might not work 100% warning" instead of being completely locked out.

It's a top down decision, probably, and probably related to internal quality requirements of software and support.

Also possible (but unlikely) is that Firefox doesn't support some certain thing, the absence of which might corrupt some state or data (error handling ain't exactly a thing javascript land, unfortunately.

This is like a highway operator saying "You can only enter our highway with a ford or a fiat. We didn't take time to test if an opel can properly ride our highway, so opels are not allowed".

(Yeah I get it that they don't want to have people complaining that a niche corner case that was never tested in Firefox doesn't work. But this is a ridiculous way to do it.)

Not really - it's about the surface area of the interface. It's pretty easy to know if a car will work on a road - it needs tires and the ability to control it's own movement.

But if the road had thousands of different connections to the car, there certainly would need to be testing for each manufacturer.

> Also possible (but unlikely) is that Firefox doesn't support some certain thing, the absence of which might corrupt some state or data (error handling ain't exactly a thing javascript land, unfortunately.

Considering that it works with current Edge (which hasn't switched to Blink, yet), it's unlikely, as you say.

It's probably my plugin settings, but I regularly run into issues logging into random websites like for bank or credit cards on firefox. You input your credentials into the log in window, and absolutely nothing happens when you hit login. For these websites, I'm still shackled to chrome.

Great, but let's understand it's not going to tilt the scales. It's still going to count Chrome as the final winner since popularity is measured more by User Agent in visits, and less by download stats (atleast that's what I have seen so far, would be very happy to know otherwise).

I get a crash when I try to paste text in the chat, but it otherwise works. As an aside, it's wild seeing an "App has crashed and needs to reload" on a damn javascript application. You would think it would be able to recover and continue serving content.

Because anything less than "100% working" is considered a failure, and it might be a preventive measure to avoid bug reports or clueless user outrage.

And because, "accidentally", it cements the Chrome monopoly, at least in regard to Google web properties.

That can't be just a coincidence. "It Is Difficult to Get a Man to Understand Something When His Salary Depends Upon His Not Understanding It" and all that.

I don't think Microsoft is particularly happy about Chrome's dominance. It's more that they figured they're unable to make a dent there.

> It's more that they figured they're unable to make a dent there.

Considering how Microsoft has been shifting to support open platforms (I mean, .net now officially runs on linux and Microsoft even integrates Docker) my guess is that they decided to focus on core businesses and don't waste resources implementing redundant support infrastructure.

.NET runs on Linux because the developers are here.

I wonder why Skype for Web doesn't run in a browser on Linux, given how much 'Microsoft ️:heart: Linux'.

> .NET runs on Linux because the developers are here.

It's not that simple. The developers have always been there, but until recently Microsoft refused to even acknowledge that there were were platforms other than the Windows ecosystem.

I haven't tried, doesn't this work on Linux? https://preview.web.skype.com/ Worst case, after changing the user agent.

I’d buy that argument, except we are talking about Skype or Teams. More bugs in those products than an anthill.

If the government didn't step in microsoft might still have 90% of the browser market. I think its time they came in and forced google to not push chrome in android.

Google pays their bribes.

Microsoft didn't.

I was going to down-vote this, but then did some research into how much Alphabet and Microsoft spend on lobbying. In 2018:

Google spent $21.7M, all in the "Internet" industry. Microsoft spent ~$9.5M, and only $70k of that in "Internet." The rest went to "Electronics Mfg and Equipment."

Sources: https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D00006782... https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D00000011...

Compare it to what microsoft spent before their anti-trust lawsuits.

Yes true. The strongarming tactics of MS aren't referenced. While it brings up some interesting points, the entirety paints the common revisionist view that MS was crushed by Google on search alone, with no other mitigating factors. A fairy tale of sorts. Google would not have risen to anything if MS continued with it's anti-competitive and anti-trust practices that was the goto MS strategy for competition into the early 2000. It was baked into the MS culture. and common knowledge, maligned on message boards long after it had ceased. Under enacted US justice dept scrutiny, MS was forced to compete more fairly with superior talent and lower margins (aww no more predatory acquisitions). With a giant, inflexible infrastructure and rigid payscales, it was a slow imminent decline.

