FireFox OS could have provided such model, in fact, its successor kaios is doing very well and one can imagine that in the future, it will be the primary OS of half the mobile users on the planet. 'Feature phones' aren't dead. They provide a cheap alternative to touch phones, are usually more robust, and allowing them to run web apps instead of MIDP stuff is a giant opportunity for any web actor.
Ditching Rust as a core component of the future of Firefox is also a demonstration that Mozilla isn't a tech focused corp anymore. Rust is going to yield a lot of result when it comes to security, memory saftely and maintainability and firing Rust devs was terribly short sighted.
So yes Firefox was always enough. Leadership at Mozilla doesn't get it.
Ugh, this is nonsense. Mozilla has not "ditched Rust as a core component of a tech focused corp". Mozilla has ditched the idea of developing entire components of Firefox in a silo for 5-8 years, and then spending 3 years trying to integrate that component back into the browser, the entire time trying to keep both components maintained and up-to-date with ridiculously fast changing web standards.
They want to continue using Rust, but it will be done more piecemeal and in-place, rather than trying to keep two entirely separate browser engines maintained and standards-compliant for the next 5+ years.
Azure, AWS, Google Cloud are all major Rust sponsors at this point. It doesn’t make sense for Mozilla to remain a major sponsor for a product that almost certainly can and will exist, and likely flourish even more, as a more independent project.
At this point Mozilla’s ownership of Rust would likely only cost resources and serve to limit the growth and development of rust.
From where I am at it was a massive opportunity for Mozilla and Web developers all round the world. They didn't have to take on Android and iOS directly, but may have gotten there eventually thru 'worse is better'.
Imagine a web developer learning just a few APIs and being being able to customize their web app for smart TVs
This was WebOS in 2009.
Windows Phone, WebOS, Meego and Ubuntu Phone all "failed" around the same time period as Firefox OS. I have a hard time laying blame solely on Mozilla there.
So, what would have happened to Android, if Google didn't have the Maps / Play Store big stick?
Every device manufacturer wants to differentiate. None of them are good at it.
Elop was an incompetent leader, but he had not been involved in creating the mess. He went for a worse option, but that does not say that Meego would have ever succeeded.
Yes, I am stuck in the past myself, typing this on SailfishOS. But one has to see the realities.
> The Nokia N9 was announced at Nokia's Connections event in Singapore, June 2011. The reception for the device has been very positive, citing the MeeGo v1.2 Harmattan UI, pseudo-buttonless design, polycarbonate unibody construction and its NFC capabilities. Still, many reviewers did not recommend to buy the N9 only because of Nokia's earlier decision to drop MeeGo for Windows Phone for future smartphones – often questioning this decision at the same time. Engadget's editor Vlad Savov said in June 2011 that "it's a terrific phone that's got me legitimately excited to use it, but its future is clouded by a parent that's investing its time and money into building up a whole other OS." In a later review, Engadget writes: "Love at first sight — this is possibly the most beautiful phone ever made," and "MeeGo 1.2 Harmattan is such a breath of fresh air it will leave you gasping — that is, until you remember that you're dealing with a dead man walking."
> I can't understand how Mozilla failed to execute on Firefox OS.
This is naive. They did execute, and failed. That’s different than not executing at all. You can’t break into this segment without cooperation from the mobile phone operators... even in India and Southeast Asia whom were the primary target markets (less disposable income than Americans)
I had a Firefox OS phone. There was nothing great about it. It was average (by intention in order to work on restricted devices). I never used it to make calls, I used it for development. And it only had a wifi connection because I did not buy service for it.
There was nothing really “disruptive” about it as I recall. $20 Android phones destroyed any hope after the mobile operators turned a blind eye.
p.s. I still have the phone.
People do this all the time. I did it with my first android phone, a Nexus S, despite having bought the phone with no intention of doing so. The Chinese crapware it came loaded with didn't really leave any alternative.
Then Mozilla's leadership didn't have the patience to wait for the right opportunity.
I.e. if you've got something to claim as the reason it can't also apply to KaiOS unless there was something KaiOS did right that Mozilla didn't.
- have been friendly to 3rd party clients developers, like Loquim (https://loqui.im/). Once WA turned on e2e encryption, the situation for 3rd party clients changed from "difficult but fun" to "mostly impossible".
- wrote a JVM in JS to run the S40 version of WA (https://github.com/mozilla/pluotsorbet).
- partnered with a company specialized in bringing android apps to other OSes (they had Windows Phone support for instance).
The only people I know who don't use WhatsApp are very privacy focused and therefor use Signal.
More roughly, my understanding of the messaging space was:
- USA: Facebook Messenger
- Japan, Taiwan: LINE
- China: WeChat
- Everywhere Else in the World: WhatsApp
And the comments here seem to basically bear that out.
I've seen a number of comments on Windows Phone since then (on HN), and one and all they emphasize how much better and nicer Windows Phone was -- from a consumer perspective -- than any other phone.
What was the failure? This isn't a retrospective that makes any sense.
