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Google had a plan called “Project NERA” to turn the web into a walled garden (twitter.com/fasterthanlime)
653 points by vord1080 85 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 318 comments

I've never understood the criticism of Firefox on HN. I've been a happy user since 2004.

I viewed chrome the same as IE. Owned by a big US tech company that only cares about one thing, and that one thing isn't you or me, only what your and my data/views are worth.

As far as I'm concerned all criticism leveled at Firefox is neatly mitigated by the reality of what chrome is, spyware.

The criticism that people in these communities come up with is limited to button placement and pixel-to-pixel tab bar height, I wouldn't take any of it seriously. Especially in the current web browser climate, it's laughable. It's our moral obligation, as people with knowledge on the subject, to use Firefox.

I've expressed my distaste for the way Mozilla is managed again and again, and I hate the stupid stuff they do from the bottom of my heart, but there simply is no other choice.

That is a ridiculous strawman if I have ever seen one. There are MANY reasons to be critical of Firefox's development.

What about them putting ads in the URL bar suggestions? What about them (temporarily) putting ads into the new tab page that you couldn't opt out of? What about them removing the ability to customize the new tab page? What about them making it all but impossible to install your own (unsigned) browser extensions?

The complaints about the UI are that they also made it impossible to customize, not that the defaults are asinine (which they are).

>What about them putting ads in the URL bar suggestions?

Not great... at least they ask you at least once to allow this, and let you disable it at any point, something that cannot be really said for some of their major competitors.

>What about them (temporarily) putting ads into the new tab page that you couldn't opt out of?

I honestly do not remember them doing that? The only thing I remember was these self-promotional things like "Try Firefox for Android" stuff, but not "real" (i.e. paid for) ads. Maybe I just forgot?

>What about them removing the ability to customize the new tab page?

Customize in what way? I can customize my new tab page just fine, edit and pin and remove things. Change the number of rows, disable "sponsored shortcuts" aka ads and Pocket (aka more ads), remove the search bar...

>What about them making it all but impossible to install your own (unsigned) browser extensions?

This indeed was not a great move. But I kinda get where this was coming from a little. There was in fact a substantial number of malware extensions out there, and somebody in my family even fell for one (IIRC it disguised itself as a video codec update).

That there is no hidden setting or "cheat code" in the release browser to override the signature requirement bugs me, tho. The rational here was that if there was an override, people would just disable checks based on recommendations on "power user" sites and/or tutorials and/or disable it because a malware author told them to, or that an external malware could override this silently to bug the browser (but that argument does not count for me; if you have some malware running on your machine already capable of flipping such a setting, you lost already, anyway). I'd say, just make it blatantly obvious that turning off signature checks is rather risky[0] and enable those users to make an informed decision (and if they do not inform themselves and just click around, that's honestly their bad).

Compared to Chrome tho, this is all still very low-level annoying. Chrome never let you permanently install unsigned extensions in the first place, and you have to use their "store" to host your extensions.

Ads... Google...

And the new tab page is also more customizable in Firefox than in Chrome.

That Firefox made and keeps making some not-so-great decisions is surely something we can and should criticize and ask them to do better. But also let's not forget here that you and me are the not the only users, and they have find a balance of features and available customization that suit most users without overburdening their own developers with the design, implementation and most importantly maintenance costs associated with such features.

Something like menu icons seems small, easy to implement and put behind a setting, but then you realize that there is a lot of maintenance cost associated with it. You have to maintain a good icon set, and do additional testing to ensure everything looks fine with the setting on and off, etc. And that's just one feature out of thousands, and each of those comes with costs, and then you need to prioritize because you don't really have the developer power to pay all of these costs. (And now we can quibble about which features to implement or to keep or to remove and so on, based on our personal preferences, but that isn't really helpful most of the time either)

At the same time, we shouldn't forget about the larger picture that Google and their Chrome browser are not "nice", but a company and their tool to enact mass surveillance for profit, which quite often behaves very unethical aside from that, maybe even with outright illegal practices, if you e.g. believe the court docs unsealed and in the news this week, or if you ever glanced at the GDPR and compared that with what Google is actually doing.

[0] I know, I know, a lot of the signature checks are just security theater, as the signing is automated after some automated checks, and therefore it is entirely possible for malware authors to get past those checks and get signed. It will stop some non-malicious extension writers from releasing their thing with known-vulnerable code patterns. On the other hand, mozilla still know what it signed, so at least they can consult their archives and rather effectively block retroactively the spread of such malware once they become aware of it. That does not undo any damage already done, but it stops further damage. If a piece of malware is targeted at single users or small groups, it may remain undiscovered and hence unstopped indefinitely. But at least this may help stop nondiscriminatory large scale malware campaigns in it's tracks.

I used to be able to set the New Tab Page to an arbitrary URL. Now I have to use a browser extension to do that. Moreover, it used to be possible to have that point to an HTML file that was stored locally, which they have disabled from even allowing browser extensions to point to. I used to have a really cool new tab page that I hand wrote with custom CSS and everything. Firefox killed that overnight.

Here's an article about the ads in the new tab page: https://www.neowin.net/news/firefox-640-is-now-showing-a-boo...

You don’t need a browser extension to change Firefox’s home page. There is a UI setting to specify an arbitrary URL:


Your homepage is not your New Tab Page.

Looks like you're right. I didn't realize the home page setting didn't also apply to the New Tab page.

I skimmed through about:config and didn't find any alternate way to change the New Tab URL other than a browser extension, like you said.

Honest question: what is the difference? Why would you want a custom home page but not a new tab page?

A homepage is what appears when you launch the browser. A new tab page is the page that appears when you open a new tab. I want a custom new tab page, which is a feature Firefox disabled. I personally do not care if the homepage and the new tab page are different as I never use the homepage (I always choose to restore from previous session).

Oh, I had misunderstood. I thought from the way the comments were going that you wanted the opposite - that they allow you to customize New Tab but not the Homepage, and I was wondering who uses the home page anymore.

Wow, even Opera is much less pushy. I know people might have major issues with new Opera ownership, but I've come to love it, whatever. It's Chrome, but way more productive and user-friendly.

> It's Chrome, but way more productive and user-friendly.

That's Vivaldi. It barely changed its UI in the ~6 years I've been using it, and even then, the changes that did happen were necessary to accommodate new features.

Firefox won't survive if only the HN crowd uses it and moral obligation alone isn't enough to convince the average person to switch to Firefox.

How many people browsing HN work in the advertising industry or indirectly receive their paycheck from it?

Important to keep in mind that the old hippie days from the 80s and 90s are long gone.

> Important to keep in mind that the old hippie days from the 80s and 90s are long gone.

Er, in what alternate history were there “hippie days” (except maybe as some kind of retrospective event) in the 1980s and 1990s?

Up until the mid 90s, the culture of and on the Internet was academic, and any commercial activity was fairly harshly frowned upon.

This slowly faded as more people and companies got connected, but until then it was definitely a thing.

>Important to keep in mind that the old hippie days from the 80s and 90s are long gone.

What does this mean?

exactly. It's like the house is on fire and people start to complain because they don't like the tapestry on the wall.

Would be nice to live in a utopia where we have so few problems this stuff matters but as it stands you have the choice between software that is technically independent and is at least reasonably aligned with privacy and user freedom and a bunch of chrome clones or derivatives that are run by dystopian megacorps

> It's like the house is on fire and people start to complain because they don't like the tapestry on the wall.

People don't like tapestry being changed by Mozilla when the house is already on fire...

There is choice: people can use Webkit instead. Webkit and Blink have diverged significantly since Blink forked Webkit: Blink is as old now as Webkit was when the fork happened.

Completely covering up bookmark bar when clicked inside address bar is nothing? Limiting length of text in address bar is nothing? Removing icons from menus - so everything looks like gray mess is nothing?

Firefox is full of these types of changes.

Yes, they amount to absolutely nothing in this context.

When you use Firefox, your bookmarks bar gets covered up while you're typing an URL. When using chrom(e|ium) or its plethora of derivatives, you're actively contributing to browser monoculture, sharing your browsing habits with a predatory corporation, and supporting anti-user changes such as the manifest v3 webextensions, which cripple content blockers and disempower you, us, the user.

If the choice is difficult for you, I really don't know what to say.

