back to article Firefox to speed up dev cycle, go multi-process, rip and replace UI – soon

Mozilla is planning big changes in how it builds its Firefox web browser, including speeding up its release schedule and – in the long term – getting rid of some of the Mozilla-specific technologies that have traditionally been used to build the browser's UI and add-ons. The decisions were discussed at Moz's "Coincidental Work …

  1. Greg J Preece

    While I predict that this comment thread will consist almost entirely of people still complaining about that one time Firefox changed the UI back in version 4, it's nice to hear an actual plan coming out of Mozzy for the first time in a while. Go faster, go multiprocess, make the big architectural changes a program needs from time to time to keep up. So long as Gecko still remains as consistent and lovely as it currently is, I'll be happy with speed and resource upgrades.

    A faster UI is a nice idea, but ditching their markup languages is going to screw over a lot of current extensions, and at a time when they're also changing the LAF of the program. I can see that going down like a ton of bricks with people obsessed over which order their toolbars are in.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      A plan?

      But it's a BAD one.

      "Agile" is a buzz word, not a plan.

      They need a LESS frequent release cycle. Its a BROWSER!

      Just fix the bugs.

      Make it able to be multithreaded

      Fix the GUI BACK to some sort of sanity.

      Job done. Then go write something else. Like a calendar integrated to an eMail client. ANYTHING, but stop already re-writing a Browser forvever and driving us mad.

      I now have two plug ins just to make the stupid thing usable.

      1. Greg J Preece

        Re: A plan?

        They need a LESS frequent release cycle. Its a BROWSER!

        It's a FISH AND CHIP SHOP! Wait, sorry, I thought we were just yelling things that made no sense. What's the fact that it's a browser got to do with its dev cycle? Browsers house some of the fastest-evolving standards and tech on the planet.

        Just fix the bugs.

        I think they mentioned that.

        Make it able to be multithreaded

        Pretty certain they mentioned that too. Did you actually read the article, or did you just see the word "Mozilla" and reflexively start foaming at the mouth?

        Fix the GUI BACK to some sort of sanity.

        Dear god, there are tabs at the top! Bringing back the menu bar is like 2 clicks! It's just impossible to use! Also, thanks for fulfilling my prophecy. :-p

        1. Jim 59

          Re: A plan?

          Make it able to be multithreaded

          It is already one of the most multi-threaded apps out there, no? Run it on Linux and type ps -elLf | grep firefox, and there are threads raining down on your cores like snow. 68 on my Red Hat server at the moment. Just one process though.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I do not want a Windows store version of FF!

    Dear Mozilla devs, please don't bother with that and fix other things instead.

    I don't want into being coerced to open a Microsoft, Google, Apple or any other account just to be able to enjoy what it should be a free browser.

    First and last time I did it it turned horribly wrong. In order to download FF for my Android tablet I went to Google Play to download it for "free". Google did not allowed me to access their app store until I signed in with my gmail login and password which they helpfully (for Google) stored on my tablet. After that when I went to YouTube, Google promptly signed me in and created a profile all this against my will and without offering me a notice if not the choice.

    Now I know what sideloading means and I wonder if Microsoft will allow it in their Windows as a service strategy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I do not want a Windows store version of FF!

      > I don't want into being coerced to open a Microsoft, Google, Apple or any other account just to be able to enjoy what it should be a free browser.

      F-Droid does not require an account. Firefox is there and so is F-Droid's own Firefox build from source, called Fennec, if you are feeling brave (experimental), as well as a few other alternatives. Just install the F-Droid client and off you go.

      I do not have a Google/GMail account, so there isn't one configured on my phone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC - Re: I do not want a Windows store version of FF!

        Thank you for the tip!

  3. Forget It

    This is bad:

    This is bad:

    1. They're going to arbitrarily kill features (at a moments notice) that we've grown to love and rely on.

    2. It's going to be harder for our Heroes to add back those feature as Extensions - since they are also going to mess with Add-On/Extension system.


  4. andrewj

    Multiprocess ? Maybe; if they give users the ability to control how many cores it can commandeer. It's already a massive resource hog.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Multiprocess is a good thing. Then when you close a tab all the memory associated with it will be freed when the process dies.

      I've never seen Firefox be a CPU hog, except when you have a runaway script and get that "stop script" popup.

