back to article Mozilla's midlife crisis has taken it from web pioneer to Google's weird neighbor

Mozilla seems to be asleep at the wheel, when it once drove online activity and communications. We have some suggestions where it could go. Mozilla is the wealthy [PDF] independent organization behind the only all-FOSS browser engine that's independent of commercial vendors. It also does important security research – its …

  1. msknight

    It is not asleep at the wheel

    From my dealings and discussions, it has more resemblance to a driver hyped up on coffee, intent on driving Firefox off the nearest cliff at high speed.

  2. b0llchit Silver badge
    Alert

    Much of Mozilla's revenue comes from Google, of course.

    One can wonder whether this made mozilla docile? And maybe, just maybe, this was intentional from google's side? Like in "if you can't kill them, (almost) buy them"?

    1. toejam++

      You're less likely to be openly critical of your primary benefactor, even if you suspect that their intentions may be nefarious.

      An article from 2019 suggests that Mozilla's management was aware that Google wasn't playing nicely. The article mentions issues with YouTube, but I personally experienced a number of issues with Maps as well while using Firefox. I recall another article where Mozilla's own metrics reported a mass user exodus each time there was a "hiccup" with a major Google app.

      1. Grunchy Silver badge

        “Google,” who dat?

        YouTube is dead, my friend. The only worthwhile way to access their upload library is with NewPipe. Google is rapidly becoming irrelevant… Microsoft may as well not even exist anymore, as far as I’m concerned. As for Apple, I haven’t bought any Apple equipment since the 1990s.

        1. Derezed

          Re: “Google,” who dat?

          I’d that a quote from Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse now?

        2. ThomH

          Re: “Google,” who dat?

          > Microsoft may as well not even exist anymore, as far as I’m concerned. As for Apple, I haven’t bought any Apple equipment since the 1990s.

          Then clearly both might as well just give up now. The two added together could manage only a little more than $600bn in revenue last year. What a joke.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: “Google,” who dat?

          Unfortunately, some of us have to use something more than an etch-a-sketch to get work done..

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And for the love of all things holy

    Get zoom and re-flow working on Android, just like Opera does!

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: And for the love of all things holy

      [Author here]

      > Get zoom and re-flow working on Android, just like Opera does!

      I am just curious, but what exactly do you mean by this? Ideally with examples...

      1. Nematode

        Re: And for the love of all things holy

        Open a web page in Opera on a mobile. You can spread your fingers to zoom in (not unusual) but then watch the text reflow to the new margins. Zoom and read with bigger text! WHo would have thought that!

  4. Primus Secundus Tertius

    Saving pages

    I save web pages, such as this one, into my personal archive. Firefox generally succeeds in saving pages, but I found Internet Explorer often failed to save them. I avoid Edge because MS are so aggressive these days.

  5. Andy Non Silver badge

    Thunderbird Calendar

    Due to data corruption I had to uninstall, wipe and re-install Thunderbird from scratch recently on Linux Mint. Oddly the Calendar / Events functionality appears to be missing. Can't find it in any of Thunderbird's menu options. Very odd. I suspect I'm missing a trick somewhere, just surprised it isn't available "in my face" any more. Don't know if they've removed Calendar/Events or just buried it somewhere unobvious. Or was it an add-on?

    1. Victor Ludorum

      Re: Thunderbird Calendar

      Haven't used Thunderbird for a while, but ISTR you need the Lightning plugin for calendar functionality.

      1. Altrux

        Re: Thunderbird Calendar

        That's been integrated into Tbird for a long time now. Standalone Lightning no longer exists.

        1. aerogems Silver badge

          Re: Thunderbird Calendar

          Indeed. From the fine article:

          2015: Thunderbird 38 gets integrated calendar handling, derived from the Lightning addon.

    2. zuckzuckgo Silver badge

      Re: Thunderbird Calendar

      In my install the calendar icon appears in a left-side toolbar. The toolbar can be revealed or hidden by clicking on a tiny arrow in ths bottom-left of the Thunderbird window. No add-ons involved

      1. Andy Non Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Thunderbird Calendar

        Thank you!

  6. AlanSh
    Unhappy

    Sounds just like DEC

    Anyone remember them and how they took their foot off the pedal?

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Sounds just like DEC

      Foot off the pedal, or just completely unable to see the transition from "large computers" to smaller personal ones?

      Somewhere in the 80s, the home computer left the bedrooms and living rooms and started to turn up in offices. Not noticing that was the beginning of the end.

      1. toejam++

        Re: Sounds just like DEC

        I had a DEC Alpha Personal Workstation running NT4 back in the day. It was such a wonderful machine at the time. Then DEC had to sell Alpha to Compaq, who turned around and killed it. Such a shame.

        1. fromxyzzy

          Re: Sounds just like DEC

          Some folks have been having fun of late poking around in the alternate future where we got later versions of Windows for Alpha, some interesting stuff is still out there to be found: https://virtuallyfun.com/2023/05/15/windows-2000-64-bit-for-alpha-axp/

        2. CRConrad

          Re: Sounds just like DEC

          AFAICR Compaq didn't buy the Alpha from DEC. It bought DEC.

