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Google to restrict modern ad blocking Chrome extensions to enterprise users (9to5google.com)
2093 points by estranhosidade 28 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 877 comments



From the author of uBlock on this:

What we see are the public statements, for public consumption, they are designed to "sell" the changes to the wider public. What we do not see is what is being said in private meetings by officers who get to decide how to optimize the business. So we have to judge not by what is said for public consumption purpose, but by what in effect is being done, or what they plan to do.

This is how personally I see the deprecation of the blocking ability of the webRequest API in manifest v3:

In order for Google Chrome to reach its current user base, it had to support content blockers -- these are the top most popular extensions for any browser. Google strategy has been to find the optimal point between the two goals of growing the user base of Google Chrome and preventing content blockers from harming its business.

The blocking ability of the webRequest API caused Google to yield control of content blocking to content blockers. Now that Google Chrome is the dominant browser, it is in a better position to shift the optimal point between the two goals which benefits Google's primary business.

The deprecation of the blocking ability of the webRequest API is to gain back this control, and to further now instrument and report how web pages are filtered since now the exact filters which are applied to web page is information which will be collectable by Google Chrome.

https://github.com/uBlockOrigin/uBlock-issues/issues/338#iss...


Indeed, almost the entire ad-blocking market is controlled by the company behind Adblock Plus (eyeo GmbH), who has contracts with Google. It appears they also own AdBlock, and uBlock (not confused with uBO), so during the last years they basically tried to capture the entire market. The fact that Eyeo has >150 employees tells us something about the amount of money to be made from ad blocking. Although they have only published the numbers from 2016, it seems they are quickly approaching around €50 million yearly revenue, with almost 50% of pure profit. For Google this Acceptable Ads Program may be more than a 100 million dollar business.

The only real nuisance is uBO and the future possibility that someone comes along and uses Google's own software to eliminate their core business model.

Basically in this entire environment if an extension does not take part in extracting money out of people, it becomes a problem for most parties involved.

Someone at Google in the higher ups probably realized at one point that giving the user so much freedom and control could theoretically backfire enourmously.

Google indirectly controls ABP, but they want the ABP model to apply to all blockers, so that they both get money from non-blocking users as well as from blocking-users.

In the perfect world of Google content-blocking does not exist beyond mere visual ad-blocking of the most annoying ads.

ABP already allows cookies and network connections, so google still knows everything about those users.

Personally I use a combination of pi-hole, third-party cookie blocking and uBO, which takes care of basically all cross-site tracking. But when I recently had a look at another system of someone who uses ABP I noticed that the blocking really is only visual, theres still a profile that is being sold to data brokers, you just don't see the stuff they recommend to you.

The default settings of ABP are also extremely anti-user.

ABP/Eyeo is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

uBO users on the other hand are basically invisible to the survaillance capitalists.


This is why it’s so unfortunate and frustrating that people are depending so much on Chromium/Blink. Electron, various browsers that are just skins over the embedded framework...

We were still dealing with legacy IE6 (and IE 7/8 by that point also) in 2013! Almost a decade since we got Firefox and the first version of Chrome.

The web has empirically suffered through homogeneity and the lack of strong competitors in the browser space, not helped by the underlying HTML/JS spec becoming exponentially more convoluted to the point where building your own renderer is nigh impossible.

And since everyone is standardising on a Google, their decisions on ad blocking and supporting APIs are automatically going to flow down into every dependent product.

It’s frustrating that MS copped out and went Chromium. Like we never learned this lesson the first time.

We still have WebKit and Firefox and (sooner or later), more of Servo at least. These need to be protected if we don’t want Google and the ad network to totally control the browsing experience.

Although, controversially, we as a web dev collective have learned nothing if we continue to only develop for a single browser. Not for the web itself, but for one particular rendering engine. “Only works in Chrome,” is poor engineering for anything more than a prototype or proof of concept.


Why do people act like this is all some great big accident, the result of eternal human fallibility?

It's not. This was planned. It was the objective all along. Why else do you think Google Maps is free? Gmail? Why did they drive around 1,000s of cities with cameras on a car taking photos for Street View? Was it really just to become the world's most comprehensive search engine? Hell no, it was to get people into the ecosystem and to stay there, and be content with doing so. Just think how much money and manpower went into each of those free products we take for granted, not the least of which includes the Google search engine; now think about how they make so much money off your attention that they can offer it free of charge, because sucking you into the ecosystem is just that profitable.

Chrome is the same thing. Why would a for-profit company develop a web browser more or less unprompted and give it away for free? To draw people into the system and get them comfortable with staying there. Now that they have monopoly power, they can start tightening their grip with the good old embrace, extend, extinguish.

Google isn't unique in this. Similar arguments could be made about Facebook.

To be sure, Google and Facebook have produced tremendous advances in science and technology. But let's not forget what funded them, or why they were developed in the first place. Lest we forget why these things play out the way they do.


> Was it really just to become the world's most comprehensive search engine? Hell no, it was to get people into the ecosystem and to stay there, and be content with doing so.

>Chrome is the same thing. Why would a for-profit company develop a web browser more or less unprompted and give it away for free? To draw people into the system and get them comfortable with staying there.

I think you're giving them too much credit, bordering on a conspiracy theory. There's no way they knew all of this would happen and that they would now be in the position to dictate the plug-ins we use.

I'm not saying they didn't want that and they are not happy to be in this position.

What I'm saying is that their initial plan with Gmail/maps/chrome was to gather more data and give themselves the competitive advantage in the ad selling business. If you remember, when most of these products started they looked nothing like each other, quite telling that there was no central plan to create an ecosystem.

The ecosystem idea started much later, with the failed attempts to make social network and with the not-so-failed Google Now which is when they finally started bringing all the data they had together.

Surely they took advantage of their position eventually and managed both to create an ecosystem and to successfully lock people in, but that doesn't mean that they planned it since 2003.


> I think you're giving them too much credit, bordering on a conspiracy theory. There's no way they knew all of this would happen and that they would now be in the position to dictate the plug-ins we use.

Think about it. The time when Chrome came around, Firefox was poised to become the dominant player in the market, barring Safari, which was big on mobile but small on traditional desktops. To some extent, Mozilla depended on Google's money, but was still an independent body, and I suspect, Google came to the conclusion that Mozilla could thrive without their money.

I would not rule out the possibility that their top management decided that it'd be better to have another, Google controlled browser in the market, just in case.

So the Idea would have to be there, to have another browser in the market, just so to make life tough for Mozilla. And being nerds, their engineers put focus on speed, performance, etc.

And Google put a lot of money into the Chrome branding. I remember seeing ad's for Chrome, on huge banners, on prime real-estate in Indian tier-2 cities. Nobody does that sort of advertising, just to get people to use their browser.

Google's thought process absolutely involved the concept of getting people into their eco-system and keeping them there.

May not be a 'conspiracy', but definitely wasn't simply "Hey lets build a great browser, just because we love technology and we can do it"

The ad-Blocker market blew up in response to privacy concerns. And it directly threatens Google's revenue bread and butter, Ads and data collection. Google will fight till death to maintain the status quo, disable any meaningful ad-blocking software. Even if it means risking being a monopoly and paying fines. Even if it means it gets branded as evil.


Alternate motivation: People stay engaged on the web more when pages are faster. One thing that makes pages faster is a faster browser. When people stay engaged on the web more, Google makes more money. Chrome's initial big selling point was being faster.

Disclaimer: ex-googler.


The core motivation wasn't speed -- it was ads. Chrome was designed to send people to Google Search instead of websites. The address bar auto-completion in Firefox would always suggest actual URLs, but Chrome's would send people to Google Search to click on ads on the way to their desired destinations. The ads started to become camouflaged so that most users couldn't tell them from organic results, and Google continued to make the ads harder to distinguish over time. I'm sure that Google also had long-term worries about ad-blocking and wanted to control the browser.

"We just want to make the Web faster" is what they tell their employees so that otherwise ethical people will write code that does unethical things. (AMP/portals is another example.)


