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The Endless Browser Wars (lwn.net)
92 points by lazycrazyowl 4 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 93 comments

This post omits a few 'truths' to push an argument that is simply not there.

1) chromium is used by several other browsers: Edge, Brave, Opera, and probably a whole range of niche browsers I don't know about. Most of these, probably don't rely on Google provided services (I imagine that would create some funny legal issues). None of these browsers are mentioned in the article.

2) The APIs mentioned aren't exactly rocket science and perfectly good OSS implementations (e.g. provided by Mozilla) exist. Also, you could use extensions. For example, Bitwarden integrates nicely into chrome and largely removes the need for built in password managers. I think browser sync is perhaps the hardest of these. But even that should not be too hard to improvise. Cross browser sync would actually be a nice thing to have.

3) Firefox is there, it's being maintained, and you can use it. Many people do. Blanket stating that that is not an option is kind of weird. It's a fine browser. It doesn't have this problem. Chromium is also still a fine browser; and it supports extensions as mentioned before.

4) Forking/patching chromium is always an option. I think some linux distributions already do this in the same way that they also patch Firefox (Iceweasel).

> Firefox is there, it's being maintained, and you can use it. Many people do. Blanket stating that that is not an option is kind of weird.

I use Firefox every day. The author tries to make it sound like the old days where a lot of websites simply didn't work without IE (for instance, because they needed ActiveX exposing the internals of your OS). I never run into Chrome-only sites. Heck, it's 2021 and I regularly use Firefox to run Office 365 on Linux.

Google talk/hangouts/whatever else they call it this month.

WebAssembly features post MVP 1.0.

PWAs capabilities.

I use meets with Firefox; works fine.

Web assembly still has a lot of mozilla people involved; so fine as well.

PWAs kind of failed in the market because Apple can't be bothered and the desktop experience was always kind of meh; even on Chrome. Worth noting of course that they pushed hard on this while Firefox OS was still a thing for mobile.

PWAs are starting to rule the mobile Web apps, Apple hardware only matters across tier 1 countries.

All those places around the globe where PC and Android rule, local companies don't have any issues targeting what 99% of their customers are using.

> 3) Firefox is there, it's being maintained, and you can use it. Many people do. Blanket stating that that is not an option is kind of weird. It's a fine browser. It doesn't have this problem. Chromium is also still a fine browser; and it supports extensions as mentioned before.

Seriously large caveat: YMMV.

I'm increasingly hitting weird bugs on sites with Firefox, some sufficiently complicated web "apps" just throw up "Use Chrome" overlays.

The situation is similar on Safari, although, oddly, not quite as bad.

Could you give some examples where you run into these issues with Firefox? I've seen these comments made before and, as someone who's used FF for years, I just....don't recall ever having particular issues with websites not loading correctly. So I'm legitimately curious.

I can give 1 good example and one "superfluous" example, off the top of my head.

Good example) My bank (Nordea.se) has a nice internet banking portal, it works rather well in Firefox until you need to do a video meeting with your adviser. (which I'm doing for a mortgage). Then, in Firefox, nothing happens, no dialog, no pop-up/under, just... nothing, when I click join meeting.

If I do it in Edge/Chrome- it works. Frustrating.

Superfluous example: Microsoft Teams _always_ has issues and sometimes even throws up warnings about using an unsupported browser. Though this is on Firefox ESR.

> Blanket stating that that is not an option is kind of weird. It's a fine browser.

Exactly. Also the more people using it means the more sites have to support it.

> It's a fine browser

I wouldn't exactly argue that chrome is any better, but firefox isn't a good browser either. It's neither minimalistic, nor does it have many features and it most certainly isn't easily to customize.

I've been an Opera user from version 12 (the last good opera) up to twenty-something, then switched to vivaldi a few years ago and never looked back.

Even just in the current development version, vivaldi is getting support for calendars, mail and rss right in the browser, adding to the already present notes feature. What does firefox do in terms of UX innovation? Ant they certainly don't seem to be pumping that money into the under-the-hood components either, seeing how they still haven't managed to get @property working.

