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Mozilla’s plan to fix internet privacy (protocol.com)
377 points by DvdGiessen 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 272 comments





Firefox on Android has become my go to choice now, because it supports the full set of desktop firefox plugins, including the essential ublock origin. I can't even imagine mobile browsing without full adblock functionality anymore.

AdguardHome/PiHole on DoT/DoH? Android 9+ supports private DNS.

DNS blockers don't block all ads, uBlock on top is very effective.

yes, you could use those too.

> Mozilla lost the browser wars

Honest question... who did they lose to? Google Chrome?

For me personally, Firefox has been better than Chrome for several years now. The only reason I still load up Chrome is when I want to stream to my Chromecast.


Came here to react on first words in article too.

Netscape lost. Original Opera lost. IE lost. Edge lost. As in killed off by creators and no new work is done on it.

Mozilla Firefox at this point is going strong and growing. It is a better browser than Chrome for me.


Unfortunately it's not growing: look at Mozilla's own usage data at https://data.firefox.com/dashboard/user-activity

Staganting indeed.

I was under impression things were going up since move to new faster engine.

Pretty sure android firefox should be going up.

I'm not helping things by having the stats reporting turned off as a first thing.


Lot of this telemetry is blocked on corp networks. No idea how big a piece of the pie it really is though.

Yes, statistically the majority of people are using Chrome

The majority of people are not digitally literate enough to care about what they're using. How do people preserve social justice if they're not aware that it is being violated in the first place? Who would deliberately step sideways and do something that requires effort when they have no incentive to? Most people just do what is convenient, without bothering to think twice about it.

"People made a different decision than I did, therefore those people must be ignorant."

Google used a lot of its gigantic resources and ad spaces to advertise Chrome everywhere. It's been installed and enabled by default on most mobile devices for years. Google paid software publishers to have Chrome distributed through other software installs (it also bundled it with its own software like Picasa and Google Earth). It also paid my local (state-owned) public transport operator to display gigantic banners in my train station. It organized events in my work community to promote its software and services, including Chrome of course. For years, its search engine told me to install Chrome every time I access google.com from another browser. Google stills serves old and ugly results page when I do search from Firefox (e.g no chart shown when searching from Firefox, although every other financial websites is able to perfectly display their stock charts in non-Chrome browsers). They've even been fined billions(!) of EUR for illegal practices involving the distribution of Chrome)[0].

People may have made different decisions to chose their browser for good reasons, but Google also built a monopoly for very good reasons, too. Users were and are still constantly pushed and incentivized to use Chrome, because of extensive, multi-year PR campaign, digital and outdoor ads, but also technical tricks.

[0] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_18_...


That's not what they said or meant.

The unwashed masses are the only ones that actually matter for a non-premium product.

Which sadly includes me these days, since it's such a pain to run multiple versions of Firefox and there are legacy extensions I can't do without for some things.

What are these features that are built into chrome, but only available as legacy Firefox extensions?

I interpreted the comment to mean, they run old FF (with extensions) alongside chrome (incompatible), because they don't want to run two versions of FF. I don't quite understand this either, but it makes more sense than the other interpretation, I think.

Bingo. DownThemAll is something I would describe as "mission-critical". I had trouble getting two different versions of Firefox to not interfere with one another in odd ways such as everything running fine until I open a file with Firefox as the associated program and one version would open but have all the settings from the other version and Portable Firefox refusing to save settings or extensions at all. Using Chrome for casual browsing was just less of a headache.

>I had trouble getting two different versions of Firefox to not interfere with one another

This shouldn't be an issue if you run your secondary instance with -no-remote -profile="your separate profile".

>Using Chrome for casual browsing was just less of a headache.

That still doesn't answer the original question though. Why choose chrome over firefox, when it has no legacy firefox extensions? Does chrome have those legacy extensions' features built in? Was chrome better than firefox, and the only thing keeping you on was the legacy extensions?


Because they want an up to date browser for purposes that don't require the extension.

I run both Chrome and Legacy Firefox at the same time.

FWIW, DownloadThemAll works fine on current Firefox. I used it a few weeks back to grab a bunch of SNES roms from an open directory without issue. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/downthemall/

Hey that's fantastic, thanks for the info. I'd given up hope.

Did you miss that those extensions don't work on chrome either?

Mostly to themselves. First they lost track when they became successful. Then they lost track again when they started their FfOS. And now they lost track again, being more like a political organization than a software company.

No surprise they lost all their market share.


Because Google had a big advantage:

- that started the race later slowing the to put certain "new" tech in it from the get to go instead of trying to retrofit it later

- Google had far more money for engineers and marketing.

- Google has a kinda unfair advantage through Android and Google Search.

Especially starting later after some technological shifts happend allowed them to get a technological advantage over Firefox for some time, combined with the much better image they had in the past and Android/Google search it was pretty hard for them not to become the dominant browser.

The question is why thinks didn't shift noticably in recent years?

This brings the problem that the futures doesn't look too good given the power Google now has to just push through theire stuff and given that there has been a bunch of cases where certain Google program _seem_ to have been intentionally "optimized" to be fast on chrome but _only_ on chrome and no other browser...

Edited for spelling fixes.


Yep, everyone lost to Chrome, by a margin so large it can only be correlated to Android's formidable dominance.

See this other comment I made: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22299884

There's s link to a video by DataIsBeautiful which, if you think of OS market share (notably switch to mobile big time at the detriment of x86 in the early 2010s), is as clear as it gets. Mainstream users in their vast majority do not even think of using a different browser — there's one out-of-the-box, right?.. more pressing concern is getting on with one's life.


Yep. Google and Google Chrome. I remember years back when Flash was still all over the place, the big reason (at least among users I dealt with) for installing Chrome was its sandboxed Flash plugin.

The only reason I use Chrome now is for that pesky site that still hasn't gotten away from Flash. Unfortunately this is the case with some online training modules we are required to finish. At least now I can throw away Google Chrome and use Microsoft Edge. A tiny political victory, perhaps.


They won the first one, breaking IE's monopoly. Then they lost the second one to Chrome, which as of 2015 attained >50% browser market share and only keeps going up. Just being good isn't good enough, it's needs to be so much better that trying Firefox and then going back to Chrome makes it painfully obvious that Chrome is not just "not as good" but outright "bad".

And that's a really, really hard thing to pull off.


I prefer Chrome due to it's developer tools and because its DataView implementation is a whooping 40x faster than Firefox's. I use DataView a lot.

That line jarred with me too. It might be a metaphor that makes sense where commercial entities are competing for a winner takes all outcome, but it doesn't fit here.

I recall when Mozilla made it a central goal to adhere strictly to web standards, at a time when it was really tedious to get cross-browser compatibility, and other browsers followed them.

To me, that alone is a big win.


>Honest question... who did they lose to? Google Chrome?

Arguably you could say they lost some market share to Chrome and Safari, but realistically they never won much in the first place.

And that is from someone who followed Firefox development before it was even called Firefox.


I think Firefox market share peaked in 2010 at around 30% before slowly declining as chrome rose in popularity. At least according to StatCounter: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usage_share_of_web_browsers#...

If Mozilla can manage to add Chromecast support (even as an official addon), I can finally fully detach myself from Chrome.

I tried fx_cast but it didn't work with Plex.


Yes, they lost most of their leverage w.r.t. influencing web standards, because most people use other browsers, most notably Chrome.

As a FF user I'll also share my experience.

Since Firefox switched to Quantum, I am exclusively using it on my work, home and portable computers. Chromium on my Arch Laptop was buggy, had a memory leak, and would consume all my 16G of RAM after keeping tabs open for a while. Firefox solved that for me.

With uBlock, Privacy Badger, Cookie AutoDelete and FF's built-in blocker I have a functional defense-line against privacy violating practices (not totally immune against fingerprinting yet).

The reader mode helps me to get rid of the clutter and read the text, very happy with that.

I also use Firefox and Firefox Preview on Android. The latter is specially superior in performance and has less bugs. For example on Firefox Android I had non-finishing download bars, not any more in the Preview. The performance is obviously superior. Nighly builds support uBlock now.