The entire reason why I switched to Firefox in 2003 was because of its superior user interface (tabbed browsing) and performance. Likewise, the reason I switched to Chrome in 2011 was because of performance, syncing, and auto-updating. For me, it was never about privacy, breaking monopolies on rendering engines, or open source. It was always a pragmatic decision based on what browser gave me the best experience.

Theres nothing pragmatic about not caring about privacy, monopolies and freedom.

All the more reason for any Linux distro maintainers to include Firefox as the default browser.

All the more reason not to use Skype. Much greater impact, surely

That too.

Isn't that what they already do?

Not all, I'm noticing a trend of including Chromium on the more niche distros like the Fedora spins (I noticed this about 1-2 years ago, the situation may have changed).

Not all. Many include WebKit based browsers (pretty much all except Firefox are, and Firefox is too heavy for many).

I also blame the Mozilla Corporation for that: including WebKit in your software is a piece of cake. So that's what the default browsers of GNOME/KDE/etc do. Gecko not so much (in fact, has there been any effort in this arena, after XULRunner was discontinued?)

Gnome is literally running using Firefox's technology

Please elaborate. I don't know any project embedding Gecko.

For Android at least they're working on https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/android-components/

Do you even listen to yourself before making these statements?

Linux desktop share = 1.3%

Of which 80% of users will use the browser they want to, irrespective of what is currently installed. So 20% of 1.5% = 0.26%

Fortunately firefox is not at a stage where they have to care about 0.26% usage share of worldwide desktop.

And I have rarely seen Linux distro maintainers acting in any bigger-sense-of-good or in technologically better solutions. They have their own favourites.

If firefox wants to succeed- it should ship default with uorigin, kills google and makes firefox snappier. Instant win. If I were making firefox- I'd also ship a power user edition with uMatrix enabled

Where's that "80%" from? I find it entirely believable, but where's it from?

"will" (I hope that word eliminates the possibility of a source ... :) )

At least in Germany, Firefox still has nearly 25% according to statcounter [0]. It has fallen (used to be at 30% last year), but it's still big.

[0]: http://gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share/desktop/germa...

I still test on Firefox because it has been my main browser since the Netscape days (pre-Firefox), but for most customers Chrome, Safari (on iOS) and IE 11 make the bulk of our RFPs browser acceptance matrix (in Germany).

According to GA, on our site, FF is the most used browser, followed by Chrome desktop. 3rd is Chrome mobile and then Safari mobile, tablet, desktop. Only after those, it's IE11 and then Edge. Uniting mobile, tablet and desktop still makes FF 3rd with a 6% lead on IE+Edge.

> Further, users who have tried changing their user-agent—the identification string, sent by browsers, that tells Web servers what version of which browser they are—have reported that much of the app works in both Safari and Firefox, with reports that even voice and video calls work in Firefox. It's not clear that everything works, and WebRTC is arguably persnickety enough that Microsoft would have to explicitly test and perhaps tweak its code to work in Firefox or Safari. But ultimately, none of this appears to be a fundamental tech issue.

Goes to show that companies will cut corners in silly ways whenever possible. Unless MS is called out on this repeatedly, it won't change. The noise needs to be louder on supporting Firefox (and other non-Chrome browsers). Otherwise everybody could lose.

"IE's hegemony presented an enormous challenge for the upstart Firefox browser, which was built to support Web standards rather than Microsoft's particular spin on those standards."

A bit of revisionist history here. Firefox, nee Phoenix, was a branch of Mozilla because its authors felt (correctly) Mozilla was too bloated. I remember 1-2 minute load times when trying to open Mozilla back in the day.

It's a slight simplification. The Mozilla Suite was "built to support Web standards rather than Microsoft's particular spin on these standards". Firefox/Phoenix/Firebird is the second generation Mozilla browser.

