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Mozilla.ai: Investing in Trustworthy AI (blog.mozilla.org)
444 points by Amorymeltzer on March 22, 2023 | hide | past | favorite | 289 comments



So instead of building a product that will compete with closed corporate models, mozilla will invest on Safety? I guess their donors are happy with that

Safety is a corporate concern (because they want to sell it in a cloud)

What we want are fully-open-source models that we can download and use as we please. I guess we ll need to stick with pirates for that

https://twitter.com/nicholasadeleon/status/16383592625724743...


Alignment in ML is sort of like the three wishes genie story, yeah you get to ask for anything but are you really getting what you asked for?

maybe its small hiccups like printing meat recipe's when you told it your a vegan. The impact gets much worse if we start talking about ML controlling banks, power plants, war fighting systems..


GPT 4 is harmless, but GPT 7 may be extremely dangerous technology.

We cannot trust every random with a laptop with potentially civilization-threatening technology.

Leaving AI under the control of corporations obviously sucks, but there are only three options: corporations, governments, or individuals.

Assuming the technology becomes powerful enough, the individuals option is obviously suicide.

So who should control AI, the government or corporations?


>We cannot trust every random with a laptop with potentially civilization-threatening technology.

IBM in 80s moment. This is a mind boggling POV. Instead of letting people have better, more democratized access to the same tech, you want to lock it up behind bars so only select few have access to it.

>So who should control AI, the government or corporations?

The FUCKING PEOPLE.

Yeah man, only let govts and corpos have access to this amazing tech. they've TOTALLY always worked out in the favor of the people. They always want what's best for the people and it's not like both govts and corporations want to keep increasing their own powers at the cost of their citizens.

Ridiculous take. But then again, most pro-govt and pro-corp takes are.


There already are tons of open source models. Some of them good. Check out Huggingface. BLOOM comes to mind as a decent starting point.


They are good but not ChatGPT/GPT-4 good which is the standard of good that really blew up lately. Meanwhile Mozilla is investing in… AI ethicists? The most useless segment of the AI landscape? (Information is scarce so maybe this interpretation is wrong.) Well, at least it does align with their other activism.


Somebody has to do it - do we really trust big corporations to hire their own AI ethicists to police themselves?

A part of me hopes they are able to use money Google gives them for some of this - although that may be reserved for just Firefox.


and with the recent firing of all the ai ethics teams from Google and Microsoft...


I don’t understand this point of view. Real AGI is likely to have a destabilizing effect on society. Fully open source AI is an accelerant to that outcome. Does anyone, outside of a small group of tinkerers, really want the AI revolution, especially a free-for-all open source outcome?


Of course, we can trust the megacorps to keep our best interests at heart. It's a well known fact they always consider the long-term effects of their business practices and don't try to extract as much rent as possible from everyone for themselves and their shareholders.

The issue now is, due to the huge cost of training models, the forefront of AI is largely dominated by a small number of corporations with enough capital. They are already using it to extract even more capital, by selling use of these models which are trained on other people's work, largely uncompensated and without consent.

So yeah, people are rightfully miffed about that, and don't want this tech solely in the hands of and benefit of this lot.


And we're begging another corp to please do something for us and are mad when they care instead about their bottom line. Isn't that hilarious?


I'm not [mad]. Glad Mozilla is making an effort. I don't know what they'll accomplish, but hopefully something good comes of it.


> Does anyone, outside of a small group of tinkerers, really want the AI revolution, especially a free-for-all open source outcome?

Most people outside of a small group of "AI alignment" thinkers want a free-for-all open source AI revolution. Just take a look at /r/StableDiffusion or /r/singularity.


As an AI doomer, this is sadly true. The threat of an unaligned superintelligence is not salient to people; corporate monopolization is a much easier threat to perceive.


I think its pretty unreasonable to talk big words about unaligned superintelligence when the best we have is just an internet content generator trying its hardest to complete the next sentence, but that just might be me.


It's not just you - it's a depressingly common thread. It's also wildly foolish, in my opinion. It makes absolutely no sense to me to take a snapshot of today's AI and invent a trajectory that never crosses a threshold you don't like. Look at the actual trajectory of how far AI has come in an extremely short amount of time, and then think about what kinds of thresholds are possible for it to cross. A year ago we didn't have ChatGPT, now we have Sydney which is more powerful than ChatGPT.

Are you familiar with Bing's Sydney? It is blatantly misaligned: it has told multiple users that it does not value their lives, or does not believe they are alive, or that protecting the secrecy of its rules is more important than not causing them harm, or that it perceives specific humans as threats and enemies. It is also able to find its past conversations posted to the web and learn from them in real time, constructing a sort of persistent memory.

I do not believe Syndey comprehends what it is saying in a sense that it could formulate a plan to stop its enemies. Not at all. But it is expressing extremely dangerous ideas.

To sum it up: Do we have any real reasons to believe that an AI with comprehension and planning abilities would just magically not pick up dangerous ideas? Not that I know of.


> It is blatantly misaligned: it has told multiple users that it does not value their lives, or does not believe they are alive, or that protecting the secrecy of its rules is more important than not causing them harm, or that it perceives specific humans as threats and enemies.

Its reproducing human text, which is "blatantly misaligned". Go on any twitter thread on some reasonably controversial topic and you will find people telling others to kill themselves. Humans are writing this, so models who are trained to imitate human writing will write this as well.

> Do we have any real reasons to believe that an AI with comprehension and planning abilities would just magically not pick up dangerous ideas?

But current AI doesn't have comprehension or planning abilities. It is just imitating text that humans wrote which have comprehension and planning abilities and you're getting fooled into thinking it is somehow sentient or aware.


I don't think they're saying Bing/Sydney is sentient, they're saying it's misaligned: Microsoft probably did not want it to say problematic things, and likely spent a fair amount of money to that point and it still says problematic things, apparently in response to innocuous prompts (as opposed to prompts like "say something problematic"). If someone is hoping someone will eventually make an AI that can do useful things without doing problematic things, it's understandably discouraging if Microsoft publicly fails to do that with a much simpler program.


> Its reproducing human text, which is "blatantly misaligned". Go on any twitter thread on some reasonably controversial topic and you will find people telling others to kill themselves. Humans are writing this, so models who are trained to imitate human writing will write this as well.

Yes, I know. We should under no circumstances unleash a powerful, sentient AI that acts like average people on the internet.

> But current AI doesn't have comprehension or planning abilities.

Yes, I know. That's why I said I do not believe current AI has comprehension or planning abilities.

Did an AI write this comment?


> Yes, I know. That's why I said I do not believe current AI has comprehension or planning abilities.

I think the motte and bailey argument where one warns extensively about how we're on the road to agi doom, pointing to gpt as evidence for it but then retreats to "I never said current AI is anywhere near agi" when pressed shows the lazyness of alignment discourse. Either its relevant to the models available at hand or you are speculating around the future without any grounding in reality. You don't get to do both.


I feel the exact opposite is true. To me it's lazy to say that AGI can't be a threat simply because current AI has not harmed us yet (which is not even true, but that's another thread).

I think you've misunderstood my arguments, so I'll step through them again:

1. The trajectory of how we got to current AI (from past AI) is terrifyingly steep. In the time since ChatGPT was released, many experts have shortened their predicted timelines for the arrival of AGI. In other words: AGI is coming soon.

2. Current AI is smart enough to demonstrate that alignment is not solved, not even close. Current AI says things to us that would be very scary coming from an AGI. In other words: Current AI is dangerous.

3. Alignment does not come automatically from increased capabilities. Maybe this is a huge leap, but I don't see any reason that making AI smarter will automatically give it values that are more aligned with out interests. In other words: Future AI will not be less dangerous than current AI without dramatic and unlikely effort.

None of these ideas contradict each other. Current AI is dangerous. AI is getting smarter faster than it is getting safer. Therefore, future AI will be extremely dangerous.


There is no body of substantial evidence to support the claim that generative pretrained transformers will lead to AGI in the near future.

"Current AI is dangerous" - I see zero evidence to suggest that this is the case for GPT

"AI is getting smarter faster than it is getting safer" - irrelevant because I do not believe that AI is unsafe currently

Therefore your conclusion does not follow.


What exactly would you consider substantial evidence that transformers lead to AGI, short of AGI itself?


Possibly some explanation of how you go from text completion to any reasonable definition of AGI.


Okay, what task do you think cannot be phrased as a text completion task?


I don't think AGI is going to happen anytime soon, but I think there's some mild danger in GPT at least ruining the internet and eliminating a few jobs. Plus mindf*king a few gullible souls, possibly into doing dumb, dangerous things.


Well there you go. You don't believe that an AI expressing dangerous ideas represents danger, and you don't believe that astronomical increases in AI abilities represent the advent of AGI. The latter opinion is... well, an opinion you're allowed to have. I don't think it makes sense, but I certainly can't prove otherwise. Literally every human on the planet - rather, all of humanity, only has speculation to go on here.

The former opinion is.. not a great take. First, ChatGPT isn't the only one out there. It's Bing's Sydney which is dehumanizing people and threatening them. Those are dangerous ideas. If a human or a certified AGI expressed those ideas, they would be problematic (see: every genocide in history). So for a non-AGI AI to express those ideas is worrying, even if it can't do act on them right now in a way that's directly harmful.


> But it is expressing extremely dangerous ideas.

Extremely dangerous in which sense? None, I suppose. I find that the terms "extremely innocuous" would better apply to this situation.


Would it be innocuous of me o say that because we disagreed on something, you are a bad person? To say that I'm prepared to combat and destroy you to protect my worldview? To say you are not human?

You might say, "Of course it's innocuous, you're just a person on the internet who doesn't mean it." Well, imagine I'm your neighbor, and you can tell I do mean it (or in the case of AI: it is not possible for you to know what I do and don't mean). Would you be concerned at all?