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Sounds just like DEC

        You misremember it.

        DEC produced early desktop microcomputer systems during the early days of business PCs. The first ones just weren't 100% IBM PC compatible, but did provide compatibility for CP/M that IBM PC's didn't.. The follow on systems were more compatible, but were later to the market.

        The Rainbow 100 and associated systems went from desktop PC class systems up to desktop Minicomputer implementations (PDP-11 and PDP-8). The follow-on VAXmate was (as it's name suggests) a PC/AT compatible that offered a number of novel interoperability features with DEC mini-computers, including being the first PC that would boot and run diskless across a network.

        The goal of these systems put a DEC system onto desks, and use other DEC systems remotely or as fileservers to link all of the systems together. They could be use as standalone PCs, and would run CP/M-80 and CP/M-86 and MS-DOS, and would link in to the DEC All In One productivity suite.

        The Rainbow 100 could be used as stand-alone PCs, but as they had their own non-IBM PC floppy disk sector layout and different BIOS, it was necessary to have software specifically created for the Rainbow. This made the Rainbow (and obviously the PDP-11 compatible DEC Professional and PDP-8 Decmate II/III) work best in an environment that was mostly DEC based, which limited sales to non-DEC environments. The VAXmate was even more linked to the DEC environment as it's primary differentiator from other systems was it's affinity for file hosting from VAX/VMS systems.

        The result of this is that they weren't overly successful, and rather than extending DEC's reach into non-DEC shops, were just limited to DEC shops. This meant that they were quietly dropped from the catalog rather than going forward to become successful systems. Once Comnpaq bought DEC, there was no reason for DEC to produce anything remotely PC like.

    2. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

      Re: Sounds just like DEC

      Yeah. I worked for them when Greasy Bob took over. What joy. :|

  7. Forget It
    Go

    One differentiator is that ...

    Firefox allows Addons on Android and is now opening up to all comers.

    https://blog.mozilla.org/addons/2023/08/10/prepare-your-firefox-desktop-extension-for-the-upcoming-android-release/

  8. LosD

    All good points. Except vertical tabs, those can go die in a fire.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Whether you like them or not, it is good to have UI options.

      I hate how so many applications are removing options, trying to force everyone to use it The One True Way - which of course radically changes when a new manager starts.

  9. Hairy Spod

    could we all just agree to go back to making simple HTML pages again?

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      We can, but it won't help. Plain HTML lacks too many features that people like using, which is how we got scripts in the first place. HTML version updates come too slowly to entirely clear them out, although the update to HTML 5 helped a lot. For better or for worse, and often it is worse, users have come to expect that a webpage can update itself, not require you to refresh it every few minutes to retrieve updated information. They know you can make a table where you can click on a column to sort it without reloading the whole page. They know you can have an upvote button that doesn't reload this entire forum topic when you do it. And they know that you can put these things together and get, for example, a collaborative word processor that doesn't need any program installed, even if that word processor is going to be much more annoying than the local ones. This means that, if we tried to reverse the course, those users and the companies who make the products will be asking why they can't have those things anymore and we'll have to have a better answer than "because I hate JavaScript and it means browsers are harder to write", because they won't care about either of those completely true statements.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Excellent points, though I do think that there are plenty of cases where things are added "just because" that we could easily do away with. Like the modern corporate website, which is done using something like WordPress which was intended for blogs. So the entire site is basically just one long page that you have to keep scrolling through to try and find the info you want, and have all these stupid transitions along the way that serve no real purpose other than someone thought they looked good. You pointed out most of the useful functions that should be kept, but there are plenty we would probably be better off without.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Even this has a reason, and it's one I'm forced to accept and to notice in other areas of my work. I write software, not websites, but there are still plenty of cases where I have to write some code but it feels like I shouldn't. Usually, it's some form of data manipulation (take it out of this database, do a little branching to reorganize it, put it in a json file). This doesn't take a lot of mental effort, as I don't have to do anything particularly efficient, nor invent any new paradigms, nor know much about the system, basically no creative effort and little technical knowledge involved. Since I can and have done all of those things, it feels like someone who doesn't have the knowledge that I and my colleagues have should be able to do this simple bit. Unfortunately, it is usually not that easy.

          The same is true of HTML. If you want to have a page with some text and some links, it feels weird to have to hire someone who knows how to make a page. Of course, one can just learn some HTML and make a functional page, but it won't make a visually appealing page, nor will it make later modifications easy when each page on your site has to be built from hand. To build a low-end CMS for your own site takes more knowledge of some backend language to construct the pages as well as the frontend HTML and CSS. I've done it several times, but I've used either PHP or Python (and once C, but I wouldn't recommend that). People don't want to learn that, nor do they want to hire someone to do something comparatively basic. Word Press, while not really the right tool for the job, lets someone design some kinds of site without having to learn to code properly. Yes, the resultant page's code will be ugly and the maintenance requirement is high, but they don't care about the former or know about the latter. From their perspective, their site looks good enough, they spent a lot less time than the coder would have, and if they need something bigger, they'll deal with it then.