Which bit of the quote is revisionist?

What you're saying doesn't seem to contradict it?!?

I think GP interprets the quote as meaning that supporting standards was the primary goal of Firefox, rather than just something they did instead of supporting Microsoft's implementation.

That could make sense. Thanks.

You need around 70mb of sheer complexity to render a page fully correct and you need millions of dollars to build a competitor that would lose because level of complexity is increasing daily .By the time you cover what you thought the web was ,the most used browser chrome had already came up with more complexity to add to the web.Web sucks and this helps the monopoly.

What if some browser would exist that could render only 90% of pages fully correct, but would be twice as fast as Chrome and use 30% of memory?

I would use it and recommend it to people I know, as I already do. But how about no browser at all? How about I use my own video player to watch a file I received over network? We have essentially operating systems(web browsers) with pipelines, processes and sandboxing just to be completely ignored by websites which instead shove a message "install our app" down our throat.

Impossible. Look at what your memory usage in a browser goes to (about:memory). Most of it is DOM/JS, images, media, etc.: things that are used by well over 90% of pages.

I think Safari fits that mold pretty well. It often trades features for simplicity and resource efficiency.

You mean, Internet Explorer?

> twice as fast

I doubt it.

You just described my user experience with Brave.

Huh, is'nt Brave built on libChromium?

What doesn't Brave render correctly? (Asking out of curiosity, not provocation.)

I recently switched to brave because I'm tired of having to trust 5-10 extension authors who may or may not sell their extension one day (adblock had to fork to ublock iirc because of something like that). Most of what my extensions do is baked into brave, so its both idiot proof and requires less trust.

If Firefox sold a privacy version of Firefox, I'd buy (edit: ie, with my privacy features/extensions built in)

Then you have to trust Mozilla won't sell your data one day, and once they do, all your privacy tools need to be replaced at once. Except, there won't be any to switch to because there was no competion. Multiple competing, single-purpose, composable modules is best. It keeps the developers honest as long as the users call them out on any bad move they make, the second they make it. Too many users let Google slide on ever shitty move they've made and now here we are, again.

Indeed! The current practice where one has to install obscure software plugin from unknown author to make browser relatively complete is absurd. (download video? change default css? tweaking headers? this should be in the browser, period.) The paranoid would say this lack of basic power-user features is because it makes users compromise their security.

I would still like to know what kind of features are unavailable in Firefox to warrant a complete block on the browser. This would also help Firefox developers to implement them or fix the bugs. I mean I always see "Firefox does not implement all the features we need for our cutting edge web app" but I've yet to see anything more specific. Do any of you with more frontend experience care to comment?

A competent session manager. The old "Session Manager" died in the transition to Quantum, and several developers of quasi-replacements, who acknowledge they don't come very close to it, maintain a list of two dozen or more bugs and missing features compared to Chrome they need to do better, like Chrome's Session Buddy.

If I couldn't simply copy my entire configuration as I upgrade versions of Linux I'd be making a painful one time change completely to Chrome and Chromium, which I'd really rather avoid.

The bottom line is that Mozilla let Firefox's market share decline so much that the only two reasons people kept using it were it's not Chrome, and the extension ecosystem. Which is reported to have included a superior debugger, which indirectly made sure a lot of sites implicitly supported Firefox because they were developed using it.

Users don't give the slightest damn that keeping the old XPI ecosystem was hard, and had serious security issues. A huge number of extensions that they depended on have become roadkill on the information superhighway, even if some made the transition with significant changes. Making Firefox into an inferior version of Chrome means for most that the only reason to use it is that it's not Chrome.

While possibly valid criticisms, these all seem rather irrelevant to the comment you are replying to, which was asking about server-facing features, of the type whose absence would justify discriminating on the basis of user agent and not even attempting to run $FANCY_WEB_APP.

It just proves they keep breaking Skype updates, nothing new.

