Mozilla employs a small number of people to work on Rust fulltime, and many of the Servo people contributed to Rust too, even if it wasn't their job. They also pay for the hosting bill for crates.io. They also own a trademark on Rust, Cargo, and the logos of both.
Two people from the Rust team have posted about their situation, one was laid off and one was not. Unsure about the others. Many of the Servo folks (and possibly all, it's not 100% clear yet but it doesn't look good) have been laid off.
The vast majority of contributors and team members are non-Mozilla, though the Mozilla folk are very important. Rust will survive. This situation is very painful, and it has the possibility of being more so, but (thanks to a lot of work from people (not speaking of myself here) who used to be at Mozilla!) Rust is bigger than Mozilla, and has been on a long road towards diversification. Some other companies have stepped up to pay a bunch of the bills that Mozilla used to pay, namely Amazon and Microsoft. Here's hoping that we get even more involvement in the future.
AWS is investing heavily in Rust. If anyone who is reading this was affected by these layoffs and you want to continue to work in Rust, get in touch with me. We have many Rust opportunities open across the company on a variety of different teams.
I believe the success of Rust, as a technical goal, can transcend the business goals of whatever organization uses it. Solidifying the future of Rust is a noble goal, and it would be a huge win for our industry.
After the Great Depression, the New York City public schools became some of the best in the country as those with amazing credentials and work experience were displaced and needed jobs. The same can happen with Mozilla's layoffs, where Rust can spread faster and have a great impact on software development, but only if people can put their bleeding edge skills to best use.
I appreciate you specifically pointing out "socially progressive", rather than just "progressive", because corporations often use social progressiveness, (relatively cheap), as a mask for economic conservatism.
(And don't cut yourself short, your actions are a significant part of why Rust has such a promising future.)
Alex hasn't been on the core team since February. He's still on the Cargo teams and the wasm WG though.
We will always do our best to make sure that no one single company controls Rust, but we do also want Rust to be useful to industry, and so we do want to listen to our users, no matter where they come from.
So it would not be individuals but a team with some high-level goals they plan to work on for the next year.
I have no idea how many people would fund a project like this but it would be a fast and low cost experiment to find that out.
I would not position this as "the people vs. the industry", it would be just an additional option to move Rust forward.
So I guess crowdfunded project idea is not bad at all. I mean there probably some rewards tier to have some tokens or souvenier
Two days ago, the CEO said that focusing on technologies like Wasmtime was one of their plans for the future. Now we find out that they're actually getting rid of the team. They really doubled down on the corporate speak for this round of layoffs.
It deserves to be labeled as the worse of the two options because it is.
That is corp speak, they say stuff that can't be proven to be lies even though they almost surely are lies.
Tuesday blog post: "Wasmtime is our future!" "We're going to be smaller across the board".
Thursday it becomes apparent that the Wasmtime was laid off on that Tuesday.
"... specifically, a much smaller future ..."
And there also is a fork of XUL-era Firefox already, called Pale Moon, which various people have declared will soon be unusable with the modern web because there aren't enough people that care about it enough to implement Web Components, to the point where the Pale Moon developers were asking websites to not implement Web Components. Are the developers of those websites going to pay attention to a couple of developers maintaining their own Firefox fork that much less people use than standard Firefox? (And we're talking about Firefox, which itself has a single-digit market share.) That on top of the implications of security exploits being found in such a massive codebase faster than the development team can patch them, given how many features are being added to web standards so quickly, probably with the expectation that companies like Google or Mozilla already have the developer capacity to implement them on a set timeline. There's simply so much source code to maintain, and adding the new features that the modern web is going to require to be usable in a few years on top of maintenance takes a significant amount of effort.
The only way that a program as complicated as Firefox can continue to be improved and used by enough people to be viable is if it gets worked on by people with enough time, and I believe that's only practical if people are spending that time working on Firefox because they're salaried. Yes, that's partially because web standards are constantly expanding in scope and complexity, and I'm not really sure what we can do about the complexity creating a hard dependency on Mozilla continuing to exist because, unlike the source code of Firefox, the forces driving those standards are out of the reach of the average OSS developer.
Blink (Chrome's engine) was once KHTML. KHTML was maintained entirely by volunteers, so I think it's entirely possible for a team of volunteers to maintain a web rendering engine.
I think most people severely underestimate how much of a modern web browser is code that does things completely unrelated to rendering web content (think telemetry and the like ,etc). Now, telemetry also needs a backend to send data to, and servers to run that backend on.
My point is that many of the people that work on a modern browser are working on things that are unrelated to rendering web content, so their equivalent would not be needed in a volunteer team. You don't need any admins to administer the servers that run the telemetry backend services if you don't have any telemetry in your browser.
Mozilla has certainly done a lot over the past decade that effectively guarantees that neither Firefox nor Gecko can realistically exist without the continued existence of the Corporation.
It is very, very okay that ubiquitous and greatly loved projects do one or two things well.
And even if this better-will project is formed, and funded, and worked, there is nothing stopping the team from picking up all the bait-and-switch, corporate speak, etc., when they are wearing the same shoes as Mozilla.
