Librefox: Firefox with privacy enhancements
Librefox is an open source project designed to provide anyone with a copy of the Firefox browser that comes with privacy and security enhancements included.
Librefox is not a fork of Firefox but uses core Firefox and applies privacy, security and other enhancements or changes to the browser. The project uses the Ghacks user.js and other information to create a browser that offers better privacy and security out of the box.
The browser is available for Windows, Mac and Linux devices, and can be run on Windows without installation or with installation. The project team creates Firefox Stable, Extended Support Release, and Beta versions of Librefox.
Attention: Librefox will use the default Firefox profile on start unless you assign a new profile to it. You could run the browser with commands to assign a new profile to it. Check out the list of important Firefox parameters here.
The web browser looks exactly like Firefox when you start it; no surprises here as it is still Firefox by and large.
The development team removed some components from Firefox; the updater, crashreported, and integrated add-ons that "don't respect privacy" were removed from the browser. Connections that Firefox makes by default have been removed by and large as well:
The objective is zero unauthorized connection (ping/telemetry/Mozilla/Google...).
Librefox comes without add-ons; several extensions have been created for LibreFox and several more are recommended by the team for installation. The recommended add-ons have been code reviewed.
The Librefox extensions add a dark theme, HTTP Watcher, and Reload button to Firefox. Recommended third-party extensions include uBlock Origin, Cookie Master, First Party Isolation (toggle), User Agent Platform Spoofer, and Browser Plugs Privacy Firefox. Links and some configuration suggestions are listed on the project website.
There is also a Extensions Firewall but it is disabled by default as it is considered experimental at this point in time. It is designed to manage add-ons globally and allow or disallow extension connections.
Firefox users who want to know about the differences between Firefox and Librefox may want to check the files mozilla.cfg and policies.json as a start. The list is well documented but it may take a while to go through it manually.
Note that you need to edit these files directly as some settings are locked and cannot be changed from within Librefox; editing may be necessary if you run into compatibility issues on select websites.
Who is it for?
Librefox is a privacy enhanced version of Firefox that is ready for use out of the box. While privacy configuration files like the Ghacks user.js file can be applied to the browser to achieve the same, the main benefit of running Librefox is that it offers most of that right away.
That's comfortable but it takes away some control from users; if you apply preference changes manually, you know exactly what you are getting into. With Librefox, you'd have to go through the changes manually to adjust them, or go through them when you run into issues with sites.
Closing Words and verdict
Librefox is a start and run copy of Firefox with privacy improvements added to it. It would be a disservice to the project to reduce it to being Firefox with a user.js file added to it as it offers more than that.
The developers remove built-in extensions and some components, block connection attempts, and modify Firefox in several core ways to reduce outbound connections.
Librefox may be worth a try for Firefox users who don't want to go through user.js configuration files manually to find the right preferences and apply them to Firefox.
It is definitely a project to keep an eye on, especially if the developers keep up to their promises and release updated versions of Librefox whenever Mozilla pushes out updates to Firefox.
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