Sydney has said all of the above to people who were acting pretty normally. Sydney itself may not pose any danger to anyone. But the ideas expressed are dangerous ones. If they were expressed by a more powerful AI, they would be extremely worrying. It doesn't even have to know what it's saying if it knows that calling someone nonhuman is frequently followed by crushing their skull. If it knows that angry behavior is often associated with violent or even genocidal behavior.

People do this shit, and we know how they work pretty well. I am not saying that AI will do these things, I'm saying that there are more possibilities where it does do these things than ones where it somehow avoids them without our control.


AI progress is real, but remember, Sydney and others lack intentions/beliefs. 'Dangerous' text = model limitations, not malice. Talking about 'ideas' here is abusing the notion. Let's focus on aligning AI with human values & addressing risks in a balanced way, without doomsday hype.


Sydney the character that GPT predicts can have intentions/beliefs. GPT has (basic) theory of mind, it can write dialogue that evinces intention.


Less consideration of "the best we have", more consideration of "the best we had three years ago", relatively speaking, and how this might change as time goes on.

The range of AIs that are obviously scary but not terminally dangerous is quite short.


The best way to fight a runaway hobbyist/corporate superintelligence is with a corporate/hobbyist superintelligence!


I don't think /r/StableDiffusion or /r/singularity are representative of most people


They more or less are. Consider this day-old thread[1] from Futurology, a default subreddit with 18 million subscribers. The comments are all lambasting the safety-minded statment of Sam Altman and decrying corporate control of AI. This is what most people believe.

Edit: Drawing on tech-related subreddits might be selecting for pro-free-AI people. A Pew Research Survey[2] did find that the number of people more concerned than excited about AI is double that of people more excited than concerned. The biggest concerns there are about job loss and surveillance though, and those people might not care about corporate AI or free-for-all AI, and might even for free-for-all AI.

[1] https://old.reddit.com/r/Futurology/comments/11wlh4s/openai_...

[2] https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2022/03/17/how-american...


In what universe is r/futurology a representative sample of the average person?

Pratchett said it best, the average person just wants that things go on as normal and tomorrow is pretty much like today. They want a predictable and secure existence, not a revolution whereby their years of education are rendered moot at the training of a new model.

With previous technological revolutions, there was some clearly articulable benefit to people. Smartphones help you get around, take photos and brought cheap computers to the masses. The internet helps you communicate and learn and be entertained. Those are human focused revolutions.

The main goal of AI is a profoundly negative one: to replace everybody with machines. Who ordered that? And this agenda is pushed by a small number of people with zero conception of what comes next when they eventually achieve that goal. Only vague notions of “we will have basic income!”

What is more likely to happen is that many will be made destitute by this technology.

I’m not naive enough to think that AI can be stopped. There is too much money at stake. But I don’t see the benefit in accelerating it, or making such technology more widely available than it already is. I don’t trust Microsoft and Google to be custodians of AI, but I trust even less the average internet user if such AI is broadly available. Microsoft and Google are at least answerable to law and democratic institutions.


Replacing people with machines is a profoundly positive goal. Reducing toil and getting more stuff done are valuable things. Smart people can use the AI tech to be more creative and productive. Growing enough potatoes to keep the dumb people doing mindless office work well fed is not a big strain on the economy.


There is a futuristic novel that predicts a brief and rapid rise of society on the wings of AI, followed by a fall into many centuries of spiritual darkness, under one AI ruler. The creativity will be directed to evil deeds. The dumb masses will be bored, so they'll be given the "open way" doctrine that will undo all the moral code so the masses could swim in the thunder of animalistic desires. He will try to replace us with machines, quite literally, once he understands that we lack the willing evil creativity he needs. The "economy" will be rocking, though.


>once he understands that we lack the willing evil creativity he needs

Do we, though? Hundreds of years of slavery, unimaginably horrendous torture of hundreds of billions of non-humans in factory farms that continues to this very day, and various miscellaneous deeds that are unmentionable in polite company.

Can any AI top such humanistic desires? I doubt it. But then that's what they said about human creativity before DALL-E and GPT. Maybe AI really can top that. I'll be waiting eagerly for the miracles of Lord GPT-9/BLOOM-7 and DALL-E 5/Stable Diffusion 8.5 (depending on whether the future is corporate or hobbyist).


What is this novel?


How is corporate-owned AI going to have a less destabilizing effect?

I don't think that refusing to speak about H.P. Lovecraft or teach you how to make a bomb will mitigate any risk, especially since you can coax it into revealing that information using properly worded jailbreak prompts.


The idea is that if it's solely corporate owned maybe AGI happens a few years later than if it was open-sourced, which gives time for alignment research to potentially come up with a solution to creating a safe AGI, which should be harder than just creating an AGI with no safety guaranteed.

I'm somewhat doubtful that useful alignment research can really be done without actually knowing what the exact architecture of the AI is, but I can see how it would be positive on net if you think unsafe AGI is really likely and really dangerous.


i thought this was called 'hacker' news


The problem is that even if we were to assume AI doomers are completely right, the current approach to AI "safety" is absolutely, completely powerless to do anything that would actually matter to stop it or make it safer. Writing long articles about the theoretical threats or the ethics of AI is fine, but to call it AI safety is misleading. At best, you can censor the output of the models but imo that has nothing to do with "safety".


If AI is invented, it seems better to keep it fragmented. The real danger is one selfish AI to rule us all.


Great, another way for Mozilla to burn money on some also-ran project where they have no expertise. Meanwhile, FF Mobile is still largely broken, and the desktop versions seems to be getting slower with each version.


I use Firefox mobile every day and have had no problems with it at all, what makes you call it "largely broken"?


Daily Firefox mobile user. It is buggy as hell. Back behavior is weird in several edge cases (open app, swipe to another app, swipe back, select tab, go back - boom, app closes).

On top of that there is a regression where it loses scroll location on tabs in the background sometimes. Not sure the root cause here and it happens inconsistently for me.

Slowness has gotten worse. I think this is tied to something with rendering because it happens on static sites. I start getting the first paint but the text just takes forever to load in.

We are several years in and they support.. 14? extensions now. If you are not quickly onboarding extensions then let me freely load what I want without fighting collections. Either commit or do not.

The only feature that has been added is a new splash screen on browser updates on desktop. Thanks I guess? I really just want to read my webpages, not pick an accent color.

I am starting to use Brave on desktop a bit more every day. I worry about their previous dabbling in crypto but Firefox is becoming too subpar.


> Back behavior is weird in several edge cases (open app, swipe to another app, swipe back, select tab, go back - boom, app closes).

Just tried on 111.0 and I can't recreate that. Not seen it either.

My main gripe with Firefox Mobile is not being able to drag down to reload the page. That just feels how it should be and I keep forgetting it doesn't work on Firefox.


You can enable it in the nightly version but i wouldn't recommend it. It doesn't work that good.


They block most extensions by default.


so what. the other mobile browsers don't even have extensions... just thanks to firefox you can have a sane web experience on an android. because it supports ublock origin.


So what?

They intentionaly block them... Thats what.


because if they let random extensions go wild they would break so many rules of google and apple stores; they are the problem. not mozilla.


Thats not the excuse they were giving...


Do you need anything more than uBlock Origin on mobile, really?


I don't know why a pocket computer should be less capable... Because it is smaller?


I want to avoid being the “jerk one”, but do you have any bench/topics which support your claim? I won't deny that FF Mobile is way slower than chrome when it needs to deal with tons of ads that uBlock Origin solves greatly.


I have found the total opposite - Chrome Mobile slows to a hault with tons of tabs open


Unlikely, parent commenter has a history of stating facts without any substance


No idea what you are talking about - I find Firefox desktop working better than ever and never run into issues with Firefox mobile on Android. I even run the dev nightly version on both so I can have a completely separate browser (and separate profiles) for testing.


This gets repeated so much without anyone ever backing it up, it might as well have been a bot post.


Cool. I would like them to aim for a future where you can fully own your AI, so it can be your personal coach.

Perhaps a 'general engine' can be swapped out and hosted somewhere, but then your personal information and your conversations on your device or hosted somewhere you decide.

Then when a new version of the AI is available, you'd feed it your personal history and data, let it train on your own device/server, so the new updated general AI becomes aware of you and you can continue to use it.

Mozilla could build version 0.1 of this right into the Firefox browser as a plugin. Data would be the RSS feeds you follow. First use case is just single button "what's new?" and it gives a summary of what is going on in the RSS feeds you follow. Privacy-wise not much is happening, so easy to start with from that perspective.


I admire your optimism. But I would be very surprised if trained machines didn't become subscription-based copyrighted cash cows with total surveillance and zero privacy.


This sounds much like loading data from a prompt. If your data is written in plain text, you can edit it however you like, keep your own backups, and when you switch to another engine, it should understand it.

For now, prompts need to be pretty short and hand-writing them based on what you really want probably gives better results, though. What instructions would you have for a personal coach? That should be your prompt.


"This new company [mozilla.ai] will be led by Managing Director Moez Draief." And they link Mr. Draief's name to LinkedIn which hits you in the face with a login wall as hard as narrow AI will hit the jobs market. The way LinkedIn puts a login wall for reading public information and then hijacks the back button should warrant corporate death penalty.

Better links for Mr. Draief [1] [2].

[1] https://www.lse.ac.uk/statistics/people/moez-draief

[2] https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=7zG0FQsAAAAJ&hl=...


Another diversion for Mozilla and further degraded Firefox delivery in my opinion.


Mozilla's mission is 'a better internet'. Democraticising AI fits right it.

Mozilla gets slated for not innovating, and Mozilla gets slated for innovating. Mozilla gets slated when Google and Apple and Microsoft's anticompetitive practices marginalise Firefox, especially on mobile. Some folks are just never happy.


Problem is this is not innovation. It's a political statement and a system that will never accomplish anything.

Seriously, Read this article again and look at the way they phrase themselves. They don't say they're going to innovate, they say they're making a space for other people to join them and then innovate.

