The State of Mozilla Firefox

If you have followed the news about Firefox -- hopefully by reading yours truly blog -- you know that the past 18 or so months saw some dramatic announcements and changes.

If you group those changes -- planned, in development or on a to-do list -- you come up with two major groups: introduction of features that change Firefox fundamentally, and the removal of features that impact part of the browser's user base.

Features like add-on signing, multi-process Firefox, support for WebExtensions, focus on 64-bit on Windows, and system add-ons, fall into the first group.

You find complete themes, changes to the add-on system and compatibility, removal of NPAPI plugin support, and removal of smaller features such as Hello or the Social API, fall into the second group.

Much of it is still an ongoing process, and this article tries to shed some light on the process. It needs to be noted that things may get delayed along the way.

Features and changes

The two big recent changes that are live for all or some users of the Firefox browser are add-on signing and multi-process Firefox.

Add-on Signing

unsigned addon

Add-on signing has been implemented in Stable and Beta channel releases of Firefox. The core idea behind the feature is to restrict which add-ons can be installed in the browser.



Any add-on submitted to Mozilla's official AMO add-on repository is signed automatically, while all other add-ons are not.

Firefox users on Developer, Nightly and ESR channels can override the requirement, and Mozilla released unbranded builds for developers that support this as well.

Mozilla did not release any statistics about the impact of add-on signing. My best guess is that the change hit veteran Firefox users the most who ran classic extensions in the browser that were never on Mozilla AMO to begin with, or modified to make them compatible with recent versions of the browser.

Multi-Process Firefox

multi-process firefox

Multi-Process Firefox, codename Electrolysis or e10s, has been in the planning stages for years. Mozilla enabled it on Firefox Stable in version 48 of the browser, but only for 1% of Firefox users who don't run any add-ons.

The organization plans to increase the distribution and push the feature to users with add-ons as well. The process will take a while and won't end before Firefox 53 at the earliest which will be out April 18, 2017.

Multi-process Firefox improves the browser's responsiveness initially, but will support sandboxing for security eventually as well.

Techcrunch reported recently that Mozilla saw an increase of 400% to 700% in responsiveness for loading web pages if multi-process was enabled in the browser.

One downside is that it uses about 20% more memory, but that is still better than how Google Chrome handles this.

WebExtensions

firefox 48 web extensions

Mozilla plans to remove XUL and XPCOM support from Firefox, and replace some of the functionality lost by the move with WebExtensions APIs.

The first stable version of WebExtensions shipped with Firefox 48 recently, and it is already possible to download and install some Chrome extensions in Firefox because of it.

Work on WebExtensions will continue for quite a while, especially since it is not really clear yet what extra set of features they will support (to support functionality lost by the removal of XUL/XPCOM).

64-bit Windows

While Mac and Linux users had access to 64-bit versions of Firefox for quite some time, Firefox users on Windows had not.

Mozilla plans to make Firefox 64-bit on Windows a priority starting this month. The process will go on until the third quarter of 2017 when it plans to migrate eligible 32-bit installations of Firefox to 64-bit.

System Add-ons

So-called system add-ons work in many regards just like regular add-ons. The core differences are that they are shipped with Firefox instead of downloaded by the user, and stored in the program folder and not the user profile.

Read also:  Firefox gets "Always open in Container" option

One of the benefits of system add-ons is that they can be updated independently. Previously, if you wanted to update the integrated Pocket feature, you had to ship a new Firefox version. With System Add-ons, Mozilla can simply push an update for that add-on without touching the Firefox version at all.

Firefox users get less control over system add-ons though. The add-ons cannot be removed completely from the browser for instance.

Test Pilot

tab center

Test Pilot is a new initiative that Mozilla uses to showcase features and ideas that may one day be integrated in Firefox natively.

Basically, what you do is install the Test Pilot add-on, and then any of the available experiments to try them out.

Mozilla gets early feedback on features, and Firefox users a chance to provide the organization with feedback.

Deprecation and removals

Mozilla plans to remove or deprecate several features from Firefox. Probably the biggest change is the deprecation of the old add-on model in favor of WebExtensions.

Deprecation of XUL and XPCOM

While 40% of Firefox users are not using add-ons at all according to Mozilla, 60% are using them. One of the main reasons for Firefox's success was its add-on system.

It gave add-on and theme developers free reign, and allowed them to do nearly anything.  This led to the creation of add-ons such as NoScript, Down Them All, Classic Theme Restorer, or support for complete themes that may change any interface element of the browser.

Mozilla plans to remove this, and replace part of it with WebExtensions. It is clear that WebExtensions won't be as powerful as what is currently available. What is not clear right now is how much will be lost, and what the impact will be on Firefox's add-on ecosystem.

Add-on developers need to port their extensions to the new system once it becomes the status quo. The past has shown that active developers will likely do so, provided that WebExtensions support everything they need for that, but that add-ons will be left behind.

First, any inactive add-on or theme that depends on the old model will become incompatible with Firefox. Second, some add-ons may not be ported because WebExtensions does not offer the functionality needed to do so.

The time frame given back in August 2015 was that it would take within 12 to 18 months, but it seems very likely that Mozilla will extend that period.

End of NPAPI plugins

firefox-plugins

The web moves towards HTML5, and browser makers like Google or Mozilla plan to cut off plugin support in browsers eventually.

Mozilla plans to drop NPAPI support in Firefox 53. This means that plugins that rely on NPAPI won't be available in Firefox Stable anymore. The one exception to this is Flash, which will still be supported for an undisclosed time period.

Firefox users on ESR may use plugins until Firefox 60 ESR is released which will be out in the second quarter of 2018.

Smaller changes

Firefox Hello will be removed from Firefox. Hello was a real-time video chat feature that Mozilla integrated natively in the browser. The organization was criticized for introducing Hello as a native feature and not an add-on (also for doing the same with Pocket).

Part of the SocialAPI gets removed. The SocialAPI was an attempt to improve the integration of social sites and functionality in Firefox. The only feature that remains of the Social API is the share functionality.

Further reading:

Why Firefox will continue to lose market share

No, Firefox won't become a Chrome clone

Now You: Are you affected by any of the changes?

Summary
Article Name
The State of Mozilla Firefox
Description
The article looks at the state of the Firefox web browser, at changes that are already implemented, and upcoming changes.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Responses to The State of Mozilla Firefox

  1. CHEF-KOCH September 4, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    This will not help Firefox. Firefox use a deprecated coding language while Edge and Chrome using C++/Phyton which is faster as all the languages FF uses, this slows down a lot, especially the addon parts in XUL. It's the coding language and only the coding language what slows stuff down, if you would re-write entire stuff in modern languages like 'Rust' I bet it would be same fast as Chrome. The thing starts here, you can't re-write the engine each time a 'better' coding language comes out, you must ensure that you use from beginning a good language like pure C++ instead of a mix of bunch of languages, this makes the support effort lower as trying to maintain current issue.

    Mozilla has simply currently no ideas, they trying to fix stuff as a result of losing market share bu this isn't an concept. It's like what IE tried in earlier times.

    Mozilla needs a:
    * Concept
    * A better engine and a modern coding language
    * More options like all other browsers to make it 'unique' again, do not copy features from Chrome!

    • khidreal September 4, 2016 at 11:33 am #

      A better engine and a modern coding language
      so basically you are asking to delete the source file, delete Firefox, and create a new Browser.

      More options like all other browsers to make it 'unique' again, do not copy features from Chrome!
      imagine you are the creator of Chrome. I am a new browser, called... Browser4all. just because chrome already has a button to go back to the previous page I was visiting, I won't add that feature. I will just ignore it because it will be a copy of a feature you, creator of Chrome released, so I will just force my users to create a new tab whenever they need to go to a previous page, force my users to remember their search path so that they can open the same links again to reach the previous webpage...

      Saying "do not copy features from chrome" is a stupid thing. companies from all over the places - browsers, infrastructure, programs, movies, music, etc. - they all copy features from each other - some just don't really show it or they just don't admit it.

      • CHEF-KOCH September 4, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

        At some point you need to stop and create something new. Look IE was a mess and Edge was re-written from the sketch and it's not bad.

        The problem is that there is security vs user, and the user is mostly the weakest point in a chain. That's why you get 'forced', and not what you think that they not want it. A browser is just a browser but people often forget this and want Mail, Videos, Media files, filesharing and more within it.

        > they all copy features from each other

        Yep and because of this they coming and going, I saw a lot of forks but none of them survived for longer. Why is it. ... because copy xyz is not a feature and then you simply can use original over a fork.

        Copy stuff from others isn't a concept. it shows you have no ideas anymore.

      • Khidreal September 4, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

        "The problem is that there is security vs user, and the user is mostly the weakest point in a chain" - I agree. but that has a purpose: security are a set of pre-determined "rules" that are hard for the user to break. most problems you have on your computer come from the user, so a user should not be able to modify them as he wants. although, I think users should have more control over security, not giving free will to users, but let them choose what features they want and what features they don't want. add like an "expert" option to the security settings, where in this case, you would be able to choose if you want to keep use for example NPAPI and put your security at risk, or if you want to disable it. the problem with this, is that for example browsers like firefox would become huge in size: the installation package would turn from 50MB to 150MB probably... and the work in development... this kind of feature only security focused companies like Mozilla could do it, but they don't have resources to do it.

        I agree a browser is just a browser, actually I don't use Midori because it's ugly af, otherwise I would use it. putting pocket and Hello in Firefox as a native instead of an add-on was bad, for example, I don't use them, so why do I want them?

        besides, I don't think there are ideas anymore. human imagination can be quiet powerful, but still it's limited in the way that you need to know a lot and a wide range of variety of subjects to think of something new. something only a really few people can do... creating a new concept well, you can, but for example, if I don't make a backward and forward arrows, a home button, etc, better dont even make it. I have the concept of creating the most secure browser in the world. but I won't make it without grabbing some ideas on other browsers and implement them. this is exactly what browser's companies do. things are created by visionary people. chrome was created because some guy created the chromium project. without the chromium project Firefox would be right now the leading Browser, and chrome, opera and all the other chromium based browsers would not exist. I said this just to prove that you can't make something REALLY from scratch, you need to thing based on something, and when this happens, it's already a sort of a copy/not original.