The "Send Tab" feature is also very practical (I have a FF account for syncing purposes). I send tabs to my other devices which helps me to follow things on my other machines and also to memorize things by seeing them in a short while on another machine.

There are two things about FF that I dislike. First thing is the massive amount of outdated articles and ancient support tickets online. Good luck with searching for a technical solution for a FF problem!

Next thing is the source code. I have compiled it many times in order to fix a niche bug. I even bought a better PC to compile it faster. This aside, it is hard to understand the code. There are zillions of moving pieces, and ad-hoc bug fixing is not an option. You have to follow things for weeks if not months to get to the right information. This probably can be improved by better docs explaining the code to contributors and new comers.

Overall I'm happy with it. Moreover, it is important to have alternatives otherwise we might lose the open web as we know it.

Edit: add paragraphs


Another FF plugin you might like is Multi-Account Containers [0]. It lets you isolate one or more websites from others to minimize their tracking ability.

[0]: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/multi-account...


The aforementioned Facebook Container was an excellent step, but if they really were serious about fixing Internet privacy regardless of their financial backers, they'd ship an official Google Container as well. (A third party developer ships one as a fork of Facebook Container, but it'd be far preferable for a Mozilla shipped one.) They capitalized on the Cambridge Analytica scandal with the launch of that extension, but won't follow up with the Google equivalent.

The code is already written, I just think they are still too scared to ship an extension that works against their primary sponsor.



Facebook Container requires and builds on this extension, you actually can’t replicate the functionality with that addon alone.

There's the Multi-Account Containers add-on.

+1 on this. I have containers set up for Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon logins (and all the apps they respectively own, that I of course do not have perfect knowledge of).

It's quite clunky to set up though. To add a site to a container, I have to open a new tab in the target container, go to the website, check "always open in this container" in the container menu, then open a new tab, then say "yes, always in this container" at the prompt.


That's the problem with Mozilla's privacy propaganda, their funding depends on violating privacy, so they can only talk and pretend, but not actually do anything about it. Which makes them look bad, dishonest and fake, when they are talking about privacy.

They do some things about it, but this is the real world so they struggle to achieve perfection because of trade-offs they have to make. Firefox may be imperfect but it's still much, much better than Chrome when it comes to privacy.

You’re not allowed to say anything bad about Firefox or Mozilla around these parts without being heavily censored in case you hadn’t noticed :)

Sure you are. I often criticize both. But what you have to say needs to be based in something resembling actual fact, and it helps a lot if you avoid stating opinion as fact.

It also helps to be even-handed and call out when Mozilla and/or Firefox does something right as well as when they do something wrong.


No, this is incorrect. I was down-towned for simply pointing out that Firefox nags you to sign in. I detailed each UI measure they took. Nothing but pure facts that are easily verifiable.

My comment was tailored toward blowski's remark at the top of this thread, not anything you said. I'm not sure what comment you're talking about, so I can't speak to that.

> needs to be based in something resembling actual fact

If you can't recognize something as a fact, it doesn't mean it isn't. I don't care about downvotes on such topics though, I didn't even know I was downvoted until someone pointed it out.


All this talk about openness and freedom, and Mozilla's builds still ship with the proprietary Pocket extension by default. I really hope they don't have to rely on the revenue from Pocket at some point.

Not only that, but it also connects to Google's SafeBrowsing servers. Is that required by their search engine contract with Google? Shouldn't be turned on by default.


You know they own Pocket right?

Pocket is basically their version of Read Later, etc...And it’s completely optional whether you want to use it or not. So I’m not sure I understand this complaint.

Mozilla’s first integration of Pocket was poorly done, and rightfully raised complaints. But since they have purchased it, a lot of those complaints have been resolved.


<< it also connects to Google's SafeBrowsing servers. >>

As a privacy enthusiast, what's wrong with Google's SafeBrowsing service? It provides protection from low-hanging fruit with anonymized data (hashes of URLs).


It's not very anonymized. Google already has a list of URLs, so they can just hash them all and see what matches. And if they have URL 1, 2, and 4, odds are they can interpolate to find out what #3 is.

> so they can just hash them all and see what matches

Matches _what_ ? Firefox doesn't send hashes to Google Safe Browsing. This would not only be a privacy problem it would also make the browser much too slow. Instead Firefox periodically downloads a summary of what might be unsafe, and then it compares hashes to that summary. If there's a match in the summary (rare but it happens) it fetches more detailed parts of the total Safe Browsing map to make a decision.

As a rule of thumb I'd say when a person complains about Safe Browsing without any clue how it actually works I'm confident they're exactly the type of "power user" who most needs Safe Browsing to keep them out of trouble because they're falsely confident in their own abilities.


It does however request hash prefixes, then google sends to the client all bad URLs that match, that is what can be brute forced with relative ease, if you already have a stream of previous they are visiting (via google analytics, google captcha, and other matched hashes). Especially if you know most every URL on the internet already. (hash them, then look it up in a table).

Anonymization is a very tricky subject, and there is a lot of techniques that get trumpeted but are absolutely not effective assuming a bad faith actor.


> It does however request hash prefixes, then google sends to the client all bad URLs that match

IF the prefix is a match, which is relatively unusual then the browser requests the full list for that prefix. But also, no, Google just sends back a list of full hashes and not URLs.

> that is what can be brute forced with relative ease

OK. 1f6866 is a hash prefix, quick "brute force" it with this supposed relative ease, what am I looking at?

How about 0aebaf? Ah, trick question, that's just noise stirred in automatically by Firefox (yes their implementation silently does this, typically the noise drowns out signal by a ratio of 4:1 but it's configurable).

Or wait, maybe the first one was noise and this isn't. Google neither knows nor cares.

Still, you'll just use "relative ease" to brute force every 24-bit number and then er, more brute force to figure out which ones are bogus. You can do the same with my phone number. One of the digits is a "five" - quick, brute force the whole number and tell me what it is to show how great "brute force" is at hand-waving impossible problems!

> if you already have a stream of previous they are visiting

I know this trick. Hey, pick a number, then add two to that number, then take away the number you first thought of. The number you're now thinking of is two - tada!

Yes, if I know where you are then I can "magically" tell where you are using seemingly unrelated information, by simply discarding it and already knowing where you are.

But this "technique" works perfectly well without Safe Browsing and so it has no bearing on whether Safe Browsing is in fact safe.

> Anonymization is a very tricky subject

Brain surgery is also a tricky subject. But Google's Safe Browsing project doesn't do Brain surgery either.



I don't think you understand what anonymized means. Yes they know that someone went to those URLs... but they can't link it to a person. So it's anonymous.

The request originates and returns to an IP address, your IP address. It's not anonymous.

So does every other service on the internet, unless you're going out of your way to mask your IP addr. That in itself does not expose the sites you visit via SafeBrowsing.

I've not seen any indication that users wanted it, I've also read that Mozilla developers agree that it should be an extension. Yet Mozilla buys this and puts it inside Firefox, where it can at best be disabled by going through about:config and changing parameters.

Why Mozilla is hellbent on pushing this upon their users is beyond me, it just hurts their image in my opinon.


> Why Mozilla is hellbent on pushing this upon their users is beyond me

It's one of their many attempts at finding a revenue source that isn't Google. Their hope was that people would love it so much that they'd sign up for the pay version.

I have a huge amount of sympathy for Mozilla on this issue. They get slammed for being funded by Google, but pretty much every time they do something that could generate revenue and get them off of Google's wallet, they get roundly slammed for that, too.


>They get slammed for being funded by Google

I don't see that at all, I mean they've been funded by Google for practically their entire existence.

On the contrary it seems to me that Firefox users find that funding the project through selling the default search engine is a good compromise as it is both easy to switch to a different search engine, and also that the vast majority use Google either way.

Also it's not as if Pocket will ever come anywhere remotely near making Mozilla self-sustainable, it's all so weird to me as this really hurts their image as a 'users-first' organisation.