Firefox is turning into the next internet explorer and it's not even googles fault. It's sad, but completely deserved.

I think it's perfectly fine browser. Obviously like any software there are hundreds of ways you could think of how to improve it.

> it most certainly isn't easily to customize.

I can't think of any other browser I ever used which is more easily customizable.

> Even just in the current development version, vivaldi is getting support for calendars, mail and rss right in the browser, adding to the already present notes feature. What does firefox do in terms of UX innovation? Ant they certainly don't seem to be pumping that money into the under-the-hood components either, seeing how they still haven't managed to get @property working.

Multi-tab containers is definitely a super useful UX innovation which I've been using for years and surprised why other browsers are slow to pick it up. I'm not sure I actually want any of the above listed features in my browser but I'll be happy to be convinced.

Reader mode which I use regularly -- other browsers either don't have it or it's a worse implementation.

I have an old 4gb ram 11" macbook air that's more or less dedicated to streaming video and music these days. For video, we use firefox over chrome because chrome stutters more. Firefox is smooth. I have no idea why, but I'm guessing the GC is implemented differently.

I am a casual internet user and have no connection to IT industry, but i've been using Firefox practically since the very beginning - I installed v. 1.0.0 back in 2004. It's main selling points for me were: 1) it wasn't IE; 2) easy customizability of the UI layout - FF had as many great themes as Winamp; 3) lots and lots of different plugins and extensions for even more customizability: from AdBlack and Smooth Scrolling to various video downloaders and paywall skips.

And it was great! More importantly it was already a more or less finished product. The updates were slow, sparse in time and didn't change much (it took 3 years to get from v. 1 to v. 3).

Then something changed in 2011 and updates started showering almost every week for no apparent reason. It was annoying and I've completly stopped installing updates after v. 13(everything worked perfectly anyway). Then after 4 or 5 years I started to have a problem with playing youtube and twitch videos, so I decided to finally update my FF. It was already v. 57 (Quantum) and it made me absolutely livid. 2/3 of my extensions weren't working (and still aren't) and the ability to change UI theme was completely gone (and so I am now stuck with that bland default theme). And all that for no visible benefit on my part whatsoever.

I've immediately installed Chrome, Opera and Safari to see if they were any better, but ... they all are almost identical to the new Firefox (although I am now using Opera on mobile). There is almost no incentive to change from one browser to another now.

Well, it's year 2021 now, but somehow my user experience is worse than it was fifteen years ago. How is that possible I do not know.

It's the rise of Chrome and web as an app delivery platform instead of just interlinked documents. This has necessitated a huge, ever expanding API and ever-increasing security concerns, and these have totally swamped browser devs to the point that they have simply stopped caring about end-user UI, productivity, customisation, backward-compatibility and such.

The web is now essentially an operating system under active, nascent development, so the churn is going to be enormous and the whole thing will lack any kind of polish or UX. Expect it to stabilise in a few decades as something else takes over (maybe).

I've been a casual Linux user on a personal laptop for years, and the way I've used Chromium is always as a "test on Chrome" tool on web app projects. Firefox is the daily driver browser. In that sense, I don't lose out much by not having all the synchronization features etc. But I would lose out much by not having Chromium available at all.

A side point, the post mentions having to retry broken web sites in Chrome being a ritual for Firefox users -- I can't think of many instances where that has been the case over the years. In fact, in the past decade it has been rare for any web site to fail in one browser and work in another. I remember two distinct cases: 1) H2O Wireless's account management (and bill paying) which didn't work in Chrome, and their tech support actually advised to use Firefox at the time (which worked), 2) Web Skype in recent years, for a time, dropped support for Firefox but only by user agent sniffing -- I was in fact able to get it to work completely fine on Firefox by using a plugin that changed my user agent string to say Chrome.

I'm mainly a Firefox user, but there are two cases when I fall back to another browser (Brave, in my case): - I have to maintain two MS Teams account for the professional reasons. I use one account in the electron app, one in the Brave. So Brave is just a Teams client... (if somebody knows a better solution to handle multiple Teams accounts on desktop, I would be grateful for any tips) - I have so many privacy/security enhancing extensions in Firefox, that some pages render/work incorrectly. I'm too lazy to disable the extensions, so in case I really need such a page, I switch to Brave.

