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Google Chromium, sans integration with Google (github.com/eloston)
325 points by niksmac on June 7, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 266 comments

At that point why not use Firefox and help fight Chrome’s engine dominance?

As a happy FF user on Mac, Android and Windows, I'm badly missing FF add-ons for iOS (iPadOS actually) - this is due to Apple's policies on iOS prohibiting apps from downloading plugins outside of the App Store. The web without an ad-blocker and proper cookie cleanup (not to talk about FF containers) is impractical to me right now.

Maybe I (or someone) inspired by custom browser project like the OPs, will someday bundle FF with crucial add-ons for iOS and ship that through Github. It would probably need a dev account to install it in iOS/iPadOS, but it sure would be worth it. What I don't know is if regular FF add-ons (uBlock, cookie autodelete, etc.) will work on iOS FF since it runs with a bundled Safari webkit renderer, another Apple iPhone v1 2008-era-restriction for such delicate piece of hardware (weak battery, mem and cpu) that makes no sense now with powerful 2020 devices.

It's proprietary (and the full version is 9.99 a year IIRC), but I've found 1Blocker[1] to be very good on iOS/iPadOS. Admittedly I'd prefer a proper port of Firefox (with JIT), but I can't see that happening for a few years at least. iPadOS 14 is rumoured to include Xcode, so I'm hopeful that might herald a reduction in Apple's restrictions on third party applications.

> Maybe I (or someone) inspired by custom browser project like the OPs, will someday bundle FF with crucial add-ons for iOS and ship that through Github. It would probably need a dev account to install it in iOS/iPadOS, but it sure would be worth it.

If you're going to distribute it outside of the App Store, then the restrictions on JIT and third party addons wouldn't apply. You could conceivably have a full port of Firefox installed via AltStore (for non-jailbroken devices) or Cydia (for jailbroken ones).

[1]: https://1blocker.com/

How does this compare to AdGuard?

I haven't tried it. But seeing as AdGuard is open source, I'll check it out and compare this week. If AdGuard is any better, then you've just saved me a tenner a year, so thanks.

AdGuard also has public DNS servers that will block requests to ad servers. No additional software required at all.


I bought 1blocker like a week before 1blocker X came out and I’m still mad about it. I guess I should just bite the bullet and pay for the new one, 1blocker legacy has worked pretty well but it’s stopped blocking most ads.

Edge on iOS has a built in adblocker you can enable. Might as well use it since all browsers on iOS are just safari skins anyways

We are building an iOS browser with Firefox/Chrome extension support. Prototype already in place. Ping me if you want to test.

Safari is my daily driver, but I switch to Chrome when doing web development because the development tools were vastly superior (10 years ago I was in love with Firebug, but I don't think it's kept up with Chromium's dev tools).

Same here. Safari day to day and Edge/Firefox for dev tools

Safari ticks all the boxes for me:

- Power consumption

- Minimal UI that is elegant and easy on the eyes

- Font rendering is much nicer (especially when compared to Firefox)

- Enter a word in the search bar and usually Siri will show you the exact website and just select it to go there. Other browsers will take you to search page first then you select the first result to go there

- SMS integration for 2FA

- Bookmarks UI is so much cleaner than any other browser.

Speaking of bookmarks, why the fuck does Edge and Firefox store any bookmarks created on your phone or tablet under a separate top level section "Mobile Bookmarks"? It is just so unnecessary and adds needless UI interaction just to get to it.

Do you use content filtering / ad blocking technology in conjunction with Safari? Last I tried to use Safari, it seemed some of the most common tools could not be plugged in / added on to the browser.

Safari is my daily driver too. Last I checked UBlock origin and Privacy Badger didn't work

I'm using AdGuard, on both desktop and mobile. It works well enough for my needs.

I use 1Blocker and StopTheMadness. Both via the Mac App Store. Works great.

Another 2 handy extensions: Tabs to Links and Tab Spaces.

I don't have any affiliation with any of these extensions; just a satisfied user.

Safari 13 eliminated the previous extension scheme. So there’s no more uBlock Origin and similar blockers (there are content blockers, which work differently from uBlock Origin). Since the ad blocking extensions are lists of content to be blocked that’s given to Safari, one is better off using NextDNS or pi-hole for blocking ads (these will work across all apps too).

Wipr is great. Both iOS and MacOS. Safari + keychain is unbeatable IMO. I tried onePassword and I use Brave for dev (Chrome has too much CPU usage, and firefox for Grid debugging). I run Brave / Safari / Chrome / Vivaldi. I find myself in Safari most outside of Dev (zero inside dev).

AdGuard works fine with Safari. I also use NextDNS on top.

Not as simple as just downloading an extension, but one could use a PiHole or similar network-wide ad blocking.

The two cons of Safari for me are:

- No AV1, Webp decoder

- No stable bookmark sync cross browser (for example, icloud bookmark sync to another Firefox in Windows is not stable)

except to these, Safari is still my daily browser.

>- Enter a word in the search bar and usually Siri will show you the exact website and just select it to go there. Other browsers will take you to search page first then you select the first result to go there

Huh? That's exactly what Firefox's "Awesome Bar" does.

Not really. Say I type in “Ikea” into Safari address bar and I have never visited Ikea.com nor is it in my bookmarks; the first option is “Siri suggestions... Ikea.com”. Either click on it or down+enter to go directly to Ikea.com

With Firefox, with the same starting conditions, there is no way to directly go to ikea.com by just typing in Ikea. If there is no history or bookmark then it will take you to a search for Ikea instead

In Firefox ctrl+enter prepends www. and appends .com to whatever word you’ve typed in the address bar, then loads it. So for www.ikea.com, just type ikea then press ctrl+enter.

That was just a simple example. The safari implementation is better, I type in “price” and it expands that to “Priceline.com”; just press enter to go directly there, otherwise either keep typing to narrow or down arrow and enter to search

I use Duckduckgo for search and when I enter anything in the address bar and append !, then I am automatically redirected to the first result of the search. Works perfectly in Firefox.

As usual with Apple, Safari is great as long as you only ever use Apple devices.

Sync Safari data like bookmarks with Windows/Android is pain.

Current user of Safari as well because of minimal UI and WebKit.

If you are using macOS, Webkit is the most obvious choice because of superior rendering performance, memory usage and energy usage. Chrome/Blink and Firefox/Gecko are not even close (and probably will never be as WebKit is as 'native' on macOS as it can get).

But lack of openness and advanced browser features on Apple's side made me embark on a project to fork WebKit and build WebExtensions API support on top of it (so you can run all Chrome/Firefox extensions on it and get the best of both worlds). We are about half-way through with API coverage. Focusing on macOS first and we have popular extensions like uBlock or Grammarly running already. We also have an iOS prototype running some FF/Chrome extensions.

> build WebExtensions API support on top of it (so you can run all Chrome/Firefox extensions on it and get the best of both worlds). We are about half-way through with API coverage. Focusing on macOS first and we have popular extensions like uBlock or Grammarly running already. We also have an iOS prototype running some FF/Chrome extensions.

This sounds great! Lack of WebExtensions like uBlock Origin and RES were pretty much the reason I switched over to Firefox when Safari 13 dropped, but there is really nothing that comes close to the usability, performance and energy usage of Safari on macOS, so I have been looking for exactly this kind of project for quite some time. I wasn't sure this "compatibility layer" would be feasible to implement, but I guess even supporting uBlock Origin only would make me switch back to Safari in an instant.

Do you guys have a webpage/twitter I can follow or a beta I can sign up for?

Not yet, we are pretty much stealth but will announce here when we have first public beta.

Is it similar to Topee? https://github.com/avast/topee

Not really. That is just a wrapper, and only supports apis supported by Safari. We are building a new browser with native WebExtension API support on top of Webkit.

