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      It would help if Firefox would actually make a better product that’s not a crappy Chrome clone. The “you need to do something different because [abstract ethical reason X]” doesn’t work with veganism, it doesn’t work with chocolate sourced from dubious sources, it doesn’t work with sweatshop-based clothing, doesn’t work with Free Software, and it sure as hell isn’t going to work here. Okay, some people are going to do it, but not at scale.

      Sometimes I think that Mozilla has been infiltrated by Google people to sabotage it. I have no evidence for this, but observed events don’t contradict it either.

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        It would help if Firefox would actually make a better product that’s not a crappy Chrome clone. The “you need to do something different because [abstract ethical reason X]” doesn’t work with veganism, it doesn’t work with chocolate sourced from dubious sources, it doesn’t work with sweatshop-based clothing, doesn’t work with Free Software, and it sure as hell isn’t going to work here. Okay, some people are going to do it, but not at scale.

        I agree, but the deck is stacked against Mozilla. They are a relatively small nonprofit largely funded by Google. Structurally, there is no way they can make a product that competes. The problem is simply that there is no institutional counterweight to big tech right now, and the only real solutions are political: antitrust, regulation, maybe creating a publicly-funded institution with a charter to steward the internet in the way Mozilla was supposed to. There’s no solution to the problem merely through better organizational decisions or product design.

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          I don’t really agree; there’s a lot of stuff they could be doing better, like not pushing out updates that change the colour scheme in such a way that it becomes nigh-impossible to see which tab is active. I don’t really care about “how it looks”, but this is just objectively bad. Maybe if you have some 16k super-HD IPS screen with perfect colour reproduction at full brightness in good office conditions it’s fine, but I just have a shitty ThinkPad screen and the sun in my home half the time (you know, like a normal person). It’s darn near invisible for me, and I have near-perfect eyesight (which not everyone has). I spent some time downgrading Firefox to 88 yesterday just for this – which it also doesn’t easily allow, not if you want to keep your profile anyway – because I couldn’t be arsed to muck about with userChrome.css hacks. Why can’t I just change themes? Or why isn’t there just a setting to change the colour?

          There’s loads of other things; one small thing I like to do is not have a “x” on tabs to close it. I keep clicking it by accident because I have the motor skills of a 6 year old and it’s rather annoying to keep accidentally closing tabs. It used to be a setting, then it was about:config, then it was a userChrome.css hack, now it’s a userChrome.css hack that you need to explicitly enable in about:config for it to take effect, and in the future I probably need to sacrifice a goat to our Mozilla overlords if I want to change it.

          I also keep accidentally bookmarking stuff. I press ^D to close terminal windows and sometimes Firefox is focused and oops, new bookmark for you! Want to configure keybinds for Firefox? Firefox say no; you’re not allowed, mere mortal end user; our keybinds are perfect and work for everyone, there must be something wrong with you if you don’t like it! It’s pretty darn hard to hack around this too – more time than I was willing to spend on it anyway – so I just accepted this annoyance as part of my life 🤷

          “But metrics show only 1% of people use this!” Yeah, maybe; but 1% here and 5% there and 2% somewhere else and before you know it you’ve annoyed half (of not more) of your userbase with a bunch of stuff like that. It’s the difference between software that’s tolerable and software that’s a joy to use. Firefox is tolerable, but not a joy. I’m also fairly sure metrics are biased as especially many power users disable it, so while useful, blindly trusting it is probably not a good idea (I keep it enabled for this reason, to give some “power user” feedback too).

          Hell, I’m not even a “power user” really; I have maybe 10 tabs open at the most, usually much less (3 right now) and most settings are just the defaults because I don’t really want to spend time mucking about with stuff. I just happen to be a programmer with an interest in UX who cares about a healthy web and knows none of this is hard, just a choice they made.

          These are all really simple things; not rocket science. As I mentioned a few days ago, Firefox seems have fallen victim to a mistaken and fallacious mindset in their design.

          Currently Firefox sits in a weird limbo that satisfies no one: “power users” (which are not necessarily programmers and the like, loads of people with other jobs interested in computers and/or use computers many hours every day) are annoyed with Firefox because they keep taking away capabilities, and “simple” users are annoyed because quite frankly, Chrome gives a better experience in many ways (this, I do agree, is not an easy problem to solve, but it does work “good enough” for most). And hey, even “simple” users occasionally want to do “difficult” things like change something that doesn’t work well for them.

          So sure, while there are some difficult challenges Firefox faces in competing against Google, a lot of it is just simple every-day stuff where they just choose to make what I consider to be a very mediocre product with no real distinguishing features at best. Firefox has an opportunity to differentiate themselves from Chrome by saying “yeah, maybe it’s a bit slower – it’s hard and we’re working on that – but in the meanwhile here’s all this cool stuff you can do with Firefox that you can’t with Chrome!” I don’t think Firefox will ever truly “catch up” to Chrome, and that’s fine, but I do think they can capture and retain a healthy 15%-20% (if not more) with a vision that consists of more than “Chrome is popular, therefore, we need to copy Chrome” and “use us because we’re not Chrome!”