The issue is that if Google cuts their funding if they encroach too much on Chromium, then Mozilla is in trouble. At the moment, their entire operation is financially dependent on a competitor paying them money.

>Mozilla’s first integration of Pocket was poorly done, and rightfully raised complaints. But since they have purchased it, a lot of those complaints have been resolved.

Off-topic, but I find current integration equally poor. Why do I have to spend extra clicks to login every time I want to add something to Pocket? Why it doesn't use stored credentials just like Sync does?


<< Why it doesn't use stored credentials just like Sync does? >>

If you sign into Pocket with your Firefox Sync account, this is the behavior.

It should only prompt you to re-login if you've cleared cookies. Even then, you can re-login via FF Sync without entering the password in again.

If you're logging in with a service other than FF Sync (ex: Google), I'm not sure how you expect FF to know what your credentials are to log you in.


>It should only prompt you to re-login if you've cleared cookies

Looks like Cookie AutoDelete extension somehow affects Pocket but not Sync. Thank you for hint!


Yes, I had to whitelist '*.getpocket.com' to avoid auto deletion of Pocket cookies.

Pocket isn't end to end encrypted and replaced a feature that was. Mozilla promised to make it open source and hasn't.

Its still proprietary and closed source, despite them owning it for years now.

And they promised to open source it. They didn't.

They're working on it https://github.com/Pocket

> proprietary Pocket extension

FWIW, I believe all the Pocket client code is open source.


> Baker wrote on Mozilla's blog that in the last decade, the world had seen "the power of the internet used to magnify divisiveness, incite violence, promote hatred, and intentionally manipulate fact and reality." Baker then added four new manifesto principles calling for equality, discourse and diversity online in an addendum called "Pledge for a Healthy Internet."

"Equality, discourse, and diversity" are the very principles that enable people to "magnify divisiveness, incite violence, promote hatred, and intentionally manipulate fact and reality." Any attempt to promote freedom of expression while simultaneously silencing the worst of humanity is inherently at odds.

Hatred is a naturally occuring phenomina, not a learned behavior. You can't just quarantine it to make it go away. That only makes it worse.

The internet is not a breeding ground for hatred. It's just a reflection of how bad we can really be.


Ex-Mozillian Brendan Eich agrees that privacy is the battle for the future http://www.brave.com

The question is - do you need to re-write the internet economy as Brave are trying to to achieve it, and not just block trackers?

The third element is that governments are becoming addicted to the vast trove of information gathered - will they be willing to give that up if a technical/business model solution takes off.

Interesting times.


You make it sound as if Brave does more than Firefox to provide an alternative to the Chrome quasi-monopoly. Let's not forget that Brave is a fork of Chromium in the first place which means that if you value competition Firefox is still a better bet, at least until Brave shows that they can maintain a deep fork of Chrome long term while resisting upstream changes they don't want and that's a very tall order.

I do agree that changing the internet economy would be great though, but at this point I'm not entirely sure I trust Brave to do that. They clearly want a piece of the advertising cake under the guise of "disrupting" things, but should they end up being successful I'm not yet completely convinced that it'll change things fundamentally. I'm definitely curious to see if they manage to do it though, even if it ends up as a failed experiment it will have been an interesting one.


Not saying Brave is the answer, but I think they have at least identified the right problem - ie

If, for example, an effective adblocking browser takes off, huge amounts of revenue to content providers will disappear. So content providers will start to resist in the only way they can - by blocking people with adblockers.

If you want to avoid either massive reduction of content, or the blocking of ad blockers, then you need to offer an alternative.

As I said, whether Brave's model is the right alternative is an open question - but at least they are having a go.


Yes, I want massive reduction of content. I am sorry, but if you haven't noticed, internet is a giant, steaming pile of garbage. Amount of usable content is 1:10000 and the reason for this are ads - you earn money regardless what crap you sell. It is no longer about content but about watching ads.

I agree with much of that - but what I worry about is the perilous state of journalism - it is being hit by reduction in ad money resulting in less depth and more pandering to people with money.

You could argue the garbage is the problem - taking ad money from better sources, however if you have a blanket ad block then there is no discrimination - the Brave model offers you a chance to discriminate but still use ad payment model.

The alternative is to move to 'pay to view' models - the problem here is that then competes with free content that is free because it's paided propaganda.


I started using Brave recently, and so far I like it. The detailed per site settings to block stuff are great.

I want no part of Brave's weird cryptoish scheme. I know the feature is opt-in, but I don't see the point in supporting an organization unable to find a source of revenue I find agreeable.

Even something as simple and obnoxious as donation nagging, like Wikipedia, seems preferable to what Brave has proposed.


It’s not perfect, but I like it better than the alternatives (selling user data, non profit).

Technically the browser is nice, but there’s something nice about a for profit org whose incentives are aligned with mine. For now, I use a FireFox for similar reasons, but I like Brave’s mode for the web better than the “bad ad” model that google and Facebook push.

I used to like Opera for similar reasons.


What could one find disgreeable in a company being a non-profit?

In a "we depend on the biggest enemy of privacy for funding" kind of way?

Being a non-profit doesn't imply any of that.

And nobody has ever demonstrated that this ostensible "dependence" has any adverse effects on Mozilla's policy.


It's hard to demonstrate anything if you don't have a control group and can't turn the thing in question on and off. Conflicts of interest are real, you don't need to demonstrate that they are, though it's not clear how much they sway Mozilla's decisions.

And you're right, the non-profit-status doesn't imply that, they could just as well do the same as a commercial enterprise. It would be more obvious that way.

Would Mozilla make the step to ship an adblocker with Firefox? It would certainly be what their users want (the most popular extension by far being uBlock Origin), but it would pretty much decrease their worth to Google to zero, hence kill the funding. And there's your conflict of interest.


It's a difficult problem. Unless a majority-marketshare browser does that as well (and we know that Chrome certainly won't), a lot of websites might choose to block all Firefox users instead.

And perhaps you and I know how to disable an ad blocker selectively. An average user might simply see problems with websites and uninstall Firefox as "not working", tanking its marketshare even more.

So Google doesn't necessarily factor into that decision, really.


True, though I think that would be a short (and just!) war that would get us to a much better place: hiding the type of user agent you're using from the site means less finger printing opportunities.

It very much could lead to the opposite too. "Oh hey, the web works when you're using Firefox". My mother has become a missionary (for adblockers, not firefox) since she's once witnessed how websites look on a friend's PC. She told her "I think your computer is broken", which lead to confusion & a presentation on my mother's PC... which lead to them calling me asking how to make her friend's PC do that too.

It might, ironically, also be a great signal for Google's bots. I've never seen a quality site that tried to block me for using an adblock, and even "hey, please turn adblock on" is a strong signal for me that it's SEO content and I should go on looking for something else.


> hiding the type of user agent you're using from the site means less finger printing opportunities

There are other (maybe a bit more complex) ways to tell what browser you're using, and whether you block ads.

> I've never seen a quality site that tried to block me for using an adblock

...yet. This is starting to change, and a lot of websites still have ads as their main source of revenue. Either that, or subscriptions, and the latter (for online newspapers, for example) is taking off very slowly.

Again, our usage patterns are in the minority, so whatever tough choices we might want to make are not necessarily to everyone's benefit right now.

At least in theory, I support the Better Ads initiative by Adblock Plus. Even though I've mostly been using uBlock Origin lately...


> There are other (maybe a bit more complex) ways to tell what browser you're using, and whether you block ads.

Yes, and doing so will escalate the arms race. I believe that browsers will come out as the winners, and that's a good thing for privacy.

> This is starting to change, and a lot of websites still have ads as their main source of revenue.

Sure, but then again, most sites I see on a daily basis in Google are pure shit - made only to display ads, with the same content that is also on a million other pages, slightly rewritten so Google considers it unique. Nothing of value will be lost if the all burn up and go away.

I'm sure you're right, there will be unforeseen consequences, but I feel like appeasing the adtech industry by not stopping their surveillance is not going to be helpful.