    2. Jim 59

      FF is certainly a memory hog, and so are other browsers. I'm not a programmer these days, but I don't understand why an app that just interprets network traffic and displays it in a simple, standard format needs more memory than would have powered a whole city in the 80s.

      My FF is currently using nearly half a *gig* of memory just so I can type this and have a few other tabs open. Absolutely barmy.

      20 years from now, your desktop PC will have 10 TB of memory, and a simple browser will slurp half a TB of that just to display a couple of cartoons, and it will *still* be frustratingly slow despite the 10,000 core monster memristor CPU or whatever. Pants. Utter pants.

  5. nematoad

    Don't worry, be happy.

    To all those worried about the mania that seems to be gripping Mozilla I have only one word to say:


    It is to Firefox what Linux Mint is to Ubuntu. What the original should still be but isn't and look how it's worked out for Mint.

    Top of the Distrowatch polls for years now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't worry, be happy.

      > Palemoon

      Thanks for the link. I took a look, however, and I think the guy behind this is rather utterly confused on the very basic principles of open source¹. See here:

      From perusing his website and forum, the guy also seems incredibly defensive. He really hasn't grasped two fundamental concepts in this business:

      1. Open source means just that: anybody can use, modify, build, and redistribute your sources. If you do not want some or any of that, open source is not for you. He would do well to read the licence that he uses for his project.

      2. Making friends and influencing people is just as important in FOSS as in any other industry. If you come across as a whinger (which to my mind, he has), you scare people away and your project eventually dies, or worse, goes completely ignored.

      Shame, because more "independent" browsers are sorely needed.

      ¹ According to my understanding backed by 18 years of FOSS development experience, including commercial open source.

      1. Craigness

        Re: Don't worry, be happy.

        He doesn't have to do everything people ask him to, and the brand is his own. If the MPL didn't give him control over the binaries which constitute his branded product, he would have the option, as per Q21 in the FAQ, to rewrite the MPL in order to allow him to do what he wants, and release the changed MPL with the name "MPL" and with Mozilla branding. So basically you can't win!

        Is this really so bad...

        "I don't want you to build my browser yourself and then distribute the resulting binaries with official branding"

        "If you want to distribute a Pale Moon based browser through F-Droid, you're free to build your own binaries from source as per the concept of Open Source software, just don't build anything with official branding."

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't worry, be happy.


          > Is this really so bad...

          Yes :-)

          He is basically complaining that F-Droid work in exactly the same manner as Linux repositories. I don't know if you have packaging experience, but it is the distro that takes responsibility for the binary¹, unlike in the Windows world, which I suspect is where he comes from.

          What he's trying to do by claiming copyright on the "brand" (not trademarked?), logos, etc., is "pulling a Mozilla". Mozilla do indeed restrict use of their trademarks in the event of significant modifications to the source, such as Debian's build, which is thus called IceWeasel--but they allow use on largely unmodified builds, such as those in RedHat and OpenSUSE. However, the difference is that Mozilla's work is valuable enough that other people, such as the IceWeasel and Fennec bunch, are willing to go through the trouble of changing the branding. In the case of a one-man show (which despite his protests to the contrary, he very much is), this is neither desirable nor advisable. That he comes across, to me anyway, as a bit of a paranoid probably doesn't help either. :-)

          ¹ The advantage here (in theory) is that you only have to trust one bunch, instead of trusting (and, in theory, keeping track of the official certificates of) every individual vendor--think of the mess that X.509-based HTTPS is, with hundreds of certificates on your browser that you're somehow supposed to trust.

  6. i1ya

    Don't fix what's not broken

    Firefox remains my browser of choice since first release. Chromium may seem faster and snappier sometimes, but it will throw you to Google search every freakin'' possible time. Firefox has super-powerful address bar that allows to find any page you visited before using any part of title or URL (also to remove URLs from history by clicking DEL - what a nice touch) - it made bookmarks obsolete as far as I remember a bit what the page was about. Firefox is just better. And, when not bloated with extensions (shame on you, Firebug, so useful and ugly) it's fast and quite efficient on memory. So I don't really care about XUL, XBL, XwtfL and other things, even "multithreadness". It works, and please, whatever you do, don't lose your users and force us to choose between the products of two corporate giants. Also, dear Firefox management, remember what happened with Gnome 2 when developers decided to replace old blob of spaghetti technologies with something clean, innovative and simple.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Don't fix what's not broken

      it's fast and quite efficient on memory

      Exactly. I'm fed up to the back teeth explaining to whingers that their resource issue is very likely to be some badly written extension or plugin.

