247: Is Firefox Slowly Dying? Can Mozilla Save It?

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The talk about Firefox saddened me a lot, it was really sad, I defend Firefox but yeah, its getting harder by the day

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It is looking more and more dire.

I recently installed Vivaldi to have a just-in-case dip into the chromium world, as it seems to be the best of the bunch in terms of privacy browsers. And I say this as someone who never switched to Chrome when it came out - been on Firefox since it was Phoenix!

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I have been using Vivaldi on/off since the beginning, back when I was on windblows, it is the most feature-rich of the bunch, suitable replacement for firefox, exept for that blink thing.


I felt incrasingly reluctant to play along with mozilla’s ‘wokeness’ thinking it would wear off, and I even thought that maybe I was being a biggot for not supporting that approach.

But afer listening to this episode yesterday, It dawned on me that I am not a biggot, others feel the same as me, even the 3 musketeers feel bad about it.

So, I decided to delete my mozilla account, and uninstalled firefox from my fedora, sorry, but not sorry. I cannot help them when they do not help themselves.

I installed Librefox as flatpak, cuz I’m lazy, and I downloaded the ghostery one, but its a compressed one that is not really installed, or I do not know how to install it,

So I want to ask, is there a flatpak, snap, or image of ghostery out there?

Thanks

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Ill probably go into LibreFox after this incident.

We shall see. I really refuse to go into Chromium because being the dominant browser, everyone, including their dog is looking for ways to exploit the Chromium browser so I’d rather not be in the actual targetted demographic.

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Just fork the code?

In response to Noah’s statement. A modern competitive browser is not only complex in the extreme and constantly having to support new standards, it also has to interpret somtimes gigs of code written by random people on a daily basis making it a huge easily accessible attack surface.

There’s only a limited supply of people with time-earned expertise to work on something like that, they’re in extremely high demand and you need a lot of them.

A fork of that magnitude won’t produce a secure competitior unless it’s taken on by a major corporation that hires a lot of the former FF developers.

Would you pay for a browser?

A paid browser is a serious problem.

  • It gatekeeps arguably one of the most critical peices of software from countries that can’t afford it or at best forces most of the World to deal with nagware or some other disadvantage.
  • It’s anti-FOSS because otherwise the license is a fork away from being removed. The least-worst solution i’ve seen is forcing people to compile it themselves and do it again every update (see: most people just won’t update).
  • If a license is required to request an update, it opens the door to interdiction targetted at single individuals by billing information which may be compelled by a gov’t agency. If they’re savvy and use words like “insurrection” I have my doubts on Mozilla’s leadership to keep a clear head.

That isn’t to say it should be free but it shouldn’t come at the cost of those who have less, FOSS, journalists and so on… Wikipedia’s model is pretty good and things like just having a colorful icon for the app got me to pay for Plumble. There’s a lot of avenues for funding.

I also just wanted to give my respect to DL, it’s expensive to criticize a hero.

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You could minimize amount on work need on fork, by limiting your chances to disabling unwanted features and then integrate all changes that are integrated into Firefox’s master, making sure those features keep being disabled.

All that resource-consuming work will be copied from Firefox. Making a fork still won’t be easy, but should be totally meanable by small team.

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Stripping out the fat and focusing on just what matters is a very good idea.

There’s no way around that core management problem though… even basic maintenance requires continual upkeep and testing of the core (which is massive and extremely complicated because welcome to the Web) and tests aren’t meaningful without devs that understand enough to write them, update them and fix problems that show up.

There’s also the support problem…

Debian Stable is a good example, packages aren’t upgraded for 4 years but they still need security patches which requires people know how to patch the software let alone test it for holes when it’s introduced to new software up the dependency chain or new best practices come to light.

Debian would also fail as an OS if it couldn’t do a total system upgrade every 4yrs because new software often depends on the core to be able to support it. Web Assembly is a pretty good example and if Google makes it a dependency for YouTube then it’s no longer optional for a Chromium competitor to ignore.

Wow! I did not know Firefox was so bad state. As Noah said in the episode: Firefox is open source. Maybe the big next community project should take over Firefox code base and bring it back to its ground values. It is disgusting enough that we have to use VPN and Tor in some not free countries. We don’t want our web browsers poisoning our cereals. They are already toxic from waste everywhere. And don’t get me wrong. I love Firefox and freedom.