Better Ads focuses only on perception: A flashy, dumb static banner is bad, a stalking text-ad that sends information back to its creepy owner where it is then correlated with MasterCard payment data, your location, the interests of your friends etc and saves all of that into a shadowy profile that follows you around is fine, because it's text only and is labeled "advertisement". I can't decide whether it was just an extortionist cash-grab or a smart way to redirect the attention from the actual problem to the surface problem ("it's bright, and it's animated").


> believe that browsers will come out as the winners, and that's a good thing for privacy

Even if I agree with you on the rest, we're back to Firefox not having a majority marketshare.

Mozilla could make a choice to only serve our particular niche, to the exclusion of less-technical users, but I don't think it's a good choice for it, or for the whole web.


I am a big proponent for non-profit but I think they can be risky if they are dependent on donors, especially a few donors.

Mozilla Foundation has google as it’s biggest revenue source [0], so if Google ever decides to change this it will cripple the org.

I think this would be different if revenue came from many donors so this risk would be lower.

I use FireFox and support Mozilla, but it’s challenging to donate to FireFox as Mozilla runs quite a few projects.

Nobody is perfect, but non-profits have risks like any organization.

[0] was yahoo for a while, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Foundation


> if Google ever decides to change this it will cripple the org

Not really. They do have a rainy-day fund, and they have experimented with partnering with other search providers in the past (such as Microsoft, or country-local search engines like Yandex). The main reason they still use Google is that the users prefer it. But if Google decides not to pay anymore, Mozilla will survive.


Brave is just trying a system of micropayments to support your most visited websites. To the end user, the crypto part can be invisible.

The user just deposits something like $10/month from their credit card and spreads it across their favourite websites.

They can do that and be completely ignorant that everything is running on ethereum. Which is really the way it should be in the end. Ethereum is just a hidden value transfer backend that saves a company money.


Do you have a problem with Mozilla's revenue from Google?

Obviously.

Why do you dislike Brave’s scheme?

They will still have enough of it to get their dose - default setups, corporate apps, embedded devices everywhere. They just don't need to get ALL your online behavior as they do know by default.

Using uMatrix really raised my awareness of how bad things are - spyTech is utterly everywhere. I still take the time to micromanage my matrix every time I encounter a new site and it’s ridiculous how long it can take to get a random infested page back to an acceptable level of usability.

Me too. I prefer micromanaging what a site gets access to. It's sadly not a great solution for anyone who isn't technical and somewhat persnickety.

uMatrix is better than nothing but I want more micromanagement. I want to be able to block on a per script basis because some sites will load 49 scripts from some other domain and only 1 or 2 will actually be needed to make the page work properly.

agree, I'd love to see uMatrix get more sophisticated.. there are already a lot of sites that simply cannot be fixed

Can they focus on making it perform as well as Chrome?

I mean, I support their efforts and all but I am forced to use a chrome based browser because FF has poor windows/sso integration and absolutley horrible memory management. A tab of any tool's webui that does a lot of work with a lot of data will not only bring firefox to a halt but the entire system. I can at least try to use it for soft workloads but you never know when visiting the wrong page will cause this issue again. Why can't it manage it's impact on the rest of the system?

My job performance would tank dramarically if I used firefox exclusively!

Why can't they work to make it better than Chrome? They were throwing Rust at it a few years ago,so what happened? Do they just not test against the right sites?

I mean, the mozilla foundation is not poor. They have money. Is it just politics or do they think getting gmail and youtube to work is all that is needed? I am only saying all this because i like firefox. Mozilla needs a wake up call. Do they not get the problems at hand or do they not care or do they lack some resource or motivation? I mean I will be happy to even buy a license for firefox if they get it to even come close to Chrome's performance. Maybe they have too many well intended fanboy's cheeeing them on?


Perhaps the specific websites you are using are particularly bad on Firefox (whether due to issues with the website or Firefox), but I do not share your experience at all. For me Firefox is fast and I never see it using too much memory, much less bringing the whole system to a halt.

So my suggestion is to file bugs for any websites that perform particularly badly for you.


Specific? Yes ,but it's a ton of sites. The site devs basically give up on firefox.

Maybe this is a windows thing? I use Firefox on MacOS and it is more performant than Chrome. I rarely have to restart Firefox. Chrome needs a restart at least twice a day (I use Chrome for google hangouts a lot).

This changed recently with Firefox Quantum, which was v69 or v70. I noticed a significant speedup at that point.


Firefox switched to CoreAnimation in v70, which made a big difference.

https://mozillagfx.wordpress.com/2019/10/22/dramatically-red...


Maybe it is a windows thing, when browing sites on non-work/non-productivity sites on Linux I have no issues but then again that's a different set of tasks

On MacOS, Safari is superior in performance and battery life.

What happened? They released it in version 69. Since then, Firefox has been running on that Rust engine, called Servo, has been much, much faster than it used to be.

Firefox is not based on Servo. It uses only some parts of that project.

They are focusing on performance. Firefox performance has improved a lot the last couple of years.

They can't compete with Google on engineering. Also, Google attracts better talent and pays more.

I'm finally back to Firefox for good. Feels good to be home.

I keep 'Edge-ium' around if I encounter any rare use cases that necessitate it, but that's relatively rare


I liked the wrap up where the position is that it is OK when other browsers adopt some of Mozilla’s privacy features.

I just about exclusively use FireFox with nine containers on my Linux and macOS laptops. Being able to segregate data is a game changer.

On my iOS devices, I feel stuck with Safari since other browsers sit on top of Safari. I appreciate the privacy features in Safari but still feel the need to frequently remove all cookies and use private tabs when using sites like FaceBook. I just wrote about this yesterday https://mark-watson.blogspot.com/2020/02/protecting-oneself-...

Because I like to sometimes use my Chromebook, I am stuck using the Chrome web browser. Deleting all cookies frequently helps.


Private tabs are the only way I use Safari. I found that I rarely use websites that I need to be logged in to, as those type of services generally have an App that I'm already using. For the odd case where I need to login, with my password vault, its only a couple extra clicks.

+1 that is excellent advice.

When non-tech friends ask how much of a hassle it is deleting all cookies, I point out that the passwords are saved and reliving in is quick.

All private tabs is obviously better, and I will do that more often.


> On my iOS devices, I feel stuck with Safari since other browsers sit on top of Safari

More importantly, Safari is the anointed web browser that opens all web links. If you could designate Firefox to be the primary web browser, I'd do so in a heartbeat, because "Send to device" is so damn useful when you're using Firefox everywhere.


It's funny how Mozilla preaches privacy, but if you open `about:config' and count

1) parameters that include word "telemetry"

2) everything that looks like a unique token

3) "mozilla.org" URLs

you'll see that the sum is steadily going up with every release. It leaves me under impression that Mozilla is trying to follow Facebook and Google. Lately they removed setting to use a custom page for the new tabs, leaving only choice between blank page and Mozilla-provided "interest based" homepage. I am still using it as the main browser, though, as "lesser evil", but discrepancy between Mozilla's slogans and actual features is pretty chilling.


That's kind of an absurd way to count, since many of the items listed can be disabled by global prefs while still being "enabled" themselves.

Does concept of "estimation" ring a bell to you?

telemetry ≠ tracking

Telemetry is absolutely a polite word for tracking. It is fundamentally about sending information about your system, your usecase, your software and your data to a remote party (usually without notification).

Calling it anything except tracking is super bullshitty.


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Telemetry serves a different purpose than tracking, but they are both collecting data -- and it's the data collection that I object to.

Firefox does let you disable the telemetry with one exception, though. The exception is that they have a special telemetry ping to tell them when someone has disabled telemetry. While that's obnoxious and prevents me from saying "it's perfectly done", that you can disable the rest is head-and-shoulders above pretty much everyone else.


Well, don't worry. I'm confident they'll fix this eventually. You can't be concerned about the tracking bits you see in about:config if you can't open about:config to begin with.

And none of that is used to influence elections or make you buy stuff you don't want.

Are we sure about this?

I mean I mostly agree that telemetry is different, but how can we be sure Mozilla isn't sharing their telemetry information with ad networks to help fingerprint you?