In any rate, it's not as simple as someone with better-will to fork the project. I'd rather stay with Mozilla for now, because 1) they are a public entity who cannot commit an evil deed and simply ghost everyone, so they have the motivation to not be hated too much, and 2) they are the only player other than Webkit family and the Chromium family on the browser market, while nobody else has the power to even enter the competition (at least for now).
The actual reality of this is that they are still kept alive by a direct competitor for decades and haven't made anything to generate significant sources of revenue. Maybe they should turn into a Rust consultancy of some sort. I don't know.
If the mission statement is about 'privacy' then it doesn't make much sense to continue to bite the hand that feeds them as its up to Google if they want to re-new their contract with Mozilla; which unsuprisingly they had to.
Apple sells hardware, and most of their software offerings, like MacOS, their office suite, and Safari, and given away to convince people to buy that hardware. Also, it's not like they're spending a whole lot of time making Sarafi the best browser around.
Microsoft's web browser was created (and bundled) specifically to prevent the web from disrupting their monopoly on the desktop, and their new browser is just a fork of Chromium.
Google's browser was a way for Google to drive web technologies in service of their advertising platform.
Mozilla's open source efforts are/were a loss leader for ... nothing. Their work was motivated by altruism, not profit, and that turned out to be, well, not profitable. That's why they're pivoting; altruism alone wasn't enough to pay the bills.
He leaves a publicly funded team building a web browser, starts a commercial entity, and for whatever reason they don't feel they can charge for their browser funded by private equity. You could in fact buy it in a box at the local electronics store, but with the pricing I suspect most of that money went to distribution, not NCC. So they try to find other ways to make money, like their web server and overpriced consulting (for their notoriously awful web server).
The entire dotcom era then emulated this pattern. There were certainly other logistical reasons for it (like the state of credit card billing at the time), but I can't help but feel like this was the rock that started the avalanche of adware and commercial cyberstalking.
And so here we are 25 years later, and the last remnant of Netscape is trying to build the free browser and not much to fund it. I'm kinda surprised it lasted this long.
To be fair to them though, and particularly on the topic of this story, if they were going to build a free browser, it always should have been on the community to contribute to the dev tools. It's the part of the browser that we have a vested interest in.
And in fact, it used to be that way. Firefox had no dev tools at the beginning. They copied a very popular add-on, which I now recall made absolutely no sense to me at the time. I felt like their attempt was less effective in several ways, and why are they shouldering out this tool that made them in the first place (as GP asserts, nobody develops first-class support on a browser they can't debug in, or at least not when there is an alternative.)
Being able to use Firebug was such a huge boon to development back in the day, though it probably looks primitive today.
I worked on two teams back to back. Everyone was using Firebug. Management was telling us NOT to support Firefox, but tough shit, you want this work done yesterday and the only way that's going to happen is by engineering on Firefox/Firebug and then going back to black magic for the 10% that didn't work on IE (and soon, Safari).
Except it didn't turn out to be "not profitable". Leaving aside the issue of dependence on companies like Google and the frankly ridiculous exec compensation, all publicly available data shows that Mozilla is very financially healthy and has been for a long time.
The claim of financial issues is implied by the corporatespeak press release, but simply not supported by any evidence that I've seen.
The point I read from GP, at least, was that open source is cheap for these big corps because they get a ton of benefit for it, but non-profit (either orgs or individuals) are bearing the brunt of the cost.
There are consulting firms like Igalia that work on all three engines, and they're funded mostly from big clients like Bloomberg and banks so developers there can use flexbox and CSS grid everywhere.
Google sometimes works on WebKit as well if they want to try to improve compatibility of websites, but the project is mostly Apple employees now.
Clang was certainly an in-house Apple project from the start, and it would be hard to claim that it hasn't been a project that has seen huge uptake outside of Apple.
: https://lists.llvm.org/pipermail/cfe-dev/2007-July/000000.ht... (announcement)
Do you mean that Clang leverages LLVM on the back end?
Totally agree that Apple not tend to open sourcing software unless needed.
That certainly depends on how big the bills are.
The odds of them being able to build a business that that replaces the several hundred million they get from Google (which is essentially pure profit, not even revenue) are essentially nil. The instant Google decides they're no longer useful, Mozilla is going to go poof.
I'm inclined to agree with others who have said they should be building their own endowment. It's almost malpractice on the part of their leadership not to.
People keep repeating this but couldn't Bing replace Google as the default? The "default search engine" position is actually worth money.
So I don't think their position is as fragile as people suggest. The problem is declining market share, not that they are tied to Google per se. (Of course Google is by far the strongest search engine, but it's plausible that Mozilla could survive with Bing.)
In a scenario where Google no longer sees the value in that arrangement, what value would Microsoft be seeing in it?
Consider this: Firefox's remaining userbase is mostly quite technically sophisticated users. Are they going to blindly end up searching on Bing all day because they don't know how to change the search box default? No. They're going to set the default back to Google, and carry on as before, except then Mozilla don't get paid for it.
