A look at Firefox's new about:config page - gHacks Tech News

A look at Firefox's new about:config page

Mozilla launched an initial version of a redesigned about:config page of the Firefox web browser in Firefox Nightly.

The new page is built using web technologies, the old was based on XUL technology that Mozilla wants to remove completely from the browser.

Note: the page is a work in progress. Things may change before the new page lands in Firefox Stable. It is unclear if Mozilla will make the change in Firefox 67 or newer versions of the browser. Interested users can follow development by pointing their browser to the Meta bug on Bugzilla.

Firefox displays the warning again on first launch of the new interface even if the browser was set up to skip the warning.

The new interface is blank by default. All that is displayed is a search field at the top and one of the iconic background images that Mozilla uses for internal Firefox pages.

about config changes firefox

It is necessary to hit Esc or press the Enter key to display all preferences. The new web-technologies-based interface is not as compact as the old interface; and there are other changes.

One major change, right now at the very least, is that it is no longer possible to interact with any preference by double-clicking on it.

firefox about:config

You may remember that you could double-click on any Boolean preference to toggle its value, and on any String or Integer value to display the edit prompt right away.

This is no longer possible; Firefox users need to click on Edit or Toggle buttons to make these changes. Toggle changes the value of the Boolean value right away, Edit gives the ability to change the value of preferences using other data types.

Some preferences have a reset or delete button attached to them. Reset changes the value of the preference to the default value, delete removes it from the browser. Delete appears to be available for preferences that were added by the user manually, only.

Another change is that it is not possible to sort the listing anymore, at least not in this initial version. The old interface came with headers that you could click on to sort the listing accordingly, e.g. by modified preferences. Mozilla won't add sorting options to the about:config page as it stands now.

More problematic than that is that Mozilla won't allow deep links to about:config pages anymore citing that it "might not be a good idea" or even "risky in some regard", and that users should just copy and paste preference names in the search box instead.

Closing Words

The planned about:config page is in some regards less usable than the previous one. It lacks sorting, throws away deep linking support, and uses an interface that displays less preferences per page than before.

Now you: what is your take on this redesigned about:config page?

Summary
A look at Firefox's new about:config page
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A look at Firefox's new about:config page
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Mozilla launched an initial version of a redesigned about:config page of the Firefox web browser in Firefox Nightly.
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Comments

  1. jupe said on January 31, 2019 at 7:05 am
    Reply

    Another silly change that reduces functionality… I am getting tired of all these Mozilla changes that take away features and reduce usability constantly…

    1. John Freeman said on January 31, 2019 at 6:19 pm
      Reply

      So use chrome instead of complaining. I am tired of people like you complaining about everything.

      1. amoninus said on January 31, 2019 at 9:25 pm
        Reply

        Yeah, let’s just all use the same bloated garbage with less functionality so they can monopolize the user data and give you skewed results. Hell, even Edge is becoming another chrome clone. Yikes.

      2. jupe said on February 1, 2019 at 5:22 am
        Reply

        @John Freeman: You realize that at the end of the article a question is asked what our thoughts are? I am merely answering that question. Your comment on the other hand is unnecessary.

      3. Koala said on February 15, 2019 at 1:08 am
        Reply

        but it’s terrible for the Web

    2. hg42 said on April 5, 2019 at 12:24 pm
      Reply

      I totally understand your frustration.
      I am in no way someone that complains on every change, in fact I like change, if it has some positive purpose, even if there are some negative effects (temporarily).

      But Mozilla removes nearly everything that makes a difference to Chrome. Many reasons are kind of cloned from discussions about features in Chrome development.
      Mozilla, please keep in mind, there is no point to become another Chrome clone!
      I fear, in the end they will loose a race on the very own terrain of Chrome.

      For example what is the purpose of an extension if it cannot change important aspects of the user interface? Extensions are handled like embedded in a page. But they were always really about aspects outside of a page. Being implemented with web technologies doesn’t mean it IS a web page…

      The same holds for about:config. Who is the target of such an interface? I guess it’s for experienced users. What’s the problem with deep links? to show non-advanced users only the setting they need to consider e.g. as used by support people? Instead it is better to show her/him the whole list and let them enter the name themselves?

      It is also very disturbing how Mozilla decides against their users (ignoring their feedback) and how they communicate changes (no reasons, only always the same “web tech vs. security”) and then reject every argument against the new holy feature. Even if only trying to discuss aspects of some “feature” and find solutions that may fit into their philosophy, you always get answers like that of John Freeman. Simply rejecting all kinds of discussions. They seem to be tired of everything coming from users and don’t like to know what their users need.

      When users complain in such ways, you probably have hit them hard.
      I am sure, jupe isn’t someone “complaining about everything”. This is only a summary of the feelings we, the users get…

  2. ShintoPlasm said on January 31, 2019 at 7:22 am
    Reply

    You have got to be kidding me. Why would Mozilla make these changes? For whose benefit? Regular users won’t be tinkering with about:config anyway so who needs this molly-coddling (“might not be a good idea”)? Is Mozilla making this screen mobile-friendly, which is a patently stupid idea? Perhaps they’re trying to turn away even the power users by frustrating them with the reduced usability? I honestly don’t get the point of such a redesign.