It seems the only way to be truly sure is if we could verify the browser sent no information at all, right? Or else it's just about trust, same as any other browser.


It's mostly about trust, but we have more reasons to trust Mozilla than other browser vendors - they consist of a community of people who care about their values, they've staked their reputation on those values, they are transparent, they're a legal non-profit, etc. Their financial statements are also public, and I don't think any income from ad networks has been found there.

> More reasons to trust Mozilla?

I think Cliqz incident and Shield Studies AR Game incident prove that you can trust Mozilla as much as any other huge corp.


And I think putting those at the same level as Google's and Microsoft's shenanigans, especially considering the other properties I mentioned and how they influenced how those incidents were dealt with, is grossly exaggerating.

1) Aforementioned companies don't market themselves as "privacy-centered" 2) If you re-read the original post, you'll notice that I was talking about trends. Increasingly aggressive telemetry and "interest-based" features is a relatively recent trend in Firefox, so give it some time before comparing it with megacorps that developed such stuff for years.

1) I'm not going to go with a browser vendor that violates my privacy more just because it doesn't say it tries not to violate my privacy.

2) Sure, and like the rest of the Mozilla community, I'll keep an eye on those trends. I'll revisit my choice of browser once they're actually worse than the others. Or more likely, work with the rest of the community to prevent that from happening.


And why do you think this whole "interest based" business exists?

I don't understand the question.

How ironic. Firefox is the browser that calls home the most on the first run https://twitter.com/jonathansampson/status/11658588961766604...

They also disabled the ability for extensions to work on mozilla pages and things like about:addons by default, where mozilla uses google analytics.

They add new tracking crap on the browser in every release, so you are at a loss what to disable first in about:config as the online guides tend to get outdated easily.

> that's good for trolls and surveillance organizations and violent groups

Only "surveillance organizations" is relevant to privacy. The others make me think of centralisation and censorship.

The only real way to browse privately is to use a browser with javascript disabled and only a subset of css enabled over tor/isp. (but then you have to deal with cloudflare and broken sites)


What is the relevance of "number of calls home on first run"? Surely the contents of said calls, and over an extended time period, is a much more important measurement?

I think that the number of calls home on first run is more important because you don't get an option to disable them.

The concept of the browser is a universal vehicle for information. One of the greatest breakthroughs for browsers, aside from increasing front end application rendering and interactivity, is extensions. They put the user as the primary, where they can access, control, organize the information accessed as they wish using extensions. Of course, there is a wild west aspect to this, and over time extension facilities are becoming closer to app stores, with ratings and permissions being primary. Chrome has had some of the best support for extensions, making it easy to create them and offering most features through them, which is one reason I use it instead of Firefox day to day. But no browser properly supports extensions on mobile. Chrome just doesn't, the Kiwi fork is supposed to but in my experience doesn't really, Firefox says they will but the signals are it will only be select extensions, at least for now. Extensions are one of the best markers and facilities of a free, user first web, that isn't just about accessing opaque, absolutely controlled services, where hobbyists and principled organizations can work directly in the space of privacy and trust as information is processed, so I hope they pick up some priority.

>Firefox says they will [properly support extensions on mobile]

The most relevant extension - uBlock Origin - works just fine on mobile Firefox.

It's a real game changer, especially with screen real estate and energy usage being quite important on mobile.

That extension alone is why I have and use Firefox on mobile phones (aside of the usual compatibility testing on other browsers for certain web projects).


Mobile Firefox has the only extension I really need on there, uBlock Origin. No other mobile browser has anything comparable from what I've seen so I'm not sure what you're talking about on that point.

This site, for all its virtues, really cracks me up sometimes. I was talking about the open world of extensions, with an 's,' of which there are many. But apparently all the world needs is uBlock, and whatever the sites and browser companies deign to provide. Some hackers.

Brilliant, I'll be moving to Firefox.

Specifically for mobile divices mozilla's performance is too good you can feel it just try to open blogger html codes in crome it will hang but for mozilla it's fine https://www.boringworld.org

I'd love to have a Gmail-like alternative, both with a Mozilla domain (personal) and custom domains (business), for a small yearly subscription. Maybe have ad-supported as an alternative.

The momemt Google pull the plug for Ublock Origin and other similar plugins - we'll see how "Mozilla lost the browser wars".

The moment ublock origin is limited or broken in chrome is the moment I abandon chrome completely and switch to firefox full time.

> namedropping Cambridge Analytica

And opinion discarded


Mozilla destroyed their own platform - by removing its most significant feature, which was deep extensibility, instead of fixing it to keep that feature.

> That's how Mozilla works: slowly, collaboratively, trying to speak for everyone.

I don't remember Mozilla works collaboratively. By the way - remind me where they publish their income sources again?

> "the power of the internet used to magnify divisiveness, incite violence, promote hatred, and intentionally manipulate fact and reality."

Yeah, well, so has the printing press. When someone suggests we should keep a "healty press", that's oligarchic censorship. Reminds me of the US Comics Code.

> Mozilla has spent the last several years fighting harder and louder than ever for the future of the internet.

Must not have been loud enough, because I believe few people have noticed this.

> the company's vision of a more user-centric, privacy-conscious web.

"user-centric" web? Don't know what that means. It's like "reader-centric books". As for privacy - when something like uBlock Origin and EFF Privacy Badger is installed by default, and when TOR is an easily-accessible option, and when Mozilla funds some TOR endpoint routers (in countries outside US reach of course), then we'll talk.

> But what if people could also use them to keep Facebook from snooping as they traveled the web?

If Facebook was prevented from snooping entirely, that would not be that much of an issue.

> Firefox has long held the not-entirely-flattering distinction of being the most popular browser not made by a huge corporation

It's bankrolled by huge corporations. IIRC it was mostly Google for a while. Also, see below about their new VP.

I am reminded how Mozilla had, for years, neglected its email client in favor of the browser, thus effectively helping to promote webmail, stored and spied on by these corporations. It certainly did nothing to promote end-to-end encryption of email, which has been quite possible with Thunderbird, and would have prevented (some of the) spying on users.

> So far, Firefox has blocked 1.6 trillion tracking requests

That means it doesn't block most tracking requests.

> Alan Davidson ... new VP of policy ... has been working ... at Google and then as President Barack Obama's director of digital economy

So one of the top people at the spying-B-us corporation and the "can't have privacy and security" administration is the new VP who'll help protect us from his former colleagues and bosses? Uh-huh.


I'm using Firefox for years, after Chrome started to ask me for a login (at around version 40). Never looked back. One day I woke up to a chart showing browser market share of FF at around 4%, which surprised me - as I thought many people would understand the implications and directions.

Maybe I'm too optimistic.

Update: Loved chrome, used it for years, I also love most Chrome engineering and all the innovation they added to the field - it's just good to have alternatives.


> One day I woke up to a chart showing browser market share of FF at around 4%, which surprised me - as I thought many people would understand the implications and directions.

Its certainly low, but I also think FF usage is under reported due to built-in tracker blocking. For reference, FF uses the level 1 disconnect.me block list, which blocks StatCounter scrips from loading on 3rd party sites [1].

[1] https://github.com/disconnectme/disconnect-tracking-protecti...


> Its certainly low, but I also think FF usage is under reported due to built-in tracker blocking.

Of course it's not perfect source, but CloudFlare for instance have client detection purely by SSL handshake fingerprint and it's show 6-7% for Firefox:

https://malcolm.cloudflare.com/

Long ago Wikimedia also had own statistics that was pretty much relevant, but I guess it's discontinued.


These numbers do seem in line with the propensity an average user has to switch default apps. I often compare this to how many people out of 100 bother to change their shoelaces on day 1. I'd wager less than 1, due to the friction of effort, configuration and learning curve, whereas the original usually just looks "nice", more "in place", "fitting" the decorum. Big icon is sitting there already.

Thus it's useful to consider market shares for all end-user internet-browsing devices, wherein x86 today is dwarfed by mobile and general ARM. The fact is you can pretty much correlate browser market share¹ with OS market share (which I guess retrospectively validates the anti-trust case against MS in the 90s).