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            Speaking of key bindings, Ctrl + Q is still “quit without any confirmation”. Someone filed a bug requesting this was changeable (not even default changed), that bug is now 20 years old.

            It strikes me that this would be a great first issue for a new contributor, except the reason it’s been unfixed for so long is presumably that they don’t want it fixed.

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              A shortcut to quit isn’t a problem, losing user data when you quit is a problem. Safari has this behaviour too, and I quite often hit command-Q and accidentally quit Safari instead of the thing I thought I was quitting (since someone on the OS X 10.8 team decided that the big visual clues differentiating the active window and others was too ugly and removed it). It doesn’t bother me, because when I restart Safari I get back the same windows, in the same positions, with the same tabs, scrolled to the same position, with the same unsaved form data.

              I haven’t used Firefox for a while, so I don’t know what happens with Firefox, but if it isn’t in the same position then that’s probably the big thing to fix, since it also impacts experience across any other kind of browser restart (OS reboots, crashes, security updates). If accidentally quitting the browser loses you 5-10 seconds of time, it’s not a problem. If it loses you a load of data then it’s really annoying.

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                Firefox does this when closing tabs (restoring closed tabs usually restores form content etc.) but not when closing the window.

                The weird thing is that it does actually have a setting to confirm when quitting, it’s just that it only triggers when you have multiple tabs or windows open and not when there’s just one tab 🤷

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                  The weird thing is that it does actually have a setting to confirm when quitting, it’s just that it only triggers when you have multiple tabs or windows open and not when there’s just one tab

                  Does changing browser.tabs.closeWindowWithLastTab in about:config fix that?

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                    I have it set to false already, I tested it to make sure and it doesn’t make a difference (^W won’t close the tab, as expected, but ^Q with one tab will still just quit).

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                I quite often hit command-Q and accidentally quit Safari

                One of the first things I do when setting up a new macOS user for myself is adding alt-command-Q in Preferences → Keyboard → Shortcuts → App Shortcuts for “Quit Safari” in Safari. Saves my sanity every day.

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                  Does this somehow remove the default ⌘Q binding?

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                    Yes, it changes the binding on the OS level, so the shortcut hint in the menu bar is updated to show the change

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                    It overrides it - Safari’s menu shows ⌥⌘Q against “Quit Safari”.

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                  You can do this in windows for firefox (or any browser) too with an autohotkey script. You can set it up to catch and handle a keypress combination before it reaches any other application. This will be global of course and will disable and ctrl-q hotkey in all your applications, but if you want to get into detail and write a more complex script you can actually check which application has focus and only block the combination for the browser.

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                This sounds like something Chrome gets right - if I hit CMD + Q I get a prompt saying “Hold CMD+Q to Quit” which has prevented me from accidentally quitting lots of times. I assumed this was MacOS behaviour, but I just tested Safari and it quit immediately.

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              Disabling this shortcut with browser.quitShortcut.disabled works for me, but I agree that bug should be fixed.

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              Speaking of key bindings, Ctrl + Q is still “quit without any confirmation”.

              That was fixed a long time ago, at least on Linux. When I press it, a modal says “You are about to close 5 windows with 24 tabs. Tabs in non-private windows will be restored when you restart.” ESC cancels.

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                That’s strange. I’m using latest Firefox, from Firefox, on Linux, and I don’t ever get a prompt. Another reply suggested a config tweak to try.

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                  I had that problem for a while but it went away. I have browser.quitShortcut.disabled as false in about:config. I’m not sure if it’s a default setting or not.

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                    It seems that this defaults to false. The fact you have it false, but don’t experience the problem, is counter-intuitive to me. Anyway the other poster’s suggestion was to flip this, so I’ll try that. Thanks!

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                      That does seem backwards. Something else must be overriding it. I’m using Ubuntu 20.04, if that matters. I just found an online answer that mentions the setting.

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            On one level, I disagree – I have zero problems with Firefox. My only complaint is that sometimes website that are built to be Chrome-only don’t work sometimes, which isn’t really Firefox’s problem, but the ecosystem’s problem (see my comment above about antitrust, etc). But I will grant you that Firefox’s UX could be better, that there are ways the browser could be improved in general. However, I disagree here:

            retain a healthy 15%-20% (if not more)

            I don’t think this is possible given the amount of resources Firefox has. No matter how much they improve Firefox, there are two things that are beyond their control:

            1. Most users use Google products (gmail, calendar, etc), and without an antitrust case, these features will be seamlessly integrated into Chrome, and not Firefox.
            2. Increasingly, websites are simple not targeting Firefox for support, so normal users who want to say, access online banking, are SOL on Firefox. (This happens to me, I still have to use Chrome for some websites)

            Even the best product managers and engineers could not reverse Firefox’s design. We need a political solution, unless we want the web to become Google Web (tm).

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            Why can’t I just change themes?

            You can. The switcher is at the bottom of the Customize Toolbar… view.

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              Hm, last time I tried this it didn’t do much of anything other than change the colour of the toolbar to something else or a background picture; but maybe it’s improved now. I’ll have a look next time I try mucking about with 89 again; thanks!

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                You might try the Firefox Colors extension, too. It’s a pretty simple custom theme builder.