    1. user17843 said on January 31, 2019 at 11:54 am
      Reply

      Reason 1) When marketing and design people take over a company, they get bored quickly, and have to change unnecessary stuff all the time. This especially when the product is basically “done”, and technically no design people are needed. Since most designers are probably women, mozilla has a vested interest in keeping them due to political reasons

      Reason 2) Maybe they have reached the conclusion that their target group are under-educated millenials.

      If they keep the sophisticated settings hidden somewhere but at the same time don’t market the browser to pro-users, the danger is that at one point someone simply forks the browser, removing the junk.

      Now, removing the advanced stuff will make it impossible for someone else to take advantage of Mozilla’s work.

      I am starting to get the feeling this is exactly what’s happening.

      When you look at all the childish cartoons, childish language on the mozilla website, etc., I think the road ahead is becomes very clear.

      But this begs the question why abandon those users? It actually takes additional work.

      1. Anonymous said on January 31, 2019 at 4:55 pm
        Reply

        Damn, Sexism and Ageism all in one comment? Why don’t you throw some racism in there too.

      2. a10 said on January 31, 2019 at 5:52 pm
        Reply

        Good parrot. Mainstream will be very happy with you.

      3. Tom Hawack said on January 31, 2019 at 6:35 pm
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        @user17843, brilliant analysis. I’d opt a priori for Reason 1) especially that it concerns everyone or at least many of us : I guess there’s a difference between improving a cookie’s recipe and adding a stupid cherry on its top.

        This planned new Firefox about:config seems to me closer to intellectual masturbation than to Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly’s ‘True Love’.

      4. PKB said on February 15, 2019 at 1:10 am
        Reply

        I almost agreed with you for a second but you are just a misogynistic old man, user17843.

    2. John said on January 31, 2019 at 6:45 pm
      Reply

      Firefox has transitioned away from XUL, but the current about:config page is still based on XUL. So, in an effort to get everything on the same page on the backend and not jave needlessly duplicative technologies, they are changing about:config to work without XUL and to be based on their current tech. It cuts down on browser bloat, and doesn’t force developers to be fluent in what for Mozilla is a deprecated technology just to do maintance on one feature that can be duplicated with the current tech they use.

      1. John Fenderson said on January 31, 2019 at 8:10 pm
        Reply

        @John:

        Are you confusing XUL with XML?

        In any case, assuming that the config page is “based on XUL”, that doesn’t explain the UI change at all. They could certainly change the backend technology (XUL, for example) without altering the UI at all.

      2. John said on January 31, 2019 at 8:35 pm
        Reply

        @John Federson: The reference to XUL is taken from the article at the top of this comment section. I am taking Martin’s word for it, essentially, and extrapolating from there.

      3. John Fenderson said on February 1, 2019 at 4:56 pm
        Reply

        @John: You’re right. It was I that was confused — when I read that, my mind incorrected XUL to XML, so that’s what I thought it said!

    3. MTBSWfox said on January 31, 2019 at 11:59 pm
      Reply

      I would consider developers potentially being parasites who are abusing their position, it’s cozy sit somewhere in a nice place doing what is their hobby, their boss only nudge the sheeple programmers in certain direction according to the NWO agenda, the programmers are happy add more or less sinister “features” and cripple down FF as long as they get their pay, ie. money talks BS walks. :)

      What ever, FF is IMO already destroyed quite a lot, only the memory hogging is like 10 times more than 5 or so years ago (the memory management does not work well, at least in Linux, at some point it’s becoming full it starts flushing the memory and it can take couple of minutes while it’s completely frozen, WTF?!) and much slower, for now am only hanging on to FF quite loosely awaiting for a replacement, maybe should seriously try out palemoon…

    4. Anonymous said on February 1, 2019 at 3:54 am
      Reply

      “Is Mozilla making this screen mobile-friendly, which is a patently stupid idea?”

      Not really that stupid of an idea. But they shouldn’t have removed the options, they could have just updated the GUI.

      1. John Fenderson said on February 1, 2019 at 5:00 pm
        Reply

        @Anonymous:

        This isn’t a criticism of Firefox specifically, because this problem has been expanding across the entire industry.

        I 100% understand wanting to make software touch-friendly. I just wish that someone could come up with a way to do it that doesn’t make the non-touch user interface worse. If anyone’s managed to pull that off, I’ve not seen it.

      2. Peterc said on February 2, 2019 at 7:01 pm
        Reply

        @John Fenderson:

        Nor have I.

  3. Mikhoul said on January 31, 2019 at 7:36 am
    Reply

    “The planned about:config page is in some regards less usable than the previous one”

    I hope it’s not a surprise for you, it’s normal it’s a Mozilla project were there goal is to remove functionality and customization from Firefox.

    Meantime an important security bug regarding the safety of the passwords in Firefox never fixed for ~10 years, it talk a lot about Mozilla priority: https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2018/03/20/nine-years-on-firefoxs-master-password-is-still-insecure/

    There target users are the dumbs.

  4. Jonna said on January 31, 2019 at 8:42 am
    Reply

    Why does Firefox have to copy everything Chrome does? Please stop.

    1. ShintoPlasm said on January 31, 2019 at 8:49 am
      Reply

      At least in chrome://flags you get a brief description of each setting, therefore Chrome’s tweaking centre is even more usable than Firefox’s!

      1. Ali said on January 31, 2019 at 11:27 am
        Reply

        Haha, agree

    2. BlinkBoy said on January 31, 2019 at 10:17 am
      Reply

      Chrome fanboys detected :)

      1. ShintoPlasm said on January 31, 2019 at 11:13 am
        Reply

        Troll acknowledged.