I’m super interested in this project, where can I see more?

You can ping me and I'll add you to the invite list.

Awesome, just sent you an email!

(I run my own mail server so it might be in your spam)

You're doing God's work

Thanks, I too feel it is important work to be done, as hard as it is.

Don’t know if you recently tried FF dev tools, but it had some good updates in recent times.

Firebug doesn't exist anymore, it died with Firefox Quantum.

Was Firebug still useful in the last years of its existence? It seems to me the dev tools have replaced all functionality. At least that's the reason why I uninstalled Firebug.

I don't remember specifically what they were anymore, but I do remember back when that happened there were still 2-3 features in Firebug not in the official tools that I used regularly. I think one was around ajax requests, the other around CSS. I ended up holding off on the Quantum upgrade for about a year for them.

There is also Firefox developer edition. Its dev tools are a bit more comprehensive than those of vanilla Firefox. I wonder how it compares to Firebug's feature set.

Weren’t the Firebug features absorbed into Firefox over time?


> The decision was made that the next version of Firebug (codenamed Firebug.next) would build on top of Firefox DevTools, and Firebug would be merged into the built-in tools.

> And perhaps most importantly, we joined forces to build the best developer tools together, rather than compete with each other. Many of Firebug’s core developers are on the DevTools team, including Jan ‘Honza’ Odvarko and Mike Ratcliffe. Other Firebug Working Group members like Sebastian Zartner and Florent Fayolle are also active DevTools contributors.

> A huge thank you to them for bringing their expertise in browser developer tooling to the project!

I too use Safari and switch to Vivaldi and Firefox for webdev. I think FFs dev tools have mostly caught on (especially anything CSS related is better in FF) with Chromium, but it's still a bit behind for JS debugging

I really really want to switch to Safari but it sucks that they don't support custom new tab pages. That's really the dealbreaker for me

You can set new tab pages to open homepage. And set homepage to a local html file.

It also only supports one OS since like 2012 (at least in the past I could run the Windows release in Wine), which may seem like a weird complaint, but it sucks when I need to make sure our web page renders okay for the one business guy who uses Safari and I code on Arch. Thank God for Browserstack I guess.

Epiphany is what they call Safari on Linux: https://webkit.org/downloads :-). It's slow but works well for testing and debugging Safari-specific issues.

Safari and Epiphany are two completely different browsers.

Epiphany uses webkit, so it’s the same rendering engine.

Both being built on WebKit is different from both being the same browser, and even before the Blink split, behavior observed in Safari could differ from behavior observed in Chrome. Using observations of Epiphany as a proxy for Safari is just not reliable. I've seen differences between Epiphany and Safari without even trying—where it wasn't a matter of one being too outdated compared to the other.

Midori also uses WebKit.

What kind of custom new tab page are you talking about? Like a custom URL? Because that's possible.

A lot of things don't work on Firefox, or work worse.

If you are against Google pushing their "evil" stuff on people -- not just you, but all people -- well, Google thinks they can get away with that because people consider their browser better (or those people are just more comfortable with Chrome). Stuff like this, i.e. more options for people, is actually very helpful in reigning Google in a bit. Other Chromium based browsers such as Edge or Brave help as well.

BTW, my personal pet peeve with Firefox is lack of MIDI support, but there are lots of other things. I like that I can search Google by voice in Chrome, and my 6 year old loves that especially. (I don't know if ungoogled-chromium can do that though) I like the way you can grab tabs and drag them around and you know where they will go with Chrome before you drop them. (I have several monitors so this is a many-times-a-day thing for me and it feels awful in Firefox, comparatively). And I hate the ads and recommended sites on the "new tab" page.

This is precisely why I use non-Chromium browsers as my daily driver. It's their constant push for non-standard APIs and aggression towards other browsers that doesn't implement their favored APIs that's cementing their dominance. Not having support for Google features shouldn't be a reason not to support other browser engines.

Some examples:



Some additional rants:

> I like that I can search Google by voice in Chrome,

Chrome is a blessing for enthusiastic Google users, but not all people feel the same way.

> MIDI support

More access to HW is the last thing I want from the web at this moment. I'd rather that browser vendors focus on making the privacy footprint smaller, not bigger.

> And I hate the ads and recommended sites

You're going to see more of those on Chrome when uBo ceases to stop working along with all other manifest V2 extensions.

> More access to HW is the last thing I want from the web at this moment

This is a big deal, and an irreconcilable philosophical divide. On the one hand web apps need to be able to compete with mobile. They should have access to gyros and cameras and location and offline and push - everything. Mobile apps are modern day Flash and we should strive to be rid of them in favor of a non-proprietary shared platform.

On the other hand the majority of useful information in the world is in document format. We need some sort of non-print-focused (pdf) format that we can use to share documents. Delivering basic documents through what are basically user-land operating systems (browsers) is overkill in every sense of the word: performance, security, accessibility, efficiency, etc.

What to do? The web is already on its march towards being an app platform. The next steps will be tough since Apple and Google also own the much more valuable mobile app ecosystems, and will try to protect them - but it's too late for the web now, the march is on. I think eventually there may need to be some sort of fork of the web to better satisfy both needs.

> some sort of non-print-focused (pdf) format that we can use to share documents


I'm not sure what you mean by this. It's hard to take Google's push for these sorts of APIs as a push for a "democratic shared platform," let alone see how all this would harm Google in any way.

"Democratic" may not have been the best term to use (edited the original comment), even though, as far as platforms go, the web probably is one of the more democratic ones. I was more aiming for "non-proprietary", "cross-platform" and "shared". Mobile apps are closed ecosystems.

> how all this would harm Google in any way

Owning half the mobile app ecosystem is more valuable than sharing a web.

>> I like that I can search Google by voice in Chrome,

>Chrome is a blessing for enthusiastic Google users, but not all people feel the same way.

My six year old isn't so much an enthusiastic Google user, but she sure does like voice search, since it is really the only option.

>> MIDI support

>More access to HW is the last thing I want from the web at this moment. I'd rather that browser vendors focus on making the privacy footprint smaller, not bigger.

I'm not really seeing Chrome suffering from privacy problems coming from MIDI devices.

But, you know, if you aren't into making music or learning keyboard or what have you, I guess you wouldn't care about MIDI. It's kind of a big deal to me (and again, 6 year old), so I'd miss it badly. Likewise, if you aren't into videochatting you'd probably be fine if your browser doesn't talk to your webcam or microphone. Etc. Ok.

BTW, if the browser doesn't support MIDI, and you want to use MIDI, you need to install native apps. Those are often a bigger threat, need to be made for each platform, etc.

> I'm not really seeing Chrome suffering from privacy problems coming from MIDI devices.

Here's a CCS paper detailing why it's a bad idea for browsers to expose HW details without careful consideration:


> if you aren't into making music or learning keyboard or what have you, I guess you wouldn't care about MIDI

Considering the aforementioned problems, why would it make sense for browsers to prioritize MIDI above all else? And I highly doubt your six year old would refuse to use native apps, given the chance.

> (native apps) are often a bigger threat

I choose my native apps with care. For many apps, moving to the web doesn't mean that I would have to stop caring about trust. It just means that I would have to start being more careful about which sites I visit if browsers keep on exposing random HW details.

> need to be made for each platform

If you're only supporting Chrome, then you've stopped caring about portability. You're making it the user's fault if they don't use Chrome.

"why would it make sense for browsers to prioritize MIDI above all else?"

Who said above all else? That's pretty black and white. You could make the same argument if Firefox didn't support, say, microphone or camera. If you don't happen to use them (say, you don't use video chat as many didn't prior to 2020), you could ask why they are so important.

It's just one thing that Chromium does (and has done for year), that Firefox doesn't.

>And I highly doubt your six year old would refuse to use native apps, given the chance.

