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    It’s our job as enthusiasts to increase the mindshare of Firefox. Our influence on other people should not be underestimated. If you set up a computer for somebody, install Firefox. If you make a presentation, use Firefox. If you make recommendations, recommend Firefox. There are other great browsers out there, but the web is complex and just like with car brands you end up with an oligopoly. Among the oligopologists, Firefox is the best choice.

    The time that Firefox sucked and lacked in the last few years is effectively over. Their Quantum engine is faster than Chrome’s and we should not make Mozilla regret their deep architectural leap. The only way in which Chrome is “ahead” is in vendor specific extensions that none other than Google itself can keep up with implementing sanely.

    Firefox is the only (relevant) browser that even allows you to tweak it in ways to reduce tracking and fingerprinting. There’s no NoScript or Cookie-blocking on Chrome/Chromium handled by extensions. Given the side-project Tor-Browser, there’s a steady in-flow of privacy features.

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      While all what you said is true, one should not forget that Mozilla does a pretty good job killing off the pro Firefox arguments. The switch to Quantum for example killed a lot of extensions which, even by now, haven’t been updated to support the new add-on specs. Maybe this was for the better considering the fact that most of the affected extensions probably haven’t been updated in a couple years and could pontentially have lead to security issues if they would still be compatible with post Quantum versions of Firefox. Besides that there have been things like the DNS over HTTPS with Cloudflare as default provider, having Google Analytics on their about:addons page and my favorites: silently installing an add related extension that tampers with text on webpages you visit. Yet it still is the only browser I use and feel comfortable with.

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        Surely Mozilla does not have a white west, but it’s the lesser evil. I just checked: the Google-Analytics-problem is not present anymore. The thing about the installed extensions is just misconfiguration. If you are against these experimental extensions, you can just disable it under “Firefox Data Collection and Use” under “Privacy & Security”.

        The only remaining thing is Cloudflare, and I agree with you in this regard, given it’s non-trivial for a non-technical person to disable it (setting network.trr.mode = 5 in about:config). However, maybe it just shows how desperate Mozilla is to ensure funding, even accepting such experiments and deals with the “evil” players. What you forgot to mention is the default choice of Google Search in Firefox.

        All in all though, these are tolerable tradeoffs in my opinion. It might be a bit damaging to Mozilla’s reputation, but it does not fundamentally damage the web in some way.

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          The thing about the installed extensions is just misconfiguration.

          I’m not sure if we should play it down to that as the Looking Glass extension was shipped silently, could not be opted out before downloading the installer and most importantly was enabled by default. That alone are enough obstacles to keep non technical or privacy interested users from knowing about and disabling this addon which could be considered as an evil interest by Mozilla.

          However, maybe it just shows how desperate Mozilla is to ensure funding

          which is definitely an important point to keep in mind and should get every long term user which can afford supporting this project to consider donating to Mozilla. Also keep in mind that they don’t blast funding campaigns in your face everytime you use Firefox like other institutions do (yes that’s you I’m looking at Wikipedia!).

          All in all though, these are tolerable tradeoffs in my opinion.

          We can agree on that without a doubt.

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          one should not forget that Mozilla does a pretty good job killing off the pro Firefox arguments

          Agree on that. I’m still burned by the way they killed vertical tabs.

          My main issue is that even if they allowed vertical tabs again, I still wouldn’t trust them anymore to not break things again after a few months.

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            There is Tree Style Tabs, which has supported the WebExtension platform since shortly after the release. Its been pretty stable.

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              I used TST before WebExtensions became mandatory. Now it’s garbage.

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              I really wish Mozilla would make tab configuration a first-class feature without the need for extensions.

              It seems here and elsewhere I’m not the only one who dislikes the default scrollable one-line setup, and now that the user chrome css hack(s) I found online don’t work, it’s just sad.

              Is there a reason tree-style tabs and multi-row tabs can’t be a preference in the browser proper?

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                Is there a reason tree-style tabs and multi-row tabs can’t be a preference in the browser proper?

                Because Chrome doesn’t do it. You can bet if Google introduced it tomorrow, Firefox would ship with it within a month.

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            I’ll give Firefox another try after this but I have many Chrome extensions that are muscle-memoryed into my workflow that switching would be difficult. The only thing that let me completely shift from Chrome, which I’ve done now, is Brave and that was only once it could support all Chrome extensions. My concern with Brave is that it could go away tomorrow, which would be a pro for Mozilla.

            (Incidentally, I really like Brave.)

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              Doesn’t brave use chromium?

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                Yes, it’s the exact same code in the browser engine.

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            I’ve been using Firefox as my daily driver for a few months now. I see no reason to return to Chrome. It’s funny how so many websites either don’t consider anything but Chrome or encourage you to switch. “Best viewed with Chrome” isn’t far off.

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              Just a rant against Google, if a well written and reasoned one.

              It would be very interesting if we could get a properly packageable browser, but I’m sure it’s impossible

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                I came to this article wanting to agree but found its arguments dissatisfying.

