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    I’m not sure the blame falls entirely on the shell on this one. The shell has no way to signal to an external program what is the type of an argument. You would need some kind of exec() with typed arguments for that, or as the author suggests some type of in-band convention, but for that you either apps to support it.

    For critical commands like rm/ls and shell expansion (the example of a file called -ls ) can’t this be solved if those commands are builtins in the shell? If ls is a builtin it and the arguments are typed then it could avoid that corner case.

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      I’m not sure the blame falls entirely on the shell on this one

      Absolutely. This convention would go across boundaries and mean changes to both the shell and the command line tools. Perhaps we could go further and embed metadata about unix programs in the ELF binary like a computer parseable description of the args and their types.

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        The ELF metadata would be neat. As an alternative. I think the fish shell grabs some information on command argument completion from the manpages. Maybe you could do something similar to detect compliant commands and cache a table of commands somewhere.

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        Direct access to all the XUL/XPCOM/whatever messy internals from extensions was a huge disadvantage. Firefox developers couldn’t change anything in the browser because some damn extension would break. Also these extensions barely worked in multi-process mode.

        A well defined, standardized extension API is a massive improvement. (And it makes me extremely happy as an addon developer — same code works in Chromium, Firefox and Edge!!)

        Actual technological advantages were added to Firefox recently, with Stylo, OMTP, and (not in release yet) WebRender. (In the future, WebRender will even render fonts and vector graphics on the GPU!)

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            Advantages for developers directly translate to advantages for users. Namely, performance, security and reliability.

            nobody gives a shit

            This is literally false – Firefox has gained market share significantly with the “Quantum” release.

            Statistically, nobody gives a shit about powerful extensions. (IIRC Mozilla telemetry reported about 50% Firefox users having zero extensions!) Most people only care about performance.

            And yet, Mozilla is constantly adding new APIs to WebExtensions to help angry ungrateful nerds get their unnecessary features back. (Most recently, tab hiding has landed, allowing implementations of Tab Groups and such.)

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              Statistically, nobody gives a shit about powerful extensions. (IIRC Mozilla telemetry reported about 50% Firefox users having zero extensions!)

              That is a big leap there, the other 50% are users too, not to mention those that do not report telemetry.

              The addon changes did make life easier from some extension developers because they get to use the same code for chrome and firefox. Not so much for others, extensions that shell out to the operating system or binary components - these are now much harder to do - just like in chrome.

              While I appreciate the improved speed, and the new shiny features I hope they don’t lead down a path that, drops support for many other capabilities e.g. does supporting webrender mean dropping support for targets that lack opengl 3?

              And yet, Mozilla is constantly adding new APIs to WebExtensions to help angry ungrateful nerds

              This is hardly fair. Many times those ungrateful nerds implemented extensions for features that were later made part of firefox that put the browser ahead competition - adblocking, video autoplay block, decent password managers, etc. Not to mention the reason why they are adding new APIs is because they removed the old ones :)

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                (IIRC Mozilla telemetry reported about 50% Firefox users having zero extensions!)

                Not debating the rest of your points, but I would assume that the people who do use more “powerful extensions” are more apt to turn off Mozilla’s telemetry (I have no data to back this up, just a thought)

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          I wish the browser wars meant we got some more variety rather than more of the same. We are getting boxed in between two vendors (three if you count webkit/safari).

          While I understand everyone wants their browser to be snappy, and speed perception drives user adoption, I have other priorities.

          • I’d like the browser to help me with usability using larger fonts or disable some effects (gradients and low contrast are the new blink).
          • Videos sometimes dont play at all, or have choppy sound. But the native video players in my system can play the same stream just fine. Why can’t I just outsource playback to the OS?
          • input handling in the browser always defers to the web page. Sometimes I just want to scroll the page or paste on an input field - but the webpage defined some bindings that prevent me from doing it. I tried to hack around this with some webkitgtk code, but even then I was not 100% successful (lets face it I want normal mode in my browser)

          I’m savvy enough to have a long list of hacks to do some of this stuff. But it seems to be getting harder to do it. I consider Firefox to be the most configurable of the two, but each release breaks something or adds some annoyance that breaks something else. Currently I’m seriously pondering switching from firefox to chromium because alsa does not work with the new sandbox.

          The wide scope of browser APIs means they are more like full operating systems than single applications. In fact I think my laptop lacks the disk/ram to build chrome from source. Webkit is likely the most hackable of the bunch, but then again I have no experience with CEF. It seems likely that the major browsers will continue to converge until they become more or less the same, unless some other player steps up.

