Firefox 71: new about:config interface lands - gHacks Tech News

ADVERTISEMENT

Firefox 71: new about:config interface lands

Mozilla plans to launch the redesigned about:config interface in Firefox 71, the next stable version of the web browser.

The internal page about:config provides Firefox users with access to an advanced set of configuration parameters. The regular options, accessible via Firefox Menu > Options, list only a small fraction of available configuration options.

Tip: check out the Ghacks user.js project to find out more about many of the advanced parameters.

The pre-Firefox 71 about:config interface is based on XUL, a language that Mozilla deprecated some time ago in favor of web standards such as HMTL5 and JavaScript. The new interface is based on JavaScript and HTML, and will be launched in Firefox 71 Stable if the schedule holds.

firefox 71 about config new

We looked at the first version of the new interface back in January 2019 and noticed back then that some functionality was missing when compared to the classic about:config interface. To name a few: no deep linking, no sorting, no listing of all preferences, no double-click actions, and less items per page than previously.

The final version addresses some of the issues but not all. The final version of the interface supports double-click actions and the display of all preferences that are visible (use * in the search field). Users may also discard changes with a tap on the Esc-key.

Some issues, including the removal of deep links and sorting, remain, and Mozilla announced previously  that it won't fix those. A quick scan of the Ghacks database returned 48 articles with deep links to Firefox preferences. The instructions won't work anymore when the changed interface lands. While users may look at the filter url to search for the preference name manually, it is far from ideal considering that we are just one website that used the deep linking option to point to about:config preferences directly.

Mozilla's initial plan was to release the redesigned interface in Firefox 67 but things got delayed along the way. The organization plans to launch the redesigned interface in Firefox 71. The web browser is scheduled for a release on December 3, 2019 according to the release schedule.

Closing words

Mozilla addressed some of the issues of the redesigned about:config interface and it seems to have concentrated its efforts on the issues that would have affected the most number of users. It is unfortunate that some features won't be supported; sorting was useful as you could use it to list all modified preferences easily on the screen among other things.

Now You: do you use about:config? What is your take on the change? (Via Sören Hentzschel)

Summary
Firefox 71: new about:config interface lands
Article Name
Firefox 71: new about:config interface lands
Description
Mozilla plans to launch the redesigned about:config interface in Firefox 71, the next stable version of the web browser. 
Author
Publisher
Ghacks Technology News
Logo
Advertisement

Previous Post: «
Next Post: »

Comments

  1. noname said on November 11, 2019 at 8:45 am
    Reply

    I’m not one to oppose change, but the current about:config, is definitely more functional than the new one.

  2. ShintoPlasm said on November 11, 2019 at 9:02 am
    Reply

    I’m getting really tired of Mozilla and their neverending changes for the sake of change.

    1. Anonymous said on November 11, 2019 at 10:09 am
      Reply

      Mozilla wants to remove all the XUL components in Firefox so it’s not just for the sake of change.

      1. ShintoPlasm said on November 11, 2019 at 3:25 pm
        Reply

        Sounds sensible, until you realise that Chrome has deep links for its own Flags page. What’s the great difficulty with replicating this useful functionality?

  3. Anonymous said on November 11, 2019 at 10:08 am
    Reply

    Mozilla can’t recreate deep linking function in HTML so it’s marked as won’t fix.

    Unable to recreate deep linking function shows how much you can expect the Web Extensions customization capability.

    1. Tom said on November 11, 2019 at 12:59 pm
      Reply

      This has nothing to do with WebExtension at all but I am sure you know that…

      1. Anonymous said on November 12, 2019 at 4:32 am
        Reply

        @Tom
        I was talking about XUL which was used by the old extension system. The inability to recreate simple function shows you how powerful XUL was.

  4. Zahra Ayat said on November 11, 2019 at 10:50 am
    Reply

    hi martin.
    how can i use firefox about:config sorting?
    i did not know about:config
    supports sorting until now.
    also, i did not understand deep linking.
    can you explain it for me?
    thanks so much again and God bless you!