Google have a few reasons to cut them off. One is, obviously, it won't make much impact on their revenue given Firefox demographics. The second is Mozilla and Apple are dragging down the Chrome team. Chrome tries to introduce new tech, Mozilla vetos it or doesn't implement it. Apple they can't do anything about, Microsoft gave up on Edge and is now in the Chrome camp. If Mozilla dies, only Apple remains on a non-Blink engine. And eventually Tim Cook will wonder why they're funding a poor clone of Blink for legacy reasons, when they could just use it directly and re-allocate the resources to more profitable projects.
Cutting of Mozilla's lifeline is one way to push the web along to standardisation on Blink as a codebase. And when that's done, well the W3C is irrelevant for a long time already, so HTML becomes the API to Blink basically and they add features at whatever speed they want.
By accepting the Google cheque, they directed people towards Google and may have indirectly funded Chrome and monoculture.
If they had directed people towards Bing when they had 30% market share, that may have resulted in a search engine duopoly instead, and a greater chance of Microsoft selecting and funding Gecko/Servo instead of Blink.
But the amount it's worth is probably roughly proportional to the number of Firefox users. With Firefox having less and less market share, the attraction to search engines of supporting it -- particularly those whose operators also make their own browser -- must be diminishing rapidly as well.
Both of Mozilla's likely search revenue partners in the US are also competitors and both use anti-competitive means to push their own browsers.
Building their own search revenue stream isn't going to happen on $400M annually. And I don't think Yandex or Baidu are planning to seriously address the US market.
Also, I could be wrong, but I thought ad spending was way down this year.
And it can easily drop to $0M a year.
Meanwhile, a good consulting can grow to tens of millions, and even be acquired by a company like MS, etc.
* Forbid alternative browser engines on their platform.
* Bundle their browser in a leading operating system.
* Use their massive Web properties to drive downloads of their own browser.
I believe Valve's been a bit on edge (no pun intended), about Microsoft forcing games through their store as well.
Mozilla was helping us out of these walled gardens. There's even the SSB support they've been working for PWAs on desktop. Instead of bundling Electron, you could likely just target ESR Firefox and your app icon just launches this URL (this is what Peppermint OS does). Instead now you have Chrome and all of these Electron apps all competing for who can chew up the most RAM.
Knee-capped? For years Safari had the best PWA support compared to Android.
And at first it even asked developers to make PWAs, and they said "no, we want native apps".
There isn't a defined spec sure, but they idea is to give Web Apps somewhat equal footing with native apps while having potential be more secure being tied to browser sandboxing, extensions, settings, etc. This doesn't appear to be in Apple's goals given those missing features. You can see devs begging for push notifications for years--and it works on desktop Safari.
At work, this is the specific feature we want above everything else in our PWA experience. Apple's been reluctant to say the least to allow repackaged Web Apps in their store, but can you blame developers when features like this are missing but present?
things are much more likely to go the iOS route given it's already ARM.
There’s no other shoe. There's no known technical reason why all the major browsers shouldn't be available natively when ARM Macs start shipping in a few months.
Why would Apple allow other browser engines that are slower, less power efficient and don't respect user’s privacy at least as much as Webkit to run natively on iOS?
Apple continues to add features to block ads from tracking users across the web and to lessen the impact of fingerprinting by trackers.
Certainly Google has no interest in adhering to these principles if it were able to run natively on iOS—they're the only major browser on macOS that allows unchecked fingerprinting and ad tracking.
There's your problem. Apple doesn't own the device.. I do.
Apple can "recommend" I use Safari all they want (not unlike MS does with Edge) but if I own the device I should have the right to run any software I want. Full stop.
Practically speaking though, this is all command-line heavy and developer centric. Your typical Chromebook user can't/won't.
I'm actually grappling with this issue right now.. I'm a long time Firefox user and picked up a Lenovo Duet ChromeOS device to serve as a replacement for my cheap Android tablet.
Turns out.. I really like the form factor and am using it a lot (typing on it right now!). But the Firefox Android apps are a pretty terrible experience and since I don't plan on using this for dev, I don't want to jump through all the crostini hoops. So here I am, using Chrome..
If anything, at the moment Apple is doing more for the web diversity than anyone else. They have a non-negligeable market share and can force Google to abandon at least the most outrageous plans for Chrome.
Not that they are angels, of course... It's a pity that Mozilla failed to find a better revenue source that would include keeping Firefox alive.
What’s the alternative here? I can’t imagine opening up a new computer and not having some kind of web browser pre-installed.
They've also continuously lost lots of good will they had in the mid to late 2000s, both from end users and developers. I'm sure a lot of people would be happy to declare good riddance if chromium ever got a decent extensions framework like Firefox used to have.
They might be able to get some grants.
 Maybe this would be a good thing, though, get rid of all the people working on stuff (and often more expensively, managing the working on stuff) who aren't in it for the vision. The money-oriented who still want to work on browser tech can be absorbed by Google/Apple/MS/Brave/Opera. But it's risky, as they might find there's no one left.
(Don't get me wrong, I am not underestimating the complexity of their browser -- I work full-time in the Chromium code base, so I have a pretty good idea what a modern browser looks like inside.)