> The core motivation wasn't speed -- it was ads

Or also, faster ads. The explanation that faster web better compete with native apps and make for better revenue.

(I agree that it is likely not the only factor, but it a reasonable one)


As pointed out by another reply to your comment, Chrome was about pulling the users into googles ecoststem. By combining search bar with address bar, it blurred the line between a google search and a web address.

Just like Facebook, with its free basics internet deals with mobile providers in emerging markets, sought to confuse people into thinking Facebook is the internet, Google also sought to confuse people to think Google is the internet.


The investment in speed and other user benefits was a loss-leader for the goal of increased control. The speed and other benefits were indeed a net positive for users (and motivated Mozilla to focus on performance in Firefox) but they were investment made for payoff.

You've said it yourself: "the big selling point was being faster."

And yes, there is obviously some marginal value for Google in simply making web experience as fast as possible because it keeps people using the web. But that extended web use is of no good to them if users are doing so at non-Google properties that don't see Google ads, so it seems implausible that control was not a key motivator.


> That extended web use is of no good to them if users are doing so at non-Google properties

Extended web use is often punctuated by google searches, even if a lot of the engagement happens on non-Google properties. If slowness causes people to get bored and go do something else, Google suffers.


I agree with everything but Safari was never a contender for the status of "standard" browser. It's a browser limited to a single vendor platform and a relatively small one, expecially on the desktop. Apple never had plans to move it anywhere else, with the exception of an aborted version for Windows XP more than 10 years ago.


I thought Safari for Windows was a thing for a while? Never really took off but I think it existed



Google was frustrated giving Mozilla tens of millions of dollars and all they saw was that Mozilla was dicking around with the UI. And every year Firefox got slower. By losing the browser wars, the Google business model could be put to death. There were efforts to make chrome faster and more portable but that wasn't the main idea.

Google considers itself the ultimate place for programming on Earth. The open Java reimplementation, the state of the art just-in-time compiler (I know the designer), and Octane and extension architecture were imho the main reason to take over the browser platform. Microsoft dominated PC programming. Google would dominate Internet programming. This is why they started the chrome team and de-funded Firefox.

disclaimer: ex-Googler 2013-2018


>Was it really just to become the world's most comprehensive search engine? Hell no

Many around these parts still believe this, and that Facebook is trying to connect everyone, and that Tesla wants to accelerate renewable energy. Such altruism!


It's the never ending cycle, they will start to tighten the grip and other options will pop up with time, people need to learn that losing a bit of convenience is not the end of the world.


Regarding those "why"s: both of these companies are in my opinion outsourced Total Information Awareness projects.

This is not "surveillance capitalism". It is surveillance in guise of capitalism.


Bingo. Deanonymize the majority of users to the point where only privacy activists, power users, and grey/blackhatters are running adblockers, compile a comprehensive list of such users, and then either find another way to track them or straight up ban adblockers because "only the bad guys use them, what do you have to hide?"

Their concern about losing the ability to "personalize" ads smacks of NSA/GCHQ concern that they can't reliably track X percent of the population (UBO/pihole/etc users). Sure, Google makes a ton of money from ads, but with their stranglehold on the search, mobile, navigation, and video markets, do they really need to make such a controversial change just to squeeze a few extra million a year out of Ads?

No. There's plenty of other ways to make money for their business, there aren't many other ways to remain in good standing with and funded by the surveillance state. There's something else at play here.


This is compelling, but possibly too charitable to the ad tech industry. Google isn't a hapless vassal of the surveillance state. They make a fuckton of money off of your attention.


It's more or less just capitalism in the tech era.

Google became 'evil' as soon as it realised that exploiting user data was the route to profit. We live in the information age - any for-profit business is going to pursue that which makes it the most profit.

Since most people are used to the idea of online services being 'free' - they got used to the relationship imbalance, and few companies ever really inform their users about exactly how much value their usage produces.

The surveillance aspect is definitely real - but I suspect it emerged over time as Google was forced to work with law enforcement, security services etc as its reach and power grew.


"because sucking you into the ecosystem is just that profitable."

Nevertheless, they offer good products. I'm not sure the negativity is really warranted.

I've yet to hear about a case of anybody being hurt by Google collecting data to them and serving ads?


Just Google it! ... oh wait. (See the problem yet? For a significant part of the world, Google is Internet, or at least keeper of all the gates)


So you claim that there are many people who have been hurt by Google's data collection, but Google has censored their cases away?

Can't you find them with Bing?

Give an example!

It's a problem if Google bans your account, and you built everything on your services. But that is not the same thing, and any other company banning you from doing business with them would also hurt.


You hear about it all the time, you just don't (or choose not to) recognize it as hurt.


Can you give a specific example?


If it doesn't work in Firefox I don't use it. I've been using Firefox for as long as I can remember, probably shortly after it was made and Netscape died. And would never use Chrome. Chrome users are now going to be betrayed and just didn't see it coming. I look forward to Firefox' upcoming rebound which I have every faith this news will spur on.


I came back to Firefox a while back - maybe a year or two? - and have never regretted it. It's a fast, modern, respectful browser. Maintained by a non-profit. I do all my front-end dev work in Firefox, and also test in Chrome. Never had a problem. Come on back folks!


My experience exactly. The dev tools have caught up to chrome and in some ways surpassed it.


The only thing I miss is the ease which you can create and use different profiles in Chrome. Facilitates testing web apps. Firefox's support of multiple profiles is kludgy.


This is funny - because I actually resisted switching to Chrome initially because it didn’t support multiple profiles at all.

FWIW, I find Firefox’s support for multiple profiles fine - it just requires the -P argument, which you can wrap up in a shortcut or launcher script. (On Windows, add -no-remote to force a new instance to launch). -P takes an optional profile name, so you can add it to your scripts to auto-launch a Firefox with a particular profile preloaded.

Sure, it could use a proper UI, but if enough people clamour for it I’m sure that can get added. The fundamental support for multiple profiles is quite good.


Have you tried firefox's container extension? A more light weight, but easy to use separation of "profiles"


No, this suggestion is wrong. I looked into using FF containers as a chrome profiles replacement and they’re not the same thing at all. I can dig up my notes if you like, I think they’re posted on HN in fact. FF has true profiles and those are what you’d use.

I agree with GP. Chrome profiles are what’s stopped me switching to FF.


It does depend on exactly why you want profiles -- for my use cases, Multi-Account Containers (and Temporary Containers) do a much better job of helping me achieve what I want to do than either browser's implementation of profiles.


I maintain that it is a widely-propagated misconception that Firefox containers can be used to replace Chrome profiles. Here are my notes from when I investigated:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15688651

I went deeply into trying to use containers as a profile replacement, replacing Chrome with the new Firefox beta for one month, and I can report that it is not the right direction to go in:

- New tabs do not inherit current container

- No way to make Ctrl-T do this by customization (I investigated extensions (can't remap Ctrl-T) and even system-wide Ctrl-T remapping with Karibiner; neither gives you what you want)

- History is shared across containers. So e.g. work URLs mixed up with personal. That's contra to one of the main purposes of Profiles.

- External applications do not open a tab in the current container. So e.g. clicking in a link in work slack will fail because it will not open in a tab which has work cookies / google account etc.

Evidently Containers are not designed as a Profile replacement. I'm not sure what they are for but I don't think it's a need that I have.

As I understand it using the long-standing Firefox profiles feature is the way to go, but personally I switched back to Chrome after a month of the new Firefox Beta because of the convenience of Chrome profiles. I should try Firefox profiles, but I exhausted my experimentation energy on Containers.


You're right about the limits of containers. When I'm browsing normally, the default is not to be logged into Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Things like my "Gmail this" bookmark fail because I set up Gmail in its own container.

However, I find it very useful to have specific containers for Facebook, banking, other social networks, most of my gmail accounts, etc. So I can be doing stuff for my son's soccer club's email without it affecting my own gmail.

I think of containers as a user tool. It seems like profiles are more of a developer tool.


