back to article Waterfox: A Firefox fork that could teach Mozilla a lesson

As Firefox's share of the browser market continues to slide, the Waterfox Project shows some of the ways that Mozilla is failing to listen to its users – and it's far from the only example. Waterfox, which has just released its fourth version, came to your correspondent's attention after the arrival of Firefox 57, codenamed …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

    Now I can add Waterfox to the list of browsers to install and check out.

    Thanks for the info !

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

      Seamonkey is the unique one: The successor to the original Swiss Army Knife for the web (browser, mail, calendar, even a HTML editor, though the last one was a bit lame, last time I tried).

      1. Yeti

        Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

        You forgot the IRC client, Chatzilla.

        I'm using Seamonkey for mail and browsing every working day.

      2. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

        Isn't Seamonkey the ONLY open HTML editor out there? As far as I can determine?

        1. S4qFBxkFFg

          Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

          At the risk of starting arguments, emacs is a perfectly good HTML editor.

          1. HammerOn1024

            Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

            If one wants to spend more time configuring their editor rather than using it.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

              ah, that reminds me of a text I saw a few years ago re. one particular brand of e-book readers: how to add an e-book to your e-reader in 42 simple steps.

              1. staringatclouds

                Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

                was it an e-book ?

              2. Agamemnon

                Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

                I have a beloved, cross platform, eBook Management Joy: Calibre. Linux/PC/Mac (in most Linux distros.

                I've over 1600 books, many of them I've even purchased (grin), and from Sir Doyle to Neil Stephenson I've probably got it. And I Have a Kindle aroound here somewhere (I think) but I Again a book, strip the DRM to ePUB and good to go.

                And then I sync book to my NextCloud to my fondleslab/phone/lappy: all have the same book if I'm in a line (queue for right pond mates) or transit time, or the cafe.

          2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

            Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

            *cue Real code monkeys use Vim comment*.

            Notepad++ is surprisingly competent for pure html.

            1. waldo kitty
              Linux

              Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

              Notepad++ is surprisingly competent for pure html.

              the question, then, is "is there a native notepad++ for linux and mac?" ;)

              1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

                Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

                Not really. There is BBEdit and its decent. But it converting to it from notepad++ will make you cry.

              2. PeteA

                Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

                Yes - vim

            2. katrinab Silver badge
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

              I use Code-Fork, the version of VS-Code that doesn't have the proprietary MS stuff.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

            Ugh...Emacs. That tool is the equivalent of putting spinners and a spoiler on a shopping trolley. I know peopleove it and it is a good tool but it's massive overkill for HTML and quite a few other languages.

            ...I use nano personally for a large amount of PHP, HTML, Python, JS, C etc...if it's a complex project I use Atom. You just don't need anything with tons of bells and whistles

            Literally any text editor is fine for that matter.

            For stuff like PHP and Python you need at most, three terminal windows. One to run the built in web server / a debugger, one to edit the code and one to run the code.

          4. PeteA

            Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

            Emacs as an HTML editor? Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. Although _exactly_ why the unwashed heathen masses don't bow down to the power of the One True Editor, Vim, escapes me*

            *Have realised on occasion that I'm busy changing things with vim ... running in a WSL session in a VSCode terminal ... ho-hum!

          5. Gene Cash Silver badge

            Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

            I'm not talking about a text editor... any text editor can edit HTML

            I'm talking about a word processor style WYSIWYG editor where you set text to bold and it adds [b] tags.

      3. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

        Too bad the only Add On that works for use nowadays is UBlock Origin Classic.

    2. Nate Amsden Silver badge

      Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

      I used Palemoon for a while, couple years at least(gave some donations too). I held on to Firefox 37? I think it was for as long as I could, tried Waterfox at the time, none of my extensions were compatible(this was years ago). Then I found Palemoon, and it worked with everything.

      I had Palemoon as my "main" browser (excluding internal work stuff which runs on a VM), and I used Seamonkey as a dedicated browser for Logicmonitor SaaS monitoring(no real reason other than I just wanted to keep that seperate from browser restarts or whatever).

      Fast forward to earlier this year(?), Palemoon put out an update that killed my extensions, every single one was shot down as incompatible. Looking at my /usr/local where I keep my browsers, it was probably Palemoon 29. Palemoon 28 was working fine.

      I had been using those extensions, some for over a decade without updates, they were simple, and worked fine, perhaps they were obscure. Extensions such as Live HTTP Headers(miss that one a LOT), Cloud to Butt(made me laugh, miss that a lot too), Old location bar, Prefbar(miss it), RememberPass, Remove It Permanently(miss a lot), Save Link in folder, Tab utilities fixed, Zoom page. Looking at Palemoon 29 now and it lists all of those as incompatible(with the only option given to remove them). At the time I tried finding replacements, found some for other extensions but could not find any for things like Prefbar, Live HTTP headers for example.

      Anyway I came across the forum post which highlighted the changes. So Palemoon removed the last reasons I had for wanting to use it (earlier they removed the cookie management that Firefox had withdrawn years earlier, I had more than 10k sites in my firefox/palemoon sqlite cookie permissions db). I understand the reasoning, I'm not mad at them. Just sad to see an end of an era for browsing for me.

      So at least for the time being I went back to Firefox ESR and the only addons I have are Tab session manager, ublock origin(never used it till recently), and zoom page. It's certainly a lot faster than Palemoon though I'd take my old extensions back over the performance any day.

      I now run 2 firefox instances in linux in different user accounts, one is dedicated to outlook web access and atlassian products for work, the other is my regular browser(I keep the UIs/themes different to tell them apart, and they run on different virtual desktops, of which I use 16). Then still have seamonkey, AND still have another firefox ESR in a windows VM for internal work stuff. I switched off google search to bing several years ago(just because), and noticed when using bing and outlook web access it kept me logged into bing, which I did not want(if I logged out it would log me in again). So I introduced the new firefox instance (on a different account run via sudo) dedicated to OWA and similar work things. Configuring pulse audio to work with these firefox instances running under sudo wasn't easy(had to configure PA for network which isn't the default many head scratching moments at the time trying to figure out why audio wasn't working). Not that I need audio often in my browser just a few times a week at most.

      I have read bad things about recent firefox UI changes (those haven't hit ESR yet I don't think), but maybe I will switch again when they do.

      My laptop has 48G of ram, I should only need no more than 16G, currently using 12(including a VM that is allowed to use 10GB, though guest is using 4GB). I was "forced" to upgrade to 32G 2-3 years ago because of newer linux swapping bugs which would cause it to swap like crazy when I still had a few gigs of ram left. System would be unresponsive(even with SSD). Older laptop did the same workload with 8G of ram that newer one needed 16 for just to account for newer versions of software. Upgraded again to 48 for no reason, probably will upgrade to 64GB once prices come down a bit again for no reason.

      Side note on linux swapping/memory issues I have been tracking what are to me massive memory leaks in linux 5.4 and 5.8(Ubuntu 20), vs 4.4 (Ubuntu 16) this year. Really annoying. I went as far as to install the Ubuntu 16 kernel on a few test Ubuntu 20 systems so the ONLY thing different was the kernel for the exact same workload(systems behind a load balancer), and the memory leaks slowly over time, eventually swapping, then have to reboot. I sort of gave up trying to find a real solution it's just easier to reboot every once in a while. The leaks are in the kernfs_node_cache and buffer_head caches (flushing the caches has no effect on the overall trend). Been using linux for just about 25 years and have never come across this kind of situation before. I see the same trend on another system running backups over NFS, I more than tripled the memory from 2G to 6G and it still swaps every night(I have crons that clear the swap every hour and flush buffers). It never swapped on linux 4.4 or earlier going back the past 6 years.

      I read Waterfox was acquired by an Ad company? or something else kind of shady I don't recall off hand, maybe that info was wrong but kind of surprised me when I read that post. I never used it for more than 10 minutes years ago since it didn't work with any of my extensions at the time.

