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    It is your moral obligation to use Firefox (2019) browsers web 0x46.net
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    I used to think this was the case until I realized that Google funds Firefox through noblesse oblige, and so all the teeth-gnashing over “Google owns the Internet” is still true whether you use Chrome directly or whether you use Firefox. The only real meaningful competition in browsers is from Apple (God help us.) Yes, Apple takes money from Google too, but they don’t rely on Google for their existence.

    I am using Safari now, which is… okay. The extension ecosystem is much less robust but I have survived. I’m also considering Brave, but Chromium browsers just gulp down the battery in Mac OS so I’m not totally convinced there yet.

    Mozilla’s recent political advocacy has also made it difficult for me to continue using Firefox.

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      I used to think this was the case until I realized that Google funds Firefox through noblesse oblige, and so all the teeth-gnashing over “Google owns the Internet” is still true whether you use Chrome directly or whether you use Firefox.

      I’m not sure the premise is true. Google probably wants to have a practical monopoly that does not count as a legal monopoly. This isn’t an angelic motive, but isn’t noblesse oblige.

      More importantly, the conclusion doesn’t follow–at least not 100%. Money has a way of giving you control over people, but it can be imprecise, indirect, or cumbersome. I believe what Google and Firefox have is a contract to share revenue with Firefox for Google searches done through Firefox’s url bar. If Google says “make X, Y and Z decisions about the web or you’ll lose this deal”, that is the kind of statement antitrust regulators find fascinating. Since recent years have seen increased interest in antitrust, Google might not feel that they can do that.

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        Yes, I agree. It’s still bad that most of Mozilla’s funding comes from Google, but it matters that Mozilla is structured with its intellectual property owned by a non-profit. That doesn’t solve all problems, but it creates enough independence that, for example, Firefox is significantly ahead of Chrome on cookie-blocking functionality - which very much hits Google’s most important revenue stream.

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          Google never has to say “make X, Y and Z decisions about the web or you’ll lose this deal,” with or without the threat of antitrust regulation. People have a way of figuring out what they have to do to keep their job.

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          I’m tired of the Pocket suggested stories. They have a certain schtick to them that’s hard to pin down precisely but usually amounts to excessively leftist, pseudo-intellectual clickbait: “meat is the privilege of the west and needs to stop.”

          I know you can turn them off.

          I’m arguing defaults matter, and defaults that serve to distract with intellectual junk is not great. At least it isn’t misinformation, but that’s not saying much.

          Moving back to Chrome this year because of that, along with some perf issues I run into more than I’d like. It’s a shame, I wanted to stop supporting Google, but the W3C has succeeded in creating a standard so complex that millions of dollars are necessary to adequately fund the development of a performant browser.

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            Moving back to Chrome this year because of that, along with some perf issues I run into more than I’d like. It’s a shame, I wanted to stop supporting Google, but the W3C has succeeded in creating a standard so complex that millions of dollars are necessary to adequately fund the development of a performant browser.

            In case you haven’t heard of it, this might be worth checking out: https://ungoogled-software.github.io/

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              Except as of a few days ago Google is cutting off access to certain APIs like Sync that Chromium was using.

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                Straight out of the Android playbook

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            Mozilla’s recent political advocacy has also made it difficult for me to continue using Firefox.

            Can you elaborate on this? I use FF but have never delved into their politics.

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              My top of mind example: https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2021/01/08/we-need-more-than-deplatforming/

              Also: https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2020/07/13/sustainability-needs-culture-change-introducing-environmental-champions/ https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2020/06/24/immigrants-remain-core-to-the-u-s-strength/ https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2020/06/24/were-proud-to-join-stophateforprofit/

              I’m not trying to turn this into debating specifically what is said in these posts but many are just pure politics, which I’m not interested in supporting by telling people to use Firefox. My web browser doesn’t need to talk about ‘culture change’ or systemic racism. Firefox also pushes some of these posts to the new tab page, by default, so it’s not like you can just ignore their blog.

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                  One could just as easily write:

                  “Technology is apolitical. You can ignore that, but it doesn’t make it any less true.”

                  It’s just a talking point unless you bother to define political and/or technology. In the case of the paper referenced downthread, one definition of technology given is:

                  The things we call “technologies” are ways of building order in our world.

                  This is fine for the discussion the author gives, but to us great unwashed masses it is so overly broad that it seems to me we can’t discuss it in an orderly fashion here without spending, again, lots of space setting up what we want precisely to talk about–is language a technology, since it provides order to flapping mouth noises? What about the science of math or physics: not forms of order in themselves, but instead lenses for discerning patterns and forming models? Indeed, what about political science, quite clearly a way of getting people to create order rather than living in a state of nature that is nasty, brutish, and short? Indeed, is there anything that is not ultimately about creating order in our world, in some way or another? Doesn’t this imply that basically everything, politics especially, is inherently just about technology?