> So I can be doing stuff for my son's soccer club's email without it affecting my own gmail.

In Chrome you could click on the profile icon in the top right and add a profile "Son's soccer club", and I believe that would also prevent it affecting your Gmail, etc.

> I think of containers as a user tool. It seems like profiles are more of a developer tool.

In Firefox, yes it seems like it. But not in Chrome. The point I'm trying to make (if by any chance there are Firefox people listening!) is that Firefox would benefit from making their hidden profile feature easily available to users, as Chrome does. But then they'd have the confusion of containers vs profiles, so it seems that they should just make containers behave like Chrome's profiles. But Firefox has Profiles! So why did they introduce Containers? IOW it honestly seems like they've made a mess there and the Firefox would be improved by fixing that mess.


I suppose a corollary of that is that Profiles are a poor substitute for Containers. And Containers largely match what I actually want to do, which is to have a shared history while being able to split out certain login (or cache) contexts, without needing a separate window.


Have you tried navigating to `about:profiles`? That’s how I switch between profiles. Works just fine IMO.


The “workspace” and “blackbox script” features in Chrome devTools are real paradigm shifters and a huge productivity boost for me when developing/debugging in JS/TS or SCSS/CSS. With Workspaces, most changes to source files are reflected immediately without reloading (no LiveReload-type tooling is needed).

Firefox has yet to release either of those features, as far as I know. I’ll switch dev browsers as soon as they do.


There will always be a trinket to keep you on the plantation.


This is more like the GPS guidance on modern, DRM’ed tractors than trinkets given to plantation slaves.

It’s not integral to my work, but it does contribute significantly to my productivity.


Chrome's audit (Google Lighthouse) is good.


Something I miss in Firefox, is that the webextensions `management` api does not allow to toggle off/on extensions other than themes. It's no secret that some of the most popular browser extensions require a wide range of permissions to work, while being useful only occasionally. This restriction prevents to have on Firefox a quick toggler without leaving the page like (author here) https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/extension-manager/...


I switched to Chrome the same day the beta was released mostly because of the speed. Nowadays I stay because I keep my passwords synced over my Google Account and I'm not sure if Firefox works with that.


More vendor lock-in. I keep my passwords in bitwarden, which has extensions for both firefox and chrome


I use lastpass which works well on my phone too.


Regarding speed: Firefox will soon switch to a new rendering engine, WebRender. It's at least as fast as Chrome's. Then Chrome's speed advantage should disappear.


Firefox has its own service to do that and it works well. I don't know if you can migrate your passwords easily though.


Did that years ago when I switched back when Quantum came back; Firefox still has the good old venerable "import passwords from another browser" functionality. You just need to have your passwords sync'd to a local install of Chrome and Firefox can read them all and sync them with FF Sync (which does not force you to use Mozilla servers, btw; you may host your own server for max privacy).


It's not just their service. You can run self-hosted service for sync [0] and fully control it. From privacy point of view that's far more interesting than any other solutions I've seen.

[0]: https://mozilla-services.readthedocs.io/en/latest/howtos/run...


I've been doing this for a while but the part I haven't managed to solve is that using your own sync server on Firefox for ios seems to require you to also run your own Firefox accounts server - which is much more painful to set up. Is there a similar easy guide for setting that up?


Try this one: https://mozilla-services.readthedocs.io/en/latest/howtos/run... It's not as detailed as for sync, but has all the links to very detailed guides (even for a docker-based one). Hopefully it helps.

upd: typo


The way I have switched password managers is to run both for awhile. Overtime you move the ones you need. Eventually if you leave a couple behind you can always reset them in the new browser/manager. It's not as big of a pain as it looks going in.


Sure it does. I keep my passwords synchronized with a Firefox account through my Windows, Linux and Android devices. Works like a charm. I won't trust google to keep them.


That is the second most important thing why I'm using Firefox, I sync my passwords via my own instance of the sync server https://jeena.net/firefox-sync-15. I don't even trust Mozilla not to do something stupid with my passwords (by accident) and Firefox was always the only browser which allowed to use your own sync solution.


I think I'm gonna switch now, too.


Same here, once I started using Firefox in the late 2000s I never needed anything else. Even when Chrome was the new hotness, I never considered their speed benefits beneficial enough to abandon the privacy-conscious, open-source player I grew to love. Admittedly, I even contributed to their Fire Stick project on Kickstarter and don't feel even a little disappointed that they couldn't deliver.

I never needed anything more than a kick-ass web browser.


Firefox plugins are signed and quite tightly controlled, very easily blocked or banned for business or political reasons.

While there are workarounds to install/run plugins locally, they have been made quite inconvenient and inaccessible to the average user, as seen a few weeks ago with the expired certificate incident


But doesn't Firefox require that godawful add-on signing?


Sadly yes, but the alternative is a browser that trackers you and that allows ads to also track you.


By default that's what FF does too, that's presumably what Google pay Mozilla hundreds of millions for.


Yes, but so does Chrome.

In that regard, Firefox is not a worse option, just equally suboptimal.


It does? But I'm using add ons that I made on Chrome that I haven't registered or signed anywhere. I thought Firefox disallows that?


Signing is pretty important. Without signing anybody could surreptitiously replace your addon with something else.


How so? Either they already have access to my computer, in which case browser addons are the least of my concerns, or they've compromised Mozilla in some way in which case who's to say they can't sign their fake addon too?


But it also means that I can't have an add on that Mozilla doesn't sign, right?


Only if they have local access. In which case, I’ve already lost.


The Developer Edition of Firefox allows one to turn off the add-on signing requirement.


Firefox are bankrolled by Google, and seem to make changes according to that relationship.

FF seems to be "still give your data to Google" (or other partners we force install for you) but for people who have realised that Chrome is "give all your data to Google".


I ditched Chrome and came back to Firefox, next step is to donate to Mozilla.


Note that charitable donations (of the 501(c)(3) variety) in the U.S. can only be employed for a very specific whitelist of purposes, and software development and marketing are not among those (the Mozilla Foundation uses donations to fund things like education programs instead). If you're a software developer who's interested in the health of Firefox specifically, consider instead donating your time by volunteering (not limited merely to Mozilla or Firefox; there are dozens of open-source projects whose development directly or indirectly ends up benefiting Firefox).


The Mozilla Foundation's education programs and the dozens of other things they do are actually worthwhile enough to justify donations, IMO.


I'm told that this is incorrect and that the FSF has been doing it for 34 years, the EFF does it, the ACLU has done it and others have even paid for proprietary software development (their apps etc).


Is there a good starting point for this? Or like a "Getting started" page?


Yep, I'm about to ditch Chrome altogether now. I gritted my teeth and just handled a few of the more bone-headed changes the Chrome team made, but this latest change is a deal breaker.

The truth is, I actually don't need Chrome for anything. Firefox is faster now, gives me more freedom and has less corporate affiliations. I'll stick with Mozilla.


> Yep, I'm about to ditch Chrome altogether now.

I keep seeing people write stuff like this, and I just don’t get it.

What’s keeping you? Why haven’t you switched already? I mean... it takes minutes at most.


I tend to have to use it at work. The reason I haven't shifted at work is a ridiculous one really - it's the way you can tear off tabs and move them to another screen - it doesn't tear the same way as Chrome. Like I say, ridiculous.


I've used this exact feature on firefox for years


How do you get it to tear off and show the whole window while you are moving it? I would love that, then I'd literally switch in no time flat.


Drag the tab away from the title bar and to a different screen, it should just birth a new window and live in that. You can also drag tabs from one window to another, or drag a window with only one tab to merge it with another window


from personal experience, it's the performance and bugs of firefox that keeps me away. for this reason i will not switch.


Firefox keeps improving. Since I switched back, I've noticed it has less bugs than Chrome had.


oh, for sure. it's just that at this point in time, on my macos firefox is simply inferior to macos chrome. fyi i'm a power user (tens/hundreds of tabs, lots of web development etc), so this might not apply to everybody.