As of 2019, however, 52.4% of the mobile OS market belongs to iOS, and 47% to Android. Neither of our favorite mobile phone OSes have succeeded in comparison.
This doesn't pass the sniff test, unless you're doing something weird like measuring the mobile OS market in dollars spent on phones.
> Neither of our favorite mobile phone OSes have succeeded in comparison.
To be clear, I have no experience of Windows Phone. I'm just bemused that 100% of comments about what it was like are so glowing. For some other product, you'd expect to see some comments saying "this was the greatest product ever to be commercially available" and some others saying "no, I had one of those, and it sucked". That doesn't seem to happen for Windows Phone.
A lot of patent fees paid to Apple and Google for every phone sold.
Windows Phone was really good and it had millions of fans. It would probably do well in today's duopoly market if relaunched but MS has lost interest in phones presently.
Windows Phone was an epic disaster in how badly it was rolled out. It was Ballmer at his worst. MS kept oscillating between whether they wanted Windows Phone to be an iPhone competitor or an Android competitor. They picked the worst of all worlds, by choosing to focus on distributing through 3rd party vendors, but refusing to allow them to make any changes to the interface, therefore basically eliminating any major vendors from adopting and promoting Windows Phone. It’s still amazing that MS was unable to unseat Android at a time OEMs were desperate for an Android alternative thanks to the uncertainty around the Oracle lawsuits (and were already paying more to MS than Google for Android! thanks to MS’s OS related patent portfolio).
Ubuntu Phone never made any sense, targeting the most expensive niche of the market as it did.
Windows Phone had great, snappy, intuitive UI (which was really surprising coming from Microsoft). However it had no apps. If you look at the top 10 iPhone apps in the app store, only Facebook and Netflix were officially supported on the platform. I recall there being (great) 3rd party apps for apps like Instagram, but there was a dearth of anything else.
They needed Samsung and HTC to have adopted them at the time.
People didn't buy it. Simple as that.
Doesn't matter how much better people think the consumer experience is if nobody's buying it.
I don’t need to do anything!
The only thing that matters is people didn’t buy it. It wasn’t a success.
No YouTube, no Snapchat etc.
With YouTube Google used their position to keep it that way.
It also wouldn't surprise me if someone told certain app developers that "that's a nice app you have there, it would be shame if there was a bug in the Play store that made it hard ro find".
When it comes to App Store I have heard it is pretty well established that you won't get featured, no matter how great your app is if it is available on other platforms.
> With YouTube Google used their position to keep it that way.
YouTube is available to anyone with a web browser, such as people using a smartphone.
> “In the software world, particularly for platforms, these are winner-take-all markets. So the greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is. That is, Android is the standard non-Apple phone platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win. It really is winner take all. If you’re there with half as many apps or 90 percent as many apps, you’re on your way to complete doom. There’s room for exactly one non-Apple operating system."
Because this product could only be sold to a hardware maker. It doesn't matter how good it was/is, because hardware makers are smart enough now not to rely on a 3rd party supplier of an OS, in fact they've been working hard on degoogling Android as much as possible.
Another failed alternative that comes to mind is WebOS, and yes indeed, it got acquired by LG for the reasons above.
I have personally gone through carrier negotiations and they’re the reason why Android phones come with bloat ware and people go to such lengths to build and distribute minimalistic Android systems.
When the pandemic is over and the world opens again go visit Mobile World Congress. Bring a tissue because the industry might make you cry.
Wasn't it initially too slow and bloated for the hardware they released it on?
Might it have something to do with the word "OS" in the title? It's never worked except for Apple, but because Apple is selling a whole product, not an OS, it doesn't seem to hit in the same way.
Marketing something as "____ OS" appears to more or less guarantee a marketing failure.
This is the meat of my problem with Firefox as it stands. I've not stopped using Firefox since the mid 2000's but come on, you need something more than just checks from Google. Charge me for a commercial version of FireFox that includes a VPN subscription and funds its development. Just do it ten years ago.
Honestly, if they're not going to embrace Rust and Servo becomes completely usable I may just jump ship eventually. My hope for Servo is that it becomes 100% Rust as much as sustainably possible (I understand for codecs and some things recreating them in Rust might be overkill when there's standardized libraries just use them), even the JS engine.
“How will we ever earn money here at Mozilla? All we have is this world class web browser that provides massive value to millions of people, but we refuse to directly monetize. Oh whatever will we do?”
they fired so much talent to focus on junk to drive revenue, that it's not something i can do anymore. very sad.
Mozilla has buckets of money, between the Corporation and the Foundation. They are separate, for good-ish reasons? But they are separate. If they start allowing customers or businesses to pay for Firefox, then they will have to provide an entirely different level of support. They will need a billing and support team that is beholden to those paying customers.
It will shift the focus that Firefox has on attracting and retaining users to attracting and retaining paying users.
It will mean they need to meet various warranty and regulatory requirements around the world, and potentially introduce new business risks and liabilities related to those requirements (e.g. non-compliance with specific regional legislation).
What you are asking for is to pay Mozilla for Firefox, and to get there you need a radical shift in the organization that supports and ships Firefox.