Which native app? The one she uses only works in a browser, and wouldn't work natively because it uses other things a native app can't use (such as YouTube interaction/synchronization). Also the graphics are far superior to anything I've seen not done in a browser, because it taps into other things that would be immensely difficult if the browser didn't make them available at a pretty high level.

https://youtu.be/64PkqQuE9h8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV6rdmdZnkA

And that app works on her Chromebook, as well as on my Windows and Mac machines.

I get that you like Firefox, but I don't see "you can just do that with a native app" as a great advertisement for it.

I use my browser to read, watch, and listen, as do many others. I have never heard of people creating music with Chrome. Support for MIDI should be the last thing browser vendors should be concerned with right now.

You probably hadn't heard of people watching videos in a browser until someone made a compelling app. Same goes for so many other things that run in browsers.

I'd suggest trying it out before writing it off.

The question you haven't answered is why would I want to use a browser for that? Why do you suggest that native apps are unfit for creative purposes? Browsers are somewhat unique in that it's a runtime that runs untrusted code from the internet, and I simply don't want such a security-critical runtime acquiring more capabilities without second thought. Especially for things like access to HW. Remember the fiasco with the Battery Status APIs? Remember how it's main usage in the wild was to enable user tracking?

Firefox can absolutely talk to the webcam and microphone.

Have you tried using a Chromebook? It should check a lot of boxes for you, and there are no native apps to worry about.

I agree with you. "Politics" aside, Chromium-based browsers just work better. It's odd that the 10xer super-hacker influencers here think that if you use MIDI, you're part of the problem.

It's not clear what does not work for you.

Firefox has robust tab dragging. You can drag tabs all around. You can select multiple tabs and drag all of those.

Yes but it doesn't work the same, you don't know what it is going to do until it does it. Try it on Chrome. It's a way more polished UI that gives you a dynamic preview. Makes a big difference especially on multiple monitors.

As for the other things (MIDI etc), is there any confusion?

As far as midi goes, that seems like a feature that is not implemented which is different from not working. That's like saying PDF isn't working in Chrome...

Some google products have a worse experience with FF. Some websites straight up tell you to use chrome instead.

Not saying it's right, just saying there's certainly a tradeoff.

Firefox has made claims before about changes that specifically affect firefox performance: https://www.techradar.com/sg/news/mozilla-claims-google-has-...

I’ve used Firefox as my daily driver for over 5 years. I’ve literally never encountered what you’ve described. The only reason I use chrome is to cast video to my Chrome cast

So I guess you don't use MIDI. I do. (I develop for it too... you simply can't do stuff like this in Firefox, but you can in Chrome, and it's pretty cool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV6rdmdZnkA )

And I'm sure you've dragged tabs around, maybe you don't care about the different experience, but it's hard to deny you've seen it.

People want better browsing experience from their browsers, not a terrific MIDI experience. If you want those, native apps would be a better choice from a technical standpoint.

Why are they better? I'm developing for browsers, and it runs amazingly well. I wouldn't know how to build such a thing natively (for one thing, it layers on top of and syncs with music videos), and wouldn't have bothered.

There are tons of web apps, games, etc that "people want." Maybe you don't want them, but other people do. Even HackerNews is more than browsing, since you can post to it.

I get that some people want their browser to do a very limited subset of the things that a browser like Chrome can do. I don't think that is actually the view of Mozilla, but if it was, and they actually advertised that, I suspect they'd have even lower usership.

Because fingerprint https://panopticlick.eff.org/ is already very bad and we do not want even more tracking.

Because it not a good idea to combine all functionality in one single program (in this case the browser). It leads to bugs and security problems. See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix_philosophy#Do_One_Thing_a...

Because creative apps tends to be heavy on resource, requires hardware access, and benefits from native libraries and native UIs.

Isn't that kind of a circular argument?

So I should develop my creative app as a native app because it needs hardware access and browsers don't support that. And browsers shouldn't need to support hardware access because app developers should just build native apps.

Maybe you should try my app. (try it at https://pianop.ly/grid.html ... it works ok in Firefox in "player piano" mode)

All the other stuff other than MIDI, browsers support just fine. (including one critical thing, ability to embed, synch with and overlay on top of youtube videos)

Browsers support an awful lot of things, because people want that. I can tell you with regard to my app, I highly doubt a single developer could build it as a native app that was available to as many people.

This is very cool. It says 'runs in your browser', maybe change it to 'runs in your Chrome browser'.

Thanks. Yeah I know, I tried to have the fewest words possible. Technically it runs in firefox, you just can't do the midi thing. (my daughter hates watching music videos if they don't have the colored notes displayed and making sounds)

I also suggest that pink is a color of the rainbow, which is an even worse offense from my point of view. :)

We heard those arguments before, when IE6 was a thing.

It didn't go well.

But I guess we are doomed to repeat mistakes of the past.

> And I hate the ads and recommended sites on the "new tab" page.

I don't understand that one, my new tab page is blank on FF, it's nothing more than a setting.

Under Options > Home, select "Blank Page" for "New tabs" and for "Homepage and new windows"

That should do it. You can also optionally uncheck content in the "Firefox Home Content" section.

This should be the default setting, however. Unless I opt-in to see the recommended sites, I don't want to see them.

On the other hand, Chrome on mobile does this too and there's no setting at all to turn it off.

I agree. They also have bad defaults (on a fresh install) under the "Firefox Data Collection and Use" section. All of that should be unchecked by default, users should have to opt-in - perhaps with a confirmation - to all data collection.

They do however at least tell you to go configure telemetry on a fresh install.

Agree it should be the default, but it's worth noting that Firefox does it all on device & doesn't send your data off to generate the recommendations.

Firefox is pretty good. The only things I miss are small UI things like muting a website rather than a tab, spell checking, and being able to control the privacy settings for a site directly from a tab rather than having to go into settings and inserting a rule by typing the domain.

Also video playback can be less smooth occasionally.

Firefox has spell checking [0] built-in. Granted, if you want to use several languages it's possible, but clunky - you have to change it every time.

There is also the Language Tool extension [1]. I've discovered this recently and I'm really impressed. I don't use the online service, I run my own server with French and English n-grams and the experience is very good. It auto-detects the language and integrates well in the UI.

[0] https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-do-i-use-firefox-sp...

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

There is a tool for merging dictionaries (these are aspell dictionaries internally, iirc), and a number of ready-made merged dictionaries, like English + German, English + Russian, etc. I can attest they work well, without the need to switch.

I wish transparent multi-language support was built in, though.

I am litterally typing "happy Birtdhay to my sister!" on an english version of firefox and see no red underlining ("check your spelling as you type" is checked in the settings).

The feature must be broken or blocked by adblockers I presume.

Zooming on MacOS in Firefox is awful - or least was a few months back when I last checked. It doesn’t smoothly zoom but just bumps font size - complete deal breaker for me.

I keep a copy of Chromium around to test stuff I develop or for the occasional website that doesn't work in Firefox. Ungoogled chromium importance will increase with the continued decline of Firefox's absolute and relative market shares.

Had to check because I thought if anything Firefox's market share had been increasing the past couple of years, but you're absolutely right. I wonder why Firefox isn't performing better in the browser market - it's arguably better than it's ever been.

I have two guesses:

1. Extensions - almost anyone have some kind of extension installed, and Chrome absolutely wins in that category. that prevents people from switching over to Firefox. Personally I know people that switched to Firefox only after I showed them the extensions they us or an alternative exists on Firefox.

2. Advertisement - Google have a lot more advertising resources than Mozilla. For example, every new Android phone with Google Play Services ships with Google products already installed including Chrome (sometimes as the only browser). It's not unfounded to think that most people will use the same browser they're using in their smartphone.