                  If we subscribe to the belief above, we might still be able to find things that are truly be off-topic for Lobsters. Then again, I posit that the remaining subset of the the universe is so large as to render the distinction meaningless. If everything is about technology, then nothing is.

                  As an aside, the thing I’ll note is that invariably the “Technology is political” folks here tend to always want to springboard from that anodyne statement into discussing some matter of public policy. My observations about the ensuing discussions:

                  • Lobsters, as with nearly all technical people, have policy opinions far in excess of their policy expertise.
                  • Lobsters, as with nearly all technical people, have philosophical opinions far in excess of their philosophical expertise.
                  • The Lobsters I know that do have a background in either or both of these topics stay away from the resulting garbage fire.
                  • It is incredibly easy to code-switch from an academic posture to a popular one during these discussions, and that in turn can at best be confusing and at worst cleverly used for motte-and-bailey and dogwhistling.
                  • Lobsters have a weak stomach for learning that other Lobsters don’t share their in-group. This leads to a whole bunch of pissing and moaning and angry messages to @pushcx and @Irene for moderation. Additionally, it tends to result in just really ugly conversation–we can’t even talk about Rust without say me and @burntsushi getting into a slapfight, so about truly important things like who gets access to life-changing economic advantages what chance do we have for civil discourse?
                  • Quality discussion about politics requires a whole bunch of setup and teardown and definitions and context, and establishing that all sucks so much oxygen out of discussion sections.
                  • Most all Lobsters aren’t in a position to actually do anything about their political opinions…grandiose platforms about what should be done are seldom actionable in the sense many of us tend to judge submissions by here.
                  • Technology discussions don’t tend to involve the use of force on people quite the same way that policy ones do, and so people get really touchy about policy discussions. People get super defensive (justifiably or not), and again discussion quality drops.
                  • Policy discussions turn into scissor statements really quickly.

                  It’s just all so tiresome.

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                    We do agree on this at least. IMO, statements like “all technology is political” squash nuance and serve only to confuse, whether intentionally or not. If we can’t discuss a topic in good faith in all its requisite nuance, then I’m not interested in having it because I see it as generally a waste of my time. And I think that tends to be what happens with “political” discussions online. If history is any guide, I also have the unfortunate suspicion that it is about to get a lot worse before it gets better.

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                      “Politics” is such a misused term that it’s borderline useless. I’m a simple guy so I have a simple view:

                      • Politics is about trying to live together.
                      • Many things you do affect one or more other people.
                      • This effect can be neutral, negative, or positive.

                      So in that sense, almost everything is “politics”.

                      Of course, the disagreements are about what effects are negative, and what is or aren’t reasonable actions one can/should undertake to minimize those, and what the various trade-offs involved are.

                      Being “politically neutral” on every topic is nigh-impossible, and so is caring about every possible political topic. Usually “politics should be kept out of X” is just a different way of saying “I don’t like this particular topic/viewpoint”, and “everything is politics” is usually just a different way of saying “you should care about my topic/viewpoint”.

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                        Yes. Good analysis. I wholeheartedly agree. (I would even have linked to that same Slate Star Codex essay about out-groups. Did I originally get that from you? I can’t remember now.)

                        I have my own answers to this dilemma, but I don’t think they’re the right answers for what Lobste.rs is trying to be. So… That’s where we are.

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                        Or: “doing nothing” is a choice just as much as “doing something” is. Not that “doing nothing” is an unacceptable choice, but it’s a choice nonetheless. (I dislike the idea that “doing nothing” is inherently bad; no on can be expected to be invested in every possible issue, and sometimes “do nothing” is also the best choice; see: politician’s fallacy).

                        Sometimes people have asked whether I’m worried that I might regret my tattoos at some point in the future. Well, maybe I will, but then again I could also regret the choice of not getting any tattoos just as much as I can regret getting them.

                        Besides, a lot of the things that are mentioned in that post seem fairly neutral to me. Better transparency for ads and algorithms doesn’t seem all that political, and “tools to amplify factual voices over disinformation” is only “political” in the sense that some have used the spread of disinformation as political tool. I mean, would it be political if the Firefox blog would say “Happy holidays”? Some would think so.

                        Am I comfterable with a single authority standing on top of the mountain dictating The Truth™? No, not at all. But I’m also not comfterable with the rampant spread of outright bullshit we see today. There have been some sweeping changes in how information spreads in the last 20 years, and clearly something needs to be done. I don’t know exactly what the best solution will look like, but if we don’t try anything we’ll never get there. It’s better to try and fail then never to try at all.

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                          What do you mean by “technology is political”? Honest question, I’m not trying to stir up controversy, but if I want to discuss a point I should understand what it means.

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                            I don’t believe a robust discussion on this subject would be considered appropriate content by our community, so I will limit myself to one idea you might find worth investigating through other mediums.

                            To “not be political” is a privilege unique to those who remain unharmed by the political status quo, and is thus itself a political position.