Or, you could do what the rest of folks who want to support Firefox do, and make a donation in the way that Mozilla is signalling is the best way to support Mozilla's mission and Firefox development.
If that isn't good enough for you, track down an OSS contributor to Firefox, and give them money. Direct action for the win!
That's the rub here. Mozilla's mission is a much larger scope than just Firefox. Some people want to support Firefox, but don't want to donate to Mozilla's mission. One such reason is because it's important to have more than one browser implementation. There's no way to support that without Mozilla allocating some portion of your donation to some unrelated part of their mission.
(Maybe you can? I haven't donated to them...)
9HZZRfNlpR is right. Not only do you get to say this, you have no other choice but to say this. Buying a laptop sends the strongest possible message that you're giving your money to the laptop division, and not to the tablet division. If you wanted to support the tablet division, you would have bought a tablet. And Lenovo will keep very careful track of this. They may choose to cross-subsidize, but your message will be received loud and clear.
If you want to pay for using their browser, you could always donate to them.
According to the author, the problem contributing to this misprioritization was that “Firefox exists just to give Mozilla a seat at the table when the web is defined,” such that they didn’t care if it was the best. I doubt that’s true. Few want second, third, or fourth place. So let’s assume they wanted it to be the best. Where did it go wrong?
As much as Rust is great and FF was a great project to try it out on, I’m not convinced that FF needed a full rewrite, and in my experience there were significant problems with performance as Rust wasn’t fully there and the developers didn’t test adequately on all platforms, which they should’ve pushed more for if the funds were there.
That was the straw that broke the camel's back for me.
The day I found out about that I stopped using Firefox and switched to qutebrowser.
Have you ever compiled and run servo? I have. It's really cool but nowhere remotely close to being ready for a full production browser.
Mozilla are embracing Rust, they are just no longer interested in the idea of developing
entire components of Firefox in a silo, maintaining both at once during the entire process, and then spending multiple years trying to integrate it back into the browser.
Back when the Servo team was let go, what they basically said is that moving forwards things will be done more piecemeal and in-place, rather than hundreds of thousands of LoC at a time.
I've said this many times and I'm going to repeat it again; I wish Mozilla would offer me a way to purchase a monthly subscription for Firefox.
I want to support the open Web and I want to support FireFox development (but not any n+1 random Mozilla products / experiments) and I hate that they don't offer this.
The problem with optional subscriptions is that most people will never opt-in. If subscriptions are made mandatory, the general public will be driven to one of the other major browsers.
It's a matter of "can't", not "won't". Subscription revenue would go to Mozilla Corp directly and therefore has no restrictions, because it's taxed as income. It at least has the possibility of being spent on Firefox development even if it actually goes to Rust maintainence or whatever else.
Though would Mozilla grant some type of premium version of Firefox or premium support for your subscription monies?
But the feedback from people who do use it is overwhelmingly positive. A lot of people love Pocket. It's enormously popular, despite the impression you would get if you exclusively went by HN comments.
Personally, I've just recently started to try using it. It hasn't really captured my enthusiasm yet, despite addressing one of my larger pain points with a browser. I still think I'd prefer management capabilities that felt more built into the standard (well, Tree-Style Tabs) tabs/history experience. But it's early days, I'll have to see how my Pocket experiment goes.
They're certainly good at surfacing appealing-looking content that isn't vapid when I try reading it. That's worth something.
It's execution is not actually very good, if "doing well" means quality. I was actually avoiding getting a smartphone for a while, but the rise of kaios-powered phones, at least the ones in the US, drove me to smartphones. Contrary to the promise of firefoxOS/kaiOS, there was no kind of "app store" or other way to install custom apps, it just had the usual featurephone features. What there was, was a phone where every keypress had like 750ms-2000ms of latency until it had an effect on screen, making it almost unusable. It ruined feature phones, at least for now. I tried a couple. It's a pretty terrible product on every US phone using it I have seen; whatever led to it being on those phones, it was not quality.
It may be that KaiOS phones available in other countries (always the target market) are better, and an improvement from what came before. (But why are phones available in the US using it for such awfulness worse than what came before?) I would like to think if Mozilla had stayed involved, it would be better.
The business question of course is how the current (Chinese?) company behind KaiOS found enough runway to get it to market when Mozilla did not. Lowered standards/expectations might be part of it though. But it may not at all, I have no idea the story behind what happened. This thread has people giving their reasons for why FirefoxOS failed... but most of their reasons fail to explain why someone else could somehow take the open source IP behind Firefox OS and have a succesful company which succesfully got it onto phones. What was the difference?
That said. I've been using Firefox as my main browser for years. I only use chrome when a website needs it or works better in it.
I'm not convinced changes to the browsers themselves at this point is anything other than a very marginal improvement.
I am curious as I don't relate to this and recommend Firefox to friends and family.
I don't know whether those are bugs in Firefox or if Chrome is doing something funky that causes it to work but not Firefox.
I haven’t tried using Citrix for years. It used to work fine in Firefox, but given the quality of it I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve broken something.