I really don’t think paying for a browser is anti-foss.
Anyways, I think that doing what Wikipedia does would be the best way, just ask, honestly, for money to keep the project going. And make sure that money actually goes where it should.

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I agree.

I meant in the sense that licenses tend to need an enforcement mechanism in the software and if that part is FOSS someone can just fork the browser with that part removed. Sublime Text isn’t fully FOSS for that reason and it requires trusting the author, their personal security hygene and their jurisdiction that nothing’s lurking in the proprietary blob.

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Well, I’m quite not happy with pretty much everything moving into browsers. It’s convenient for developers, they don’t have to worry about users upgrading or not, they upgrade automatically as soon as they F5, but I don’t like it. How long until you can’t do anything on a computer without a fast internet connection?

With that said, I also don’t like the decline of Firefox. Or rather, the largest non-Chromium-based browser still standing (on desktop computers, I’m not including mobile devices smaller than a laptop.) It feels like we’re losing genetic diversity we desperately need. Firefox being the little giant–not a dwarf, mind you, a little giant–trying to survive while Google plays with its food.

Is it really realistic to fork a project like Firefox and produce a succesful browser? Why isn’t LibreWolf as popular as Firefox is/was? Or should we maybe be looking at developing a new browsers on an entirely new rendering engine? That is something I"m definately not capable of, but it is something I’d love to see. Add some extra DNA to the browser soup. Preferably by a group of people who knows how to market their stuff. (Lack of efficient marketing is also the reason why linux on the desktop is only 1-2%. Yet another reason for why we should thank Valve’s Steam Deck efforts.)

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Use LibreWolf! LibreWolf is what Firefox should’ve been.

A fork of Firefox, focused on privacy, security and freedom.
https://librewolf-community.gitlab.io/

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FireFox is one of the browsers I use. After the way it treated Brendan Eich and its statement in support of censorship about six months or so ago, I’m not a fan. It’s an excellent browser despite its poor management however once the telemetry settings are turned off. I understand its need to monetize. Perhaps it should look into Brave’s monetization model.

Consider the move to snap on Ubuntu for a second which was accepted by many many to be okay-ish including DLN.

We in Belgian government supported Ubuntu with Firefox for over a decade for our identity card. Now, all of a sudden and with 4 weeks (!) notice, the latest Ubuntu release no longer has a browser that allows us to support the card.

Yes, “the deb is still available”, but communication is amateurish at best, with no clear description what happens exactly when upgrading (it now seems the deb version remains installed while the but report states it should be changed to snap), no description what happens when a user has both installed because of this (stock install with deb installation afterwards), no way to detect which version is actually running after clicking the firefox icon (terminal and “ps aux” I guess) and zero commitment for the LTS in 22.04.

Firefox users who just use stock Ubuntu, will now be forced to install and use another browser, external to the Ubuntu repositories, if they rely on extensions such as ours that use either PKCS11 security modules or native messaging. The easiest thing for them to do might well be to get Chrome or Edge and “uninstall al this unpredictable Firefox nonsense” because this will be their exact experience.

And this to get functionality back they already had, for no other reason than a change in packaging format that is not ready. The functionality simply does not exist yet. And yes, we filed a bug for this when they did the same with Chromium, they had 2 years to fix this. Now we have 6 months and a “we’ll see”.

Name one browser that pushes people to install the competition to keep on doing their work, because they insist changing the packaging format? That competition just uses the old .deb packaging format as we all did for 20 years, and literally nobody cares about it.

Yes, snaps have their place. Flatpaks as well. But until you replace everything with them, nobody can claim you can’t work without them and be safe at the same time. There is nothing that forced this change to be done now, urgently. It is mind-boggling.

While I am not a fan at all of that decision you can still just take Firefox and run it from your home folder. That is the way all Debian users did it when Iceweasel still was a thing and even nowadays because Debian ships Firefox-ESR.
Of course that is not ideal. As a Debian user I always envied Ubuntu because they shipped regular Firefox releases from the repositories and now that will be a thing from the past.

At least you are not really forced to use another browser on Ubuntu. You can choose between Snap, Flatpak, AppImage or a tar.bz2 file.

That is not a viable option from a support perspective.

Could you elaborate please?