      1. Sitaram Chamarty

        Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

        > Configuring pulse audio to work with these firefox instances running under sudo wasn't easy

        huh! I use a sudo based scheme to setup different firefox instances (one for every site I need a login for, and one for others; currently have 11 such userids)

        only one of them needs sound, and it was a simple matter of adding that user to the group "audio"; never had to mess with PA networking

      2. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: Palemoon, check. Seamonkey, check.

        > linux swapping bugs which would cause it to swap like crazy when I still had a few gigs of ram left

        Dare say you already know about it, but there's a "Swappiness" setting that lets you tune/modify linux's sensitivity re swapping. I know _of_ it rather than _about_ it, but thought I'd mention it just in case you hadn't heard of it.

        .

        EDIT: hmm... this suggests you need to twiddle another parameter, your zoneinfo parameters. https://www.howtogeek.com/449691/what-is-swapiness-on-linux-and-how-to-change-it/

  2. Dave K

    Fully agree that Mozilla seem to enjoy doing their utmost to alienate long-standing users. I used Firefox as my primary browser for many years, but migrated to Pale Moon after the awful Australis makeover came along. It wasn't just the "Chrome-clone" theme that alienated people incidentally, it was that Mozilla also removed a lot of customisation options with Australis and locked many of the UI elements in place.

    Since then, every single makeover seems to have focused on stripping out customisation and extensibility that used to be Firefox's USP. With fewer and fewer reasons to use Firefox over a Chromium-based browser, it's little wonder that their market share continues to slide. Meanwhile, forks such as Pale Moon and Waterfox have largely retained market share because they've done their best to retain the unique selling points that Firefox used to have.

    1. Craig 2

      With fewer and fewer reasons...

      There's still one OVERWHELMING reason: It's not a Chromium based browser...

      Monocultures are bad and while there's definitely been changes to Firefox that I've disliked but had to adapt to, it's still my daily browser. I'm a tab whore and I still think TreeStyleTabs is one of the best implementations of side-bar tabs. It's a no-brainer for today's widescreen displays.

      1. SundogUK Silver badge

        Re: With fewer and fewer reasons...

        "There's still one OVERWHELMING reason: It's not a Chromium based browser..."

        But neither is Pale Moon.

      2. Dave K

        Re: With fewer and fewer reasons...

        I agree, but for most people the rendering engine isn't really a concern. Interface, speed, compatibility, flexibility all tend to be attributes that matter more.

        Don't get me wrong, for the more technical minded person you're absolutely right. However the typical geek that cares about rendering engines is also usually the same geek that likes the very customisability that Firefox keeps clamping down on...

        1. Snake Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Technically-minded typical geek

          I'll put my flamesuit on, but those technically-minded typical geeks, also seem nowadays...to be pretty damn rigid. They frankly seem unable, or worse unwilling, to try new things and adapt to changes. They believe that their way is the one 'correct' way, changes be damned.

          Yes, sometimes change is for the worse. Yes, change is hard. But change is a constant of life itself.

          Unless a change majorly, and I mean majorly, breaks something, I personally have much, much better things to do than fixate on the constantly changing aspects of technology and sit to fester over it. I look at the changes, adapt, get over it, and move on with the more important things my mind needs to process. For too many of these damn 'geeks', a change to the Windows Start menu is reasons for war, how dare you change because you CAN!! I'll have to relearn a BRAND NEW LOOK!

          Blasphemy!!

          I will have to take a look at the Firefox alternatives noted in this article. I have stuck with Firefox through the changes, sometimes indeed frustrating ones, but as I only depend upon NoScript, with UBlock and Privacy Badger seen as less-important though otherwise welcome additions, Firefox's changes haven't bothered me enough to seek alternatives.

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Technically-minded typical geek

            Hmm yes and no. Does the change break or remove functionality that a user needs/enjoys/makes use of? To take your Start Menu as an example.I've moaned about the Win 10 version, because it makes managing it quite tricky and I like a simplified menu -I use software that I might only fire up once or twice a year and which frequently has a bloody stupid name that I can't immediately remember. I need to be able to group programmes and cut out crap entries so that I can find what I want. (e.g. Macrium Reflect - though I do use that one a lot, or Belarc Advisor, or Balabolka etc etc)

            Win 11 sounds like it's be a deal breaker for me on that score alone. And a letter printed by PC Pro a few months back said the same thing from some one else- presumably the editors chose to publish that one because it rang a chord.

          2. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Technically-minded typical geek

            Just because we can learn a new interface doesn't mean we must do, especially when the change does not improve productivity.

          3. J__M__M

            Re: Technically-minded typical geek

            "For too many of these damn 'geeks', a change to the Windows Start menu is reasons for war, how dare you change because you CAN!! I'll have to relearn a BRAND NEW LOOK!"

            You can't seriously be advocating change for the sake of change. Check out our new model SUV, it has the brake on the right and the accelerator on the left! Because CHANGE! Don't complain like a geek, just be cool and get used to it like me.

            Killing the start button was really, really expensive for business and the return on investment was a big fat zero.

    2. veti Silver badge

      I didn't mind the interface change in Australis. What put me off it was the loss of core functionality. I'm not talking about extensions, I'm talking about whole pages that simply refused to render. They would, e.g., get stuck while loading some frame, and the central two-thirds of the page simply remained blank.

      A couple of releases later they seemed to have fixed that, but why did it ever ship in the first place?

    3. Combat Epistomologist

      The comment about copying Chrome is very much on the mark. Just like Gnome trying to copy the feel of Windows, copying someone else is trying to compete on someone else's home pitch by their rules. It's doomed to lose. You can never be "a better Windows than Windows" because Windows defines what Windows is, and you can never be a better Chrome than Chrome because Chrome defines what Chrome is. Success comes from doing YOUR OWN thing and dancing to YOUR OWN drummer.

      Mozilla forgot that. Firefox set out its own turf, then abandoned it to follow Chrome in some kind of vague hope that becoming more like Chrome would increase its slumping market share, failing to understand that by doing so, Mozilla was walking away from any reason to use Firefox. I'm one of those who switched to Pale Moon, but I abandoned it recently due to Pale Moon too ceasing to support most classic Firefox addons (including ALL of the most important ones I used), more and more sites not functioning properly in Pale Moon, and — to be honest — the incredibly toxic developer culture at Moonchild Productions, with the developers frequently screaming invective and abuse at people who are just looking for help or even TRYING TO help. The day came when Pale Moon had nothing **left** to offer me that was worth putting up with that level of abuse.

  3. Unicornpiss
    Meh

    Agree

    I'm still a Firefox user, but many of their decisions have been unfathomable to me. Open Source projects need to LISTEN TO THEIR USERS or they are missing half the point of it and stand the chance of devolving into a Tower of babel-like Goo of random forks with the whole being less than the sum of its parts. We are all weary of the Microsoft credo of "We'll change it on our whim and you can like it or lump it."

    And (just to nitpick) why do the latest releases of FF not have a home button enabled by default? You can add it back or bookmark your favorite pages, but really? And whose 'artistic' vision was it to have the floating tabs?

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Agree

      Open Source projects need to LISTEN TO THEIR USERS ...

      You'd think so, but it is alas a hallmark of Open Source that developers don't listen to their users, or see any reason why they should. After all, if users don't like something they can just modify the source, can't they?

      One example from many. The Anki flashcard system is quite nice, but one of the most frequently requested features is the ability to reset a card deck and run through it again. Perhaps for reinforcement, perhaps after a spell away - "why" doesn't matter; it's something users want. The developer(s), however, simply say that nobody should want to do that. Screw 'em.

      1. Pirate Dave Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Agree

        There was a similar incident with Firefox a few years ago that drove me to Pale Moon. They removed the option to clear the "Downloaded Files" list (and ONLY the downloaded files list) on browser exit, instead replacing it with something that cleared the browsing history (or something like that, it's been a few years...). Numerous of us users complained in Bugzilla, but were told we didn't have a good use-case for re-instating the fuctionality. Even after we pointed out that all they had to do was call the click() event for the "Clear Downloads" button, we were still told "No. Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.". The devs were so haughty about it, I quit using FF (had been a user since Phoenix) and went to Pale Moon.