My uncle (who clicks on popup ads, and installed spyware twice a day until he got a non-admin account on a non-Windows OS last year) doesn't care about that. He doesn't know what an experimental API is. He wants to click the thing and have a video call open with his coworkers, kid's teacher, and family. There are alternatives. None of those people use them.
This is how open standards die: by convenience and cowboy tricks. Get with it.
All those LOB applications that were designed for IE only have basically been left high and dry. Nobody wants to support or use IE anymore, and the applications that require it don’t look so good any more.
Mozilla was tired of getting smoked by Chrome, which actually invested in browser development using what the tools they already had ("engineering"), as opposed to subsidizing PhDs on programming language theory.
Now it's too little too late. They've passed the point where they could catch up on technical grounds, so they make appeals to morality to market their software. Yes, I agree it was bad leadership.
I was little infuriated when they added pocket.
Google meet does work well on chrome only. (Not firefox's fault completely)
I didn't like how they suddenly changed layout on Android and made many extensions unusable.
I didn't like Mozilla the corp / foundation's political alignments, a personal opinion and actually I don't even care about politics. But we Indians (much like South America I guess), have an aversion to SJW virtue-signalling politics because we have seen how it brings too-much right leaning parties into power. Why would a tech company get into politics at all unless it's about some virtue signalling execs pushing their agenda?
They fired some actually talented programmers but kept the C-suite, with their non-technical CEO being paid big amounts despite company being in losing game. While I personally don't like some aspects of rust community, the language itself is solid and could be a differentiating point for firefox.
As soon as I have seen their management take such decisions and their pushing of political agenda, I can't trust these people to maintain a browser well. No offense to engineers I was telling about Mozilla itself. So I somehow migrated to chrome. I miss UBO on mobile but bromite is good enough. Google is not much better
They may not lose much from a middle-class Indian dude switching to other browser. But think about it. Bringing politics and favoring useless C suite execs is a great way to lose future donors. A company should not do politics. They say they do politics for open web, that's not what I am talking about. FSF has done much better than Mozilla foundation in this regard. Mozilla just favoured execs and their agendas before technology, and lost the market.
that is why founder started brave.
have i missed something?
They did not lay of all of their Rust developers, or even most of them. WebRender and Stylo are now integral parts of Firefox, and are actively maintained by teams of people, and a lot of new code continues being written in Rust.
The Servo DOM and HTML engine is massively complex - far moreso than Stylo or WebRender - and nowhere near ready for production use. Mozilla decided that rewriting the remaining parts (read: vast majority) of Firefox slowly, in-place, would be a better path forwards than maintaining two massively complex browser engines in parallel and trying to swap it out completely.
1. Ask that the DOJ strips Chrome from Google. You can't make the browser, search, and ad platform. Monopoly power. Google needs to exit Chrome right now.
2. Ask the DOJ to force vendors like Apple to allow other browser engines. They can't lock down all "code execution" on generic computers they sell.
3. Integrate Ad Blocking in Firefox.
4. Collect money from advertisers willing to make non-invasive ads that want to be seen.
Brave's business model, but with much more badass tech.
After revenue comes back, make a mail service.
Maybe it's me being too naive, but if you had asked me 10 years ago to predict where they would be, I would've said that in the future Firefox would come in different versions. The main one, the flagship, would remain the general purpose browser that we know. But there would be some special editions custom tailored to specific markets. You'd have "Enterprise" editions, that facilitate internal app development for organizations. If your organization needed to quickly build internal tools, you wouldn't need to tussle with WebPack and all the other front-end nonsense. The browser would come already equipped with a development toolkit and environment, ready to connect to your db of choice, etc. I imagined that they could come up with other special versions of Firefox already customized to facilitate integration with popular platforms like Salesforce, Amazon, and others for people who work or develop for those.
A proper browser as a platform with an ecosystem. I still think it's possible.
Because your competitors are free and users expect free and we have a culture stuck in a rut of "everything is free" because ads don't have them taking money out of their wallet.
Not every software is in a niche where they can flip the switch back into a premium model and have a good outcome. If Firefox did it, most of us would stop using it.
Maybe Firefox is at a point where that's a boat worth rocking, but it certainly isn't obvious nor without fatal risk.
The best route still appears to be paying for whatever paid services Mozilla comes out with (VPN, Pocket, ...?) even if you don't use them. I don't know if a "pay what you like" option would be problematic?
(Regulators watch pretty closely when you have 100s of millions of dollars of annual income.)
Maybe. There still doesn't seem to be any guarantee that money raised this way would go toward Firefox development. With zero pricing signals it's very hard to express the "you have one job" frustration that many of us are feeling about Mozilla these days.
Examples: Pocket and their new VPN service.
Wait, pocket is a Mozilla thing? When that first popped up in Firefox, I just assumed they partnered with some business and sold out a little chunk of my data.
Now that I'm reading up on it, I see that it's more complicated. Apparently, Mozilla Corp _bought_ Pocket, which used to be Read It Later. Which I had been using at some point before. Wow. Some better communication around all that from Mozilla's side, and I might have given Pocket a chance when they rolled it out.