Out of curiosity, what would you say was the thing that still kept you on Chrome even though all of the things you said apply? Inertia due to habit?


For me, it was Chrome's peerless DevTools (although Firefox has been catching up recently) and the fact that entering full screen on Firefox freezes up the entire UI for me (it's probably some bad interaction with BSPWM).


Definitely inertia, but also the company I work for uses it extensively. But lately on my own personal devices I've been sticking to Firefox.


On my low-end mac (Macbook) Chrome is still noticeable faster than Firefox. I ran Firefox the last year, but then I tried the new Opera and it was so much faster. Trying out others I realized it's the blink engine. So now I am using Vivaldi...

This is much less apparent on faster machines or on Linux/Windows though, but for me it is more efficient to use the same browser on all my machines.


profiles


You can try Firefox containers. They even work within the same window.


No. This is a misconception that is being spread around. I don't know what FF containers are useful for, but they certainly do not function to replace Chrome's profiles:

Here are my notes from when I investigated:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15688651

I went deeply into trying to use containers as a profile replacement, replacing Chrome with the new Firefox beta for one month, and I can report that it is not the right direction to go in:

- New tabs do not inherit current container

- No way to make Ctrl-T do this by customization (I investigated extensions (can't remap Ctrl-T) and even system-wide Ctrl-T remapping with Karibiner; neither gives you what you want)

- History is shared across containers. So e.g. work URLs mixed up with personal. That's contra to one of the main purposes of Profiles.

- External applications do not open a tab in the current container. So e.g. clicking in a link in work slack will fail because it will not open in a tab which has work cookies / google account etc.

Evidently Containers are not designed as a Profile replacement. I'm not sure what they are for but I don't think it's a need that I have.

As I understand it using the long-standing Firefox profiles feature is the way to go, but personally I switched back to Chrome after a month of the new Firefox Beta because of the convenience of Chrome profiles. I should try Firefox profiles, but I exhausted my experimentation energy on Containers.


I don’t know about profiles, so I can’t speak to that. All I can do is say that I use containers to open multiple tabs of the same site with different users.

For example, I have multiple AWS accounts. To login to two different ones at the same time, I use different containers. Way better than opening one is FF, one in Chrome, etc. When I open a link from a container in a new tab it opens in the same container.


Containers are great to "containerize" cookies but that's about it.

If you have multiple "personas", like a personal account with bookmarks and a work account with another set of bookmarks and settings, you'll want a separate profile.


Yes, that use case sounds very much like what Profiles are for. You'll find that Profiles are an improvement over Containers for tasks like that (logging into the same URL as different identities) for all the reasons I list above.

> Way better than opening one is FF, one in Chrome, etc

Agreed!


> Yes, that use case sounds very much like what Profiles are for.

I'm not quite sure how profiles work in Chrome, but from a Firefox point-of-view this is only true if you also want to keep your history/bookmarks/settings/add-ons completely separate, too.


Yes, history, bookmarks and extensions are separate. I have one profile for "me in my personal life" and "me at work", and a few for testing logins to different interfaces at work. So this degree of separation is mostly what I want, although it can be a little annoying to maintain the extensions you want under both profiles.

Keeping history separate in particular is very valuable since nowadays the fastest / least hassle way to bring up a site is to start typing the beginning of the URL in the navigation bar, so you wouldn't want work URLs mixed in with non-work URLs.


> “Only works in Chrome,” is poor engineering for anything more than a prototype or proof of concept.

Can't we, developers, do the opposite? Like introduce a small annoyance, like showing a pop-up, when visitors use Chrome? It could say something like "today is free web day, upgrade your browser to Firefox or any other libre browser"


What you, as Web developers, can do, is use Firefox while developing your site to ensure it really works well on non-Chromium browsers. And do your level best to encourage your developer friends to do the same. If they're on Mac and would rather use Safari, that'll do too.

Then, every time you see any site or any Web developer satisfied with "works in Chrome", do what you can to let them know that's not acceptable. In a polite, loving, and extremely firm manner of course.


A decent idea of course, but you are going to run in to the same issue as everybody else who tries that: unless Firefox has a significant market share, it is just not worth throwing resources after it.

What you can do is develop automatic filters to make chrome specific CSS prefixes general, etc. Those are probably worth using since a few hours/days of engineering time easily is worth the larger market share.


Firefox already implements a bunch of -webkit prefixed features for compatibility reasons. Are there specific Chrome-only features that aren't yet supported that you think should be? If so, file Firefox bugs!


Gotta help get the user base bigger


I'm still working out the details, but when I get to the point where I'm selling software on my site, I plan to offer small discounts (maybe a dollar) to anyone I detect on a Firefox browser. I'm considering doing the same thing for Ad Blockers.

I know I can't convince normal people to care about the web ecosystem, and yelling at users about behavior is just another way to annoy them. I like the idea of having a small (likely secret) list of browser behaviors that reward users, rather than punishing them. It makes it feel more like a game or a cheat code or easter egg to me than a heavy handed lecture.

If someone is visiting on an unconfigured browser, or something I don't recognize, they won't get an error message or performance hit or any notification at all. But if someone visits and they're doing the right thing, maybe they get a "good job" and a discount or extra download. And then hopefully if they recommend my software to a friend they'll also let them know about the "secret."


> I like the idea of having a small (likely secret) list of browser behaviors that reward users, rather than punishing them. It makes it feel more like a game or a cheat code or easter egg to me than a heavy handed lecture.

While that is nice, you run the risk of nobody noticing.

For some strange reason, I wanted to comment to your post and you didn't have a reply button initially. I had to refresh and then is showed up. Huh, never seen that behavior on HN.


Agreed, but the point is specifically not to nag people -- I don't think that works for Open Source communities; people just get mad. So yeah, tradeoffs.

To put it specifically in advertising terms, I'm also optimizing for conversion rate, not impressions. I'll make a (light) prediction that the few people who know in advance about a system like this will be more likely to try out a browser to save a dollar than they will be to switch a browser to stop a negative experience they're already in.

And on a less practical note, I think I'm OK with fewer people discovering something like this if the ones who do notice end up feeling really good. I want someone's reaction to be, "You noticed! You're right, I am awesome for using an ad blocker!" I want the feeling to be, "sometimes people don't hate me for doing this, and sometimes doing the right thing has benefits."

> you didn't have a reply button initially.

HN rate-limits replies to recent posts.


I like this idea. You could perhaps add a small logo that says "optimized for Firefox and AdBlocked browsers".


When the reply button is hidden - to reduce arguments and "over-posting" - you can click the date to go to a page only showing that comment, that page always has a reply option.


It's largely proven by decades of experience at this point that you cannot make the average software user care about ideological concerns. Especially if you use terms like libre that don't makes any sense to people that haven't drunk the FOSS koolaid.


Ok, then it could be played a little harder, for example by introducing a (small) performance penality for visitors that use chrome.


> Ok, then it could be played a little harder, for example by introducing a (small) performance penality for visitors that use chrome.

Good luck convincing your product owner of the necessity of that change. Most large enterprises won't do something like this.


That's not the place to target such a change, if anyone's to do it.

If there's the support of a major maintainer of a popular library, merging changes which incrementally incur larger performance penalties in Blink may be more effective.

If there's no support from a major maintainer, then simply writing contributions which are largely tested in firefox for performance but are tested in Blink for mere functionality should succeed over time in inducing the same.

In the end, the libraries are lock-in for larger SaaS providers far more than they might be aware, and if such changes start making it into e.g. React, there's not all that much that many product teams can do to work around it other than replying via support channels that Firefox seems to take less of a performance penalty.

That's the black hat in me talking. Resuming white hat status now.


No need to blackhat; rather than intentionally degrading it for one browser, just optimize for the other. I'm reasonably confident that there are areas where FFx is more performant; use them.


> If there's the support of a major maintainer of a popular library, merging changes which incrementally incur larger performance penalties in Blink may be more effective.

That library will get forked by industry.

If its license does not permit forking, it's incredibly unlikely that it can get traction in the first place.