                            When “keeping politics out of it” results in a given negative outcome, and judgements are made on outcomes rather than intentions, there is a position that argues “keeping politics out of it” is ethically similar to holding a more extreme (and overt) political opinion that would also result in that same negative outcome, particularly if one believes the world contains a non-zero number of bad faith actors making bad faith arguments (so those actors must be judged on the outcomes of their arguments, not on their bad faith arguments).

                            You may reasonably agree or reasonably disagree with this position, so I would kindly suggest we do not debate its merits here; I merely want to convey that this is a position a large number of people hold.

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                              This paper by Langdon Winner is a great primer on how technological artefacts can have politics.

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                                This link wasn’t working for me earlier. In case anyone else saw it as broken, I’ll post the citation:

                                Do Artifacts Have Politics?
                                Langdon Winner
                                Daedalus
                                Vol. 109, No. 1, Modern Technology: Problem or Opportunity? (Winter, 1980), pp. 121-136 (16 pages)
                                Published By: The MIT Press
                                https://www.jstor.org/stable/20024652
                                
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                              [also a reply to @mort which commented in the exact same tome]

                              Can US people stop treating everything as “political” for the god damn second?

                              (the prize goes to anyone who resist that even more)

                              Technology is not political. It’s just a set of tools and recipes on how to prepare them, interact with them and let them combine with each other. Anything “political” here is in the discussion, which surprisingly always gets there only when Americans are involved (excluding any sort of government participation, of course), other people can talk about technology just fine, can treat privacy as a value regardless of current state of affairs, take FSF as a non profit organization focused on technology and developing many useful tools, with additional bit of its own “religious” trait about specific values which you can just simply ignore or approve - not a political tool. For other people, code and commits have no race, religion, sex, orientation, views and character. But, when American people (and it’s not even a “west world” thing, just US-specific) get into the discussion, everything gets twisted and we often see the discussion shifting from “how this and that tool work and how we should trust it based on the sources provided” to “orange man bad, supporters are using it, ban this” (at best) or anything else like that.

                              No one else cares, and it’s getting even more PiTA recently, though this is not a recent problem and I find myself stuck in such situation quite often for many, many years.

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                                I don’t think you understand what we mean when we say “everything is political.” I don’t think we should ignore the political, social and cultural ramifications of technology that, like @kameliya mentioned, are super fucking obvious.

                                This is the techbro equivalent to the gamer argument that there are two genders: male and political, two skin colors: white and political and two sexual orientations: straight and political.

                                Side note: I agree that large corporations’ slacktivism hurts real progress. Firefox telling you that meat = imperialism is not the same as protesting, for example, the US’s insane military budget. (Just to virtue signal a little: I am a strong anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist).

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                                    I haven’t been following either of you outside this thread so apologies if I’m missing context, but asserting “everything is political” is a defense against attempts to shut down certain kinds of conversation. It doesn’t imply that all conversations must address the political aspects of something.

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                                  Ignoring the rest of the strawman here, are you seriously saying that the FSF is not political? You do realize you can go to their site and see policies that they support, right? Like actual, political policies?

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                                            There is a posting style that reminds folks of the political ramifications of their expressed beliefs. However, folks do not enjoy it. For example, in this thread, a person uttered some odious, uninformed, and wrong things. My initial reply got voted -2 incorrect despite citing every claim and building a careful argument; people do not respond rationally to evidence.

                                            (It also got voted -2 unkind, which is understandable. I am not a nice person.)

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                                        I don’t care. So its not just skrzyp.

                                        (Source: am not a US person, have never lived in the US. But I am marginalised in several respects and I’m sick of this American cultural colonialism being imposed on us by the tech companies)

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                                  I’m started to be afraid that being against censorship is enough to get you ‘more than de-platformed’.

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                                      Really? I feel like every prescription in that post seems reasonable; increase transparency, make the algorithm prioritize factual information over misinformation, research the impact of social media on people and society. How could anyone disagree with those points?

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                                        You’re right, how could anyone disagree with the most holy of holies, ‘fact checkers’?

                                        Here’s a great fact check: https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2021/jan/06/ted-cruz/ted-cruzs-misleading-statement-people-who-believe-/

                                        The ‘fact check’ is a bunch of irrelevant information about how bad Ted Cruz and his opinions are, before we get to the meat of the ‘fact check’ which is, unbelievably, “yes, what he said is true, but there was also other stuff he didn’t say that we think is more important than what he did!”

                                        Regardless of your opinion on whether this was a ‘valid’ fact check or not, I don’t want my web browser trying to pop up clippy bubbles when I visit a site saying “This has been officially declared by the Fact Checkers™ as wrongthink, are you sure you’re allowed to read it?” I also don’t want my web browser marketer advocating for deplatforming (“we need more than deplatforming suggests that deplatforming should still be part of the ‘open’ internet.) That’s all.

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                                          a bunch of irrelevant information about how bad Ted Cruz and his opinions are

                                          I don’t see that anywhere. It’s entirely topical and just some context about what Cruz was talking about.