My experience using Firefox for a long-ass time has been marred with seemingly arbitrary changes that have frustratingly broken my workflow, since way back when they redesigned the URL bar in Firefox 2 and complaints were met with an irreverent "sucks to be you I guess."

It's made me reduce the amount of features I use in Firefox because I feel I can't trust the features will be there anymore or work the same in the next release.

Often the benefits are small, and the changes seem to be for the sake of changing things rather than to bring tangible improvements.

Workflow-breaking changes are incredibly frustrating for the user, and something a mature project should only do with extreme reluctance. Yet Firefox seems to do it haphazardly.

I would honestly be happy to use a browser that looked and worked like Netscape 1.0 as long as it supported modern web standards and didn't keep moving buttons around.

> I would honestly be happy to use a browser that looked and worked like Netscape 1.0 as long as it supported modern web standards and didn't keep moving buttons around.

Have you tried SeaMonkey? It may be what you seek: https://www.seamonkey-project.org/

Most of these changes are misguided initiatives to copy Chrome. Firefox is getting worse, but Chrome is already worse than Firefox can become.

I think Firefox has identity issues. It used to be defined in terms of Internet Explorer, but now that IE isn't the dominant player anymore, I don't think Firefox has really found what it wants to be, so the last decade it's sort of been floundering.

The worst to the morale is that the changes sometimes seem to be in effect purely anti-user. How could have ever a change that makes active tab look almost identical to inactive one pass a design review. It's not even a subjective thing. Contrast between elements is objectively definable and measurable property. Tabs are critical to everyday use.

This account matches my own experience as a firefox user.

They covered the bar when you weren't typing. They reversed the change after many complained.

Firefox is shedding users left and right. If you want to complain about people who're staying with the browser and are just complaining about changes to the browser that make their life harder, I think you've picked the wrong group...

Maybe go complain at people who have already left.

I think the difference is that these changes are overt. And generally user changeable.

FF tends the take flak about things people just accept from other browsers.

Don't want pocket, disable it. Don't want address bar suggestions disable it. I don't agree with everything that goes on with FF but there is no alternative to what MS dreamed of with IE and Google seem to be achieving with Chrome.

Out of interest, why do you need to see your bookmarks bar if you are typing in the address bar? Genuine question.

Did you purposefully list stuff no one in their right mind would care about for more than 5 minutes after the update or were you actually trying to make a point?

Because yeah, all of this is literally nothing. There are things going on with Firefox which are not nothing, but none of what you cite is.

In respect to the destructive nature of continued support for googles monopoly over search, online advertising and their desire to ‘own the web’, yes, those issues sounds pretty minor.

They’re also sound like quite achievable goals for a fork.

I wish there was a word for this process, because it repeats itself in comment threads over and over. People getting absorbed by debates over idiosyncratic details and gradually losing sight of the big picture.

Deciding that support for Firefox lives or dies depending on details about how long the text and the address bar is, is completely absurd. Because meanwhile, everything else is increasingly based on chromium which is developed by Google. Having the web depend on a single rendering engine where all the major trends and development effort and support maintenance comes from one company is catastrophically short-sighted.

Isn't it just derailing by Google astroturfers?

You can hardly ever be sure when astroturfing is really happening, so all I have to offer is speculation. I feel that this is not Google astroturfing, because Google astroturfing takes on a different flavor.

This is speculation on my part and I want to be very clear about that, but whenever I see something that looks like Google astroturfing, what happens is they frame controversial decisions as technical necessities, like it's just an easier way of solving a technical problem. And they keep trying to reframe questions in technical terms, and try to turn questions of right and wrong into questions where they're simply elaborating on how the technology works, and it's a matter of you not understanding the technology. This was my experience in HN threads about AMP, for instance.

That's my sense of how that works. In this case, I don't think we're seeing anything other than the typical short attention spans.

The house is on fire, but at least when you sit on the sofa it doesn't make a weird squeaking noise.

> Completely covering up bookmark bar when clicked inside address bar is nothing

How often do you click the address bar, then change your mind and navigate to the bookmark bar instead?

You know the address bar searches your bookmarks too if you do change your mind and don't want to change focus?

> How often do you click the address bar, then change your mind and navigate to the bookmark bar instead?

The address bar click behavior combined with the new padding became so intrusive for me that this was the thing that finally got me into mapping caps lock to escape for quicker hiding action (already used it for control, thanks to Karabiner-Elements/AutoHotkey I can get both).

At some level I understand when people on HN get mad at FF increasing the size of the tab bar and the occasional changes they make in the UI/UX. I've never had a major problem with them - it's been at most an hour of getting used to the new style, if at all - but I am honestly astounded by people who think it's a good reason to switch to Chrome. Cutting off your nose to spite your face?

Let's not pretend Mozilla is a saint or Firefox is close. Mozilla made a huge number of questionable moves over the years ("death by a thousand cuts")

I personally felt that the 2014 introduction of in-browser ads (pitched as "user-enhancing") marked a huge shift. For others it was the deep integration of the proprietary Pocket extension. For still others it was the weird Mr Robot cross-promotion that was pushed via a side channel or the Cliqz in-browser tracking or the booking.com in-browser ads.

At this point, it really feels like Mozilla and FF are "controlled opposition" / defense against anti-trust claims, and many of the naysayers would probably jump to a clean implementation that isn't bogged down by the lack of trust.

I don't disagree about the fact that Mozilla makes questionable moves. I still deeply resent that they laid off the servo team, and I treat their executives with as much suspicion as the rest of HN, see their recent moves with Firefox suggest in the address bar. But I think the fundamental difference is that, at the end of the day, I think Mozilla and Firefox are still the lesser evil in the borwser war; Firefox is still the best browser to run uBlock on, they have aggressively worked to end tracking and they have a mobile browser that actually supports extensions where possible (hello, Firefox Reality!) So I prefer to try as much as possible to work with Firefox instead of just accepting Chrome's dominance, especially given that it's just a worse browser for privacy.

> they have a mobile browser that actually supports extensions where possible

This isn't quite as simple. Firefox on Android will only install a subset of extensions from addons.mozilla.org, based on an allow-list maintained by Mozilla.

But other extensions on AMO (and therefore already complying with Mozilla's policies) work satisfactorily when installed in Iceraven (a fork of Firefox on Android).

So this shows that the limited list of extensions available for Firefox on Android is not limited by technical reasons (“where possible”), but by Mozilla's choice.


But I agree with the broad point: yes, Mozilla is pretty sketchy, but Google is orders of magnitude sketchier.

The limited extensions on Android is for technical reasons. Instead of having zero extension support on release, they focused on supporting the APIs needed for popular extensions first and are working on adding the rest. It's an entire rewrite of the browser. There's still a lot of missing APIs they need to implement. Allowing every extension from AMO to work would be almost pointless because so many would be broken.

The fact of limiting the list of extensions that can be installed is indeed for technical reasons — I'm sure there are some extensions that don't work. But the list of which extensions can be installed is not restricted solely for technical reasons.

I use several extensions in Iceraven — Privacy Redirect; Bypass Paywalls Clean; I don't care about cookies — that work usefully. If there are any missing APIs, I haven't noticed them. These extensions can't be installed in Firefox for Android.

There's no technical difference between Iceraven and Firefox, except that Iceraven has a more generous allow-list. This isn't a technical restriction; it's a choice by Mozilla.

It's a valid choice — if they're aiming to curate a set of high-quality extensions, and prevent the use of lower-quality extensions — but it's a choice nonetheless.

> It's a valid choice — if they're aiming to curate a set of high-quality extensions, and prevent the use of lower-quality extensions — but it's a choice nonetheless.

Mozilla is also looking at monetizing their extension ecosystem by allowing the top makers of extensions to pay for placement. Perhaps, Mozilla could start letting only the highest paid extensions on Android.

Would this be "valid"? Uh . . . sure. It is also blatantly user hostile. I would rather Mozilla allow me to choose what I run, but Mozilla definitely isn't going to give the users that sort of freedom on release builds.

It seems that they've also talked themselves into believing that running extensions in the main process has all of a sudden become totally unsafe and absolutely irresponsible, while at the same time the solution employed on desktop (run extensions in a separate process) unfortunately isn't possible because on Android secondary processes might randomly be targeted by the low-memory killer at any time, which would break a lot of add-ons.