In any case the position wasn't a fit. I didn't get my chance to say no to it because the team I interviewed with didn't think I was a fit either (for imho dubious reasons, but whatever). But from talking to people work there... I dodged a bullet big time.
I wish them the best, but I didn't get the impression from the letter and the composition of the layoffs that the rethinking is really happening.
Heck, the money that they get from google per year is enough to pay for 1000 developers paid at $100k/year each for 5 years.
That will save a LOT more money and have a better impact.
Group A gets $Z in donation with conditions attached so it only gets used by Group A.
Then the organization assigns $X - $Z funding to Group A and assigns $Y + $Z funding to Group B. Group A is happy because it still has $X from the donation and doesn't complain. Group B is happy because it can now spend $2.5 million on the CEO.
1. Limits. The above doesn't apply when $Z > $X, above which the attachment has full effect.
2. Reputation. The sources of recurring $X + $Y have decision making powers with a time lag. They may not be willing to give $X + $Y again if they know it was entirely spent on group B last time.
3. Anticipation. Organization decision makers know 2. Which makes donations with conditions attached into a signal with some effect, rather than something freely fungible with no pressure.
If we were to plot a curve of notional pressure and effect on the organization's budgeting decisions, I would expect a curve increasing with the ratio $Z/($X+$Y). A very shallow curve perhaps. But not a flat zero in the range 0..$X as you are suggesting.
How sure are you? Would you be sure enough to bet your child's health care on it?
Not at all, In places with national single insurer system, (medicare for all), like the UK where am based, the way it works is that you do contribute to National Insurance effectively as part of your taxes, (usually less than you'd pay in the U.S.), BUT if you switch employers or even are unemployed, you still have that healthcare available to you.
Also, all the doctors, hospitals etc. are technically always "in network".
I'll concede that there are unique challenges associated with developing a web browser (it's certainly a moving target) and that there need to be several people working on it full time, but is that really something that can only happen when one big company/organization is funding the project? As for Rust, maybe someone could point me in the direction of the one benevolent large company that's backing GCC/G++ or CPython or Ruby?
I'm not saying what's going on with Mozilla isn't absolutely terrible, but the notion that Firefox or Rust are going to somehow just go away (and that this is what was destined to happen all along because Mozilla is not profitable) just doesn't really make any sense.
Have you any examples of any large OSS projects that don't have this problem?
> As for Rust, maybe someone could point me in the direction of the one benevolent large company that's backing GCC/G++ or CPython or Ruby?
gcc  has a list of maintainers, which features a lot of redhat email addresses. The ruby maintainer is employed by Heroku. CPython is maintained by a RH employee. The linux kernel is mostly comprised of people paid to develop by their employers.
Large FOSS projects requiring specialists (like Rust does) all seem to supported by companies paying, and often it's a large single company too, whether that's like PHP and Zend, RedHat and various projects, Mono and Xamarin, and so on.
Else you get something that takes fovered to develop further, releases are sporadic, people go on and off, etc.
Heck, GTK+ is/was one of the most adopted FOSS libs, and a dependency for tons of applications, distros, etc. And yet it just had a single dev working on it at some point (like, e.g., a person doing 300 commits each month, and another 50 persons doing 100 comits a year combined).
Also I wonder if browsers really need to be large projects requiring specialists or they've become this way because organisations making them are happy with such an entry barrier.
To be fair, the existence of open source software that is very expensive to develop has always dependend on big companies paying for it.
Firefox could be funded by several companies in collaboration, but as of right now, do you know any collection of companies with deep pockets that aren't happy enough sending users to Chrome instead?
I think you're getting the causality wrong there. A lot of the "open-source" (often barely) software built and funded by large corporations has a tendency of accumulating endless technical debt and complexity, and being inaccessible to outside developers. Not dissimilar to much proprietary software.
Does that mean that serious open-source software requires big companies paying for it, to maintain? No, it just means that big companies produce expensive-to-maintain software. And to top it off, often when they do so in open-source, it's actually an unnecessary reinvented wheel!
And quite often simpler, just as serious software exists that isn't so damn to expensive to maintain and that does just fine without big-corporate funding, because it hasn't suffered from the same organizational bloat and office politics.
But even taking into account removing unnecessary complexity, a web browser that users will choose is still complex, and has a very high compatibility bar, which is also a moving target.
You might say, does the browser need to much in it? Well, for users to choose it as a daily driver, it needs to work with web standards, formal and informal, and with nearly all sites. The web standards accrue complexity due to commercial development too. So do expectations, e.g. for smooth rendering, running games, etc.
An open source "small" browser which avoids that complexity is certainly possible to write, but few people would, or could, use it as their daily driver.
(Case in point. I used an open source-ish phone for a few years, a Nokia N900. It was great fun. But ultimately I had to stop using it because the browser increasingly couldn't handle ordinary sites.)
Do you know of any "serious open-source software" of comparable scale, which does not require big companies paying for it, even taking into account the argument around unnecessary complexity?
Not much comes to mind. Linux kernel, GCC, RISC-V, things like that are predominantly developed by paid workers, whether from companies or by government & academic grants.
Debian comes to mind as a possible exception but I'm not sure, because so much of it is on the back of big projects which are themselves funded.
