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    I wrote this, if you have any questions. I was trying to get some of my relatives to switch to Firefox and had forgotten how much smoother the initial setup is for Chrome than it is for Firefox. Plus, my family almost all already uses Google products, so it didn’t improve their privacy too much to switch.

    Getting my parents to use Safari instead of Chrome on their MacBook was quite a bit easier, by comparison, since Safari is so well optimized for battery life and performance (and syncs better to their iPhones).

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      Hi snazz.

      “Pocket Integration” and the “spam on New Tab page” were both hotly contested on Bugzilla and IRC and the Mozilla people flat out ignored the protests and downright rage from long time users and netizens.

      Why? Near as I can tell, they did it for money. Hold on, hold on… It is complicated:

      The business deals Mozilla made with Pocket and Google enable them to employ (pay) over a thousand people and work with thousands more (volunteers).

      There is more than one way to change this situation so we get less “Pocket Integration” going forward. You could donate money to Mozilla, to increase their financial independence. (You could encourage your relatives to do the same!) You could become one of the volunteers and carry out work on the browser that otherwise would be done by paid employees. (I see that you speak Go. How about Rust?)

      Presently, Mozilla is the only non-profit producing a flagship browser. Are we going let them continue to sell themselves (and us) out of desperation? Or are we going to tell them that they will never have to do that again because we are going to take care of them?

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        I agree with you on all of that (and I have donated to them and a variety of other FOSS causes), but I find it virtually impossible for them to sustain themselves that way. I don’t have a solution, but I don’t think donations will allow them to stay at their current size.

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      What privacy has the average Joe user gained by switching to Firefox?

      Tracking protection enabled by default is a huge advantage over Chrome in my view.

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        And then Google on Firefox shows the Download Chrome ad…

        It’s interesting too that extensions aren’t mentioned once in that post.

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          Why would extensions be a selling point any more? Now that the extension mechanism has commodified post-Quantum, it can’t be used as a distinguishing factor between the two any more, which was a brilliant move by Google.

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            The article is about desktop, but it would be a huge differentiator on Android, where chrome doesn’t support extensions, except I found Firefox to be unresponsive almost to the point of useless. So I use chrome for most everything (lobsters, etc.) and only use Firefox for selected links I predict will be ad heavy.

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              Interesting. I use Firefox with ublock origin every day on my hilariously underpowered Nexus 5 and it’s great.

              I had no idea mobile Chrome had no extension support; what a nightmare.

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                Sounds like you haven’t tried chrome much? I suppose if you’re used to Firefox you accommodate and it’s not a problem? For me, I’m used to tapping a link and having it open. Firefox requires pressing and holding everything for at least half a second or it doesn’t react.

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                  That’s definitely just you. Another happy Firefox mobile user here. If I press on a link for half a second I get the context menu.

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                    I’ve tried firefox on so many phones and it was a useless crashy dumpster fire of an app. They couldn’t get text input and selection right for years. I literally don’t know anyone who liked it other than firefox enthusiasts online

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                Default Firefox for Android seems a little sluggish to me, but blocking javascript with uMatrix more than compensates.

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                  Fenix is a lot faster than both normal Firefox and Chrome on my phone. At the moment it doesn’t support extensions, but I think they’re on the roadmap.

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                    The new mobile Firefox doesn’t have extensions at all… maybe they’ll come at some point.

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                    and not an official “differentiator” but I could not get SoundFixer to work on Chromium at all because of permission issues.

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                      I’d outright argue that it became a distinguishing factor in favour of Chrome or Edge (or Opera/Vivaldi/whatever) at this point… maybe the recent moves by Google around ad blockers will help to reverse the trend.

                      People see other Chromium browsers as alternatives, even if they use the same engine under the hood. That makes the different engine in Firefox a distinguishing feature that plays against them if sites aren’t properly tested to be working on Firefox too.

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                      None of my family members are heavy extension users, so that wasn’t something I had to get them up to speed on. I have a Pi-hole set up at my parents’ house so they don’t have to think about blocking ads in their browsers.