I think subscriptions to software can do a lot to bring in line users needs with company needs. Especially around security of purchased software - if there are no profits to be made as the software is already sold why patch security issues or bug fixes, your only goal is to sell the next
Plus, as the other commenter says, I am not going to recommend Firefox to my non-technical friends if it requires non-trivial amount of money.
Sure, people with business interests will try to push the idea of what constitutes a valid option in various directions, but as someone more thoughtful than me once said, "prediction is hard, especially if it's about the future," and as another thoughtful person said, "even The Future has a future."
There clearly is value in using browser technology in business. If Mozilla was a browser company they would've pushed more aggressively to understand novel ways it can be leveraged in those environments (who are also generally willing to pay for such things). I can imagine business applications being developed in a marketplace and Mozilla at the center taking a cut somewhere.
Why do we have to deal with "tree-shaking" in 2020? That's because the browser makers have completely divorced themselves from the idea that they could be part of the app ecosystem. They just build a browser that abides by the standards and push it out the door with their foot. You guys out there figure it out.
I mean, the whole thing was a disaster but at least we eventually ended up with Firefox out of the deal. Maybe the way out is the way through...
Edit: I enjoyed making this joke, but I think your ideas do have a lot of merit.
Even an Electron like package as well - but also sold with support contracts, and offered as FOSS to the community - would have lots of potential.
If I see one big problem with Mozilla, is that they chose to let go people like the author. Engineering & product culture only follows.
Point being that the author is more of a rule than an exception.
Disclaimer: Was a Mozilla fellow a few years back.
It was also a very different place when I started (before Fx4) from when I ended (just before FxOS was killed).
When I started it was a place full of passion, with a lot of technical vision going on (Fx4 was a major reboot and there were a number of side projects going on that showed promise), albeit not necessarily a lot of obvious strategic vision. I'm sure there was more behind the scenes with John Lilly, whose leadership I hired into, but I lost confidence after he left and suddenly it seemed like the message was "desktop is dying, mobile is everything."
Wasn't our mission success based on having enough market share to win a seat at the standards tables and win a place on the "supported browsers" test plan for major websites? Getting a significant part of the shrinking desktop market we'd already executed well on in the past and that competitors were idling on might be better than getting a little of the mobile market that companies with greater resources were bouncing off of left and right, no?
Intranets and SaaS apps are still a thing, and offices still use desktop, so there'd still be a core audience right? Maybe mobile browsers can be different and less standardized than desktop browsers and that's OK? Maybe it has to be? Maybe it even should be while mobile browsing incubates? Maybe browsers won't even be the primary way websites interact on mobile and they'll use client apps instead?
That was a confusing pivot for me at the time, and Mozilla's strategy was to both put all the momentum on mobile and to kneejerk to a rapid update model for the desktop browser, inspired by Chrome. Problem was that destroyed the desktop add-ons community because it turns out you can't do that when you have a monkeypatch/binary extension model with high coupling, and Jetpack/Add-Ons SDK wasn't mature enough or powerful enough yet to replicate most existing add-ons.
It also exhausted the users because the existing flow of having to explicitly approve updates on launch still remained, only now it was frequent enough to disrupt workflows--you never knew when launching a web page meant having to navigate the updates dialog first. Google had designed their browser ecosystem and usability around that update model, it wasn't something you could just graft on. By the time we figured it out Chrome had picked up a decent chunk of the community.
The company then more or less doubled in size, in no small part bringing in a bunch of people from mobile and related sectors that didn't have the FOSS culture in their backgrounds. That culminated in the development of FxOS, which I always felt like was treated as an unwelcome fork by the platform team. Maybe it was because of the need to support two fundamentally different forms of interaction, two different models of security, two different distribution and update models, two different lots of things in wrapping Gecko with an application vs. wrapping it with an OS. That also divided the company, since there were now two broadly different technical missions going on, albeit sharing code.
When considering the success of FxOS vs. KaiOS, it's worth thinking about the drag having two competing priorities in the same company causes, and how that might clarify when the 3rd party is doing the fork instead. Conflicts like "how do you release a fix for Fx the browser when it'd zero-day FxOS the phone and you can't get an update through the carrier for two months" may not be so much of a problem to figure out without that tension. I'm extremely impressed with what Fabrice and co. have able to pull off with KaiOS, and I bet lightening that load helped a lot.
When I left, after it was plain FxOS was not going to succeed at that time, in that environment, it was still a place full of passion--but it was now also a place equally full of frustration, and not with a lot of strong leadership going on and a sharply muted FOSS culture. Seemed like there were a lot of missteps and platitudes, but not a ton of optimism. I was very happy to see Servo come to fruition and Quantum be released, because I honestly expected Mozilla to go down in flames before they could get the desktop browser to a state where people who'd defected would install it again.
I'll always treasure my experience with Mozilla--and having worked at two FAANGs now since, I agree the level of talent was equal or greater at Mozilla. But I do have to admit I wish I'd shifted that five year period about 2-3 years earlier across the board. I came in right after the really good part, I think.