      • vosie September 13, 2016 at 11:30 am #

        @CHEF-KOCH and Khidreal

        There are no excuses to force users what to do. The user shoul be able to do ANYTHING he wants on his own computer.

        This statement about expert options is nonsense: "the installation package would turn from 50MB to 150MB"
        In fact, the expert options would NOT increase the size of Firefox.

    • Parker Lewis September 4, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

      @CHEF-KOCH
      > "Mozilla needs a:
      > * Concept
      > * A better engine and a modern coding language
      > * More options like all other browsers to make it 'unique' again,
      > do not copy features from Chrome! "

      Mozilla has all those things, check it out for yourself. People just repeat random drama stuff they read and spread negativity, don't let yourself be affected, look up cold technical facts instead.

      The main thing that holds Mozilla back is add-ons, and that is going to be solved with practically no sacrifice with WebExtensions + native.js. Firefox add-ons can't be ditched, they're too great. Once they have moved to WebExtensions, all the compatibility-breaking tech can be unleashed without damage to the ecosystem.

      That includes everything you suggest.

      • Ben September 5, 2016 at 11:33 am #

        > Once they have moved to WebExtensions, all the compatibility-breaking tech can be unleashed without damage to the ecosystem.
        After that, there is no more ecosystem left. Because then, FF is useless and offers no more advantages over vivaldi.

      • Parker Lewis September 5, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

        Like, nope ? Just read the comments, it's all over the place.

      • Mystique September 5, 2016 at 5:33 pm #

        I respectfully disagree as I see webExtensions + native.js will be held to its limitation and certain aspects will not be available to modify. Once you impose limitations you are already stifling the creative development which occurs in the very backbone of firefox... I am talking about the addon developers that have contributed to making firefox what it is most admired for. In short once you impose limitations you threaten the ecosystem under the guise of improvements are they really improvements?
        Chrome has its imposed limitations and those limitations are yet to be effectively overcome but due to it being founded by a corporation that chooses to represent its needs first and foremost I suspect it will never change also considering that limitations are hardcoded into the browser itself now and would require a large rewrite of which I do not see happening.
        Conceptually the founding ideas were great and simplistic and direct, these days Firefox is becoming a bloated Mozilla browser (something it was never created and designed to be).

        I am not saying that they should should not make real improvements but imposing hardcoded limitations is foolish not only in the short term but also in the long term. Mozilla should be aiming to create a modern firefox from birth that means creating a freeworking platform in the modern era as phoenix was that affords addon developers and users alike to enjoy said freedoms to build upon the browser and create something that represents the individual.

        Phoenix/Firefox was a piece of lego (a building block) from which one could virtually build upon and shape into whatever they wanted but now mozilla wants to change that under the guise of smoothing down the edges and in doing so they will just have a worn out piece of lego that cannot be built upon as well as it once could.

      • Parker Lewis September 5, 2016 at 6:41 pm #

        Yes, an API is a serious limitation over total freedom. But like I said native.js will be able to do anything that old-style add-ons can do.

        From Bill McCloskey, who is in charge of this at Mozilla:
        "I don't think there will be any technical limitations on what sort of XUL or XPCOM access is permitted from native.js."

        The 'limitation' on native.js only concerns ease of development. Instead of minding your own business as a developer, doing your own thing and publishing your add-on, you will have to build a native.js module that will be subjected to more careful review than regular add-ons. And Mozilla and other add-on developers will be looking at your native.js module in case it breaks, so even if you die or disappear they can fix it.

        If it was like you said, indeed this would be a tradeoff. But it's not, we're only trading some inconvenience versus the good things talked about here and there in this article's comments.

      • vosie September 13, 2016 at 11:50 am #

        @Parker Lewis

        The main thing that holds Mozilla back is their own idiotism. They waste their resources on wrong things like constantly removing features, ruining the user interface, implementing useless things ...
        To make things worse, they want to completely destroy their addon ecosystem by removing XUL and XPCOM. There is no problem with WebExtensions as long as they still keep the XUL/XPCOM (or make WebExtensions 100% compatible with old addons).

        There are no valid reasons to completely move to WebExtensions. The only point of WebExtensions is to make Firefox compatible with Chrome addons. But it does not make sense to remove XUL/XPCOM. Why destroy something that works perfectly? If it ain't broke don't fix it!

      • Thrawn January 4, 2017 at 12:35 am #

        > WebExtensions + native.js

        But native.js has been rejected: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1199718

    • Doc September 5, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

      Never heard of Phyton. Also, Firefox's user interface is written mainly in XUL; how can you say it's "deprecated" if it's created and maintained by Mozilla itself? The rest of the program IS written in C++

      http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=241370

      https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Developer_guide/Build_Instructions/Windows_Prerequisites

      ...states that Firefox is currently being built on Visual Studio 2015. Hard to call Visual C++ 2015 "deprecated."

    • marc klink September 6, 2016 at 7:31 pm #

      Where is your proof that the coding is slower than other languages? First of all, do you even know what language is used? If speed is what is desired, there is nothing better than assembler, or C for getting close to the metal.

  2. Heimen Stoffels September 4, 2016 at 10:43 am #

    I'm not a fan of dropping NPAPI support but if they're really gonna do that, then I don't really get why FF 53 will drop it but ESR will keep it for another year? I know that ESR is supported longer, but one year? Also, wouldn't a lot of people switch to ESR then thus decreasing the marketshare of the 'regular' Firefox? And what will those users do after FF 60 ESR?

    So many questions, so many bad decisions.

    • Jake September 5, 2016 at 5:11 am #

      ESR is supported for a year so that businesses and schools do not have to set up elaborate expensive updating methods that still limit what the user can install to zero. These machines are often only reimaged once per year.

      I personally have been using ESR to limit the relentless new versions and the mess they make of my 30 or so addons. I hate that moment when an addon is no longer compatible and I have to back out. Many of my addons are much more important than the "latest and greatest" features.

  3. Earl September 4, 2016 at 10:43 am #

    Mozilla's problem is that they think users are not primary to the success of Firefox. They're mistaken. When you stop giving your users what they want, they go elsewhere. I've moved on--to another OS and another browser. None of Mozilla's plans for Firefox will provide me with something of value to me. Australis was the last good thing that Mozilla did, but even there they made a few little mistakes regarding user "satisfaction" (though nothing that was a problem for me). I'm on the outside, watching Mozilla fade away. But I no longer care.

    • khidreal September 4, 2016 at 11:19 am #

      That's where people are mistaken. like you said "they made a few little mistakes regarding user "satisfaction"", this is where most people are wrong, while Chrome and opera, maxthon and all others care about the user productivity/ease of use as a primary objective, to Mozilla, it's a secondary objective. the core objective of Firefox is to provide you with a browser that does not spy the users intensively and provides good privacy and security. that's the primary objective and everything that is done on Firefox is thinking about this core ideal, that's why I just keep using firefox. I've tried chrome, Opera, Maxthon, chromium, spark browser and many many others, I've tried like 50 browsers so far, always come back to Firefox because mozilla is the only company with which I feel safe and I feel that cares about user security without having a paranoid Idea and blocking everything like Epic Privacy Browser does.

      • Tom Hawack September 4, 2016 at 1:44 pm #

        I agree with you. The point is, with a browser as everywhere, what participates to a choice. If there is a primary objective, primary in that if has the power of a veto, then this objective will become a main filter and limit the choices to objectives satisfying the condition.

        I consider as well privacy and security as a primary objective and keep Firefox as my main browser, even should other browsers prove better performances in other objectives and or offer other objectives not met in Firefox.

        Concerning the state of Mozilla Firefox, now and tomorrow (characteristic of our era, so many products appear as "a work in progress" which is fine if not hysterical) I consider two points as possibly problematic for me :

        The first concerns the signed add-ons requirement. Fortunately a wise Russian programmer found and presented a work-around, and his work has been related as well here on Ghacks pages : great, and the first concern vanishes.

        Secondly, and that's for tomorrow, WebExtensions. This bothers me in perspective because it beats one of my concerns in all areas of life : having or not a return ticket, an antidote. When you touch the very structure of add-ons you possibly break de facto the possibility of modifying so many aspects of Firefox itself and of the way Firefox displays pages : it's another architecture. And the "possibly" seems mild when there seems to be a consensus on stating that WebExtensions will seriously limit the power of add-ons compared to what is theirs now, still now.

        Electrolysis? If it continues to inject itself with the same rhythm as now, progressively, allowing developers to rebuilt their add-ons then all should be ok. The worst will be non e10-upgraded add-ons but again, if security is a primary objective then Electrolysis, IMO, will be more important then lost add-ons.

        Removal of NPAPI plugin support doesn't bother me personally (not one plug-in here), not more than removals of social APIs, Hello and Pocket do, but again this scopes my concerns, hard to say if it's a good or bad thing for the concern of all users, even if there are privacy concerns involved (which would allow to imagine these are good decisions for all).

        That's about it, I guess.
        Now I make myself a coffee and lite my pipe. So sleepy this morning I thought I'd never make it. By the way, Martin, I admire your regularity in work and in delivering such pertinent articles.

      • Khidreal September 4, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

        Tom, I kinda agree with you, but at the same time I don't agree..
        in the signed addons, I have to say that I don't approve or disapprove the workaround. signed addons will prevent some badware or crapware from taking over your browser, but sometimes you want also to install an addon from your antivirus, which you trust, but they don't have a signed addon on Firefox extras.

        on wbextensions, I disagree with you. to have security, you need to control what addons can do to your browser. for example I think that with WE you may be even protected from a kind of virus that comes as an extension, that is recording your browser and logging what you type, just because it will limit the power of addons.

        NPAPI well, still using them, mostly flash, since I visit websites that use flash and the pdf viewer (why would I install a pdf viewer if firefox already has one?), but I won't miss this plugins.