        1. MrBanana Silver badge

          Re: Agree

          Another in agreement here. It seems to be endemic in many larger Open Source projects that the developers know best, go away or write the code yourself. I even did this a few times, and submitted patches. They were either rejected as "not in their vision", or the new function was accepted but completely rewritten in a kakhanded way that made things worse than before. I wasn't asking for a major rewrite of anything, just a small change that was restricted to a single file. And the changes to UIs, removal of settings, and the simplifications they feel obliged to push down on us users is infuriating.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Agree

            the simplifications they **FEEL** obliged to push down on us users is infuriating.

            emphasis mine. They certainly are NOT THINKING, that's for sure!!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Agree

      @Unicornpiss

      Probably that total wanker who was well on his way to destroying Apple (until they finally got rid of him) "Sir" Jony Ive.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Agree

        No probably more like Lennart Poettering who is so up himself, he wont even reports of bugs if he thinks its due to you not using systemd in the way he envisioned.

        1. Sitaram Chamarty

          Re: Agree

          > not using systemd in the way he envisioned

          Or using any *other* software in the way his latest patches expect.

          There was an incident with kernel cmdline (debug flag? don't remember) where Linus had to come down hard on this jackass and his minions, if I recall, because the then-latest systemd prevented something that was working before, but these people tried to claim the other guys need to change.

          Yeah that was rambling, but this was some years ago so I don't quite recall the details.

  4. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Great. Lots of versions of Firefox. That will allow it to compete with Chrome, Edge and Safari just as effectively as having dozens of Linux distros have led to triumph over Windows and MacOS on the desktop.

    I've more or less dropped Firefox since their crappy major update in the summer. Vivaldi on Linux seems very nice, though it has some quirks: it occasionally hammers the disk with constant reads to and writes from its "Top Sites" files (a Chromium bug, apparently) and doesn't hide the fact that it's Adblocking as well as UBlock does. Other than that it's much faster than Firefox, much more stable than Firefox and, unlike Firefox, works with my bank and work websites.

    1. FatGerman

      Totally agree. The last thing I want is another 6 browsers to test my code on. I fucking hate choice, because it means I have to make decisions about something I couldn't care less about. I just want to look at cat pictures, I don't care what fucking colour the tab bar is.

      1. hungrygh05t

        Oh, I really wish we could teach this sort of clarity....

        Your comment made me smile a] because I was about to make more or less exactly the same point & b] being the only decisive comment, and not just another moan, of course it is right at the bottom of a page. So I may be among a handful of people to appreciate your words and your tone.

        Mind you,...cat pictures? Is that a euphamism?

  5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Forks are a sign of success.

    Thunderbird enjoys regular releases and remains a best-of-breed tool.

    Never got on with Thunderbird myself so I can't concur with that. But does have the advantage of being cross-platform.

    As for Waterfox, if it's now based on FF 78, I assume this means it using the Quantum engine as well. The reasons for dropping XUL when it happened were more than sound: a very unwieldy codebase and potential for exploitation by malicious add-ons.

    However, I don't really think that Mozilla could do much about the decline in market share given the market dominance of Chrome and users' inertia to changing default software, especially on mobile platforms which are now dominant. The number of those that realy want something different is probably pretty small but maybe enough if Vivaldi is anything to go by.

    But, personally, despite some irksome UI decisions (today's version wants to give me more colours for some reason) I find the Quantum based Firefox faster and more stable than its predecessor.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Forks are a sign of success.

      I'm sorry, Vivaldi is a Chrome skin. Anything based on Blink is the work of the devil.

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Forks are a sign of success.

      Indeed. While the article describes the forks as thriving (I'm sure they are in relative terms). I imagine they've got a fraction of the market share of Firefox. And I don't imagine they'd stifle the decline if they became the main Firefox release. Because most of what is happening to market share is not down to Firefox's decisions but down to Google and Apple and the shape of the market. And there's no magic exhaust port that can be used on those Death Stars.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Forks are a sign of success.

        not down to Firefox's decisions

        My reasons for abandoning Firefox are ONE HUNDRED PERCENT down to Firefox's decisions. They're the ones that dropped the features and functionality I needed and drove me away.

        Features that have disappeared:

        * Ability to turn off javascript

        * Ability to not use tabs

        * Activity indicator

        * User profile manager

        * Tab groups

        * Fine-grained cookie management ("accept/deny this cookie" dialogs)

        * Sound (now PulseAudio only, no ALSA)

        * RSS reader

        * "Save tabs and quit"

        * Ability to export history

        * FTP

        1. Dave559 Silver badge

          Re: Forks are a sign of success.

          * Ability to turn off javascript - Use NoScript? Perhaps the bigger problem really is that so little of today's web will work without at least a minimum of JavaScript enabled (and even sites that did, with mature codebases, sadly seem to end up acquiring mandatory JavaScript somewhere, as baby so-called developers who only seem to know how to shovel-load JavaScript libraries rewrite newer bits)?

          * Ability to not use tabs - There's nothing stopping you opening new windows, although, yes, I suppose we are stuck with the tab bar visible even if there is only one 'tab' in it, which is somewhat annoying if you are short of vertical screen space.

          * Tab groups - Wait, I thought you said you didn't want to use tabs? ;-)

          * User profile manager - Still there, try: firefox --new-instance -P or equivalent. I use several profiles: default, financial stuff, and a tainted one (delete everything on exit) if I have to visit a Google site or something similarly icky, etc

          * Fine-grained cookie management ("accept/deny this cookie" dialogs) - I'll grant you that, but at least there are various add-ons which help…

          * RSS reader - Sadly the media got slaveringly excited about Twitter and the like instead, and (mostly) lost interest in RSS. Not that that was a good reason for Firefox to remove the existing capability.

          * "Save tabs and quit" - Do you mean "Save session on exit" (still there) or something else?

          * Ability to export history - I have to say that I didn't know that had been a feature. You can still export/import bookmarks, though.

          1. Sitaram Chamarty

            Re: Forks are a sign of success.

            Agree.

            I should add that there's nothing wrong with removing core features and pushing them into addons if they're reasonably similar. Reducing core is always a good thing.

          2. Mark #255

            Re: Forks are a sign of success.

            * Ability to turn off javascript - Use NoScript?

            You could even try the very tiny JavaScript Toggle On and Off extension

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Forks are a sign of success.

          Mine too, but the people on this site really aren't representative of the overall user base

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Forks are a sign of success.

            My friend, did you not realise this is an IT site?

            If you include the number of people we install it for then I think you'll find we probably account for quite a substantial majority of the userbase.

            You know, since one user here can be doing between hundreds and thousands of installs across our desktop estates, leaving aside issues such as recommendations to home users, and them picking something familiar to what they are used to at work.

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Forks are a sign of success.

          non-UI features can be deal with via plugins.

          It's the "MODERN" UI that irritates me... and they somewhat-recently did it to THUNDERBIRD as well. I used to see actual dialog boxes in settings for T-bird (FreeBSD ports from a couple of years ago, version 60-something - still worked with the retro UI plugin). Not any more. Apparently, THIS is what happens when they "continue to develop" it.

          1. David Hicklin

            Re: Forks are a sign of success.

            Re Thunderbird: I froze updating it and remain on 68.12.

            Why? because after that they made sharing a profile across different PC's impossible - each time it "updated" in created a new empty profile unique to that PC.

            When I use 4 different PC's here (for varying reasons) to access to same 12 odd email addresses (only 1 at a time of course) I want all the passwords, email rules etc to be the SAME.

            I'll take it all back if they have fixed it but somehow I doubt it.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Forks are a sign of success.