> Extensions - almost anyone have some kind of extension installed, and Chrome absolutely wins in that category

I have a bunch of extensions installed on Firefox and don’t use Chrome. What are the Chrome-only extensions I’m missing that means Chrome “absolutely wins”?

Plenty of corporate types target Chrome because of its market share (for the same reason, iOS apps are out for years before Android ones are)

One specific circumstance which impacts me is the Capital One virtual credit card extension (https://www.capitalone.com/applications/eno/virtualnumbers ) which if one clicks on "Get It Now", from a copy of Firefox, one ends up on the webstore: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/eno%C2%AE-from-cap...

Even consulting the page source (view-source:https://www.capitalone.com/applications/eno/virtualnumbers/) shows some mentions of Firefox but certainly no mozilla.org URL or .xpi that would imply they're serious about that claim.

This is where Google will shoot itself in the foot trying to kill ad blockers and 3rd party extensions like paywall removers. Firefox is more than good enough, and if you take away uBlock and others that have a loyal following users are going to bail.

The fact that I can run extensions on Firefox for Android is a huge enough win that it's my default system browser.

Keeping in mind that different users have different priorities, I still don't understand why Firefox doesn't make market this as their number one distinguishing feature.

Remember that Mozilla gets their revenue from Google, an ad company. They'd undercut their main revenue source.

Another issue is he press. The press is usually very Firefox-positive and always covers it. They might turn on Firefox if it started blocking ads.

Chrome on Android does not support extensions at all.

Google amplifies these security conferences where Chrome comes out as a more secure browser than the rest, this leads a lot of corporate IT to enforce Chrome as the default browser on work PC. Some people completely switched their home browser to Chrome just because they like to use one browser at home and work!

People use whatever browser came bundled with their device. In 2020 that's Chrome.

The state of translation extensions in Firefox is catastrophic. The useful ones got deleted from the store. As far as I can tell the only reason was to flex some policy choices by the extension store(?) team.

So you pretty much have to have Chromium as a backup if you ever need to research non-Anglo content.

I can see people moving to Chromium because of this and other similar problems with extensions being broken (like the tridactyl thing).

You can use userscripts (e.g. with Violentmonkey [1]) for Google Translate, e.g. [2].

Since you mentioned Tridactyl you might be interested to know that I wrote my own command to inject Google Translate on demand [3].

The extensions you mentioned were removed because they execute remote code. Mozilla are trying to tighten these restrictions [4]. I think Chrome is moving in a similar direction. I don't think that will affect the user script work-around as they execute in the page context, but I could be wrong.

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

[2]: https://greasyfork.org/en/scripts/9285-translate-google-tool...

[3]: https://github.com/tridactyl/tridactyl/blob/c776f722944714ee...

[4]: https://blog.mozilla.org/addons/2019/12/12/test-the-new-csp-...

I've never heard of violentmonkey, how does it compare to grease/tampermonkey?

Violentmonkey is very actively developed [1]. Greasemonkey isn't [2]. Tampermonkey is closed source so I view it with some suspicion. Otherwise they're all pretty much the same, as far as I know (I don't use them extensively).

[1]: https://github.com/violentmonkey/violentmonkey/graphs/contri...

[2]: https://github.com/greasemonkey/greasemonkey/graphs/contribu...

In some scenarios, FF on Mac is much slower than Chrome and Safari: animating transforms, masks etc

Security is a big one.

No per site process isolation, Firefox on X11/Linux is baaaad, and that's just the beginning.

What does Firefox do w.r.t. X11 that’s less secure than other browsers?


X11 is an old display protocol predating modern concepts of application sandboxing. It gives gives windows lots of control, like allowing them to move the mouse, enter keystrokes, etc. Basically, anyone who has an X11 handle has the same level of access as the user. In Firefox, the process that's supposed to be sanboxed (the content process) has precisely such a handle.

You should use stock Chrome for user testing to get as close to user environments as possible. Little things like a missing http -> https redirect on a subdomain won't be caught in Ungoogled Chromium or Brave.

If I made my money from web development, I would. But it's not my main occupation and I mainly do smaller things as a hobby. There I think it's okay to do this basic kind of testing.

And you can use test tools like Browserstack (et al) to test on platforms/vroseers you don't have -

If I could get Chrome's developer tools on Firefox. I would never touch Chrome again.

I need device emulator (with editable user string), request blocking and remote device (for webview debugging).

Maybe you don't care about open source browser engine monopoly as much as ubiquitous monitoring?

Without this project, there wouldn't be a way to really make use of the fact that chromium is open source. It frees the world's best browser engine, which IMO is awesome.

Now that I think about it, I bet Chrome has way less or a monopoly than Google's general reach in tracking. Strictly less I suppose since it contributes.

...which Google leverages to their advantage.

That's hardly fighting Chrome's dominance. The people who Google hired to write Chrome came from Mozilla. Also Mozilla pays its own developers with money that comes from a deal with Google. The online advertising industry, Google's customer base, is supporting and indirectly controlling both of these browsers. Those "evil" things that Googles does are done to offer services to that customer base. Whatever "fight" you might imagine between browsers is, with respect to end users, illusory. Neither browser can pull the plug on the online ad business, they both depend on it. That is the source of the "evil".

I don't agree. While mozilla is taking money from Google, their products don't have tracking built in to them the way that Google products do. They make users aware of the choices they are making and the implications of them. They make plenty of functions available that protect users online from Google, Facebook and other bad actors in this area.

The fight is not illusory, and while Firefox may depend on advertising for financial reasons (although I'm not sure how much it currently is), it is not fundamental to its existence. If someone came along and replaced that money, they would leave it behind. Google on the other hand, is built solely on its ability to gather information about its users and exploit that as much as possible. The two are not the equivalent that your argument claims.

Yes, their products do. Run FF through mitmproxy and look at all of Mozilla's privacy policies and tell me they're not collecting far more data than they should be, at least by default cause 90℅ of users aren't gonna disable most of it. I'm solidly convinced Mozilla is just Google's astroturf.

Came here to post this.

Google’s Safebrowsing feature alone (that is used in Firefox, too) is a privacy nightmare. They literally have all cookies and all user secrets of all websites that seem “untrustworthy”, which is basically all domains that are not cert pinned in chromium or firefox.

I know this because I initially wanted to implement safebrowsing support for my own browser stealth, but decided against it.

Also, the google PREF (due to safebrowsing background service) cookie isn’t deleteable without physically removing the firefox profile or at least the sqlite databases, just as a hint on whether you are trackable or not.

> The fight is not illusory, and while Firefox may depend on advertising for financial reasons (although I'm not sure how much it currently is), it is not fundamental to its existence

95% of Mozilla's 2018 revenue were generated by Royalties [0], of which 91% are generated by search engine providers. That's a whopping $391 million USD - it will be pretty difficult to fill this gap if Google pulls the plug.

[0]: https://assets.mozilla.net/annualreport/2018/mozilla-fdn-201...

It might be difficult but how is that in any way relevant?

Mozilla's behavior is consistent. Except for a few mistakes that were in my opinion minor, they proved trustworthy repeatedly.

Also let's get the facts straight... all major browsers today are financed from ads, all of them, including Edge, including Safari, including Brave discussed here, all of them.

The ones that aren't financed by ads are simply leaching off the work of others. Of course Brave is a leech while generating revenue from ads too.

Edge is financed by ads? How?

Edge defaults users to Bing, which as of last year was a $7.5B business for Microsoft[1]. That's nearly 20x the revenue Mozilla gets from advertising.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2019/06/03/microsoft...

Because it is based on chromium these days.

Edge being based on Chromium doesn't mean it uses the Google advertising network.

Indeed, but it does use the Bing Ads network. It's deeply integrated too, sending Windows's Advertising ID (for "relevant ads") to Bing.

I’d think Safari is the only one not “financed by ads”?