So a few extensions have been grudgingly permitted with extra scrutiny given during review, but they don't want to extend that effort to all add-ons, they don't want to back down to accepting the previous level of security, either, Android won't change its handling of child processes (and even if – any change there would take years to percolate throughout the phone ecosystem, plus a number of OEMs somewhat infamously are even more aggressive about killing seemingly unused processes), and re-architecting add-ons to cope with randomly being killed isn't an easy and immediate solution either.

This extensions list can be changed by user via developer settings.

This is only possible on Firefox Nightly, and you have to install them by making a Mozilla account and creating extension collections[0].

This is frustrating to do, when the desktop site didn't allow me to add a mobile-only extension[1] and I had to figure out how to do so by modifying HTTP requests. This is a reversion from older Firefox versions, where you could install any extension via the web store as you would on desktop.

[0] https://blog.mozilla.org/addons/2020/09/29/expanded-extensio...

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

> at the end of the day, I think Mozilla and Firefox are still the lesser evil in the borwser war

And that is exactly the problem. I don't want to accept any "evil". "The other guy is worse" has never been a good excuse for bad behavior.

> they have aggressively worked to end tracking

They still use google analytics on their own websites. Firefox by default still allows ads, which are the main driver of user tracking.

> a mobile browser that actually supports extensions where possible

Extensions, or only extensions allowed by Mozilla aka browser features with extra steps.

>Let's not pretend Mozilla is a saint

Okay but what's the upshot? If it's just a meandering comment to the effect of "well, Mozilla does bad stuff too", then this is exactly the kind of comment that the parent commenter was talking about.

Take all of the concerns about Mozilla, add them up, and then bring them back to the larger conversation about what it means for the web to become increasingly dependent on Google.

That is the second step, and that second step is the critical step, and somehow in these conversations, that piece keeps getting lost. Or worse, people decide to dig in before they get to that piece, and then, after already having been dug in, they confront this question and decide to follow it to the logically consistent but extreme conclusion that these trivial details are a sufficient reason to abandon the web to Google. I suspect that is a position that they wouldn't otherwise have consciously reasoned themselves into, but I do think it's how people respond to the challenge of reconciling their criticisms of Mozilla with the bigger picture.

I don't think the Mr Robot thing was great, but I also don't think that's a reason to abandon the web to 100% dominance by Google. And is the Mr robot thing supposed to be an input into that bigger conversation about whether or not to abandon the web to Google? If yes, then I just have to say that I don't think that's a very good reason. If no, then I submit that we're losing track of the bigger question.

>it really feels like Mozilla and FF are "controlled opposition"

I have to admit that this is where you completely lost me. I think Mozilla is navigating some uncertain and difficult territory, and I don't think their choices are the best. But I guess I'll put it this way. If I find my brain spinning narratives like this, I take it as a sign that I need to get up and go on a walk outside.

It's difficult to have a rational conversation when many people are emotionally invested. I find it helpful to take a given description and replace one entity with another. For example:


If this said:

> Eich: Ad on Brave's new tab page was just another experiment

> "This snippet was an experiment to provide more value to Brave users through offers provided by a partner"

> "It was not a paid placement or advertisement."

You would recoil in disgust. Do the developers think the explanation is satisfactory? No one would seriously believe that a browser vendor would just willingly place ads for a company without any sort of compensation. In fact, that someone would even consider putting an ad in the web browser itself would probably be enough to push you to choose something else.

Circling back to the beginning, people blindly believed Google's "Do no Evil" and Google profited mightily by chipping away at the generated goodwill.

Thanks for the projection, but what I would actually do is the same as what multiple other commenters here are already doing, namely absorb the criticisms of Mozilla for what they are, and take those back to the bigger context of how I feel about conceding the browser space to Google.

Yours appears to be yet another example of the type of short attention span comment that I'm talking about, which is happening over and over and over in this thread. There's talk of Google abusing their dominant position in shaping the web and browers, and then there's talk of Mozilla as a counterbalance, and then there is a criticism of Mozilla, and then there is no clear upshot about how the criticism relates to the original context.

Asking people to remember and tie the point back to the original context yields comments like yours, viewing such requests as a challenge or emotional investment, or an inability to have rational conversation.

> You would recoil in disgust.

Why would I recoil in disgust? What if I prefer ads to total dependence on a single revenue source?

Also comparing Brave to Firefox is like comparing a browser with it's owns independent stack to a browser that's just a fork of a different browser, wait!

I think the 'controlled opposition' comment is pointing out that given a choice between doing the right thing for users vs. keeping Google happy (presumably to keep the search money comping in), they often seem to choose keeping Google happy. So while Mozilla has generally been less bad for user interests, it's still often far from being an advocate for them.

And yet it's devoid of truth. How many times has Google proposed some ridiculous new API that Mozilla has immediately and publicly rejected, often with strong language? I can count at least 2 off the top of my head from the past year alone.



There's also this:



And the top comment of the hacker news thread associated with that last link?

>My friend who works in an adtech company:

>"Protip: Use Firefox instead of Chrome. We get very little data from Firefox users"

We know the web is now so complex that it is impossible for a voluntary project to maintain a web browser, at least to a level of near-parity with Chrome.

It seems impossible, but I wonder if Mozilla could be salvaged?

I want a browser styled like the rugged and customisable UI of Firefox 4.x with the Gecko improvements of the Quantum releases. With desktop-to-mobile sync with real cryptography, before this nonsense of a 'Firefox account'. A browser that preserved features pleasing to techies and power users, while omitting features abhorrent to them, would be the ideal.

How could such a thing be funded, and how could we get the old hacker collective style of Mozilla back? Or how would we start something new and get the full time labour necessary to develop such a browser, with an independent rendering engine and JS VM? While keeping unethical incentives as far from sight as possible.

I don't pretend it is an easy question, but framing the right question is a start.

> With desktop-to-mobile sync with real cryptography

Firefox Sync is end-to-end encrypted? My understanding is that Mozilla cannot actually read user sync data.


> We transform your passphrase on your computer into two different, unrelated values. With one value, you cannot derive the other0. We send an authentication token, derived from your passphrase, to the server as the password-equivalent. And the encryption key derived from your passphrase never leaves your computer.

Ah, looks like they still do. My mistake. I was harkening back to the old Sync protocol which just gave you a decryption key, rather than any account system. From this post it seems they've just integrated it with your password, if your link is describing the present method.

What I had in mind was this: https://blog.mozilla.org/services/2014/05/08/firefox-account.... i.e., back in the day you could self-host Firefox Sync, like a Nextcloud. It seems this is still possible, though not straightforwardly: https://discourse.mozilla.org/t/how-to-self-host-fxa-and-syn...

> back in the day you could self-host Firefox Sync

Yep -- and this is why I personally think there's something rotten in Mozilla.

At the beginning there were 3rd party extensions to sync bookmarks that just allowed you to point to any webdav server (which is trivial to self-host). At some point Mozilla decided to implement this functionality as a 1st party extension, thereby displacing all the other 3rd party extensions that were doing the same (and later on outright killing these extensions, by changing the APIs and making the new ones buggy).

And once the other extensions were killed, they started to make it harder and harder to self-host. Up to the point I gave up self-hosting Firefox Sync; it's just not worth the effort, and I really see absolutely no need for such a huge infrastructure for what could be done with plain clothes WebDAV.

That is the day Mozilla earned my distrust. I basically use Firefox (or its forks) just because there is no other choice.

I'd pay for a browser like that.

Pocket isn't proprietary. The bundled extension is OSS and maintained in-tree. It's also not deeply integrated. You can turn it off or use artifact builds to create a custom Firefox with it completely gone, and nothing will break, because it's just a WebExtension.

The open source code is only useful when paired with a proprietary network service.

When Mozilla bought Pocket, there already existed a competing open source self-hostable network service, Wallabag. Pocket is to Wallabag as Twitter is to Mastodon.

My complaint was not that the code in Firefox was proprietary, but that it integrated with (and promoted) a proprietary network service, while there was a viable open source competitor.

At the time, Mozilla's mission included the aim “to promote choice and innovation on the internet”, which this integration seemed to go against.

The controversy at the time was that it didn't need to be embedded in the browser and it was a proprietary blob.