      2. Ali said on January 31, 2019 at 11:31 am
        Reply

        yes, firefox is really freeier as in freedom in comparison of chrome but we can’t deny that chrome is more secure against unknown attacks.
        why?
        because of strict site isolation, using modern options of OS like appcontainer and such.
        but firefox is really great.
        i think removing xul seems that was a good idea, the new firefox is far superiour in terms of performance.

      3. Anonymous said on January 31, 2019 at 5:41 pm
        Reply

        @Ali

        You got caught in the Mozilla marketing team’s bed of lies. There are none performance problems with XUL, neither was it removed, only extensions made with it were blocked for installation. There’s still much of XUL on Firefox.

      4. Ali said on February 4, 2019 at 7:48 pm
        Reply

        Oh, Thanks.
        I didn’t know it :)

      5. DragoCubed said on February 15, 2019 at 1:20 am
        Reply

        I agree with so many of your comments, Anonymous. ugghhhh so relatable.

      6. Koala said on February 15, 2019 at 1:17 am
        Reply

        “i think removing xul seems that was a good idea, the new firefox is far superiour in terms of performance.”

        Look Ali, removing XUL doesn’t improve performance. Firefox 57 made a lot of *other* changes that actually improved performance like a new engine and async scrolling. Now there will be WebRender which will also make Firefox faster. It’s not a result of removing XUL

      7. Ali said on March 19, 2019 at 12:50 pm
        Reply

        Oh, Thanks you very much for explanation :)

    3. AnorKnee Merce said on February 1, 2019 at 4:52 am
      Reply

      If you don’t mind ads and being data-mined, then Chrome may be the best browser = like watching free-to-air TV with lotsa ads, instead of watching non-free Netflix or Cable TV.

      Google’s business model is mainly based on ad revenue in exchange for free use of their software. Similarly and partly for Mozilla. Hence, Firefox is becoming similar to Chrome.

      1. Ali said on February 4, 2019 at 7:54 pm
        Reply

        There is no much ads for me because i have disabled default main new tab page with a theme and did other things like blocking third-party cookies and such.

        but i agree that we are more forced in chrome for ex. recently the sync type changed and you can’t log out from google even if you change cookie jar flag in chrome:flags so i forced to use duckduckgo for default search engine and also blocked google in adblocker :D

        i hope the limitations won’t get worse :)

      2. Koala said on February 15, 2019 at 1:22 am
        Reply

        “but i agree that we are more forced in chrome for ex. recently the sync type changed and you can’t log out from google even if you change cookie jar flag in chrome:flags”

        You can use the settings in the settings page now. I still use the flag with the settings page.

      3. Ali said on March 19, 2019 at 12:52 pm
        Reply

        Thank you very much
        Excuse me for late reply

        I tried to turn off the settings page always sign in option but chrome says that if i turn off it the chrome won’t sync anymore.

      4. hg42 said on April 5, 2019 at 12:31 pm
        Reply

        I think it’s logical that sync is bound to your account.

        The problem isn’t the account, but a decision they took years ago, that is throwing all user accounts on all their services into one single account.

  5. Benjamin said on January 31, 2019 at 10:07 am
    Reply

    this usabillity is probably made for fingers and pure tablets instead of the old fashioned use of a mouse and pointer… no? me as an administrator i prefer compact design with as many options per screen view as manageable by ergonomics… and the use of a keyboard, sorting, filtering, multiple select and a pointing device…

  6. stefann said on January 31, 2019 at 10:14 am
    Reply

    I always laugh when people complain about new versions of software. If You don’t like it don’t upgrade/update.

    I have always stayed on stable versions of “everything” when it comes to software; operatingsystems, drivers, games and other.

    1. Ali said on January 31, 2019 at 11:26 am
      Reply

      Yes, your position is good but is not true about browsers.
      the browsers are is first line of attack surface and should updated regularly.
      (however having a good version in somewhere is very good idea.
      for ex. i also have firefox ESR 52 with downthemall and noscript installed for downloading :))

    2. crambie said on January 31, 2019 at 12:28 pm
      Reply

      And I laugh at clueless people like you. This is a web browser, not a game or driver, you have to upgrade or you leave yourself vulnerable.

      1. Anonymous said on February 1, 2019 at 3:34 am
        Reply

        browsers are GUI…you know this, right?

  7. Anonymous said on January 31, 2019 at 11:17 am
    Reply

    Mozilla is increasingly hostile to users controlling their own browser to defend themselves, they’re now logically attacking about:config.

    Imagine you need an extension that offers a button to easily toggle at will dangerous features like javascript.enabled, dom.clipboardevents.enabled, or webgl.disabled ? Because there’s nothing in the normal UI to modify those of course. These extensions existed before, but they made most of the preferences including those impossible to change with the webextension system.

    But one could still make a bookmark with
    about:config?filter=/dom.event.clipboardevents.enabled|javascript.enabled|webgl.disabled/
    and put it on a toolbar as a replacement for the lost buttons. Well, no longer possible either. If you want to protect yourself that’s got to be as painful as possible to punish you from your initiatives.

  8. Anonymous said on January 31, 2019 at 11:25 am
    Reply

    It’s only postponing the problem, not solving it.

  9. Anonymous said on January 31, 2019 at 11:29 am
    Reply

    >If You don’t like it don’t upgrade/update.