Factually untrue. Google is paying Apple billions of dollars ($9 billion in 2018, $12 billion in 2019) to remain the default search engine in Safari.

AFAIK Apple is getting more money from Google than Mozilla does :)

You could say that if this deal went south, then Apple would keep funding Safari, however given they receive a ton of money right now, yes Safari is funded by ads and it goes without saying that they won't do anything to jeopardize those billions of dollars they are getting.

There isn't a single browser right now whose development isn't funded by ads.

"There isn't a single browser right now whose development isn't funded by ads."


Some organizational and individual users have paid for features.

The source code is relatively small, compile time is relatively small. Making small, privacy-focused changes is easy if one is comfortable with C.

One does not use a browser like this for financial or other important transactions. It can be used to do recreational, non-commercial web reading, such as news or other sites one finds posted on HN. One uses major ad-funded browsers like Chrome or Safari for internet banking or e-commerce.

Ha, I knew someone will mention Links or similar as soon as I typed that.

I suppose, but by that logic any web browser is funded by ads unless it either:

1) Doesn't set any default search engine

2) Leaves a great deal of money on the table for no reason whatsoever

Option 2 is stupid, so it's no surprise none of the browsers do this.

Option 1 is a bad user experience regardless of finances. When users type stuff into the search bar, they expect results to come up. You could have a search engine ballot on first startup, but a subset of very-non-technical users is going to be confused by the dialog; there's no good reason to not set a default.

Option 2 isn't stupid, because once you take that money you are beholden to a contract, which comes with both explicit and implicit clauses.

For example Apple would never implement ad blocking by default in Google's Search, not as long as they keep getting payed with _billions of dollars_.

And would Apple even bother to keep improving Safari if they weren't earning so much money from it? Given what happened to IExplorer back in the day, when Microsoft dropped the ball on its development after version 5, I'm not so sure.

Also Safari's content blockers are really easy to circumvent by anti-ad-blocking tech. Doesn't hold a candle to uBlock Origin, which isn't possible to implement on top of Safari. And the available content blockers are so bad many people don't even bother. Fact is Safari is a favorite for ads companies and publishers.

Yes, all browsers are funded by ads, that was the point.

"If someone came along and replaced that money, they would leave it behind."

Who could "replace that money" and why has this not happened?

Mozilla is a bit like Facebook/Google. Users are not paying for Firefox. Advertisers are paying (via Google). It is a service to advertisers. Users need only be enticed to keep using. Data is collected. The primary value of the data is not to usere but to the organisation that collects it and their customers. Mozilla sends data to Google (search queries) and gets paid for it.

This is not opinion. It is fact.

> their products don't have tracking built in to them the way that Google products do


> https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1165858896176660480.html

tl;dr - Firefox has some telemtry installed by default, including to GA. They have a deal with Google that allegedly prevents Google from seeing the data being collected.

Even so, their products don't do tracking the way Chrome does (which sends a unique identifier per device [0], which can be identified with the user and tracks you on all sites, and which does even more stuff when a site has GA).

I think comparing the two is ridiculous, and is more an excuse to justify using spyware as your daily driver.

[0] There is a unique ID on install, which is allegedly deleted by the browser, but may be stored in the updater. There is a "semi unique" ID set in its place which has high enough entropy (together with the location etc) to be a used as a unique ID. Aside for lots of other phoning home, logging you in to Google, etc.

The original comment wasn't even talking about google or the advertising business. Their point was addressing browser engine heterogeneity.

The GP was talking about browser engines, and the hegemony that is Chromium. A third major browser engine is valuable.

What is the second one?

The one Safari uses (WebKit?)

WebKit, I suppose.

How different are Blink and WebKit these days?

My impression is they share patches enough, that they can't really be counted as different browser engines.

But perhaps that has changed?

They are very different, it's been seven years of heavy development since forking. For comparison that's longer than the time between apple forking kHTML to make webkit and the the first release of chrome.

The passage of time alone does not make changes.

The question was: What are the differences?

Start Safari and Chrome on a mac, open several tabs and observe:

- Memory usage

- Energy usage

Then open https://browserbench.org and do the benchmarks.

Webkit will dominate Blink (and for that matter Gecko) in all categories.

The question was "How different are Blink and WebKit these days?" and "But perhaps that has changed?".

My answer was "they are different" and implicitly "yes", partially because of the heavy development work that has been done since the fork seven years ago.

If you look at the featuresets and when they introduce features I think it's reasonable to conclude they have diverged enough that they can't just pull patches from each other.

Also, there was a webkit mailing thread back when they introduced their cut-down version of service-worker that said that most of the code from blink was basically unusable for them because of the differences.

All eggs, one basket. What could go wrong?

Having an independent, unrelated implementation of the Internet's most popular client software is important.

No it’s not.

That’s just a thing that some people say... but it’s actually not true. There is only one of many things in technology and everybody gets along just fine in those situations.

> The people who Google hired to write Chrome came from Mozilla

By that standard no FAANG is fighting any other FAANG.

From a user privacy perspective there is not much difference between FAANG. They are all competing for user data. They all want to collect and store it in their data centers. The "significant differences" that some users might think they see are likely a reaction to the lack of viable alternatives.

There is no FAANG which is not competing for user data. Similarly, there is no major browser that deliberately lacks the feature set necessary to facilitate that data gathering. From a user privacy perspective, the difference between "major browsers", or FAANG, is not as significant as it is portrayed by many commentators.

The major similarities far outweigh the minor differences, and I think Mozilla would agree they are not looking to go in a profoundly different direction than Chrome or other major browser. They seek market share and so they will always match the others' feature set. As other comments in this thread elucidate, all these browsers are funded by advertising. As such, we cannot expect the differences to be significant.

If the majority of users are not concerned with things like telemetry, search box queries forwarded to Google, auto-loading resources, complexity, etc., then that is the user base to which Mozilla will cater. The small minority of users who find the status quo unacceptable are not important to Mozilla. Mozilla has enough cash they could prepare a separate, stripped-down bare bones browser in addition to Firefox for those few users who really take privacy seriously who want zero data collection by default.

They won't. That is why we see a user going through all this effort to "un-Google" Chromium. It would similarly take substantial effort to "un-Mozilla" Firefox. Both Google and Mozilla gather user data by default. They each phone home early and often.

The question is how many users would actually be interested in a radically different browser that, by design, made data collection and serving ads much more difficult. Perhaps that number would grow over time as word spread. We will never know. While this could be an experiment of great interest to some privacy-conscious users it is not an experiment of interest to Mozilla, chasing advert-funded "major browser" market share.

If Google did not have a dominance in browsers, that would mean they would need Firefox more, and would at least make Google need to play a lot nicer.

1. Chromium as a second browser to try things out without my extensions, cookies, etc.

2. Some websites are developed targeting Chrome(ium) and even check for either that or a Microsoft browser. Yes, that still happens.

Chrome has better security guarantees, and Firefox is also spyware, transmitting user activity to Mozilla without consent.

You could make an un-Mozilla’d Firefox, but at that point you’re better off running this, because once you remove the spyware, Chrome is actually a better browser.

I love Firefox and I'm really thankful for it, but the power consumption is just too high on Mac. Firefox instantly heats up my laptop even with just a single tab open. I like it better than Chrome, but I just can't take the battery/CPU hit for now.

That's weird. I'm working on a MacBook on FireFox 77 with >50 tabs and it's slightly warm at best. I usually am plugged in when doing something like this so I can't comment on battery drain compared to Chrome

No per site process isolation, X11 exploit on Linux, and more telemetry to Google than Chrome would be a good place to start.

Fullscreen in Firefox doesn't integrate well in i3 window manager and that's why I use Chromium instead.

I like FF for daily browsing but chrome dev tools are my heroin.

For me its mainly the lack of proper multilingual spellcheck but there are other annoyances with ff. I’ll elaborate when I get to my desktop.