      • Tom Hawack September 4, 2016 at 3:38 pm #

        Khidreal, if add-ons need to be signed in what is WebExtensions concerned from a security point of view? As I understand it, WebExtensions aims at providing a "universal" platform for add-ons and their development. Never knew that security was involved but if you say so I'll have to dig that.

        Concerning the add-on signature requirement work-around of course, if I'm happy personally about this entry to freedom (or rather exit from imprisonment) I admit the imprisonment is intended for the sake of security. This is why I omitted to include Ghacks' article page explicitly : those who really want the code and references will search for it and, hopefully, be aware of what blocking add-ons' signature requirement means in terms of security : I wouldn't spread the word to an audience without being assured all know the consequences of bypassing a security feature.

        I didn't understand your point concerning NPAPI applied to PDF : if you're using Firefox's built-in PDF viewer then no plug-in is required, which you seem to acknowledge when you write " (why would I install a pdf viewer if firefox already has one?)" -- Have I missed something,

      • Pants September 4, 2016 at 5:55 pm #

        Agreed. And for those who lack verbal reasoning skills, that does not mean Firefox isn't productive or easy to use. Most browsers (lets say Edge, Chrome, FF, Opera, Vivaldi, Safari) are pretty much the same on the face of it (they all do the basics, they are all looking at security all the time, some might be slightly faster at rendering, or use less resources - whatever). Yes there may some individual differences re file support etc, but overall, they are all the same, especially for most people.

        Firefox's UNIQUE selling points are all you said (some/less and anonymized telemetry, and a focus on privacy), and also the customization that backs that up (about:config and prefs). Signed addons and e10s are security and I can't wait for all the ui vs content, content per tab, per process extension, sandboxing to eventually arrive - and I am sure there will be prefs to tinker with these settings (eg for older machines with less ram, and considerations for user behaviour re tabs open - some like 200 tabs open, some like me never really have more than 10 at any one time).

        This is what Firefox should be fighting Chrome with, marketing wise. Just attack Chrome, take market share off the leader. I want ads, blogs, editorials, viral campaigns .. showing people all the ways FF/Mozilla protect your privacy or offer options for against what little if anything chrome do. I can think of 50 major differences right now that would horrify people. The problem may be that most people just don't care. They either genuinely don't care, are ignorant, or have given up and accept tracking as the norm. I personally would like to think that enough people do care, that Mozilla can drive change through larger market share.

        For the bulk of end users, a browser is just a browser - eg 40% of FF users have no extensions. All they use it for is some netflix (and chilling?), internet banking, web mail services, browsing etc. The only reason Chrome is where it is today market share wise, is because they abused their position, leveraged their own already global near-dominant position as a search engine, and used aggressive tactics. Most people with chrome have no idea how or when they changed to it (those I asked that is).

        It's good to have competition, and we need disruptors/innovators in any space. Thank god chrome did come along, or we may have ended up with a very different focus for firefox. It may be nowhere near as concerned with privacy. Who knows.

        As for all the knocking (here and on previous posts) about:
        1. Firefox copying chrome - I call BS. Nothing is original anymore - creativity is always derived from something. Things can be decided/arrived at independently (eg larger buttons, minimal look, inwindow options etc are natural progressions for touch and mobile/lower inch screens etc)
        2. Mozilla doing "stupid" things like pocket/hello, or socialAPI, experimenting with sponsored tiles (big deal), and loads of other things. Ask yourself this. What IF .. what if just one of those things had taken off. Entrepreneurs are not successful because of one idea - they are successful because they tried and tried and tried until they hit the jackpot.

        PS: The only thing I am kinda dreading is the deprecation of XUL and XPCOM, but only time will tell. Everything else over the years, I have simply always, ALWAYS, been able to overcome with no loss - and I will always use the latest stable, within a reasonable period, for the new security and privacy fixes/enhancements. And I will not trade my FF for anything in the world.

      • vosie September 13, 2016 at 11:52 am #

        @Tom Hawack

        The primary objective of Electrolysis is not security, but performance. And I agree, Electrolysis is the most important milestone in the life of Firefox.

        The removal of NPAPI is a very bad decision. Why remove something that works perfectly?
        And we haven't talked about the fact that HTML5 is much worse than Flash, because you can't use Click to Play blocking for HTML5 videos. You can block their autoplay with media.autoplay.enabled pref, but you can't prevent them from downloading / buffering in the background.
        So all HTML5 media loads on every page and you can't do anything about it (the only way is to completely disable HTML5 media in about:config, but as soon as the websites and/or Firefox will stop supporting Adobe Flash, then you are out of luck.). And it's very bad, especially on mobile devices. It increases the CPU usage and heating of the phone, it wastes the battery life and data plan, bandwidth.

      • vosie September 13, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

        @Khidreal and Tom Hawack

        The addon signature requirement is unnecessary and pointless. There already is a popup warning when you want to install an addon which clearly states: "Install add-ons only from authors whom you trust. Malicious software can damage your computer or violate your privacy". And the install button is disabled for a few seconds.

        And it's perfectly enough. From this point it's up to the user to decide whether he want to install the addon or not. There is no need to enforce addon signing and to block unsigned addons because it makes no sense.

      • Tom Hawack September 13, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

        @vosie, OK, I read you.

        Concerning HTML5 download not being "blockable" as Flash is, OK. May be mentioned here that an add-on such as 'uBlock Origin' will block external HTML5 if the HTML5 source is blocked in one way or another. But that is not an argument to defeat HTML5's inability to be blocked from even downloading.

        Concerning Flash : I'm sorry but seems to me there's more to consider a plug-in's quality than the simple fact it can be blocked, or that may be blocked what it would download : concerning Flash it's the least one could expect!

        Why is it the least one could expect from Flash? Because since years and years this player is an everlasting pot of problems, security problems and privacy problems.

        Therefor I consider that Web sites which yawn when it gets to moving Flash off and HTML5 on do not deserve to fe any further taken into consideration : Adobe's Flash should be eradicated, it is on that path but the beast is tough to get rid of.

        That's my MHU (Most Humble Opinion : brand new!) -- But I may be making a wrong analysis of course. You know, I just try to do for the best of my system here, I have to read, take references, weigh the pros and cons and decide (like big managers!). So I wouldn't advise anyone on choices based on a sum of rational sources which happen to oppose themselves : I'd bet that if I asked 10 engineers their opinion on Flash i'd be close to 50/50 when hearing their opinion ...

      • vosie September 13, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

        @Pants

        I agree, mostly.
        It's a good summary why still Firefox is the best and only one good browser in the world.

        Just a few things.

        "(eg larger buttons, minimal look, inwindow options etc are natural progressions for touch and mobile/lower inch screens etc)"

        Desktop is not mobile, so the UI should not be dumbed down. And the inwindow options would be horrible in mobile devices too (for the same reasons why it is horrible on desktop).

        Not to mention that Firefox for Android has the worst user interface in the world. It's the exact same crap as Crhome for Android. Mozilla removed the text reflow. What were they thinking? Text reflow is essential on mobile devices. There used to be back/forward and refresh buttons on the URL bar. Then they moved them to the menu. Other mobile browsers like Opera and Dolphin have real tab bar, like the desktop browsers. In the mobile version of Firefox and Chrome you have to open the tab list to switch to tab/open/close tabs. And it's harder to overview / control the list of tabs. The Opera and Dolphin android browsers have real tab bar and it's just a single tap to switch to/open/close tabs.

        The reason why people blame Mozilla for ruining Firefox is that people know that Firefox is the last remaining good browser and there are no alternatives. That's why people do not want Mozilla to destroy Firefox.

      • vosie September 13, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

        @Tom Hawack

        Ublock is an adblocker which means it's blocking is based on filter lists. This means it's blocking is not a general solution. It's not like click-to-play, where every plugin is blocked, but you can activate them per-element (Click to Play Per Element addon) if you click on the placeholder. Ublock's large media file blocker want to mimic it, but it does not work at all (yet). And the fact that it is not possible to block HTML5 media is enough to make it much worse than Flash.

        Those alleged security / privacy "problems" of flash are nonsense. The HTML5 is worse also in this regard, sicne you can't block them, so they load on every page which means worse privacy and security. The HTML5 guarantees the ad companies can track users. Even if you use an adblocker, it won't completely protect you from it. At first, adblokers use filters which are not general solutions. Second, if a website use an anti-adblock script, it forces you to disable the adblocker, but while you STILL can block the flash content with click-to-play, you can't do the same to HTML5.

        I've also mentioned the other disadvantages of the unblockable HTML5 on mobile devices. As I know, Firefox for Android is the only one browser for mobile that has the capability / option for the user to disable HTML5 completely: yes, the about:config prefs. (However, for Android, HTML5 - at least in Firefox - has one advantage over flash: it can play youtube videos even if you turn off the phone's screen. That's the only reason why I haven't decided yet whether to turn off HTML5 or not. (For mobile, pherhaps i would be better to use another Firefox build (beta) only for video playing, and disable HTML5 in the main Firefox build (stable).))

      • Tom Hawack September 13, 2016 at 4:36 pm #

        @vosie, this is why I did insist on the fact uBlockO's ability to block external calls was not an argument as such.
        In practice nevertheless it's much more than an ad-blocker when it comes to, i.e., blocking external calls (3rd-party, 3rd-party scripts, 3rd-party frames) which is not related to a list but to a user's choice : doing so will at least block calls to external servers hence to external html5 as well ...

        You write "Those alleged security / privacy "problems" of flash are nonsense". As I said I've read comments similar to that and comments which disagree. We do have to acknowledge that Flash, at least without adding settings to its mms.cfg file, is a provider of users' privacy. I believe we acknowledge as well that Adobe's Flash is continuously updated mainly to patch security issues. Finally, we acknowledge that many leading companies have decided to eradicate or at least to tightly control Adobe's Flash on the basis of above mentioned everlasting security flaws. This is not fantasy literature, nor comics but facts.