- IE dominance throughout the x86 era (until early 2010s),

- then stratospheric rise of Chrome as Android took over 80-90% market share on mobile and probably 3-4x as many devices as Windows. Chrome took over everything else.

- Safari steady around 5%, about half of Apple's market share in both x86 and mobile (as low as half is surprising to me: since all iOS devices use Safari, the discrepancy between Apple's market share and Safari's must come from x86 MacOS, and I would have expected much more people to use default Safari on that OS, especially given its battery optimizations, compounded by Chrome's relative cost in RAM etc).

- Firefox is at an all-time low (still second though). Given the current trend of OS makers to expand into "ecosystems" (multiple devices/OS + cloud services), I don't find it surprising: mainstream users are more and more entrenched in the more-or-less walled "gardens" of each variety.

Clearly, Google is winning that game as of 2020 in terms of numbers, but Apple is winning too within its own (much smaller but more profitable!) userspace / customer base. MS is but failing so far, TBC, but meh it's Chromium underneath.

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es9DNe0l0Qo


Wow, that is a great link, thanks for sharing! Doing a filter based on device, FF doesn't even rank on Phone, and has 12.73% on Desktop. Although the data appears to only be for 24 hours - so not super great, but still an interesting data point.

Other takeways from that graph:

- Mobile internet use surpassed desktop.

- Tablets never caught on

- Windows 7 is more popular than MacOS

- Safari (mobile, undoubtedly) is the second most popular browser. IE(!) is third.


I'm pretty sure they rely on user agent in the server logs.

Sure you can spoof it, but it would be the same for the stat counter.


Do you have any sources to back up this claim? I know for a fact that StatCounter uses JavaScript [1] to collect data, much like Google Analytics. I do not see any reason why they would have a separate collection method for browser statistics. Even if they do have alternative collection methods, if they combine that data source with the javascript collection method - it would still cause FF usage to be under reported.

[1] https://statcounter.com/support/faq/14-how-do-i-install-stat...


I'm on my waay BACK to Firefox, there was a strange period when I left, Firefox just seemed really heavy on my machine, and it was super intensive for some dev tools.

Now I say the same about chrome and find FF much lighter and efficient.

Delighted that FF are taking a bit of a stronger stand here in the privacy dept too .


Firefox went through a long period of being awful performance wise, they really shot themselves in the foot as techies left them in droves because of it. And they'd often insist it'd improved when it was obvious that it was was nowhere near Chrome's level as soon as you opened the browser. I kept trying to get back to it, but every time it drove me away. Still feels laggy on desktop vs Chrome when I tried it 3 months ago. I have all the preload stuff turned off in Chrome and use DDG so it's not because of that.

I use it on my phone now as I don't support AMP at all, and it still has some weird issues compared to Chrome. The main annoyances for me are:

- Kinda hanging occasionally when you have 40 or 50 tabs open. Sometimes have to close and reopen it, sometimes it'll start being responsive again. Never had these problems in Chrome.

- Never ending loading bars. While it might be true that some script hasn't loaded, I don't need to know and it's just annoying to have a half complete blue bar at the top of the page. It adds to the perception that there's something wrong, and it feels like somethings wrong with Firefox Mobile not something's wrong with the web page.

- I want to pull down to refresh. I know it's silly but 6 months on I still do it out of muscle memory, and then remember you have to click the menu, then click the refresh. Pull down is just great, far superior to their solution.

- Thumbnails of old tabs that are still open get flushed, never happens in Chrome. What it means is that you can't scan the tabs for an old open tab you want by the look of the thumbnail. for example, I have a jambalya recipe I tried and like but haven't got round to transcribing and every two or three weeks have to hunt through the damn tabs to find it.

- Their tab solution is not as nice as Chrome's. I really don't like the layout, or find it as usable, even months on. When Chrome initially switched theirs I was sceptical, but really learned to love the concertina style.

I am also finding it quite hard to get proper ad blocking working. It's working for some sites, but no matter what I do I'm still getting google ads and now certain login pages hang completely including some google driven ones. Why is it so hard to do? I'm pretty competent with computers after all! (Yes, I've turned off things like acceptable ads and checked the whitelists).


You should try out their new version of Firefox Mobile that they've been working on. It's much faster.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.mozilla.fe...


Using Fedora Linux, last I tried a switch to FF (less than 6 months ago) it was way slower than chrome. I actually like FF functionality more and would prefer to use it but my laptop runs significantly hotter when I run FF on it.

Just given its Fedora I would be a bit nervous to instantly assume full blame on Firefox, given the nature of the OS, but definitely give a try again!

I don't really have any issues with Fedora performance wise, is it widely perceived to not be performant? I have had much more issues with everything on Ubuntu than I ever had with Fedora. Maybe ricing with Gentoo could get me a bit further but given both Firefox and Chrome will basically use the same system libraries I don't see how it is fair to blame Fedora for the difference.

I've been running FF on Fedora for the last 14 months with no problems. I typically have 20-40 tabs open, but then again, I'm also using NoScript so maybe 10-20 of those tabs are not doing so much damage to my performance. (The ones that stick around, like 4 Gmail tabs, Slack, RSS reader, etc. are whitelisted)

Are you running Wayland? Make sure Firefox was running in Wayland mode. Fedora had a separate package for Wayland Firefox for some time, though it might be the default in 31. XWayland can result in a performance hit.

https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Changes/Firefox_Wayland_By_De...


I am not using Wayland and I am running XFCE

This has been my experience across Linux distros and was also the case on my MacBook Pro. Whenever I mention my MacBook issues the down voters swarm despite the fact that there is an open bug regarding poor performance on certain MacBook configurations. And no the performance fix for Macs that came out a few months ago didn't resolve it.

Is it faster on Windows? This would be quite fascinating if it is the case - my experience with windows is that it is an all round slacker when it comes to performance.

I remember reading about an issue on some Linux systems, not sure if they fixed it, but do report these issues if you can.

Not sure how, it is not exactly a bug, just ... a thing.

> Maybe I'm too optimistic.

Don't be optimistic, but don't be pesimistic either.

Do what you can - donate time or money, or just recommend everyone to not use the piece of carp that is Chrome. Anything based on Chromium counts as well, their codebase is dictated by Google, one way or the other.

My mom had so many issues with ads until I installed Firefox for her, and honestly, the ad blockers make the internet a much better for navigation.


> Do what you can - donate time or money, or just recommend everyone to not use the piece of carp that is Chrome.

Or if you are building web products, please use Firefox as your dev browser, that's what I'm doing and it automatically insures that whatever I build will work on Firefox.


I've been doing this for years.

> money

As I understand it, donating money to Mozilla does not fund Firefox in any way but rather their other social initiatives (see the Mozilla Foundation page for a list). Firefox is under the Mozilla Corporation which is funded by things like search deals with Google.


i'm the IT guy in my shop so when i got here i switched every machine to firefox + ecosia.org for search and only one guy went back to chrome.. i try and spread the fox around as much i can.

>Don't be optimistic, but don't be pesimistic either.

The Modern US / Silicon Valley mentality is you have to be optimistic at all cost. Being Realistic is counted as pessimism.


I personally just like Chrome because the awesome syncing between all devices and always having the best Dev Tools ready to open at any second.

I know my browser usage is used for marketing purposes, but as long as it doesn't harm me in anyway I can live with that.


I'm not sure if there's something outside my usage that Chrome does better, but for my needs Firefox's dev tools are great.

Firefox also not only sync's between all of my devices, including my cell phone. Each device has the ability to send a tab to another device, which I don't recall Chrome having.

Just some data points in case you're ever interested in trying something different.



Seems that this has been in Chrome since sometime last year; first mention on Google is in March, but a lot of the stories regarding it are dated September.

Firefox also has sync and it’s end to end encrypted as well.

In my opinion Firefox's dev tools are superior for CSS while Chrome has better JS debugging and better profiling.

Firefox has both of these things without intrusive marketing.

> [...] I thought many people would understand the implications and directions.