You could just add more intrusive ads to your site. The site owner will be thrilled, and the users not thrilled at all. It would work very well for all concerned!


Well, apparently, all you'll need to do is put ads on your site and people will probably start switching ;)


I really do appreciate the kind of symmetry behind the idea of "Google ads for Google Chrome users, freedom from ads for free software users"


Ignore the "proven by experience" pessimist comment.

Yes we can, go ahead and do it. This is a "Do not do X" nudge not a "Do Y" command.

It is proven by thousands of years of history that humans are best served by negative commandments.


Most sites and content are monetized by ads. Your suggestion is to slow down the browser that allows those ads to exist? What publisher would accept this?


Then you simply lose users. How do they know Chrome is the reason your site is slow when others’ aren’t?


Well, if we're fighting fire with fire, they know because you put in a little dialogue on the page that says, "switch to Firefox for better performance".


We have that already! Except it goes the other way; using non-Chrome on Google properties gives you a slightly worse experience. YouTube on Firefox desktop is still terrible.


> It could say something like "today is free web day, upgrade your browser to Firefox or any other libre browser"

Love it!

I'd suggest a small change: It could say something like "today and every other day is free web day, upgrade your browser to Firefox or any other libre browser"


Huh, developers using electron and/or whole NodeJS/ Javascript ecosystem for their products are already causing big annoyance for users.

If there were whole bunch of conscientious developers we would not be in place where browser engines embedded or otherwise would be the most dominant way to deliver services or products to users.


The market clearly wants a cross platform GUI runtime.

Java didn’t cut it. Neither did Tcl/GTK/Wxwidgets.

Web apps won because of universality and zero touch deployment. Nothing to install, it just works (mostly).

Platform-native apps simply doesn’t achieve the major “it just works” goal, and always havw their own compromises.


HTTP status code 452: Unavailable for ideological reasons.


You could make use of features that work in Firefox but don't yet work in Chrome, such as SVG favicons and position: sticky (Chrome supports but only on th elements)

There's probably a way to compile a list of such features from caniuse data.


People depend on Chromium/Blink because there's no other options. You can't really embed Gecko, and WebKit (Safari) can sometimes lack desirable web platform features.


Yet still, we have Rust (a phenomenally innovative programming language) that was conceived, as far as I understand it, to build a new rendering engine. I've not checked in on Servo for some time but they were going for full on ACID2 compliance with CSS, meeting the specs for HTML...A lot of that work became Electrolysis and then Quantum. Mozilla has been a serious lab for innovation without the conflict of interest in ad revenue.

Even if that effort has changed focus, the community now has Rust and I don't think we've seen such a fresh language paradigm since we got Lisp, Haskell, Ocaml, F#, Scala...

In which case, the world has benefitted from browser competition as a total side-effect of competing with the incumbent browser; we got the various evolutions of C and C++. Exactly the same way we got V8 and then nodejs and the whole server-side rendering paradigm with React and JSX.

If we all fall back to Chromium for everything, then Google has achieved a Pyrrhic victory. They need a disruptor to up their game... and it isn't WASM either.


Servo is very promising, but not ready for commercial embedded applications yet (as of approx 3-4 months ago last time I checked it).

It will likely be a better engine than embedded Chromium when it's done (if for no other reason than that it seems to have fewer dependencies[0]), but I wouldn't start building an application on top of it today.

I am highly interested in finding a more performant alternative to Electron. I'm currently building a web-first game that will also be available as a fully offline native app. I'll probably use Electron unless the ecosystem changes drastically before I'm done. Some really interesting projects out there -- not just Servo, but also thin wrappers around OS web views, even a few re-implementations of CSS/HTML that just force you to cross-compile or port your Javascript to another language.

But I haven't found any that were mature enough that I felt comfortable using them. Servo was the most promising project I personally have seen so far, but it needs more time.

[0]: https://gist.github.com/flibitijibibo/b67910842ab95bb3decdf8...


I've been really liking rust thus far, its pretty awesome and I like the community. I didn't know it was made for a rednering engine. It would be nice to have something built by someone other than Mozilla though, just purely for more competition. I could care less that IE sold out, they made their bed in the 2000's and there was no escaping it. As a corporate programmer I am glad they a


I've been really liking rust thus far, its pretty awesome and I like the community. I didn't know it was made for a rednering engine. It would be nice to have something built by someone other than Mozilla though, just purely for more competition. I could care less that IE sold out, they made their bed in the 2000's and there was no escaping it.


Mozilla get a lot of money from Google. They're not totally independent.



Disclaimer: Work for Mozilla but not on the browser core, thoughts are my own, grain of salt, etc.

My understanding is that on Desktop it's much more difficult than it ideally should be.

With that said we've got a pretty solid story being worked on for mobile via GeckoView [1] and Android Components [2], there's a post on the Mozilla Hacks blog about our use of them in Focus [3] and they're also what is being used for building the "next generation" version of Firefox for Android currently code-named Fenix [4][5].

I wouldn't be surprised if there was an effort to get some of the GeckoView work back onto our desktop platforms.

[1] https://github.com/mozilla/geckoview

[2] https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/android-components

[3] https://hacks.mozilla.org/2018/09/focus-with-geckoview/

[4] https://github.com/mozilla-mobile/fenix

[5] https://play.google.com/apps/testing/org.mozilla.fenix


Yes, it is not exactly easy, but it is not like Chromium Embedded Framework despite being design for embedding is any easier to build.

The truth is the browsers are complicated beasts these days for better or worst and so goes the complexity of building and depending on them.


Speaking as someone who worked on Gecko at Mozilla for many years, that page is years (if not more than a decade) out of date and embedding Gecko is a rather miserable experience.


Mozilla had XUL, which was basically electron a decade before electron.


The problem is the only way to combat Google in this regards would be for smaller players to come together and form an open-source working group based on a chromium fork. (The train has already left the station for anything besides WebKit or Blink, since the lack of accessibility of Gecko means it will never be adopted by anyone else.)

But most of them are directly financed by Google and have almost no common ground (e.g. Opera, Firefox).

And unfortunately no single player involved can gain much by going against Google. What would Microsoft gain from forking? Nothing.

I think 10 years in the future we might see WebKit and Blink merge together into a single core engine.

Modern Capitalism almost dictates this development, as corporations strive to save money at all costs.


> smaller players to come together and form an open-source working group based on a chromium fork

Google can and does use DRM to block even this from happening: https://blog.samuelmaddock.com/posts/google-widevine-blocked...

Even Mozilla needed to license Widevine from Google to support modern video: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/enable-drm

Based on the policy evidenced in Maddock's post, it seems impossible to develop an open-source browser in 2019 that supports video streaming.


Crack the DRM and do it in a country that does not care about DMCA and has lax copyright laws. You could create an "illegal browser", and judging by how effective all the other antipiracy efforts have been to date (i.e. not at all), I doubt you'll face too much opposition...


Or don't consume DRMed content?


So, all commercial video content on the web?


Sure... vote with your wallet, only in video space. When DRM'ed content becomes less popular, companies will have to reconsider.

Of course, I'm one of those who doesn't care much about mass media in general. Addictions could make this shift impossible.


Not all commercial content is DRMed. Example: Rifftraxx.

You can also enjoy lots of high-quality, DRM-free content on YouTube, Vimeo, peertube, fosdem and god knows where.

There’s more to internet video than Netflix, Hulu and Prime.


From the perspective of general population - which is where you need adoption to be even a mote of dust next to Chrome - no, there isn't.


Or go the "insert DeCSS here" route that some used back when that was a thing. "If you happen to have somehow acquired a WideVine lib, having hash [some string], stick it here if you want to watch Netflix."


> support modern video

There's nothing particularly modern about DRM.


In some sort of Stallman utopia maybe. In the real world...


Well maybe we don't really need DRM? I mean, there are other sources of entertainment which do not threaten the FOSS


Sure, people gonna use a browser where the only entertainment is a 240p stream of Stallmann chewing his toes.