And I do have to wonder if that talent would remain as good without the strong FOSS culture that incentivized me to be there. I worry when I see people like Ian getting laid off too, because there's simply no way that can be about talent. If he doesn't still fit there, that implies a level of change with which I'd have been deeply uncomfortable.
I don’t know why more Windows software doesn’t use Google’s approach. A low priority scheduled updater is more user friendly than update on launch, and it doesn’t kill boot times like an update on reboot.
Firefox Dev Tools are fucking awesome. Firefox sync works great. All the extensions I want are here. It's fast enough in ways that microbenchmarks don't mean anything to me...and it's free as in Liberty (last but not least).
I've been looking for a VPN, and even though I find the features rather anemic - I've used mullvad before and I trust the infrastructure that Mozilla VPN is built on and it's a way to give money to them. I will probably also switch over from Raindrop to Pocket for the same purpose.
Since the desktop app has a reader view, it's great both for organizing things for classical bookmarking, and for maintaining a "live" set of things you need have at hand, such as documentation. It's very good for "read it later" use cases, too.
Pocket is a very good offline reader for having a queue of web articles (and only that; it does not do handle things like PDFs well) to read later, but not good for anything else.
I use it for a few years already and never had any problem.
i like it more than pockets.
I think Opera Software circa 2012 was doing all of the things we would hope for/expect from Mozilla & Firefox, and doing them much better than Mozilla could. Bar one: it was not open source.
When I made the switch to Firefox in 2012, it was my belief that I would not have been forced to switch browser had Opera originally been open source. I strongly believed in open source at the time; I used Opera in spite of that. When they shut down the Presto project, I lamented the loss due to the inability of the community to fork.
I'm wondering if Firefox went away, would a fork be likely to survive in any impactful way; browsers are massive, complex & enormously expensive to maintain, whether you have rights to the source or not. Maybe open source isn't the panacea we thought in this particular context.
I'm still on Firefox as I'm loathe to support any browsers built on Blink & contribute further to a monoculture, but the Vivaldi project have finally started to achieve similar things to what Opera was doing 8 years ago. It's notable that it's linked in blue in the section of this article headed "A better browser".
Even now Firefox doesn't feel like an open-source project in the traditional sense; it feels like its culture is still Netscape. It's still very much owned by a corporation that does most of the development.
Konqueror shows that a proper open-source browser is or at least was possible. It always had an order of magnitude fewer developers than the competition, but was able to keep up by using better tools and frameworks and relentlessly keeping the code clean. Even today I wouldn't be surprised if it received more outside contributions than Firefox.
I used Firefox since then. And I never had an issue with it. But, especially at the beginning, I really felt it was an inferior browser. But still better than chrome for sure. Just because I don't want google to know all my chronology.
Often, Opera Mobile was your only chance to get something done online on such a device. For example, purchase a ticket.
The one cool feature i considered going back to opera for was built in torrent support, I really thought that would catch on.
Not ironic, intentional. Chrome was made by former Firefox engineers, and the name was a joke about exactly this. I remember struggling to come up with a better name for the app other than this code name and then they eventually launched it with it anyway.
> The visible graphical interface features of an application are sometimes referred to as chrome or GUI
I just browsed the website of the Mozilla Foundation and to my surprise learned that Firefox development is not one of its responsibilities. I was assuming that that was in fact its primary mission. It's not apparently. Maybe I'm wrong and it's just a vague website but it reads to me like they are spending their time doing activism and marketing and that they do not employ any developers.
The reason the foundation leading product development would make sense to me is that having no commercial conflicts of interests are kind of a per-requisite to do what most users (including me) value in Firefox, is to protect their privacy, commit to open standards (over any competitive advantages that proprietary/exclusive features could bring), be as secure as they can be, etc.
Except it seems that Firefox development is currently not structured like that and Firefox is instead an OSS product developed by a commercial for profit business competing with other companies backing a different OSS product (i.e. chromium) where users have some concerns about the conflicts of interests of the companies backing that (e.g. Google and MS) with respect to exactly the things I value in Firefox.
So, given that, what's the point of having the foundation and what's the point of Firefox as a commercial product (other than guilt tripping Google into keeping the money coming)? I don't mean pretty words and mission statements of a commercial entity. But what's the point for users picking one company over another? They are both companies that ultimately are run by their share holders; not by their users. A foundation is different: it serves its members and its mission without a goal to enrich shareholders.
It’s a weird setup sure, but it wasn’t originally like this. Originally there was just the nonprofit Mozilla, but IRS rules got in the way. If I remember correctly, the IRS requires a certain amount percentage of income for a nonprofit to come from donations, and Mozilla was below that threshold because they were making too much money from the Google search deal (which legally is selling a product). Mozilla split themselves this way to get around the tax laws.
If Mozilla was founded today, they’d probably incorporate as a B corp, but those didn’t exist back in the early aughts, so they have this strange setup instead. They could always reincorporate as a B Corp, but there’s no benefit to do so.
People thinking this is a strange setup usually just don't have much experience with non-profits with revenue.