        HTML5 could, should include the possibility of blocking downloads, I agree. But for the time being I'll follow a widening security trend which is to avoid Flash and to consider a browser's built-in code to hear and view audio and video.

    • Parker Lewis September 4, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

      @Earl

      So if Australis was a good decision for you, what were bad decisions ? Hello ? Pocket ? Come on, those things were experiments and are on their way out. (Hello clearly had its own merits though)

      Perhaps you're referring to new tab Tile advertising ? Mozilla has to make revenue to hold ground against the massive Google and Microsoft. But guess what, tile advertising is also going to be removed.

      What's left ? Removal of Tab Groups ? It's an add-on now, and it gets developer love. Everyone wins from this change.

      Can't see anything else.

      Now the good:
      - Asm.js. Nobody can run JavaScript faster than Firefox thanks to this. Its concept and success is giving birth to SIMD.js and the standard WebAssembly, both of which will enable games and applications of the highest complexity to run on the web. Thank you Mozilla for your contribution and innovation ? Nope, ungrateful drama-queens are cooler I guess.
      - Multi-process. Amazing improvement in user experience. Took a long time because it's a drastic change and in large part also because Mozilla *respects its add-ons developers* and went waayyyyy out of their way to ensure transition can be made easily.
      - WebExtensions. The guarantee that all future changes to Firefox's core won't break add-on compatibility, no matter how dire they may be. Mozilla also went out of their way to ensure innovation is still possible with native.js, a way for add-on developers to write omnipotent add-ons but with no future-proof guarantee. Good ideas can be pushed into the official WebExtensions API, or the developer can manage compatibility with various versions on his own.
      - Rust, Servo components, browser.html. Top of the line technologies and huge improvements of Firefox's core that Mozilla cannot implement until WebExtensions is out and add-on compatibility is safe. browser.html may open way to a future-proof way to do full theme customisation again. Rust is a large improvement in security. Servo is expected to provide massive improvements in performance and user experience, but also maintainability, modularity and therefore make Firefox structurally easier and faster to improve than any browser. Inside Servo, webrender is a renderer that works similarly to a game engine to display web content. It already proves faster and smoother than competition.

      So Mozilla does innovate and does care about users and add-on developers A LOT. So much so that it put great innovations in the fridge for like 2 years just so nothing breaks. And people somehow manage to hold that against them and accuse them of exactly what they're *not* doing. It would be funny if there was not a danger of monopoly in something as strategic to society as the browser market.

      The one innovation that is disputable is the future suggestion system that should replace ad-tiles in about:newtab. Sounds like a small Cortana with a way better privacy woven in the design. Still, I'm not a fan of anything that relies on a distant server to store personal data. But everything is easy to disable anyway, and Cortana + Edge could prove to be an actual threat to the browser market, so... Well, let's let them try and experiment. That's how you innovate, often times you fail and learn, and sometimes you put your finger on the right spot. Mozilla is simply more open about its experiments than other companies because openness and transparency is part of their identity. It shouldn't be held against them provided controversial things can be properly opted-out.

      • Pants September 4, 2016 at 6:08 pm #

        ^^ +10 (breakdown: +3 Intelligence, +2 Logic, +2 Coherence, +1 Heavy Armor, +1 Archery, +1 Stealth :) enjoy )

      • Parker Lewis September 4, 2016 at 6:50 pm #

        @Pants \o/

        I'll give myself one more Stealth point if you don't mind because we exchanged quickly under another nickname that I forgot in your user.js article, and I sounded perhaps slightly incisive while my intent was to bring something to the discussion. (Not to mention we agree on almost everything, so there was nothing to be incisive about. Internet, land of fake debates)

        Back to the topic, you said "I can think of 50 major differences right now that would horrify people." talking about Chrome vs Firefox in terms of privacy. While I know Mozilla and Firefox upside down, I can't say I completely own Chrome's innerworkings and future Google's projects. You could have ammunition that I don't, so if you have some time at some point, I'll be glad to hear about it!

      • Pants September 4, 2016 at 8:48 pm #

        Good point. I didn't want to make the post too long (I too, am not an expert on chrome). I've made a note to compile a list for a future post. I may/may not get around to it. Also, just pushing google's stances on things vs those of mozilla could/would/should be included. Nothing wrong with attacking the parent company.

        - how about some general statements about privacy from Mozilla vs those of Eric Schmidt (or Larry Page, Sergey Brin). Some of the things they have said over the years are absolute clangers! I remember a video of Sergey smirking after some snide comment about tracking and data collection. It would not be hard to paint the owner of chrome in a bad light
        - how about google's insistence on real names (see G+ launch and aftermath in 2011) - there are tonnes of examples. Google does not give a sh*t about privacy because it breaks all their models. Some clever marketer could really drum up some nice examples: Good vs Evil Corp :) We'd get 50 classics there alone... "Remember that time google said X, and then *THIS* happened".

        Sticking with chrome, here's one off the top of my head
        - you cannot disable SSL session ticketing IDs in chrome, you can in FF

        why? because google services use this information to track everyone server side (any website you allow XSS from google https owned entities: think apis, fonts, analytics and more). And we all know how pervasive their empire is including the a large chunk of the backbone. They would never remove their ability to track you so easily server side. Chrome is part of the ubiquitous privacy policy that covers all google products...which means google allows themselves to collate data from multiple sources together....this means your digital footprint is very detailed in google and using Chrome adds to that (especially if you have a google account and logged in)...

        I'm not really telling you anything new here. I'll have to have a think about how to collate the material and break it down so its clear, concise. And I need to differentiate between out-of-the-box/preferences vs extensions, and then even if extensions can do it (eg you can block google's safe browsing stuff, but probably have to do it at the OS/network level). And I'd have to do some research and I have SFA time for things. Evil Corp™ :)

    • DaveyK September 5, 2016 at 10:47 am #

      @Earl

      I'd have to disagree regarding Australis. I thought it was a disaster overall. Not necessarily for the looks (although I wasn't happy with the curved Chrome-esque tabs), the issue was just how much customisation Mozilla removed in the pursuit of Australis.

      Want a status bar? Nope, that's gone. Tabs on bottom? Gone. Ability to move the Back/forwards buttons? Gone. Ability to shift Stop/Reload from the right-hand side of the address bar? Gone. Ability to add back a menu? Gone.

      Australis was an affront to the Firefox brand. Firefox was always about flexibility and customisation. Australis destroyed a lot of that, and cost Mozilla a lot of users as a result (I was one of them).

      • Parker Lewis September 5, 2016 at 3:56 pm #

        I loved Australis although I'm not a fan of how background tabs are not drawn and instead separated by |.

        Still a proponent of customisation though. You have Classic Theme Restorer and even a Google Chrome theme. But when browser.html, which gives a HTML+CSS UI, gets implemented into Firefox, we might see the a big improvement in UI customisation. We'll see.

        On the flip side, changing the size of the view port from the default theme is pretty bad for privacy. window.innerHeight and Width should not change, same for window.outerHeight and Width. Extra bars make you (and everyone else because of you) more recognizable, so in that sense less customisation is good. IMHO, customisation should be total so long as it doesn't divide fingerprint groups further.

      • Tom Hawack September 5, 2016 at 4:17 pm #

        @Parker, I agree (to the extent of my understanding) on all you've written here concerning tomorrow's Firefox. yet when you mention privacy concerns related to customized cosmetics of Firefox's GUI (size of the view port, extra bars...) making the user more recognizable, even if true and it is, I'll have to express my limit on this point.

        Privacy is a balance, like prices are, it's an exchange but IMO I'd loose in comfort more than i'd gain in privacy should I adopt an ultimate approach to privacy. I'm not a secret agent who'd get dressed up as an Eskimo should he visit Greenland; also more users will adopt total privacy (if that even exists) more those who don't will get spotted. But it's of course everyone's choice. "Too much" as French say to sound nice :)

      • Parker Lewis September 5, 2016 at 9:47 pm #

        Yeah, it's all about balance and your general configuration context. For instance the size of your viewport doesn't matter in the least if you have JavaScript or plugins enabled, except perhaps on Tor Browser where JavaScript supposedly quacks the same way regardless of device. (I don't buy it, but I trust that JS entropy is still violently reduced)

        Worth noting again that Mozilla will apparently implement Tor Browser privacy improvements back into Firefox, but I'm guessing many improvements will be opt-in, through a limited set of checkboxes or a unique slider. The constraints on customisation I was talking about should then be enabled only when the users opts-in through such an UI.

        Or perhaps Firefox should lie to websites instead of constraining customisation, but a study should be made to see if lying is actually effective or if it's an illusion of effectiveness :)
        The Tor guys should know some about this but I suspect the answer is grey. The concept though is clearly better than constraints on the user, and more in line with Mozilla's style.

  4. Graham September 4, 2016 at 11:28 am #

    Which of the Firefox forks are planning to keep XUL and XPCOM but will still add support for Web Extensions? Because that's where I'll be moving to.

    Cyberfox?
    Waterfox?
    IceDragon?
    ....Palemoon :/ ?

    • khidreal September 4, 2016 at 11:41 am #

      most of them will keep those features, that's for sure LOL.
      but, in case of XPCOM, I don't know why not trade it for Web Extensions definitely WE is better than XPCOM. don't know why someone would stop using a browser because developer tools like XPCOM are getting traded for something better. if you have WE, which makes it easier than XPCOM to create something, why would you still want XPCOM? or you use one, or another, both at the same time will just mess things up.

      • Graham September 4, 2016 at 12:56 pm #

        Because XPCOM runs a hundred times better. The devs of Lightning and DTA (and several other devs) have already said that their extension won't be viable as Web Extensions because the format is so inefficient, not to mention limited. That means that no similarly powerful new extensions for Firefox will be possible.

        Running WE and XPCOM at the same time in different extensions won't mess anything up. No-one talking about using a bit of each in the same extension, just like you wouldn't write Java and .NET code in the same library. D'uh

        Taking XPCOM away gains nothing.

        And no, that isn't for sure. Why do you think that is "for sure"? Palemoon probably will. We can say that because there is precedent, but precedent for the other projects is to follow Mozilla.