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                  https://color.firefox.com/ to save the trouble of searching.

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            I agree with Firefox’s approach of choosing mainstream users over power-users - that’s the only way they’ll ever have 10% or more of users. Firefox is doing things with theming that I wish other systems would do - they have full “fresco” themes (images?) in their chrome! It looks awesome! I dream about entire DEs and app suites built from the ground up with the same theme of frescoes (but with an different specific fresco for each specific app, perhaps tailored to that app). Super cool!

            I don’t like the lack of contrast on the current tab, but “give users the choice to fix this very specific issue or not” tends to be extremely shortsighted - the way to fix it is to fix it. Making it optional means yet another maintenance point on an already underfunded system, and doesn’t necessarily even fix the problem for most users!

            More importantly, making ultra-specific optionss like that is usually pushing decisions onto the user as a method of avoiding internal politicking/arguments, and not because pushing to the user is the optimal solution for that specific design aspect.

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            As for the close button, I am like you. You can set browser.tabs.tabClipWidth to 1000. Dunno if it is scheduled to be removed.

            As for most of the other grips, adding options and features to cater for the needs of a small portion of users has a maintenance cost. Maybe adding the option is only one line, but then a new feature needs to work with the option enabled and disabled. Removing options is just a way to keep the code lean.

            My favorite example in the distribution world is Debian. Debian supports tries to be the universal OS. We are drowning with having to support everything. For examples, supporting many init systems is more work. People will get to you if there is a bug in the init system you don’t use. You spend time on this. At the end, people not liking systemd are still unhappy and switch to Devuan which supports less init systems. I respect Mozilla to keep a tight ship and maintaining only the features they can support.

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              Nobody would say anything if their strategy worked. The core issue is that their strategy obviously doesn’t work.

              adding options and features to cater for the needs of a small portion of users

              It ’s not even about that.

              It’s removing things that worked and users liked by pretending that their preferences are invalid. (And every user belongs to some minority that likes a feature others may be unaware of.)

              See the recent debacle of gradually blowing up UI sizes, while removing options to keep them as they were previously.

              Somehow the saved cost to support some feature doesn’t seem to free up enough resources to build other things that entice users to stay.

              All they do with their condescending arrogance on what their perfectly spherical idea of a standard Firefox user needs … is making people’s lives miserable.

              They fired most of the people that worked on things I was excited about, and it seems all that’s left are some PR managers and completely out-of-touch UX “experts”.

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              As for most of the other grips, adding options and features to cater for the needs of a small portion of users has a maintenance cost. Maybe adding the option is only one line, but then a new feature needs to work with the option enabled and disabled. Removing options is just a way to keep the code lean.

              It seems to me that having useful features is more important than having “lean code”, especially if this “lean code” is frustrating your users and making them leave.

              I know it’s easy to shout stuff from the sidelines, and I’m also aware that there may be complexities I may not be aware of and that I’m mostly ignorant of the exact reasoning behind many decisions (most of us here are really, although I’ve seen a few Mozilla people around), but what I do know is that 1) Firefox as a product has been moving in a certain direction for years, 2) that Firefox has been losing users for years, 3) that I know few people who truly find Firefox an amazing browser that a joy to use, and that in light of that 4) keep doing the same thing you’ve been doing for years is probably not a good idea, and 5) that doing the same thing but doing it harder is probably an even worse idea.

              I also don’t think that much of this stuff is all that much effort. I am not intimately familiar with the Firefox codebase, but how can a bunch of settings add an insurmountable maintenance burden? These are not “deep” things that reach in to the Gecko engine, just comparatively basic UI stuff. There are tons of projects with a much more complex UI and many more settings.

              Hell, I’d argue that even removing the RSS was also a mistake – they should have improved it instead, especially after Google Reader’s demise there was a huge missed opportunity there – although it’s a maintenance burden trade-off I can understand it better, it also demonstrates a lack of vision to just say “oh, it’s old crufty code, not used by many (not a surprise, it sucked), so let’s just remove it, people can just install an add-on if they really want it”. This is also a contradiction with Firefox’s mantra of “most people use the defaults, and if it’s not used a lot we can just remove it”. Well, if that’s true then you can ship a browser with hardly any features at all, and since most people will use the defaults they will use a browser without any features.

              Browsers like Brave and Vivaldi manage to do much of this; Vivaldi has an entire full-blown email client. I’d wager that a significant portion of the people leaving Firefox are actually switching to those browsers, not Chrome as such (but they don’t show up well in stats as they identify as “Chrome”). Mozilla nets $430 million/year; it’s not a true “giant” like Google or Apple, but it’s not small either. Vivaldi has just 55 employees (2021, 35 in 2017); granted, they do less than Mozilla, but it doesn’t require a huge team to do all of this.