      I think the reasons for dropping XUL were Mozilla let it rot. Mozilla didn't produce much XUL documentation and barely any for XULRunner. In turn people had difficulty using XUL and XULRunner, and those small developer numbers self-justified Mozilla's lack of interest in promoting its own project.

      Waterfox Classic is based on FF56, just before Quantum. They're updating it but it's having trouble with more websites now, e.g. IBMs. But I'm in no doubt that Mozilla could have kept XUL and XULRunner going as well if a small team, a one-man band during some periods, have kept Waterfox Classic going.

      Mozilla spend time cutting features and futzing about with the UI in their flagship project and don't support other projects properly - FirefoxOS for phones has turned into KaiOS and FirefoxOS for TVs is being maintained by Panasonic, so they were viable projects. The fact that there are still features to cut in Firefox shows how powerful it was.

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Waterfox Classic is from FF56, trouble with more websites

        Because of Google.

        1) Websites coding for Chrome

        2) Websites using google resources in real time.

        I have to use Chromium on some sites now or I'm forced to use google's Captcha. Surely illegal in the EU. It's also abusive when you have an account and are not American. There are better simpler ways to block bots and why should there be bot blocking at all for regular long term users with a user name and password already?

        Using latest Firefox is often no better than Waterfox Classic. Websites are coding for Chrome/Chromium/Edge. Some even tell you that you need to upgrade immediately to Chrome or Edge.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Waterfox Classic is from FF56, trouble with more websites

          "Some even tell you that you need to upgrade immediately to Chrome or Edge."

          The more things change, the more they stay the same.

          "This website works best in Internet Explorer 6!{*}"

          [*] And of course, the "works best in..." long pre-dates IE6, but that was the one that most went off on it's own propriety track and tried to take over the standards.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Waterfox Classic is from FF56, trouble with more websites

          some sites tell you to upgrade simply because you are using NoScript (and the latest Firefox, go fig)

    4. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Forks are a sign of success.

      Today's version has done something odd on my (built yesterday: Mint Linux 20.2) installation - the history dropdown which is supposed to appear when I click in the address bar doesn't, until I start typing. And then I get a mishmash of strange suggestions from various parties.

      I've played with the settings to no great avail. Though it occurs to me that this may be linked to the Cinnamon Privacy 'Remember Recently Accessed Files' being turned off. Hmm...

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I have both Waterfox & Palemoon installed. Waterfox has one annoying characteristic. Every time it's started it complains about not being able to update. Of course it can't, I'm not running it as root. The really annoying thing was that I switched to the latest version of Classic and it still complained. I can only assume it was trying to upgrade to the mainstream version which was presumably more recent. I very seldom use it, preferring Palemoon as my second string browser, Seamonkey being my first.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      root is the new Administrator

      "I switched to the latest version of Classic and it still complained."

      Maybe you need to be root for the software to even check whether there is a newer version? Unfortunate if true. "Latest" sounds like a human assumption which still needs to be verified by the software. I agree though that software should assume a non-root user for all attempted operations, failure to design that properly leads to update issues. Is sudo so hard?

      On my Mac I have two users. Software always originally installed via the admin desktop. The restricted desktop isn't even signed in to Apple. Later the notifications for software updates sometimes go to the restricted desktop. How does the not-signed-in store know what needs updating? When I switch to the admin desktop the store often doesn't know anything about the needed update. Eventually they show up on the admin desktop, could be many many days later. Not well thought out.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: root is the new Administrator

        "Latest" sounds like a human assumption which still needs to be verified by the software.

        In this case "latest" was the current version, newly downloaded, installed and run. The possible gap for it to have been outdated was minutes. The conclusion has to be that the update checker was comparing against the wrong thing.

      2. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: root is the new Administrator

        Apple assume everyone is either Admin or Guest.

        It's one of the things they copied from Microsoft, except they haven't yet learned why MS dropped that concept a decade(?) ago.

        Of course, a lot of modern applications have totally broken the OS security models - Electron, anyone?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: root is the new Administrator

          Of course, a lot of modern applications have totally worked around the broken OS security models - Electron, anyone?

          FTFY.

          Windows has become a fucking mess in terms of security. Most of the time the main fix for a security problem is to hide it behind admin rights.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: root is the new Administrator

            An app that can update itself without asking the administrator for permission is insecure by design.

            It is only a matter of time before Electron becomes the primary security hole in every supported system. It may already be.

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: root is the new Administrator

            you reminded me of those "Cancel or Allow" Mac vs PC commercials

            strangely, they stopped...

    2. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Classic irritants

      I've been using Waterfox Classic on KDE/GNU/Linux for several years, exactly because it supports the extensions I have grown to expect as part of my browsing experience.

      As far as updates go, I find that when a new version is released, the update checker flags up for me that Waterfox cannot download the latest version. That's not a problem, really, it just means that I have to visit the website and grab the compressed tar file - as someone pointed out, if it's installed system-wide (mine lives in /opt) then root has to unpack the file, which is the sum total of "installation".

      The other irritant is that Waterfox will (sometimes!) state on startup that it's not my default browser: it really is, and I've tried all the KDE settings I can find to confirm that, but WF isn't convinced. However, I can live with it, and I'll stick with it while I can. I can't remember the last time I lit up Firefox.

  7. Omnipresent

    informative article.

    I had no idea some of this was still available. You should realize that microsoft has reached it's claws deep into mozilla at this point as well. I even noticed that microsoft somehow updated it's edge to mozilla extension with my wifi and internet turned off... which turned me a little white. I think Microsoft is completely ignoring privacy and ethics at this point, but so is everyone else... what are you going to do? turn them off? You deal with that, or apples never ending forced hardware updates. There is a reason I am terrified of the internet these days.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: informative article.

      You should realize that microsoft has reached it's claws deep into mozilla at this point as well

      Yes, it DOES explain a lot.

  8. MacroRodent Silver badge
    Happy

    KaiOS

    You can get KaiOS also on some of the Nokia-branded HMD feature phones, such as the resurrected version of the banana phone (the original starred in "The Matrix"). Actually first heard about it in connection with them. Interesting that it is a descendant of the Firefox OS.

    1. Dave559 Silver badge

      Re: KaiOS

      The problem is that while FirefoxOS sounded like an interesting project, and with a bit more work could probably have been something, it sounds horribly like all KaiOS phones are built to a really, really, tight budget (OK, that's sort of the market they are aiming for, but), and pretty much every review I have read has described them as being extremely slow, extremely laggy in use, far too crash-worthy, and with keypad input generally worse than classic Nokia phones of old.

      It really doesn't sound like they are doing themselves many favours. I get that even a few extra $ equivalent on the bill of materials can be really quite a significant price increase to a large proportion of their financially restricted developing world target market, but there surely has to be a point where you just can't try to cram anything more than a very basic feature phone OS into an under-specced package? In the other direction, low-end Android phones (which are also apparently quite grim in reliability terms) are (in developed world terms, I admit) not that much more expensive.

      Maybe they just have to admit that you can only cut things back so far and should give themselves an extra $10 headroom or so to allow them to double the RAM, use a slightly less mediocre CPU, etc, and just leave those who really can't stretch to that to the basic, but reliable, plain old calls-and-texts Nokias?

      Or possibly the least worst solution (much as I hate Android) would be to set up a company that collects cast-off Androids from the more prosperous parts of the world and re-sells them with a fresh battery? (OK, they'd probably be using older OS versions no longer getting security updates, and that's certainly not ideal, but if you are really that poor, as long as it could run a (hopefully fairly up to date) browser and {insert-favoured-messaging-app-here} that might not be the worst of outcomes, even if they can't run flashier apps?)