It literally took years to get to a point where the bundled parts were released as open source (see https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1343006 ). Obviously there are legal concerns etc, but many of the critics would have been much happier if the extension were released as open source first rather than adding proprietary code to the browser

For what technical reason would it be a proprietary blob? The Firefox frontend has been html/xul/css/js forever. Pocket would be implemented the same. I can't see why it would need to be a binary.

Pocket was an acquisition, not something they had written themselves.

> but I am honestly astounded by people who think it's a good reason to switch to Chrome

Who says switching away from Firefox means you have to switch to Chrome, the Google-controlled browser?

That seems like a false dichotomy to me.

Who exerts the most control over Chromium? Google shareholders or the OSS community? How much Chromium development is done by people not employed by Google or now Microsoft?

Brave/Edge/Vivaldi/Opera are all Google controlled browsers. Just because you can slap your own logo and build a sync system on top of Chromium does not mean they get to have any say in how Chromium consumes the Internet.

Sure, less data gets sent directly to Google. But when Google says[1], Chromium will not allow you to completely block autoplaying videos, it takes years to for the clones add an option to block[2].

[1] https://developer.chrome.com/blog/autoplay/ [2] https://forum.vivaldi.net/topic/40377/option-to-disable-auto...

Most others are Chromium based. But I see no reason to switch to Chrome when we have Chromium available in every Linux distribution and Brave for Windows/Mobile.

Is there really any alternative to Chrome (outside of the Apple ecosystem)? Vivaldi is Chrome, Edge is Chrome, Opera is Chrome, Brave is Chrome.

Sure, technically they're Chromium, not Chrome, and probably you don't share your data with Google (though who can say for sure). But whichever you choose, you're still allowing Google to control the Web ecosystem, from web standards to ad blocking.

Well, we should remember that Mozilla is essentially funded by Google. [1] I think they are trying to remedy that a little bit by selling VPNs, but that's probably not gonna work.

Brave is probably a better option if you want to "drop out". Unlike Firefox, it is not a dying browser, and it's monthly active users are increasing: https://brave.com/36m-mau/. They do have a cryptocurrency for relatively privacy-respecting ads thing (Brave Rewards), but you can easily opt out of that. (Also, we should not be puritans about this, developers have to eat too)

It is still based on Chromium. But that's probably more of a plus for the typical user who cares more about websites working correctly than browser diversity.

[1]: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/041315/how-m...

Your only criticism of Firefox is that they get money from selling the default search engine spot to Google, but then your alternative recommendation is a browser that's fundamentally dependent on Google?

The day Google stops open-sourcing Chromium or start delaying public releases, or when another privacy-busting oopsie slips in the open-source codebase and Brave devs miss it, Brave is done. They don't have the manpower or experience to develop an actual browser.

The day Google stops buying Firefox's ad space, Mozilla has hundreds of alternative options for generating revenue.

> The day Google stops buying Firefox's ad space, Mozilla has hundreds of alternative options for generating revenue.

Then it's really bizarre that they leave all of this money on the table, seeing as the money they get from google only requires setting a single variable. Maybe it's not actually true.

Google pay the most, but the are alternatives if that falls through, nothing being left on the table.

That is not my only criticism, but it was the most relevant one. Also, the issue is not that they get money from Google, it is that it is almost all of their revenue. I think Brave has a fair chance of surviving without Google, though your point of their lack of manpower stands.

I don't think Firefox will have many good options for generating revenue, given that they have lost 46 million users since 2018 [1] (while paying something like $2M to the chair [2]). And the only effort they made in that direction was is to become a VPN reseller [3].

[1]: https://www.techspot.com/news/90692-firefox-loses-46-million...

[2]: https://calpaterson.com/mozilla.html

[3]: https://mullvad.net/en/help/partnerships-and-resellers/

Lost marketshare is the silliest criticism of them all I think. What to change that? Use it and tell your friends, that simple. It's like a meta-criticism, same as CEO salary. The quality of the product has only increased. Just in the last version they started rolling out Fission and added form filling for PDFs.

Lost marketshare isn't a criticism. It's an indication that every minute of the day, more current firefox are annoyed and leave than non-firefox users are attracted to install.

CEO pay also isn't a criticism of the browser, its an indication that the organization either rewards failure, or sees its current situation as success. Either way, it doesn't bode well for the future.

Lost marketshare is an observation. We can speculate all day.

Did Firefox lose marketshare because of:

Google intentionally making their sites worse in Firefox?

The lack of multiprocess for so long?

No support for Google Earth until 2020?

Google shipping a polyfill that made YouTube.com 3x slower in Firefox and Safari for years?

The move to WebExtensions happening too late, resulting in burnout and lost interest from the extension community because they had already ported their extensions to e10s?

Slack going out of their way to use a non-standard SDP format thats only supported in Chrome, resulting in no other browsing supporting video calls?

Microsoft Teams also does the same thing.

Mobile overtaking desktop, where Chrome reigns supreme as a platform default?

I don't think it's such a big contributor, but there are also regular and dedicated Brave shills in many tech communities which traditionally favored Firefox (not necessarily funded by Brave directly, they may be independently incentivized from holding the crypto token BAT).

Or they are just former Firefox users who went where the previous CEO from Firefox went, after he got kicked out from Mozilla for non-technical reasons in 2014.

Because it seems whatever technical “vision” Mozilla used to have back then have more or less vanished, while Brave seems to have quite a bit of it.

Edit: Back in the days I loved Firefox because it was made by the Mozilla foundation, which stood for things I found important, which I trusted and “loved”.

Today Firefox is still made by the Mozilla foundation, but that entity has little in common with the Mozilla of old besides the name.

In that regard holding on to Firefox “because Mozilla” is IMO largely holding on to a delusion or a lie.

I was myself in denial over this for a long period of time before I realized that my “love” for Firefox was no longer real. I was just using it out of a misplaced sense of obligation, not because it genuinely made me excited, like it used to back in the days.

Mozilla failed in its mission. Let’s hope someone else can find their place.

I do not appreciate you calling my criticism silly, it certainly is sign of comparative decline if people don't want to use their software anymore on that scale. (of-course there are other factors; e.g. other browsers being the OS default but that's hardly new) And that wasn't even my argument, I was saying that they won't have many options for revenue (or raising funds) with declining market share.

I haven't been really using Firefox recently, so there may have been some improvements I have missed. But they have made mistakes and missed opportunities. They probably should have made ad-blocking the default (same as Brave does), but can they do that if they are funded by Google? They probably should't have ended support for legacy add-ons. They probably shouldn't have freaked out their privacy-conscious part of their user-base by that Mr. Robot promo...

Cosmetic adblocking shouldn't be included in browsers, no. It doesn't scale and is easy to break. It just puts a gigantic target on your back.

Firefox already blocks a lot of ads by blocking tracking scripts. Including a cosmetic adblocker like Brave would lead to worse compat and broken experiences.

> They probably should't have ended support for legacy add-ons.

They should've actually. Firefox was a single-process mess for years with poor sandboxing, because Mozilla was scared of breaking everyones add-ons. The move to WebExtensions was the right one, if a bit late. If the whiners got their way, every extension would be breaking right now because of Fission. The old model also had no permission system.

Can we attribute some level of lost market share to a lack of cultural knowledge of the benefits of FireFox (for example my friends aren’t aware ublock origin, superior to adblockers available on chrome, is available in Firefox) and also that Google intentionally makes their products run shittier on Firefox in an anticompetitive measure?

To be fair uBlock Origin is also available for Chromium and Google products run like shit on Chrome too.

The compat story for Brave and Firefox is about the same. Tracking protections in Brave broke sites more often than Firefox when I used it for a few months, and there was a recent incident where iCloud was being blocked in Brave.

And despite what a lot of people say, engine interop is only getting better thanks to initiatives like Compat2021. More sites work well under Gecko than ever before. Anyone remember IE6 era where Firefox needed bug-for-bug compatibility? It's been worse folks.

Mobile Firefox has ublock origin. That's a winner for me

You can install uBlock Origin on Brave and Chrome too. [1] It is works slightly better on Firefox though. [2]

[1]: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/ublock-origin/cjpa...

[2]: https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/wiki/uBlock-Origin-works-b...

> You can install uBlock Origin on Brave and Chrome too.

...for now.

Be aware that Chrome is going to stop supporting Manifest v2. This will make uBlock Origin stop working - not because the author doesn't want to support v3, but because it is not possible for uBlock Origin to work under the new extension API.