                      But for lots of people who do use Chrome extensions, that’s another valid point.

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                      I came to a similar opinion of the initial interface:


                      Choice quotes:

                      This starting screen is chaos. I now understand why I have to help people all the time with seemingly simple things like noticing brightly coloured status messages rolling down from the top of the screen. There’s so much visual noise from the get-go that I suspect users are taught by Firefox to ignore anything flashy.

                      The Mozilla devs need a deep, intravenous shot of consequentialism. Let’s run through what they have made here:

                      As a developer I can work out how the UI elements nest and structure, but many ordinary people will just see artwork. Lots and lots of rectangles. And pictures. And text. What are they all for? Where was I typing again?

                      I use Firefox daily now. Every few updates some bit of UI creeps back (search engine pictures when I type in the URL bar, new toolbar buttons, etc). It always feels like “someone else’s browser”, a bit like having a computer that you can’t change the desktop image of.

                      Setting up Firefox for someone else feels like setting up Windows for someone else. The defaults are completely inappropriate for the general masses.

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                        Firefox, on the other hand, appears to have made a number of user-hostile choices right out of the gate

                        Yep, it sure has. Firefox is moving closer to the Google style of “forced” updates, when it should be moving farther away:


                        Further, quite important parity issues with Chrome are going unfixed for years:


                        and theyve still failed to reach API parity with the WebExtension system for 2 years now:


                        and mobile experience is pretty bad too:


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                          On the first issue, why did they disable the about:config switch for disabling automatic updates? It’s already assumed that about:config is for users who know what they’re doing. That seems very silly. Overall, they don’t seem to be too interested in taking advice from the community. At the same time, Quantum would have never been released had they not gone ahead with removing compatibility with all of the old extensions.

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                            and mobile experience is pretty bad too

                            Oh yeah, a minor bug in Firefox Preview (which is NOT the Official Stable Firefox for Android yet) definitely makes the experience bad.

                            Firefox is moving closer to the Google style of “forced” updates, when it should be moving farther away

                            Farther away is the IE6-7-8 style of upgrades. No thanks. The current “evergreen” auto-update model is the only model that works for the mass market.

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                              Oh yeah, a minor bug in Firefox Preview (which is NOT the Official Stable Firefox for Android yet) definitely makes the experience bad.

                              Its a bug in Firefox for Android too:


                              The current “evergreen” auto-update model is the only model that works for the mass market.

                              I agree. However my argument is not to change the default update model, only to make it easy for people to disable it. If you know what youre doing, and you understand the repercussions, you shouldnt be prevented from disabling updates. Firefox isnt at that point yet, but its getting close.

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                            I think a lot of it is just the power of the status quo. Chrome took over back then because it was so much faster than anything else.

                            The market share is predominantly non-techy users that won’t go through the effort of switching without an obvious benefit. I got my friends to switch when I told them that Firefox is now faster (it is for me, but definitely not as clear cut as Chrome back then). But besides a small speed up, why would the average user switch? I have a hard time answering that question, and that’s the problem.

                            There must be a name for the saying, but I don’t know what it is so I’ll just state it: new technology must be vastly superior to succeed its predecessors. Otherwise the status quo bias will not be overcome.

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                              Chrome took over back then because it was so much faster than anything else

                              ehh. It started as this new cool simple fast browser. But it took over because it was persistently advertised on the main page of google dot com and most other Google properties.

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                                Very true, back then I thought it was nice that Google was successfully raising awareness for such a great browser, but looking back it seems kind of shady. A hint of the continuing attempt to vertically integrate the Web.

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                              I absolutely agree with the default search engine problem. It’s very difficult to “sell” Firefox as a privacy respecting browser when Google is the default search provider.

                              I wonder what are the issues with the fonts, could you elaborate more?

                              I also don’t know they stopped innovating the browser giving the chance to move the horizontal tabs to a sidebar out of the box, for example.