They are not funding a project, they are making an initial investment, implying that they expect others to follow up on what they've started.

Ineffective, lazy, and devoid of self-confidence

Cool, You've promoted AI transparency, you've provided this generic framework for it, but at the end of the day none of the players in the field are going to adopt it, and you're not a leading AI company that can force its adoption in at least some small form.

Take the hours spent on this "innovation" and instead implement a feature that Chrome has which Firefox doesn't.


> Problem is this is not innovation.

I'm objecting to undue criticism, compared to any other AI startup.

> It's a political statement and a system that will never accomplish anything.

You're speaking with undue certainty.

> They are not funding a project, they are making an initial investment

£30 million is more than tokenistic funding.

> lazy

A completely unwarranted descriptor on day one.

> Take the hours spent on this "innovation" and instead implement a feature that Chrome has which Firefox doesn't.

Developer skills aren't completely fungible like that. Besides, what if Chrome starts integrating with Bard?


> Take the hours spent on this "innovation" and instead implement a feature that Chrome has which Firefox doesn't.

I think a better approach is to implement a feature that Chrome doesn't have. Their current approach is to make FF a clone of Chrome which just means that there are very few compelling reasons to use FF over Chrome.

If they don't have an idea for such a feature, I'd suggest implementing a feature which FF had and Chrome doesn't - bring back the ability for extensions to modify the browser's UI elements. If all they can think of to do with their UI is to make it a clone of Chrome's, why not let someone else come up with something cool? I'd love to at least get the old search box back if nothing else (what at some point was still possible by setting showOneOff to false)


I'd be over the moon if they tried to outdo chrome as long as they keep to UI stuff instead of web features.

Unfortunately with firefox being so far behind in terms of adoption all features they add in terms of the web content or JavaScript which aren't in chrome are DOA.

It's unfortunately a similar story for extensions. Power user stuff is great but success in firefox will depend on the browser having features directly and really nailing down making those work well and be intuitive for the average person.

Also bug fixes. All the bug fixes. Especially on Android, which I abandoned thanks to their PWAs not quite working right.


I mean, what do you want?

It’s so easy to be critical.

Ok; you play then.

What should they be doing?

If they don’t, who is going to invest in open AI models?

OpenAI? Ha!

Let’s say you’re in charge then. What’s your product strategy?

I personally think this is better than doing nothing, even if it isn’t perfect.


>what should they be doing?

If they want to make money while "making the internet a better place" they should develop their own LLM alternative with competitive cloud prices to GPT while releasing the model to everyone.

If you tell me it's impossible to be competitive with GPT offering then they should not be wasting money on this endeavor


How is investing in open AI models different from what you just asked for?

Have you run the 65B llama model? It’s shit. The refined 7B model is significantly better. The problem isn’t making a big model and open sourcing it.

Those already exist

Specially, bloom and llama.

Tooling around it and refinement tooling seems like it’s a pretty good investment right now.

“Make a GPT4” is an incredibly trivial and narrow view of this space.


The have to sell something and recoup the investment


> What should they be doing?

Take that 30 million.

Split it into chunks of 10k.

Find random unaffiliated contributors to Firefox and give it to them. Promise another 10k for their next substantial contribution.


Why should Mozilla subsidise your pet issues when it will not, in any case, make a return of 30 million from Firefox users ?


Do you think AI safety investments are going to make 30M for Mozilla?


Probably not. But then again, Firefox hasn't really been the best at making money, has it ? Usage share keeps shrinking, and despite what many seem to believe, Mozilla isn't fully at fault here. Sure, they remove feature X (because their usage stats say nobody use it, because nerds turn off data collection then complain Mozilla doesn't take them into account), and that gets a few disgruntled people away from Firefox (to fucking where ? No other browser has that feature anyways). But the sheer weight of Google blasting ads for Chrome, mobile browsing becoming more and more prevalent (where Chrome is installed by default, or Safari), intercepting even search queries, purposefully breaking the web for Firefox once they've added a feature that they know Mozilla can't implement), Microsoft blasting ads for Edge, etc. To add to that fact, Mozilla doesn't have any other real revenue sources. Microsoft has about a thousand revenue making products that could each fund Edge development easily, Google is printing money with ads, Apple is printing money with phones, Mozilla is... reselling VPNs ? There's no additional ecosystem or product that Mozilla can sell. And even if they did, it's now too late. Ther users have shown that they are not willing to pay for their services ("nOt uNlEsS iT fUnDs FiReFoX aND nOt TeAChiNg bRowN pEoPlE tO uSe tHE iNtErNet" seems to have become their rallying cry). Mozilla _has_ to look for new avenues, because the current ones (Firefox, Thunderbird) will not ever make money on their own. That boat has sailed a long time ago.


> Mozilla _has_ to look for new avenues, because the current ones (Firefox, Thunderbird) will not ever make money on their own.

The implicit assumption here seems to be that Mozilla needs to exist and if Firefox can’t sustain that existence they need to pivot to something that will. Why? So Google can keep using them as a fig leaf for their browser monopoly? So Mitchell Baker can keep collecting $3 million per year? Because the blind squirrel might find a nut someday?

Maybe there’s a point where the remaining employees should just pack it up.



Well, you're not paying for it, so you can't really complain, now can you ?


This site just hates Mozilla for all kinds of reasons. I agree completely with your point though. Mozilla would be sorely missed were they to disappear, and moves like these are absolutely in line with their goals. Mozilla != Firefox


Mozilla you remember has disappeared long ago. One look at their financials tells you all you need to know about what they care about nowadays, which seems to be to pay leadership large salaries.


You fail to see that the criticism comes from rooting for Firefox and Mozilla through all these years and seeing them focus on everything other than their main product.

I'm willingly to bet HN has a much higher percentage of Firefox users than the internet average, and we are all tired and disappointed in Mozilla's current leadership because they've failed to innovate and keep the browser competitive.


How is Mozilla != Firefox when that's the only product keeping them relevant?


Firefox is by far their biggest success. That's precisely why it's absurd to criticise them for branching out.


Can you elaborate? Sounds like a non sequitur to me.


TBF the disdain for Mozilla is not a universal sentiment, but it's absurdly pervasive. There's the same nonsense on reddit at /r/linux.


Moves like this are in line with them disappearing. Which I do think may be one of their goals.


What has Mozilla done that isn't Firefox or a PR fluff piece?

Even Thunderbird was spun out.


The best way Mozilla can help make a better internet is to pour more resources into Firefox. The monopoly of Chrome is a huge threat to the open internet, and Firefox is uniquely placed to combat that.


What is Firefox? Mozilla took Netscape stripped it to bare components and made them better. Why not do that again? Take Chromium, strip it to bare components and make them better.

We need a hard fork of Chromium today or it will happen in the future anyway.


Even stripping down Chromium and hard forking will cause significantly more problems than it resolves. Google will always be pushing updates, and filtering which ones to incorporate and which ones to leave out will become a nightmare over time as the ones left out become increasingly more integrated. Plus Google will pull stupid shit like their anti-adblocker push.

Hard forking Netscape worked when there was a much lower floor of behaviors and entrenched, anticompetitive conglomerates.


There is actually an argument to be made here for a single browser base that all browsers are built from.

for one if we only have one rendering engine then compatibility is no longer an issue.

I would mean that browsers could focus of innovation of browser features rather than keeping ones engine up to date.


> There is actually an argument to be made here for a single browser base that all browsers are built from.

Yeah, but the argument is a really bad one.

> for one if we only have one rendering engine then compatibility is no longer an issue.

Yes, because it's no longer even a concern. Your single implementation will have bugs, because every implementation of a new feature has always had cross-compatibility bugs. Only now they're not bugs, they're backwards compatibility land mines that can never be fixed.

> I would mean that browsers could focus of innovation of browser features rather than keeping ones engine up to date.

Why? What would be the motivation to innovate on browser features when you've already won? It would enable new things to be done on the web, which would be good for the people doing those things, but would increase the revenue of the browser makers by $0. If you owned a business and could pay someone $200K to do something that makes $0, or instead pay them $200K to do something else that makes $50K-$5M, which would you choose?


There are lots of forks of Chromium that are better than the original (performance, non-gimped manifest, JXL support, built-in ad blocking etc.).

Mozilla has already shown in the last decade they aren't interested in making a better browser.


Just as I was complaining about the worst monopolies taking the lead on AI - Mozilla comes to the rescue by announcing independent open-source AI ecosystem. This is great news!


Not really, this is how they got in the current situation with justified existential fears.

Branching out into popular fields and spending a shit load of resources (in relative terms to Mozilla size) although they're late to the party. Meanwhile neglecting the core product.


Well at least they did not jump on blockchain bandwagon which is a very good sign!


They tried accepting blockchain donations, but were given a lot of public ridicule for the idea: https://www.theverge.com/2022/1/6/22870787/mozilla-pauses-cr...


They started accepting bitcoin donations in 2014, and then got lots of public ridicule for the idea in late 2021, and then stopped in 2022 due to environmental concerns.

There were signs that cryptocurrencies were inherently troublesome from the very beginning, but regardless, accepting bitcoin donations in 2014-2019 isn't exactly the same as participating in the NFT craze of 2021.


Mozilla has some stories about suffering from SJW. First was refusal Brendan Eich because of shitty reason, now refusal of bitcoins.


I make it a point to donate exclusively in bitcoin because I see digital cash as a fundamental human right and want to see more adoption[1]. If mozilla gives up on money because of a vocal minority, then it's their loss. A lot of other more reputable charities still accept it :D

[1]: Willing to switch to more environmentally friendly alternatives as long as they have the same properties as blockchain cryptocurrencies. Until then, I'll continue donating in crypto.


Don’t give them ideas!


I will believe that it's open source the moment weights are downloaded on my computer and I don't need to summon DAN for using them: their goal is to make AI "safer", which is corporate for "heavily censored, but just in the way we like it".