              And every company has limited resources; it’s not like the Chrome team is a bottomless pit of resources either. A number of people in this thread express the “big Google vs. small non-profit Mozilla”-sentiment here, but it doesn’t seem that clear-cut. I can’t readily find a size for the Chrome team on the ‘net, but I checked out the Chromium source code and let some scripts loose on that: there are ~460 Google people with non-trivial commits in 2020, although quite a bit seems to be for ChromeOS and not the browser part strictly speaking, so my guestimate is more 300 people. A large team? Absolutely. But Mozilla’s $430/million a year can match this with ~$1.5m/year per developer. My last company had ~70 devs on much less revenue (~€10m/year). Basically they have the money to spare to match the Chrome dev team person-for-person. Mozilla does more than just Firefox, but they can still afford to let a lot of devs loose on Gecko/Firefox (I didn’t count the number devs for it, as I got some other stuff I want to do this evening as well).

              It’s all a matter of strategy; history is littered with large or even huge companies that went belly up just because they made products that didn’t fit people’s demands. I fear Firefox will be in the same category. Not today or tomorrow, but in five years? I’m not so sure Firefox will still be around to be honest. I hope I’m wrong.

              As for your Debian comparison; an init system is a fundamental part of the system; it would be analogous to Firefox supporting different rendering or JS engines. It’s not even close to the same as “an UI to configure key mappings” or “a bunch of settings for stuff you can actually already kind-of do but with hacks that you need to explicitly search for and most users don’t know it exists”, or even a “built-in RSS reader that’s really good and a great replacement for Google Reader”.

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                I agree with most of what you said. Notably the removal of RSS support. I don’t work for Mozilla and I am not a contributor, so I really can’t answer any of your questions.

                Another example of maintaining a feature would be Alsa support. It has been removed, this upsets some users, but for me, this is understandable as they don’t want to handle bug reports around this or the code to get in the way of some other features or refactors. Of course, I use Pulseaudio, so I am quite biased.

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                  I think ALSA is a bad example; just use Pulseaudio. It’s long since been the standard, everyone uses it, and this really is an example of “147 people who insist on having an überminimal Linux on Reddit being angry”. It’s the kind of technical detail with no real user-visible changes that almost no one cares about. Lots of effort with basically zero or extremely minimal tangible benefits.

                  And ALSA is a not even a good or easy API to start with. I’m pretty sure that the “ALSA purists” never actually tried to write any ALSA code otherwise they wouldn’t be ALSA purists but ALSA haters, as I’m confident there is not a single person that has programmed with ALSA that is not an ALSA hater to some degree.

                  Pulseaudio was pretty buggy for a while, and its developer’s attitude surrounding some of this didn’t really help, because clearly if tons of people are having issues then all those people are just “doing it wrong” and is certainly not a reason to fix anything, right? There was a time that I had a keybind to pkill pulseaudio && pulseaudio --start because the damn thing just stopped working so often. The Grand Pulseaudio Rollout was messy, buggy, broke a lot of stuff, and absolutely could have been handled better. But all of that was over a decade ago, and it does actually provide value. Most bugs have been fixed years ago, Poettering hasn’t been significantly involved since 2012, yet … people still hold an irrational hatred towards it 🤷

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                    ALSA sucks, but PulseAudio is so much worse. It still doesn’t even actually work outside the bare basics. Firefox forced me to put PA on and since then, my mic randomly spews noise and sound between programs running as different user ids is just awful. (I temporarily had that working better though some config changes, then a PA update - hoping to fix the mic bug - broke this… and didn’t fix the mic bug…)

                    I don’t understand why any program would use the PA api instead of the alsa ones. All my alsa programs (including several I’ve made my own btw, I love it whenever some internet commentator insists I don’t exist) work equally as well as pulse programs on the PA system… but also work fine on systems where audio actually works well (aka alsa systems). Using the pulse api seems to be nothing but negatives.

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            Not sure if this will help you but I absolutely cannot STAND the default Firefox theme so I use this: https://github.com/ideaweb/firefox-safari-style

            I stick with Firefox over Safari purely because it’s devtools are 100x better.

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          There’s also the fact that web browsers are simply too big to reimplement at this point. The best Mozilla can do (barely) is try to keep up with the Google-controlled Web Platform specs, and try to collude with Apple to keep the worst of the worst from being formally standardized (though Chrome will implement them anyway). Their ability to do even that was severely impacted by their layoffs last year. At some point, Apple is going to fold and rebase Safari on Chromium, because maintaining their own browser engine is too unprofitable.

          At this point, we need to admit that the web belongs to Google, and use it only to render unto Google what is Google’s. Our own traffic should be on other protocols.

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          For a scrappy nonprofit they don’t seem to have any issues paying their executives millions of dollars.

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            I mean, I don’t disagree, but we’re still talking several orders of magnitude less compensation than Google’s execs.

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              A shit sandwich is a shit sandwich, no matter how low the shit content is.

              (And no, no one is holding a gun to Mozilla’s head forcing them to hire in high-CoL/low-productivity places.)

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          Product design can’t fix any of these problems because nobody is paying for the product. The more successful it is, the more it costs Mozilla. The only way to pay the rent with free-product-volume is adtech, which means spam and spying.

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            Exactly why I think the problem requires a political solution.

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        I don’t agree this is a vague ethical reason. Problem with those are concerns like deforestation (and destruction of habitats for smaller animals) to ship almond milk across the globe, and sewing as an alternative to poverty and prostitution, etc.

        The browser privacy question is very quantifiable and concrete, the source is in the code, making it a concrete ethical-or-such choice.