    Not possible anymore. Firefox updates are forced.

    1. Klaas Vaak said on January 31, 2019 at 12:09 pm
      Reply

      @Anonymous: not true. You can set Firefox to “Check for updates but let you choose to install them.”
      1. Check you facts
      2. Stop spreading misinfo.

    2. Anonymous said on January 31, 2019 at 12:22 pm
      Reply
    3. ULBoom said on February 1, 2019 at 3:11 am
      Reply

      They’re not. The update auto checker can easily be disabled.

      Ya kinda have to understand a bit about what’s going on under the hood, though. Easy enough to do if you try. ;)

  10. user17843 said on January 31, 2019 at 11:38 am
    Reply

    I don’t understand how they willingly reduce functionality.

    Maybe they look at Chromium, and want to have a better design themselves, forgetting that chromium has deeply thought out design principles that actually make sense.

    What would be needed are descriptions and better sorting, making it usable.

    Now the new design is for noobs, but they will never see the config page, so as usual, both noobs and tech savvy people are being repelled.

    1. John Fenderson said on January 31, 2019 at 6:25 pm
      Reply

      @user17843: “I don’t understand how they willingly reduce functionality.”

      I think it’s easy to understand, really — reducing functionality is all the rage in software these days. Mozilla is just following the herd.

      “forgetting that chromium has deeply thought out design principles that actually make sense.”

      That doesn’t make the chromium UI good, though. Personally, I think it’s absolutely awful — which, perhaps, explains why I think the Firefox UI is awful. In the case of Firefox, the UI has been awful for years, but until Quantum hit, it was at least possible to fix it.

    2. Koala said on February 15, 2019 at 1:24 am
      Reply

      Seriously? You think Chrome’s UI is good? Google’s Material Theme BS is ugly. Material Design was beautiful.

  11. Sdar said on January 31, 2019 at 12:19 pm
    Reply

    In the article they have omitted that it’s more than twice slower than the old one and it consume 90-100mb more of ram, sorting was requested and resolved as WONTFIX as they don’t care or want feature parity…

    And somehow they are calling this “an improvement”.

    1. hg42 said on April 5, 2019 at 1:00 pm
      Reply

      yeah…

      this kind of WONTFIX is the main problem I have with them.

      It’s ok they want to remove complexity from the code by reducing the technology mix (e.g. by removing XUL or a messy extension interface). Some old parts might have become messed up over time.

      However their tactics are wrong.
      Nearly every replacement by web technologies only implemented the bear minimum of the functionality. It’s not migrating it a revolution.
      However the revolution only creates new messy aristocrats.

      E.g. they took the web extension interface of Chrome.
      But they didn’t make it possible to simply use chrome extensions for firefox (which could have been of some value).
      Instead, in one stroke many beloved firefox extensions became unusable, because the new web extension interface doesn’t have access to a lot of parts of the gui (which means they imported a major problem of Chrome into Firefox).

      Well, you may ask how I would have done this migration?

      * askthe users first…what distinguishes Firefox from Chrome and why do they use Firefox.
      * listened to extension developers
      * defined your own extension interface from ground up
      * alternatively use the Chrome Web Extension interface
      * but they define two levels, one that allows to install Chrome extensions
      * extend the other to allow all features, extension developers need all the time to change certain aspects of the gui (which again is the main purpose of extensions, it’s not part of a web page like user styles or user scripts)
      * AFTER finishing that process you wait until main extensions are ported to the new interface, while fixing bugs and missing features
      * keep users happy, by not removing features they love

      Note, this doesn’t mean to migrate every single feature. But you have to find out which features are important. You cannot do this by asking the big crowd. Instead you have to analyze why people (want to) use Firefox over Chrome.
      There needs to be a strong communication channel to the users. Feedback must be welcome. You need to keep users happy, otherwise you will quickly becoming bored of their negative feedback. But keep in mind it’s not the fault of the users if this happens. You are in full control of the process, but you have to manage this.

  12. Weilan said on January 31, 2019 at 12:29 pm
    Reply

    Nothing really special IMO, elements only look bigger, but they look too big for me.

  13. Marcin said on January 31, 2019 at 12:31 pm
    Reply

    Giant rows to see less options at one time, no more sorting, unfriendly toogling … What kind of update is that ?!?

    I don(t get it. I’m tired of modern browser industry.

  14. Anonymous said on January 31, 2019 at 3:57 pm
    Reply

    A Celebration of Life: Mozilla (1998 – 2013)

    thereisonlyxul.org

  15. Dave said on January 31, 2019 at 4:31 pm
    Reply

    /facepalm

    When I see something this idiotic I have to wonder how secure could a browser be?

  16. John Fenderson said on January 31, 2019 at 6:39 pm
    Reply

    “what is your take on this redesigned about:config page?”

    It’s in line with what I’ve come to expect.

  17. RBV said on January 31, 2019 at 7:15 pm
    Reply

    The misuse of “security” to justify making unwanted changes to user-facing functionality reminds me of nothing so much as organized crime’s protection racket: Pay us, in the form of unwanted deprecation of functionality and usability, or something bad will happen.

    With its idiotic “upgrades” Mozilla has effectively destroyed what made Firefox interesting and useful: The ability to use truly functional, rather than largely cosmetic, add-ons to customize the browser.

    The result? Firefox continues to lose users to Chrome. Why, after all, use a Chrome wanna` be when you can simply migrate the real thing?