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 11, 2019 at 11:41 am
      Reply

      Just click on one of the headers to sort the listing. The new interface has no headers hence there is no sorting.

      Deep linking focused specific preferences immediately, e.g. about:config?filter=proxy returned all preferences with proxy in the preference name or value, or about:config?filter=browser.download.panel.shown the preference.

  5. Tom Hawack said on November 11, 2019 at 11:24 am
    Reply

    Whatever modifications which include the removal of valuable features, when this removal is not the inevitable consequence of a new feature incompatible with the removed feature and objectively worth it, seems to me an aberration, a counter-productive innovation. Mozilla seems to have a department of idiotic innovations and this department strikes again.

    I’ll be missing sorting and especially deep linking, the latter often used here to have a quick synthesis of certain settings, all within dedicated filtered about:config bookmarks.

    The inevitable consequence of a new feature incompatible with the removed feature and objectively worth it : are web standards such as HMTL5 and JavaScript worth XUL when the impact, when it comes to about:config, is that of removing deep linking and sorting? Is the new about:addons page driven as well by Mozilla’s worship to HTML5 and Javascript standards worth the change? Not in my opinion.

    Be it in browsers, applications, software, OSs as in life, the number of so-called innovations officially driven in the name of progress which in practice appear to be absurd, is stunning. I call that demagogy.

    1. John Fenderson said on November 13, 2019 at 8:21 pm
      Reply

      @Tom Hawack: “I call that demagogy.”

      It could be that, but I suspect that it’s relative inexperience that leads people to confuse “new” with “innovation” and “progress”. I see that confusion frequently in the tech world.

  6. kubrick said on November 11, 2019 at 12:52 pm
    Reply

    im still using firefox 45.3 on tahrpup linux and it runs great .No such issues with this new mozilla stuff.

    1. Zahra Ayat said on November 13, 2019 at 3:44 am
      Reply

      i am using 52.3 forever which is the best version for me and i never become worried, upset and sad about future and unpleasant changes which occure in many versions of firefox!

  7. ULBoom said on November 11, 2019 at 2:08 pm
    Reply

    As long as about:config still works, I guess it’s OK but XUL works now, so why change? Unlike extensions, about:config is a bunch of settings, same ones that can be accessed in your profile and, as far as I know, have no direct web interaction, only direct the browser where to look for, say, phishing protection. A list is a list.

    My friends have yellow dogs so I’ll paint my black dog yellow so he doesn’t feel deprecated? He won’t “dog” any better, just look funny.

    I see extensions to make about:config more usable. Sra. Pantalones?

  8. DuMuT6p said on November 11, 2019 at 3:11 pm
    Reply

    Hello,

    Isn’t it possible to use user.js and/or userChrome.css/userContent.css to add sorting ?

    As for deep linking – its a shame that Mozilla don’t want to develop functionality, that’s not even new, but already existed.

  9. Anonymous said on November 11, 2019 at 4:05 pm
    Reply

    “Some issues, including the removal of deep links and sorting, remain, and Mozilla announced previously that it won’t fix those. A quick scan of the Ghacks database returned 48 articles with deep links to Firefox preferences. The instructions won’t work anymore when the changed interface lands.”

    Yes, such instructions won’t work anymore, that’s more or less why they did it, making it more painful to undo their anti-user defaults (as usual with the excuse that making it too easy to change settings would be bad for our “security”). Whenever they want to kill a useful feature for nefarious reasons, here their long term target being the freedom to configure the browser with about:config, they do it slowly, removing one small bit at a time, because incrementalism makes bad changes easier to enforce on a user community that is watching their every move. Non-Google plugins, extensions, user styles, user.js, about:config…

  10. Dennis said on November 11, 2019 at 4:10 pm
    Reply

    So, the ghacks user js as we’ve known it is soon to be *muerto* for new releases of FF?