Google is rapidly locking down enterprise by building in tight integrations with Google Workspace/G-Suite (see: context aware authentication).
In 10 - 15 years the web should be better than it is today. The first step in their recovery is to convey what their vision of the web looks like in 2035 and commit to Firefox being the first browser to make it a reality by 2025.
> In 10 - 15 years the web should be better than it is today.
That doesn’t align with the trends we’ve seen:
- tracking getting ever more sophisticated (like using WebRTC to probe open ports)
- large scale data mining sites like Facebook ignoring government regulations and getting away with it
- bloat getting worse. So many sites don’t even render without JS enabled. The fact that people have to run things like PiHole and browser plugins to filter out some of that crap is telling. And how long is that going to last? Some sites are now proxying that crap behind their own domain and DoH will prevent users from running PiHole
- The web slowly converting on a single rendering engine: Blink. It’s starting to feel a bit like the IE 5 days with everyone targeting the same browser. Just last week I couldn’t log into a pretty low tech website because their UA filtering said I was on an unsupported browser and greyed out the login button (I was on Firefox).
I'm sure it's nice for people who obsess about privacy, but it's not something that the general user population is going to adopt.
I think the right approach, ultimately, would be compartmentalize all web sites, but that's not feasible right now.
Yeah I completely agree. There are extensions that make managing containers easier but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I still run into regular problems.
That said, the Facebook and Google extensions don’t require micromanaging. They only cover those two respective clouds but it’s still a really strong starting point.
> I think the right approach, ultimately, would be compartmentalize all web sites, but that's not feasible right now
It is possible with the Temporary Containers extension in Firefox. In fact this is exactly how I’ve been browsing the web for around a year now.
It’s really liberating.
Don’t get me wrong, the issue was highly annoying but it’s definitely not a frequent bug bare.
There are existing extensions for managing some popular cloud platforms and that goes a long way in terms of convenience.
The bigger annoyance is sites that intentionally cross talk (like “deploy stacks” buttons where 3rd party sites can run Cloudformation scripts against your AWS console). But in those cases it’s an annoyance I’m willing to manage considering they’re blocked by Temporary Containers doing exactly what it’s intended to do.
It will be interesting how long their shareholders will buy the premise that "we can earn more by using privacy to convince people to buy our high-margin kit and run Safari than we would by casting off the privacy mantle and getting deep into the data-grab business."
The other side of the coin is that I really believe there's a bubble waiting to burst in that exact industry. The price of building and feeding hyper-targeted, data-bloated marketing machines is far out of scale with their utility for most use cases, but people are throwing silly money at it right now. (Compare the Smart TV/IoT device model, where they believe that peddling usage data is enough to justify an increased BoM AND frequently selling the product near or under cost). If they expect the bubble to burst (either through marketers coming to their senses or heavy-duty GDPR style regulation), they might be just "passively" pushing the privacy angle-- don't bother building out an infrastructure that will be worthless as soon as the bubble bursts, and you come out of it with a huge branding/goodwill win when everyone else reinvents their business model and invents privacy.
I was surprised Chromium!Edge ended up being such a mess with privacy because, somewhat like Apple, MS has associated businesses that let them subsidize its development without having to leverage user data. They could have come out looking good-- weren't they the only ones who tried to make a go of Do Not Track headers?
Is the web better now than it was in 2005-2010? I don't think it is and I don't see the trend arbitrarily reversing. Tons of regular people (and even tech-savvy folks who should know better) voluntarily use, love, and advocate for using a browser (and email service!) made by the modern equivalent of DoubleClick.
Nitpick: they are DoubleClick:
> DoubleClick was a company acquired by Google in 2007
I used lynx as my daily driver for most of the 1990s and through 2005. In contrast, these days it is impractical for the average person to use a browser that is not maintained by an organization employing many hundreds of full-time developers. This dependency on money (to pay the developers) limits a person's options.
I never wanted to be able to replace my desktop apps with apps that run on the web, so I don't consider web apps to be compensation for the constant stream of annoyances (e.g., the moral equivalent of pop-up windows asking me to give the site my email address) that HTML5, web fonts, et cetera, enabled.
- a web that is thoroughly unusable without an ad-blocker (ad-blocking was pretty optional in 2005)
- waiting for 20 megs of minified JS to load over 3G
- waiting for Google web fonts to load because apparently shipping more than 4 fonts in common is beyond the ability of plucky upstarts like Microsoft, Apple, and Google
- web "apps" with worse performance characteristics than programs that ran on 66 MHz machines
Why own a dog? You spend money on it, it shits, it makes noise, you have to find a caretaker when you go on vacation, it bites, it needs walks, it needs to go to the vet, your next girlfriend might be allergic to it, and after all that, it dies.
Do people who own dogs not know these things? Or is it that they own one despite those things and there's a more interesting conversation to be had?
Comments like this make me wonder if you, yourself, are capable of seeing anything that's improved about the web which is a much more illuminating exercise to do than enumerating just bad things, something anyone can do.
In fact, I submit blind optimism is in fact more tiring, look at any comment thread about Tesla or Bitcoin. It's as if these two things are perfect and you had better buckle up if you dare criticize either one.