These responses... Dont support amazon or netflix, twitch? Even FOSS needs to be realistic and see what is a solution and what is not.

A FOSS product needs to support the things people want to do. Otherwise it will not succeed. We should have learned this in the last twenty years.

Without Firefox and its compromises, Google would have 99% market share and FOSS people would browse wuth Lynx or wget


Yes, support direct torrent video streaming. Screw the fat cats. Long live Stallman, death to late stage capitalism computing!


Use an open-source DRM solution?


DRMs are integrated by websites owners.

If a website is using Proprietary DRM A, your browser needs to be licensed to use DRM A.


Such a thing doesn’t exist because then it could be trivially broken.


Is that true? IE was incumbent and Firefox unseated it. They had the legacy of Netscape, sure, but they didn’t throw the towel and reskin IE the same way other browsers of the time did.

Besides that, at which point does the dominant search and advertising company of the internet get an antitrust case for this? People think google is trustworthy yet they do nothing to earn that trust.


This kinda erases history. IE was riddled with security flaws and stagnant beyond belief when Firefox usurped it. There was a compelling reason to use an IE alternative back then - they actually offered something IE couldn't give.

Chrome doesn't have that problem.


Do these changes make Google less stagnant, as they disempower the discerning user who wants at least some control over their browsing experience?

Google's new security flaw is that they are going to moderate ad-blocking, become responsible for it, and then depend on their inhuman machine to ignore all of your complaints. No different to how you can't find a human connect when you get screwed out of Gmail or Google Wallet because of their mathematics.

As a total thought experiment on where I'm coming from with this: in Star Trek TNG, Data (the Android) spends seven years with us exploring the human equation. Strip out the narrative imbalance and do you think the current automation of help and support is anywhere near aligned to the ideals of that 30 year old TV show that didn't know better? Or is the algorithm an overfitting to Google's commercial needs?

It's tangential to this thread but for some reason it felt worth writing out.


Mozilla can (and does) offer putting the privacy concerns and an open web first.

Google has worked very hard over the years to make itself into an organization with deeply baked-in incentives to do the opposite. It'd take a decade of sustained effort working counter to powerful incentives to fix that.

This is distinct from making a capable well-performing browser, which Google has done. So has Mozilla.


Yeah, sure, privacy is good.

It's not a product-making sale point for the vast majority of people.


Ad blocking is at least a concrete point that can be clearly explained, and will continue to drive traffic to mozilla.

It's not a completely ethereal concept like privacy, democratic freedom, etc.


The web standards were also much simpler then. It was difficult but tractable for a small team of volunteers to implement and keep up with them.

That ship has sailed.


Standards often shift be a substantial reconsolidation, in which numerous side features are discarded.

HTML itself emerged from such a consolidation (from SGML) and went through this process a few times. There are numerous other examples of technical recapitulation.


HTML and the menagerie of related standards has never, as far as I'm aware, become simpler. And the old versions have never been removed from a browser.


XHTML was a step too far. It was rejected in favour of HTML4 & 5, ultimately.


xhtml seems to me quite a bit simpler to implement than HTML5.


XHTML is hard-structured, and among its negatives, requires being fully downloaded to be parsed and validated. HTML, including H5, has soft-fail modes.

At least that's the justification I generally see. See the Criticism section of the Wikipedia article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XHTML#Criticism


That makes HTML5 harder to implement, not simpler.


HTML5 != XHTML. (If that's what you're saying.)

HTML5 breaks soft. It's easier to write, which is what drives content. A parser for which there is no content becomes moot.

(I'd prefer far more rigorous document specification. That's not the Universe I inhabit.)


You're responding to a thread pointing out that browsers are too complicated to implement, which has forced everyone but Google and Mozilla to give up on providing browsers and web standards.

And Google is currently the funding source for Mozilla, giving them a more or less complete monopoly on the future of the web.


If ad blockers can't block ads in Chrome but can in FF that'll get a large chunk of people to switch without a second thought.


Well it will once it disallows ad blocking


Chrome might not have that many security holes, but if you browse without adblock you will quickly see just how festered the web is with horrible, horrible ads.

Chrome without adblock is essentially ie6, with tabs.


With this course of action it may be compelling enough to give consumer users a reason to ditch Chrome.


No significant number of users have ever ditched anything useful over invisible tracking.


We're talking about very visible ads, not invisible tracking.


Firefox never unseated IE as the dominant browser.

It managed to get to around 20% marketshare[1] before Chrome surpassed it[2] and then also surpassed IE.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers#Th...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers#W3...


I'm not sure this analogy works, because internet explorer was pure garbage. It was worse than garbage, it was like the nasty water left over at the top of the industrial drain, and by just looking at it you risk losing your eye sight. IE was more ripe for disruption like few products ever are, it was so ripe we got not one, but two competitors (chrome)!

Pound for pound, chrome is ridiculously far ahead of internet explorer mid-2000's. IDK what the hell someone is going to have to do to upend chrome and its rendering components but is going to have to be great.


It's not what someone had to do to upend IE or that they will have to do to upend Chrome, it's what Microsoft didn't do to keep IE in power: they didn't do anything.


I agree with that completely, but personally, I seriously doubt Alphabet is going to let its flagship product's flag ship delivery vehicle falter like ie did.

I mean, who knows. Never say never, but they are going to be tough competition. Not to mention that browsers are becoming so advanced it will be tough for a small team to match the engineering prowess of a company like google.


Microsoft basically shut down the IE team after they beat Netscape, which gave Firefox a chance to produce a better product. Web browsing is so closely tied to Google's core business that they're unlikely to mothball Chrome development.


Apple is behind WebKit and has a lot to gain by going against Google.

They are competitors in the hardware space and Apple needs an 'enemy' to help target its pro-privacy agenda against.


Genuine question, will Apple leave all the tracking/advertising money on the table in order to best Google on privacy? Or, once they win enough market-share will they just sell out?


What do you mean "lack of accessibility of Gecko"? Did you mean "lack of embedability"?

Gecko's embedability sucks ... on desktop. But that's not inevitable, it's just a matter of priorities and resources. On Android it's getting a lot better and something like GeckoView on Android could be made to work on desktop too ... if there's demand and perceived benefit.

(Mozilla's in the middle of upgrading Gecko's multiprocess support for fine-grained "site isolation" so now might not be the ideal time to stabilize embedding APIs.)


What i've read is that Gecko is a bit more difficult to understand when it comes to the entire code base, compared wo WebKit or Blink.


That might be true. They're all incredibly complex beasts. I don't think it matters much for adoption in terms of embedding or forking to create a new browser; the engine internals can and should mostly be hidden behind an API.


> We still have WebKit and Firefox and (sooner or later), more of Servo at least.

Do remember though, Mozilla's income is heavily dependent on Google. If we want a browser engine that can remain completely free, we really need a engine that is community driven. Although that might not longer be possible given the complexity of the web nowadays.


Time to build a Pi Hole since iOS Firefox doesn’t allow extensions.


You don't even have to dedicate a pi to it. If you've got Docker, you can run it in a container: https://github.com/pi-hole/docker-pi-hole


Or in docker on a pi..


Is this decision really baked so hard into Blink that forked browsers like Edge and Vivaldi can't provide their own APIs? Seems unlikely to me.


> This is why it’s so unfortunate and frustrating that people are depending so much on Chromium/Blink

Chromium is generally fine, until Google packages it as Chrome. The issues are not inherent to Chromium, they're failures of principle at Google.

I know people like the idea, in concept, of engine diversity on the web, but the alternatives are terrible.

Anyone who says that Firefox runs anywhere near as well as Chromium on Linux is either incredibly lucky, extremely knowledgeable about custom building Firefox, or just lying. On Windows, the story is a bit better, but it's still just not comparable. On top of this, in my experience, I've found the Firefox UI extremely frustrating.

My take is that when Mozilla ousted Brendan Eich, something changed culturally at the place; it's no longer a culture of competence, but one of paranoia, reluctance, excuse-making, distraction, and (sometimes) bullying.