If you like uBlock Origin, now would be a good time to get out of the habit of using Chrome.

Not on mobile Chrome though which is what parent was writing about.

The "new" Firefox Mobile is a joke... they blocked thousands of extensions... Now only about 12 extensions total are available. I still use Firefox mobile v68.11.0esr even if unsupported.

yeah right, I use iceraven which has a lot of extensions than firefox, including i dont care about cookies, check it in fdroid...https://github.com/fork-maintainers/iceraven-browser

Yeah, I was pissed when they did that. Though, excepting uMatrix, it has all the extensions I use daily.

I use about 15 extensions... less then half are available. Over the years Mozilla has removed many features from Firefox that I was using but this one has me looking at alternate browsers.

Also... their excuse for removing features over the years was the presence of extensions... I think that they get too much money from Google.

> I've never understood the criticism of Firefox on HN

My only real criticism is that they keep making dumbass moves like putting ads in the address bar instead of trying to ask for money

Do a pro plan for silly people like me who would pay for a promise of no ads. Do an enterprise version of Firefox that hooks in to Active Directory or whatever for syncing

Just get lost with the ad plays haha

What on earth version of Firefox are you using that has ads?!

I desperately want to use FF, but it has serious bugs that Mozilla ignored for years.

I've lost my config multiple times due to a bug in session recovery.

After having lost yet another session I moved back to Chrome.

There is plenty of legitimate criticism of Firefox in its handling of web standards. For example, they've effectively ended development and support for PWAs on desktop, which would have blown up the future of desktop PWA development (a crucial functionality of the web, as far as most are concerned) if Firefox held a significant portion of the market.

The FF contributors make so many decisions that are just plain nonsensical and harmful to the progression of the web, as do Safari and Opera -- especially those two. And while nobody should ever trust Google's bastardization of Chromium, they and the Chromium contributors are really the only people pushing the web forward, while everyone else is desperately trying to pump the breaks on new APIs, for reasons nobody can explain. Reading a bug tracker thread for any of them is like surviving a 1980s BBS discussion between tape storage format elitists. Even when they're correct, they're all wrong because they're not thinking ahead, and we all lose because of it.

Same here. I’ve been using Firefox exclusively since the Firebug days, both for development and personal use. It has worked fantastically for me. But I have real issues whenever I try to use Chrome. I think it mostly comes down to what you are used to.

But chrome's security and performance is miles better than firefox.

The organization that overpays managerial people, fired technical talent, and funnels donations into political causes instead of browser development is not much better either.

It sounds like you could level that second paragraph at Google too.

Personally I take my security and privacy over performance any day. Firefox by default better protects my privacy, and it customisable where it doesn't. Add to this uMatrix, uBlock and disabling JavaScript I'm good for security.

I don't care much about negligible performance stats. I notice little difference, especially with the above mentioned add-ons/settings. The websites they break I don't care much about or allow on a whitelist basis.

Bad as Mozilla is I trust it more than Google, especially in regards to this thread and others currently floating on the front-page.

The moment UBO doesn't work on chrome, I will switch.

But say what you want about their privacy practices, Google is as strong as it can get on security front.

> But chrome's security and performance is miles better than firefox.

Not really. Maybe ~6 years ago but they've made insane progress. Full site isolation is rolling out now and the performance is great. Definitely faster than Chrome on my laptop.

My biggest criticism is that Mozilla removed the open-web RSS reader functionality and added a proprietary walled-garden Pocket read-it-later service. Are the two connected? I need to know.

RSS and read-it-later are completely different things that serve completely different purposes, what kind of "connection" are you looking for?

Firefox, very annoyingly, still doesn't support WebMIDI. I know it's a very niche use case but still.

I normally use Firefox but have to pull up Chromium just for that one feature.

You can turn on WebMidi by setting dom.webmidi.enabled to true in about:config, though that isn't a default so it's still a very valid criticism sadly.

No way, it actually worked. Thank you!

Are you counting criticism of Mozilla (the company) as criticism of Firefox? I see more of the former on HN.

I would love to switch to FF but the persona tabs in Chrome are just too convenient. I have a persona for Work, for Personal and Neither (spammy stuff of things I don’t want to get indexed recommendation engines etc). Is there a way to replicate it on FF?

You can manage and launch multiple Firefox user profiles using Firefox’s about:profiles page, though that UI is clunkier than Chrome’s.

Mozilla’s “Multiple Account Containers” extension can automate some of this. Cookies are separated by container, allowing you to use the web with multiple identities.


You can do that in two ways. Profiles and containers.

FF has container tabs which are infinitely superior to Chrome's.

Thank you, can you please elaborate - superior in what ways?

The Chrome profiles work really well for me but I’d love to learn about the alternative. Using Chrome is a bit of a guilt trip at this point.

I've used both and for me personally the Chome ones map better onto my brain.

i love firefox as secondary browser (mainly some performance issues or minor hickups with certain kinds of web apps that rely on certain animations) and also donate regularly to mozilla, but the dev tools are the main pain point for me. nothing beats the usability of chrome dev tools and working in firefox always makes me feel limited in little ways i cant even point my finger to. in effect my own apps are optimized for chrome first and only improved for firefox as second step wich will then lead to the same small problems making other people use it as secondary browser.

I use FF dev tools fine, I think it was just a case of getting used to them!

My criticism is simple: Firefox has like a 4% market share, but an entirely separate rendering engine from the other browsers.

As a web developer, my job is already to chase down spec-violating implementation bugs in Safari, Chrome, and Edge. Having one more user agent out there does me no good; I'm disinterested in increasing my pain to support a 4% userbase.

I'd rather browsing be the purview of one or two giant, well-regulated players than a thousand minorly-incompatible little flowers.

> I'd rather browsing be the purview of one or two giant, well-regulated players

Key: well-regulated. These giants are anything but. And in the past several years Chrome basically said "I couldn't give two craps about Safari's or Firefox's opinion, we're going to ship our own APIs and call them web standards".

You must be quite new to frontend development, right? It's really never been easier than today to do this. Edge uses chromium and IE isn't a thing anymore (for most devs), so it's basically 3 modern and regularly updated browser engines which are _very_ close to each other features-wise.

Also, one of the biggest problems with Chrome has been that Google are breaking standards with it repetitively. If you're for well-regulated browsers, Chrome shouldn't be your browser of choice.

Actually I've been doing it about a decade. Long enough to have had to make the judgement call to not change our site to fix performance regressions on Firefox because there weren't enough users to justify the cost a couple times.

It's okay; FF unbroke themselves in 2 revisions anyway. But if it'd been Chrome, fixing the site would have been our top priority.

Ah, fair enough! Yeah, it might not be perfect, but I don't think it's bad enough to make a mono/duopoly the better option.

IE6 called from 2005 and wants its argument back

2021 is a rich era of multiple standards-compliant browsers, including Firefox.

But if there's a bug where either a browser deviates from the standard or different browsers implement an ambiguity in the standard differently? Web developers will fix that bug in Chrome, Safari, and Edge before fixing it in Firefox. For almost every site, that's what the cost benefit analysis looks like.

If my site doesn't work right on Chrome or Safari, that's my problem. If it doesn't work right on Firefox, that's Mozilla's problem.

Simple explanation: Most people are uninformed and irrational.

What an outrageously toxic and arrogant comment. There are many reasons to dislike Firefox. Just because you're not personally affected by those reasons, doesn't make people who are affected by them somehow mentally ill or lesser humans than you, your majesty.

I didn’t say I’m not affected. I’m uninformed about most things, and I sometimes behave irrationally. I don’t see that as a problem. But it does explain why I make bad decisions. That’s all I’m saying. I guess I should have clarified that I didn’t mean my comment negatively.

>What an outrageously toxic and arrogant comment. There are many reasons to dislike Firefox. Just because you're not personally affected by those reasons, doesn't make people who are affected by them somehow mentally ill or lesser humans than you, your majesty.

Saying someone is uninformed or irrational isn't the same as saying they're mentally ill or unintelligent. Your comment, however, does well to lend credence to their anecdote.

It's incredibly ironic that you're attempting to teach me a semantics lesson, when you've clearly never read the definitions for the words you're referencing. With one word, the OP implied that people who don't love absolutely everything about Firefox are both mentally unsound and incapable of reasoning.