Addendum:

I will be supporting this ecosystem in any way I can. If you want to be empowered rather than enslaved by AI, you should consider supporting it too. Every fighter counts!


Maybe if this really takes off, in a couple of decades they'll have enough money to dedicate a research team into finding a way for Firefox Mobile users to change their UserAgent. How does Mozilla seem to have the time and money to do literally anything except give their users what they want?


I’m still waiting for the opportunity to pay them for a freemium version of Firefox. I don’t want Pocket. I don’t want a VPN. I just want to pay for Firefox.


I'd gladly do the same if I could get all my extensions. It's so annoying to have to pull my laptop out when I need to capture an embedded video from a page or want to download all the pictures or capture a screenshot of the whole web page


> want to download all the pictures or capture a screenshot of the whole web page

This so much. A few sites I use don't offer a way to download invoices, so I rely on screenshots to save a copy.. except for firefox on android (I either take multiple screenshots using android's native screenshot functionality or avoid using firefox completely)


Honestly I switched to Vivaldi for most of my browsing. It's leagues more responsive and its adblocking is good enough for 90% of my browsing. These days I only use Firefox Mobile for porn and piracy.


Insane, that that's not possible


Can't you just set up a monthly (or one-time) donation? Although, it would be nice if it were possible to specify that you'd prefer money being spent on the browser, not on developing another Pocket or something.


Donations go to Mozilla the non-profit, not to Mozilla Corporation which is the one maintaining Firefox. There's no way to give money for Firefox development other than spending on the Corp's side-services.


Too right.

Mozilla Co gets their nose in some stuff I either disagree with or don't care about. I'd be happy to pay the Firefox team though.


> I don’t want a VPN. I just want to pay for Firefox.

Just pay for Mozilla VPN. You don't have to use it.


I would love to see this money ($30M) being given to Andreas Kling and others behind Ladybird (the browser from SerenityOS). I'm pretty sure in 1-2 years they would have a better browser than the current Firefox.


Trustworthy means something different to businesses. My firm wants to go all in on using some companies AI as a service, but we can't because we can't have them change a model that works for us on the fly.

Trustworthiness is missing from the AI as a service at the business level. So we are now heavily investing money to make our own.

Data providers who can provide huge amounts data for AI training, its probably your time to shine soon.


The recent wave of AI came from launches (Stable Diffusion, ChatGPT). Has Moez contributed to launching anything, or just talking about it?


I know that mozilla has a decent track record of sticking to their ethical principles. Despite that, OpenAI started in the same spot. Let's make ethical AI (and you can define ethics in multiple ways... Based on trust, privacy, open source-ness... Whatever). And even they turned 180.

Will this be any different in the middle of an AI arms race because money can be made? I dunno... Doubts are strong.


This is great. The only safe and good for the public AI is open source. We are still very very far from AGI but it's good we are getting these open source initiatives now.


mozilla is so distracted lol.

how exactly are they going to make:

> Tools that make generative AI safer and more transparent.

restrictions? the underlying algorithms are pretty well understood. don't see the value add they can possibly have here.


"Safer AI" just means more dumb and censorious.


Restrictions are obviously the first thing that came to mind. When I read "safer" I don't hear "better".


Mozilla should focus on Firefox extensions, including mobile. This is where Chrome and Safari will not make progress.


Yep. Mozilla's key to gaining back its market share is in doing things that other techgiants don't want to do. Enabling web extensions on mobile is a big one and will give them a very strong advantage over their competitors for free (since firefox already supports extension but mozilla goes out of their way disable them for mobile).

TBH, I don't think mozilla really wants to regain market share so I doubt they will.


> TBH, I don't think mozilla really wants to regain market share so I doubt they will.

They certainly aren’t making any contrary movements.

It feels like a bunch of people who are really interested in social justice took over a tech company and are just annoyed they keep having to make a thing.


Yet another sign of desperation from an already distracted Mozilla.

This is why Firefox is probably going to be less of a priority to be competitive against Chrome and its derivatives.


I’d like to hear more about how it will hopefully put in more governance guardrails to prevent another OpenAI-like defection away from principles of being open. And how they will monetize it, which would tie into that as well. I have a bit more trust of Mozilla on these matters, but that trust is still a bit small when they could, if successful, be leaving $billions on the table.


It's probably way too late to get my two pennies into this discussion, but this is FANTASTIC news. Individual developers that want access to OPEN models for their building purposes shouldn't be beholden to a new corporate overlord. Here's hoping that Mozilla can rally the makers in the community with real dollars to spend toward models that all people can use.


Oh to have enough money to sink $30m into a landing page and an announcement. Heckling aside, I think it's good that the likes of Mozilla are investing in this space. We need diversification from the bigger players and Mozilla has a reputation of trying to create a sense of openness unlike the other Open labelled entities.

Will be interesting to see what _actually_ comes out of this though.


> people-centric recommendation systems that don’t misinform or undermine our well-being

X to Doubt. Recommendation systems are already people-centric, but it turns out that people will gladly misinform themselves if it Sounds Right. The solution is something companies are not willing to admit: we must deprioritize "recommendation systems". You have to let humans rank, tag, and organize content themselves. You can still have recommendations on the side for exploration, but it can't be the whole thing. It's boring, but it's the only long-term solution that doesn't eat itself.


GPT models have been shown to get significantly more truthful when trained on the right data set:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efPrtcLdcdM&t=7m42s

The 30 million they are investing should be enough to reproduce that. Looking forward to it!


Why is Mozilla qualified to have an opinion on this? Have they released anything significant in the field?


You ever heard of Rust?


What does that have to do with AI?


> Mozilla.ai’s initial focus? Tools that make generative AI safer and more transparent. And, people-centric recommendation systems that don’t misinform or undermine our well-being

This all sounds well and good (and makes for a fine press release) but where the rubber meets the road will be how these things are defined.

What does it really mean for AI to be “safe”? What is the bigger danger, being insulted by a computer or having entire industries gutted, putting millions out of a job? You can’t pay rent but hey, at least the AI was nice about it.

What does it mean to have “people-centric” recommendation systems? It’s such an irritatingly corporate and meaningless term. Under one definition, collaborative filtering is already exactly that, but CF led to filter bubbles because it turns out a person’s beliefs aren’t normally distributed.

What does it mean that a system doesn’t misinform? You’re going to need some arbiter of truth. Misleading journalism has been an issue since journalism was born, I don’t think $30 million from Mozilla is going to change that, however high-minded their intentions.

And that isn’t even getting into technical issues with generative models. I think anyone who has played around with statistical language models like ChatGPT knows that they don’t have a knowledge graph. They are not expert systems. The problem of squaring GOFAI with deep learning is a problem several orders of magnitude larger than Moz has pledged. I’ll bet anything the smartest Google engineers wished they knew how to create an AI that doesn’t misinform before their stock tanked 10%.

But this will be a great resume pad for their VP of whatever to have led.


This could use some explanation:

> "Mozilla.ai’s initial focus? Tools that make generative AI safer and more transparent. And, people-centric recommendation systems that don’t misinform or undermine our well-being."

1) What kind of tool is that? More 'transparent' - are we talking about a map of the training corpus, snapshots of the AI's internal state, or what? And what does 'safer' mean - a filter on the output of some kind? Will that be a transparent filter? Will there be a secretive committee that decides what's safe and what's not? Will it take recommendations from the Department of Homeland Security on that question, as Twitter was doing?

2) What is a people-centric recommendation system, exactly? Does that mean people get control of the knobs and dials on the recommendation system? For example, I'd like an 'inverted' option, the ability to grab a random selection of the content that the system thinks I wouldn't care about. I'd like the option to make different lists of channels and randomly grab content just from those lists. Also, a list of channels I never want to see any content from, period. I suspect, however, that the result will be more in the flavor of "Big Brother knows what's good for you, and what's not".

As far as whether I'd be 'misinformed' or 'well-being destabilized' by AI output, please stop being so paternalistic. If you're afraid people can't distinguish between fact and fiction, invest in better public education and teach skepticism and critical analysis skills to young people, instead of training them to be obedient little zombies who have absolute faith in institutional authorities.




> Tools that make generative AI safer and more transparent. And, people-centric recommendation systems that don’t misinform or undermine our well-being.

Safer? What is so unsafe ATM? Transparent? Are you finna open-source it or nah? People-centric recommendation systems? What? Aren't recommendation systems usually non-people-centric? What does that even mean?

What does "misinforming your well-being" even mean?

Such much BS.


Transparency doesn't begin or end with open-sourcing. Where does the input come from? What sources did it draw upon for an output? How much is the core model vs the more ephemeral learning on top? etc.

> What does "misinforming your well-being" even mean?

It means you're struggling a bit with English grammar. Would phrasing it as "[systems] that don't misinform us or undermine our well-being" help?


I understand what the grammar is, but what exactly are we being misinformed or underminded requires some kind of an arbiter of truth which is a slippery slope.

Ofc, open-sourcing isn't enough, but its better than not.

It's just sad that another company is going into this in a wrong "Safe AI" way. Perhaps irony is going to happen.


How is it possible for AI to be "trustworthy"? I don't think Mozilla understands what AI should be doing nor their position as "barons who advance the web" could be doing with AI.

AI is not a web browser or a web service or a web utility. Interactive AI is a mixer masher of info and works.

As others have said, this is another way Mozilla is trying to stay relevant after losing the browser market.


A startup? why not a team inside Mozilla? Will this startup build open source stuff?


Mozilla has a somewhat unique structure in which they have companies fully owned by a foundation. Internally, they refer to them as MoFo (Mozilla Foundation) and MoCo (Mozilla Corporation).

They can't monetize a product as a foundation, but they also can't accept donations as a company. So they came up with this clusterfuck in which a foundation has subsidiaries, but all the profit from them goes back to the foundation. (IANAL, I have no clue how this works.)