Regardless of the causes, we are in a situation now where the only competent browser which handles basic webpages the way normal people expect, without much fiddling with configuration, is Chromium. Everything else relies on excuses and wishful thinking.

Brave is looking good, it has all of the extremely popular and well-thought-out UI of Chrome, total compatibility, and a backbone. In the worst case, it can survive on its own.

Chromium is really great, and whoever packages a principled, non-user-betraying browser based on Chromium (and convinces people to use it), will be on the most pragmatic path to preserving the open web.


By default, google disables hardware acceleration for chrome on a large percentage of linux. As well, Ive never had it work well with open source graphics drivers or new products like wayland. And the desktop integration comes nowhere near firefox


+1 for your first point - surely Chromium can still be used to create an ad-blocking browser.

I disagree with you after there.


My understanding is that this change in the extensions API will land in Chromium first, and so any browser depending on the extension mechanism of Chromium will be impacted, like Opera and Vivaldi. If I'm not guessing wrong, Opera and Vivaldi are compatible with Chrome extensions because they use the extension mechanism of Chromium, so they'll need additional maintenance burden to keep the `webRequest` API working.


Since they're keeping the API around for enterprise versions I'd expect them to leave it in Chromium and just have it be disabled by default.


this was my thought, too...the code is still there, so surely it's possible to package up an "enterprise version for non-enterprise users"?


Anyone who says that Firefox runs anywhere near as well as Chromium on Linux is either incredibly lucky, extremely knowledgeable about custom building Firefox, or just lying.

Firefox used to be much sluggish on linux, but I tried out quantum and it seemed just as snappy as chromium. This announcement is enough to make it my daily driver, I think (I'll have to figure out the dev tools, hopefully it's straightforward).


I run firefox on linux on two computers. Works great, no tweaking/building required.


The same people that work on chrome work on chromium, and both are owned by Google.

Chromium is where this change is originating, not chrome.


>On top of this, in my experience, I've found the Firefox UI extremely frustrating.

Amen! I mean, the layout look as if it were something made in the early 2000s


Firefox runs great on linux in my recent experience.


>almost the entire ad-blocking market is controlled by the company behind Adblock Plus (eyeo GmbH), who has contracts with Google. It appears they also own AdBlock, and uBlock (not confused with uBO), so during the last years they basically tried to capture the entire market.

This makes me wonder if there's any way we can give gorhill a bunch of money in donations. He's in a much more important position than I previously realized, and despite the statement in the uBlock readme ("Free. Open source. For users by users. No donations sought.") I think it would be an excellent idea to make sure he has permanent financial stability for as long as he continues to work on uBlock.

If he wants a multi-million dollar corporate buyer to come along, I'm sure he can get it. But as long as he's incentivized to continue building a truly pro-user ad blocker, we should at least make sure he's not in a situation where he could be forced to sell out.


If he explicitly says "No donations sought", wouldn't it be kind of rude to throw money at him?


That may be fair (though there's some ambiguity to me in the word "sought"), but I hope he knows that if he loses his day job or has health problems or something like that he can go to the community. uBlock origin is worth hundreds of dollars a year to me, and I'm by no means rich.


https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/Why-don't-you-accept-... Here is the official explanation of why donations are not accepted.


>I want to be free to move onto something else if ever I get tired working on these projects (no donations = no expectations).

Well this is exactly why we wanted to hive him money. Hopefully if he gets bored someone else will carry the torch.


Last time that happened uBlock was captured by the enemy.


Interesting. Is that where the Origin in uBlock comes from?


Yes.


Well, I'm not seeking money when I walk down the street, but I wouldn't consider it rude if someone decided to throw some at me. (assuming cash, not coins thrown at my head though even then, if they're quarters, I'm picking those up)


There is an additional danger here.

Currently, we can go use Firefox or Joe's homemade browser to to back the features that Chrome removes, such as the ability for an ad-blocker to access and remove content. But we've already seen just last month [1] that Google actively prevents Firefox from using some features of Google products (need to find the HN link). Thus Google as a content provider can easily steep people into using the Google web browser.

This is really starting to smell similar to the Microsoft - IE debacle all over again.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19669586


This thing about Google preventing Firefox from using some features (Edge as well I believe) - I'm assuming this is all done using the user agent header? or are they detecting Chrome through another means. I guess I'm wondering how effective spoofing the user agent header would be in resolving that.


> uBlock (not confused with uBO)

This naming is a catastrophe. I just tried to find out which is which and it isn't easy, even if you know what you're looking for.

I'd think that uBlock Origin should consider changing the name. Yes, "it means giving up", but it's a battle they can't win anyway, and at least users will be able to tell which one is owned by eyeo.

EDIT: AdBlock and AdBlock Plus are similarly confusing.


If uBO changes name to for example "Ant Block", somebody will come and create "Ant Block Plus"


Change it to "Ant Block", offer a paid "Ant Block Pro" so that the name is used in commerce, and register a trademark.


And Plus, and Ultimate, and Super, and so on...


Just want to emphasise this point:

> I recently had a look at another system of someone who uses ABP I noticed that the blocking really is only visual, theres still a profile that is being sold to data brokers

It's quite shocking, anti-intuitive, and really shows what the web advertising business is really all about.


Adblock plus have a committee that is supposed to be independent companies that they consult but they invested in some of them and made those people the head of each group so its not even independent

eyeo is a pure scam and they make 99% profit because they have no costs


> Someone at Google in the higher ups probably realized at one point that giving the user so much freedom and control could theoretically backfire enourmously.

If that is the case, it seems very short sighted.

While this change is obviously not in the interest of any user, there are multiple ways around it.. the alternative solutions are not so easy right now, but they will become more user friendly as they rise to the surface as the new way to block ads. The affect on Google's revenue will be short term (if any), but I suspect the affect on Google's public image will be significant and lasting. It doesn't seem worth the risk to Google for such a short term gain.


> Someone at Google in the higher ups probably realized at one point that giving the user so much freedom and control could theoretically backfire enourmously.

That's ... well, so much for the internet ... :-(

It's really against what I imagine to be some of the core principles of the internet.


Welcome to the point when even free market people will no longer defend your monopoly, Google.

The number of egregious examples of their centralization backfiring against the freedoms within the day-to-day life of internet users keeps growing bigger at a seemingly exponential rate.

The barrier for competition may be high but history is littered with examples of giants withering under their own decision making. Nor will they forever be immune from antitrust laws.


I am as free market as they come.

I don't consider Google a monopoly. I figure many "free market people" define a monopoly pretty strictly. They're not forcing me to use their browser, search engine, maps, email, or many other services.

However, they do have a disturbingly high level of market dominance. So seeing as I am a part of the free market (after all, the "economy is us"), I have opted to minimize my use of Google products and services and encourage others to do the same. This wasn't the tipping point for me; I've been advocating alternatives for quite some time.

I don't want Google punished with anti-trust laws if that can be avoided. I'd much rather see users apply corrective pressure. Of course, that assumes users appreciate the importance of their privacy, which makes this a lengthy game of messaging and persuasion.


What we call "monopoly", is "being big enough to put a thumb on market scales" in legal theory these days (note that this doesn't even require a company to have even 50% of market share...)


Even if you decide to believe that Google is doing this for the "right reasons" (improving performance for instance) it should still be a huge red flag. Due their conflicting business model they have no incentive to improve the adblocking interface later on. You can therefore expect the adblocking capabilities to degrade every time they can come up with a reasonable reason to do so while they'll never take the time to actually come up with a better solution.

Switch to Firefox people, it's not perfect but at least it's not Chrome.


uBlock should really just instruct users to "switch to firefox for a fast, up-to-date ad-blocking experience"


Yes we can ditch chrome. But what about general population? Now that websites may choose to give incompatiblity prompts to Firefox since it impacts there revenue through ads. They will ask users to switch to chrome. This might affect Firefox in long run. It's market share might drop.