Because Firefox is mainly funded by Google and an organisation reliant upon funding from a giant advertising company won't have my best interests in mind

Mozilla is still precious organization even they received money from Google because they developing original browser engine. Other "privacy-oriented" browser company mostly just uses Chromium. We should against domination of Chromium.

> Mozilla is still precious organization even they received money from Google because they developing original browser engine.

Mozilla using a unique rendering engine doesn't alleviate bring funded for hundreds of millions of dollars by the world's biggest advertising company.

For anyone wondering the scale of this, it's hundreds of millions of USD.

I asked myself this question a lot of times. The reason is: memories attached to FF. I used FF for ca. 7 years until Chrome came out. Every time I install FireFox (to give it a try again) all the bad memories come back using it. The whacky design, The Big Slowdown when you had more than 5 tabs open, the accumulation of dead memory, needing me to restart the damn thing every couple of hours or so. The slow Javascript.

When Chrome came out I was amazed, like, I didn't even know how pleasant a browser experience can be until I tried Chrome. It felt revolutionary. Now Firefox might have caught up but 7 years with all of these problems are still glued to that red/orange logo.

A project like ungoogled-chrome is a welcomed effort, as I cannot imagine going back to FF permanently. They just missed the train, IMHO.

>The Big Slowdown when you had more than 5 tabs open, the accumulation of dead memory, needing me to restart the damn thing every couple of hours or so. The slow Javascript.

Firefox hasn’t been the same Firefox ever since Mozzila replaced the rendering engine with the new Rust-based Servo (https://servo.org/). It’s fast and amazing and handles memory as well (and on my Mac, better) than Chrome/ium.

> Firefox hasn’t been the same Firefox ever since Mozzila replaced the rendering engine with the new Rust-based Servo

I don't think that's right; they may have cherry picked some parts, but gecko is not servo.

Servo was specifically created, in Rust, to be the functional replacement of the old Gecko; of which is has been since Quantum.

I think the GP’s point is that Firefox still uses Gecko and some parts of Servo, which is true. Servo is not a complete engine yet and it’s not fully merged into Firefox yet.

That seems fairly irrational.

In my experience current FF handles many tabs much better than Chrome.

Of course it is irrational. It's fairly well studied that humans make a lot of their decisions out of emotions and rationalize it later. It doesn't make rational sense to buy a coffee from Starbucks. It doesn't make sense to shout in an argument. The fact that people make purchase decisions based on branding doesn't make sense on a rational level.

It's irrational to disregard the influence of emotions on the decision making progress.

What's weird is that you reflect on your emotions, understand that decisions you made are irrational, and still can't see yourself make a different decision going forward. Why did you reflect in the first place? Are you not interested in making rational decisions?

The question is: is FF the "better" browser over Chrome/-ium?

From a technical perspective: the differences are IMHO negligible. Last time I tried FF I couldn't tell any difference. The reaction time of the brain for visual input is something like 180ms(?) and Chrome and FF are faster than that for locally bound functions.

From a moral perspective: sure, Firefox might be the better choice, although the Mozilla Org has a fair share of controversies.

Usability wise: from my last evaluation: minimal. There are functionalities that I liked in FF more, and others in Chrome. So again: from my personal view negligible.

Then there is what I stated above: the memory of cursing about Firefox because it simply "sucked" and Chrome was the best solution for it, you can argue that without Chrome FF would still suck.

The first time I seriously considered switching was when Chrome announced that they would change their API to make uBlock origin's life harder.

So far, I cannot see a strong reason why I should put effort into switching. I run several businesses and projects, all of them are on Gmail and using other Google Services, I have one profile for each business in Chrome, including Chrome's password manager that is storing locally the passwords for all the accounts. It's a lot of effort to switch to Firefox and as stated above at the time of this writing I don't see why I should bother. I rather put in time to run my projects than switching to a different browser, because a lot of HN people are into rust, anti google or whatever.

Chrome is integrated with a lot of Google Products and this makes my work overall more efficient than whatever the switch to FF would gain me as of now.

That might change in the future, and, of course, YMMV.


> Why did you reflect in the first place? Are you not interested in making rational decisions?

Actually, I didn't reflect about it until I read the comment of the original parent. I saw a lot of times the comment about "why not FF" on HN, whenever there was anything submitted about "fixing chrome".

To answer your last question: I also don't always force myself to make rational decisions. I DO get a Starbucks coffee once every couple months, I DO like to buy branded products sometimes even though it's not rational (running shoes for example). I DO engage in arguments online once in a while even though it adds not much to my life. So generally I am interested in rationality but I pick my battles and am ok with it when I just give in to my primal instincts. :-)

I'm sorry but I'm not going to install a browser built by random people.

> NOTE: These binaries are provided by anyone who are willing to build and submit them. Because these binaries are not necessarily reproducible, authenticity cannot be guaranteed; In other words, there is always a non-zero probability that these binaries may have been tampered with.

>"I'm sorry but I'm not going to install a browser built by random people."


Entering credit card information, bank account info, website logins, etc. into a binary uploaded by $random_internet_person is an absolutely terrible idea. Chrome is a dumpster fire as far as privacy goes, but I'd still trust it over that. This is why I use the new Chromium Edge as my main driver these days. Chromium reliability without the Google nonsense. Yes, you're still trusting Microsoft, but they own my OS already anyways.

There are packages available for popular GNU/Linux distributions based on the openSUSE build service, which are not uploaded by random people.

If your distro is unsupported, you can install Nix or Guix and use that to install ungoogled-chromium.

Are the distributions reviewing the patchset against Google Chromium upstream and affirming that, to the best of their knowledge, no additional threats will be delivered to those who choose to use this?

The risk isn't in who compiles it. The risk is in the patches themselves coming from an untrusted third party, and being presented as a complete fork with significant functionality changes in support of the author's beliefs. If it was "here's a minimal patchset that's rebased against Chromium upstream, here's instructions to checkout Chromium and rebase our patchset onto it" then that would be possible to trust. This isn't that.

I'm not sure I understand the question. ungoogled-chromium is "a minimal patchset that's rebased against Chromium upstream, here's instructions to checkout Chromium and rebase our patchset onto it".


Apart from the patches, UC does two more things: substitute all "google.com" (and some other) domains with nonsense like "9oo91e.qjz9zk" in order to catch regressions; and prunes all binary files that are distributed with the original Chromium source.

The repository comes with a script that can do all three things. It is not a fork of Chromium, if that is what you were thinking.

I can't speak for other distributions, but for GNU Guix I have reviewed the patches and read the diffs for every new version. I assume most other packagers do the same.

I'm glad they at least come right out and say it.

Same, love the concept, hate the distribution

This is a very important caveat for ungoogled-chromium, and makes it hard to justify its use for privacy reasons.

ungoogled-chromium has absolutely zero telemetry. It's the gold standard for browsers and a rare breath of fresh air in the polluted world of modern software.

Firefox, in contrast, is nowhere close. It includes trackers, "pings", "experiments", ads, sponsored search engines, bundled extensions, and phone-homes. Despire Mozilla's open-source and privacy rhetoric, its level of bundled spyware is not very different from any other commercial software product.

>its level of bundled spyware is not very different from any other commercial software product.

Maybe that is more a sign of how necessary it is, rather than indication that Mozilla is somehow an evil company.

"Phoning home" let's them know which features are being used and need to be maintained, and where the bugs are occurring. Experiments are how Firefox tests improvements in a controlled way. Sponsored search engines are how Firefox can exist at all.

> "Phoning home" let's them know which features are being used and need to be maintained

This is part of the reason modern software is often crap. It gets sanded down to only the most used features, screwing over anyone with a slightly niche use case in the process.