  18. Dilly Dilly said on January 31, 2019 at 8:06 pm
    Reply

    Lots of great comments here and a few comments from idiots. For the love of all that is pure and true, somebody please fork FF! I would donate yearly to the cause, like I do for Palemoon.

    1. Anonymous said on January 31, 2019 at 10:02 pm
      Reply

      There’s already a proper hard fork. It’s the Unified XUL Platform, that powers Pale Moon 28, Basilisk, Interlink Mail & News, Iceweasel/Icedove/Iceape-UXP by the Hyperbola Project, Ambassador IRC Client and many to come. Every classic-Mozilla lover should rally to this platform.

      1. John Fenderson said on February 1, 2019 at 5:49 pm
        Reply

        Don’t forget Waterfox!

  19. Yuliya said on January 31, 2019 at 8:16 pm
    Reply

    The next (il)logical step would be to remove from the displayed preferences, to eliminate confusion of the average users. The page already caters to them with that silly toothed .. dragon? Eh, y’all “power users” still have the config file, right ;)

    Until that one gets axed too. Then y’all will still have the source code and compile it to your own likings, right?..

  20. Ron said on January 31, 2019 at 11:17 pm
    Reply

    Of course I understand all the complaints directed at Mozilla over their dumb decisions the last few years, but really now, stop complaining. You have three viable alternatives, Pale Moon, Waterfox, or Basilisk. Switch (like I have years ago), or stop complaining.

  21. John Bayley said on January 31, 2019 at 11:44 pm
    Reply

    Entirely predictable and in line with the general direction Mozilla has been heading in over the past few years.
    Expect about:config to eventually be removed altogether – for your own good, of course.
    After all, Chrome does not need it and it is dangerous to have the average person poke around in the such a sensitive area of the browser.
    The customisations available through userChrome.css and userContent.css will also need to be axed, so as to make sure full functionality is not affected by silly users’ deviation from the perfect UI designed by the 16-year old coders at Mozilla.
    Then the transition will be complete.

    1. Koala said on February 15, 2019 at 1:26 am
      Reply

      “After all, Chrome does not need it and it is dangerous to have the average person poke around in the such a sensitive area of the browser.”

      While Chrome may not have about:config (something super cool and advanced), it does have chrome://flags which is like an about:config lite.

      I still agree with what you said EXCEPT for you insulting 16 year olds.

  22. Bulldog said on February 1, 2019 at 12:25 am
    Reply

    Mozilla genius Paolo Amadini’s response to the request to add sorting: “I’m closing this to reduce scope since it’s likely we won’t actually need this feature, and usage in the current page is less than 0.4% on all channels.”

    The way Mozilla nowadays tries to justify everything with percentages is getting really old. When you claim to have 250 million active users, 0.4% means you’re still affecting 1 MILLION people. Mozilla devs and managers act like they have no idea about the huge scale of what they’re involved in,

    And of course there’s the irony that since Mozilla is nowadays routinely dismissing any features under 10% of usage (according to their telemetry, which more advanced users tend to have turned off), they really should be closing their entire outfit, because their browser itself has dropped below 10% market share.

  23. Ch'ü Tsê-t'ien said on February 1, 2019 at 3:09 am
    Reply

    Whatever, I’m still using the 56.0.2 version of Firefox (together with Waterfox, Basilisk and Pale Moon). I tried but failed to migrate, for that more than 100 XUL-based add-ons I need cannot find their functionally equivalent Web-Ext add-ons. 90% of them are never going to have one. And you even need to write your own userchrome.css to adjust the interface. Double the workload if you want to change the position of options in the context menu. (Means you need to write another css to be included in the first one mentioned above to achieve that.)
    Firefox has been my favourite browser for more than 14 years because of its robust functionality. And therefore I shall stick to those pre-57 versions forever.

    1. Ali said on March 19, 2019 at 1:09 pm
      Reply

      May you please share names of the addons you use with us? :)

  24. ULBoom said on February 1, 2019 at 3:43 am
    Reply

    What in the world is that stupid dragon thing supposed to be? The same “Geepers creepers we don’t seem to be able to find that page, Hmmmm, we don’t get it blah, blah…” stupid dragon thing that shows up with bad links and hovers in the customize window? Are we three? Do those who think “Awww, it’s sooooo cuuuute!!!” use FF? NO. This is phone culture in action; scary as hell.

    Anyway, when things make no sense at all, outside influences are usually at work. What does Google have on MS and Mozilla to make them bend over for chrome? MS no longer has a browser and FF will soon disappear when Mozilla is absorbed by Google for peanuts giving Google an incremental bump in users. Small competitors are too much for them to stomach, I suppose. Pure greed.

    Why doesn’t Google just pool some pocket change, give Mozilla an offer they can’t refuse and bury FF now? Why bother with cloning, now the chrome://flags/ pages, then the remainder of chrome?

    Pale Moon, LibreFox and Waterfox may soon have a huge pool of talent from which to choose.

    Oh yeah, Google has a silly dragon, too. Surprise.

    1. Koala said on February 15, 2019 at 1:28 am
      Reply

      JESUS you need to lighten up. It’s a fun little thing. Easter eggs are awesome.

  25. gazoo said on February 1, 2019 at 11:20 am
    Reply

    > what is your take on this redesigned about:config page?