Kind of ironic coming from the people who gave us IE/EDGE, the browser with the most incompatibility issues.

One thing they got right, Linux/Firefox people are probably not their target audience so why bother. Especially after year of broken Skype updates in Linux. There are better alternatives now.

What's your best Skype alternative for non-techy people?

Discord is pretty good, although it's gaming focused so not ideal if you're looking for something professional.

I can come up with a list too, and many more sites have lists alternativeto.net and slant.co are my go-tos. The point of asking here is to get a thoughtful response with a genuine user preference from someone technically inclined; your comment really doesn't help.

I wish the open source world would wrap Blink into a usable browser product that doesn't have all the things we might not like about Chrome (or at least that allows a lot of settings for removing them and customizing it in ways that Google may not want to do with Chrome, because they don't think it is in their corporate interest).

It's a lot easier than building a whole browser from scratch. I salute what Mozilla is doing but I still don't want to use their browser because it just isn't as good, in my opinion. (Firefox also does't support the MIDIAccess API yet, which I need)

Obviously a lot of people agree that Chrome is better. I'm a lot more likely to use Microsoft's Blink browser than I was to use Microsoft's fully proprietary browser, but even better would be a fully open source, community steered "UnGoogled Chrome".

It exists: https://github.com/Eloston/ungoogled-chromium

The general concern about projects along these lines, e.g. IceWeasel, is that they won't keep up with security patches as quickly as the project it's forking. Maybe that's less of a concern here since they aren't trying to recreate an older version but are just tearing out some "phone home" calls and changing some defaults.

> they won't keep up with security patches as quickly as the project it's forking

And they often take a baby-with-the-bathwater approach to removing Google from the picture. For instance, that project completely disables Safe Browsing, requires a convoluted process to install extensions, and breaks automatic extension updates -- in each case, because the functionality depends on a Google-hosted service.

What is the purpose of removing Google from the browser, if you do not remove it from all parts of the browser? There only needs to be one automatic communication channel to Google to make such effort worthless.

I don't know. What is the purpose of removing Google from the browser? Is it to prevent specific types of tracking, or is it simply to erase Google's name from the project?

Personally my preferred approach would be to make a version that makes a ton of features optional, but if you want them, you can have them.

I would prefer not to contribute to Chrome's increasing dominance, but I feel like I don't get much of a choice. I want to choose a browser on its merits. For me that is currently Vivaldi. Where is the Firefox-based Vivaldi equivalent?

Mozilla does not really seem to be addressing the fact that they provide one browser - Firefox - that is competing against an increasing array of Chrome-based browsers, all providing different user experiences. Why has no one built an interesting browser on top of Firefox?

It stands to reason that Chrome cannot be all things to all people. Neither can Firefox. The difference is that alternative browsers are increasingly Chrome-based, with the single exception of Firefox. Unless Mozilla (or someone else) can reverse this trend, I think this battle is lost.

Oh the irony to hear Microsoft complaining about browser monopolies. Somewhat akin to their "embracing Linux" posturing whilst perpetuating their Linux patent racket. Remember this - Microsoft only embraces open standards as a last resort.

Microsoft isn't complaining... Edge is moving to Blink/Chromium even.

I never left Firefox. Not even in the first bright days of Chrome. I have both installed, but my daily use is in FF.

I use FF and duckduckgo. I spend a lot of time on the web and i cannot complain about anything... I only use chrome for web development and google for SEO optimization...

Over my dead body.

You better arrange for your suicide, because it seems inevitable. The terrible mismanagement of the Mozilla Corporation is to blame.

Mismanagement : could you give some details ? I was under the impression that mozilla was doing quite amazing things on the contrary : keeping firefox the only really usable alternative to chrome (when even microsoft didn't manage to do it), and even innovating in PL space with Rust.

What do you think they should have done differently ?