      • Khidreal September 4, 2016 at 8:10 pm #

        Graham everything starts small and goes growing with time... WE can be bad right now, but it won't be like that forever and without people using it, it will just die and XPCOM will be the "King" again, despite WE seems to be easier to make things. ofc, now, it needs maturity, grow upa bit.

      • Parker Lewis September 5, 2016 at 1:10 am #

        @Graham
        https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1214433#c2
        "Last I heard, the plan was to replace traditional XUL/XPCOM with a mechanism where a WebExtensions addon could depend on a more manually-reviewed "native.js" module which adds new APIs to what the WebExtensions environment can see.

        (The idea being that, over time, these "native.js" modules would get refined and then merged in as new official APIs.)"

        So there. I wasn't entirely completely sure that native.js covered all XUL/XPCOM cases so I didn't mention it, but apparently it does, since the limitation of native.js add-ons is not about what they can do but how they are reviewed, how they are obtained by users, and how the compatibility upkeep is the add-on developer's responsibility.

        Presumably, review could be manual or automatic with a different algorithm, and distribution would be made automatically alongside a regular add-on that requires their specific functionalities. i.e. a native.js add-on would be an add-on developer made UI-less module that hooks into Firefox like old XUL add-ons, and provides an API for WebExtension add-ons to use. So if I want to make DownThemAll!, since you're talking about it, I can build a small native.js module that enables everything I need not supported by the WE API. Then I make DownThemAll! a WebExtension that uses my native.js module, and I'm done. I can also provide this module as an API for other developers to build WebExtensions that share some features with DownThemAll!.

        I can also start a bug with an almost-ready patch on Bugzilla so that my self-made API extension gets added to WE API officially, ensuring automatic full compatibility with future Firefox versions even after the massive evolution it is about to go through over the next few years.

        Actually DTA!'s developer could right now open a bug to have his add-on functionality implemented in the WebExtension API right from the beginning, before XUL and XPCOM become deprecated. NoScript's developer is doing just that for instance.

        Well, we'll see how it turns out. But I very much like the concept. It sounds slightly convoluted in a way, yes, but it decouples Firefox from its add-on ecosystem, a move whose benefits can only be described as a long list of upsides. (More details in my other comments all over the place. I bombarded this article and there was collateral damage.)

      • Doc September 5, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

        If you've used Chrome, you'd know why. Chrome extensions are limited to one tiny button; this will kill extensions like SimpleClocks/FoxClocks, which let me put a TEXT date-and-time in the browser. Chrome adds either a stacked "hours-over-minutes" button, or two buttons (hours and minutes, side-by-side). Ugh.
        NoSquint [Plus] adds a magnifying glass icon plus text for page/text zoom percentages, also not possible on Chrome. Stupid omissions like that are why I won't use Chrome.

    • Tom Hawack September 4, 2016 at 2:22 pm #

      Depends of the objectives you assign to a browser, I guess.

      - Privacy : Pale Moon
      - Privacy + Security : 1- Pale Moon, 2- Firefox
      - Privacy + Security + Features : 1- Firefox, 2- Pale Moon
      - Features alone : 1- Firefox, 2- Chrome, 3- Pale Moon

      I leave aside Firefox forks such as Cyberfox and Waterfox : I've tried them in the past and found no noticeable difference with Firefox, be it 32-BIT or 64-BIT

      I forget IE (disabled here) and Edge (Windows 7 here), I don't mention Opera because last time I used it some users here were possibly not born yet :) before it changed to imitate Chrome ...

      • Doc September 5, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

        Palemoon is also a fork of Firefox; for example, they dropped all the Australis modifications from their Firefox build.

  5. Parker Lewis September 4, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

    The first part of your article presents things in a grimly tone... Martin, you're a Firefox fan aren't you ? Why so gloomy ? I'm going to assume it's not clickbait/commentbait, but I consider your outlook to not be particularly objective in the beginning. I think you're perhaps too influenced by the voiceful minority spreading a negative vibe in the US regarding Mozilla. (Doesn't happen in other countries as far as I can see.)

    So regarding a couple things:
    - Add-on signing is a necessity because many software that people install sneak in Firefox add-ons without user consent and mess with their browser. This won't prevent people from providing add-ons on their own website after an automated review by Mozilla. For details see https://blog.mozilla.org/addons/2015/02/10/extension-signing-safer-experience/

    - WebExtensions in Firefox allows the use of native.js, which enables the developer to do anything they want just like they can with good old omnipotent add-ons. They can even extend WebExtensions API for OTHER add-ons to use, made by less technically-oriented developers. The difference is that Mozilla does not guarantee compatibility, i.e. a native.js add-on can innovate and improve on anything they like but will have to be maintained actively because compatibility may break.
    Whereas WebExtensions is completely future proof no matter how radically Firefox's architecture is modified. Useful innovation from native.js can then be implemented into official WebExtension API, making it future proof.
    Even NoScript's developer says that Mozilla is very respectfully putting core evolutions of its browser in the fridge for the sake of add-on compatibility, such as Servo, Rust, browser.html. (And if multi-process took so much time to arrive it is in part because of this respect towards add-on developers.)
    WebExtensions coupled with native.js is the best of all worlds. Mozilla can move faster now, and it's right on when browser wars start again due to the arrival of Edge and Windows 10.

    @People
    Regarding market share, the reason Chrome has risen so high is because Google pushes it like crazy through its various services. Considering this, look how little Firefox's share has fallen compared to IE. Now that Microsoft ties Cortana to Edge, we might see a rise in that browser.

    It's funny how people think Chrome has such a high market share because of its own merits as a browser, and how other browsers plummet because they're just less good. Everything is about advertising, nagging and marketing :-)

  6. b September 4, 2016 at 3:40 pm #

    could someone please explain me the difference between add-ons and webextensions? is it a matter of 2 different formats to achieve the same result?

    • Tom Hawack September 4, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

      Your hypothesis is my belief, but there's more to it. I join you in wondering what exactly. I know that WebExtensions are said to provide less freedom to developers and that they aim at participating to a "universal" add-ons' platform where these would run on several browsers such as, with no modification. But there's more. I'm sure that searching right here on Ghacks (top-right of the page, "Search...") will provide information about WebExtensions I will have missed : good opportunity to start (continue) digging in this topic.

      Any specialist around? Yes? Great. Any specialist ready to share his knowledge about WebExtensions? That would be even better :)

    • Parker Lewis September 4, 2016 at 4:09 pm #

      WebExtensions is an API. It exposes a set functionalities for add-ons to use.
      Old-style add-ons had the freedom to hook directly into Firefox. This gave them a lot of freedom and opened way for innovation. Some of the best add-ons would not exist without this freedom. It's also the reason why Firefox is the superior browser in terms of functionality and personalisation: Other browsers don't give this freedom to add-on developers.

      The downside is that it's killing flexibility for Firefox itself. When Mozilla wants to innovate, it has to move like a cargo ship, very slowly and predictably. It has to predict and make its course public over a couple years for big changes, and must allocate a lot of resources to help add-on developers with the transition. In spite of their efforts, they are always bad mouthed.

      The WebExtension API solves this problem entirely while making sure freedom and innovation is maintained as much as possible. That's what people worry about most. Most are not aware that a functionality called native.js ( https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1199718 ) that gives all the power needed for add-on developers to experiment and innovate with add-on functionality. But add-ons that rely on native.js may break at any time, so it's up to the developer to either ensure compatibility or have its unconventional feature implemented in the official WebExtension API which is future proof.

      During the past year Mozilla has devoted quite a lot of resources already to extend the API based on add-on developers requests. They're doing it the cargo-ship way. Once done, they will be free to accelerate innovations to the core Firefox, and there is a lot underway, waiting for the add-on base to be WebExtensions/native.js ready.

      Another advantage is that WebExtensions is Chrome-compatible. The API ensures that developers can develop an add-on for Chrome and have it work on Firefox. But since the API is wider and adapted over time according to native.js future innovations, Firefox add-ons keep their edge in "power" over Chrome's.
      It's win-win for future developers. Current developers benefit from the slow cargo-ship preparation to adapt to this future, and from then on should not have to go through this again.

      • Tom Hawack September 5, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

        Thanks for this detailed explanation, Parker.
        You write, "But since the API [WebExtensions] is wider and adapted over time according to native.js future innovations, Firefox add-ons keep their edge in "power" over Chrome's." : does this mean that Firefox WebExtensions' developed Firefox add-ons add-ons will be less Chrome compatible than the other way around?

      • Martin Brinkmann September 5, 2016 at 2:31 pm #

        Tom, as far as I understand it:

        Mozilla will implement the bulk of what Chrome extensions support (maybe all, don't know).
        It will add to those APIs Firefox-only APIs that extend what extensions can do.

        This means that Firefox's implementation of WebExtensions will be more powerful than that of Chrome.

        We don't know by how much, and what this means for migrating current add-ons to WebExtensions.

        What seems clear is that the implementation will be less powerful than what is currently supported.

      • Tom Hawack September 5, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

        OK, Martin, that's how I see it as well (but with less perspective!). And because I'm a Firefoxer, guessing WebExtensions' developed Firefox add-ons will be (likely/sometimes) more flexible, feature-rich than their equivalent Chrome extensions satisfies not my eager for being in the power group but knowing that flexibility itself since this aspect of WebExtensions is what was, still is, the main critic towards this new extension architecture.

      • Parker Lewis September 5, 2016 at 4:26 pm #

        Clearly any API is less powerful than giving total access.

        But native.js *has* total access. It is special in that such code will be reviewed more thoroughly, possibly be submitted to unit testing (i.e. automated tests that surface any incompatibility with a new Firefox version before it is released), and Mozilla will even be allowed if necessary to tweak the code of a native.js extension.

        These modules provide any functionality you can think of to be made accessible to WE add-ons. The modules can break because Firefox doesn't guarantee future compatibility, but with unit testing it's not a problem, and even without, modules are small and can be modified by anyone, not just the original developer.