    1. Hunter said on November 11, 2019 at 8:01 pm
      Reply

      The new about:config interface has no impact whatsoever on user.js

      1. Anonymous said on November 12, 2019 at 6:48 am
        Reply

        It is a gradual process a la Quantum UI customization.

        First we had full theming (3.6 era), then we needed Classic Theme Restorer (<56), then CSS is required to customize hardly anything (Quantum).

        The end goal is anti-user defaults that are very difficult, if not impossible, to mitigate. That doesn't happen in a single step.

    2. Anonymous said on November 12, 2019 at 2:39 pm
      Reply

      “So, the ghacks user js as we’ve known it is soon to be *muerto* for new releases of FF?”

      The deeplink change is unrelated to user.js, but yes it is true that in the future Mozilla wants to kill user.js:

      “Longterm, I’d really like to evaluate whether we can remove support for this file entirely, because it just fundamentally doesn’t really make sense to have so many different files that all control the same thing”

      https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1543752#c16

      It was pointed to this Mozilla jerk that his excuse is a joke and explained why user.js cannot be replaced with what already exists without giving Mozilla the right to override remotely user preferences. It’s probably only a coincidence that Mozilla failed to even consider this, thinking otherwise would be considered conspirational and swiftly removed from any Mozilla-controlled discussion area.

      For now, as a transition step towards full removal, they settled with just ignoring the user.js unless users actively put their hands in the scary greasy insides of the browser to change the settings (for new installs). The, interestingly different, excuse for this intermediate step was that looking for a non-existent file on disk (not even loading it) would take far too many microseconds for starting the browser.

      1. John Fenderson said on November 13, 2019 at 10:34 pm
        Reply

        That’s a really interesting bugzilla thread, well worth a read. I found this comment particularly poignant coming from a FF dev:

        “Is it really routine that people have to change prefs that aren’t in the UI? Which ones? That in itself is pretty concerning tbh…”

        This stuck out at me because the need to alter so many settings that aren’t in the UI is one of the things that led me to stop using Firefox. That there are FF devs who don’t realize that doing this in not rare is pretty concerning as well, tbh…

  11. John Fenderson said on November 11, 2019 at 6:09 pm
    Reply

    “do you use about:config? What is your take on the change?”

    I use it. The change seems largely OK. The lost functionality is sad, and it’s sad that they haven’t managed to improve the thing any in exchange for that, but that’s how it goes in Firefox-land these days.

    The about:config situation, though, has really gotten out of hand. So many things are being included in there that should be part of the UI proper that it about:config is becoming a place where you have to change ordinary things, rather than a place where you set up configurations that are highly unusual.

    1. Anonymous said on November 12, 2019 at 8:29 am
      Reply

      No, just no. A browser should be for everybody, not only geeks.We are in 2019 and everybody uses computers today, we are not in 2000 or 2010. Your geek-ordinary things should stay in about config.

      1. Anonymous said on November 12, 2019 at 2:45 pm
        Reply

        “Your geek-ordinary things should stay in about config.”

        Yes, in 2019, basic privacy protection should only be allowed for geeks who understand what Mozilla is up to, and only with some effort, don’t even imagine making any of this the default, because such is the balance of power between Mozilla and users in this year.

      2. Anonymous said on November 13, 2019 at 11:58 am
        Reply

        Privacy protection is on the settings already. ADVANCED privacy protection is on about config and it should stay there.

      3. John Fenderson said on November 12, 2019 at 4:55 pm
        Reply

        @Anonymous:

        Fair enough — and Mozilla agrees, as they’ve made Firefox not into a browser that is for everybody, but into a browser that is just for the ordinary person.

        Which is fair enough. That’s a legit business decision by Mozilla. It sucks for us geeks, of course, because that’s one less browser that works for us.

      4. Anonymous said on November 13, 2019 at 10:33 pm
        Reply

        No. Most of Mozilla’s anti-user defaults are not motivated by the defense of the mainstream users’ interests at the cost of frustrating geeks, that’s only their divide and conquer PR. Mainstream users would also benefit from more user respecting defaults.