        ISTR there even being a study or two where people were asked about willingness to being spied upon, people who had no idea their phones were doing what was asked about, and being disconcerted after the fact. That’s also a concrete way to raise awareness.

        At the end of the day none of this may matter if people sign away their rights willingly in favor of a “better” search-result filter bubble.

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          I don’t think they’re vague (not the word I used) but rather abstract; maybe that’s no the best word either but what I mean with it is that it’s a “far from my bed show” as we would say in Dutch. Doing $something_better on these topics has zero or very few immediate tangible benefits, but rather more abstract long-term benefits. And in addition it’s also really hard to feel that you’re really making a difference as a single individual. I agree with you that these are important topics, it’s just that this type of argument is simply not all that effective at really making a meaningful impact. Perhaps it should be, but it’s not, and exactly because it’s important we need to be pragmatic about the best strategy.

          And if you’re given the choice between “cheaper (or better) option X” vs. “more expensive (or inferior) option Y with abstract benefits but no immediate ones”, then I can’t really blame everyone for choosing X either. Life is short, lots of stuff that’s important, and can’t expect everyone to always go out of their way to “do the right thing”, if you can even figure out what the “right thing” is (which is not always easy or black/white).

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            My brain somehow auto-conflated the two, sorry!

            I think we agree that the reasoning in these is inoptimal either way.

            Personally I wish these articles weren’t so academic, and maybe not in somewhat niche media, but instead mainstream publications would run “Studies show people do not like to be spied upon yet they are - see the shocking results” clickbaity stuff.

            At least it wouldn’t hurt for a change.

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              It probably wasn’t super-clear what exactly was intended with that in the first place so easy enough of a mistake to make 😅

              As for articles, I’ve seen a bunch of them in mainstream Dutch newspapers in the last two years or so; so there is some amount of attention being given to this. But as I expended on in my other lengthier comment, I think the first step really ought to be making a better product. Not only is this by far the easiest to do and within our (the community’s) power to do, I strongly suspect it may actually be enough, or at least go a long way.

              It’s like investing in public transport is better than shaming people for having a car, or affordable meat alternatives is a better alternative than shaming people for eating meat, etc.

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        I agree to an extent. Firefox would do well to focus on the user experience front.

        I switched to Firefox way back in the day, not because of vague concerns about the Microsoft hegemony, or even concerns about web standards and how well each browser implemented them. I switched because they introduced the absolutely groundbreaking feature that is tabbed browsing, which gave a strictly better user experience.

        I later switched to Chrome when it became obvious that it was beating Firefox in terms of performance, which is also a factor in user experience.

        What about these days? Firefox has mostly caught up to Chrome on the performance point. But you know what’s been the best user experience improvement I’ve seen lately? Chrome’s tab groups feature. It’s a really simple idea, but it’s significantly improved the way I manage my browser, given that I tend to have a huge number of tabs open.

        These are the kinds of improvements that I’d like to see Firefox creating, in order to lure people back. You can’t guilt me into trying a new browser, you have to tempt me.

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          But you know what’s been the best user experience improvement I’ve seen lately? Chrome’s tab groups feature. It’s a really simple idea, but it’s significantly improved the way I manage my browser, given that I tend to have a huge number of tabs open.

          Opera had this over ten years ago (“tab stacking”, added in Opera 11 in 2010). Pretty useful indeed, even with just a limited number of tabs. It even worked better than Chrome groups IMO. Firefox almost-kind-of has this with container tabs, which are a nice feature actually (even though I don’t use it myself), and with a few UX enhancements on that you’ve got tab groups/stacking.

          Opera also introduced tabbed browsing by the way (in 2000 with Opera 4, about two years before Mozilla added it in Phoenix, which later became Firefox). Opera was consistently way ahead of the curve on a lot of things. A big reason it never took off was because for a long time you had to pay for it (until 2005), and after that it suffered from “oh, I don’t want to pay for it”-reputation for years. It also suffered from sites not working; this often (not always) wasn’t even Opera’s fault as frequently this was just a stupid pointless “check” on the website’s part, but those were popular in those days to tell people to not use IE6 and many of them were poor and would either outright block Opera or display a scary message. And being a closed-source proprietary product also meant it never got the love from the FS/OSS crowd and the inertia that gives (not necessarily a huge inertia, but still).

          So Firefox took the world by storm in the IE6 days because it was free and clearly much better than IE6, and when Opera finally made it free years later it was too late to catch up. I suppose the lesson here is that “a good product” isn’t everything or a guarantee for success, otherwise we’d all be using Opera (Presto) now, but it certainly makes it a hell of a lot easier to achieve success.

          Opera had a lot of great stuff. I miss Opera 😢 Vivaldi is close (and built by former Opera devs) but for some reason it’s always pretty slow on my system.

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            This is fair and I did remember Opera being ahead of the curve on some things. I don’t remember why I didn’t use it, but it being paid is probably why.

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            I agree, I loved the Presto-era Opera and I still use the Blink version as my main browser (and Opera Mobile on Android). It’s still much better than Chrome UX-wise.