      1. The First Dave

        Re: Don't fix what's not broken

        Waste of time for me, now stuck on out-of-date (?) versions since they refuse to run the SSL consoles for Firewalls etc. that I need to maintain.

    2. Craigness

      Re: Don't fix what's not broken

      "it will throw you to Google search every freakin' possible time"

      ...unless you select a different default search engine

      "Firefox has super-powerful address bar that allows to find any page you visited before using any part of title or URL"

      So does Chrome. The omnibox includes history and bookmarks, can directly search sites like youtube and imdb, and can be extended to search installed apps, dictionaries or anything developers can think of.

  7. Nate Amsden

    sounds ok to me

    just give firefox ESR a 5 year support cycle as a compromise.

    (firefox user since phoenix 0.something I forget, currently ESR 31 though I miss ESR 24 to some extent, 31 is passable)

  8. webdude

    Mozilla is to be commented for destroying an application the calibre of Firefox, killing great software is not easy!

    I have been using Firefox since the very early days and FF has gotten better and better, now Mozilla wants to kill it. GREAT!

    Good Bye old friend. You will be missed.


    I will not be using Firefox any further.

    If I want a browser to look like google chrome I would install it!

    1. Greg J Preece

      Well, at least they're managing to get rid of your calibre of user...

      I have been using Firefox since the very early days and FF has gotten better and better, now Mozilla wants to kill it.

      What planet are you living on where this makes an ounce of sense?


      Always a reasonable response to a planned change in development procedure, I've found.

      I will not be using Firefox any further.

      You'll be missed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > Always a reasonable response to a planned change in development procedure, I've found.

        From my experience in various corporate projects... I think it might be quite a useful response, minus the grammatical errors.

    2. JLV
      Thumb Down


      That's pretty effin uncalled for.

      When directed towards anyone. But specifically to people, who whatever faults you find with it, do provide a free browser to many.

      Way to motivate devs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        > That's pretty effin uncalled for.

        I agree with that.

        > Way to motivate devs.

        Do note that the vast majority of Mozilla devs are paid employees, so even though they provide a free browser, they're not providing a browser for free.

  9. G R Goslin

    Oh, no!!

    Not more bloody Bells and Whistles I spent an age trying to get back to a saner FF. It worked for a time, but I was driven even madder by the relentless admonishments to update. Then I was sent mad by the two steps back and one step forward to get back from a Google search. Then sent mad by the icons of old pages on every new tab. Keep it simple, dammit!

  10. Peter Prof Fox

    Utterly misguided

    I drive a car but it goes plenty fast enough. Do Moz really think speed is a major issue and I'm a Clarksole demanding F1 performance? By all means aim to reduce clunky cruft but perhaps there are more important things.

    Moz's UI judgement is crap. Just because some wonks want to be fashionable pricks doesn't mean the rest of us want any tablety touch idiocy.

    A better development method (ANYTHING'S better than Agile) is various development threads (+ issue fixing) which get incorporated into 'this year's model' when they're matured. You don't make people recall cars to add random gadgets dictated by the manufacturer or remove handy mods.


  11. batfastad

    There is no data...

    ... Only XUL!*

    I started mucking about with firefox extension development several years ago and built some simple forms UIs. I always thought XUL was actually not that far away from being a bit of a revelation for remote application interfaces. When I look at corporate intranets and internal web applications, typically they are aweful. Let's face it, HTML sucks for application UI. Even HTML 5 and the associated DOM/JS APIs that keep getting squirted about still doesn't quite match a native-feel forms UI.

    I thought the idea of serving up XUL over HTTP with all the usual POST/GET/PUT/DELETE etc could have been a pretty powerful combination. I remember someone had created a XUL interface to (albeit limited to just browsing/searching) using Amazon public APIs and it was interesting to see actually how a traditional "forms" based UI kicks the pants off HTML+images+endless gubbins. Unfortunately the Moz devs I quizzed in #xul seemed intent on destroying that madness and remote XUL support was killed off. So my dreams of XUL+Firefox Prism (kiosk) applications was crushed.