        This kind of argumentation is not very far from the Google’s “convenience matters more than your tinfoil hat needs” philosophy.

  12. Ray said on November 11, 2019 at 6:43 pm
    Reply

    I just started using the sorting option in about:config and it’s especially handy to see which options were modified sorted at the top.

  13. Haakon said on November 11, 2019 at 6:53 pm
    Reply

    I’m shocked! This redesign ignores modern/metro/millennial/material convention as is not nearly dumbed down sufficiently. The text is normal and there’s blatantly not enough wasted space. Bigger, light grey fonts spaced so only four or five prefs are displayed at a time hopefully will appear in a future version. [/SARC]

    Yes, I’ve used and use about:config in Firefox and Thunderbird whenever deemed necessary and keep a running log of the changes.

    Some one will build an extension to return the discarded functions. Or NirSoft will create a stand-alone tool to do the job. Please!

    1. DumbZilla said on November 12, 2019 at 7:26 am
      Reply

      ” Or NirSoft will create a stand-alone tool to do the job. Please! ”

      Now you said it, that tool would be truly excellent !!!

  14. Anonymous said on November 11, 2019 at 7:08 pm
    Reply

    What is going on with the ghacks user.js and the 12bytes.org user-overrides.js?

    The ghacks user.js is stated to be “An ongoing comprehensive user.js template for configuring and hardening Firefox privacy, security and anti-fingerprinting.”

    The 12bytes.org user-overrides.js is stated to be “a security and privacy centric user preferences file for Firefox.”

    Why then are key preferences not being documented? And why then is documentation being removed for preferences that are not obsolete?

    For example, Mozilla has implemented DNS-over-HTTPS, so one would think that all of the “trr” (Trusted Recursive Resolver) preferences would be fully documented.

    So why was section 0707 completely removed from the ghacks user.js sometime after the September 21, 2019 update?

    And why were “network.trr.uri” and “network.trr.bootstrapAddress” removed for Firefox “67r5” from the 12bytes.org user-overrides.js? (See https://codeberg.org/12bytes.org/Firefox-user.js-supplement/src/branch/master/CHANGELOG and https://codeberg.org/12bytes.org/Firefox-user.js-supplement/commit/d91d823f62a1bc90bd60698eda2455a4afab711b)

    1. Tim said on November 12, 2019 at 11:29 am
      Reply

      Take this with a grain of salt, but from what i remember there were 1 (or more) people on here a while back roleplaying as quite noobish (but with a suprising amount of techy know-how and innner workings of firefox) trying to pressure the maintainers with regard to user.js and the dns things.

      1. Anonymous said on November 12, 2019 at 2:56 pm
        Reply

        There has been some surprise recently from the other important ghacks user.js contributors regarding a change towards a more laxist attitude of the project leader on Mozilla’s initiatives. On removal of documentation, on Google safebrowsing, Pocket, and the default Cloudflare DNS hijacking… And now the project leader is spouting that Google’s influence on Mozilla is “conspiracy crap” (quote), that Mozilla would never sell data, that he trusts Mozilla and that whoever doesn’t should just use another browser. Newcomers have even proposed themselves to take the project back in hand because they felt the leader was about to snap. Not sure what this means.

  15. Tsami said on November 11, 2019 at 7:23 pm
    Reply

    Perhaps an alternative to deep linking would be to place a shortcut on the desktop similar to:
    “D:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe” about:config (quotes required), and then paste the preference into the search field.

    Another, “D:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe” about:about lists all ‘abouts’, and you can select whichever one you want, including ‘about:config’.

    Hope this continues to work in FF71.

  16. Reiji said on November 11, 2019 at 7:51 pm
    Reply

    The removal of deep linking upsets me since I have several preferences bookmarked that I regularly flip on and off.