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          I haven’t used tab groups, but it looks pretty similar to Firefox Containers which was introduced ~4 years ahead of that blog post. I’ll grant that the Chrome version is built-in and looks much more polished and general purpose than the container extension, so the example is still valid.

          I just wanted to bring this up because I see many accusations of Firefox copying Chrome, but I never see the reverse being called out. I think that’s partly because Chrome has the resources to take Mozilla’s ideas and beat them to market on it.

          Disclaimer: I’m a Mozilla employee

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        One challenge for people making this kind of argument is that predictions of online-privacy doom and danger often don’t match people’s lived experiences. I’ve been using Google’s sites and products for over 20 years and have yet to observe any real harm coming to me as a result of Google tracking me. I think my experience is typical: it is an occasional minor annoyance to see repetitive ads for something I just bought, and… that’s about the extent of it.

        A lot of privacy advocacy seems to assume that readers/listeners believe it’s an inherently harmful thing for a company to have information about them in a database somewhere. I believe privacy advocates generally believe that, but if they want people to listen to arguments that use that assumption as a starting point, they need to do a much better job offering non-circular arguments about why it’s bad.

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          I think it has been a mistake to focus on loss of privacy as the primary data collection harm. To me the bigger issue is that it gives data collectors power over the creators of the data and society as a whole, and drives destabilizing trends like political polarization and economic inequality. In some ways this is a harder sell because people are brainwashed to care only about issues that affect them personally and to respond with individualized acts.

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            There is no brainwashing needed for people to act like people.

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              do you disagree with something in my comment?

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                In some ways this is a harder sell because people are brainwashed to care only about issues that affect them personally and to respond with individualized acts.

                I’m not @halfmanhalfdonut but I don’t think that brainwashing is needed to get humans to behave like this. This is just how humans behave.

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                  Yep, this is what I was saying.

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                    things like individualism, solidarity, and collaboration exist on a spectrum, and everybody exhibits each to some degree. so saying humans just are individualistic is tautological, meaningless. everyone has some individualism in them regardless of their upbringing, and that doesn’t contradict anything in my original comment. that’s why I asked if there was some disagreement.

                    to really spell it out, modern mass media and culture condition people to be more individualistic than they otherwise would be. that makes it harder to make an appeal to solidarity and collaboration.


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                      to really spell it out, modern mass media and culture condition people to be more individualistic than they otherwise would be. that makes it harder to make an appeal to solidarity and collaboration.

                      I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree. I can make a complicated rebuttal here, but it’s off-topic for the site, so cheers!

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                      I think you’re only seeing the negative side (to you) of modern mass media and culture. Our media and culture also promote unity, tolerance, respect, acceptance, etc. You’re ignoring that so that you can complain about Google influencing media, but the reality is that the way you are comes from those same systems of conditioning.

                      The fact that you even know anything about income inequality and political polarization are entirely FROM the media. People on the whole are not as politically divided as media has you believe.

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                        sure, I only mentioned this particular negative aspect because it was relevant to the point I was making in my original comment

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        I agree with everything you’ve written in this thread, especially when it comes to the abstractness of pro-Firefox arguments as of late. Judging from the votes it seems I am not alone. It is sad to see Mozilla lose the favor of what used to be its biggest proponents, the “power” users. I truly believe they are digging their own grave – faster and faster it seems, too. It’s unbelievable how little they seem to be able to just back down and admit they were wrong about an idea, if only for a single time.

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        Firefox does have many features that Chrome doesn’t have: container tabs, tree style tabs, better privacy and ad-blocking capabilities, some useful dev tools that I don’t think Chrome has (multi-line JS and CSS editors, fonts), isolated profiles, better control over the home screen, reader mode, userChrome.css, etc.

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      I find it very ironic this is the popup I get on that page.

      We and our partners store and/or access information on a device, such as unique IDs in cookies to process personal data. You may accept or manage your choices by clicking below or at any time in the privacy policy page. These choices will be signaled to our partners and will not affect browsing data.View Cookie Notice We and our partners process data to provide:

      Use precise geolocation data. Actively scan device characteristics for identification. Store and/or access information on a device. Personalised ads and content, ad and content measurement, audience insights and product development.

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      A quick question: is Chrome better than the rest?

      I use Firefox desktop and Duck / Safari mobile as primary browsers, and I’m completely satisfied by the experience. Am I missing out something here with Chrome?

      Lots of articles about ditching Chrome / time to move to Firefox … but people seem to hesitate. That tells me something holds them to Chrome, and I can’t image what that things is.

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        A quick question: is Chrome better than the rest?

        They don’t support vertical tabs at all.

        Performance is about the same (slightly better but I’ve never noticed except maybe on Google properties).

        Uses more RAM.

        No, not better at all in my book.

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          They don’t support vertical tabs at all.

          I’m not sure what you mean by “they”. I’ve been using Tree Style Tab on Firefox for as long as I can remember.

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            “They” is Chrome, not Firefox.

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            … and it’s absolute garbage without hacking userChrome.css.

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        Out of principle (re: reducing the monopoly), I am trying to switch to Firefox. (I’ve done so on one of my daily drivers, but not both.) To answer your question, though, there is at least one feature where Chrome is unequivocally better than Firefox: the UX for multiple profiles/personas.