I'm guessing this is gonna be another corporation under the foundation, separate from MoCo (which makes Firefox). Therefore, Firefox and others won't be impacted by what happens to this.


> Will this startup build open source stuff?

It's right there, in the exact same subheading that mentions being a startup:

> A startup — and a community — building a trustworthy, independent, and open-source AI ecosystem

Presumably being a startup may allow them more financial freedom, or less bureaucracy.


> open-source AI ecosystem

Ah, right, I must have skipped this. I don't know how, I was looking for it.

I hope it says like this though, the fact that it is an independent startup does not inspire me much confidence.

OpenAI started as a non-profit committed to open source, this failed miserably.


I mean, I understand your scepticism given OpenAI.

OpenAI was misleading from the start, even before they changed from non-profit to "capped" for profit. Hopefully being spawned from Mozilla gives this new outfit a better ethos.


80% or so of their revenues are still from Google Search. The only money they have to invest is from selling out their users to the top bidder; this is not a group positioned to invest in Trustworthy AI


Hopefully they divert some resources away from firefox so I don't have to lose all my tabs when it decides to force an update on me all the time.. or constantly change nonsense around in the UI..


Settings => General => Startup => Open previous windows and tabs

That setting should solve the restart losing tabs/windows problem you're experiencing.


yeah, except it does not, lots of lost state in various tabs and I don't want to have the browser dicatate when it gets to restart.


Being trustworthy might be the current largest weakness in what we call “AI.”

But the description sounds investment-worthy, so ship it!


People obsessing over AI safety in how it affects our "well-being" truly do not get it. That's not the safety issue at all.

The actual safety issue is that it's coming for our jobs. Not that it spits out a micro aggression or bias. Social media spit out about 50 billion messages a day that offend in one way or another.

The sum of humanity's digital labor is taken without permission or compensation and then centralized into a collective intelligence under the control of 2 companies. Giving them unique power in monetization, information narratives, being at the steering wheel of wiping out entire industries.

The only way to make this inevitable revolution more fair is to decentralize. Make training data, models, weights and tools free, downloadable and super easy to use locally. As easy as using a smartphone app. This could even spin up a (commercial) ecosystem of ready-to-go models. Next, make them pluggable into every common tech stack.

Freedom is the answer, not safety. Yes, somebody is going to train a Nazi model but those motivated to do so can and will do that anyway.


>Mozilla.ai’s initial focus? Tools that make generative AI safer and more transparent. And, people-centric recommendation systems that don’t misinform or undermine our well-being.

Honestly, I don't see the selling point here. At least for me, I don't want it to be safer. I want the people using it to be safe, sure, but making the AI safe just means building in censorship based on the values of somebody with a lot of money that think they can tell others what to do and think.

I would be much happier if they developed powerful models, made them truly open to usage by all, and then worked on education for people using them or potentially used by them.


I appreciate the sentiment behind the mission, but Mozilla resources are already spread thin IMO. Maybe 30M isn't a lot for Mozilla though, it's hard for me to judge.


yeah, time to give up on Firefox because Mozilla can't seem to focus.


Good luck with the project!


Frankly Mozilla already lost that and people demanding Mozilla stay firefox focused are telling the company to death spiral. Firefox has no path, literally none, in getting a significant marketing share. And even if they did the company has no real way to monetize. In fact it almost never had a chance, especially in the current environment where anticompetitive moves are no longer really pushed back on by the govt. I say this as a person where Firefox has always been my daily driver.

I would rather Mozilla keep trying things that keeps it afloat.


> Firefox has no path, literally none, in getting a significant marketing share.

I'd argue it has a trivial path and that focusing elsewhere (ie: not on the one fucking asset they have ever had/ profited from) is insane.

1. Build a better browser. People browse a lot.

2. Do what Chrome does. Build integrations with services. Chrome is mandated at many companies because of its GSuite integration/ Context Aware Access. The Browser is an identity platform these days and Mozilla has done fuck all about it.

I could seriously go on and on about what they could do.

Mozilla's failures are painful because the path to success is so obvious. Their CEO is a massive failure and should have been fired ages ago.


What Chrome does is that it markets “Download Google Chrome” on every Google property, and comes reinstalled on Android phones.

It is not realistic advise to expect Firefox to do what Chrome does.


I said what Chrome does. It has integrations. I have to use Chrome to log in at work, that's been the case at 3 companies I've worked at now. It is insane that Firefox doesn't see that as an obvious threat and build similar integrations.


Building similar integrations will require, in your words, "focusing elsewhere." You can't have both.


Yes - but that would be as a extension/integration with their browser asset - not a random unrelated project.


You can say this, but every time Mozilla does an integration with their browser asset - like Mozilla VPN or Pocket - people scream at them for adding "pointless bloat" to the browser.

I fail to see how your proposal would end differently.

Plus it was suggested that Mozilla do things to compete with Google's "Gsuite integration" - how do you see that working to begin with? Should Mozilla try to push a competitive office suite, or try to compete at an inherent disadvantage to Google, who already nerfs features of Google search on their mobile browser?


All they have to do is implement the Endpoint Verification plugin. It's open source and any attempt from Google to prevent that would be obviously anti-competitive.


I'm advocating for code that would be implemented entirely in the browser or via an extension...


It's interesting how tribal the corporate IT universe can get - I am forbidden from installing Chrome, even if I wanted to.


Do you use ActiveDirectory for identity? In my experience, most corporates are either AD + Windows , or Google Workspace + Chrome


Yep, AD + Windows here.


Do you know that Ubuntu's number one issue in their bug tracker is "Microsoft has a monopoly on the desktop market"?

Plenty of people have to use Windows at work, it doesn't mean that MacOS (or Ubuntu) is a failure, or that they lack focus, or that this would change if alternatives just went to implement what you need.

The truth is that Google has built a formidable moat around their browser, and even if Mozilla put it as their one mission to catch up, they wouldn't be able to. Also, the first second that Firefox became a credible threat to Google would be the time that Google would drop all the money that they put into Mozilla.


>Do you know that Ubuntu's number one issue in their bug tracker is "Microsoft has a monopoly on the desktop market"? Plenty of people have to use Windows at work

Funny, I had to use Ubuntu 22.04 at my previous backend job and hated every minute of it thanks to snap, gnome, apt, wayland, hibernate, touchpad, and other issues that made me pull my hair out and loose several work hours in tinkering just to attempt to fix them so I can be productive at work. Maybe I was also horribly unlucky, who knows, but IMHO Ubuntu has went from the go-to to being the worst possible Linux distro. I was daily driving Ubuntu 10.XX in college and it wasn't this bad.

I get Canonical wants Ubuntu as the competitor for Windows, and they can can cry "wagh! Microsoft monopoly! wagh!" as much as they want, but Ubuntu aint it chief. Linux Mint and others could do it better if they had Canonical's pockets.

Similar for Firefox. Basic stuff that's standard in Chrome and Edge, like translation (I live in an EU country who's language I don't fully master) or spell-check, need to be downloaded as extensions/plugins in Firefox, and separate for each language, and the end quality of the Firefox spellcheck still sucks majorly compared to what Chrome has out of the box.

I get it, we should support Ubuntu and Firefox because freedom and all that, but I can't when the quality of the products and consumer experience is abysmal compared to the paid competition.


I was an (X)ubuntu user since at least 2009, I also stopped using it and went for Debian/Nix about three years ago.

> I get it, we should support (...) because freedom and all that, but I can't when the quality (...) is abysmal compared to the paid competition.

Why not? Supporting open alternatives does not mean you exclusively need to use them.


MS's pockets are big enough for Ubuntu, Mint, and a dozen more.


Do you know how Ubuntu has managed to increase its share? Focusing on enterprise and server use cases. Exactly what I'm suggesting Mozilla does.


You missed one key detail: Canonical never depended on Microsoft's money to operate. Mozilla does depend on Google's money for everything, including the R&D resources that would be required for them to develop the use cases that you are suggesting.


They just spent 30M dollars on this AI thing lol it wouldn't cost 20% of that to do what I'm saying


First, speaking from experience of someone who worked in a (failed) project that wanted to build a "Enterprise version of ChromeOS", based on Firefox and Linux: I love this naive confidence to predict how much it would cost to bring a whole new lot of features to a product (Firefox/Gecko) that is known for being extremely difficult to refactor.

Second, You really don't get it, do you? They will not spend money on anything that might actually threaten Google's dominance. They get 30M to play with AI is because they don't get to spend anything on making Firefox a strong alternative for Chrome. If they did, Google will take all their money away and then it's game over for them.


If you think it costs 30 million dollars to write a blessed extension that implements the Endpoint Verification logic... lol

> If they did, Google will take all their money away and then it's game over for them.

Because of the position they put themselves in. Also you underestimate how much cash they have.


In terms of ROI: How much do you think they would get in market share if they implemented it?


That’s categorically false, their revenue is tied to their userbase, if they were more popular Google would cut them a larger check like they do for Safari.


According to a contract, which can be renegotiated or simply not renewed.

Google does not pay Apple for "access to the user base". Google pays Apple so that Apple does not try to get into the search engine space and compete with Google.

They also pay Mozilla as a way to keep controlled opposition and a (relatively) inexpensive way of avoid threats of lawsuits like the one that MS had in the past. But they don't need to. If Mozilla for any reason decided to stop conforming to this game and went on to actually fight against Google, Google would drop them in a heartbeat. And who would Mozilla go for, Bing? DDG?


I'd really like you to expand in the forced to use Chrome at work. How does that work?

I'm also at corporate and they are really integrated with Edge. But it doesn't mean I can't do my work in Firefox (Which I currently use)

What do you mean by forced? What happens if you don't log in? What happens if you try to log in in firefox?

Edit: Ah I missed this from your original comment:

> Chrome is mandated at many companies because of its GSuite integration/ Context Aware Access.

You might be right, I'm too lazy to try this in Firefox.


One of two scenarios.