      1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: KaiOS

        "extremely slow, extremely laggy in use"

        That's what you get with a $13 phone that still has all the _necessary_ spyware. The article mentions "WhatsApp, Google Maps, Facebook and so on". On KaiOS there is no way to uninstall those, you can add but you cannot remove. Gee, I wonder why? Take those away, and the manufacturers have no interest in selling a $13 phone, which is probably less than the sales commission on a flagship phone. I looked at KaiOS with some interest, until I found out Google is on board.

        Android phone = hardware + OS + spyware + apps

        KaiOS = worse hardware + worse OS + spyware + worse apps

        Notice what is not worse about KaiOS?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: KaiOS

          "On KaiOS there is no way to uninstall those, you can add but you cannot remove."

          Sadly, that's probably how they can sell a $13 phone. They pay to have their apps pre-installed and unremoveable.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it really a fork?

    If you just take the upstream dev work and re-package it?

    What would happen if Mozilla stopped releasing code?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Is it really a fork?

      They re-work security patches and some updates so they work on Gecko with XUL. Which begs the question why can't Mozilla maintain Gecko with XUL?

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Open source closed devs

    Most users aren't techies and rely on the Devs producing something they feel happy and comfortable with. And that means that if the developers are serious about making the product widely used, they have to respond to users. And not simply to some ideal dream of a product. Browser or whatever.

    So, for example, most users who install add-ons would like to know if anything new, interesting or useful has come along. I'd assume that anyone developing an add-on would like its birth announced to the world. PM has not got a " new add-ons " option. Its devs refuse to add one on the basis that they "want all add ons treated equally". Which manages to be both frustratingly illogical and frustratingly unhelpful. Because a new add on is not being treated "equally" if no one knows it's arrived. And since the addons are grouped into function categories there's a good chance that users never even realise that there is some extra functionality. The more imaginative and novel an addon is the less likely that it is that anyone would ever find out about it.

    And of course umpteen forks is not the solution that many seem to think it is. Saying "If you don't like it you can fork off" just, at best, makes a confusing sea of similar but competing alternatives - and users ( remember them) aren't going to know which to err use Especially if each fork has a different subset of likes and dislikes.

    The customer may not know best, but they know what they feel like using. Creating hobby FOSS may well be fun for its developers. Becoming quite well known as a minority niche product is probably quite exhilarating. There may even be a certain degree of self-righteousness. But it isn't a good way forward for the product itself. Not if you genuinely aim to compete with Google's Chrome, Microsoft's Outlook etc.

    And then we have Linux.....

    1. Adair Silver badge

      Re: Open source closed devs

      So much for the complaints, now what about the preferred solutions ... how should things be?

      Sometimes the jungle, in all it's anarchy, mystery, and dangers, is far more productive and a better place to be ...

      than the vast desert of monoculture next door.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Open source closed devs

        is far more productive and a better place to be ...

        For whom?

        *For hobby devs and FOSS pros, definitely. It's fun all the way. I remember writing stuff when I was in my 20s and even 30s ( so almost 40 years ago). I did what I felt like, in the way I thought it should go. Sometimes people even used it. Even as many as two or three thought my programmes were useful.

        *For professional working devs who take an interest and come up with with a suggestion to submit for a FOSS team- even actual code, I suspect less so. There's a comment on here that pretty much says that.

        *Users, not at all.

        1. Adair Silver badge

          Re: Open source closed devs

          Yes, but ...

          the 'monocultures' have their own problems and weaknesses which are, arguably, no less significant. In many cases they are criminally/morally bad and an absolute affront to a humane and just society.

          So, we need to be careful what we wish for.

          Granted there are certain scenarios where boring predictability and uniformity is not only desirable, but essential, e.g. the software running a pacemaker or a railway signalling system, but who owns those systems and what legal and moral responsibilities they adhere to are even more significant in the long run.

          If a business can choose a 'browser' that meets its corporate need for security and reliability, whilst Jane can deploy some hairy bit if code that she is free to adapt to her particular needs, etc. then the jungle is the place to be; rather than everyone being compelled to use whatever X-Moneygrubbers Inc. force everyone to use regardless.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: Open source closed devs

        the only "monoculture" here seems to be among the "big tech" development groups that manage projects like Gnome, Mozilla, Chromium, yotta yotta and as mentioned already, HOW MUCH OF THAT is directly influenced by Apple, Google, and Micros~1 ???

        "We are the Borg" etc.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Open source closed devs

      How to miss the point in one easy lesson.

      Especially if each fork has a different subset of likes and dislikes.

      If I have a particular combination of likes and dislikes - I have a choice of alternatives

      This or that site doesn't work well with this or that browser - I have a choice of alternatives

      And then we have Linux.....

      I don't want anybody pottering about with init - I have a choice of alternatives

      I don't like Gnome - I have a choice of alternatives

      I don't like KDE - I have a choice of alternatives

      I don't like apt I have a choice of alternatives

      I don't want bleeding edge - I have a choice of alternatives

      I do want bleeding edge - I have a choice of alternatives

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Open source closed devs

        The problem you are describing, and pretty well I have to say, is the curse of too many choices.

        For each of those things, there are a choice of alternatives, yes, but amongst those alternatives, the user is left to do their own research (or guesswork) about which are suitable, which have incompatibilities or dependencies on other things about which the user has choices, which are even maintained, which are malicious, and so on.

        In short, it is really, really hard to see the wood for the trees, and Linux is a great example of how daunting this is for a novice user. Anyone can download a distro and install it. The odds are that they will be given, at some point in this installation process, a choice of which packages to install for this and that. Even that list of choices is going to be dictated by which distro they have, probably more or less randomly, chosen.

        Before you know it, you're stuck with something or other that doesn't quite work; a graphics card, or printer perhaps, and find yourself having to recompile the kernel. Do you seriously expect someone who isn't a C/C++ dev to even know what a makefile is?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Open source closed devs

          "The problem you are describing, and pretty well I have to say, is the curse of too many choices."

          In what way is this a curse compared to the walled garden binary choice: like it or lump it?

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Open source closed devs

            It's a curse for those who are willing to lump it but unwilling (or unable) to put in the time to learn enough to like it. I dunno. Maybe they have day jobs, or homework, or a social life with like-minded people. (Not everyone is blessed with having a hardcore nerd in their inner circle.)

            Anyway, for whatever reason, there's a lot of them out there.

          2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Open source closed devs

            In what way is this a curse compared to the walled garden binary choice: like it or lump it?

            Because most users, unlike you or I, are not experts in the field. When they buy a computer, they'd like to be able to turn it on and start using it, like every other consumer device.

            Because that's what a computer is to most people: a consumer device.

            The fact that it is also something that can be reprogrammed, customised, and pretty much made to do a bunch of things that only you or I can dream of is of total irrelevance to someone who just wants to browse social media, or write an essay, or watch porn.

        2. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Open source closed devs

          > find yourself having to recompile the kernel

          This is a myth. I've tried out many distros over the years, and I can't remember the last time I had to recompile a kernel. I've had to compile a module for the WiFi dongle that I stupidly bought without checking to see if it had extant support, but that was my fault.

          And even if you did have to recompile the kernel, you are extremely unlikely to have to edit a makefile. make menuconfig doesn't require dev skills, it just needs you to know what hardware you're rolling for.

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: Open source closed devs

            I've been a developer (professionally) for 30-odd years and a Linux user for 13, and I've never built a kernel except for some wacky embedded platform where it was the only way to play the game.

          2. Al fazed Bronze badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Open source closed devs

            Typical response, Firefox, Linux, whatever............is built by developers for developers.............who expect the rest of the planet to be developers or they can fork off.....

            ALF

          3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Open source closed devs

            Okay, so maybe the bit about recompiling the kernel was a bit much. Linux is better in that regard than it was, say, 20 years ago, and most distros have pretty good hardware support for common stuff.

            Then you go and stuff up your comment by saying something like make menuconfig doesn't require dev skills, it just needs you to know what hardware you're rolling for.