They made the same mistake IE made: around Firefox 3, they allowed their browser to become terribly slow, and so Chrome ate their lunch. Because let's be honest, Chrome was and still is so much faster than Firefox, and that's why they won. You could argue that Chrome has infinite ad budget, and that obviously helps, but I'm a Google hater and I'd gladly use Firefox if it was better or at least on par with Chrome, but it's not.

I understand fixing something like that takes a lot of effort, but they lost a lot of time and money in projects that had no chance of working out, such as FirefoxOS (really? making an entire OS using the slowest browser engine that there is on the cheapest ARM hardware they could find?), Hello, Persona, etc. They also abandoned Thunderbird, which I will never forgive, the same way I will never forgive Google for abandoning Reader. Servo is a nice project but the chances it will be abandoned after years in development are over the roof.

So now they are focused on their privacy improvements, but they can't stop shooting themselves in the foot (sending your browsing history to the advertisement company Cliqz, remotely installing an addon to advertise the Mr. Robot show, installing Pocket by default...)

Then, if it is slower, and they don't seem to be able to take my privacy seriously despite their claims to the contrary, why in hell should I use Firefox?

I don't think it's fair to point how mozilla didn't succeed on their projects such as Firefox OS, Hello and Persona.

Every tech company has failed projects, you can't blame them for trying.

Look at Google: google wave, google plus, google buzz, their clusterfuck of IM / phone calls.

I mean knock yourself out, there's a whole list here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Google_products#Discon...

My point being, Mozilla has to try to innovate, and they have to try these projects. They're being reproached that some failed, but no one is questioning Rust now that it's taking off...

They're also one of the founders of LetsEncrypt, maintain MDN, etc.

Furthermore, one time long ago, Mozilla might have thought they didn't need to build a mobile browser, and focus on their main product: Firefox for Desktop.

Next thing you know, Firefox is completely irrelevant on what's becoming the dominant computing platform.

I don't know whether VR/AR or IoT will be a thing, and I'm sure that they will be criticised for their projects there when they don't, but I'm certainly glad they're at least trying to make those open platforms - just in case they do become mainstream.

Good grief. I use Chrome, Firefox, and Safari across Mac, Windows, and Linux. None of them make me think, "Oh wow, this is so 'slow' that I'm going to switch." Is there some objective rating which compares this, and shows Chrome is faster than all competition in every situation? I've just Googled this (ha!) and it would seem that different rendering engines optimize for different things, and there's no clear winner. But plenty of sites want to tell me that Chrome is "the best," so I got that going for me.

Hey, Cliqz employee here. I'd like to clarify a few things since I don't think your comment is accurate.

1. Cliqz is not an advertising company, it's a search company and we push hard for privacy protection in everything we do (private search, antitracking, adblocking, etc.) 2. Privacy policies are legally binding, and in ours we state that no personal data is collected. We designed our features and products to not require collection of any private data (that includes our search engine). 3. I'd like to point out that in Firefox, by default, your queries are sent to advertising company Google. So I don't understand all the heat when Mozilla tries to find more privacy-friendly alternatives to Google. In this case, they replaced Google by Cliqz (again, an independent German search company focusing on privacy, building its own index: no Bing results involved) in Germany, for 1% of the users. That seems to perfectly fit in Mozilla's mission of protecting users' privacy.

1st, Cliqz is majority-owned by Hubert Burda Media, an advertising and media company. You don't set the fox to guard the henhouse.

2nd, sending the user's complete browsing history to a 3rd party which is owned by an advertising and media company without telling the user was a terrible idea. It's simply mismanagement by the Mozilla Corporation.


>This experiment also includes the data collection tool Cliqz uses to build its recommendation engine. Users who receive a version of Firefox with Cliqz will have their browsing activity sent to Cliqz servers, including the URLs of pages they visit.

Fortunately for our users, the way our technology was communicated by Mozilla is not accurate. Cliqz has never collected the "complete browser history" of any of our users (and it's the last thing we want to do). We have some data collection in place and it is limited to collected anonymous information about search results found on SERP page. If you want to know more about how we do it without putting user privacy at risk, feel free to read this document: https://gist.github.com/solso/423a1104a9e3c1e3b8d7c9ca14e885...