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            Firefox is introducing support for decentralized protocols in FF 59. The white-listed protocols are:

            • Dat Project (dat://)
            • IPFS (dweb:// ipfs:// ipns://)
            • Secure Scuttlebutt (ssb://)

            I think that’s moving things in an interesting direction as opposed to doing more of the same.

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              Hey! I made that patch! :-D

              so basically the explanation is simple. There is a whitelist of protocols you can have your WebExtension take over.

              If the protocol you want to control is not on that whitelist such as an hypothetical “catgifs:” protocol, you need to prefix it like: “web+catgifs” or “ext+catgifs” depending if it will be used from the Add-on or by redirection to another Web page. This makes it inconvenient to use with lots of decentralization protocols because in many other clients we are already using urls such as “ssb:” and “dat:” (eg, check out beaker browser). In essence this allows us to implement many new cool decentralization features as add-ons now that we can take over protocols, so, you could be in Firefox browsing the normal web and suddenly see a “dat:” link, normally you’d need to switch clients to a dat enabled app, now, you can have an add-on display that content in the current user-agent you’re using.

              Still, there is another feature that we need before we can start really implementing decentralization protocols as pure WebExtensions, we need both TCP and UDP APIs like we had in Firefox OS (as an example, Scuttlebutt uses UDP to find peers in LAN and its own muxrpc TCP protocol to exchange data, DAT also uses UDP/TCP instead of HTTP).

              I have been building little experiments in Firefox for interfacing with Scuttlebutt which can be seen at:



              I hope to start a conversation in the add-ons list about TCP and UDP APIs for WebExtensions soon :-)

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                Fantastic work! :)

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              Well, on Windows you have a 3rd option: IE.

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              I’m also very happy with the (relative) easy of use OpenBSD.

              I missed the existence of Void. Is there any real advantage over Debian besides no-systemd?

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                To each its own poison. But I like void because

                • It is a rolling distro, if you are into that kind of stuff.
                • It has packages for openbsd programs variants e.g. netcat, ksh and doas.
                • the default network setup uses dhcpcd hooks and wpa_supplicant, so you can avoid networkmanager
                • it has a muslc variant, but many packages are not available for that
                • $ fortune -o void

                The tools for package cross compile and image building are pretty awesome too.

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                  While there are more packages for the glibc variant than the musl variant, I would not characterise this as “not many packages”. Musl is quite well supported and it’s really only a relatively small number of things which are missing.

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                    Thanks!, will try it next time when OpenBSD isn’t suitable.

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                    Void has good support for ZFS, which I appreciate (unlike say Arch where there’s only unofficial support and where the integration is far from ideal). Void also has an option to use musl libc rather than glibc.

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                      Void has great build system. It builds packages using user namespaces (or chroot on older kernels) so builds are isolated and can run without higher privileges. Build system is also quite hackable and I heard that it’s easy to add new packages.

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                        Never tried adding a package, but modifying a package in my local build repository was painless. (specifically dwm and st)

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                        Things I find enjoyable about Void:

                        • Rolling release makes upgrades less harrowing (you catch small problems quickly and early)
                        • High quality packages compared to other minimalist Linux distros
                        • Truly minimalist. The fish shell package uses Python for a few things but does not have an explicit Python dependency. The system doesn’t even come with a crond (which is fine, the few scripts I have running that need one I just put in a script with a sleep).
                        • Has a well maintained musl-libc version. I’m running musl void on a media PC right now, and when I have nothing running but X, the entire system uses ~120MB of RAM (which is fantastic because the system isn’t too powerful).

                        That said, my go-to is FreeBSD (haven’t gotten a chance to try OpenBSD yet, but it’s high on my list).

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                          I’d use void, but I prefer rc.d a lot. It’s why I like FreeBSD. It’s so great to use daemon_option= to do stuff like having a firewall for client only, to easily run multiple uwsgi applications, multiple instances, with different, of tor (for relays, doesn’t really make sense for client), use the dnscrypt_proxy_resolver to set the resolver, set general flags, etc.

                          For so many services all one needs to do is to set a couple of basic options and it’s just nice to have that in a central point where it makes sense. It’s so much easier to see how configuration relates if it’s at one single point. I know it doesn’t make sense for all things, but when I have a server, running a few services working together it’s perfect. Also somehow for the desktop it feels nicer, because it can be used a bit like how GUI system management tools are used.

                          In Linux land one has Alpine, but I am not sure how well it works on a desktop. Void and Alpine have a lot in common, even though Alpine seems more targeted at server and is used a lot for containers.

                          For advantages: If you like runit, LibreSSL and simplicity you might like it more than Debian.