        In Chrome/ium, the entry point for profiles is a single icon/click in the main toolbar. Switching profiles is another single click. So, with two clicks, it will either create a new window “running as” that profile, or it will switch to an existing window of that profile. The window acts as a container, so any new tabs (and even “New Window”s) will be for that profile. Everything about the experience makes sense, and is just about the simplest, most straight forward UX design that one could conceive.

        Contrast the above with Firefox’s profile UX. Profiles available in main toolbar? Nope. Open hamburger menu – profiles in there? Nope. How about in the Preferences UI? Nope. So where the heck is it? Well, there are CLI switches available (try not to laugh). -P/--profile to use a certain profile, or --ProfileManager to bring up a GUI widget on startup to pick a profile. Okay, so of course normal users will not use CLI switches. So what do they do? Well, there’s an about:profiles page available. So you have to type that (there’s autocomplete at least, to save you a few keystrokes), and then you click on a button on that page to open a new window launch a new Firefox instance for that profile. And then there is no visual indication in Firefox as to which profile you’re currently using, unless you’ve themed each profile, etc. In Chrome, you assign avatars to profiles, and the current profile’s avatar is displayed in the main bar.

        There’s this feature of Firefox called containers, or container tabs, or multi-account containers. Or something. They.. sort of do the job, in a clunky way. Tabs get a different underline colour based on the container, and different containers have different cookie sets, etc. However, this falls short in a couple ways. In Firefox, preference settings are shared among containers, whereas in Chrome, each profile has independent settings. Also, new tabs don’t (always?) take on the container of the previous/parent tab, so you have to manually set the container of a tab, sometimes.

        Anyway, enough said. The UX for multiple personas is astronomically better in Chrome. It’s not even close.

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          Late but:

          Containers is what you look for.

          It is right in the address bar.

          It can even automatically change for sites that obviously belong to one container.

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            I tried containers in Firefox. They go maybe 70% of the way towards what I need. It’s a nice try, but not good enough [for me].

            Anyway, nowadays, I use multiple local Linux users to sandbox things with Firefox. They main security concern there is sharing the X display.

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        Inertia, ignorance and indolence come to mind.

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          That’s the thing I keep coming back to when I see articles like this. It’s not like anything has changed.

          If you’ve gone for like a decade using a browser created by a monopolistic advertising company and after all those years you never saw the problem with it, does anyone really think reading some Wired article is going to finally be the thing that makes you come to your senses?

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        Performance can be an issue, as discussed previously.

        Also I think a lot of front-end devs prefer the developer tools from what I’ve heard (although for me, the Firefox ones work fine and have for years, but I’m not a FE dev and I don’t know if there are any concrete benefits here or if it’s just a matter of preference).

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          The Firefox dev tools are actually quite nice…except that they become an enormous memory hog and performance black hole if you dump a bunch of JSON into the log. I’ve had the devtools crash Firefox because of a day’s worth of redux debug logs. Never had that issue with chrome

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        Chrome (and also safari) has a visibly lower latency in rendering the page. It doesn’t really matter at all if you think about it, but makes the feel of the browser quite different.

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        Bugs. Bugs in firefox. Lots of them. Especially annoying while developing.

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        IME Chrome can sometimes perform faster than FF. I’ve really only noticed it when looking at sites with heavy CSS/JS-based animations. also the FF dev tools seem to get bogged down more often than Chrome’s. also, for a while FF performance on Mac OS was much worse than Chrome’s (I forget the details but this was a known issue that may (?) be fixed by now).

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          I wonder if several years in the future, we’re going to see a bug change there like with the arrival of (now) macOS in the early 2000s. What I’m hinting at is the fact that the problem here are not browsers, but js/whatnot heavy websites, that browsers them try to accommodate, just like Windows was going out of their way to keep backwards compatibility and hide application idiocies. Then came Apple with their “we don’t care about backwards compatibility, this is what you can use”.

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            I’m skeptical. Long-term, I think browsers will take over native applications as the default app distribution + runtime environment, as browser vendors add more and more native/low-level APIs to the web platform. Then again, I’m not the first person to predict this so who knows.

            Maybe some day plain HTML/CSS will become a second-class citizen (or people will get used to using other programs to browse the ‘old web’).

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              Or you’ll have to download a “web-browser” app in your web browser to view actual HTML content, which to be frank, is already happening, given the number of blogging sites that break completely if Javascript is disabled.

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      It was time couple of years ago.

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      Repeating myself, but: The problem with Chrome is not that your browser is spying on you. Google doesn’t need your browser to spy on you, websites are doing that for them. The problem with Chrome (and anything based on Blink) is that Google is now de facto in charge of what is and is not the web. They can railroad through (or block) features in what was supposed to be a standard shepherded for the benefit of users. This means that no matter what web browser you use as an individual, if it’s compliant with modern Google-led standards it’s going to continue to trend towards whatever technologies and protocols are best for Google. And what’s best for Google is constant surveillance, creating a digital doppleganger of you, that they control, and is hidden from you, and use to influence you. And rent out to their friends to influence you.

