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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!

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