                          However I am using FreeBSD these days, because I’d consider it closer to Linux in other areas, than OpenBSD. These days there is nothing that prevents me from switching to OpenBSD or DragonFly though. So it’s about choosing which advantages/disadvantages you choose. OpenBSD is simpler, DragonFly is faster and has recent Intel drivers, etc.

                          For security: On the desktop I think other than me doing something stupid, the by far biggest attack vector is a bug in the browser or other desktop client application, and I think neither OS will safe me from that on its own. Now that’s not to say it’s meaningless or that mitigations don’t work or that it’s the same on servers, but it’s more that this is my threat model for the system and use case.

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                          more audio and tactile outputs would be great - it would also improve accessibility to technology.

                          having started wearing glasses this year due to age - my fonts are getting larger and larger on the high resolution screen that I own…

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                            replying to myself - one of the issues I notice is that the focus on the visual means that much information is lost as we end capturing written word as images - rather than text.

                            while ocr and image recognition systems help, when you p-score tells you it’s a giraffe when you know it’s a cat there is likely to be information loss.

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                              For tactile outputs there are a couple of microfluidics based prototypes. For braille there was BLITAB and a couple others. There are also some tactile screens where the keyboard rises. The tech seems promising, but other than promotion articles and events I have yet to see one.

                              My eyes would really appreciate a large size e-ink display for work. Most of my time is spent reading or writing text anyway. The largest one I’ve found was a 13in screen.

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                              I love these, is there any way to automate applying these to a given Firefox Profile?

                              It’d be so nice to have these set as part of a local Ansible run, for example

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                                You can find prefs.js inside the profile folder. You can just add entries like user_pref("media.eme.chromium-api.enabled", false); there — it is a text file you can edit.

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                                  Yeah, that would be cool, I’ve been trying to fully automate my desktop setup using nix.

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                                    If marionette is enabled (or maybe webdriver?) you can also alter settings at runtime. The official python package for this is marionette_driver. I use my own code for the marionette bits, but I setup firefox settings from shell scripts.

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                                      As far as I know, all WebDriver support in Firefox is implemented by a proxy that connects to the Firefox instance itself via Marionette protocol.

                                      And WebDriver protocol is too cross-browser to support preferences. So if you want to randomize sme options in runtime (to mess with fingerprinting, I guess) or to allow/block Javascript by a script (I actually use this), native Marionette client is needed.

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                                        As far as I know, all WebDriver support in Firefox is implemented by a proxy

                                        Yes, geckodriver is the proxy. Webdriver does support browser specific options, for example you can set profile preferences when starting up geckodriver, but I dont know if webdriver provides an api to do it after the browser is started.

                                        I manage firefox instances using a little CLI https://github.com/equalsraf/ffcli/blob/master/ff/MANUAL.md and lots of shell script shenanigans.

                                        or to allow/block Javascript by a script (I actually use this)

                                        You mean suspend script execution? How do you do that using marionette?

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                                          No, I just start with scripts disabled, and then I manually trigger preference modification (like your prefset) to reenable scripts if I want them enabled. And I generally have many Firefox instances under different UIDs, so the effect is formally local but actually affects only one site anyway. (And launch new instances using rofi — which is similar to dmenu, and I have a way to make some bookmark there be associated with scripts enabled immediately). I gave up on managing the ports when I start too many instances at once (race conditions are annoying), so now they just live in their own network namespaces.

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                                    Now that I’m no longer so caught up in this pet project article of mine, I realize how BS it is. Deleted.

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                                      can you delete the lobste.rs post too then? i just tried to find it, and read the comments down to here for not much reason

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                                        Which makes this whole thread completely useless as I have no idea what other posters are referring to.

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                                        I actually agree with this but I also think it will not work for some people or work setups. I use a tilled window manager to assign windows to desktops and switch efficiently. But if your work involves repeatedely going through the same windows I think a larger screen is preferable, you save your fingers a lot of work.

                                        As a side note, now that I use progressive lens I find my home screen too big and want to switch to a smaller one :)

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                                          Several methods for different purposes.

                                          I keep a small pocket notebook for keeping track of daily taks - one or two entries per day at most (too many entries usually mean I got very little done). I write these at the end of the day. The main goal is to be able to look back at the end of the month or later.

                                          For work notes it depends a lot on what I am doing at the moment. For meetings/presentations I usually write stuff down in Vim (vim-pad and some other plugins)

                                          When I’m working alone I sometimes like to think by writing down free text on paper, I have a larger notebook just for this.

                                          For very quick one line notes I have a small program that writes a rotating log file. I dont use it much to be honest. Most times I just jot it down in my pocket notebook.