            Let's examine this statement a little. First of all, did the user install the toolchain they need to get "make menuconfig" do anything other than emit errors? Do they even know what "make menuconfig" means, or why they are doing it? The truth is, that even typing the word "make" implies a certain amount of developer knowledge, and the Linux community is pretty bad when it comes to having individuals whose response to user-level questions is "recompile this", or "it's open source so you can just make those changes yourself".

            As for "just knowing the hardware you're rolling for". Do you seriously expect an average user to know what hardware, specifically, is in their laptop? What processor? What graphics card? What family of network chip? You'd be lucky if they know the difference between memory and storage.

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Linux

              Re: Open source closed devs

              if you use menuconfig every time, you're doing it wrong. (first time useful, though)

              I typically just hand-edit the appropriate file(s) and use "make oldconfig", for those increasingly rare cases where dynamic modules cannot be used. Or, if I fix something and just rebuild with the patch applied [and this part is why 'oldconfig' exists].

              But now the topic is going off into the weeds, and the point is really that developers aren't making software for other developers. They're making it for THEMSELVES, and TOO OFTEN are arrogantly IGNORING others (including other developers). So we end up with a lot of forked versions of popular projects, ones that are popular because of convenience, not necessarily about how things are implemented.

              Maybe it's because not enough of these "developers" worked in 'customer service' jobs when they were teenagers, and INSTEAD were *INDOCTRINATED* (instead of educated) in high school and (especially) college, and ultimately graduated from the "My Shit Does Not Stink" program with honors.

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: Open source closed devs

                That's twice recently I've found myself agreeing with BB. though in this case the point has already been made.

                This bit and the point is really that developers aren't making software for other developers. They're making it for THEMSELVES, and TOO OFTEN are arrogantly IGNORING others (including other developers) actually doesn't go far enough though it's implied: They're not developing for users they've purely become vanity projects.

                There must surely be a sweet spot between the aggressive, slick, sly attack of Chrome and the white socks with sandals never uses deodorant approach of the FOSS developers.

            2. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Open source closed devs

              Yes and any user ( sorry any relatively ordinary, if fairly tech minded user) who asks a question of a 'Nux forum stands a pretty good chance of reading, or receiving a really snotty comment implying, or even saying that they are not worthy of the sage's time. And I'm referring to sites' pages that are meant to help novices. More techie pages that a newbie who's hit a stumbling block might approach are sometimes as friendly and helpful as a game keeper with a hangover.

              And yes I've been through both of these experiences.

              And that's not even taking into account the "I wouldn't start from here" comments.*

              *As in the old joke of a tourist asking a local how they can "get from here to [place]"

        3. itzman

          Re: Open source closed devs

          you can always tell someone who has either never installed linux, or last did so in 2001...

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: Open source closed devs

            FWIW, I've got a RP400 sat on the desk in front of me that I use for tinkering with embedded development.

            It very much is running Linux, as is the Pi Zero I have knocking around somewhere.

            Even with a Raspberry Pi, there are a number of choices of flavour of Linux you can put on it, all with lots of choices. I would expect a novice user to get confused pretty quickly by it.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Open source closed devs

          Recompile the kernel? I've been using Linux for years now, I've never needed to do that. Yes, sometimes hardware is no longer supported. That's true of other operating systems. It's sad because many peripherals and components have longer lifespans than expected.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Open source closed devs

        With respect, you aren't an ordinary user. Ordinary users want something that does what they need, without having to contrast and compare an assortment of alternatives and decide which set of options is the one that is the one that has the fewest missing options ( assuming that they would even know what these are at the initial choice stage)."..a choice of alternatives" is no choice if these are all partial solutions with none that are sufficiently adequate.

        I switch between PM/FF/Vivaldi as needed.

        But I'm here in El Reg World

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Open source closed devs

          "Ordinary users want something that does what they need,"

          So do I. In my case it's mostly local history research nowadays. I tend to have a lot of documents to hand. My Historical Documents folder alone is 10.8G with 783 files in 63 sub-folders and there are usually a good number of files and folders of work in progress on the desktop. An app-based approach isn't going to cut it - you can't navigate that lot with the Recent files... menu. So I use KDE which allows me control over layout of the desktop.

          OTOH someone who wants a UI closer to that of their mobile would prefer Ubuntu's Unity desktop. I'd find it completely unusable.

          SWMBO also has KDE but the few apps she uses are links on the desktop. It also has NextCloud client sitting there quietly synchronising a folder with my laptop so I can assemble her patchwork notes PDFs for her to email to her class. This works for her.

          A couple of other relatives have Zorin which seems a good all-rounder for general users for a browser, office, PDF viewing, etc.

  12. oiseau Silver badge
    Stop

    Handy? In case? Your provider?

    Thunderbird remains a handy way to keep a local backup of your messages and contacts in case, say, your provider ...

    From early on I avoided the possibility of any email service provider doing anything to my messages and/or contacts by not using that aberration called webmail and sending only text based emails.

    I've always used an email client with POP/SMTP and kept proper backups of what messages and contacts wanted to keep.

    As for the email client, I've used David Harris' Pegasus Mail for more than 20 years without any issues, first briefly under DOS and then from W3.11 to XP till I decided to leave MS software behind.

    I now use it with Wine in Linux Devuan.

    O.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Handy? In case? Your provider?

      you know, e-mail is not that hard (it may take some RTFM'ing but it's not that hard once you understand what needs to be done). I've messed with Perl scripts that work with IMAP to filter things, auto-send mail with data files attached, and things like that. Writing a GUI wrapper around the Perl scripts would NOT be that hard, using GTK or something like it. I think it's been done a few times, too...

      (the "use Email" Perl modules also correctly handle SSL and TLS and other such things)

      And yeah, NO HTML MAIL if *I* wrote it (MY turn to be an arrogant developer, heh). I'd filter out all HTML elements and display it THAT way as an alternative, for those mail clients that *ARROGANTLY* *DO* *NOT* *SEND* *EQUIVALENT* *PLAIN* *TEXT* along with that (BLANKETY BLANK) HTML content.

      And this is ONE thing that Thunderbird has ALWAYS gotten right: "View message content as plain text". ALWAYS selected, on MY mail clients!

      I have noticed that a lot of spam mail often says "Hello, xxx" as the only plain text. It becomes a filter (in my mind anyway - need to find out how to train/modify T-bird's filter for that).

      No/Incorrect Plain Text ==> JUNK FILE [maybe it can be an addon?]

  13. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Naming opportunities

    If Firefox forks use a prefix based on classical "elements" but use the Far Eastern five elements rather than the western four, then we can have Woodfox customised for the tree-huggers and Metalfox for the headbangers. Kerrang!

    1. Dave559 Silver badge

      Re: Naming opportunities

      There is another Fifth Element which certainly might attract interest from some users… :-D

      "Multipass?"

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Naming opportunities

        The real fifth element - Surprisefox.

  14. steelpillow Silver badge

    Seamonkey

    Loved the web editor, as it has a unique "tags-on" view that is brilliant for debugging complex layouts. The only other that had anything like it was the late and much lamented HoTMetaL Pro.

    But the web editor is about the only bit of Seamonkey that has never been given a significant makeover and its ability to handle HTML5/CSS/javascript is chronically obsolete. Great shame.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This isn't the first time Mozilla has alienated its users

    there's absolutey NO pattern there, nosir. And definitely not related to any invisible dividing line, where, on one side, users' expectations are a core (not in press release farts, but in real world) and then a project moves and, at some undefined moment, users are shifted / shafted to other side of that invisible dividing line, where they're only means to justify org / business self-end.

  16. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Mozilla is the modern Xerox

    And just as full of bumbling middle management morons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mozilla is the modern Xerox

      I've met some of the devs - they're very capable, and still being paid despite the fact you get the results of their work for free, without the apple hardware tax or the google privacy tax. So this seems like quite a mean-spirited comment.