    Does FF71 still offer the XUL version of about:config? (I use ESR so I’m unable to check myself.) If it does, then you can still use deep linking by doing this:

    chrome://global/content/config.xul?filter=accessibility

    1. Nico said on November 12, 2019 at 5:46 pm
      Reply

      It does; even Nightly (version 72.0a1) has the old about:config available via:

      chrome://global/content/config.xul

  17. iwanttodie said on November 12, 2019 at 2:47 am
    Reply

    Mozilla: Dumb it down.

  18. Anonymous said on November 12, 2019 at 6:45 am
    Reply

    The simplification of about:config is a sign that it is on the chopping block.

    Mozilla wants to discourage anti-telemetry tweaking, so they’re doing the same Quantum thing again:

    Introduce crippled feature, hide old feature, and then phase-out said old feature.

    1. AAA said on November 12, 2019 at 8:36 am
      Reply

      XUL is on the chopping block. Fixed it for you. They should have done it sooner.

      1. Iron Heart said on November 12, 2019 at 4:10 pm
        Reply

        @AAA

        Looking at its puny market share, one might as well say that Firefox itself is on the chopping block already.

      2. Anonymous said on November 13, 2019 at 12:04 pm
        Reply

        @Iron Heart
        The market share is small, but it’s the biggest of all non-mega coproration browsers. It failed to boost when IE died. But it couldn’t because it was a slow weird XUL browser for geeks. Now, their only option is to save what can be saved.

      3. Iron Heart said on November 13, 2019 at 2:05 pm
        Reply

        @Anonymous

        Mozilla is financed by a big corporate entity (Google), and is controlled opposition. They only exist so that no antitrust charges land on the Google CEO’s desk. Ostensibly Google gives them money in order to be the default search engine in Firefox, but this can’t be the real reason: When Mozilla temporarily switched to Yahoo as the default search engine, most users immediately flipped the search engine back to Google:

        https://searchengineland.com/yahoo-loses-share-as-some-firefox-users-return-to-google-217081

        So if other search engine deals Mozilla made didn’t reduce Google’s search engine market share at all in the end, why do they pay them? The answer is potential antitrust charges… Google paying Mozilla is also the reason why Firefox has rather privacy-hostile default settings (and few people change the default settings, Google knows this).

        Mozilla also bowed to Google when DRM became a web standard, and to this day Firefox has a DRM module included, the code of which is unknown as it’s closed source and not controlled by Mozilla. Essentially a black box within Firefox.

        Mozilla is useless controlled opposition, being kept alive by the competition, and should perish as soon as possible. Nothing of value would be lost.

      4. Lord-Lestat said on November 13, 2019 at 5:04 pm
        Reply

        @Iron heart

        If Mozilla of today would have at least a little bit respect of their true heritage and their old base, they should resign as a whole, dissolve their fake organization and give the browser into the hands of honest people who do care for power users and choice instead of more conformity and “plain Jane/Generic Joe” compatibility.

        But Mozilla only cares for money, numbers and their ongoing war out of jealousy against Google which was leading them as a whole on this devastating way.

        Indeed, this Mozilla is nothing which is worth to be missed and should dissolve as soon as possible so somebody else with more respect and loyalty towards Mozilla’s old user-base and with less greed and jealousy against Google can take over.

        This Mozilla right here and now is just grave-robbing and surviving from the shadows of it’s former glorious past and has nothing in common with the Mozilla so many people valued and loved.

      5. Anonymous said on November 13, 2019 at 10:39 pm
        Reply

        “When Mozilla temporarily switched to Yahoo as the default search engine, most users immediately flipped the search engine back to Google:”

        Oh, the Yahoo vs Google debacle at Mozilla is even funnier than what you think. Mozilla broke their contract with Yahoo after they were acquired without having to reimburse them of the astronomical sums they gave to be the default search engine for years. Mozilla is often using the Yahoo example as a “proof” that Google is not their only dominant sex partner, but the truth is that Mozilla just stole lots of money from Yahoo, which happened to benefit Google.

      6. Anonymous said on November 13, 2019 at 12:33 am
        Reply

        @AAA about:config itself is on the chopping block.