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                                As for the fonts, I’m not entirely certain whether it’s an issue with me or an issue with Firefox (or if it’s working as intended). I have quite a few fonts installed, so when a website requests a font there’s often multiple options that could be good fits. When GitHub requests SFMono-Regular,Consolas,Liberation Mono,Menlo,monospace, Firefox chooses a really ugly monospace font that it thinks fits the metrics of one of the other options even though it’s not the fontconfig default monospace or the Firefox default monospace. Chromium sees that it doesn’t have any of those fonts installed and falls back to the system monospace, which I intentionally chose to look nice. My solution to this problem was to define Consolas as an alias for the system monospace, but that feels like quite the hack to get a single website looking acceptable.

                                Also, not completely related, but if you visit the homepage of my website and hover over a link, Chromium’s underline has breaks for descenders while Firefox just draws a straight line right through the bottom of some letters.

                                Both issues are pretty minor, but detract from the polish of Firefox and would certainly make any of my designer friends completely uninterested. Maybe the first issue is better on macOS or Windows where there’s a more standard set of default fonts?

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                                  An intern of ours on the Layout team just (a couple of weeks ago) finished their implementation of text-decoration-skip-ink in Firefox. If you run Nightly you should already see underlines skipping ink by default. It’ll ship in Firefox 70.

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                                    When GitHub requests SFMono-Regular,Consolas,Liberation Mono,Menlo,monospace, Firefox chooses a really ugly monospace font that it thinks fits the metrics of one of the other options even though it’s not the fontconfig default monospace or the Firefox default monospace

                                    Your fontconfig might have an alternative set for one of the requested fonts e.g.

                                            <match target="pattern">                                                                                                                      
                                                    <test qual="any" name="family"><string>Arial</string></test>
                                                    <edit mode="assign" binding="same" name="family"><string>Fira Sans</string></edit>
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                                      This is highly subjective, but to me the broken underline looks horrible. I hope FF never copies it. Chrome also still doesn’t support hyphenation. At least now that @supports work, the workaround for Chrome is much easier than IE-era workaround.

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                                        I just did a little more research and found out that they’re called skip-ink underlines. For anyone else interested in a quick comparison of three ways to underline text, see this image and the others on this article.

                                        The typographically correct thing to do is not to use underlines at all, but the broken underlines are potentially more readable. Of course, it’s pretty much purely subjective.

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                                    I’ve been trying to use Firefox more myself. Biggest issues for me are that it’s noticeably slower on everything than Chrome, and draws down the battery on my Macbook rather fast, even when scrolling through mostly-text sites with not much Javascript stuff going on.

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                                      These are valid points, but, from my perspective as a power user, the only thing holding me back from switching from Chromium to Firefox is that Chromium’s system for supporting multiple users is superior. The basic use case for such a feature is to separate work from personal browsing, though I take it a step further than that, myself. The two ways Firefox can provide this for me are the built-in profiles, and a concept called “containers”. These are not good enough for me. The UX to change profiles or have multiple profiles running at once is way too klunky. Containers comes close to Chromium’s multi-user feature, but all containers share the same settings (!), which I don’t want. I want all my separate personas to have pretty much everything kept distinct; from cookies, to browsing history, to memorized passwords, to extensions… everything.

                                      The way Chromium does it is just so much better: Each window belongs to a given user, and new tabs are associated with that same user. Two clicks to switch to another user, which just makes a new window to contain tabs for that user. Simple, clear and straightforward. Mozilla would do well to imitate this UX.

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                                        I may misunderstand you, not having touched Chrome in ages, but I would dislike having a window open at work just for using my personal Youtube account separate from the customer’s Google stuff. YMMV.

                                        The little I’ve used of containers, the only slight annoyance is I got to re-open a tab. Not bad enough that I’d have researched to see if there’s another way to do it.

                                        Very disappointed if cookies were in any way shared, the rest is fine. I am my browser’s user, even though I need separate identities for some sites.

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                                          As a heavy user of multi-account containers + temporary containers, I rarely have to re-open tabs. Pretty much only when signing up for a new service — then I have to reopen in a permanent container from a temporary one. All the sites I actively use remember their containers.

                                          Cookies are not shared, that’s the whole point of containers.