Is there something a person could do to objectively settle the disagreeing statements about what Cliqz was sent? Your document there is impressive, but Firefox was fairly explicit in its statement. We're in a case of he said she said

I enjoyed the read BTW, somebody put some real time into that sort of system

How does Cliqz make money?

FWIW it sounds [#] exactly like a scummy advertising company - I'd address that if the company is not getting revenue through placements or advertising at all.

I notice you said your products are designed to not require private data collection; presumably that means they do it, but could in theory work without doing it. That comes across as weasel words.

# Edit: I mean the name, I don't know the company.

> How does Cliqz make money?

We're currently proposing a mix of client-side private offers (not unlike Brave) and paid products (e.g.: Ghostery premium, and more are being worked on as we speak). Users should have a choice.

> I notice you said your products are designed to not require private data collection; presumably that means they do it, but could in theory work without doing it. That comes across as weasel words.

No. That means that we do not collect personal data. And being able to do so took (and still takes) a lot of research and careful design.

>client-side private offers

What's that mean, it sounds like you mean "advertising with discounts in?", not sure what "offers" means if that's not it?

Brave browser has advertising, so it sounds like you're saying your income _will_ come from ads?

That's not an awful thing, so it's weird you're not up front about it??

Since it was literally the first thing I said in my answer, I consider it pretty up-front. I'm happy to give you more details about it since you seem interested. The basic idea is this:

1. All clients download a database of offers locally (they are basically vouchers, we call them offers because they have the potential to make users save money).

2. While browsing with this feature enabled, URLs of pages as well as some other information accessible locally are processed by the extension which tries to detect the intent of buying something online.

3. When an intent corresponding to one of the items in the local database is found, an offer is shown with a coupon that can be used to save money.

What sets it apart from ads in my opinion is that everything happens client-side and that the offer is only shown when there is a clear intent to buy something (instead of all pages with traditional ads). This means that users will actually see very few of them, but that they should be very relevant and useful (you save money).

This seems similar to how Firefox Directory Tiles worked, except when/where the ad was presented to the user (new tab page in the FF DT instance). I thought it was a good idea, and I'm pretty skeptical of advertising (tax ads is my preference). I don't think trying to call it not ads gets you anywhere though, other than lost credibility.

"Privacy policies are legally binding, and in ours we state that no personal data is collected."

Are you audited by any independent, respected privacy watchdog organizations to make sure that you're adhering to your published policies?

If not, how can I be sure that you're doing what you say you are?

Also, even ostensibly non-personally-identifying data can be de-anonymized.[1]

The only way to be sure that your data can't be used against you is for it not to be collected in the first place.


Wow, someone from Cliqz! I always wondered: hasn't your company name been tainted too much? It might be because of the circles I'm in, but Cliqz has become synonymous with "privacy invasion", and though I know it's often misrepresented, that's some bad branding for a company focused on selling privacy tools. Is this seen as a problem internally?

Hi, due to few factually incorrect posts, Cliqz is often seen as a privacy invasive tool (at least in some circles), on the contrary we care a lot about users' privacy and continuously develop technologies to help users and other developers adopt privacy by design. Yes, this is sometimes seen as a problem internally and it's very disheartening when people label the products without actually taking a look at what it's doing. There are a lot of people at Cliqz who care very deeply about privacy and we put a lot of hard work into what we do, to make sure it's done right. But as long as we get a chance to explain and discuss what we are doing and why, it is not "too tainted".

Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope you do actually manage to improve our privacy :)

Actually there is no proof showing Chrome works more efficiently than Firefox, especially provided with same computer resources. BTW, Thunderbird is restarted.

Proof? I don't know, but anecdotally... My late 2013 Macbook Pro Retina is still my work machine, I attach it to two screens, one of which is a 4K screen. Firefox struggles to play embedded video on that screen. Chrome does not. FF also seems to have a lot of weird copy/paste issues with the Slack web client and Jira.