I think Firefox would be more "crap"py if every feature at least one of its users wanted was included. The binary size and startup time would suffer, new feature development would slow to a crawl as every change becomes more difficult, and the interface would be clogged with things I don't want.

I think the situation is more complex than you're asserting. Unless a program has stopped development, it is not a product -- it is an ongoing work that's more akin to a service being provided by the developers. UI changes, bugfixes, refactors, and etc mean that existing features are not zero-cost to the developers. I understand that it's frustrating to lose niche features, but that's a symptom of other complexities, not a cause-free act of foolishness by developers.

It’s not necessary. It’s invasive and intrusive and unacceptable. I use Icecat and will continue to do so.

> Sponsored search engines are how Firefox can exist at all.

Mozilla used to do just fine in making their browser before the hundreds of millions of "Google doesn't want an antitrust suit" dollars............

Most of the revenue for the Mozilla Foundation comes from bundling Google as the default browser, and has done for a long time.


I think what parent poster was referring to is not the source of the money but the reason:

Much like Intel has cross-licensed patents with AMD in order to keep their competition viable enough to stave off monopoly and anticompetitive business practices accusations, it could be argued that Google’s promotional search agreements with Mozilla for Firefox are more to Google’s benefit than to Firefox’s.

What does it matter if Google avoided an anti-trust suit?

What matters to me and (I bet) other consumers is that we have a good browser that isn't Chrome. One that tries to keep Chrome honest when it comes to web standards. Consumers actually have increased choice, we're in a better place than we would be if Chrome was a monopoly. If that helps Google avoid anti-trust scrutiny in this area, fine by me.

The comment thread we’re both replying to implied that Firefox couldn’t exist without the Google money, which is disingenuous, because Firefox existed in its various code rebases, and under former Mozilla brand names, long before the Google money came in. Mozilla would have to make some tough choices, but Firefox would be maintained by volunteers independent of Mozilla if necessary. Mozilla isn’t Firefox. Maybe the Google money benefits Mozilla more than Firefox, and more than it benefits Firefox users.

For now, Firefox still has the edge on features which enhance user privacy[1], so I hope to see a project like OP for Firefox and Edge soon. More choices is a good thing.

[1] https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/ublock-origin...

To me, telemetry is ok. That is, how the software runs, which operations are slow, where crashes or recoverable errors happen. Anonymous technical stuff, preferably in a user-unelectable form.

What I'd be concerned about is personal profiling, knowing which sites I visit, which forms I submit (including web search), etc.

That’s a personal choice, to be made by you, the end user.

Someone who doesn’t want that should not have their tools silently spying on them.

Not asking for spyware consent should be a criminal act.

We're talking about telemetry here. Spyware is something different. It is covert malware, hidden in software that purports to do something useful. It would not be explained in privacy policies.

Software that incorporates silent and nonconsensual telemetry is spyware.

If it's reporting telemetry silently, it's covert.

If it's not asking for permission first, for some percentage of users, it's nonconsensual, and is thus rightly qualified as malicious.

It's still malice even if the telemetry is just for product improvement, against the user's wishes for privacy. (It also has the side effect of informing the ISP and military intelligence surveillance apparatus of the user's usage habits.)

Tools that misuse the user's system to benefit the software manufacturer against the wishes of the user by exfiltrating their data without advance warning (covertly) are malware.

> It is covert malware, hidden in software that purports to do something useful.

You just described a software package with silent, no-opt-in telemetry, such as Visual Studio Code, Balena Etcher, the Adobe Creative Cloud, Mozilla Firefox, the Netlify CLI, the Gatsby static site generator, the Google Cloud CLI utility, and many others.

The intent/label doesn’t matter if the practical result is the same.

In the world full surveillance you think all telemetry is wrong.

There were better days and there are better worlds. In Arch Linux and Debian you have to find out and install telemetry by yourself [1], [2]. It provides neat insides to the community.

Like in Arch Linux Firefox is on the rise [3], Chromium on the fall [4] and Google Chrome while small is constant [5]. While Debian community strongly prefers Firefox ESR [6] over Firefox [7] and Chromium [8].

Yes, statistics skewed to those who participate in community [9], but same could be said about forums, wiki, chatrooms, mailing lists. That's fine - community care most about those who help community. Anonymized highly technical telemetry is easiest way. I opt in. Bonus point - Firefox Public Data Report [10].

[1] Arch Linux pkgstats (2008) https://popcon.debian.org/

[2] Debian Popularity Contest (2004) https://pkgstats.archlinux.de/

[3] https://pkgstats.archlinux.de/packages/firefox

[4] https://pkgstats.archlinux.de/packages/chromium

[5] https://pkgstats.archlinux.de/packages/google-chrome

[6] https://qa.debian.org/popcon-graph.php?packages=firefox-esr

[7] https://qa.debian.org/popcon-graph.php?packages=firefox

[8] https://qa.debian.org/popcon-graph.php?packages=chromium

[9] https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Getting_Involved

[10] https://data.firefox.com/

You’ve swapped the first two links.

Yeah. Even Brave, a chromium browser with ad and tracking protection built in, has been injecting more and more of their own ads.

A browser that's Actually Not Shady sounds pretty cool. Though bummed to hear in a sibling comment that they don't provide builds.

Would be cool to see a service that provides UC builds, updates, and sync in some kind of transparently secure way. Perhaps with optional ad blocking. Maybe $10/yr or something folks would pay. I would.

Hmm thinking about this a little more, a killer feature for me would be Brave-style untracked browsing by default, but with the ability to enter a fully tracked profile on demand (and perhaps by default for certain domains). I use chrome for all my logged-in stuff, and brave for all logged-out web browsing. It'd be kinda nice to have only one.

What I didn't understand (or maybe I missed it), is all these extra features and they didn't include ability to install extensions not signed by overlords.

Maybe there's an easy way to patch that in?

I'm a little confused by this - are you referring to Chrome on MacOS and Windows only allowing extensions from the Chrome Web Store? With all other versions of Chrome and Chromium, you can drag-and-drop compiled extensions by default.

This is true.

Hilariously...its telemetry to Google is actually more invasive than Chrome, if you MITM it.

> its telemetry to Google

What does this even mean?

It's nonsense. I don't understand all these people ripping on Firefox for absolutely ridiculous reasons. Lack of MIDI support for a 6 year old? Being upset Firefox uses telemetry to improve their product? A minor difference in developer tool design? HN sure has become filled with negativity instead of constructive criticism.

> Being upset Firefox uses telemetry to improve their product?

Being upset Firefox co-opts the user's own computer and network connection to spy on them, violating consent, to benefit Mozilla/Firefox's product development efforts.

That's not ridiculous. That's a human rights violation.

Why do you need to mitm it if it's all open source?

Would be great to understand what communication with Google servers can be turned off via setting changes rather than code changes, and what cannot.

Chrome sends X-Client-Data headers to DoubleClick and other Google-owned properties, which can be used for tracking purposes. There's no way to disable this behavior.

The header contains a "low entropy" random ID generated by Chrome upon installation. Coupled with other data, this can be used to track users even after clearing cookies and in private mode.

There's a rather precise description of X-Client-Data at https://www.google.com/chrome/privacy/whitepaper.html#variat...

Note that you can reset at any time with the “--reset-variation-state” command line flag.

"Coupled with other data", anybody can track anything.

I use the GDPR definition for what “other data” means in an online data collection context. Even then, legal hoop-jumping causes those definitions to be gamed, to the detriment of user privacy, and to the boon of site operators and advertisers.