      1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Re: Mozilla is the modern Xerox

        What you say doesn't contradict what he said at all. Lots of very fine people work for absolutely incompetent organisations.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mozilla is the modern Xerox

          re. fine people in incompetent organisations, I've got a strong impression that those two factors are correlated, i.e. fine people (or just people that do. their. job.) prevent those incompetent organisations from collapsing with a loud bang. Sadly, this allows incompetent people that make a company incompetent, to biggyback and 'thrive' in those organisations. In fact, this could easily be the theory of every structure, state, business, organisation...

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Mozilla is the modern Xerox

        (someone actually said "mean spirited" and MEANT it? Try being ME some time, you'll grow a shell and start laughing at it)

        If _I_ ever meet them, I'll ask why they have NOT fixed the 2D FLATSO AUSTRALIS by PUTTING BACK a PROPER 3D SKEUOMORPHIC UI (as an option, at least) instead of CLONING CHROME...

        (I bet a clever person could even do it with CSS)

    2. anoco

      Re: Mozilla is the modern Xerox

      Or, the current version of Nokia! Being run by moles attempting (successfully) to slowly neuter any fork with potential.

      The same problem that hit Mozilla, abandoning the reason for its success in order to follow the leader, is now hitting Waterfox. They've given up on the Classic version and it is now an irritating experience to say the least.

      Someone please help and fork Waterfox already! I feel that the uncustomizable prison bars are getting closer and closer to me. Boy, how I wish I could take back the web...

  17. Chris Evans

    "Some of these ex-Mozilla products are doing relatively well. Rust is doing great. Waterfox is thriving. Thunderbird enjoys regular releases and remains a best-of-breed tool. But another has more users than all of them put together."

    What is the 'another' they are referring to in the last sentence? I can't make sense of it!

    1. PRR
      Paris Hilton

      > "more users than all of them put together." What is the 'another' they are referring to in the last sentence? I can't make sense of it!

      You need an attention span greater than one paragraph.

      KaiOS is the 'another'. An OS used on $13 smartphones in low-income lands.

  18. cantankerous swineherd

    fyi kaios is a dog.

  19. Mage Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Classic Theme restorer and Plugins

    Firefox chasing Google ideas and GUI, both of which are rubbish.

    Mozilla slowly destroying Firefox and Thunderbird for years.

    Totally clueless changes on GUI and internals. Also Mobile and Desktop need quite different products and GUIs.

    I have up to date Firefox on Mobile (because alternatives are worse) and both Firefox and Chromium on desktop, but I use Waterfox there, though recently the Classic Archive can't install any plug-ins due to domain being parked. I have some old 32 bit computers with up to date/supported OS, faster than 64 bit Atoms, but Waterfox is 64 bit only.

    I've looked at Edge (on Windows), a pointless version of Chrome. I've looked at Palemoon, Opera, Seamonkey etc in the past and used Brave for a while on Mobile till Firefox on Mobile got a little less broken.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Classic Theme restorer and Plugins

      Makes you wonder if the head honchos are being given back handers from the big corps to run the projects into the ground.

  20. LDS Silver badge

    "the app remains the leading cross-platform email"

    Probably because it's the only one or so. Sure, TB works - but its design and UI is really awful. In a mail client, the "browser" should just be used to show HTML mail bodies.

  21. skein

    Wow, in a competitive field, this is - by far - the dullest post I’ve ever read on this forum. Not disagreeing with it, mind!

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      If you are referring to the original article, then you are clearly new here. Like any successful organisation, El Reg has squeezed out some real dog eggs in its time.

      If you are referring to a particular commentard, the I commend you for being kind enough to fail to reply to the actual posting, so we haven't a clue who you are insulting.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Personally I don't recognise all the Firefox criticism

    For me it's mostly great and I appreciate that its rendering engine is free of google's nefarious influence.

    You rave about Waterfox but the decision of the developer to sell out to an ad slinger is more than a little questionable.

    1. ConsumedByFire

      Re: Personally I don't recognise all the Firefox criticism

      Completely agree. I hadn't noticed there was an issue. Don't remember when I started using Firefox it was so long ago. Not planning on stopping anytime soon.

      If all these Devs on here are missing features then can't you just roll yourselves a plug-in?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google = self appointed internet police

    The more alternatives the better

  24. Blackjack Silver badge

    I use Seamonkey and Icecat for desktop and laptop and Iceraven for Android.

    Unfortunately Seamonkey broke compatibility with old Add Ons on newer versions, with the only thing working for sure being UBlock Origin Classic. Seamonkey is still useful when using some websites as Icecat tends to break some of them.

    A shame what happened to Waterfox, I know people who use Pale Moon but I decided to not bother as I replaced the downloader manager that I had on old Firefox with Uget and Jdownloader, is not perfect but it does work in most cases.

  25. Twilight

    XUL and single process were both security risks and there was good reason to abandon those models. Yes, I hated losing some of the addons with XUL but I got over it...

    In unrelated weirdness, I have Chrome and Edge setup nearly identically with the same extensions. However, Edge runs GMail noticeably faster than Chrome does...

    I still do run Firefox as well. I use each for different things.

  26. chroot

    Thriving

    "But currently, it's thriving, unlike its progenitor."

    Can you back that up with some data? Does Waterfox have more users than Firefox?

    All in all, the article is written as an advertisement for Waterfox.

    1. ricegf

      Re: Thriving

      The actual claim was that the project is thriving, not that Waterfox has more users than Firefox.

      The Waterfox repository is gratifyingly active based on commit frequency, though not as active as Firefox. But I suppose "thrive" implies long-term trends, which I too would like to see

  27. FeepingCreature Bronze badge

    TabMixPlus works on Firefox Quantum again btw

    Well, at least if you turn off signature checking and sandboxing by installing some magic config files into your filesystem. https://github.com/onemen/TabMixPlus/blob/main/README.md

    TabMixPlus was the reason I installed Waterfox a few years back. If that works on FF now, there's no reason for me to run WF anymore. ... Hahaha, no, I'll keep running Waterfox. When Mozilla get wind of this, I'm sure they'll figure out another way to break it. Maybe remove the option to disable signature checking altogether.

    I've lost any trust that Mozilla are working in my interests.

  28. Esme

    I'd love to try Waterfox, but there's a problem...

    I'm a long-time Linux user, and in terms of technical knolwedge I'm somwhere between yer average User and most of the El Reg commentards. And I'm getting old, and worn out, and really don't want to fiddle around with things too much.

    My preference is for using software from Mint's repository. I'm good with installing a .deb file downloaded from elsewhere. I've had plenty of experience (admittedly, mostly in the deep past, now!) of unpacking tar or zip files , identifying the executable and giving it the permissions needed so that it can do its thing.

    Last week, after two days of getting used to Vivaldi and comparing it with Firefox, I ditched Firefox and am now a happy user of Vivaldi. Yes, Chromium etc, but I'm old, worn out, and (remaining) life is short. It works. I can set it up howI like. The experience thus far has been excellent.

    I downloaded Waterfox. I unpacked it, and... WTF?! it isn't obvious which is the executable, looking at filenames. OK, so lets go RTFM - I check the website. No installation notes. Which is the point at which I give up.

    I've tried and used a great many browsers over the years, from full-fat to len ones like Lynx et all. I'm mystified as to encountering such a situation! On the plus, out of curiosity I checked to see what browsers the Mint repository knows about and spotted Elinks, which I'm also trying now :--)

    If any of you clever bods can either explain to me how Waterfox can be made to run or where the missing documentation on such is, I'd still like to give it a go. Until then - ithe donload forit is just wasting sace on my hard drive!

    1. Liam Proven Bronze badge

      Re: I'd love to try Waterfox, but there's a problem...

      It's generally not a good idea to just download binaries and run them. That is the Windows way of doing things.