    I spent a good part of yesterday (I kid you not), hardening FF. I had about:config opened for a good deal of time and even came across a privacy/security hardening list here at ghacks (“Overview of Firefox’s about:config security and privacy preferences”). Working with about:config in it’s current state was a joy.

    My main concerns are (1) updates that may undo my changes, (2) ease of use for future tweaks and (3) that the hardening list at ghacks gets reviewed when the new about:config hits mainstream.

    1. Pants said on February 1, 2019 at 2:10 pm
      Reply

      @gazoo get up to date: https://github.com/ghacksuserjs/ghacks-user.js – we have release versions for each new stable release and monitor all the diffs between versions. Using a user.js = ease of use for future tweaks.

      If you set your prefs from the user.js then they will not be overwritten by updates
      ^^ That’s generally speaking, 99.99% of the time you are fine: some prefs rely on other prefs etc, so you can’t set them at odds and beat code logic. There are only a handful of examples I can think of over the last 4 or 5 years.

      Just my 2 cents. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Here’s mine. GTF over it. According to someone else above, only 0.4% of users use about:config (I didn’t read the link, maybe that meant 0.4% of users use sorting, but I don’t think so – “usage in the **current page** is less than 0.4% on all channels”). To me this is just a unification of style / size etc to encompass all platforms – as someone else said, fat fingers, touch, small devices etc. Same as the new addons page. Card based.

      Am I a fan of it? Not really. Do I like reduced functionality? Not really. Does it impact me? No. I can still use it, and I’m in there quite a lot. When it lands, I’ll get used to it .. just work smarter and adapt.

      Before you guys criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. THEN criticize them, because one: you’ll be a mile away, and two: you’ll have their shoes.

      In other words, think about the reasons why they’re doing it. And think of the impact: 0.4% of users? Are you all in about:config for hours a day or something? If you are, then you’re doing it wrong. Grow up. If Mozilla cured cancer tomorrow, most of you would bitch about it. Just let it go… let it go … do you wanna build s snowman?

      1. Bulldog said on February 1, 2019 at 5:08 pm
        Reply

        Try to wrap your mind around the fact that if Firefox has 250 million active users (as Mozilla claimed last year), 0.4% means 1 million users. To use the phrasing of the Mozilla guy, it “might not be a good idea” to annoy 1 million people without a good reason, and we don’t have such a reason here. Percentages are a great tool for making the scale of impact look insignificant when it really isn’t.

        Even if you think this particular case is too peripheral to care about, this kind of “accountant thinking” is applied to all their features these days, and I’d say it’s just a matter of time until it hits something you (and a million others) consider important. Let’s see what you’ll say then.

      2. Pants said on February 2, 2019 at 4:10 am
        Reply

        @Bulldog

        Whatever the number (I seem to remember that the 250million figure was not users but downloads or installs) it is still a percentage. The point is that 0.4%, even if it was 10 million people, is still only 0.4%. No matter what changes are made, not everyone will be happy. The reasons, for changing it are part of a longer bigger plan. The usage check was a validation that very few people would be impacted. They’re not going out of their way to annoy about:config users, it just happens to be something that got affected, as a consequence of the longer plan (removing old code, unifying/simplifying usage/looks etc). Using your logic, we could also say that 249 million users are not impacted

        Do I like it? No. Am I a fan? No. Can I live with it? Yes. It’s such a minor thing, it’s not worth getting worked up by it.

      3. Bulldog said on February 2, 2019 at 4:40 pm
        Reply

        @Pants

        Your logic seems similar to how whenever someone says that Stalin was a monster whose regime killed 4.1 million of his own people, the stalinists in Russia will say that, no, no, no, he “only” killed 1.4 million, so calling him a monster is totally unjustified. (I don’t remember the actual numbers, the point is that they think a somewhat smaller number should allow them to dismiss the gist of what was done.)

        I’m obviously not likening Mozilla to Stalin, just saying that when you get to the scale of millions of people, 0.4% ceases to be “still a percentage” and “very few people” – but of course you know that.

        You are correct that taken in isolation this change might indeed be “such a minor thing” – but unfortunately it’s yet another symptom. There was a time when it wasn’t even particularly important what design decisions Mozilla made for their out-of-the-box product, because if you weren’t happy with them, you could always write or find an extension or modify a preference to do things your way. That ability has since been eroded, and that’s why people can get more upset about seemingly “minor” changes now, when they have no recourse to do anything about them.

      4. gwacks said on February 1, 2019 at 6:26 pm
        Reply

        @Pants

        “Before you guys criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. THEN criticize them, because one: you’ll be a mile away, and two: you’ll have their shoes.”

        Yeah it’s *brilliant* some way I’d say, but that’s how troll armies are against you. THEN probably the debates would evolve into some quarrels among boys & girls, naive, off-topic, irrational, and end with full of strawman fallacies attacking on each other finally, which makes the comment quality even worse or just a complete mess.

        What’s the benefit for the community?

        I admire one fight back which is straightforward, even if it’s not the smartest most of the time. Otherwise I’ll keep quiet and let them be.

        I’m gonna prove it.

      5. hg42 said on April 5, 2019 at 1:04 pm
        Reply

        the problem is to declare every user with a legitimate feedback to be a troll.

      6. John Fenderson said on February 1, 2019 at 7:19 pm
        Reply

        @Pants:

        Personally, I’m not that bothered by the about:config change. It’s disappointing, but in line with the sorts of changes that have become routine in Firefox. But, at the risk of speaking for people who aren’t me, perhaps that’s the real issue…

        If it were just the about:config change, I doubt many people would be terribly upset. But it’s not — this is just the latest in a whole series of changes to Firefox that have consistently been making it less desirable for a lot of people.