I don't use Slack.
It was still pretty sweet to run a transparent Squid proxy with an ads blacklist.
Take a look at The Web Design Museum, Gallery of Flash Websites: https://www.webdesignmuseum.org/flash-websites/ . Beautiful visuals, terrible SEO.
Flash is an important quirk of internet history and a stepping stone that created expectations of what the web could one day be: a rich, open, cross-device application platform accessible by URL.
And that's what the web achieved with only a few exceptions.
But net overall? I believe it's better than 2005 and even 2010. Meaning, I would not want to revert back to 2010 and start building back up from there. There is too much good we would lose in the process.
I have no idea if my opinion is shared by the majority, but I am very optimistic about the future of the web.
The characteristics of the web from 20+ years ago are still there. Many or most people just prefer not to use that type of web from 20+ years ago.
Everyone is still free to use whichever browser they want to access whichever website they want (in the US at least) in the same manner they did in the previous decades.
I can assure you that perf has not been abandoned.
Ah how this resonates with me so much, I remember the difference of tabless IE and oh so magical Netscape / Firefox when those were new. I consider myself Mozilla fanboy to this days.
But alas, every time I try clean installation with default settings I cannot believe how … bad this became and how far it diverged from original experience: by now Firefox is browser with the WORST user experience regarding tabs usage, from my perspective.
Current defaults are:
- Super slow Ctrl+Tab modal tab switcher, mimicking OS alt+tab app switching mechanic. But slow. And distracting. And not pretty. And considering tab bar, mostly redundant.
- Ctrl+Tabbing order is, naturally, in most recently used order, so visual tab proximity means nothing.
- Ctrl+Shift+Tab does mostly nothing . No, it does not select the least recently used tab. No, it does not switch to tab to the left. When tabs don't fit the tabs bar width, Ctrl+Shift+Tab opens another (vertical) tabs list and lets you read titles and navigate with arrows. But usually you just instinctively press Ctrl+Tab to "undo" it, but now you stare on that Modal over the opened list and question your browser choice. From there Ctrl+Tab finally stops working predictably and whole experience breaks into horrible mess.
Don't get me wrong, Ctrl+PgUp/PgDown still operates well. You can still change some settings to get even Ctrl+Tab working the way original Firefox popularized. But still, this state of things makes me very sad. I'd really like to spread Firefox, but with such details that I cannot explain even to myself it is impossible.
Currently, I have the hn comments in one window, and the article in another window, and hn front page in another window on a "smaller" 2K monitor. Customized for compact density, os tab bar moved to the right, menu bar off (the default) and still the 30 links on the hn front page don't fit on the page. Why can't the tab bar be hidden when there is only one tab? I don't need to see a tab with a truncated title that already appears in the title bar. I guess I am supposed to hide the title bar, and learn to love a Lotus Notes era "Tab" interface. In my opinion, tabs are not cool.
I don't mind customizing things the way I want them, but it would be helpful if there was an easier way to share setting between profiles.
On my Windows7 installation Ctrl+Tab switches to the next tab and Ctrl+Shift+Tab switches to the previous tab. New tabs are open after the current tab.
This might be related to the window manager or the Linux build defaults?
Whoever though it's a good idea to make behaviour non-transparent to users -.-
The traction that Electron has gained as a cross-platform option for building apps is huge. It's only set to get bigger (whether for better or worse).
Imagine if Gecko was in this space competing with Electron. Imagine if thousands of developers place their trust in Mozilla because they have built their cross-platform apps using Gecko. They'd want to see Mozilla grow and succeed - they have a stake in seeing Gecko development continue. Is it too late (or too unrealistic) for this to happen?
A very long time ago, Mozilla did have the option to embed Gecko into apps. It was never well-documented and what remains of the documentation is out-of-date and untouched:
They have. Several times, in fact. There was the old embedding, then XULRunner, then Firefox apps (I'm not sure if that's the same as webapprt). But these efforts generally only lasts a couple of years before Mozilla decides it's the wrong approach and kills off the embedding.
The ability to create extensions for my personal use that can interact in local with my computer would be great.
I understand that a browser have to be sandboxed but there are ways that could work without being unsafe. Maybe even two separate downloads, one for people that want to use the browser UI capabilities but work in local.
This would not solve Mozilla problems, so it's a little tangent to the current discussion.
I think it might lead to growth or "mind share" among app developers (and indirectly to end-users who use the apps built by devs).
The Chrome engine now powers the Edge and Brave browsers. Electron is used to built desktop apps by companies everyone recognises e.g. Microsoft, Slack, Figma. The appetite among companies and devs to build Electron apps shows no slowdown.
Mozilla is nowhere to been seen in ths important space. In my opinion, this is a missed opportunity.
Safari has continuously caused "headache" to businesses that rely on tracking user behavior for years now, as Apple is very bent on protecting your privacy from every other company outside or inside their walled garden.
I find it odd to ask whether any non-monetary goals are "truly" their goals. They are a listed company. Of course they want to make profit. But they do so in part by means of providing privacy and security.