While in retrospect it's understandable why it happened (economic forces etc.), it also means that the web-related specifications were never really designed with the consideration of "how could we build an operating system that doesn't highly centralize complexity". And so we're now effectively stuck with a huge pile of specifications that you pretty much have to implement to call yourself a browser.
But for most other software, this isn't true; because most software is implemented according to some pre-defined set of goals and/or requirements, and there is no external specification to satisfy, other than for some internals that can be outsourced to a library. This allows for much, much more reduction of complexity.
> Do you know of any "serious open-source software" of comparable scale, which does not require big companies paying for it, even taking into account the argument around unnecessary complexity?
The problematic part in this question is "of comparable scale". To put it bluntly, pretty much all of the software that meets that description has an inherent complexity problem, either having too broad a scope or reinventing too many wheels. So no, I don't think that at that scale corporate funding is avoidable; but I also think that the scale itself is the problem.
I do think that corporate funding is largely avoidable with a different approach to open-source development entirely; one that (re-)recognizes that open-source is about a shared public commons, not just freely downloadable software, and that prioritizes collaboration and modular, shared implementations over reinvented wheels.
Unfortunately we have a lot of cultural issues to fix to get there, not the least of which is the recent-ish appropriation of "open-source" by certain companies-that-shall-not-be-named as a developer marketing tool, paying basically no mind to the "public commons" part and calling it open-source merely because it's under an open-source license and it looks good on GitHub.
That's certainly not to say that this is entirely a corporation or commercial problem, though; there's definitely also an aspect of NIH culture and dependency avoidance among individual developers, where people have wildly inaccurate ideas about the costs and benefits of dependencies, and lacking knowledge in how to manage them effectively.
One typical example of this is the JS ecosystem, which gets a lot of flak for one-liner modules but was actually well on the way to addressing this problem - right up until Node.js started getting hyped up, and an endless stream of shiny reinvented wheels from startups started showing up, many of them poor copies of tools that already existed and worked well. Webpack is a notable example here, which really is just a worse Browserify in every sense.
Ultimately, this is probably the only plausible solution to this problem that I can see. Modular projects with a well-defined scope, that actually have a reasonable chance to reach feature-complete status, where the implementations are widely available and reusable in a broad variety of different projects that can themselves become feature-complete. Where only one developer has to do the work and it is then forever done. Whether that's in JS or something else entirely.
At a Microsoft sized company I'd get it because they can basically blow billions on that sort of thing but I always wondered if it actually took time away from improving Firefox or other products.
I can't imagine that from a standpoint of time investment and technical improvement Rust ever made sense for Firefox to be honest.
The Brendan Eich interview was really interesting, because it talked about bridging research and software engineering, specifically with regard to memory safety in C++ and debugging tools.
I think he was talking about manual annotations on C++. It seems clear that this interest morphed into sponsoring of Rust. I think Rust was a side project since 2006 and it was "announced" around 2010 (?).
And Mozilla also sponsored the "rr" reversible Debugger, which is also some very impressive engineering. (Sadly it seems to get less attention than Rust!)
Anyway, for PL nerds, I recommend reading this interview.
I think this work on software engineering tools is great, but as a Firefox user of 15+ years, it would be hard for me to argue that Firefox received sufficient attention. It does feel like the situation where the engineers work on the tools for too long and then management cancels both projects (which I've seen happen in my career).
It also helps that Microsoft is in the business of selling IDEs.
> I can't imagine that from a standpoint of time investment and technical improvement Rust ever made sense for Firefox to be honest.
To put it bluntly: without Rust, Firefox would have very likely not existed anymore. It was severely behind in terms of performance, and no good tooling was available to fix that without incurring a huge ongoing maintenance cost, due to lacking parallelism safety in other languages. So they built the tooling themselves.
The whole Firefox Quantum thing very likely just couldn't have happened if it weren't for Rust. Rust wasn't some pointless experimental plaything; it was a large frontloaded engineering cost, with significant long-term benefits.
(Note: I'm not a Mozilla employee, so it's always possible that I'm wrong here. But I have followed the whole Rust-and-Firefox thing pretty closely from the outside.)
While Mozilla is financially healthy, it is very much not one of the wealthiest tech companies on earth.
They cannot afford to spend the kind of money on maintaining a big pile of unsafe parallelization code that Google and Apple can, and so the remaining option was to make the maintenance cheaper - which is what Rust is for.
And in the end ~500 million dollars per year should be more than enough to maintain one software project. Come on, they're not trying to send people to Mars.
They had been lagging behind in feature support for a long time.
> it's just that they came to a realization which Mozilla's also about to come to: nobody cares what's underneath the browser UI as long as the branding and features are there.
This is an extremely short-sighted view, also from a business perspective, and one that I'm quite sure Microsoft didn't share. There are very real risks to being dependent on a single huge competitor for such a crucial part of your product, which is why IE (and, subsequently, Edge) came to exist to begin with.
The users might not care, but the company itself certainly does, because outsourcing all the internals to Google means that they largely lose control over their user's experience and, by extension, over the UX of their own product.
> And in the end ~500 million dollars per year should be more than enough to maintain one software project.