Otherwise Firefox is more than enough, I would say more - it's better IMHO than currently available chromium clones.

If you need different profiles (like having different firefoxes installed, each with their own addons, themes, tabs, bookmarks, etc) you can use the built-in Profile manager [0]. I personally have a secondary profile for testing, with some test addons and different bookmarks.

If you only need different sessions (different cookies) you can use the official Multi-Account add-on [1]. I personally use it to be logged in simultaneously in two different accounts on sites where this is not possible (like GitHub).

[0] : https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/profile-manager-create-...

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

Using Firefox Android, I occasionally do need to retry sites in Chrome but rarely, especially in the current 'Fenix' version. On the desktop however, the only site I've ever had to retry in chrome in years is the browser ssh client in the GCP console - you just get a blank window on Firefox.

FF is my main browser as well, and the only place where I've ever had to switch to Chrome is for our ERP system's web-based GUI; apparently Rocket, the engine it's based on, has some known issue where it doesn't accept certain letters when input from the keyboard as lowercase. I have no idea why that is, but I still use FF for everything else without incident. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Doesn't make sense to me. Why would anyone want to have their bookmarks managed by Google if privacy is their goal. I understand that this is about features you get when you login into browser with your Google account, which I doubt people who value privacy will do anyway. Importing bookmarks (or managing them some other way) seems almost trivial compared to other challenges of using linux, I don't understand why there's such emphasis on this. As for spellchecker - perhaps having your text sent to Google in full is not something necessarily desirable. Maybe I'm missing something.

I think it’s a harder play at new browsers being built on Chromium, rather than bare bones Chromium users. Take a look at Edge, Brave, Sidekick, Mighty, Browser Company. All being built on Chromium! Each platform now has to own their own identity service, making it harder for users to migrate.

> Doesn't make sense to me. Why would anyone want to have their bookmarks managed by Google if privacy is their goal.

I'm pretty sure you can encrypt your synced bookmarks: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/165139?hl=en&visit_...

> With a passphrase, you can use Google's cloud to store and sync your Chrome data without letting Google read it. Your payment methods and addresses from Google Pay aren't encrypted by a passphrase.

And why exactly does usage of Chromium imply more of privacy goal than usage of Chrome?

Because presumably Chrome sends data about your browsing habits to Google, and Chromium does not.

Why would you presume this?

Do the people who use Chromium really sign into their Google account? If that's the case, you can just as well use Chrome itself.

My assumption was that Chromium users would want a browser without all of Google's cruft.

Yeah, this sounds like a win to me, given how much data even Chromium sends back to Google

> Do the people who use Chromium really sign into their Google account? If that's the case, you can just as well use Chrome itself.

I really don't understand why this is so surprising, if not Google's server with a google account, where?

And yes, you could just as well use chrome, but Chromium is entirely open source, while Chrome is not. It may not matter to everyone, but it matters to some people. So yes you could get the same functionality from Chrome, but it has different non-functional characteristics which matter to some people.

> My assumption was that Chromium users would want a browser without all of Google's cruft.

The "cruft" like bookmark syncing, password syncing, etc, has to come from somewhere. Google was is good a place as any to me.

> The "cruft" like bookmark syncing, password syncing, etc, has to come from somewhere. Google was is good a place as any to me.

More like: All that data is sent to the biggest advertisement company in the world. One has to wonder if they go through all the hassle of browser development for altruistic reasons or to make money off the gathered data?

It is baffling to me that something being open-source is more important than not letting your data be harvested by advertisers, potentially law enforcement, etc.

Chromium is "open source", but it's still thoroughly infested with Google backdoors including X-Client-Data to DoubleClick, address bar autosuggest and other phone home telemetry.

I guess you belong to the small intersection of people who care about open source but not privacy.

