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.
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.
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).
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 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.
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.
 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.
Here's an article about the ads in 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.
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.
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?
This slowly faded as more people and companies got connected, but until then it was definitely a thing.
What does this mean?
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
People don't like tapestry being changed by Mozilla when the house is already on fire...
Firefox is full of these types of changes.
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.
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.
Have you tried SeaMonkey? It may be what you seek: https://www.seamonkey-project.org/
Maybe go complain at people who have already left.
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.
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.
They’re also sound like quite achievable goals for a fork.
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.
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.
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?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is frustrating to do, when the desktop site didn't allow me to add a mobile-only extension 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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"
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.
Firefox Sync is end-to-end encrypted? My understanding is that Mozilla cannot actually read user sync data.
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...
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.
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.
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
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.
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, Chromium will not allow you to completely block autoplaying videos, it takes years to for the clones add an option to block.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I don't think Firefox will have many good options for generating revenue, given that they have lost 46 million users since 2018  (while paying something like $2M to the chair ). And the only effort they made in that direction was is to become a VPN reseller .
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.
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?
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 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...
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
The organization that overpays managerial people, fired technical talent, and funnels donations into political causes instead of browser development is not much better either.
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.
But say what you want about their privacy practices, Google is as strong as it can get on security front.
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.
I normally use Firefox but have to pull up Chromium just for that one feature.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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.