        As a result, that wound is already open and a little about:config salt hurts to a degree that it otherwise wouldn’t.

      7. gazoo said on February 2, 2019 at 1:37 am
        Reply

        @Pants: Thanks for the info on ghacks-user.js : I was aware of it but… diving into about:config in earnest, seeing related preferences, learning about APIs and their prominent role in the future of browsing applications, the different way preferences themselves are being abused… all an integral part of where we are today and where we’re headed.

        It was (and is) a great learning experience and going through the about:config was a good way of seeing this from another, more technical, perspective. I’m glad that Mozilla has made it an integral part of their browser.

        On your point re: 0.4% (0.004?) of users – I couldn’t quite follow as it seems you were all over the place… It appears you are advocating for a kind of pleasant ignorance where those who create the tech we use should not be held accountable or even questioned (note: there is zero accountability in tech. Zero.).

        You appear angry that anyone would dare dig under the hood as it relates to Firefox despite the fact it’s a core function of the browser itself, despite the fact that the source code is Open. Digging into Firefox, at all levels, is what helps differentiate it from competitors. Honestly don’t understand your thinking on this as it’s contrary to the values of Mozilla.

        If it’s primarily a misguided defense of Mozilla (Mozilla curing cancer and people complaining about it), it’s also a defense of non-transparency, locked-down devices that are leading to planned obsolescence, closed-source, authority bias, pro-elitism, etc. You can’t have it both ways. Either we question (dig into) those whose tools we have come to depend upon (those in power) or we don’t – no exceptions for anyone.

        Everyone should be held to the same (“dont.., be evil”) standards.

        Having said this, I like the fact that Mozilla still responds (generally) to their core (open source, technically-savvy, ethically-motivated) user base. It’s the transparent world, the ethical world they themselves advocate for. It helps keep them “honest” and this should be a great thing.

        Contrary to your negative reaction about digging into and understanding about:config, my reaction was the opposite. As I was going through the preferences, I gained a deeper respect for the work Mozilla is doing.

        I deeply appreciated the fact that they have given a sizable portion of their userbase the tools to combat some (tbh, hypocritical) business decisions they are forced to make (many of us do understand those decisions but they should still be addressed).

        My tweaks were minor but important to me (here are some): Service Workers, about:studies, Pocket Integration, Tracking Protection, Prefetching links, Pushing Notifications, Geo Location, Geo Wifi Location Services (linking directly to google APIs), WebRTC (re: VPN), Beacons, Pings, Clipboard Access, ContextMenu Lockdown, External Source Editor, and even access to the battery.

        Mozilla gave me, a single user, the power to make core changes to their application. They literally allowed me to “soft-hack” and trusted me enough to make those decisions myself.

        I love about:config (also about:support, about:performance). I thank Mozilla in their efforts to continue to empower their userbase when so many others are doing the opposite.

        I question anyone that would even hint at passing our responsibilities as adults to know what’s best for us to a third-party (doing what’s best for them). I’ll even question Mozilla *if* these tools of empowerment are somehow, slowly, eroded away.

      8. Pants said on February 2, 2019 at 4:45 am
        Reply

        @gazoo

        > It appears you are advocating for a kind of pleasant ignorance where those who create the tech we use should not be held accountable or even questioned

        Absolutely not. Questioning decisions, reviewing code, checking up etc is always good. What do you think I’m doing all the time? I’m just saying that things should be put in perspective and everyone’s view/reasons taken into account (walk a mile in their shoes) to come to an informed opinion. That doesn’t mean you have to like it, but at least you’re informed and can rationalize it – or indeed, even vindicate why it needs to not be done. It’s a process, rather than just constantly lashing out, moaning, bitching and talking generalizations (as *some*, not all, seem to do here – although we’re all guilty of not expressing ourselves clearly)

        > You appear angry that anyone would dare dig under the hood
        > Contrary to your negative reaction about digging into and understanding about:config

        Wot? On the contrary, I want everyone to unlock the power of about:config and user.js. I encourage people to learn. What do you think the ghacks user.js is all about?

        What I said was that if you’re in there for hours a day then you’re doing it wrong. I’m never even in there unless I need to flip something for a test, which is generally only when I spend a few days looking at new prefs every cycle. Even I was in there 10 times a day for a few seconds each time, it’s still effectively nothing. The impact of this change, even on those who use about:config, is so minimal, it’s just not worth getting upset about.

        That said, you can be in there for ages when first setting up and learning about a few things. But that’s not something you need to do forever.

        Once more: Do I like it? No. Does it impact me? Only if I care about a few minutes of my life every month. Can I adapt (e.g no sorting)? Of course I can.

        Do I wish this department (the UI/UIX team) would focus on something else that would have more impact, like finishing dark theming – hell yeah.

        —-

        > Geo Location… Context Menu… and even access to the battery

        Geo is behind a prompt by default. Setting geo.enabled to false (if fingerprinting wanted to see if the geolocation API was enabled), would put you in a very very very tiny bucket of people. Even setting the default permission for geo ( permissions.default.geo ) from the default can also be detected and puts you in a super tiny group as well.