Mozilla isn't just "one software project".
Mozilla solves the problem by killing development of developer tools insuring Firefox is an afterthought.
Is there anyone in Mozilla management that has a technical bone in their body?
I have missed functionality when I've had to use Chrome though - like Edit & Re-send for network requests, copy as cURL (which arrived a few years later to Chrome), the accessibility inspector (which is not Lighthouse), services like https://profiler.firefox.com/ etc
I think the only thing I have found that Chrome sometimes performs better on is source maps and breakpoints in prettified code.
Also I believe the OP was talking about more development tooling than just the front-end browser dev tools. Chromium always seems to have the most advanced debugging tools for browser development at the systems level. At least from what I’ve read...
Is it just familiarity? Because I feel the same way about Chrome.
So maybe, as someone who never switched to Chrome, I am simply used to the way things work and unconsciously avoid the traps, while in Chrome I fall right into them? And probably others are simply used to Chrome dev tools?
Anyway, I hope they manage to turn the boat around and make it profitable, while keeping the browser alive and privacy-focused.
These are hard decisions. I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that management doesn't understand tech, they obviously do, it's Mozilla.
Anything that is not touching engineering / technical problems, such as management and the rest of the C-suite team, that apparently are getting fatter salaries while "low level" employees are getting the boot.
> they obviously do, it's Mozilla
This mindset is dangerous on so many levels (assuming they don't have technical expertise is equally dangerous). Mozilla used to stand for an open web, by any costs. Lately, this is obviously not true, but it's hard to say who's to blame for this. Management gets paid extra much since they hold much of the power in an organization, which also means they should be the first to blame for the problems.
What in these decisions should make that obvious? Just because its Mozilla doesn't mean its management staff understand tech.
Cut the CEO salary and remove some management first.
I used to donate to Mozilla until these news. In fact, I started specifically donating because of the Servo and Rust projects. I was impressed with the way Mozilla was pushing the envelope and once again returning to the forefront of tech, in an open source manner.
Instead, C execs keep getting raises and the guys doing the real work keep getting axed.
Mozilla laid off nearly all their engineers – which are the ~250 people, who are A QUARTER of Mozilla. Wait what?
What for do they need so many people? Everybody who is not brainfried by corporate will agree that there are better options. But that is the faith of any organisation getting too big. The bureaucrats are taking over (think Boeing) and eradicate every single occurence of common sense. And of course greed and pride kicks in soon after. Not a single time has management ever fired management.
Maybe their AI experts? Support staff?
Just heavens forbid they reduce CEO wages.
Only time will tell. If the ship finally does sink (i.e. gets acquired by IBM), then I'll take that as evidence that management decided to throw in the towel on figuring out tech and focus on short-term business instead.
Chrome copied it and at first IMO it wasn't nearly as good inside Chrome as in FF. But that did eventually change and for some years now I (sadly) agree I also prefer Chrome's.
Back in the days when Mozilla put a focus on the needs of power-users and developers...
It's hard to pin down a single point where they dropped that ideal, but it's definitely long gone now.
Dedicated work on Chrome DevTools started only in 2009 and before version 3 or 4 Chrome had only had Elements panel inherited from Web Inspector, Console and gdb-style command line debugger (perhaps basic Network don't remember). It was catching up with Firebug quickly though because web developer tools was stated as a priority for the project.
There are some differences with some of the more advanced dev tools.
I like both
Better than my last job at least which for some reason people were using ie11 and even worse to access our app.
Honestly I don't know how dire Mozilla's situation is, but I would not assume it was unwarranted.
I'm not sure what you mean. I think capableweb had the best suggestion https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24144625
I'm not sure at this point if it makes sense for them to keep the Firefox code base or give up, switch to Chromium and focus on what they do best - spy less on us than Google. When Microsoft gave up anyone paying attention knew this was coming.
The only company that can still afford to develop a Chromium competitor is Apple. I hope they're not forced by the masses of web developers to switch to Chromium too.
(Please don't downvote me, I'm just trying to flesh out the exact meaning of that statement.)
The JS engines are different though
Ed: I may have misunderstood which "it's" you were referring to. Oh well.
They should just focus on Chromium. It's going to win anyway. Mozilla has a small market share percentage and eventually the gap is going to be large enough they will have to abandon the FF code base anyway.
It's looking like they're going to focus more on the consumer market and building consumer products and less on infrastructure.
FF as needed back when all the browsers were proprietary.
Sure... Google can do evil things with Chrome but Chromium is Open Source - it can always be forked. There's nothing advantageous in maintaining FF as a dedicate code base. It's just duplication.
One of the major points of OSS is to prevent people from competing on things that are non-differentiating. If's OSS so they can fork it and make their own changes if they want.
It takes more to maintain a Chromium competitor than its source code. You also need engineers to implement new features of the rapidly changing web.
If Google decided to close the source code in 2030, nobody would be able to do anything about it. Mozilla would have laid off its last engineers by 2025 and they'd have found new jobs by now, having 5 year old outdated knowledge about how browsers work. Even if you have engineers with the required knowledge, you still need to organize them, etc. All of this takes time, and gigantic investments.