  12. Dan 55 Silver badge


    Firefox has a theming engine that lets you change almost everything, thanks to XUL and XBL. If they could have three supported built-in official themes which between them everybody liked (Classic, FF4, Australis) and let you choose between them with the Appearance tab in the Add-on menu then they would have answered almost everybody's complaints.

    Faster release cycle? We're going to have to go right to ludicrous speed!

  13. jtaylor

    Release Cycle vs Workflow

    I use Firefox for many hours a day. To me, it's a tool. And a tool has a workflow.

    If Mozilla wants to be agile and release variegated updates every few minutes or whatever, that's fine. I'm just a user. I don't look at the code and I don't care.

    However, I do care about my workflow. I care that I can open a new tab without stopping to think how to do that. I care that I can switch to "that tab over there" without having to figure out what the key combination is this week. I care that I can think "gee, didn't I bookmark that?" and before the thought is complete, I already clicked to raise the bookmark menu and my mouse is over the search box.

    I hope that Mozilla's idea of "agile" is about their code and not about my workflow.

  14. Tannin

    Wrong date

    I am honestly gobsmacked. If you had printed this story on April 1st I'd have thought it a poor effort, obviously far too exaggerated, a parody which would take no-one in, and a failure because an April Fools Day story is supposed to be absurd and ridiculous ... but just sensible enough to be credible.

    WTF are those tools at Mozilla smoking? When you are in a hole you are supposed to stop digging, not send out for jackhammers and a bigger shovel.

    Are you sure about the date?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Makes Sense

    Boys have jobs to keep, you know.

    To me, having a foundation with salaried developers is about the worst thing you can do for an open source project. There are various other approaches that tend to work better:

    * Full volunteer work force (e.g., Debian)

    * As a side project of something else, preferably in a different industry (e.g., HTML / Mosaic)

    * As a full-on for-profit (e.g., RedHat, Canonical)

    * As a product that uses contractors or temporarily allocated workers to do the job.

    * As a combination of all of the above (e.g., the Linux kernel)

    Rich foundations like Mozilla and WMF are a bit like the civil service: "free" money and little accountability, so they tend to attract a lot of leeches.

  16. jilocasin

    Let's start with multiple simultaneous apps first .... please

    Personally, if multiple processes are too hard to get right, at least give us the ability to run multiple copies of FireFox at the same time.

    Start Firefox.

    Start another copy of Firefox (currently it just redirects you to the running copy).

    If FF0 crashes, FF1 is still up and running.

    Other than managing shared access to the profile (yes I know you can currently run multiple copies at the same time via a command line hack using a different profile) it _should_ be much more straight forward than getting true multprocess FireFox (a.k.a. Electrolysis) sorted out.

  17. JLV

    my $0.02 - throttling

    how about an easy, baked-in, way to limit CPU and memory use, on systems that support it?

    That could be based on 'nice' on nix. Or whatever, really.

    But FF has the tendency to gobble up >1GB ram (or page it). Ditto with 90%+ CPU, sometimes. I know that Chrome isn't much better (if you tally up its processes), but I would see that as a major improvement on FF's current offering to have a more realistic, noob-friendly way to throttle it.

    In most usage scenarios, there is no reason for such hog-like behavior. A browser is not Crysis running maximised while you are eating cheetos and talking thrash to your buddies. FF should recognize that it is most likely to be one of several programs that you are using at that point in time and calm the heck down. Yes, it would be nice if OS support was better for throttling for user-visible tasks, but FF should do its best, including just in terms of documentation on how to configure throttling on the host OS, to address this issue.

    Aside from that, FF is not perfect, but I am happy enough with it. If the critics really have a big grudge, hey, complain in a reasonable fashion (looking at you, Mr Kill-Yourself) and/or move to alternative browsers - each platform has several of those. Enough departures will show FF the error of their ways and you didn't pay for it after all.

  18. Zmodem

    1 release a year is good, and have a sound card menu, locking ASIO4ALL sucks, then everyone has to use creative ASIO which sucks even more

    then isochronous hubs will come along at 10gbs

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