        Context menu: dom.event.contextmenu.enabled = false just breaks site functionality. You can get the context menu with Shift-Right-Click

        battery: The battery API has been restricted to privileged content (e.g chrome) since FF52

        Everyone go outside and build a snowman and .. just let it go /s

      9. Klaas Vaak said on February 2, 2019 at 7:40 am
        Reply

        @gazoo: +1

      10. supergirl said on February 2, 2019 at 7:34 am
        Reply

        dear pants:

        you wrote:
        >>Just my 2 cents. GTF over it. only 0.4% of users use about:config

        Yes & those.04% includes nearly everyone here except the trolls.
        Also as someone stated These are very likely the ones who turned off all Telemetry,
        After it had been abused.
        Something I probably learned about here, possibly from you.

        >>Do I like reduced functionality? Not really. Does it impact me? No. I can still use it,

        It will Seriously impact me as Im just able to ‘about:config’ following good advice..LoL
        I have read & re-read about your Excellent user.js
        & still have no clue ..ummm..where to stick ..LoL
        What I do is see what youve listed to change & then go find it for myself in about:config
        Thanks.

        >>Before you guys criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes.

        Ok Im VERY ill I an barely take care of myself. Its Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
        In a year maybe 250 of those days ..I Cant Even Walk an F-ing MILE!!!
        Most of June,july,august & september its Too hot…..
        {I have great skin for a person my age because the sun rarely hits it.}
        This winter in the Buffalo,Ny its been WAY too nasty to walk a mile often.
        We havent even gotten to the part where I need to
        feel better than average by a LOT for that long a walk.

        But worse part is CFS comes with a nasty brain fog….
        Im almost incapable of learning.
        Hey,Im NOT stupid..but I do QUITE an Impressive imitation. *grin*

        >>In other words, think about the reasons why they’re doing it.

        I can easily, Im a Socialist. I guarantee that Big Money…ruins Everything.
        Capitalism 7 greed WILL destroy the earth, It can do no other.
        This is because the kind of people who Suck-Seed…in Reagan’s America are
        narcissists & sociopaths…..Come on,name 10 that arent.

        >>If Mozilla cured cancer tomorrow,

        Id be just as sick as I am today.
        People are upset when they see their last best hope fading away.
        the Firefox forks will eventually fail because big business will code AGAINST them.
        As Microsoft has done to its competition since,forever.

        Microsoft bought a seat on the Linux Foundation.
        Can you NOT feel the rope tightening around our collective necks?

  26. ghacks-user.js said on February 1, 2019 at 11:51 pm
    Reply

    1. Newbie types about:config
    2. Newbie sees cute monster
    3. Newbie closes tab

    Mozilla Corp. does NOT like projects like ghacks-user.js

  27. SoCalBryan said on February 2, 2019 at 5:16 pm
    Reply

    They are programming for those that use phones. People 45 and below have bought into the idea that they don’t need a computer. This means the accessibility of all new technology devices will continue to be lost for the foreseeable future. They don’t realize what they are losing.

    But that’s what happens when you’re too lazy to educate yourself about technology.

    1. John Fenderson said on February 4, 2019 at 7:09 pm
      Reply

      @SoCalBryan: “People 45 and below have bought into the idea that they don’t need a computer.”

      I have no idea if this is true or not, but I do know that I haven’t observed this personally. I’m well over 45, but my kids and their friends are in their 20s — and every single one of them owns and uses a laptop in addition to their mobile devices.

      1. RICHWBIGPP said on February 15, 2019 at 3:50 am
        Reply

        Stacys and Chads don’t use PCs because they have an active lifestyle on facebook and Instagram.They were the ones who called you a nerd for using the internet back in the 90s. Look how times have changed!

    2. DragoCubed said on February 15, 2019 at 1:32 am
      Reply

      Please screw off. Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you can’t insult everyone. Age isn’t something you can change, c*nt.

      That said, I dislike this about:config redesign. And actually, I am the youngest in my family and I feel that I need a desktop/laptop.

  28. JackAsterson said on February 6, 2019 at 10:36 pm
    Reply

    Example #3637832 of developers in modern years “updating” all or part of their software to be more aesthetically pleasing, but with less features and worse performance. It’s sad but I don’t think the trend is going to end anytime soon.

  29. RICHWBIGPP said on February 15, 2019 at 3:47 am
    Reply

    What a trash heap!

    about:config has always been off limits to scrubs, so why make the change in the first place. Back in the day I use to dabble is UI design and from my basic experience I can see multiple problems that haven’t been addressed in the new redesign, or maybe I should say that have been introduced in the redesigned which was non existant before. First of all, when you’re redesigning UI you need to have a respectable plan and outline for what is being chnage, from wat i can gleam in the beta is they are just “modernization” the interface, aminkjing larger more obnoxious fonts devoid of information. I have an extremely small penis and my manhood is likely affected by that. The thing is the interface would be massively improved if they took towards inverse treeline where data was anchored on a branch aka treeview vs listview. or for you word nerds out there, the data would be displayed as bullet points. this leads to easier test management and user usabulkity. of course mozilla will likely chose the laziest route as we see it now is the final version, p[practically useless and unmeaningful data.

  30. Anonymous said on February 16, 2019 at 10:05 am
    Reply

    it’s not mozilla anymore btw

    it’s moz://a

    1. you are a dumb troll dude said on March 23, 2019 at 9:22 am
      Reply

      oh gee. It’s not like logos and wordmarks exist!

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