Microsoft is using Blink for Edge and is upstreaming changes, I recently read about a power usage optimisation coming from Microsoft.
I sort of agree with parent poster, if this was their plan then Mozilla could have given up on Gecko and focused on a privacy focused Blink/V8 based browser. There isn't much value in developing Gecko at this point, they canned Servo and a large chunk of the dev team so I don't see where the technical innovation is going to come from. V8 has won as well, Node uses it, it's ported all over the place.
Their only value right now (after firing so much of the R&D
and dev focused engineering talent) is the privacy/open reputation of being released by a non-profit, why not scrap the area you aren't competitive in and focus on your strengths. I wouldn't be surprised if they announced a blink/chromium based browser soon.
They probably can split it and gradually replace most real functionality into a separate closed source part, like they did with Android, but that will take time.
What kind of things are rapidly changing these days?
These things by themselves require a well-funded team to keep the browser relevant to modern sites. Well-funded because they take a lot of time and ideally to be done to a professional standard. The number of spare-time or independently-wealthy volunteers around to do the work seems thoroughly insufficent compared with what it would take to keep up.
That list doesn't even have new user-visible features (so nothing to "sell" to users except "we still work with current sites").
They are just moving-target "basics", minimal expectations by users and sites to remain "current" on the web. I'm sure I've left off a lot too, it's just off the top of my head.
The moment they fork it and make their own changes, they are now back in the same position they were in -- a separate codebase under separate branding that needs to keep pace with Chrome.
There are two reasons forks work:
- They allow you to pull upstream changes. That's nice, but pulling upstream changes doesn't work once your codebase starts to heavily diverge from its source, so getting that benefit means you can't make changes that are too divergent from the upstream.
- They also allow you to get rid of upfront work and start from a solid base. That's also nice, but getting rid of the upfront work isn't valuable to Mozilla. Firefox is already basically on par with Chrome where most features are concerned. It's not the upfront work that's the problem, it's maintenance, advertising, and monetization.
A Mozilla fork of Chrome would be effectively the same thing as giving Google control over the entire web standards process.
I recently switched from Firefox to Vivaldi. Just because:
1. I got tired of nagging compatibility issues with websites that I can't easily do with out (e.g. bank and stock broker).
2. I dabbled with Opera once upon a time, and liked it. I don't trust Opera's current Chinese ownership, but the original developers formed this new company and their (Chromium-based) browser is quite nice.
However, I still don't like the fact that Vivaldi is proprietary and closed-source. I would love to have a browser that is both built on a Chromium core, AND built for privacy by a trustworthy open-source company.
If Mozilla would fill this niche, then I'd be back tomorrow. They've already sort of dabbled in this area, with their Chromium-based "Firefox Focus" browser for mobile devices. But that's a very thin shell with no features.
I wish they would just acknowledge reality, throw in the towel on Gecko, and build an awesome Chromium-based browser. Microsoft managed to do it seemingly overnight, surely Mozilla could as well if they so wanted.
FIREFOX'S VALUE-ADD IS NOT GECKO! It's all of the functionality layered on top of that engine.
what about Brave?
Unfortunately, Brave's sync service just flat-out doesn't work. To the point where they have it disabled by default, and you have to crack open advanced settings to see if it will actually work reliably for you (SPOILER ALERT: It won't). I think they were too focused on making it "blockchain-based" and "crypto-trendy", and just can't build something sensible that works.
THIS is the value-add that browser vendors can bring to the table going forward. Chromium the kernel has won. But at the user-feature level:
1. Google and Microsoft's Chromium-based browsers spy on you.
2. Opera's Chromium-based browser has Chinese ownership, and probably spies on you.
3. Brave is buggy and flaky with all of the user features that they've built on top of their Chromium-based browser.
4. Vivalid's Chromium-based browser is pretty awesome and solid, and probably doesn't spy on you. But it's closed-source.
5. Firefox is solid, and has good no-spying values. But their browser is not Chromium-based, and it's dying because the Internet is simply moving on away from it.
With this list, Vivaldi is currently the "least-bad" option from my POV. But I would love to go back to Firefox if they would get real with the times.
You're speed-reading my comment, and getting it wrong. Vivaldi is NOT Chinese-owned. It is a group of European former-Opera developers, who were unhappy about the Chinese acquisition of Opera.
> @outsomnia: "Ffox is super up to date with latest and next-gen web technologies... what do you even mean by "get with the times"?"
A similar argument pops up on Java developer forums, in discussions about the old "Java EE" specifications versus Spring Boot. The devs who have hitched their career wagons to Java EE just cannot process the reality that it died 5-10 years ago.
"But it's a specification! A standard!"
"But Spring implements a lot of those standards! And the other bits are all proprietary API's, that don't have any alternative non-Spring implementations!"
It doesn't matter. The spec is not the standard anymore. For the vast majority of Java shops, Spring has become the standard. Like it or not, that's the reality.
This analogy is even more extreme when it comes to browser engines. More and more of the web targets Chromium, and is glitchy or non-functional with Gecko. 99% of people could care less which specs Gecko has implemented, or how well they implemented the spec. CHROMIUM IS THE SPEC.