That's not fair at all. I doubt there are many who care about open source but don't make any compromises at all for the sake of convenience. We all fall somewhere in the middle. If you have the time and ability to self-host all your own services, and only use 100% open source for 100% of your computing needs, more power to you. You are in the minority though.

I was commenting that it's rare to find someone who thinks open source is important and therefore uses Chromium, not Chrome, but still thinks Google is 'as good a place as any' for passwords and bookmarks. Usually people who care about open source are big on privacy also.

I don't understand the choice, and I guess that shines through. To me almost anything is better than Google for privacy, but it wasn't meant as criticism.

> but still thinks Google is 'as good a place as any' for passwords and bookmarks.

I do think it is as good a place as any for those things, and you can encrypt bookmarks and passwords that are synced to google servers: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/165139?co=GENIE.Pla...

Is there really a reason to run Chrome or Chromium? I'm running Firefox since forever and I can't remember the last time I've seen a "Runs in Chrome only" banner?

Why can't those Linux distributions just ship with Firefox? I don't get it.

Especially online video conferences have a tendency to require Chrome. Jitsi Meet works a lot better for everyone in the meeting due to (better?) Simulcast support. MS Teams and GoToMeeting outright refuse to work in Firefox.

> Why can't those Linux distributions just ship with Firefox? I don't get it.

Which distro does not?

You're right if course. What I mean is, would it hurt to just package firefox? Or is it really that important for some developers to have access to Chromium or Chrome?

If I could not use chrome on the distro I use (fedora) I would stop using it, but that being said fedora does not actually package chrome, they just have a package to add the google-chrome yum repo, and of course you can just add it yourself without using the package to add it.

And I appreciated that it had Chromium (which it packaged itself) as I also used it.

I doubt that any distro would increase it's user base by not packaging Chromium, as you could just not install it if you don't want it, like with everything else.

But that being said, nothing stops you from voting with your feet and switching to a distro that makes it difficult/impossible to get google chrome and/or Chromium if that will make you happier.

While Firefox is my main browser, if you're a web dev, you need access to Chrome/Chromium so that you can test that your stuff works in the most popular browser, if nothing else.

Additionally, in my case, Chrome is the only browser that works with the Web Serial API, though other Blink based browsers ostensibly should support it.

For sure if you want to use features that are only supported by Chrome. Also devtools are more comfortable and less buggy (seems that almost every React project I met would break Firefox at some point).

I had been a Firefox user (or Mozilla) since the Netscape days. I have now purged it from my devices since they became pro deplatforming and amplification of fake news. They have betrayed the values (I thought) they stood for.

>Specifically, it's not worth it if no one uses it because they've switched to Chrome to get the functionality they want.

Agreed with the overall comments in comment section. Seems like an overreaction or making a big deal out of nothing.

Am I missing something?

If running Chromium is no longer viable, and the web increasingly doesn’t work on Firefox, then for the first time in the web’s history, we don’t have an open-source browser. The web becomes proprietary tech owned by Google. Just let that sink in.

> and the web increasingly doesn’t work on Firefox

I have been using Firefox as my daily driver for years now and I can assure you the web works perfectly fine. I can't remember the last time I came across a website that was even slightly broken on Firefox and worked on Chrome.

I can, but it’s nearly always Google properties that are broken. E.g. the date picker in Google Books search was broken for a month up until a week ago. Oops.[1]

[1] https://twitter.com/johnath/status/1116871251023278080

Jitsi has issues with Firefox (https://github.com/jitsi/jitsi-meet/issues/4758) preventing it to work as well as in Chrome.

This is not a Firefox issue

  Quote from your link Nov 1, 2019
>we will soon start working on better Firefox support

It's not a Firefox issue, it's an issue Jitsi has with Firefox which is the context of the parent comment

Yeah this is the sentence which jumped out at me too. Like, what? Across the diversity of new products out there, I've never had any problems with stuff not working on Firefox.

Just to be clear, Firefox is my main browser. Maybe we use different websites/webapps, but I run into more and more “optimized for Chrome” messages every year. There are lots of examples all over this discussion.

But all this really does is prevent some google services from working. Why does that make it "no longer viable"?