        We'll see how it turns out concretely but right now, it looks pretty good. And after this last push, add-on developers won't have to be burdened with rewriting their add-on each time Mozilla evolves Firefox.

      • Mystique September 5, 2016 at 6:17 pm #

        it sounds good in theory but it bares the same type of logic that plagues pc gaming and that is that we get the same sloppy watered down versions of games that are primarily console games, who is to say we do not adopt the same limitations from addon developers.

        I understand all the points you are making and they are valid and as I read further down the page I understand your point of view even further but I just wish there were no imposed limitations to all of this.

    • Parker Lewis September 4, 2016 at 5:18 pm #

      The bad-mouthing is also a strong reason why something future proof is necessary.

      Security, performance and stability wise, it's also better to have 99% of developers code against an API.

      With old fashioned add-ons, devs would do the same thing in a hundred different ways, hooking all over Firefox's codebase. Mozilla identified a finite number of "things" they do, and provided an API to do them. Improved security, performance, stability, flexibility and maintainability are direct consequences of this.
      The only downside is that if the remaining 1% of add-on developers want to do a "thing" that has not been previously identified by Mozilla, well, they can't. They can't innovate. That is, they couldn't if there was no native.js, but there is, so this concern that people have is not really valid.

      But it goes one step further. Add-on developers can use native.js to extend unofficially the WebExtension API, and provide this new functionality to other add-on developers. This way, the problem of having 100 devs do one thing in 50 different ways will be reduced, making compatibility problems less likely without stifling innovation. Also, such native.js add-ons will make good candidates for official integration into WebExtention API.

      Either way, an API is a necessity. There is way too much great technology waiting in Mozilla's fridge, and they can't be implemented without repeatedly breaking add-ons compatibility, spending huge amounts of time and resources to ease the problem, and still getting bad reputation out of it.

      Both new technology and powerful Firefox style add-ons are necessary, and I honestly can't think of a better solution than WebExtensions + native.js. It concedes almost nothing and solves all problems I mentioned in these posts.

      We just have the last two cargo ships remaining. One brings e10s and the other WebExtensions + native.js. Out of 17500 add-ons, some will break, but it's probably the last time this will happen. (Small bits of APIs sometimes get deprecated but it's infrequent because rarely necessary, and way less troublesome for developers to adjust for)

      • b September 5, 2016 at 12:11 pm #

        @Tom Hawack @Parker Lewis @earthling
        thanks for you information. I understand the discussion/contributions going on way better now.

      • Tom Hawack September 5, 2016 at 12:31 pm #

        @b, Parker Lewis did the hard work, I operated mainly as an incentive :)

      • Anonymous September 7, 2016 at 2:51 am #

        >The only downside is that if the remaining 1% of add-on developers want to do a "thing" that has not been previously identified by Mozilla, well, they can't. They can't innovate. That is, they couldn't if there was no native.js, but there is, so this concern that people have is not really valid.

        you make that sound nice but you are fabricating figures out of thin air, and couldn't possible know what percentage of users/add-on users/add-on developers/or any future combination of those groups would want to do something that wont be allowed. only time will tell what happens, but you are building straw-man arguments against legitimate potential drawbacks of disallowing something so fundamental to what made FF popular in the first place

      • Parker Lewis September 7, 2016 at 7:21 pm #

        What strawman argument. Replace 1% with 20% if you want it doesn't change my point :)
        Mozilla is going slow to reduce this percentage before full release. It's also putting quite a system in place to have features from native.js modules absorbed into the API over time.

        Some add-ons will break during the transition, but they will not break because it's impossible to port them. There should not be any technical loss because of native.js. That's my point. Obviously imaginary percentages are not. ^^

    • earthling September 4, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

      Addons right now have low-level access to basically everything that Firefox itself can do. They can even use code from another installed addon. Webextensions limit what you can do to a bunch of API's that then do the stuff for you. It also adds the concept of privileges. There still are High-Level APIs and Low-Level APIs but its nowhere near as powerful as it is right now. It makes it a lot easier to code with much less code but IMO is not as transparent as the "old" model.

      • Parker Lewis September 4, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

        You mean not as transparent to the developer ? API are transparent when the application that surfaces them is open source :)

        If a developer wants to know *exactly* what a given API call does, just a quick search on Firefox's codebase will do. I think it's a minor inconvenience compared to the long list of gains obtained from decoupling Firefox and its add-on ecosystem.

    • Doc September 5, 2016 at 3:30 pm #

      Firefox addons take advantage of XPCOM and XUL, which it developed to allow easy creation of powerful addons like DownThemAll. WebExtensions are much less powerful, consisting mainly of JavaScript and HTML, which is how Chrome, Edge, Opera, and Safari extensions use, IIRC; all but Edge are built using the WebKit engine and are more alike than different.

      IIRC, at the moment, WebExtensions addons are limited to a single (rounded) square toolbar button; extensions like FoxClocks/SimpleClocks and NoSquint (Plus), however, add text to a (non-square) button, and DownThemAll runs in **its own window**, being a download manager with a rich UI. None of the above would be possible under WebExtensions, or would be fantastically harder.

  7. RPWheeler September 4, 2016 at 4:48 pm #

    Add-on signing made me switch to ESR version. Forcing add-on signing further probably will make me switch to unbranded or whatever. Add-ons are important for my browsing experience. The changes Mozilla makes since 2010 — do not improve my experience, and, as far as I see, not going to.

    I don't think that web-extensions and/or multi-process is going to improve anything for me, so probably I'll be looking to switch back to Pale Moon again (it was my primary browser in 2011-2014). At present I cannot tell that for sure, but that is what I'm thinking about.

  8. Anonymous September 4, 2016 at 4:57 pm #

    The reward for all these efforts Mozilla >

    - Firefox Statistics: each year - 5%
    - Still 3 years and Firefox will reach its cruising speed around 1,5 or 2%

    Sad Reality.

    • Parker Lewis September 4, 2016 at 6:07 pm #

      It's not that bad outside of the US. See Germany and France for instance, where Firefox is at 20-30% depending on how you measure (web usage versus users). Firefox even beats IE + Edge worlwide in terms of web usage.

      Talking about desktop here. Mobile is a different market where Firefox is not very present at all. (Still best browser for mobile privacy thanks to µBlock Origin though)

      Also, Firefox users are way better at not doing network requests to third-parties, such as those third parties that make the statistics. Better privacy = reduced market share as perceived by trackers. I wonder how much it affects market share.

      Well either way this is due to Google pushing Chrome as hard as they can through product bundling and Google Search and suff, so instead of being sad and negative, just incite people to try out Firefox and decide for themselves if they like it :)

      • Anonymous September 4, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

        You're probably right on some points but... Sometimes sad, but sometimes i'm angry too. Sorry but inciting people (and worse friends) to install a browser with a "recommended engine" embedded will not be something i would undertake. When Context Graph will be implemented i predict for Firefox another drastic user statistics downfall, everywhere.

        "The largest button on a modern browser is the back button" > I prefer to go ahead sorry.
        https:[email protected][email protected]5cf3

      • Parker Lewis September 4, 2016 at 8:34 pm #

        Yeah, that's the one future feature I was pointing at as being disputable. You can be sure that it will be easy to disable though. I would be very surprised that an option is not surfaced in the UI, considering how much less important things are surfaced indeed.

        Also worth considering that Mozilla is pretty good at devising such features with minimal impact on user privacy. I've seen better, but not on the browser market. If I couldn't recommend Firefox out of privacy concern, then I couldn't recommend any other browser either, because it's the best, and people would default to whatever they have, which is privacy-worse :)

        (Firefox is also better than its forks because of fingerprint issues, unfortunately for browser variety)

        Finally, Firefox competitors are moving too. I didn't look it up for Chrome, but Edge works with Cortana now, and Cortana is a privacy opponent of a whole new level compared to the Context Graph :)

        I'm not sure, but I think these initiatives will fail anyway, Context Graph included, but it's hard for me to say because I don't use Windows 10 and don't know how useful or pleasant Cortana is when using the web, versus regular browsing with search engines. A noticeably superior experience may indeed take off, and then, only Firefox will allow easy disable.

        Worth thinking about. Mozilla competes for mainstream and cannot ignore the advantage of Big Data. All that remains is to use it in new ways that are most privacy respectful (hoping to set standards -- see differential privacy for instance) for the mass, and allow easy disable for those who want a protection from this new world.

      • Anonymous September 4, 2016 at 9:26 pm #

        @Parker Lewis

        "Well either way this is due to Google pushing Chrome as hard as they can through product bundling and Google Search and suff, so instead of being sad and negative, just incite people to try out Firefox and decide for themselves if they like it :)" & "I'm not sure, but I think these initiatives will fail anyway, Context Graph included"...

        I'm not sure this is due to Google pushing Chrome, i'm not sure this is due to sad and negative users trying to alert. I'm just sure this is due principally from Mozilla, like with ads tiles, history bookmarks spying, more and more telemetry, etc., now still worse Context Graph, exactly as you pointed what Microsoft is doing with Windows 10 with all damaging consequences giving an execrable image to the company, and also to its fantastic lack of communication, putting the user base in doubt and exasperation. Even if these "features" more or less can be disabled it will never change their feelings about such nonsenses - considering the goal of what it should be from an opensource project - that jeopardises the reputation of the company. So from users being sad and negative has nothing to do with catastrophic statistics, Mozilla has just to blame itself.

      • Parker Lewis September 4, 2016 at 10:41 pm #

        If it was mainly incompetence from Mozilla, then why have all mainstream browsers been decreasing or stagnating while Chrome skyrocketed ?

        Many users have no idea how Chrome was installed and when/why exactly they started using it. It's just like IE when Microsoft was using its power to push it. They even got punished for it and Google may be punished too, the EU in particular is waving a 10% fine over its head for all its abuses of dominant position.