      7. Lord-Lestat said on November 13, 2019 at 10:24 pm
        Reply

        @AAA

        That features/customization/choice hating spiteful new social justice crowd which Mozilla loves so much today is a reason why so many people also are moving away. They saw Mozilla give up their own USP because of jealousy and greed.

        With XUL Mozilla was unique and different from the competition. Today Firefox is just a generic browser for haters from the left political spectrum.

        This is why nobody is seeing Mozilla today anymore as serious. It became a morally depraved jealous numbers and money hungry Google-2 which is even more evil as Google itself. Google at least never tries to pretend someone they are not. Mozilla does. Constantly!

  19. Anonymous said on November 12, 2019 at 8:44 am
    Reply

    “Now You: do you use about:config?”

    about:config

    browser.cache.offline.enable FALSE
    browser.send_pings FALSE
    browser.sessionhistory.max_entries 5
    browser.sessionstore.privacy_level 2
    browser.sessionstore.max_tabs_undo 0
    browser.newtabpage.enabled FALSE
    browser.urlbar.speculativeConnect.enabled FALSE
    dom.battery.enabled FALSE
    dom.storage.enabled FALSE
    dom.event.clipboardevents.enabled FALSE
    geo.enabled FALSE
    media.eme.enabled FALSE
    media.gmp-widevinecdm.enabled FALSE
    media.navigator.enabled FALSE
    media.peerconnection.enabled FALSE
    network.cookie.cookieBehavior 1
    network.cookie.lifetimePolicy 2
    network.dns.disablePrefetch TRUE
    network.http.referer.XOriginPolicy 2
    network.http.referer.XOriginTrimmingPolicy 2
    network.http.sendRefererHeader 0
    network.IDN_show_punycode TRUE
    network.prefetch-next FALSE
    privacy.firstparty.isolate TRUE
    privacy.trackingprotection.enabled TRUE
    privacy.trackingprotection.fingerprinting.enabled TRUE
    privacy.trackingprotection.cryptomining.enabled TRUE
    security.tls.version.min 3

    security.ssl3
    Turn off everything apart from:
    security.ssl3.ecdhe_ecdsa_aes_128_gcm_sha256
    security.ssl3.ecdhe_ecdsa_aes_256_gcm_sha384
    security.ssl3.ecdhe_ecdsa_aes_256_sha
    security.ssl3.ecdhe_ecdsa_chacha20_poly1305_sha256
    security.ssl3.ecdhe_rsa_aes_128_gcm_sha256
    security.ssl3.ecdhe_rsa_aes_256_gcm_sha384
    security.ssl3.ecdhe_rsa_aes_256_sha
    security.ssl3.ecdhe_rsa_chacha20_poly1305_sha256
    webgl.disabled = TRUE

    Just a few!

  20. Jonas said on November 12, 2019 at 12:32 pm
    Reply

    I’m having trouble correlating the new interface (based on the screenshot Martin shows here) with the old one.

    The existing interface shows headers: Name, Status, Type, and Value. I guess in the new interface the second column is value… and the others are missing… but what’s that left/right-arrow-thing on the right? Does that mean status = default? How is that as clear as “default”, a word we all understand?

    I don’t see how (1) removing XUL from about:config improves security, or (2) why removing XUL requires crapping up the interface.

    Much design change happens because developers/designers/whatevers (and I am one myself) have to justify their jobs and salaries by constantly churning things that don’t need to be changed.

  21. JohnIL said on November 13, 2019 at 12:00 am
    Reply

    Nothing really against Firefox, but there has to be a good reason most browsers today like the Chromium engine and V8 engine. Not saying Firefox has hit rock bottom but when you’re constantly changing that rings of desperation and actually most do not like a lot of change all the time. Re learning is not most people’s strong suit.

  22. Anonymous said on December 5, 2019 at 10:54 pm
    Reply

    I totally hate the change; had to bookmark chrome://global/content/config.xul

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.