Might be obvious, but consider that more people than you estimated, while understanding implications and directions, decided differently than you did. It's dangerous to attribute behaviour different from your own to lack of understanding.


> I'm using Firefox for years, after Chrome started to ask me for a login

It's funny because Firefox has been pushing their login thing pretty hard (the yellow "oh no" exclamation mark icon if you're not logged in, the account icon that keeps placing itself back onto my toolbar, occasional full-page ad/nag screen, ...).


I've never seen the exclamation mark and I'm never signed in on my work computer. Meanwhile, Chrome signs you into the browser profile if you sign into any Google site and it's opt-out.

They've got it plastered around the UI. It's the very top menu item. It's also in the Pocket address bar button right under where they advertise to you to "Sign up for Pocket. It's freeeeeee!"

Not only that, but on new installs and after some updates Firefox nags you to sign up whenever it can, for instance when you log into a website - right after you save the password it will show some animated crap in the address bar to nag you to "Sign in to sync..."

I just opened Firefox (on Linux no less) to confirm every single one of these things.

Chrome (my default browser) actually nags me less and in less annoying ways.


> Chrome (my default browser) actually nags me less and in less annoying ways.

Because they just log you in without asking, as noted in the comment you're replying to. It also has more severe implications in Chrome privacy-wise, directly linking your Chrome profile with all kinds of other privacy-sensitive Google services. Since Google is in the business of making money from the data they have on you (and hence collects as much as it can), I'd be much more concerned about this than I am about my Firefox account.


I opted out of that once in Chrome and I never saw it again.

I see no way to opt out of all the nags Firefox gives me.


None of this is true on Windows

Yes it is. Just confirmed on Windows with a new install.

The very first screen on first open nags you to signup, the top menu item is “Sign in to Firefox”, there’s a notification dot on the user icon with the Sign in nag there, the Pocket button asks you to sign in and after I log into a website I immediately get an animated recommendation nag to also sign in to Firefox.

It’s absolutely 100% plastered around the Firefox UI.


The exclamation mark is only shown when you're logged in but got logged out because of a problem. You can just remove your account whenever you want.

You can also self host the upstream service if you want there features that come with logging in but don't want Mozilla to have the data:

https://blog.mozilla.org/services/2014/05/08/firefox-account...


I feel like this should be more widely known. I imagine there's a fair few large corporate IT departments that would love to host their own sync service.

This doesn't match my experience... When you install it, they show a page and the account icon. I believe that only on some major updates I've seen the account page again, which is a nice reminder to sync bookmarks (even though I don't use it). I always customize the toolbar upon installing and it (the icon) never came back or bothered me again.

One of those browsers tracks everything you do if you sign-in, the other does it only to increase retention, not to track your activities. Guess which is which?

It would be better not to do [questionable thing] than to do it at all.

I don't particularly care whether nagware functionality is benign or not.


A common complaint with Firefox was that you couldn't sync between devices - even though that was perfectly possible! But apparently, people had a hard time finding the functionality.

You might not consider that use case important, but I wouldn't call it questionable.


I'm amiable to this reasoning right up until software conveniently forgets that I told it "no, I don't care, stop bugging me about it". And again.

It's the kind of "oops haha just a mistake that we did the bad thing again" shenanigans that Mozilla employees complain about Google doing.


That's fair.

Firefox sync is super convenient though, I don't really agree with you that it's a dark pattern. It does make using your browser more convenient across devices and I'm sure many people coming from chrome expect this to work out of the box especially since, AFAIK, google auto-logs you into Chrome as soon as it can.

On the other hand I find Pocket a much more questionable addition.


I use FF all day, every day across two machines and I literally cannot think of what it is you are referring to here.

Chrome has spread like Malware as a bundled installer with a lot of free software. Also it's on most mobile devices. So it's not that surprising.

> I woke up to a chart showing browser market share of FF at around 4%

I've used and loved Firefox from before it was called Firefox. I really, really, really want to like the modern Firefox, but I just can't. I find it limiting and irritating. So, sadly, I don't. I don't use Chrome either, though.


What do you find limiting about Firefox? How does your browser of choice free you from these limitations?

My browser of choice is Waterfox -- so, essentially, pre-Quantum Firefox.

There are two things that I find limiting. First, the configurability has been seriously reduced. I really dislike Firefox's UI, and it's no longer possible to make the browser look and feel as I prefer. I can get most of the way there -- but to even do that much is a rather serious pain in the butt. Second, the neutering of the extensions hurt badly, and the only way I can retain the functionality that I want is to use something pre-Quantum.

Waterfox has neither of these problems (well, the extension problem is starting to impact Waterfox, which is why I'm no longer updating it. I need to find another browser, but I haven't found a different one that works for me yet. Until I do, Waterfox it is.)


Last time I used Firefox it asked me to create an account and login. It wasn't required nor is it for Chrome.

Firefox suggests an account for syncing and leaked password monitoring, but it's dismissable. Chrome, brand new install, will just take your login to GMail, for example, and automatically use it for syncing without asking.

This is just false. A new Chrome install will not take your Gmail login and use it automatically for syncing. It will prompt you if you would like to use the account for syncing and you can dismiss that prompt just as you can dismiss Firefox's prompt to create and login into an account to sync.

I don't know if it is so now. When the feature was introduced, Chrome synced with my account automatically when I logged in to one of its services. I found it so bold I've never used any Google service inside chrome again.

I’m not convinced it’s good to have alternatives, or maybe I’m just too uneducated on the subject to understand why. I’m old enough to have lived through the horror of IE, and since I work in Enterprise where some old web applications still require it, I will continue to live it until we’re capable of rolling out the new Edge with IE compatibility.

I’ve actually used FF as my main development browser for most of those years because it’s the only browser where extensions aren’t controlled by our IT department, and I kind of need extensions on the fly. So I’ve seen the good and the bad of it. I personally prefer Chrome. I also like privacy, but I’ve tried the Duck and it just doesn’t work for my language, leading me to add the !g on almost all my searches, and if I’m google that much anyway, so I really benefit from using FF? Doesn’t FF also use one of Google’s engines to check site security?

Anyway I’m rambling, so let me get back on track. I’ve been testing the new Edge, and it’s Microsoft’s best browser, and what are the risks? Is it really better to have all the browsers on different engines instead of having multiple big guys work on the same open source engine?


1) Thirteen banner ads, most of them animated

2) Tracking from Google and Facebook

3) Cookie warning with no way to opt out

4) You can only opt out if you live in California:

> Opting out of the sharing of your personal information by Protocol with marketers: Please send an email to privacy@protocol.com with the following information: -Name -Email -Confirmation of California residency


I often forget how does the internet look like without the adblocker

Not using a dedicated ad blocker (just Firefox) and the article looks very clean to me.

same. I only see a very clean article :)

There are a few news organizations somehow battling it out to survive without advertising and I applaud them, but most comments like these simply remind me of this sentiment: https://thenib.com/mister-gotcha/

The issue is that this is a continuing issue that will possibly only get worse until websites find a better means of funding themselves and their staff. I suspect we'll only see these sort of comments increase over time.

No ads coming up in my Epic Privacy Browser with adblock & encrypted proxy on :-). Firefox has been copying a lot of Epic's features, but still is far behind their privacy defaults.

[flagged]


I think being “woke” is only “not good” if you subscribe to the Fox News Cult.

Thinking carefully about the ethics of the company you work for, especially those in-demand employees who largely have a choice like software engineers, is definitely important. This is not a partisan issue.

Sure, you may not get your chance to own the libs, but that stuff is a bit childish, isn’t it? What does the phrase SJW actually mean to you? If you don’t believe that “social justice” is good, what do you find appealing about the alternative of “social injustice?”


No, I don't think so. I connect "woke" to activists that don't give anything about privacy. On the contrary, I think of self-righteous groups that try to get peoples private information and try to ruin their lives over the internet. In my opinion, this cannot be allowed wherever information technology is involved, especially anything concerning user information. It is one of the reasons I would never want these companies to know anything about me. They just cannot be trusted with information, even if you align with the values allegedly proposed.