        We don't live in a meritocracy, we live in a power world tainted with emotions. In a power world where Google is ubiquitous and willing to push Chrome, Chrome rises. In a power world where Apple succeeds with mobile and tablets and pushes Os X as part of an ecosystem, Os X rises. That's mechanical.
        In a world filled with emotions, when Mozilla loses ground people start to focus on the negative, perhaps thinking the fall is due to a bad product instead of inferior mechanical lever. Would you have been able to list any of the positives I talked about in these comments, before ? Would you be able to list Chrome's real technical advantages, past the sandboxing architecture which was part of Google's initial push ?
        Few are those who could properly reply these two questions, because regarding Firefox people only talk about minor negatives like Sponsored Tiles (disabled in two obvious clicks), and turn a blind eye to the massive positives.

        Perhaps it is because we humans have a proven tendency to more easily dismiss something that we disagree with, coupled with an also proven tendency to react emotionally to what is in agreement with our pre-existing conceptions. I'm not going to try and explain this because without a specific study on this browser case, this is just hypothesis based on more general theories and studies on human perception&behaviour.
        Either way it is IMHO a clear error to try and link product market share to sheer product merit, regardless of the market.

        ------

        Tl;dr, I argue that most of what the vocal minority dug up to reproach Mozilla have had little impact on market share. The real impactor is first and foremost Google's power and willingness to push it, and in a secondary way emotions. Lastly, Chrome's technical superiority in 2009 allowed it to have the first necessary push to success, but then again it was heavily marketed by Google.

        Mozilla can't compete here. So there are only a couple solutions:
        - We forbid Google to abuse its ubiquity to push Chrome and skew the free market to its benefit, like we did with IE (and it worked)
        - Be Mozilla's push. Viral is powerful when it does lift off. In this solution I'd rather be factual-happy-positive, the idea being to show that yes, Firefox is technically a beast, and Mozilla is without question the most privacy-protecting browser to the point that Tor Browser itself is based on it. (By the way, Mozilla will implement Tor Browser privacy improvements back into Firefox)
        I feel I've been a little too insistent in these comments but I guess it was a warm up. I don't want to force Firefox down people's throat, rather, I want them to give it a 2 days try when, if ever, they feel like changing their browser. If people don't even think Firefox is relevant because of ambient negativity, they won't even do that, which is dumb when you know that Firefox is technically equal to Chrome today and should become superior in the coming years, seeing what's in the works. (Until Chrome gets another deep architectural update to bring it up to par)

      • Parker Lewis September 4, 2016 at 10:57 pm #

        I meant that the Firefox advocacy should be fact-based and honest, and said with a happy, positive, non-insisting tone.

        It's not ideal to be too assertive and talkative like I feel I've been so far. (Even though I'm being honest and in my opinion, easily 95% right, meaning 1 error out of 20 things said, ok, make it 97.5%, and I'll take that -1 Humility :D)

        I'd like to add that advocating Firefox ultimately also helps Chrome and IE/Edge users not interested in Mozilla. Reason being that monopolies and duopolies are notoriously awful for all users. There's a reason why it's illegal almost everywhere.
        Cherry on the cake, having a big player that is also a non-profit and not a huge supercompany with tentacles everywhere, is also particularly good for market health.

        And now that I talked enough for 6 persons, I'm just gonna shut the fup for a while :P

      • Tom Hawack September 4, 2016 at 11:04 pm #

        @Anonymous, I'd rather consider a blend of Google advertising together with many users' devotion to Google, because Google is perceived as young, talented, adventurous and knows how to make itself be desired. The marketing is smart because the company is, like an intelligent hyper-sexy girl could be. But once you start digging in her life you discover a Mata Hari. Google is excellently a fake when it comes to privacy and their browser shines like fake gold. But people are blind, let themselves get lost in the fashion hurricane, and Google knows how to exploit that perfectly.

    • Anonymous September 5, 2016 at 1:02 am #

      @both, Tom and Lewis

      "In a power world", "filled with emotion"

      In this word the opensource projects to continue to be attractive must keep in mind the spirit of their creators, of the community which trusted them since the beginning. This is not the case here. All things i listed above and more has nothing to do with "emotion", what makes the charm. They have only to do with "power", invariably coming with monitoring systems. At that game, even if you call Zorro to the rescue always the strongest will wins. Although this is not entirely true, if people feel, just feel that you are a Judas, instantly your popularity rating collapses in the polls, then you lose all elections. This is the case here. For a large part this have nothing to do with Google, this have to do with Judas. JMHO.

    • Anonymous September 5, 2016 at 6:15 am #

      Proof, their Eye of Sauron as idea: https://www.wired.com/2016/08/mozilla-wants-help-redesign-logo-seriously/

      • Parker Lewis September 5, 2016 at 4:48 pm #

        Haha ha omg, the logos are all so hideous. It's the eye of Godzilla though. (And at least they didn't put it on top of a pyramid.)

        It did make me realise that actually, Mozilla has no logo. Just a name in lower case with a specific font. My preferred would be the one on the lower right, the very small logo where Mozilla is written horizontally. http://blog.mozilla.org/opendesign/files/2016/08/jb_Mozilla_all-routes-1400x990.jpg

      • Tom Hawack September 5, 2016 at 5:11 pm #

        Gets me to wonder if "i" is an "I" or an eye.

      • Anonymous September 5, 2016 at 9:36 pm #

        I already spend hours and hours to try to keep my Firefox Portable operational according to my needs and as clean as possible, which each major update becomes a real headache... so i really hope they will never implement Context Graph, but unlike you Lewis i think they will do, it seems big data is in their goal now. In a lesser measure i hope too they will not impose me on my machines what they pay for, their Eye of Sauron or the same kind of nightmare. Wait and see for a next Martin's article...

      • Parker Lewis September 6, 2016 at 1:21 am #

        I do think that they will release it. I'm not convinced that it is going to be a success is all. It's an experiment, not the first, not the last, something I will disable for myself either way.

        You can use this to make sure Firefox makes no network connections beyond what you tell it to: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-stop-firefox-making-automatic-connections

        If you want to go overboard and know what you are doing, you can also use this on each Firefox update: http://cat-in-136.github.io/tags.html#tag_pref%20diff
        It's a pref differential, meaning it lists new prefs or default pref change so you are not caught off guard.

        Finally, to be *sure* there's no network connection at all, you can use µBlock Origin's behind-the-scenes log as a permanently active pinned tab. ( chrome://ublock0/content/logger-ui.html#tab_bts )

        Hopefully this will reduce the time you spend tweaking Firefox.

      • Parker Lewis September 6, 2016 at 1:30 am #

        As for Big Data being bad, I'll just quote myself from another Ghacks article to gain time.
        "I am a very strong proponent of privacy and of legal ownership of one's own data regarding behaviour, habits, social life... Otherwise we end up in a world where jobs are lost, loans or insurance refused, i.e. lives ruined and opportunities impaired just because our habits don't fit 'greenlighted statistics'.
        But discarding those considerations, Big Data is something we can use to learn a ton about ourselves and the world, to facilitate our everyday lives or to improve action against critical world problems. So the question is, can we use it in a way that protects the people from adverse effects ? The answer is as usual: Only if such a way involves no loss (preferably a gain) versus current practises; or only if there is strong State regulation to prevent us from using current practises."

        Mozilla is actively trying to provide an answer to this question and set an example for the industry. They are yet to convince me but I've seen how hard they try. What's best ? Do nothing and let all companies do horrendous things and set horrendous standards that will last for decades ? Or (learn and) show how it can be done properly, hoping to set actually acceptable standards ?

        An example of a potentially good standard could be differential privacy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Differential_privacy
        But that's still too much for me. Personally I want complete and absolute opt-out of all data collection as an easily accessible option. But for other people who like being suggested or guided or what have you, and sometimes for myself when I don't have a choice, we must be protected by proper standards derived from research such as differential privacy, Mozilla experiments and other actors. No ?

      • Anonymous September 6, 2016 at 9:03 am #

        The main problem with all these enterprises is their collect of data are all turned on by default, worse to turn them off you have to be Einstein most of the time, this should be punishable.

        I no longer trust Mozilla about Privacy. I use Pale Moon for that. I never trust enterprises always trying to base their reputation on Security, like for example those selling Antiviruses. There is always something behind, sometimes dangerous, like with Comodo which spreaded malware before trying to make it look honest, or some "free" antiviruses recently starting to collect your surf habitudes.

        Yes now i have Ublock Origin installed (since the owner of Adblock Plus started to play the bandit trying to fleece advertising companies), thank you for the tip.

        Have a nice week Lewis :-)

      • Anonymous September 6, 2016 at 10:17 am #

        Off-topic:
        Another Proof of what i said above, "Comodo Dragon" as browser, well found as nightmarish beast to reassure people surfing the web. It was not a hazard, trust me.

      • Parker Lewis September 6, 2016 at 4:44 pm #

        Antivirus collecting all browsing data is creepy indeed, no matter what they do with it.

        It's fine to use Palemoon, I'm not trying to win you over, just discussing around :D
        Distrusting company PR is sane. But regarding Mozilla, the way they work is entirely open. You can drop in and spy on their inner debates, what concerns them most, see exactly what they implement and how. I don't listen to their PR claims regarding privacy or security, I watch them be directly, and I watch how the final product behaves. That's why I can tell they're not lying and that's why I can trust them :)

        Nice week to you as well!

      • Martin Brinkmann September 6, 2016 at 5:01 pm #

        I remember at least one incident where Mozilla did not reveal a crucial bit of information, and that was when it decided to integrate Pocket, but did not reveal the agreement it had with Pocket. It appeared that most Mozilla developers and employees did not even knew about it.

        I agree with you that Mozilla is way more open about its decisions than other browser companies, and that is definitely a good thing.

        Also, welcome to Ghacks, I appreciate your input and hope you continue to provide it.

      • Anonymous September 7, 2016 at 12:08 am #

        Long live to Firefox we can continue to have security patchs. Other things they have under development don't interest me.
        Long live to Libre Office too, R.I.P Open Office (you should have listen us).

      • Parker Lewis September 7, 2016 at 12:40 am #

        Thanks :)
        Your articles have been useful in getting up to speed after this summer. Curated, factual insight with no drama makes it easier to dig further without FUD smokescreen.