                For one, it makes the baseless claim that Google “seek[s] to neutralize ad-blocking”. Google wanted to speed up page loads and proposed a number of changes to the way extensions work, one of which was incredibly reasonable (it would in fact speed up page loads!) but incidentally made the lives of ad-blocking extension authors more difficult. Google walked back the change to this unreleased api once they were made aware of their mistake. This is exactly how things should work! The article later implies that the Chrome team doesn’t care about user experience… but this case is an example of how they do care! Google is still, even after reaching a quasi-monopoly position, working very hard on making your browsing faster. Where do you think QUIC and SPDY came from?

                It also claims that Chrome tracks your browsing history. So does… every other browser? Chrome does not upload your history and give it to Google unless you have that feature enabled.

                There’s no mention of Google’s pretty cool usage of differential-privacy: https://www.chromium.org/developers/design-documents/rappor i.e. your browsing history and a lot of other metrics are uploaded but in a form which can’t be used to learn much about you. RAPPOR is not the invention of a company which rapaciously takes anything you have to give it.

                Brushing all that aside, I wonder if the real problem here is a governance issue. A monoculture doesn’t sound so bad if the single implementation is controlled by the users and definitely working in our interests. It is frustrating that Google doesn’t seem totally aligned. Faster page loads mean more page views mean more ad impressions so you can trust them to keep pushing that post forward but a short-sighted Google would prefer to slurp up your entire browsing history.

                An implementation controlled by the users sounds kind of like Firefox. But Mozilla can’t do as well as Google can, for whatever reason. Servo took how many years and still isn’t done? I don’t mean to be flippant, they’re working on a very hard problem and it would take me a while too. Mozilla does seem to have lost fair and square though.

                Maybe the problem is that users don’t know what they want. We really wanted all the old Firefox extensions to stop working, because that gives Mozilla some extra agility to add support for things like multiprocessing. Users said they wanted the add-ons to keep working though, and that really slowed things down.

                Or maybe the problem is that Google has an infinity of resources, not just money but also brilliant engineers, and we’ve made a faustian bargain where they make a great browser for us in exchange for our needing to monitoring how well they respect our privacy.

                Maybe the problem is that we’re thinking about browsers all wrong. Do they have to be so integrated? What if users could pick their rendering engine?

                Maybe there’s no problem at all. Google does seem to mostly respect your privacy. They are plenty of Chromium-based browsers you can use if you don’t like Chrome.

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                  Maybe the problem is that users don’t know what they want. We really wanted all the old Firefox extensions to stop working, because that gives Mozilla some extra agility to add support for things like multiprocessing. Users said they wanted the add-ons to keep working though, and that really slowed things down.

                  Users legitimately stopped using Firefox because of broken extensions. They also stopped using Firefox because Chrome was performing better. The only case I know of here where users’ revealed preference disagrees with their stated preference is security: users continue to use browsers that regularly have CVE’s, and they usually advise users to not visit web pages that they don’t trust (which is probably part of how we ended up with the Facebook monoculture…) If Firefox had wanted to keep users above all else, they could’ve just allowed extensions to continue to do whatever they want even after the browser went multiprocess; the only reason why they didn’t do that is because it would’ve allowed extensions to have data races in them.

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                    users continue to use browsers that regularly have CVE’s, and they usually advise users to not visit web pages that they don’t trust

                    I’ll add there was a significant chunk of people using IE and Firefox on Windows with sandboxing software that neutralized many CVE’s. They sometimes had combos of them like DefenseWall, SandboxIE (not just IE), maybe NoScript/Flashblock/Adblock for Firefox, and/or some security suite. Then, there were people running browser VM’s for extra-untrustworthy stuff or LiveCD’s for online banking (esp with Brian Krebs advice).

                    I was one of the ultra-sandboxed people on Windows at one point. It was security by malware economics where the kit developers weren’t targeting a setup like that given they were casting a wide net to maximize the number of Windows machines in botnets with minimal effort. So, it was fairly safe outside targeted attacks. Some of us were even training privacy-conscious laypeople to use NoScript with rules of thumb for what to allow or disallow. Many picked it up without knowing tech. I’ve been on Linux for a while now, though. I can’t tell you current state of things or even how to configure a Windows box. My vague memories stop with Windows 7: the best Windows. :)

                    Edit: To confirm on switching, I did have to ditch Firefox for Chrome on a bartered backup I used (Presario w/ Celeron). The newer Firefox’s were running at a crawl speed that didn’t match the pace I needed for research. The Core Duo 2 I had performed fine but Celeron with Firefox was apparently the bound. Chrome ran fast on it. Firefox actually got slower on that machine with the Quantum updates that were supposed to make it faster. That was around when I switched off it.

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                  Would it be sufficient if people switched to other browsers like Vivaldi, or other privacy focused blink based browsers? A lot of the arguments in this article were around Google tracking user data in the browser. I definitely agree that this is a big concern, but I don’t think it’s a great argument about how the blink rendering engine being more and more popular is bad thing.

                  In fact, it seems like Microsoft adopting blink will make the chromium project better since there will be more than one company contributing and controlling it. Implementing something like a web browser is a ton of work at this point, and I almost wonder if it’s a waste of developer time to keep reimplementing what is essentially the same functionality more than once. I’m sort of playing devil’s advocate here, I know this is a pretty unpopular opinion. And for the record I have been using Firefox a lot more lately and do like it.