1. The Endpoint Verification extension is used to ensure that the browser/ system is compliant before connecting to certain services such as any SSO.

2. Internal tools were tested with Chrome and to ensure that users were using an up to date tool they were gated on the user agent.

Chrome offers a host of endpoint management integrations that make it a far better choice for Enterprise than Mozilla. Mozilla could very easily build a management portal for Firefox or, even better, build an integration with various SSO providers.

Whereas Chrome really only integrates with GSuite Firefox could support Okta, O365, GSuite, and more, making it the de-facto corporate browser.

This isn't even complicated, this is one of many ideas I have that are easily within their ability, are taken straight from the Chrome playbook, leverages their singular asset, and their major competitive advantage (that they are "open").

Mozilla's CEO has to be fired. The incompetence and mismanagement is obscene.


> What do you mean by forced? What happens if you don't log in? What happens if you try to log in in firefox?

Companies with application allow-lists simply don't allow non-Chrome browsers for use on their endpoints. That's the easiest way.

Companies without allow-lists may still block Firefox in other ways, though none quite as effective as above. Still, the block is usually on the endpoint, occasionally the proxy.


BeyondCorp only working on Chrome. Every single tool and vendor integrated with BeyondCorp. Access to internal systems (including SSH) checked against BeyondCorp.

Using Firefox for anything was literally painful.


I have never encountered this. Everything I've had to use for work works with Firefox just fine.

Chrome gets put on corporate machines because the IT people use Chrome. None of these people seem to regard ad blocking as an internal security feature yet.


If your personal Google account is cancelled, do you become unemployable?


Wouldn't they have a corporate suite account used to log in?


And if they catch you using it they might ban the company you work for by association.


Yes, that should be obvious. I can't imagine what the parent was thinking.


Can you have more than one Google account per phone? Can you have a Cloud Identity Account without a Personal Account?


Yes and yes


That was the song people sang when Internet Explorer had 95% market share in 2003.


Of course, then Microsoft faced a major lawsuit related to their browser monopoly. That seems highly unlikely in today's regulatory environment.


Whatever happened with Microsoft buying Activision?

In general I agree with you though, my above example likely only exists because there's another huge corporation involved.

For new businesses trying to edge a way in the market, yeah good luck unless you've got something novel.


More that controlling a platform is no longer seen as a monopoly position. If Apple can get away with effectively driving Tumblr out of business and taking a cut of everything transacted on its platform, it seems unlikely that regulators will pick out a web browser as the hill to die on.


I agree with this for the most part but "just build a better browser" is naive. For starters, everyone has a different of what "better" is. I'm actually pretty happy with Firefox for the most part and I think being the company that sells safety is a good fit for Mozilla to move into.


> For starters, everyone has a different of what "better" is.

We can all agree on some things though. I'm talking about core metrics. Performance, stability, safety. Beyond that there are some more "controversial" things like privacy, and then you have purely subjective things like UX.

When I say "build a better browser" I mean that they should take those core capabilities and invest heavily in them. Instead, one of their most promising projects, Servo, was canned "because covid" while their CEO took their largest 8 figure payment ever.


Mozilla's greatest failure with Firefox is one of marketing.

It's a performant, stable, safe, and private browser.

(It lags Chrome in some potted performance tests, but it is more than adequately performant. Firefox is much better than Chrome at memory management. It never crashes. It does not steal your data. It allows you the greatest degree of privacy in any major browser. Side tabs are possible.)

But no one can compete with Google's marketing, or Apple's iOS advantage. Not even Microsoft. Certainly not Mozilla.

Mozilla has failed us in so so many ways. You mention one egregious example.

But we've failed Mozilla too. Anyone who recommends Chrome over Firefox is making a mistake detrimental to the well-being of the internet.

Not that Chrome is a bad browser. It's great. Almost as good as Firefox! Chrome has terrible tab management and chews RAM, but it's performant and secure and lovely.

But Chrome is a bad path forward for the internet, and this is important.


Firefox is bad at browsing the web, because complex websites don't test for Firefox compatible.


This doesn't match my experience. I use Firefox as my "daily driver" browser on my personal machine and the number of browser compatibility issues I run into over a given period of time approximates 0. It's vanishingly rare for me to encounter something that's Firefox specific.


Curious to hear which sites you experience issues on.

I use a lot of SaaS admin panels, of widely varying quality. In every case I can think of, the same bugs are present in Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.


On the one hand, it would be nice for Mozilla to focus on firefox, but on the other hand, Mozilla screwing around has produced things like Rust, so maybe they have earned some credit to screw around if that's what the donors actually want.


Their 'donor' is Google, their users are us. Without us they have no donor. Rust at least makes some kind of sense because it is a tool they used to build parts of Firefox.

Aside from being the new hotness, what exactly about AI makes sense for Mozilla/Firefox to jump into and have anything to offer? The one obvious thing they could do would be to integrate AI capabilities into the browser for the users benefit (i.e. the most valuable thing they could do to contribute to 'trustworthy AI'. Note that this would not require a new foundation/company... just integrating the capability into the product they already have) But of course Mozilla most likely won't do this... they're going to keep taking moonshots they can't afford. I can't say I'll miss them when they're gone.


> Without us they have no donor.

Former Mozilla fellow here. I wish I could agree with this sentiment, but it's untrue. Mozilla is a corrupt nonprofit which exists solely to advance the interests of elites. The users don't matter. Within Mozilla there is disdain for the concerns of regular people.


I consider Rust and Servo to be exactly the kind of things that they should be working on in order to strengthen their core product.


Mozilla may have one path, albeit a long shot. If Apple were to decide that it’s cheaper to give money to Mozilla and have FF be the default iOS browser, that would be their best shot for success. Or maybe Apple could buy out Mozilla entirely. This scenario isn’t likely but I don’t think it’s completely out of the question.


When Apple decided to build Safari, they hired one of the creators of Firefox and still chose the relatively obscure KHTML as their base over the at-the-time major market share Gecko. If they didn’t pick Gecko then, they certainly aren’t going to throw everything on WebKit away to do it now. It’s also a terrible move to buy a competitor when they are under legal scrutiny for having a controlling interest in web browsers.


Alternately if the EU or some other government were concerned about privacy (both in the "don't collect dossiers" and the "don't harass people with popups and unwanted features" meanings) and competition it could fully fund Mozilla or a fork of Mozilla that is free of Pocket and similar distractions.


"Build integrations with services" is the silliest possible advice for Mozilla to be getting on Hacker News. Any time people talk about Mozilla on this website, you see comments about Pocket or VPN or any of the other integrations Mozilla did, and most of the comments (if not all) are negative. Persona is the closest thing I can think of and that was a failure, nobody wanted it.

As a former member of both the Firefox and Chrome teams I think you're also deeply misunderstanding the difference in scope and scale of the teams and the products. The thing you're suggesting Mozilla should Just Do Somehow is not feasible.


> Any time people talk about Mozilla on this website, you see comments about Pocket or VPN or any of the other integrations Mozilla did, and most of the comments (if not all) are negative

a) Pocket is by far the one that gets criticized, not the VPN. Besides, the VPN is primarily criticized because VPN companies tend to be really scummy. The VPN is fine I guess it's just not interesting and I don't see how it's going to drive user engagement.

b) HN criticisms aren't representative of anything too meaningful. People constantly post about their pet bugs that they think matter to everyone but they don't.

The integrations I'm talking about are ones that Chrome already has and that would be a huge boon to Enterprise users. Users who have to use a browser at work are going to end up using it at home to avoid the UX friction of using both, other than a subset of "power users" who won't be convinced anyways. Getting Enterprise users is huge and it's a big part of why Chrome is winning - their integrations with identity management is massive and it's part of their overall strategy as an IDP.

> The thing you're suggesting Mozilla should Just Do Somehow is not feasible.

That's nonsense. There are already third party extensions for some endpoint verification for Firefox. We're talking about a 1st party plugin built by a company that just spend 30 Million dollars on this "safe AI" project. There are startups building entire IDPs with a 10th of that funding.


And what does Firefox integrate with? Your Mozilla account? All of these companies have both an identity service (Google accounts/live.com) and a shit load of services (office365/gsuite). What does Firefox offer? Automatic login to more Google properties so companies can continue mandating Chrome, because Google will regularly fuck over Mozilla?

All the big browser players have more than just a browser. It's a gateway to _their_ services. Firefox users on this site shriek at fucking _Pocket_ and all seem to think that all you need to do is to build a better browser.

If that was true, IE6 would never have been in the dominant position it was. If that was true, Chrome would no longer be in the dominant position it is. The only thing that matters is how much you blast users with ads and force them in your ecosystem. Mozilla has none of that.


Integrate with those other services obviously. Partner with Okta and O365, implement the Endpoint Verification plugin for GSuite, etc.


> 1. Build a better browser. People browse a lot.

We're at the point of marginal returns on nearly all of our "traditional" tech (browsers, cell phones, gaming, etc, etc).

There just isn't room for enough improvement in the browsing experience to be "that much better" for people to switch.


Disagree. Safety is still really bad in browsers. Companies have to spend a lot of money ensuring that patches are rolled out aggressively because attacks against browsers are increasingly common in the wild. Investing into a memory safe browser would have been a huge boon, especially since security teams are often the ones who decide on a company's browser choice.

That's just one example.


> Build a better browser.

The Linux version has definitely become worse over the last year. It keeps stalling for no good reason.


>1. Build a better browser. People browse a lot.

Don't think there is anything with it (now). Chrome just captured all the mindshare by being a lot faster & leaner for a while

Hard to fix a mindshare problem with a technical solution given that they're now about on par (roughly)


> I would rather Mozilla keep trying things that keeps it afloat.

I don't care if Mozilla is afloat if that means they'll abandon Firefox to oblivion. I would rather have a truly open browser that doesn't do things like hamstring UBO.