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      Browsers are too big to fail. Too big to try and make a new one at this point. I keep my eye on all the new ones for one that might break out like FF did.

      I don’t see the problems with FF. It works fine for me. It was a few years ago or more where chrome had things that FF didn’t.

      People are OK with the “not fooling anyone” levels of malicious intent by big corporations, if it means not giving up a modicum of convenience. Choosing FF is a no brainer. I wish there was a choice to not choose amazon or walmart.

      If chrome writes the rules … Much of the criticism of FF will boil down to “FF is not chrome”. That is a huge problem.

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        I wish there was a choice to not choose amazon or walmart.

        I stopped shopping at Wal-Mart in 2009 and Amazon in 2016. (I sometimes still went to Whole Foods or got Woot t-shirts after Amazon bought them, but I’ve since shed both of those too).

        Newegg, eBay, Reverb … almost everyone with an Amazon store has stores on all the other mega-shopping platforms. Typically you can get the same price or save by going directly to the store instead of using their Amazon portal, like with Adorama, B&H, etc. I’ve written about the new e-commerce landscape before.

        Even if it cost me an extra $15, I’d rather not give money to Amazon. It’s honestly not difficult at all. I don’t see why people keep buying stuff from Amazon. It’s not a high effort thing to avoid them.

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          It’s honestly not difficult at all. I don’t see why people keep buying stuff from Amazon. It’s not a high effort thing to avoid them.

          (I agree with you 100%, I avoid amazon at all costs… but to play devil’s advocate….)

          I think the big draw to amazon is kinda pointed out by your comment, you have to go to multiple different vendors/sites to collect the things you need. amazon makes it ‘easy’ by providing a single interface/account to folks. no need to use individual online or physical storefronts with vendors. the amazon ‘free shipping’ thing with prime is probably another way they trick people into continuing to use them, it’s a literal embodiment of the sunk cost fallacy.

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        Too big to try and make a new one at this point.

        Wrong. Unless you want to compete with Chrome, which is more of a webapp browser than a web browser.

        1. [Comment removed by author]

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      You can ditch Chrome without ditching chromium/blink (which is a better browsing experience on the whole IMO) by switching to any of the varieties (Vivaldi [my personal choice], Opera, Edge, Brave, and more I’m sure). If you don’t want to use Chrome, don’t use it. There are alternatives. Firefox is not the only one just because it rolls its own engine.

      Also, Chromium is not strictly a google project. Check their contributors and it’s easy to see it has a lot of buy in from individuals and organizations alike (including Mozilla).

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        the problem with chromium is that you’re still giving google a lot of power to dictate what the web should be. they may take contributions from others, but they are still the upstream maintainers for the project. I strongly suspect they would turn away contributions that hurt google, even if they helped users.

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          I’d be interested in what some examples are that you can think of that may hurt Google but be good for users in the context of Chromium. Chromium/Blink are just rendering engines.

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            The first thing that comes to mind is every feature here: https://github.com/Eloston/ungoogled-chromium#feature-overview

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              The two big things there are cutting off calls to Google. I don’t think disabling safe browsing is good for users, but there are alternatives that do this for you (by effectively replace it with their own stuff) – once again I would recommend Vivaldi.

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                ..my point was that google would never accept changes that “hurt” them. There are alternatives to “safe browsing”, but they don’t send user data/traffic to google, so google would never accept that in chromium.

                I would recommend Vivaldi.

                That’s proprietary software, so your guess is as good as mine as to what you’re really running on your system when you use that.

    8. 3

      What is stopping the community from building a net new (fully compatible) web browser at this point?

      I would love to hear from those who have the relevant experience (Chromium/Firefox developers, hobbyist browser developers).

      I see the answer to this come up often enough, that the endeavour is simply too big to try and make a new one at this point. I think if it’s worth it, then the amount of effort shouldn’t stop people from at least attempting to build something better.

      I’m intentionally being naive here with the hopes to spark some discussion.

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        Rendering basic HTML is easy enough. Ensuring complex modern webapps like Google Docs work performantly is multiple orders of magnitude harder. Even Microsoft with all its corporate backing struggled to get the old Edge engine to run competitively.

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          I’m curious what makes it orders of magnitude harder? Is it the amount of moving pieces? Is it the complexity of a specific piece needed to make modern web apps work? Maybe existing browser code bases are difficult to understand as a point of reference for someone starting out?

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            A good way to understand the complexity of modern browsers is to look at standards that Mozilla is evaluating for support.

            You’ve got 127 standards from “new but slightly different notification APIs” to “enabling NFC, MIDI I/O, and raw USB access from the browser”. Now, obviously lots of these standards will never get implemented - but these are the ones that were important enough for someone to look at and consider.

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        Drew DeVault goes through some of the challenges here. Short version: enormous complexity.

    9. 1

      I’ve been running Firefox since 0.8, but with that said, it has some usability issues (on Linux at least, such as poor stability with screen sharing under Wayland, curious UI element changes such as breaking the tabbed interface paradigm, etc.), sandbox security concerns, and noticeable performance problems (here’s an old HTML5 speed test for IE 11).

    10. 1

      I’m going the other way: it’s time to fully embrace.