I use both Firefox and Chromium on ppc64le because only Chromium has a working JIT compiler through IBM's V8 port. I don't use sync or any of Google's services, because I'm just not interested.

Talking about dropping Chromium entirely over it feels like either an overreaction or a political move to try and get Google to acquiesce.

But, what exactly do these APIs do that would make chromium , and open source browsing, "no longer viable"? A browser works perfectly fine without bookmark sync, and apparently that's the most painful API to remove.

... or just like the last browser war that Firefox won.

Maybe. I think this single action cements Google as a bad actor and pulls the "open source" rug out from under Chrome. This ONE thing will be the defining factor in me dumping Google moving forward.

Really, couldn’t one that cared about this just add bookmark syncing to chromium? Using some other service?

One could, but the Chromium sourcecode provided by Google is a quickly moving target. So your patch will need to be updated very often. Distro maintainers are already complaining about Chromium being a lot of work because of the rate of change and build breakage. A patch will make that worse.

Also, I would bet Google would do a few "neccessary" changes in the bookmark parts over the next releases, just to make your patch not work.

The specific problem of syncing bookmarks is probably solvable with an extension. But the move suggests that Google doesn't view Chromium as something that people will use directly, like they're not interested in people using open source Android without their proprietary components. If they gradually make more and more pieces Chrome-only, it will get harder to make a relevant browser by forking Chromium, because there will be more to reimplement before people consider using it.

And, of course, that makes perfect sense for Google. Chrome is no longer the scrappy insurgent. It's the king of the hill now, so it can start putting the fences up against competitors.

B: I want a de-googled browser! I don't want my browser phoning home to Google! G: Ok, here's Chromium, with proprietary bits removed. B: You've removed access to proprietary Google APIs that allow the browser to send and store stuff on Google. G: Yeah, isn't that what you asked for?

It's not very hard for someone to spec out an open protocol for an end-to-end browser profile sync service. Those who want complete control of privacy can then run their own servers/containers and sync their browser to them. Those who want Google integration can user Chrome, and later, write an extension that allows Chrome to also utilize whatever open sync protocol exists.

There's too much whining, and too little coding. I think for the amount of time used to write articles like this, people could have already spec'ed out and MVP'ed such a service. This reminds me of the cypherpunks mailing list in the 90s. Like 95% of all the messages were political whining that X didn't exist, or Y doesn't do what they want, or bitching about the government. Eventually the hackers forked the 'coderpunks' mailing list, to work on actual solutions.

Chromium is a giant gift horse of a codebase that doesn't need Google integration, because implementing a browser from scratch is almost like implementing Unix from scratch, it's an enormous undertaking. It works amazingly well in my Oculus Quest 2 with WebXR integration (and :( Facebook integration). Chromium is being used in wearables, smart home devices, automative dashboards, the same way linux is endlessly reused, even if the forks aren't all useful as desktop replacements.

Thousands and thousands of products are being released thanks to OSS forks of AOSP, Chromium, or Linux, which if they didn't exist, would make life very hard for hackers and startup entrepreneurs who would have to pay enormous license fees, or do enormous amounts of work to bring up simple devices.

I guess what I'm saying is, developers these days face a cornucopia of riches in the ecosystem, but instead, HN is filled full of threads of people virtue signaling like they're an oppressed minority population. There's a lot of things which are non-ideal about every major platform developers face, but the successful entrepreneurs shut out the noise, and find opportunities in filling in the gaps.

There's definitely room to be proactive here and build rather than complain but I think there's an issue to address beyond that. This is really anti-competitive behavior on a par with Microsoft's Embrace Extend Extinguish model[0].

Chromium filled a gap in the OSS market but, because it has non-free services baked in and provided without charge, it was able to outperform real FOSS alternatives. Removing access to those propriety features/services after the market has matured is like this leaves a much bigger gap that's much harder to fill than it would have been back when the market wasn't as mature.

I think we do need to roll-up our sleeves and focus on building/supporting better alternatives but it's also important to be able to call out where the playing-fields aren't level so we can better cheer on those Davids willing to take on Goliath.

[0] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embrace,_extend,_and_extinguis...