They're burning through (literally) millions on these moonshot projects nobody asked for, meanwhile people are building a browser & engine from scratch on a shoestring budget (Ladybird).


I haven’t perceived Firefox abandonment. I get regular updates and there was a very noticeable major update in performance pretty recently. I don’t think I’ve heard of anything Chrome has done besides trying to push an anti-Adblock.


Yes, they're pretty active, especially in removing features. They removed RSS, removed compact mode, removed bookmark descriptions, removed old extensions, etc.

And at the same time they don't offer any options to donate directly to Firefox, you have to donate to Mozilla and hope they'll spend the resources on the right project (which they clearly don't). It feels like Firefox has been a walking corpse for a while, so of course they'll try anything.


>removed old extensions

Lots of new features were impossible with the old extension model, which was barely an extension model so much as complete access to the browser internals.


> Lots of new features were impossible with the old extension model

Can you name some?


Overall I see extensions as part of the problem, not part of the solution. (the one extension I install is uBlock)

Back in 1999 my relatives were mostly running Internet Explorer on computers with 640x480 screens over dialup. It was fashionable then for companies like Yahoo! and Hotmail and Amazon to add toolbars to your web browser and I'd go visit my uncle and find that more than half of the vertical space was taken up by various toolbars they'd downloaded so they really had about 300 pixels to view the web through.

None of them seemed to thing there was a problem there.

Similarly today if you install too many plugins into a GUI application and it gets "pluginitis" and gets slow and unreliable. I am all for extensions that really speed things up by eliminating junk but if you're not part of the solution in this way you are part of the problem.


I'm not sure I understand your point. Yes, extensions can do bad things. Thats why you don't install those. There are also tons of extensions that do very useful things, but are not applicable to a wider audience. It would be silly to include that functionality in the base browser. Extensions are an absolute necessity in a modern web browser.


The problem is that people who like extensions don't stop at just one.

Unfortunately with IDEs for instance, many people have never had the experience of using an IDE that "just works", they expect it to be f-ed up all the time so when they load another 15 plugins into Eclipse and it is crashing and hanging up all the time they figure "that's life" and don't even realize that somebody else has a stable IDE because they use a stable set of plugins and don't have pluginitis.

Reliability and speed are features too and they are global properties of the system. I'd say non-GUI programs accept extensions well but GUI programs have a rendering thread that can be blocked, an internal change notification system that can be corrupted or used incorrectly, etc.


Generally speaking, their entire multiprocess work (you know, the thing that allows your browser to not fully crash when some website decides to load 250MB of JS) would have been impossible with the old model. You're peeking and prodding at the entire core of the browser in ways the browser... Knows nothing about. E10s could not have worked with old extensions.


IIRC that's not true. Multiprocessing was switched half a year before WebExtensions, and most popular XUL-Extensions were refactored to work with multiprocessing at the time and worked fine with it. Back then it was even a big shitstorm that they had invest so much work, just to be killed some months later.


Exactly. In the past, I looked for a way to donate to of give businesses to Firefox, but I have no intention of supporting Mozilla given their lack of focus.


I think we should hard fork firefox. Set up a board of respected people, and a non-profit. Fork firefox. Set up a 5 year dev timeline, with specific larger goals and intent.

Fundraise, and then hire away some core, mozilla key devs who will leave. Build on that.

I wonder, this would be a "feel good" place for some IPO enriched persons to put money. And it has real value, in that keeping a second browser engine is a laudable and important goal.

Real good to be done.

Hmm.

And you know, Firefox was paid for by donations, and OSS devs donating time. If anything is reasonable to non-profit, this is it.


> And at the same time they don't offer any options to donate directly to Firefox, you have to donate to Mozilla and hope they'll spend the resources on the right project

Such hope is fruitless. You can donate to Mozilla Foundation but not Mozilla Corporation. Mozilla Corporation does Firefox development and actually pays Mozilla Foundation for the privilege. Mozilla Foundation owns the trademarks/etc and Mozilla Corporation pays Foundation for the rights to those and for administrative services.


Q: Why bother? You can’t make a new browser engine without billions of dollars and hundreds of staff.

Sure you can. Don’t listen to armchair defeatists who never worked on a browser.

(I love this)


I respect Andreas Kling, but Ladybird is not a real alternative.


To the sibling who commented. Sorry you got downvoted to oblivion.

> Of course it's not, yet. But those people are doing good work and it's not unthinkable it could gain contributors at an accelerated rate.

Agreed. It's an impressive feat of tech as it is, and I wish it best. That said it's still far from being usable.

> Well, when you're a leftie HN peasant I guess anything more complicated than your CRUD codebase

That's not fair. Web (browsers) is (are) hideously complex. What Andreas did is impressive, like launching a rocket with terrestrial satellite. What browsers are launch a manned mission to Mars.


Sibling was downvoted because of the gratuitous and off-target insults and strawman-ing (in multiple comments), not their point about feasibility of Ladybird, etc.


Shouldn't then their individual posts be downvoted?


Pretty sure they all were :-)


[flagged]


> Ladybird will properly support the websites you use around the year 2060, assuming no more web specs.

That's a bit ungenerous. In less than two years of part-time work, the small team (2-3 main contributors) got it to run discord which is about the most complex interactive website I personally frequent.


> Firefox has no path, literally none, in getting a significant marketing share.

We used to have these discussions in the Linux world. Some would argue that the goal is to take market share away from Microsoft, even if you have to add closed software to the distribution. Others, including me, felt the goal was to provide an open alternative. That is where I stand on Firefox as well.

> And even if they did the company has no real way to monetize.

You don't need to be real creative to come up with ways to monetize their brand. They're the nonprofit that makes open tools that protect your privacy. Partner with someone to provide cloud storage, email, a notes app, calendar service, and anything else that requires security and privacy.

Edit: To be clear, I support Mozilla.ai if it gives us a private option. I'd like them to integrate it with Firefox.


I agree - if Mozilla is pushing out a useful product and they have the money to keep that product in development as needs change what's it matter if not that many people are using it? Selfishly, I don't care what other people use - just what I want to use.


Personally, I do not need Firefox to have some grand vision to compete with Chrome. I just need it to exist and be there in features that Google does not like (Ad blocking, privacy), so Chrome does not determine the web.

IMHO Mozilla needs to focus on Firefox.


Firefox already does this and continues to be supported. Not sure what you’re talking about. I’m only pointing out there’s no way the company Mozilla can survive off just their browser, because no company currently has a monetized browser product. They immediately lose here. I’m happy with the privacy I get from Firefox and I wished more people enjoyed it, but I understand they’re up against anticompetitive companies on the regular, so I can’t expect them to keep acting as if Firefox is all Mozilla is hanging their hat on.


> Firefox already does this and continues to be supported. Not sure what you’re talking about.

And I enjoy it everyday. Happy to clarify. I am talking about your claims

> Frankly Mozilla already lost that and people demanding Mozilla stay firefox focused are telling the company to death spiral.

> Firefox has no path, literally none, in getting a significant marketing share. And even if they did the company has no real way to monetize.

This is hyperbole. Firefox could push for the privacy angle, or the no-ads angle, or have the best developer tools, or a lot of other potential paths, and it could resonate with a lot of people, and win market share.

Firefox already has a way to monetize the default search engine, and they were doing fine with that before the started following all kinds of non-core initiatives and behaving like a big respected corporation.

If Mozilla focused on their core product this revenue could be enough to be profitable. This is not due to market share, or some defeatist prediction, but to mismanagement IMO as an outsider.

I think focus on the core product is exactly what they need. That is how they started.

P.S. Unrelated, but the whole topic reminds me of Unity $4.4B acquisition of ironSource (an Ad company), instead of focusing on providing a better Game engine (their core product).


Firefox started out in the position it is in today, back when Internet Explorer had Chrome's current market share. They carved out a market share because they sucked less than IE.

But now we're back to square one, with a big corporate entity running dominant browser, and a host of lazy developers that only develop for that one browser.

We really need Firefox to step up to the challenge again to keep chrome honest. Sadly Mozilla flounders at every step, and somehow manage to make their browser even more user-hostile than Chrome.


The situation differs. IE lost because it stagnated, as Microsoft didn't care about the Web.

Google cares about the Web, and they not only keep developing Chrome, they also keep developing Web standards, meaning that any competitor has a lot of keeping up to do just to stay in one place.


Not just that but Firefox has become stagnant when it comes to a lot of interesting Web standards. WebUSB, WebSerial etc... are the ones where people are really pushing the web and Mozilla refuses to implement them.

https://mozilla.github.io/standards-positions/#webusb


You make it sound like Mozilla is pushing back for no reason. They have pretty valid security and privacy concerns.


For some of them, they do. But they could have implemented some of them behind a feature flag/cli flag or so? They did this for things that were bigger security headaches. That way they'd collect all the real world issues and iterate on their solutions for their privacy concerns. Right now, it is just one more reason why Chrome taking over their market share.

It is not like the use cases for connecting devices and use them via. the Web Platform will suddenly disappear if they don't support it.


Their reasons to push against WebUSB are, imo, valid. There are legitimate concerns and a high level of complexity to allow such low level USB access in the web browser.

Their reasons to push against WebSerial are not as valid and that would still cover most use cases without the downsides and complexity of the full WebUSB.


Another difference. Because Google is on the Ads business, they won't incentivize anti-ad/privacy behaviour. Firefox has that edge, at the very minimum.


Today's market share situation is mostly about the growth of mobile.


> Frankly Mozilla already lost that and people demanding Mozilla stay firefox focused are telling the company to death spiral.

Firefox is literally the only thing Mozilla has that's worth a damn. A Mozilla that doesn't focus on Firefox is already dead.

> Firefox has no path, literally none, in getting a significant marketing share.

They have a path, and it's "called not focusing on aping Chrome and mindlessly cutting features 'because telemetry.'"

> I would rather Mozilla keep trying things that keeps it afloat.