                                          the meat of the ‘fact check’ which is, unbelievably, “yes, what he said is true, but there was also other stuff he didn’t say that we think is more important than what he did!”

                                          That’s not what it says at all. Anyone can cherry-pick or interpret things in such a way that makes their statement “factual”. This is how homeopaths can “truthfully” point at studies which show an effect in favour of homeopathy. But any fact check worth its salt will also look at the overwhelming majority of studies that very clearly demonstrate that homeopathy is no better than a placebo, and therefore doesn’t work (plus, will point out that the proposed mechanisms of homeopathy are extremely unlikely to work in the first place, given that they violate many established laws of physics).

                                          The “39% of Americans … 31% of independents … 17% of Democrats believe the election was rigged” is clearly not supported by any evidence, and only by a tenuous interpretation of a very limited set of data. This is a classic case of cherry-picking.

                                          I hardly ever read politifact, but if this is really the worst fact-check you can find then it seems they’re not so bad.

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                                            This article has a few more examples of bad fact checks:

                                            https://greenwald.substack.com/p/instagram-is-using-false-fact-checking

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                                            Media fact-checkers are known to be biased.

                                            [Media Matters lobby] had to make us think that we needed a third party to step in and tell us what to think and sort through the information … The fake news effort, the fact-checking, which is usually fake fact-checking, meaning it’s not a genuine effort, is a propaganda effort … We’ve seen it explode as we come into the 2020 election, for much the same reason, whereby, the social media companies, third parties, academic institutions and NewsGuard … they insert themselves. But of course, they’re all backed by certain money and special interests. They’re no more in a position to fact-check than an ordinary person walking on the street … — Sharyl Attkisson on Media Bias, Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

                                            Below is a list of known rebuttals of some “fact-checkers”.

                                            Politifact

                                            • I wanted to show that these fact-checkers just lie, and they usually go unchecked because most people don’t have the money, don’t have the time, and don’t have the platform to go after them — and I have all three” — Candace Owens Challenges Fact-Checker, And Wins

                                            Full fact (fullfact.org)

                                            Snopes

                                            Associated Press (AP)

                                            • Fact-checking was devised to be a trusted way to separate fact from fiction. In reality, many journalists use the label “fact-checking” as a cover for promoting their own biases. A case in point is an Associated Press (AP) piece headlined “AP FACT-CHECK: Trump’s inaccurate boasts on China travel ban,” which was published on March 26, 2020 and carried by many news outlets.” — Propaganda masquerading as fact-checking

                                            Politico

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                                              I’m interested in learning about the content management systems that these fact checker websites use to effectively manage large amounts of content with large groups of staff. Do you have any links about that?

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                                                The real error is to imply that “fact checkers” are functionally different from any other source of news/journalism/opinion. All such sources are a collection of humans. All humans have bias. Many such collections of humans have people that are blind to their own bias, or suffer a delusion of objectivity.

                                                Therefore the existence of some rebuttals to a minuscule number of these “fact checks” (between 0 and 1% of all “fact checks”) should not come as a surprise to anyone. Especially when the rebuttals are published by other news/journalism/opinion sources that are at least as biased and partisan as the fact checkers they’re rebutting.

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                                                  The real error is to imply that “fact checkers” are functionally different from any other source of news/journalism/opinion.

                                                  Indeed they aren’t that different. Fact-checkers inherit whatever bias that is already present in mainstream media, which itself is a well-documented fact, as the investigative journalist Sharyl Atkisson explored in her two books:

                                                  • The Smear exposes and focuses on the multi-billion dollar industry of political and corporate operatives that control the news and our info, and how they do it.
                                                  • Slanted looks at how the operatives moved on to censor info online (and why), and has chapters dissecting the devolution of NYT and CNN, recommendations where to get off narrative news, and a comprehensive list of media mistakes.
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                                            After reading that blog post last week I switched away from Firefox. It will lead to the inevitable politicization of a web browser where the truthfulness of many topics is filtered through a very left-wing, progressive lens.

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                                              I feel like “the election wasn’t stolen” isn’t a left- or right-wing opinion. It’s just the truth.

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                                                To be fair, I feel like the whole idea of the existence of an objective reality is a left-wing opinion right now in the US.

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                                                  There are many instances of objective reality which left-wing opinion deems problematic. It would be unwise to point them out on a public forum.

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                                                    I feel like you have set up a dilemma for yourself. In another thread, you complain that we are headed towards a situation where Lobsters will no longer be a reasonable venue for exploring inconvenient truths. However, in this thread, you insinuate that Lobsters already has become unreasonable, as an excuse for avoiding giving examples of such truths. Which truths are being silenced by Lobsters?

                                                    Which truths are being silenced by Mozilla? Keep in mind that the main issue under contention in their blog post is whether a privately-owned platform is obligated to repeat the claims of a politician, particularly when those claims would undermine democratic processes which elect people to that politician’s office; here, there were no truths being silenced, which makes the claim of impending censorship sound like a slippery slope.