That said, at least Mozillas "wokeness" is limited to a degree that is livable.


I'm so far left I have serious plans in the works with money invested to start a commune with some of my friends. So I'm about as far from Fox news as you can get and I loathe woke culture. I'm not going to argue there merits, just letting you know it's not just the right.

What is “woke culture”?

Mostly an internet fad. You can safely ignore it.

I wish it was. Mainstream media are often relaying it, as they relay almost all the new liberal leftism/feminism, just a bit less so far. And I am not even talking about the USA but somewhere in Europe where that American stuff was imported in a blink, in spite of the fact that local situation, culture and history do no match that story and the American situation, culture and history at all.

Corporate media should be regarded exactly the same as tobacco executives. Don't let their flailing about in a death spiral concern you. Not only can they be safely ignored, your health will improve if you do.

Only the sith deal in absolutes. If you don't believe in "social justice" then you must believe in "social injustice"?

I think you are contradicting yourself? Didn't you want to say people shouldn't think in absolutes? No, the opposite of "social justice" is not "social injustice", it is real social justice (without the ""). The naming "social justice" in itself is already propaganda.

If you think very carefully about Mozilla, you'll realize that they're controlled opposition on a short leash, with almost the entirety of their revenue coming from Google. Guess nobody should be working there either, huh?

>If you don’t believe that “social justice” is good

I don't believe your definition of "justice" is good, and I don't believe that the people who had attempted to implement your ideology in practice brought any good to the people they've promised that justice to.


The problem is listing it as a primary principle when there are more pressing concerns. I don't care about people's politics, so long as they don't push it to the forefront. Unfortunately this is what seems to happen a lot these days. "Fighting hate" should not be a primary concern for Mozilla right now.

I’m failing to see how Mozilla is being political, and how fighting hate is political. Theoretically, people across the political spectrum should all agree with that.

Hate online is a huge problem, and if Mozilla think they have potential to solve that problem, I’d say they can go for it. It’s their budget, not mine or yours.


"Hate" is a loaded term that depends on your interpretation, and can mean a lot of things, most of them political. I won't list them here because it's off-topic on HN.

Mozilla right now should focus their efforts on being profitable (or at least sustainable!) without relying on Google, Baidu and Yandex. Ideological or political pursuits should come later.



It isn't, they don't, nor should they bother trying

> Hate online is a huge problem, and if Mozilla think they have potential to solve that problem, I’d say they can go for it.

So is climate change. They really should focus on that problem, because it's literally endangering our planet, not just the Internet.

Or they should keep their focus on a more narrow topic that they actually understand and have some success in working on.

I've yet to see mission creep that didn't turn into a problem very quickly.


I made an account just because of the assumptions you've made that are egregiously incorrect.

> I think being “woke” is only “not good” if you subscribe to the Fox News Cult.

I've never watched Fox News (outside of the odd clip that has Bill O'Reilly saying something insane). I am not from the USA. "Woke" isn't well defined but most people when they use it are referring to the insane left wing hypocritical politics. Believe it or not you don't have to be "ignorant right winger" to disagree with insane policies.

Also you've managed to do this nonsense of saying "well you must be one of these [ignorant people] so I can dismiss your opinion". Which must be some sort of fallacy. I don't know what it would be called, but it is certainly fallacious.

> Thinking carefully about the ethics of the company you work for, especially those in-demand employees who largely have a choice like software engineers, is definitely important. This is not a partisan issue.

Many of these companies expose "woke" ideas and make nice adverts while quite happily paying sweatshop wages in Asia. Many people see this as hypocritical.

Also developers need a reality check. You can and will be replaced by someone they can hire for cheaper if you don't want to do the job. There are what seven billion people on the planet? You are not special.

> If you don’t believe that “social justice” is good, what do you find appealing about the alternative of “social injustice?”

Social Injustice isn't the opposite of Social Justice it is Justice. Justice should be kept to the courts.

From what I've seen Social Justice normally normally includes things like harassment campaigns (and yes there are organised harassment campaigns), de-platforming of speakers and going after people's income known as "breaking their rice bowl" or they do some sort of insane "reverse racism". All of which I oppose.


   woke/Fox News Cult.
I recommend a little less parochialism, and more historical scholarship.

All populist politics needs to appeal to its clientele with simplistic, easy to grasp utopias that are claimed to be in easy grasp after "we" win power, whether it's the classless society of Marxism, notions of paradise in various religions (e.g. 72 seventy-two houri in Sunni-Islam), libertarianism's coercion-free optimal resource allocation, anarchism's absence of social hierarchy, Robespierre's "liberté, égalité, fraternité", and many others. "Woke" culture is clearly a contemporary evolution (rebranding) of the socialist tradition emerging out of the French revolution, and made politically potent by Lenin, Stalin & comrades, channeled into the modern western world via Gramsci's cultural hegemony, and nowadays spread by powerful branding organisations like Avaaz [1] and Purpose [2].

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

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Madden_(entrepreneur)


Failing to distinguish "woke" from a genuine desire and effectiveness to help the world, is itself not helpful to the world.

I've seen plenty of people "talk the talk" but act in a way that is completely disingenuous, manipulative, harmful, and often hypocritical. Other people don't examine their words too carefully and suck up to them just because they "talk nice", leading to various degrees of cults of personality.

It's exactly the same as pretending to have e.g. Christian values to gain popularity and respect but not following any of the principles, only you've replaced Christian with climate change or LGBT activism or charity or whatever.


   replaced Christian with
It has often been noted that many political concepts in the western world emerged out of Christianity, notably by Nietzsche and Carl Schmitt. That's probably not really directly a unique feature of Christianity but because religions themselves tend to co-evolve with successful states as narratives that help stabilise said states.

That isn't strictly true. Christianity has a concept of what should be dealt by God and what should be dealt with by man. The very term "Religion" is a Christian one as before that generally the state, religion, your life etc were all bound up as one. It wasn't until the Roman Empire did anyone even consider that these were separate.

My ethics simply are different from the SJW crowd. For example, I am for equal rights and treatment for everybody, the woke crowd wants companies to give preferential treatment to women and minorities. To me, that is not fair.

If I would work for Google or other openly SJW companies (including, apparently, Mozilla), as a man I would be at the mercy of my colleagues who could shoot me down at will with unjustified accusations. Why would I subject myself to that? (See James Damore for a prominent example. Mozilla has their Brendan Eich, as another prominent example). They would shame me in mandatory diversity trainings, make me shut up in meeting so that I don't "mansplain", force me to use "gender neutral" language and things like that. That's not just "Fox News World", those are borders I am not willing to cross.

We don't have to discuss it, as it has been beaten to death. I just wanted to say that people's values differ, and unfortunately mine don't align with Mozilla.

I wish more companies would focus simply on creating good technology, and stay out of politics. I don't mind if individuals are political, but there is no need to involve the companies. What is there to gain?


Their shabby treatment of Brendan Eich discredits their self-proclaimed commitment to diversity and open discourse.

If anyone can figure out why Firefox doesn't work on my computer, let me know.

It's at least 30 times slower than chrome. So somethings wrong Right?


Yeah, that is not normal at all. Firefox should be about as fast as Chrome on most workloads.

Maybe the ultimate move would be to create a Tor alternative that goes beyond slapping on some privacy on the pig that has become the Internet.

Why would that be better than current solutions, which at best users don't really notice when they work, and at worse dislike because they make many things less convenient?

> Making private browsing more private was a success, which is to say less data was collected and users didn't notice the difference.

> The same trackers, though, help users log into sites and pay for goods, and blocking them would break the internet for lots of users.


I've been using Brave these days. Really like it. IMO: Firefox doesn't seem to know what sort of company they are anymore. Their product arsenal is expanding, yet core features of their flagship product is still stuck in the 2000's.

How is Firefox stuck in the 2000s? They recently switched to an entirely new modern renderer, switched to a modern fast layout engine and implement new web strandards very quickly, sometimes faster than Chrome.

I said core features, not the entire browser. Their bookmark manager hasn't changed for many many years.

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