(1): lacking usual or normal mental clarity or coherence (2): not endowed with reason or understanding

Perhaps the next time you feel the need to jump into a conversation to teach someone a lesson, take a moment to consider that you might be the uninformed one, because it's a distinct possibility based on this anecdote.

Isn't all social media pretty much spyware.

Devtools for FF are still, sadly, subpar.

What's missing or subpar? I'm not a webdev but is firefox developer edition any good?

It's a too long list of small but numerous issues. No single thing to pick, more like a systemic problem. (Debugging on FF is especially problematic)

FF used to be really good about 10 years ago with creation of firebug extension, it basically created a concept of modern browser devtools, but Mozilla stuck in the past and did not evolve ever since.

B-but you could be earning Brave Attention Tokens! Enable ads and you'll be collecting a whole $0.30 a month!

Get Firefox now, install uBlock Origin, and live with the minor pains.

And help your parents, brothers and sisters, neighbors, uncles and aunts to do the same.

And set DDG as the default browser.

I can't imagine why anyone here on HN still would use Chrome.

I do

Because when the tab bar is full Firefox will overflow them while chrome will resize every tab until only an icon is left and then start the overflow.

If there is an extension to fix this I’ll switch but last I looked I couldn’t find any

I sincerely suggest using vertical tabs! There's two popular FF extensions for it, the original Tree Style Tab [1] and Sidebery [2]. Most widescreen displays are far wider than web content these days, so you don't lose any horizontal space by switching to vertical tabs, and you gain the ability to actually read the text + organize them by hierarchy.

1: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tree-style-ta...

2: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/sidebery/

You also don't gain any vertical space, because Firefox decided that its built-in tabs shouldn't be hidden.

You can use userChrome.css to remove them - I main this setup everyday and haven't had horizontal tabs on at all.

I switched to vertical tabs too, and honestly I'm never going back.

Firefox's behavior here is massively better. Why in the world would anyone actually LIKE the tiny tiny icon-only tabs?!

Umm because your comment is actually just an opinion? And there are people on the other side as well.

It was also a reply to an opinion. And you're replying to a reply to an opinion, reiterating the original opinion.

The post you were replying to isn't replying to an "opinion" or punching down on one. Instead, it is answering the question "Why in the world would anyone actually LIKE the tiny tiny icon-only tabs?"

I personally don't, but I know a lot of people who deal with large amounts of tabs and prefer icons because they can quickly glance over the icons to get to the page they want. I know one guy who has probably 50+ tabs open at any given moment but can still get to whichever tab he wants to out of instinct by going "oh that was in the 5th google sheet tab". I deal with that by not having more than a dozen tabs and grouping in TST but I gotta admit, it's an impressive skill to have.

I find it odd that the “hacker mindset” answer to this is, accept surveillance.

Exceedingly odd.

Do people actually prefer to memorize website favicons and their placement instead of scrolling with some text still visible to let you know what the tab actually is?

This is what I was wondering also, and it makes me think other people look at a much larger range of sites with different icons than I do.

I use Chrome at work because I have to. I often get into the situation with icon-width tabs, and to me it's bad because a lot of my tabs are the same few sites. So the icon doesn't always help me, and I end up using the 'close all tabs to the right' feature a lot.

In addition, a lot of the sites I use at work have time-limited sessions, so going back to a tab from even a couple of hours ago isn't useful because I have to reauth anyway. I guess I could find an old tab and refresh, but I usually just 't' (with vimium) to open a new one and retype the address instead. Maybe for me this is more a preference for the keyboard vs. having to move a pointer around?

This is a great question, and I think the trouble here is that there is a temptation to answer with one off anecdotes from the idiosyncratic example of a single use case. The more peculiar, individualized, unique, and unrepresentative, the more likely it is that we're going to hear that.

This temptation is very strong on HN. I honestly would be fascinated by a blog that gathered together all the extremely specialized use cases that people use as examples of why product XYZ wasn't good enough. That way of thinking leads to interesting to discussion but needs to be tempered by stepping back and looking at how representative those examples are, and I think that step is the point in the process where these conversations always break down.

You can change when the overflow scrolling starts by setting browser.tabs.tabMinWidth to 50 (or any number you want, the unit is pixels) in about:config

> help your parents, brothers and sisters, neighbors, uncles and aunts to do the same.

One sec let me try to explain how to do this to my grandma who is currently x thousand miles away. Oh yea and if something breaks good thing I'm there for tech support amirite.

??? Why does you grandma care about when tabs start overflowing? I assure you, your Grandma isn't GGP and will happily accept what the browser does.

>Why does you grandma care about when tabs start overflowing?

Oh she doesn't. The issue Grandma, Uncle Fat, Cousin Lou all have is they used this thing and started getting used to it and then they got an update and someone changed everything and they don't know how to do anything anymore. Repeat this three or more times and when you tell them to use something they smile at you and nod then stick with Chrome because it's something they know how to use and doesn't change all the time.

>then they got an update and someone changed everything and they don't know how to do anything anymore.

Your claim is FF updated something and your Grandma couldn't figure out how to do anything? Which update was this?

Because grandmas are fictional personas so you can say whatever feature X of software Y is your pet peeve is broken, flawed and it's the most important feature ever.

Check out an even better option (in my opinion): multi-row tabs


Brave Browser, based on Chrome, is another alternative that'll let you keep all your Chrome extensions. Makes the move away from Chrome painless.

Brave and Edge are better than Chrome if you care about privacy, but 99% of the code base is still controlled by Google and they don't really have a voice in standards committees. To support the open web it's much better to have engine diversity too.

In which way does Edge have better privacy than Chrome? The following articles rate Edge as worse than Chrome:

https://www.expressvpn.com/blog/best-browsers-for-privacy/ https://www.zdnet.com/article/a-professor-says-edge-is-the-w...

Microsoft and Brave both run ad networks. They are trapped in the same perverted incentives. Same thing for Apple.

Firefox is the only one that doesn't.

Then again, Mozilla only survives thanks to Google for sending search traffic their way.

Or the conspiracy take: Mozilla only survives because Google wants to make sure that an alternative exists so they cannot be considered a monopoly.

That would also explain Mozilla behavior for the last few years... But motivations from big corporations are rarely as singular and neatly defined as I just made it sound, so while that might factor into their actions, it probably cannot be considered to be THE reason for action.

If I'm trying to get away from Google, why should I switch to a Chromium derivative that also depends on the Chrome Web Store for add-on distribution?

I do. AMA.

Don't you care about an open internet?

Not the person you asked but I, too, still use Chrome[1] for personal stuff on desktop. Why do I get a black-and-white vibe in this question? Like, either I support an open internet (by not using Chrome) or I am a horrible person for being a BIGCORP shill and I'm no true hacker, shame, shame!

Can't I be simply tired of switching browsers, making even minor adjustments to my workflow, every damn time my current browser manufacturer does something the internet adjudges to be morally corrupt?

I don't disagree with the collective in this case either. For me it's just easier to reconfigure Chrome to not do auto login on every fresh install. Maybe the day Google removes this option is the day I finally switch to Firefox for good. Or maybe I'd wait for a fork/plugin that restores the ability to opt out.

[1] For work purposes I use Firefox but it's not for any hacktivist idealism. It just fits my workflow. In Android I use Firefox full time too because I got fed up of AMP but it's still all about the experience.

well in case of developer tools chrome beats firefox. that's the only reason me and some of my friends are still using chrome for development.

Shout out to Vivaldi browser. Great for customizability and features like vertical tabs and stuff. A browser designed for power users.

Vivaldi is webkit/blink based though.

> I can't imagine why anyone here on HN still would use Chrome.

I do. It's the only option for watching Netflix/Amazon Prime/Disney+ on Linux AND casting to a Chromecast.

No one's saying you can't have Chrome installed.

It's really no big deal to open it when you want to watch any of those. I've never heard anyone complaining about switching from your phone's browser to the Netflix app on your phone, so I don't see why opening another browser on your computer is a big deal.

So what's the use case for having Firefox installed at all if Chrome is installed? What can Firefox do that Chrome can't?

Container tabs. Good text rendering. Support for some niche css features, the WebExtension implementation can support more advanced extensions (sidebar, runtime theme modification, dns, etc). shift+right click to bypass websites that block context menus. if a website uses the background-image css property, the firefox context menu will have the correct image options and chrome won't. i can hold ctrl and properly select HTML tables to paste into spreadsheets.