What’s the evidence that Chrome’s market share is due to sync and not due to a) arriving at a time when IE was terrible with speed and security and b) a huge marketing campaign behind it

You’re chalking up people switching to Chrome as being attracted to proprietary backend featured, without any evidence.

How hard would it be to make an open-source bookmarks server that supports the same API without needing keys from Google? Of course, somebody will have to run them but I imagine distributions or some orgs could? We're talking here about implementing bookmarks sync, with the API already known (since it's client is implemented in the open-source Chromium). I mean I'm sure it'd require some work, but no "writing a new OS from scratch" level of work, rather "implement a simple API" level of work. Am I missing anything here?

There is a public implementation [1] of the Firefox sync server, so you can host your own today.

[1] https://github.com/mozilla-services/syncserver

There are probably dozens of open source cross-browser syncing extensions out there. Installing them is already trivial, and bundling one of them in by default would probably be as well.

I imagine the main reason people want bookmark sync is to sync their bookmarks to their Android or Apple smartphone, so you'd need a compatible browser on that end as well.

There are a number of non-Chrome browsers on Android - e.g. Brave. They'd probably be happy to use an open-source server. As for Apple, isn't it mandatory 100% Safari anyway?

Isn't it similar with Android? Google deprecates features in AOSP and moves them to closed source apps. https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/07/googles-iron-grip-on...

Yes. Chromium and AOSP are remains of the time when Google cared about Open Source.

Today's Google just wants to be done with it.

I have been using Firefox as my daily driver for years and have yet to come across a single one of these "only works on Chrome" web sites that the author mentions.

This entire paragraph is complete bullshit:

> The larger problem, though, is that it's not at all clear that Firefox will remain a viable alternative to Chrome. Its market share has been falling for years, and not everybody is pleased with the directions that the Mozilla Foundation has taken. The creators of web sites have responded by not caring about Firefox; having to retry broken web sites in Chrome is a ritual that many Firefox users have had to get used to. It's not surprising that users give up and just run Chrome from the outset.

Firefox is a great browser, and is getting better with every new version. Differences in standards compliance, JS implementation and even rendering is negligible between modern Chrome and Firefox. Mozilla is probably the only major entity challenging Google's dominance over web standards today, with even Microsoft having folded. I don't know where the author is coming from, but to me there is zero reason to use Chrome or Chromium over Firefox.

Maybe not "only" works on Chrome, but https://spatial.chat is one I've come across recently that claims to work "best" on Chrome. Some features of https://www.rocketlanguages.com/ only work in Chrome.

I'm a pretty dedicated Firefox user, but it's not a myth that more and more web shops are only bothering to test in Chrome.

Firefox has been an antitrust fig leaf for Google for some time, via the $300m or so in funding it receives from Google annually.

Hard for regulators to come and force the issue under such circumstances unless something is desperately amiss. It is with some regret that I conclude everything is fine outside the open source community, so there won't be a reckoning yet.

I don't get why these APIs are so essential that Chromium loses its value. Why would a browser need an API in the first place? I get conveniences like bookmark sync, and security features like avoiding malware domains, but one doesn't _need_ these to function, it's just somewhat more convenient or secure.

I don't need Chrome/Safari/Edge/Brave/Opera to enjoy the web.

I have image viewers, audio players and video players that do the same job. I have text-only browsers that are much faster for reading HTML. And I have numerous TCP clients that retrieve web pages and resources as fast and usually faster than "modern" browsers, and are always more reliable. Heck, the W3C's libwww project still compiles and works well behind haproxy/stunnel. The functionality I need is fast, reliable text and URL retrieval.

I do need the big, graphcal browsers for online shopping, banking and so forth, but that is not what I am most of the time I am using the web. I do not need them to enjoy the web's content. I never expected I could survive without the graphics but it has been far easier than I thought, and it's getting easier.

I'm happy with this change, regardless of the fact that it is forced. Why on earth were some of the most popular open source Linux distros relying on Google's servers to provide core functionality in the first place?

Where else should Chromium have synced to? To fedora's sync servers? Why would fedora run those?