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                                                      Yeah but none that are currently fomenting a coup in a major world power.

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                                                  But… Mozilla has been inherently political the whole way. The entire Free Software movement is incredibly political. Privacy is political. Why is “social media should be more transparent and try to reduce the spread of blatant misinformation” where you draw the line?

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                                                    That’s not where I draw the line. We appear to be heading towards a Motte and Bailey fallacy where recent events in the US will be used as justification to clamp down on other views and opinions that left-wing progressives don’t approve of (see some of the comments on this page about ‘fact checkers’)

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                                                      In this case though, the “views and opinions that left-wing progressives don’t approve of” are the ideas of white supremacy and the belief that the election was rigged. Should those not be “clamped down” on? (I mean, it’s important to be able to discuss whether the election was rigged, but not when it’s just a president who doesn’t want to accept a loss and has literally no credible evidence of any kind.)

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                                                        I mentioned the Motte and Bailey fallacy being used and you bring up ‘white supremacy’ in your response! ‘White Supremacy’ is the default Motte used by the progressive left. The Bailey being a clamp down on much more contentious issues. Its this power to clamp down on the more contentious issues that I object to.

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                                                          So protest clamp downs on things you don’t want to see clamp downs on, and don’t protest clamp downs on things you feel should be clamped down on? We must be able to discuss and address real issues, such as the spread of misinformation and discrimination/supremacy.

                                                          But that’s not even super relevant to the article in question. Mozilla isn’t even calling for censoring anyone. It’s calling for a higher degree of transparency (which none of us should object to) and for the algorithm to prioritize factual information over misinformation (which everyone ought to agree with in principle, though we can criticize specific ways to achieve it).

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                                                            We are talking past each other in a very unproductive way.

                                                            The issue I have is with what you describe as “…and for the algorithm to prioritize factual information over misinformation”

                                                            Can you not see the problem when the definition of ‘factual information’ is in the hands of a small group of corporations from the West Coast of America? Do you think that the ‘facts’ related to certain hot-button issues will be politically neutral?

                                                            It’s this bias that i object to.

                                                            This American cultural colonialism.

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                                                              Can you not see the problem when the definition of ‘factual information’ is in the hands of a small group of corporations from the West Coast of America?

                                                              ReclaimTheNet recently published a very good article on this topic

                                                              https://reclaimthenet.org/former-aclu-head-ira-glasser-explains-why-you-cant-ban-hate-speech/

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                                                                That’s an excellent article. Thank you for posting it.

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                                                                  You’re welcome. You might be interested in my public notes on the larger topic, published here.

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                                                    Out of interest, to which browser did you switch?

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                                                if possible, try vivaldi, being based on chromium, it will be easiest to switch to f.e. you can install chromium’s extensions in vivaldi. not sure about their osx (which seems to be your use-case), support though, so ymmv.

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                                                Here’s something I don’t understand. Microsoft in the late 90s was hit with an antitrust lawsuit after they bundled Internet Explorer with Windows and made it un-removable. Now, Google is doing the same, with most Android devices coming with an un-installable (AFAIK not even the “Disable” button works) Chrome browser, and their Chromebooks also come with pre-installed Chrome. How does this not cause an antitrust violation, considering a majority of the world runs Android (even if not Chromebook)?

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                                                  I feel like we’ve been in a long period where antitrust laws have been fairly toothless. However, there are also some differences.

                                                  I wasn’t around at the time, but my understanding is that basically the entire world of computing was using Windows. Today, a normal person might realistically access the web from their iPhone, or their Android phone, or their Windows computer, or their Apple computer, or their Chromebook. That’s a very different world from the one where every person realistically only could access the web from their Windows computer. We’re in a world where Chrome is in a privileged position on Android/ChromeOS, Safari is in a privileged position on iOS/macOS, and Edge is in a privileged position Windows, compared to the world where IE was in a privileged position on essentially every computing device.

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                                                    Back when I started to use Unix around the turn of the millennium it was a very different world indeed. Apple was as niche as “Linux on the desktop” is today, there were no other platforms, and Microsoft was the God Emperor Company when it came to desktop software.

                                                    Being sent a .doc was file a serious problem. You could kind-of open them in OpenOffice.org, but not really. There were some CLI tools as well (e.g. antiword) but they just dumped the text and everything lost was lost. Saving .doc files was possible, but expecting someone in Microsoft Word to view the document in the same way as you saved it was a leap of faith.

                                                    Making a site look great on both IE and Firefox was a real mission as they used different box models; the IE one made a lot more sense (and is also what everyone is using now box-sizing: border-box) but it wasn’t “according to the spec” and the Mozilla people stuck to their guns on this, a mistake IMO as it was far easier to just make CSS 2.3 to change this; it would saved untold hours of web dev work and made the spec better, as it’s just a better model. But ah well.