I'll bring out the "computer has viruses" argument. As in:

"Remember how you asked me to clean your computer from these toolbars and make it faster? This problem may happen again if you browse the web without uBlock Origin installed. Chrome doesn't support it now, so you have to use Firefox. Ignore websites pleading you to switch back to Chrome. Some of them will try to sneak in this toolbar garbage to you. Actually, stop visiting such websites because they're staffed with assholes who want to abuse you. But if you must, do it in Firefox. Yes, preferably in Private Browsing."

As others said, regular people follow the tech crowd. My family uses Chrome because that's what I've been telling them to install and/or installing for them for the past few years. But the very first thing I also install for them is uBO, and if that stops working, Chrome goes out of the window.


General population will follow the tech crowd.

The main reason Chrome is so popular is because tech people have been saying "just use chrome" for forever.

Firefox is taking back that role. It'll take time, but with google becoming such a PII hoarder, it's a change that will likely continue.


> The main reason Chrome is so popular is because tech people have been saying "just use chrome" for forever.

Utter bullshit.

Chrome is dominant due to two factors:

a) Distribution deals by Google to bundle Chrome everywhere they can. (Including shady crap like 'warez' sites, illegal music, OEMs, etc.)

b) Google aggressively peddling Chrome on their properties and making them deliberately slow and buggy with other browsers.

It's not a coincidence that Gmail suddenly became slow and buggy under Firefox with their latest redesign.


Google already blocks some of its features from working in Firefox. We discussed this in April: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19669586


See Firefox vs IE6. It's the same story all over again.


How about Vivaldi? Or Opera with built-in ad-blocker (which I'm currently using and it works great, at least with uBlock Origin installed too)? Unfortunately I can't use Firefox on my system ( https://www.reddit.com/r/firefox/comments/a42xei/state_of_fi... nothing changed for years with these problems and I believe it will unfortunately stay that way)


Aren't Opera and Vivaldi just a re-skinning of Chromium?

If yes, then it probably won’t save you.

And here you have the actual problem with Chrome — unless you fork it and have resources to maintain that fork, its open source nature is absolutely irrelevant. And even if you manage to fork it, you’re not operating at Google’s scale so your fork will be irrelevant.

PS: I use Firefox on top of MacOS and works just fine for me ;-)


I don't know how much different they need to be from Chrome/Chromium to not be affected (and if some built-in blocker like in Opera still will be fine), that's why I'm asking :) There is also Safari, but I would rather cook my CPU with FF than use Safari.


What don't you like about Safari?


Basically everything except the fact that it doesn't eat huge amount of RAM. I can't stand iOS either, so not being able to sync tabs/bookmarks between my devices is probably the biggest drawback.


"The deprecation of the blocking ability of the WebRequest API is to gain back this control, and to further now instrument and report how web pages are filtered since now the exact filters which are applied to web page is information which will be collectable by Google Chrome."

In the same way a company trying to determine what a user looks at on their computer screen is a privacy issue, this is too. Those filters should be private.


The filters 99.9% of people use are completely public. Otherwise how would you use them?


The filters that get applied are private.


AKA the old bait and switch! Well I've been needing a reason to finally make the full switch to firefox ( the containers were already compelling )


I say this all the time when this kind of thing comes up.

Please use Firefox!

Even if it's worse. Even if its slower[1]. Even if it doesn't have that one feature or bug fix that you personally consider really important. Just use Firefox anyway. Find a workaround. Suffer whatever it is you dislike about Firefox because in the end if we don't act as individuals against the chrome monopoly then google are going to own the web and we'll suffer a far worse period of monoculture than the IE6 ever was.

If you can't go all the way, going part of the way is still valuable. I personally have chrome installed still because there are a couple if internal sites at my work that have problems on Firefox, so I use Chrome for those but Firefox for everything else.

Firefox for Android is also solid browser, and as a bonus you don't see any AMP stuff.

If you're a website/app maintainer, check for compatibility in Firefox.

It's worth supporting Firefox to keep the web the way it should be. I know they make mistakes sometimes, but we need a viable alternative or it will be too late.

([1] I don't think it is, it's made soild improvements in recent years, but lots of people seem to have their own specific issue they hold dear against it)


I switched to FireFox I think about a year ago.

I prefer Chrome for sure. It full screens video properly (which I need to automatically trigger turning off f.lux), it seemed faster, it does spell checking of form fields.

I'm sticking with Firefox though as these features aren't much of a hindrance compared to the increasingly shitty behaviour of Google, and one benefit is that my Macbook Pro (2014, max spec), doesn't run out of resources and stop responding anywhere near as often as it used to do.


> it does spell checking of form fields.

So does FireFox, other than Form Fields where else would one need/use spellcheck? I wonder what's been done to yours so that it doesn't.


Firefox dsoe nto spel chcek fomr feilds. This comment didn't get any spell checking whatsoever. Last time I investigated this the suggestion was to install a plugin, a hoop I think is unreasonable to make people jump through. I'm using a vanilla Firefox install on a Mac. I've not fiddled with it in any way.

update It seems there is a preference:

https://dl.sendcat.com/8BEOaD0qwKgHhIizbRLif8G572x4RgKGGLvcp...

It was selected already but I still don't get spell checking.


https://i.imgur.com/SZP9n3b.png

That's what I see in Firefox on Mac.


US user? Apparently you have to install an add-on to get non en-US spell checking.


I switched from Vivaldi back to Firefox within the last year for the same reason. I'm growing tired of Google and have been moving away from them piece by piece for the past year.

I prefer the customizability of Vivaldi but Firefox has been fine. I can't think of anything that is a thorn in my side at all. In fact, 99% of the time I can't tell a difference functionally, but I'm not a typical web browser (I disable JS except on trusted sites).

I think for the general population they wouldn't notice much difference between chrome and firefox.


I switched to Firefox on Android just to avoid AMP and it turns out I like it more than Chrome.


Firefox just runs so slowly compared to Chrome on my 2015 MBP. I have zero extensions and it's a default install. Such a bummer too. ( I use Firefox on my desktop PC though. )


what do you think about the new Edge browser from Microsoft, its based on Chromium. So you would get most benefits of chrome but its from Microsoft, which personally, I trust more than I trust Google.


> but its from Microsoft, which personally, I trust more than I trust Google.

Wow, how the worm turns.


I installed the beta for macOS and I'm not happy about it.

It installed a daemon that updates Edge even when the browser is closed. Even if you delete the .app the daemon keeps running and when there is a new update it downloads it and installs it.

There are no settings to change this intrusive behavior.

I sent feedback and complained on Twitter. Apparently the team is looking on it.


> It installed a daemon that updates Edge even when the browser is closed.

They learned that trick from Google and Chrome; search for `com.google.keystone.agent.plist` -- they install a Launch Agent for you.


Do we know how much the new Edge will phone home to Google? What about raw chromium? Alternatively, are there settings you can change in Chrome to prohibit it talking back to G?


I think, this situation is the same as when you tell people to "vote with your wallet" as to not spend money on the inferior product when the issue is clearly far beyond where people can freely decide this.

Edit to add: Not defending Chrome. I've used IE and Edge since IE9 came out because I saw this thing coming. And I promoted other browsers all the way. Didn't help. I am not moving to Chrome ever and will try and avoid the Chromium Edge as long as I can as I'm not a stranger to sticking with a strange browser choice :)

I'm just saying that maybe something else should be done about Google's browser market share.


Except there's absolutely nothing inferior about Firefox nowadays. I switched about a year ago, and I don't miss a single thing from Chrome.


> Except there's absolutely nothing inferior about Firefox nowadays.

I mean, maybe for you. But for me, with the add-on that I use, and the computer that I am on, FF is not the most optimal, Chrome is. FF is slower for me and my set-up.

EDIT: I'm not joshing here or trying to trash on others. FF may be faster for you, that's fine. But in my own personal little corner of the world, FF is slower than Chrome. I've no idea why, maybe I could spend a few days trying to figure this out and then optimize FF to make it faster. But, for me, out of the box, FF really is slower.


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