Your outrage seems a bit misplaced to me.

Chromium synching to google's servers is entirely what I expected, and it was always clear that it was doing it to me. I am unsure why anyone is surprised by this.

There are probably hundreds of bookmark/profile/password syncing extensions out there, and most of them work cross-browser unlike Google's. Just let users pick whatever they want.

Who is not letting them pick what they want? You were not forced to use Chrome's sync features, but I am not aware of any extensions that will replace the Chromium sync functionality entirely or even mostly. And even if it did, it is not nearly as integrated of an experience.

People who want the convenience and don't care about syncing their Google account and sending their keystrokes to Google servers can always install Chrome. For Chromium, staying away from proprietary services by default is much more keeping with the spirit of open source.

I agree wholeheartedly. Similarly to Android, people took AOSP and worked it into a full system. Google providing the APIs is even detrimental to the open source cause. Because of the convenience, people are not as hard-pressed for an alternative.

Just use Firefox, or whatever else instead of increasing Chrome market share, regardless in whatever shape or form.

It it like the iPhone, buying them and then complain they are restricted devices.

It occurs to me that when the work is too much and people can't keep up, the solution is to pool resources. Many of the comments on that article talk about the reticence of package maintainers to continue with fiercely complex packages. That appears to be the real problem, aside from what sounds like constant gotchas imposed by Google. It feels like a solution is a cross distribution package with bundled dependencies, maybe through Flatpak or an AppImage.

Sorry, I don't understand reaction of the nix distro maintainers.

Why is bookmark sync such a dealbreaker? Searching for "chrome extension bookmark sync" reveals already multiple 3rd party extensions that can offer this functionality, and building more seems like an elementary 2nd year university project.

If the intent with distributing Chrome on nix is to help users handle "Site Only works on Chrome" use cases, then does it even matter if the browser is fully-featured or has bookmark sync?

The whole thing feels like people have a bitter taste in their mouth, and want to react SOMEHOW to voice their displeasure...but it's a completely meaningless gesture that Google won't notice one iota. The only ones that will suffer are the users.

Does Chrome on Android support extensions? Chrome on iOS? The only reason I use bookmark sync is to keep them synced to my phone.

Can’t they the API address, make it configurable or extract the implementation to support git repo format? It would be insanely useful if both chromium and Firefox supported the same backends.

That’s not a bad idea, but Google has no incentive to merge such an abstraction into Chromium mainline. You’d have to maintain it out of tree against a hostile upstream. I fear that’s impractical.

Not afraid of endless browser wars. End of the war and google left standing on the other hand...(more specifically the chromium derived stuff)

Tangent: Why do I so often get "connection interrupted" errors when trying to load lwn.net? (browser: firefox developer edition)

Am I missing something ? Just export your bookmarks as HTML and e-mail them to yourself, why do you need google to do it for you ?

Great article. Essentially Google is removing Chromium's ability to sync via Chrome's servers, greatly reducing the usefulness of the open source version.

I personally had long argued for the use of Chromium and this was a massive oversight of mine. I thought Chromium was a viable alternative to Chrome but no I realize Google's plan all along was probably to get their foot in the door then pull the "open source" rug out from us as soon as they could.

More than anything this single action cements Google as a bad actor, one that should be avoided as much as possible moving forward. The more people refusing to use Google products moving forward the better.

Well, one could argue Chromium is now more compliant with the spirit of Free Software because it doesn't use Google's proprietary, closed, spying bookmark sync service anymore

I think your comment shows a misunderstanding of open source. Open source doesn't mean that a service is provided free of charge. You can just get the code, and that's it, no usability is implied. They absolutely don't pull the open source rug, in fact they are shining a light on how NOT open-source your Chromium experience was. I agree with one thing though: services are not to be trusted. They, or at least you, should have ways to migrate, as painlessly as possible.

Chrome sync isn't why people use Chromium. So if a browser doesn't have bookmark sync to a central proprietary service, all of a sudden there's no point in using it?

I'm a Google employee and I don't even use Chrome Sync for my non-corporate accounts.

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