Does anyone here only have a single browser installed on their computer? I always install Chrome, but do less than 0.1% of my browsing in it. What's the reason you couldn't have both? Storage?

What you gain from using something other than Chrome is privacy, and using something other than Chromium makes it harder for Google to gain more control of the internet.

That being said, I find both Firefox and Safari to be better experiences than Chrome.

Firefox can provide a browsing experience that isn't designed by Google.

Security. Whenever I push myself to go use Firefox I very rapidly run into obvious bugs and things like page display corruption that has the terrible bad code smell of shoddy insecure software.

I would really, really like to switch, but not for now.

Can you give an example? I've been using both Safari (personal laptop) and Firefox (work laptop) for years, and I've never noticed anything like that.

That's unfortunate, you should try updating your GPU drivers (if you're on linux there's some different things you need to change). Firefox uses the GPU for more stuff so bad drivers really heck it up.

This is on the iPhone.

That's extra strange. Because Firefox on iOS is just a thin wrapper over a WebKit Webview. It should basically be as stable as safari then.

That's even worse. Because the issue on iphone is regular encounters with pages being corrupted (as in, split in the middle).

Seconded. Firefox is better than ever. Can't believe there isn't a Chromium derivative with multi-select, table selection, and shift+right click. Containers are also incredibly useful.

OMG I just learned about multi-selection of tabs. This is great. :D

use cases?

It has at least one drawback. In the past there was an option to reload all tabs ( because every couple weeks Firefox starts begging to be restarted and after restart all tabs are blank ). Now you have to select all, reload, and not forget to de-select. If you forget and hit Ctrl+W you close all tabs.

well yeah, multiple tab management is my use case, what else? :P

Your pain points are real, but incidentally not relevant to me. Since I've been using FF nightly fulltime for a while I restart the browser (with session restore of course) quite regularly, mostly every day.

And I have the option enabled to confirm when closing multiple tab. Mostly because I sometimes hit Ctrl-Q by accident. Because conveniently, the "nuke everything" shortcut is situated right between the two most used shortcuts: Ctrl-W and Ctrl-Tab... :|

So yeah, I happen to not be affected by this particular problem :P

I just want tree tabs.

Vertical tabs is so much more space efficient than horizontal.

If you want a chromium skin with vertical tabs, both Edge and Vivaldi offer them built into the browser.

Vertical tabs are not tree style tabs, the latter is far more flexible.

Definitely, but GGP did mention vertical specifically :)

As does Firefox with the tree-style tabs extension.

Unfortunalty it requires manual css entry to hide the horizontal tabs.

I don't use containers because they require a mozilla account

They don't? I've gone as far as disabling all account functionality with about:config and am using containers right now.

Ok maybe it changed or maybe I misunderstood something. I wanted to try this a year or so ago and that was the impression I got.

I've been using containers for years- since at least 2019 - and I've never had a Mozilla account.

This would have been around the time containers were first announced. But again maybe I misunderstood something.

Pretty sure they don’t. I use them all the time, no account.

I wouldn’t say it’s pain at all. Containers are a killer feature and I can’t imagine going back to a browser that doesn’t let me have isolated browser tabs in the same window.

Yes!! I install uBlock Origin on every computer and browser I come across. People love it.

The bulk of financial support Mozilla gets comes from Google, they stopped being a real competitor in the browser scene years ago. You don't really have a choice when it comes to modern web browsers, maybe Safari is the "safest" / most privacy-aware choice you can make assuming you already bought into the Apple ecosystem. What else is there, the crypto-mining scam that is Brave or the ProGaming WebBrowser / Chinese backdoor aka Opera?

But really, you're better off using something avangard that some nerd came up with during the weekend. At least these hobbiests' browsers can be trusted to be not be evil & greedy.

When did Firefox stop being competitive? They're keeping up with standards better than Apple (ElementInternals just shipped in v93) and it's fast. None of my 'normal' friends have complained about Firefox since switching to it.

Mozilla's relationship with Google also isn't set in stone. Yahoo was the main sponsor for a while.

I'm using firefox too, and yea it works great - but that doesn't mean its the "anti-chrome" / anti-google browser. The executives running Mozilla live in the shadow of Google's interests, and long ago have forgotten that their job is to make a damn good browser. Now they're too encumbered by the politics of the game, politics (and game) which Google are in full control of.

I haven't seen any real evidence that Mozilla has made any decisions designed to explicitly benefit Google. They've been pretty antagonistic actually. The foundation is investigating YouTube and the Mozilla employees I've spoken to seem to hate Google.

For better or for worse, I would still say it's the anti-chrome. Find me another crossplatform browser with a stack that's still as independent as Mozilla's. They have the engine, the add-on store, and everything in between.

I would be using Opera right now but they threw in the towel years ago. Now the brand is being milked by a private equity firm.

> I haven't seen any real evidence that Mozilla has made any decisions designed to explicitly benefit Google.

Mozilla literally makes Google the default search engine.

Well, yeah. I was talking about besides the actual terms of their agreement.

and how hard is it to change that? as hard as it is in edge?

Firefox has pretty rich search settings, better than any other browser IMO. It's very easy to use different search engines for different things and changing the default is one click in about:preferences. As easy as it gets I think

That’s an arms length business arrangement though, rather than some undue influence

Its hard to be truly arms length with the person who gives you the majority of your money.

Well, at this point we've degraded into vague speculation, which isn't up to the standard that should be necessary to guide people's decisions.

If new scary stuff starts showing up in Firefox of source code where the auto sign you into google, or strangely start turning away from web standards and towards Google supported proprietary initiatives, or something like that, that would put some meat into the nothing burger.

If its hard, then they they must be commended for doing so.

If the market share wasn’t 3 percent, it would be less so.

The marketshare on desktop is more like 8%, up to 60% depending on the country.


Say Mozilla’s market share was 25, it wasn’t necessary to be beholden to Google.

Of course, but that's not the reality. The reality is that Google have positioned Firefox as a "viable competition" while having them mostly under control. Can you trust Mozilla as an organization, when you know that it receives over 80% of its funding from Google?

is there any evidence, that Mozilla's decisions are explicitly made to favor Google? imo it's pretty alright for them to take some cash from Google and make it their default search, and give you the option to change that.

What’s annoying with Firefox is how much it advertises.

Seriously, every time you start it, it opens one or even two tabs saying why Firefox loves you and protects you. It introduces nagging on the new tab page to tell you how much Firefox loves and protects you. It installs Pocket or has shortcuts to help you buy products that love and protect you.

Firefox also insists that you should create a Mozilla account and upload all your passwords over. Because they are so kind and protecting about your privacy.

Mozilla also fires people who donate to Christian charities for the beliefs they have (and yes, abortion is a belief, whichever side you are). Even if you are the founder of JS. Hear that: Mozilla fires people who are technically good, for political motivations. It’s as dystopian as it gets. They never apologized.

Mozilla is as dystopian as Google, and the worst evil usually sits with people who believe they are the good guys. In fact, they are sponsored by Google and share the same political slant.

I was curious if this is true, so I created a new profile. The first two tabs were the normal onboarding and the privacy policy. When I opened a new tab I did get the silly news feed so I clicked the gear icon in the top right and turned it off.

I haven't seen any nagging to create an account yet after mucking around with the UI.

And honest question, what's your idea for monetizing Firefox? They're pushing subscription based products to reduce the reliance on Google money and adding different avenues for sponsorships that aren't from Google. Sounds like a plan to me.

Also Brendan Eich had strong support within Mozilla. If I had to guess, he resigned because of external pressure. (remember OkCupid putting a banner on their service protesting Eich, that was wacky)

>And honest question, what's your idea for monetizing Firefox?

How about taxes? Browsers are modern infrastructure, same as roads and street lights.

I completely agree with you. Seems unlikely though :(

> Seriously, every time you start it, it opens one or even two tabs saying why Firefox loves you and protects you.

I believe the page you're talking about appears upon installation or update to a new version.

There's also: Preferences -> New Windows -> Select "blank page"

You can also install one of the de-branded Firefox remixes like Waterfox or Librewolf if you really want to be completely Mozilla-free.