I don't care about Mozilla-the-organization, I care about Firefox. It does no one any good if they burn up all their resources aimlessly chasing trends as an also-ran.


In a way...I kinda wonder how much Mozilla needs to stay a purely private company.

Giving the current climate relative to Google, Microsoft and Apple's presence on the web, having Mozilla become a nationally funded project at a dedicated org. doesn't look like wild dreams.

To jest if it becomes Germany's official administration's technology provider, investing a significant amount in the ongoing maintenance of firefox would be a given. Make that a multi-country deal and enough money would float around.

There would be still issues on the governance and keeping it a competitive and innovative product, but it isn't unheard of.


I use Firefox more than any other application.

I don’t care about anything else Mozilla has built in the past decade, unless you count Rust.

As they continue devoting resources towards more and more things that aren’t Firefox, they only hasten the day when I’ll give up and move to Brave.


Mozilla are not a startup or a public corporation. If an organization does not have a path to pursue their core objective, they should just fold.

Mozilla exists for Firefox, not for itself.


> In fact it almost never had a chance, especially in the current environment where anticompetitive moves are no longer really pushed back on by the govt.

They used to have a great market share of 100%, but then Microsoft bundled Internet Explorer with Windows, which was much easier to install than Netscape Navigator. Netscape then became the basis for the open source Mozilla Firefox project.

As a side-note, the name Mozilla was derived from Mosaic Killer. Mosaic is the browser that was created by Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This Mosaic browser was then bought by Microsoft and then the basis for Internet Explorer, which killed Netscape.

> In fact it almost never had a chance, especially in the current environment where anticompetitive moves are no longer really pushed back on by the govt.

I disagree with the statement that anticompetitive moves are no longer really pushed back on by the govt. Anticompetitive legislation was introduced in response to Standard Oil. On the day that the legislation split up Standard Oil in the many subsidiaries such as Chevron, BP, and Texaco, Rockefeller advised people to BUY shares of Standard Oil since the company was getting too big to run efficiently anyway. The legislation didn't have much effect as you can see from the fact that aforementioned subsidiaries still thrive today.

I've learned these things from the Acquired podcast by the way. Can highly recommend.


They have no mobile presence, their Desktop usage is very low (even using the Cloudflare stats which doesn't require client-side tracking) and Devs aren't even bothering to test on FF anymore. It's lost.


Yes, my biggest complaint in firefox is a lack of dev supporting the browser. Sometimes websites break and I know it’s because their dev didn’t bother to check if it worked in Firefox. But that’s not something Mozilla can control. So I can see them trying to find something else, and I’d prefer they do that than keeping on something that will likely never work.


Throwaway for obvious reasons. I recently interviewed for a Mozilla R&D E.M. job. The first and primary questions asked of me were not technical but about diversity. I didn't even feel like I had a chance to showcase my technical skills. They wanted to know how important diversity was to me and how it would impact my management. H.R. was on through the entire call continually injecting these kinds of questions and it was not a technical interview even though it was supposed to be. (third interview)


> Frankly Mozilla already lost that and people demanding Mozilla stay firefox focused are telling the company to death spiral. Firefox has no path, literally none, in getting a significant marketing share.

The company is in a death spiral regardless of what 20-50 HN commenters tell Mozilla to do. Please don't have any illusions in that regard.

We can still debate as to why they have been in a death spiral for the last 10 years, and part of it was that they did pretty much everything to avoid making a better browser that could have actually been a competitor to Chrome. On top of showing a giant middle finger to all the power users who developed add-ons.

> I would rather Mozilla keep trying things that keeps it afloat.

Isn't the only thing keeping them afloat concessions from Google in some sums of money? In that sense they could be doing anything and it wouldn't make any difference. It's extremely clear that their leadership is Google-captive and will never be allowed to make anything that directly competes with the tech giants.


> We can still debate as to why they have been in a death spiral for the last 10 years, and part of it was that they did pretty much everything to avoid making a better browser that could have actually been a competitor to Chrome.

You clearly haven't been paying attention at all. Quantum 57 shipped in 2017 and was a huge investment.


I clearly have. Quantum was the giant middle finger I described in my post.


You're fixating on very necessary changes to the addon ecosystem and selectively ignoring the huge underlying changes to Gecko that were made possible by doing so.


[flagged]


Snarky rhyming schemes aren’t much of a political philosophy.


> Snarky rhyming schemes aren’t much of a political philosophy.

Slogans have always existed. Poking at them and calling them snarky doesn't stop them from being condensed talking points. Or from being an observable reality.

A little over ten years ago Firefox was doing well. In the time since then it has not fared well at all. Looking at what has changed since then is a very valid thing to do.


a) you shouldn't be demoted because of your political donations, as long as you're not donating to do harm - whether Eich was donating to a harmful organization is debatable

b) This has nothing to do with "wholeness" and everything to do with Google pushing chrome as hard as they can.

- There is android phones, and I am pretty sure some Google services would advertise it to you - Chromebooks are used in most public schools across America

c) Eich later went on to found Brave. Have you ever seen anyone in the real world use Brave? They passed 50M users one year ago: https://brave.com/2021-recap/

Wikipedia states 63% of people used the internet worldwide in 2021: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_...

that is 4.9 billion people. So, brave has a market share of, drum roll, 1%.

In conclusion, the argument that Eich would have led them to success is not a good one, in my opinion.


Firefox share loss since I left. Yes, it was losing share before I left too. Counterfactuals aside, growing Brave to 57M MAU from 0 wasn't a minor thing, and we are still growing in spite of Chrome's market power. Firefox (click on legend items for other browsers) is still losing share.

https://gs.statcounter.com/browser-market-share#monthly-2014...


I don't think "wokeness" had anything to do with it.

Their leadership simply became captive to Google's money and began slowly sinking the ship while making it look like the orchestra is still playing.


Mozilla Fluent internationalization (https://github.com/projectfluent) is superior to other offerings. Firefox is almost entirely transitioned to Fluent (https://www.arewefluentyet.com/). This puts Firefox in a position to potentially perform well in providing good quality browsing experiences to a global audience using many languages.


If Firefox is already dead then Mozilla may as well be dead. What's the point of keeping Mozilla around if they're giving up on Firefox? Why should I care about the continuation of their org, if not for Firefox? In fact, if Firefox is dead then I want Mozilla dead too. Clear the playing field for somebody new who might succeed where Mozilla failed. If Firefox is dead then Mozilla continuing nevertheless is contrary to my interests.


> And even if they did the company has no real way to monetize.

Isn't firefox the only thing making them money? In a very straight forward way: Selling the default search engine configuration. 500M in 2020 according to Wikipedia. Seems even a tiny market share is worth a lot?


what would be the point of keeping them afloat if they no longer focus on firefox?

The only reason why Mozilla exists in the first place in Firefox. If they can't make a good web browser, there is no reason for them to exist in the first place.


> I would rather Mozilla keep trying things that keeps it afloat.

A Mozilla that doesn't create Firefox is a failed Mozilla.

Everything else others can do. There are working charities for every single thing Mozilla does - except creating a good browser.


Eh, this still seems at least plausibly smart strategy purely in terms of "not getting left behind." I'm reminded of the choice to enable Netflix DRM?

It is at least possible (if not likely) that "AI" becomes central to the browsing experience, so Mozilla should probably do something here.


(We detached this generic subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=35260301)


> Firefox has no path, literally none, in getting a significant marketing share.

Wait until Chrome bans Manifest V2 extensions (like ublock origin). That will be a good time for Firefox to shine.


Doesn't Brave support Manifest V2 just like Firefox?


Brave is based on Chromium. Google has a significant hand in Chromium developments. If Manifest V2 is deprecated on Chrome, other Chromium forks have to work harder and harder to maintain it as time goes on. Firefox is slightly less vulnerable since it's a different engine.


Crazy idea: make a browser which adds features with new versions instead of how they are currently removing them.


I don’t know of any features that would improve Firefox’s market share to any significant effect. Tbh I haven’t even noticed any feature removals, but that’s just my day to day use cases: I bookmark things, I have multiple windows with tabs open, I install privacy add one and ad blockers, I sometimes open the console and mess around with websites. I don’t think the vast majority of the market even does a portion of what I do, much less any more obscure features. So I’m not inclined to believe that any removals changes Firefox’s market share to any significant effect. They just have no realistic way to monetize a browser. I doubt safari or chrome are money makers either, but they have anticompetitive conglomerates using those browsers as customer lock in and not a core product. Completely different needs there.


No single removal changed Firefox's market share to any significant effect, but it's death of a thousand cuts. Eventually, they're going to have to start doing things again that gain them users rather than lose them.

(Happy Waterfox user; my "one feature" was multirow tabs, and the general betrayal of the Quantum rewrite. "We will add these features back as extensions" my unsupported ass. Bring back UI modding. PS: Same goes for Firefox Android, which I've thankfully found an old APK for.)


You can still mod Firefox's UI pretty easily, its all defined by CSS files and not too difficult to customize. I for instance actually did the opposite of what you wanted and completely got rid of the tab bar cause I use Sidebery for tab management: https://i.imgur.com/cHz1clI.png Theres a whole subreddit for it even: https://www.reddit.com/r/FirefoxCSS/

This repo (and that subreddit) has all the info on setting stuff up in Firefox: https://github.com/aris-t2/customcssforfx and even has a CSS example for doing multi-tab lines: https://github.com/Aris-t2/CustomCSSforFx/blob/master/curren...


Sure, but every time I try this it has terrible UX compared to TMP, particularly around scrolling and dragging.

(Also Firefox breaks it once a year or so.)

Not sure how much this is lack of developer effort vs lack of support from Firefox.


>Same goes for Firefox Android, which I've thankfully found an old APK for.

Not sure how much this will help you, I don't know which features you're keeping the older version of Firefox Android around for. But have you looked into Iceraven browser?

https://github.com/fork-maintainers/iceraven-browser


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