      The Debian/Ubuntu/Mint way to do it is to add a repository and install from there:

      https://github.com/hawkeye116477/waterfox-deb-rpm-arch-AppImage

      But if you don't want to do that yet and just want to give it a try, then an AppImage is the easiest way. There are AppImages here:

      https://appimage.github.io/Waterfox_Current/

      https://appimage.github.io/Waterfox_Classic/

      1. ricegf

        Re: I'd love to try Waterfox, but there's a problem...

        S/he did what I did - I followed the product's website instructions, which led to a dead end.

        I seriously doubt any project will "thrive" if their installation instructions are stillborn, and you have to add repositories provided by a random commenter on an El Reg article to actually install it (which is better than installing executables downloaded from the official project page how?).

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: I'd love to try Waterfox, but there's a problem...

        I sometimes do the build from source option, at least when you are NOT in a hurry and there are no ports/packages available. But depending on your setup, it may take more work than you want to put into it (like manually loading dependencies and source/dev packages on most Linux platforms).

        If there are no install instructions, are there at least BUILD instructions for Waterfox? (I see no FreeBSD port for it, either).

        1. ConsumedByFire

          Re: I'd love to try Waterfox, but there's a problem...

          This conversation is exactly why its never going to be "the year of Linux on the desktop".

          What are you guys talking about . . . ?? Don't you just run the installer and thats all you need to know . . .

        2. Esme

          Re: I'd love to try Waterfox, but there's a problem...

          I have never built anything from source, and have no interest in doing so because I dont have the knowledge to understand the pros and cons of doing so. And I'm a science and history geek, rather than an IT geek, I'm really not interested in compiling stuff from source. I prefer to spend my time reading up on latest discoveries, and honing my own hypotheses , rather than learning a task that, in the fullness of time will become unecessary, one way or anther. :-}

      3. Esme

        Re: I'd love to try Waterfox, but there's a problem...

        Ahem. Try reading what I wrote again, Liam. I am VERY well aware of the differences between the way Linux does things and the way that Windows has! It's one of the many reasons I switched to Linux many years ago!

        I was trying the rung s of the trust ladder. Top rung - is it in the reo? No.

        Next rung down: OK, I trust the technical knowledge of my fellow commentards that it's worth trying, so I'll try the official website. Idownload teh offical tar file and hit the WTF. It's possible that the missing information is somewhere inside one of the files, but no, I am NOT going to look through them all. I appreciate that developers may not have as much time as theyd like to put thingsin .deb packages or to create install instructions, but that being the case, given my level of knowledge, I am content to miss out on the joys of thatp iece of software until it DOES have such things.

        Rather ironically, the other browser that got a fair amount of mention, Palemoon, also doesnt have a .deb package in the Mint repo, and does, apparently, expect folk to just run an executable, no installation required. And that's too fard own the trust ladder for my liking, ta very. The distro package system is one of the thing s that really sold me on Linux. It is SO much better than trwlingthe web for software that does x and havig to trust to luck and malware checkers that it isn't a carrier for some kind of nasty.

        So - thanks, but at this time, I'll stick with Vivaldi (which I am enjoying using immensely compared to the every-increasing annyances of using Firefox.).

  29. AndyM48

    "Thunderbird enjoys regular releases and remains a best-of-breed tool."

    Just one vote for Interlink, Palemoon's sister mail client.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Waterfox may talk the talk, but they can barely stumble the walk. Every single version, buggy as hell.

    Bugs? Like breaking websites left and right. Crashing, a lot.

    I tried it for 3 years and left as the bugs and crashes just got more frequent, and went back to Firefox.

    Even without the wonderful plug-ins Mozilla trashed like table capture, that ultra sidebar thing, and many others, Firefox at least is still not Alphabet "we own your ass" Chrome.

  31. robertocarlo
    Linux

    "Why are some of XXX axed projects bigger than its flagship?"

    Ask Linux, moreover ask Debian. Popularity has nothing to do with quality but it can be an asset to any valuable good. Is Ubuntu better than Debian? Can't say yes but can definitely say it is more popular.

  32. Al fazed Bronze badge
    Mushroom

    Firefox sucks...

    No denying it, it's slower than it was, cannot be secured like it used to be, yawn, more forks, better Guy Fawks blew it up along with all the various forks.

    I just want a sodding browser, not a fucking three ring bleeding edge circus.

    When will developers get a fucking life and start using their creations for some proper work, not more sodding development for developments sake.

    It's a bloody sewcurityu nightmare, even if your a GEEK............these days

    ALF

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I use WaterFox, FireFox, Edge, and Chrome - on W7. It appears to be the only way to cover functionality on all the web sites I use. Can't remember why Palemoon was replaced by WaterFox. Opera is there too - but only for compatibility testing of my managed web site.

    One advantage is that no one browser can track all my sites that are visited.

    IE used to be essential to run a local Javascript process - but alas that no longer works. It stopped working on FireFox too - until I discovered an option setting to allow use of local URI's. Too much development investment over 20 years to consider a rewrite.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Yep, I'd go with that.

  34. dlc.usa

    The Browsers Are The Symptom, not The Problem

    It is the ever-extending HTTP(S) protocol that has produced all these warts on warts we have to deal with, combined with anti-free-software and ethics-challenged profiteering agendas associated with the development of these "improvements". May the straight-forwardness of Gemini increase in adoption. Does anyone remember Gopher?

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: The Browsers Are The Symptom, not The Problem

      you mean HTML, not HTTPS, right? Those are different things.

      'curl' can use HTTPS (for example) and return back the web page (or whatever) as a file. A browser RENDERS it. It's this 2nd part (rendering) that seems to be all FUBAR these days...

      HTML and CSS and (ugh) Javascript for web pages are over-complicated with never-ending "UP"grades and moving target specs.

      THAT is the *nightmare*

  35. martinusher Silver badge

    Waterfox is old news

    I switched over to it from Firefox the day that Firefox updated itself and a couple of extensions that I'd been using abruptly stopped working.

    Although this kind of abrupt software change is common (it seems) its also totally wrong. I've been a developer since the 70s but just about all my work has been on embedded systems. As a result my philosophy of managing software change is radically different to many application developers -- you just can't release improvements that break things and demand that everyone switches to "the latest", that's just not how the world works. (IoT pundits please note....)

    The thing that was particularly irritating about the Firefox change is that there was no immediate need for it -- no glaring bugs or security issues. It was just someone's fancy.

  36. Robert Grant Silver badge

    > But there's always room at the bottom. Back in 2013, it was already possible to profitably sell a $13 phone. Unfortunately, there are a great many very poor people in the world, and the cheaper tech gets, the more it can help them.

    The "unfortunately" sounds as though the poor people counter the $13 phone. Maybe omit it - no one's going to assume you think low income households are a good thing without you saying it.

  37. LedMatrix

    Stop referring to these browsers as Firefox FORKS! They are NOT forks. They are Firefox derivatives. If Firefox goes down in flames, the Firefox derivatives will go down in flames. I seriously doubt anyone would or could take over managing their web engine.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Fork

      It's a fair point but the terminology everyone recognizes and understands is 'fork'

      What you're saying is that a derivative is a fork that has less development resources than its parent. If that becomes an accepted term, then I can see that being used in stories.

      C.

      1. FatGerman
        Coat

        Re: Fork

        Presumably, these are Fireforks...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fork

          Firefork handles?

  38. DropBear
    Facepalm

    Your only choice is to ask "how high?"

    "Pale Moon kept the pre-Australis UI, it's still single-process (so more memory-efficient), and it still supports classic Firefox extensions"

    WRONG. Palemoon stopped supporting legacy extensions with <ICantBeBotheredToLookItUp> version, and I stopped updating it instantly. Also, the "Waterfox Classic" version that still supports those extensions IS DEAD AND UNUSABLE WITH HALF A BILLION WEBSITES RIGHT NOW. Roughly. So, basically, legacy extension support is DEAD. I HAVE to use Chromium just to access everything PaleMoon and/or Waterfox Classic simply utterly fails to access anymore. The writing is on the wall, it's up to you to read it, no matter how much one would try to hold out.

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