Damian George, Kento Reutimann, Aurelia Tamò-Larrieux, GDPR bypass by design? Transient processing of data under the GDPR, International Data Privacy Law, Volume 9, Issue 4, November 2019, Pages 285–298, https://doi.org/10.1093/idpl/ipz017

Michael Veale, Reuben Binns, Jef Ausloos, When data protection by design and data subject rights clash, International Data Privacy Law, Volume 8, Issue 2, May 2018, Pages 105–123, https://doi.org/10.1093/idpl/ipy002

Frederik J. Zuiderveen Borgesius, Singling out people without knowing their names – Behavioural targeting, pseudonymous data, and the new Data Protection Regulation, Computer Law & Security Review, Volume 32, Issue 2, 2016, Pages 256-271, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clsr.2015.12.013

You can disable most of the telemetry with command line switches like --disable-background-networking and --disable-sync, but some things like field trials and doubleclick fingerprinting cannot be excluded in regular Chrome/Chromium AFAIK.

The flag --disable-background-networking might break some sites:


Even basic things like auto-suggestions in the URL bar can't be turned off any more. A while ago there used to be an option for it but it was removed. So when you enter an URL it's automatically sent to Google as you type.

The setting is 'Autocomplete searches and URLs', just type it in the settings search box. It's still there.

Indeed it's still present. Thanks for pointing it out!


Scrambles to check settings

It's over in chrome://settings/syncSetup now.

If the default is set to something else, say DuckDuckGo, it'll go there instead right?

At some point the new tab page stopped being replaceable something less distracting/compulsive like your own custom url. Your homepage can only apply at startup. It isn't something that should have to be an extension.

I am a regular user of both chrome and ungoogled chromium browser. here are my insights: even though both are fork of chromium, UC consume much less ram as compared to chrome. a youtube page will take ~450mb in chrome but same page will take ~280mb (tested personally). You can install all chrome extensions in UC, there's also a seperate extension for updating these extensions. you can't "sync" data in UC (bookmarks, passwords, cards etc). there's no straight forward way to update UC.

Wow. Have others experienced this too?

Jerrygoyal, any other pros or cons so far?

^^^ This. Fantastic stuff and I love it so far!

What is the difference between Chrome and Chromium exactly if the latter needs to be ungoogled?

Chrome includes proprietary (licensed) binary blobs such as certain DRM features similar to widevine.

I think OP’s question was why do we need an “ungoogled chromium” in the first place, shouldn’t stock Chromium already be ungoogled? And if it’s not, in practice how is it then different from Chrome?

Google Chrome is closed source, Chromium is open source under a three-clause BSD license.

Non-technical Chrome users who cannot "un-Google" can at least set shortcuts to clear cookies, history, etc.

Go to chrome://settings/searchEngines

Click "Add" and instead of typing a search engine URL, enter

For "Keyword" one can enter a single character, e.g., "c".

Select options, e.g., Advanced tab, Time range: All time, check all boxes. (The boxes will remain checked on the next invocation.)

Now, whenever the user wants to clear the browser data, she can just type "c" in the Address Bar.

No need to keep typing "chrome://settings" or keeping a tab open for settings.

User-agent can be changed through Developer Tools, without the need for extensions, however other headers are not accessible. Technical users who avoid using extensions can use a localhost proxy to delete headers, including Cookie where it is unnecessary.

Despite all the user fingerprinting that is done using HTTP headers such as User-Agent, relatively few sites actually require User-Agent and other headers. For almost all sites, the only requirement to successfully retrieve the page is the Host and, often enough, Connection headers.

Specific resource requests can also be blocked in Developer Tools without installing extensions as a "poor man's ad blocker". Using Developer Tools, dummy Javascript resources can be loaded from local sources to remove undesirable page characteristics.

However neither ad-blockers nor stripping headers prevents all the fingerprinting. If one is not happy with browser-based tracking, then using a "modern browser" with so many advanced features to retrieve a page of text is a trade-off, and, arguably, overkill.

what is the difference to Chromium for example in Debian?

Does this, or any other distribution of chromium, have an auto-update mechanism similar to chrome's? I dislike having to manually install updates.


The portable versions on that site are just preconfigured chromium updaters (called chrlauncher)


Excuse my ignorance, but apart from defaulting to Google search engine, what are the negatives and hidden google effects of a vanilla chrome install?

Chrome has metric gathering, experimentation, account management, bookmark and data syncing and a bunch of other calls to Google's services whether you're using Google Search or not.

Some people would prefer their browser is not leaking so much information to Google, but perhaps appreciate the quality of the underlying Chromium application.

Indeed. Mozilla needs to fork it and be done dumping money and manhours into Gecko-based insecurity.

Available in Homebrew Cask, if Mac people want to try it out.

I have it installed almost exclusively to use the UniFi web UI, which is buggy as hell on Safari.

Not very secure, since anyone can upload the binaries there.


> These binaries are provided by anyone who are willing to build and submit them. Because these binaries are not necessarily reproducible, authenticity cannot be guaranteed.

For macOS users without brew (or not familiar with the command line), you can find all(?) releases here: https://github.com/macchrome/macstable/releases

Safari is my day to day browser and I have Pi-Hole installed. Less trackers less bandwidth consumption; I am happy.

Pi-Hole only blocks entire hosts - which is great for devices (/apps) on the network that cannot install adblockers. But for a webbrowser you'll need an extension to block many additional trackers/scripts.

Is there any similar service for Gmail, integration only with mail servers? Similar client-side experience, No ads, no data collection. etc

It could be first step for de-googlifying

I’m curious because I have never heard from someone preferring the Gmail client-side experience. Can you elaborate?

While certainly usable, isn’t the client-side experience one of the negative points of Gmail? (generic icons all over the place, resizing/reloading behavior erratic, load time, settings discovery hard, …)

It has very nice Vim-like keyboard shortcuts, a good UI for setting up advanced filtering rules, it loads instantly (on my computer, at least; this has gotten much better recently), and text editing features like Smart Compose and the Googlified spellchecker beat everything else.

I can see why you might not like it if you're used to Outlook or Thunderbird, but it meets my needs perfectly. It also integrates with Google Keep, Tasks, and Calendar, which is nice.

(Some people seem to seriously underestimate how good Smart Compose is---it's learned all of my favorite combinations of words and I can basically write entire emails and documents by typing a few letters and then mashing the tab key to accept all of the autocompletions)

I found the web UIs of things like protonmail fastmail and tutanota to be really poor in comparison to Gmail. I just couldn't get on with them and ultimately was why I chose not to use their services. They felt incredibly basic and clunky - search was poor, things like labelling etc were difficult/not present, I couldn't do a top-bottom window split, I can't remember but I think even the concept of archiving was not there. The crap UIs really really put me off when looking for a non-google alternative email service.

In the end I found that Zoho mail had the best modern web UI that is comparable to Gmail (it is not amazing in terms of usability and has a lot of fussiness going on that is distracting) and very reasonable pricing for custom domains with a catch-all and so have been using them ever since. The Zoho app is also acceptable.

It's more of a personal preference at this point. I got accustomed to the experience.

Mailpile: it's a personal webclient that can connect with any imap server.

Fastmail is an alternative, paid product which imo is better than Gmail.

This title is misleading. There are significantly more patches here than just "remove integration with Google".

I use ungoogled-chromium for sites that don't behave well on Firefox (due to needing third-party cookies and so on). I find the extension[0] allowing for the installation and updating of Google Chrome App Store extensions to be immensely valuable.

[0] https://github.com/NeverDecaf/chromium-web-store

Thank you for this link! Not being able to easily install extensions into ungoogled-chromium was the main reason I've not switched to it as my main browser.

> Not being able to easily install extensions into ungoogled-chromium

You can.

1. Download the .crx file(s)

2. Rename to .zip, unpack

3. Visit "chrome://extensions/" page

4. Select Developer Mode, then Load unpacked, select folder of previous extracted zip file

5. There you go.


0. Visit store, find extension, hit install

Not as easy:

Do the same, but now add 5 more steps.

Which is a complete ball-ache when you use as many different machines as I do.

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