                                                    As much as people love to complain about Chrome now, the entire situation is a lot better. I rarely have issues in Firefox, and if I make something I tend to just test it in Firefox and then Chrome “just to be sure”, but it almost always just works well. Problems with .doc file formats and whatnot are mostly gone.

                                                    This doesn’t mean it’s all perfect or that we haven’t gotten new problems in return; I kind of resent that I need to own an Android or iOS device just to use WhatsApp for example, and that not using it can be quite debilitating. But overall, yeah, the “Chrome problem” is much less severe than the “IE problem” of 20 years ago.

                                                    1. 4

                                                      Disclaimer: I’m a Microsoft employee, but wasn’t during the antitrust trial.

                                                      It’s true that back in 1997 the market share of Windows was much higher than now, and that antitrust is really concerned with regulating monopolies. But note the antitrust trial was launched as a result of bundling IE with Windows, and in the end after the settlement, IE was still bundled with Windows.

                                                      Imagine an alternate universe where this didn’t happen. If Microsoft weren’t allowed to bundle IE with Windows, how would it have influenced Apple or Google’s behavior? Then again, if platforms didn’t bundle browsers, what would the user experience be today? I think part of the answer would be “we’d run a lot more native applications.”

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                                                        I think you are right. Sadly the main difference between them is in which stocks revenues go to. Otherwise, despite all of the marketing, fanoboyism, etc. they are still acting largely the same on both platforms. They essentially work the same, you need to have an account by them, you cannot use the device as intended without an account, you have to pay them loads of money to get access to their customers.

                                                        And there is essentially no competition. Furthermore this is slowly being set into stone, as for example European laws require one to use 2FA for money transfers/banking, and that 2FA in the majority of cases means you have to use an app provided by the bank, which means if you want to even have the slightest chance to compete you need to make all these banks develop an app, which is a chicken and egg problem, where big enough user bases won’t happen unless you have support for apps and vice versa. Banking apps just being one example.

                                                        I don’t think there are many ways out. Maybe something like forcing them to support let’s say WASM (or any kind of standard) there is little chance to get out of that. Even if you were had one of the biggest companies and that somehow became your major plan I imagine it would be very hard to break into the market without basing off open source Android for example. In other words you won’t achieve this with innovation alone.

                                                    2. 10

                                                      It might, along similar lines of reasoning, be our moral obligation to destroy the Web. We can take our time and ensure that we’ re not being rash; Chesterton’s fences surround the Web. But perhaps, if the only way to browse the Web is through an expensive centralized project which produces a monolithic browser, and such projects are easy to co-opt for commercial purposes, and the bulk of Web traffic is for consuming monetized goods and services, then we need to construct a new series of systems which, through technical countermeasures, cannot be centralized or co-opted.

                                                      1. 2

                                                        It’s not the only way but it enables features that push the boundaries of what we can do and expect from the Web.

                                                        It would be like saying that we should destroy AM/FM radio just because we don’t like certain radio manufacturers to be monopolising the market with fancy new walled (and wanted) features. One saying that we should support less corrupted manufacturers is not a stretch at all.

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                                                          Yep. I agree, when you grow a forest the first trees grow too fast and are weak, it takes a few hundred years for trees to fall and new ones to grow in the shelter of the forest, slowly and more robustly.

                                                          For too long we’ve been confusing the web for the internet, most people don’t draw a distinction. I believe the next step will be to make Linux the application platform and use things like Nix or Guix to distribute “web applications”.

                                                          We are still missing an alternative GUI framework but I have hope rust will clear the way there.

                                                        2. 10

                                                          Morals should be universal, if something is a moral obligation, it should be the right thing to do in all situations. I don’t think this is the case for Firefox, and it shouldn’t be made to look like this. You should use Firefox, if you think that an open web can and should be saved. But this would not a moral necessity, but an instrumental one.

                                                          I have previously written about Mozilla’s user-hostile behaviour, which includes but isn’t limited to adding features nobody wants, removing features many people like, deciding what is better for users, even if these disagree. Articles like these legitimize this kind of behaviour.

                                                          There is no other program most people would use that so routinely mistreats them, as Firefox. It’s still OK, and I do use it from time to time, but I don’t like it, even if it’s just because it seems lacking compared to what it once was. That all being said, I don’t even believe that the open web can be saved, or that any significant effort should be invested to do so.

                                                          The sites and webpages a lot of us might frequent, will stay safe if only because browsers have to maintain backwards compatibility to 20+ year old sites, and that implies that our servers will survive. What is at stake is the future, a new generation of the web not marked by open access, free software and independent implementations, but DRM, software dependency and closed implementations: It’s a return to a closed media landscape that the classical media corporations (newspapers, film studios, etc.) have always wanted. This ~30 year hiccup has essentially resulted in a new industry that provides the new foundation, and it has appropriated the web browser for this purpose, and even “improved” it: More analytics and more individual targeting than was every possible before.