Today, the argument for Mozilla is that it's "almost as good" as other browsers. That it "doesn't have as many compatibility problems as you might have heard!", etc.
And they're not ahead of Google at implementing standards. They lag slightly behind. https://caniuse.com/#compare=firefox+81,chrome+87
If the Chromium team starts resting on its laurels like the IE team did in the early-2000's, then I hope they'll meet the same fate. But right now these situations are not remotely comparable.
Ffox is super up to date with latest and next-gen web technologies... what do you even mean by "get with the times"?
Otherwise, it duplicates FF pretty well. Its obviously lacking in everything else "Firefox" like container support and DNS over HTTPS. Firefox is just a very fleshed out browser that is hard to replace. Vivaldi also shares standard Chromium browser flaws, such as being difficult to pass all of Cloudflare's security tests, when it's trivial in Firefox.
I agree with you that Gecko should be replaced with Blink, but another more popular perspective by a lot of hardcore nerds is that they like Gecko because new code carried over from Servo is written in Rust. Which has sifted out of the pile of new languages over the past 15 years as the real star.
Over the years I've pretty much written off everything except Firefox and native browers. FF for power users, native (Edge/Safari etc) for best system performance. Battery life is a killer feature in my book. There's too much missing in Vivaldi for me to move to it, if I ever throw in the towel on Firefox it'll be for Edge, but I'll be keeping tabs on Vivaldi.
I'm impressed with Vivaldi. It pretty much has everything you could want built-in. This is exactly what Firefox needs to be in 2020. Tree style tabs (never my thing but nice to have as a built-in), adblocking (I'll always use uBlock Origin anyway out of performance paranoia but still good to see), unsmooth jittery scrolling option (just feels better), a dedicated search bar. I thought I was the only one who cared about a dedicated search bar still. Great stuff.
Mozilla should simply buy Vivaldi, rename it Firefox, hook it into their add-ons store, keep their existing iOS Firefox app, and add Firefox's exclusive features like secure Cloudflare DNS over HTTPS, container support, their excellent send link functionality to mobile etc.
I did use Opera for a time when it was first released and liked it, hearing Vivaldi is from those developers makes sense on how well done this is. Opera was more innovative than Firefox for the most part, in my opinion.
All that said, if I move off of Firefox it'll probably be to Edge. I never liked the idea of using a browser that isn't from a major vendor for overall support purposes. Microsoft has their own extensions store with most things in it already, so they're safe from Google's actions on that front. I see in Vivaldi you're directed to the Chrome store which makes me very uneasy. More uneasy than just using Gecko/Firefox (or my second choice, Edge).
Still impressed, this is what Firefox and Edge should be stealing ideas from. A "Vivaldi" from a major vendor is the best shot anyone has at attacking Chrome's marketshare, it's the only way at this point yet no one is doing it which seems so shortsighted.
It certainly serves not only consumers, but also businesses well to have firefox (and mozilla) so web standards don't get dictated by a single private entity.
It should be noted that the base Chromium packages still include Google-specific and Google-friendly features, such as automatically deriving your browsing profile from whatever Google account you happen to be logged into.
Is Mozilla/Firefox becoming VPN company?
They are going to push their VPN, Pocket and Lockwise like never before. They are also going to focus on their incubator hoping for a big win.
Firefox the browser will start to stagnate, and in five years or so they'll switch to WebKit.
The focus is now not the browser or the browser engine. It's selling Fix-the-Internet type products that have a dash of security theater baked in.
It was also an indication of just how bad Mozilla's management are at trying to make money. We'll see a lot more business theater like this before the team are replaces with people who know what they're doing.
I feel disappointed with the failure of companies like Mozilla and canonical to thrive. They have the right values, the talent, and good products. They just don't seem to be able to make money. It feels like the only way to make money is by spying on your users, or doing other unsavory things like Apple does.
I would've been happy to pay a modest subscription for a fully open-source Pocket stack with better archive management.
The VPN client and Pocket are just ways to make money to fund browser development. Firefox itself does not and can not make money (and not from lack of trying). It turns out people don't want "ads", "nags" or "suggested content" in their browser.
Maybe these are all short term necessities for Mozilla, and when things get back to normal they'll pick up where they left off. One can at least hope.
What does that even mean concretely ?
Isn't Wasm supposed to be the cornerstone to give user faster (and ultimately better) experience in the browser ?
Mozilla was operating a long time under the mistaken assumption that they're a tech powerhouse when they're obviously not. You can lie to yourself only for so long before the market corrects your assumptions the hard way.
Always follow the money. If they got rid of these people it likely means that:
a) Rust is not part of Mozilla's future any more
b) Gecko's future doesn't look too bright either
What are the applying their formidable engineering talent to?
I have been reading a lot of reactions to this that involves hitting at C-level of MozCorp (mostly around their pay, but also perceived lack of focus?) so I wanted to understand what are the strategic changes that management is enacting.
Is building a web-based platform not a priority for Mozilla anymore? What is? Or is it that the layer of intervention on the web platform has shifted to other things, other than rendering engine and documenting it's capabilities?