> Mozilla also fires people who donate to Christian charities for the beliefs they have

Everything about this statement is factually wrong.


> Brendan was not fired and was not asked by the Board to resign. Brendan voluntarily submitted his resignation. The Board acted in response by inviting him to remain at Mozilla in another C-level position. Brendan declined that offer.

The FAQ elaborates at length about the situation and emphasizes why he stepped down.

Furthermore, the political contributions that triggered "boycotts, protests, and intense public scrutiny" were not to "christian charities" but donations to vehemently bigoted politicians across several decades, culminating with a donation to the California Proposition 8 PAC, a campaign to strip LGBTQ people living in California of the basic human right to marriage.

Since numerous HNers asserted that "there is no human right to marriage" last time this subject came up: read Article 16 of the UN human rights charter.

>Mozilla is as dystopian as Google,

They are most definitely not. Its not even close. Google creates and maintains a world-wide spying apparatus, easy pickings for three letter agencies.

> Mozilla also fires people who donate to Christian charities for the beliefs they have (and yes, abortion is a belief, whichever side you are).

You can believe whatever you want about abortion. What you cannot do is force other people to change their behaviour to accommodate your beliefs.

"What you cannot do is force other people to change their behaviour to accommodate your beliefs"

Now that is a tangent, because that is not what is being suggested.

> Now that is a tangent, because that is not what is being suggested.

That's exactly what was suggested. The Mozilla CEO that resigned donated money to a 'charity' (can an organisation that promotes evil be a charity?) that tried to get gay marriage banned in California. That goes a lot further than just believing something, that's trying to force your beliefs on others.

If you're against gay marriage, that's fine, don't marry someone of the same sex. But don't deny others that just because it doesn't fit your worldview.

This is my favorite quote:

> First, Google started to leverage its ownership of the largest web browser, Chrome, to track and target publishers’ audiences in order to sell Google’s advertising inventory. To make this happen, Google first introduced the ability for users to log into the Chrome browser. Then, Google began to steer users into doing this by using deceptive and coercive tactics. For example, Google started to automatically log users into Chrome if they logged into any Google service (e.g., Gmail or YouTube). In this way, Google took the users that choose not to log into Chrome and logged them in anyways. If a user tried to log out of Chrome in response, Google punished them by kicking them out of a Google product they were in the process of using (e.g., Gmail or YouTube). On top this, through another deceptive pattern, Google got these users to give the Chrome browser permission to track them across the open web and on independent publisher sites like The Dallas Morning News. These users also had to give Google permission to use this new Chrome tracking data to sell Google’s own ad space, permitting Google to use Chrome to circumvent reliance on cookie-tracking technology.

That's disgusting. What a reprehensible company.

Yeah it was super annoying I had separate accounts for gmail/android and youtube. It is always a hassle to make sure im logged in with the correct account.

So it seems to me the most pressing issue is still creating a viable alternative to Google Search. I've tried to use Duck Duck Go and even Bing in the past but I've just not found the quality of the results to be nearly the same.

However - recently I've found G Search is getting steadily worse. They've made UX changes that make it harder to view cached pages, and it seems to ignore search operators frequently.

This is the biggest foothold to their dominance. YouTube, Gmail, Maps and everything else is in a supporting role to this core product.

Who is actively working on this and what is proving so challenging? What is stopping us from creating a viable Google clone, with the same level of high quality results?

Have you used bangs with DDG?


This is the killer feature for me because if I know I want to search wikipedia, reddit, amazon, pydocs I can directly.

If my search results are kind of bad, I just append !g and off to google I go.

It's not great, but it's done a lot for moving me away from google as a default.

I've been using DuckDuckGo for a long time now and I find Google to generally be worse than DDG.

A lot of crap in the results (SEO doing his bit I guess), more pages taken down in the results and terrible UI.

The code preview cards are great for copy pasting from stack overflow without even opening the thread. Bangs let you search something in another engine if you can't find what you're looking for.

The only times when I need to use Google are: - checking opening times of businesses - checking maps, as Google maps is the only decent thing out there - I never use Google images but DDG images safe filter doesn't catch everything (you get nsfw in images - maybe this has been fixed, but I experienced it as an issue in the years)

> I've tried to use Duck Duck Go and even Bing in the past but I've just not found the quality of the results to be nearly the same.

I’m not surprised you found no difference in Duck Duck Go or Bing. Duck Duck Go is just a whitelabel version of Bing.

Pretty much every search engine that isn’t Google uses the bing api.

It’s only the illusion of choice.

Duck Duck Go has their own index on top of Bing. If I understand correctly, Bing is used as a stop gap until they have a full infrastructure in place.

1. Ongoing investment -- for all that HN harps on Google being an "ads company", they still employ XX's of engineers to work on search continually. For every thousand engineers, you're looking at nearly a billion dollars of continual spend to continue employing them.

2. SEO -- for every engineer working to make Google better, there are probably ten engineers outside working to make the web worse. Sorting wheat from chaff is actually easy -- you just drop it and let the chaff blow away -- so I'm not actually sure what the appropriate analogy is here, but it gets harder and harder is the point.

I’m not sure if it’s a difference in how I structure queries (I often structure queries with “”, site: limiters etc), what type of things I’m searching for (often technical/troubleshooting documents but also videos), or what. But I have found the opposite. In fact I have use DDG almost exclusively for at least about 5 years now, if not longer. Rarely do I need to !g a search against google (though it does happen)

You get used to Duck over time. Many of us have lived in pre-internet times. It was fine. You don’t have to always get the best search results immediately.

You're asking a lot of an average user, though, if there are two options on the table and one is always going to be worse. We don't tell people with AM/FM radios "Just stay on the AM stations; you get used to the AC wire hum over time."

And to tip the scales on the Google hegemony, we need average users on board.

Yea I really wonder why they don't have competition. You'd think a search engine built with java in the mid 90s would be easy to replicate at least to it's 2005 era standard using modern tech.

The unique value Google has is the mass of users who provide them with data, by clicking (or not clicking) their search results. It's the same way with most of the big websites - they wouldn't get to where they are if they started out today. But having all this pre-existing traffic is a huge part of why they're more useful than their competitors.

A lot of super technical stuff I'm googling at work all day I feel like is fairly static content that I think old school google excelled at. Modern Google is great for finding a local restaurant but not so much at figuring out the nuance in some searches.

We've been working on one such alternative - Kagi Search [1]. Kagi Search is currently in beta and we are also creating our own Maps app and a browser. In the future we will have email too so hope to offer an alternative way to experience the web.

[1] - https://kagi.com/faq

The largest challenge will be network effect.

Google's special sauce isn't particularly special: they have a couple solid signals by which they can tell that a given user didn't like the search result they vended, and they tune appropriately. Couple that with a little bit of user categorization ("our data shows there's significant difference between what users geolocating from the US and from Britain want when they search for 'biscuits'") and a history of collecting and refining that data, and you get a good search engine the same way Amazon gets a good product marketplace: sifting huge amounts of user traffic.

Google takes advantage of the network effect of being the hugest player, which is a positive feedback loop. A smaller player has less users to tune signal on and will adapt more slowly over time to user needs, on average.

I use DDG for nearly everything and their results are usually good enough, if you are willing to jiggle things a little.

But their biggest foothold is Youtube. There is no other video host that matters, and their back catalog covers everything.

> Who is actively working on this and what is proving so challenging? What is stopping us from creating a viable Google clone, with the same level of high quality results?

Search is hard. Organising the amounts of data that Google does is hard. Just look at Bing. Even with MS' resources it's terrible.

As for maps, look at Apple maps. Again, nowhere close to Google. There's also OpenStreetMap, Waze and probably others, none are quite on the level of Google. Definitely none can give you the experience of search -> navigation so quickly. Searching for and then navigating to a location on Google is just so much easier than the alternatives.

As for mail, at least there's tons of viable options there. Protonmail, Outlook, my personal fave is Hey.com (I hate email so their minimalist/focused functionality appeals to me).

Google got to their position by being very, very good at what they do. It's just a hard problem. Most other tech companies have tried and fallen short.

I guess the new kid on the block is Brave Search

And qwant.com. DDG, Brave and Qwant often give different results, although they don't differ by a mile, and that works for me.

Anything's better than Google, even if it's worse.

I recently switched to neeva for search and it's great. No ads. The search results seem much more relevant.

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