                                                          For Firefox to survive outside a niche technical community as something outdates as a “Web-Browser”, it must go along with whatever new developments are (effectively) pushed forward by Google – and that is setting aside their financial dependence on Google, that wants Firefox to exist, for them to avoid lawsuits. Considering all of this, I still believe that there is no “moral necessity” to use Firefox, and that any argument to make you feel bad for not using Firefox is invalid.

                                                          1. 6

                                                            There is no other program most people would use that so routinely mistreats them, as Firefox.

                                                            I dislike various decisions Mozilla has made along the way, and think Firefox is quite probably doomed, but that doesn’t feel like a very supportable statement considering how many people routinely use Windows, smartphones, and Facebook.

                                                            You could of course argue that the browsers bear responsibility for enabling the abuses of things like social media companies, and I think that’s reasonable - the web itself was deeply flawed from its inception. But this level of hyperbole about Firefox doesn’t really do the rest of your (reasonable) argument any favors.

                                                            Anyway, I more or less agree that we’re past the point where the open web is salvageable. I’m coming around to the view that that’s because the web hasn’t been especially “open” since roughly the moment when it first became an application platform.

                                                            1. 3

                                                              but that doesn’t feel like a very supportable statement considering how many people routinely use Windows, smartphones, and Facebook.

                                                              You’re probably right, shouldn’t have probably said “There is no other program I would use that so routinely mistreats them, as Firefox”.

                                                          2. 6

                                                            I don’t like the performance of Firefox over Chrome but I believe it’s true we have a moral obligation.

                                                            At the same time, we should also be prepared for a future where Mozilla disappears or gives up. At that point, what are we (tech people) going to do? Struggle to create an alternative? Suck it up and give up as well? Lose access to one of the best technical and social inventions of the last century?

                                                            I think we should try to find a solution before the G-day happens.

                                                            I wouldn’t mind supporting a good alternative that can hold their ground and integrity even if people might require to use Chrome for certain specific websites.

                                                            Back in the day, I still had to use IE to do certain things (like system updates) that didn’t stop many to still install another browser for everything else.

                                                            And if Google forces certain components that this new browser doesn’t want to support, explain to the user why is that and expose them issue clearly and simply.

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                                                              The last straw for me for firefox was its auto update policy. It renders itself unusable (can’t open any new tabs) until you shut it down and restart, which is unbelievably user-unfriendly.

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                                                                That never happened to me ever. Strange.

                                                                1. 1

                                                                  It depends on what package manager you used to install Firefox. If you installed it on Windows or Mac, or if you use a Portable install of Firefox on Linux, then the update will be installed only when Firefox is restarted, and the problem will be avoided.

                                                                  If you’re managing your Firefox install using RPM or DPKG, then it doesn’t get to delay the update like that.

                                                                  Source: I run Linux Mint, and use both their stock Firefox version and Tor Browser (which is effectively a portable Firefox install). I used to run Windows, which uses the same tactic.

                                                                  1. 1

                                                                    But it’s not like that for me (on Windows, Mac and Ubuntu) , as I never got forced to update.

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                                                                      I did install via DPKG, so that’s good to know. That said, why does that make a difference? It’s auto updating, not waiting for me to update via apt, so I don’t see how the installation method matters.

                                                                  2. 2

                                                                    This is probably because of Electrolysis and the contentprocess system. Because Firefox runs separate processes to contain the Javascript VM, if you update while Firefox is running and it has to start a new content process it might cause broken behavior due to version incompatibilities. Does Chrome not experience this?

                                                                    1. 1

                                                                      Chrome doesn’t; I think it keeps a copy of the old version until you restart.

                                                                  3. 5

                                                                    If the content has changed or warrants new discussion, you may submit it again.

                                                                    Considering the fact it was posted before the mass Mozilla layoffs, project cuts and their other weird decisions, it definitely “warrants a new discussion”. Keeping the current world political situation in mind also puts this in different light, especially within current public interest on widely considered “privacy” and Mozilla’s political stances not really unrelated to their profession and going against their values.

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                                                                      And it’s still a moral obligation to use a browser that isn’t Google Internet Explorer. The only such browser that is practically useful is Firefox. Therefore, it’s a moral obligation to use Firefox. ;)

                                                                      I’m thinking of launching a catalog of Chrome-only websites lately to draw attention to the problem. Maybe some simple static site with a git patch workflow for adding new entries.

                                                                      1. 4

                                                                        Well, if you happen to be running macOS there is Safari. Otherwise I agree with you. If we get unlucky enough that 99% of the web browsers out there are Chrome, then there isn’t a “World Wide Web”, there is a “Chrome Wide Web”.

                                                                        1. 0

                                                                          Safari is running WebKit, which is essentialy Chromium.

                                                                          1. 7

                                                                            Well, like all things it’s complicated. They have a common ancestor, but they are most definitely not the same browsers anymore.

                                                                            Specifically:

                                                                            Chrome uses Chromium, which uses Blink. Blink is a fork of the WebCore component of WebKit, which was originally a fork of the KHTML and KJS libraries from KDE.