I really don't want to use chrome but FF ended up annoying me so much I went back to it.

(Safari almost worked... but the outlook webmail we use didn't play well, and with safari I had to refresh and re-login every hour or so, rather than daily on other browsers)

If this sort of experience is true for most users, then it's bad.

If it did I'd still be using it. I've always seen this UI lag with Firefox (on macOS) so while I'd love to support them to prevent a monoculture, I get worse performance and no obvious benefits out of the switch.

(Sure, "not Google" but I can also just use Safari.)

I really think Firefox's performance is better than what you're alluding.

On Google properties Chrome is noticeably faster. Everywhere else, I'd wager Firefox is faster and less resource hungry.

on my rMBP 13 late 2013, im on safari > ff > chr.

Safari works pretty OK with G properties, except offline editing of docs

I switched about a month ago and I honestly couldn't tell a difference. The only thing people have to get over with Firefox is the browser controls and settings.

> Hello

That was an experimental, lightweight Skype alternative, that didn't take too much effort to build beyond introducing WebRTC into Gecko (which they had to do anyway) and which probably helped them iron out bugs in Gecko's WebRTC implementation. Also, for the record, when I used it, it worked mostly fine.

> Persona

It worked, but almost nobody used it (you could argue that that is "not working out" from a social, if not technical point of view).

> They also abandoned Thunderbird, which I will never forgive

They didn't abandon it. They transferred it into other people's caring hands. They still provide some support for it under the Mozilla umbrella and they still coordinate (to some extent) with Thunderbird's current developers when modifying the common base Firefox and Thunderbird depend on.

> Cliqz

Partially true, if rather overblown. It affected a tiny number of people (~ 1 % of new users, in only one country), the data was anonymised and the code running on the server to which the data was sent was FOSS, though obviously there's no definitive proof that Cliqz didn't substitute it with malicious code. It was an order of magnitude less bad than what Google always does and considering that the point was to build an alternative to Google search, if it had worked out, it would have been a massive privacy gain. The most disappointing part was it being opt-out, not opt-in, for the randomly selected users.

> remotely installing an addon to advertise the Mr. Robot show

That was a very silly (and stupid) gimmick, but it didn't invade your privacy.

> installing Pocket by default

Having Pocket installed by default is not a privacy violation, even if it is slight bloat-ware.

When was the last time you checked/researched whether or not chrome is faster?


My 'synthetic benchmark' right now is FF with a few hundred tabs open in front of me. It works like a charm.

What do you have, like 32G of RAM, 16 cores, app running from an SSD, Gb network, etc.. :oP

ABP, umatrix, 16G, spinning rust, first gen i7. FF does take about 10G right now (Linux), so it is not exactly super efficient but given the amount of windows and tabs open I really can't complain.

If you run an adblocker, you don't need any of that.

I remember reading [0] the opposite on here, though I don't know myself if it's true.

Anecdotally I get the tab opening/closing lag often in Chrome, but not Firefox

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18654540

While actually many versions before, like 58 or some, Firefox has released a impressive update that brought a entirely new way to play many tabs. Their experiment is that they can open over a thousand tabs in several seconds.

FF is good on my mobile. I use it as well as Brave. On my laptop I use mostly Chrome and sometimes FF.

I'd imagine Apple will team up with Mozilla, so we would have two major browser engines.

They have made some weird decisions to include some marketing campaigns into Firefox once, and I believe the whole Pocket thing didn’t land well with many of their users.

How is Mozilla responsible for the actions of Microsoft? The reason why Microsoft abandoned their own engine is because they can't keep up with whatever chrome does. Firefox was never a choice because then they'd be stuck with turning a 10% marketshare engine into a 20% marketshare engine rather than making the 60% marketshare engine a 70% marketshare engine.

They are stuck with such low marketshare because their browser was way slower than chrome. They were in the market before google, but they didn't make the right investments.

Also electron is already not using Mozilla technology and that was a major factor

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