        Regarding Pocket, indeed full disclosure would have been more in line with Mozilla's historical openness. Hopefully the business people have learned their lesson.

      • Anonymous September 7, 2016 at 1:04 am #

        To finish about critics (there will be many more), running W7 x64 i just "installed" the latest portable version the 48.0.2, 64bit, with just few add-ons so-called compatible E10s (disabled by add-ons??):

        Classic Theme Restorer : https://addons.mozilla.org/fr/firefox/addon/classicthemerestorer/
        Flagfox : https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/flagfox/
        Greasemonkey : https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/greasemonkey/
        Status-4-Evar : https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/status-4-evar/
        Stylish : https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/stylish/
        Tab Mix Plus : https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/tab-mix-plus/
        uBlock Origin : https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/ublock-origin/
        Zoom Page : https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/zoom-page/

        When i launch Firefox it becomes unresponsive during around 10s, with Pale Moon with 42 add-ons absolutely no problem. If you call that "improvements" then please tell me how to do :)

      • Parker Lewis September 7, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

        Firefox 64-bit is pushed to 2% of the Windows user base. Consider it beta.
        e10s is not enabled for people with add-ons, so if you enabled it, beta again.

        Can't judge beta products the same way we do stables :)

        If you didn't enable e10s, well, remains the 64-bit (and the portable). But I called e10s an improvement, so I'm going to assume you are talking about a Firefox with e10s enabled ^^ (And therefore not stable due to add-ons)

      • Anonymous September 7, 2016 at 8:05 pm #

        According to another recent Martin's article, the 64bit version will be pushed by Mozilla soon, to replace automatically the 32bit. Even if Mozilla considers the 32bit version as obsolete for Windows x64 users, Mozzilla should stop annoying people with their beta product. The FF 32bit version is working better here :)

      • Parker Lewis September 8, 2016 at 1:12 am #

        Really, you didn't experience that 10s responsiveness issue with 32-bit ? Interesting.
        I'm staying on 32-bit as well until they move everyone, which should occur once the statistics regarding performance and stability become similar in 32 and 64-bit.

      • Anonymous September 8, 2016 at 4:24 am #

        With the 64bit version i don't remember exactly when it happened... since the v47 i think. The 32bit version start much faster, not as good as Pale Moon with uBlock Origin however, longer time to load Scrapbook X folders and icons on the navbar. i have not this problem with the FF v45 ESR.

  9. earthling September 4, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

    "Firefox users get less control over system add-ons though. The add-ons cannot be removed completely from the browser for instance." That and the removing of XUL and XPCOM are the only things listed that bother me.
    But I'm pretty sure there will be some methods to get rid of system add-ons completely.

    • Tom Hawack September 4, 2016 at 6:04 pm #

      Firefox 'system add-ons' can be disabled with an external application, CCleaner, and can be totally removed by deleting them from 'Firefox's install folder \ browser \ features' folder. IMO a user should be able to at least disable them from Firefox itself.

      • Pants September 4, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

        They're harmless. Mine is 3 files, 2.22mb ... e10srollout, getpocket, loop - they're disabled via prefs (user.js) anyway. The files will just keep coming back with each major FF update. They're not even worth thinking about... ( // keep an eye on extensions.systemAddon* prefs, thought I'd throw this at you as well )

        Now time for my coffee and a pipe of longbottom farthing special weed

      • earthling September 4, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

        Thx Tom, I'm aware of that and I'm pretty sure Martin is too, so I think those "features" like hello and pocket are something different than the coming feature of "system addons" mentioned in the article. Otherwise that whole paragraph "System Add-ons" wouldn't make any sense to me.
        They'll probably have something to do with the extensions.systemAddon* prefs that Pants mentioned.

      • Tom Hawack September 4, 2016 at 7:08 pm #

        @Pants, ok, thanks for the information. Nevertheless these system add-ons get loaded even if unused, no? I delete them (for the time being anyway) in their folder at every FF install (since I always clean-install Firefox).

        Also, is there a difference between disabling system add-ons via user.js (I know and use your user.js but haven't noticed settings pertinent to system add-ons), disabling them with CCleaner (same effect as disabling common add-ons from Firefox) and deleting these add-ons "at their source" (physically in their Firefox folder)?

        Davidoff Royalty too expensive at this time, moved to Cavendish :)
        Davidoff requires tea, but plain Cavendish accepts coffee (I hope!)

      • Tom Hawack September 4, 2016 at 7:15 pm #

        @earthling, as far as I know (but I know little) 'system add-ons' are all located in this Firefox's install 'features' sub-folder (e10srollout, getpocket and loop with FF48). That's all I know, looks like I'm missing something...

  10. kmeleon browser September 4, 2016 at 6:16 pm #

    K-Meleon is a fast and customizable lightweight web browser for Windows, based on the rendering engine of Mozilla. K-Meleon is free (open source)

    kmeleonbrowser.org

    • Pants September 4, 2016 at 6:26 pm #

      Gee, thanks. BTW,

      Firefox is a fast and customizable lightweight web browser for Windows, based on the rendering engine of Mozilla. Firefox is free (open source)

      http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/

      • Khidreal September 4, 2016 at 8:14 pm #

        basically, both are the same. except that I won't trust my security on K-meleon... if the browser was that good, why I never heard of it? I tried more than 50 browsers so far... it's just another fake and low level copy of FF written in C++ instead of XUL. because of that, it's ugly af.

      • Pants September 4, 2016 at 8:56 pm #

        Sarcasm doesn't always translate well in text. I was trying to make the point you did - why use an imitation when you can have the real thing :)

      • Tom Hawack September 4, 2016 at 10:52 pm #

        It translated well, don't worry :)

    • jimmi December 17, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

      I'll check it out, always like to test open source alternatives, or check out other projects.

  11. At4v1C September 6, 2016 at 8:42 pm #

    @Pants:

    'FAST' & "Lightweight" ??

    I wanted to point out to a real good alternative, but alas, the GUI isn't so pretty and - oh sorry - it doesn't call google, twitter, facebook and MOZILLA CORP. at every start, automagically.

  12. AS September 8, 2016 at 1:33 am #

    "Mozilla enabled it on Firefox Stable in version 48 of the browser, but only for 1% of Firefox users who don't run any add-ons."

    Um, AFAIK about 50% of Firefox users don't run any addons...

    • Martin Brinkmann September 8, 2016 at 6:31 am #

      Mozilla stated about 40%. And 1% of those 40% where the starting group.

  13. beach.bouy September 10, 2016 at 5:13 pm #

    Google Chrome's ascension in the browser popularity war is not necessarily because it's such a great browser. It is primarily due to their unique ability to push the browser via their wildly popular search site and through Android, the most widely used operating system in the world. No other browser can compete with Google's ability to push their browser app through similar means.

  14. TYPICAL!! September 27, 2016 at 1:46 am #

    @ Parker Lewis, what to do now that implementation of native.js landing and being NOTHING like what was proposed?

    https://wiki.mozilla.org/WebExtensions/Experiments#Other_proposals

    What a crock of caca, who do they think they're fooling?!

    • Parker Lewis November 26, 2016 at 11:23 pm #

      Unfortunately, someone made up another proposal and implemented it right away. Native.js has lost.

      Firefox extensions in the future will therefore be more limited than they are today. (Currently they are almost omnipotent I think.) There is still a lot of room between Chrome's weak extensions and current Firefox's omnipotent ones though, so it may not end up as bad as people think. We will be able to judge in the coming years whether it was worth it.

      IMO there is no choice, WebExtensions have to be done, but the loss of native.js makes them less of an ideal solution and more of a case where you have to leave your girlfriend a thousand kilometers away to go study in a first rate school. You know you should do it but you are way less thrilled about it than you could have been was she able to come with you. And you fear you may regret your decision in spite of everyone telling you that it's worth it.

  15. Toni Hansen November 24, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

    Removing the ability to use extensions means that I, for one, will stop using those browsers. The intention appears to be to remove control from the user for the profit of online businesses.

  16. j-14 December 18, 2016 at 8:05 am #

    Here's what Mozilla don't get. went from Firefox 24/26? to Palemoon. WHY? Cause I had a heart attack and I have a SCRAPBOOK which basically is my nutrition and other advise map to staying the hell alive. Australis can suck my sweaty nut sack. Destroying all the mods.

    When you force upgrade me, it's not unlike pointing a gun at my feet and saying "DANCE bitch. I don't care about your HEALTH, or finances, or data" I could give a fart that the browser is faster, my connection speed song remains the same.

    What's happening over the past few year with this crap, is a war. Microsoft opened up on us also at the same time. Now Twitter, and Youtube opened up on freedom.

    Mozilla hates Freedom.
    I don't want my god damned profile's Scrapbooks (plural) updated!

    Now death date is in view for pale moon through the ESR
    OR PINNING/CLONING date.
    I have jumped through the hoops - so far. Mozilla ain't making no friends with me.
    I hope one day they seat me as a juror after their crap harms someone, boy are they in for a bad day of tears. But the snot nosed calls me out of line--cause I don't phrase the question exactly right

    Australis is hatred of desktops wide screens java animations (another cluster F JAVA+oracle) and proxy hacking. Whatever. When you finally delete my families photos that I don't have backed up and they we the last photos cause now the family is DEAD. Remember when you shake my hand.

    I mean who cares hopefully my scrapbook will get deleted and I can just die off too.

    Don't think I am upset though my fine snob nosed friends
    I am just happy as can be.
    I can always roll back my virus infested insecure crap.
    And I know with the NWO you won't find the HEALTH data I use to stay alive so YOU'LL get your payback in 20 years too like clockwork.

    The SECRET IS, the globalists WANT YOU to Suck that coke down baybee, you can afford it only 99cents guzzle it all day, what you don't know is the cost of the limbs cut off, DEATH, burial and stents.

    Enjoy your sneaky hidden costs for having the fastest "GAY" red car.

    I rather have a 1972 ANYTHING.

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