                                                                            Safari uses Webkit, WebKit’s HTML and JavaScript engine started as a fork of the KHTML and KJS libraries from KDE.

                                                                            So Chrome took a part of Webkit and made their own browser; it’s not really the same thing anymore.

                                                                            But I agree that Firefox is a totally and completely independent code base. I’m not saying you should use Safari over Firefox (in fact I use Firefox 99% of the time).

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                                                                              Not really. Humans are not chimps, just same ancestry.

                                                                          2. 0

                                                                            And it’s still a moral obligation to use a browser that isn’t Google Internet Explorer. The only such browser that is practically useful is Firefox. Therefore, it’s a moral obligation to use Firefox. ;)

                                                                            Well, I didn’t said otherwise ;>

                                                                            But the fact that only alternative to Chromium is Gecko and it’s getting burned from inside by Mozilla doesn’t really appeal for me and makes the future even more stressful and unstable.

                                                                        2. 4

                                                                          Tags: rant

                                                                          I hate to say it, but I’m extremely cynical about the future of web. Standards bloat sucks, but so does privacy erosion, centralization, misinformation, political weaponization, and all the other outrageous fuckery we’ve all been reading about for years.

                                                                          When the GDPR first came out I was against it: what a ton of work for developers like me! Now, I just hope the laws keep coming as fast as possible.

                                                                          We cannot trust companies to do the right thing until the wrong thing threatens their bottom line. Trump banned? Yeah, unfortunately the violent overthrow of the US government would affect the bottom lines of many tech companies, so now he’s finally banned. Let’s not pretend there was any other reason.

                                                                          I just hope lawmakers—in all countries—start regulating the tech clusterfuck before more people get hurt. Or worse, before we do irreparable damage to our world.

                                                                          1. 3

                                                                            privacy erosion, centralization, misinformation, political weaponization

                                                                            Luckily, government regulations are completely immune to falling prey to any of these so having them come in fast and loose will certainly make things better.

                                                                            1. 3

                                                                              Hmmm, you make a good point. In lieu of flawless government, I guess we should wait for companies to magically change their behaviors despite every incentive not to. Or for a hitherto unknown third party with more power than world governments or international corporations to intervene on our behalf. Jolly good.

                                                                          2. 3

                                                                            The title is clickbait. The post fails to back it up.

                                                                            For the conclusion to follow from the author’s vague assertions that Google is behind Chrome and Google does Bad Things, you have to share some unstated view of what the Web should be, that Google’s interests will inevitably drag Chrome against it, that Firefox is the antidote, and that that difference Firefox can make is a moral one. Ditto their statements to make Google out as the same as Microsoft of yesteryear. As someone who worked in Web Dev in the Internet Explorer era, who did a lot of cross-browser bug hunting and had to price contracts based on browser support, I don’t see it.

                                                                            Chrome was a revelation. It was free. It followed the standards. It updated itself. It was fast, even on modest machines. You could install it on computers for friends, family, and non-techie coworkers and pretty much forget about it. No going back every year or every quarter, uninstalling a bunch of malicious toolbars and plugins, reassessing which browser is in the lead this year, or upgrading the one you already had manually. You didn’t have to constantly explain away disruptive UI changes. You could send links to settings pages. Chrome was, and remains, a gobsmacking high water mark of strategic corporate loss leading. And not just by Google. Before Blink, WebKit did long, faithful service.

                                                                            There’s plenty of evidence that Google gets its way in the standards bodies, and not just to play Alpha Engineer. Many standards processes have been changed to cede more leadership to implementations, the most prominent of which is clearly Chrome. I’d love to see more diversity and openness in standards, and more outside contribution to roadmap in Chromium. But despite all the non-FANG potential that could be unlocked that way, it’s icing on the fluffy, moist cake of stability and maintenance that Chrome represents.

                                                                            The dominant implementation of “core” web standards is permissively licensed open source. Major use cases, from news to secure communications to e-commerce, aren’t being levered by standards shenanigans into dependence on one vendor’s browser implementation, or by extension its operating system. Altruism it ain’t, at least from higher levels. But it ain’t heyday Microsoft, either.

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                                                                              I will continue to use Chrome purely because I can sync all my addresses, cards, password & more across all of my devices. They’ve locked me into the Google ecosystem and switching to other browsers, I lose the passwords I’ve generated. Sure, I could install a password manager, but it won’t work on every single device I own – there will be inconsistencies and it’s much less effort for me to just use Chrome. I know it’s not how it should be, but from the perspective of the average internet user, they wouldn’t know any better.

                                                                              Either way, it begs the question of “is it bad that the Chrome team can influence and change web standards”

                                                                              I’m not sure, but it’s never with malicious intent & the chrome web docs are really great to keep up with what they have/are doing. Would love to hear other opinions

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                I wish we had more browser options. Currently impatiently waiting for The Browser Company to release their.

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                                                                                1. It is your moral obligation to use Firefox via calvin 2 years ago | 130 points | 83 comments