          1. aerogems Silver badge

            Long ago I used some program, I forget the name, but it was basically just a Perl script that separated design and content from web pages. You had a single template file that had all the CSS and HTML needed to establish the basic look and feel, then it would merge in other files where you put the content using some basic regex magic. As long as you knew some basic HTML and CSS, it really took all the drudgery out of it. After you run the script you get a series of static pages with a consistent look and feel to them.

            It may not work for every single site, but if I had to take a guess, I'd say probably 80% (or more) of the sites done in WordPress could probably just as easily be done this way. CSS can be a bit complex, but HTML is really pretty simple, and you can do a surprising amount with just plain HTML, no CSS, no JavaScript, no anything else.

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Of course such things exist, and you don't even have to get that advanced when you can have one central CSS file which is linked in to every other page and use a variety of template pages that get pasted in. The trouble is that, with each change you make, someone has to learn more of a markup language that, while pretty simple for those of us who use significantly more complex languages, is still precise and takes some persistence to use properly. Consider the difference if someone, let's call her Alice, has built a website for someone else, yes it's Bob. Now, Alice is busy doing something else, and Bob wants to add a new announcement to his website. How does he do that?

              If Alice has written it in hand-coded HTML, the instructions probably look like this:

              Write your new article in HTML. Save it as its own page, then modify the home page file to link to it with a summary. Make sure to link in the CSS file on your new page so they look the same. Then run this script which will replace the template lines with your standard navigation, header, and footer content. Once finished, upload all the new files to the server and test.

              If Alice used Word Press, the instructions look like this:

              Log in to the backend. Click new page, write the content in the boxes. If you need links or anything like that, there are buttons to add them right next to those boxes. Check the box to mention this on the front page, and if you want, adjust the summary. Click preview, and if it all looks good, click submit.

              Which would Bob, who does not know HTML yet because Alice was doing that, want to do this time? For that matter, if Alice isn't the only typical maintainer, which one does she want to do if she doesn't want to see someone else mangle the scripts she's written for this? In most cases, Alice wants to have a CMS that has a GUI editor, perhaps because she's gotten tired of Bob calling her every time he wants a new page on the site because he can't be bothered to learn HTML and CSS to do it himself, but he can manage to type in some boxes. However, Alice doesn't necessarily have time to hand-code a CMS for Bob, so he ends up with one of the existing ones with a bit of customization on it.

              I'd like for this to be different, but it's not. I know this from experience. I have written many backend systems in more complex languages to get around the basic options of HTML, but I do that for my own systems or internal things for my job. The thought of having to do that for other clients as a web designer sounds like a job I would dislike very much.

            2. YetAnotherXyzzy

              WebMake? Back when I was making websites for myself and others, it was an invaluable tool.

              http://webmake.taint.org/

    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Happy

      I do this. It's not flashy, has no javascript, but is clean an informative. My sister was visibly shocked when she saw how quickly my webby stuff downloaded and displayed - even on Windows.

      1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        > my webby stuff

        Links or it never happened. ;-)

  10. aerogems Silver badge

    Why I Use Vivaldi

    It's basically the power user's web browser. If they made a version based on Firefox's Quantum engine, I'd probably switch in a second.

    The removal of XUL is what I'd mark as the inflection point for Firefox. Once they got rid of that, there was no real compelling reason to keep using Firefox over anything else. I get that there were some valid technical reasons why they ditched XUL, but it still just seems like such a huge unforced error to not try to salvage as much of it as they could while still being able to better multithread the rendering engine and harden security a bit. They may have had to kneecap a couple of the most popular extensions like AdBlock and NoScript, which would take control of the rendering engine and literally prevent ads and scripts from being loaded, not just hidden like we have now, but things like the venerable old TabMix Plus could likely have been saved. Surely, if Mozilla had really wanted to, they could have reworked the XUL API to work with the new Quantum engine and preserve most, if not all, functionality.

    1. DanceMan
      FAIL

      Re: Why I Use Vivaldi

      Big upvote for Tab Mix Plus. It allows the browser to work the way I want. Several other extensions also disappeared with the code change and much good work was lost.

    2. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: Why I Use Vivaldi

      Unfortunately XUL was just another UI tool. I never understood the point of it, and from what little i know it seems basically nobody wrote XUL apps except for a few like Thunderbird and Firefox itself.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Why I Use Vivaldi

        The problem with XUL and XULRunner was it was horrendously documented so nobody could write apps with it (I did try myself). If they had documented it better, they might have even done themselves a favour because apparently one of their reasons for dropping it is they didn't know how to maintain it any more.

    3. ScissorHands

      Re: Why I Use Vivaldi

      Gecko, in any shape or form, is not designed to be composable. Every time I asked someone always told me to go away, all you can build on top of Gecko is a web browser.

      Now Servo has been designed from the start to be composable, but Mozilla kicked it out without a proper JS engine, which looks kind of fundamental to build applications on top of it.

      1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Why I Use Vivaldi

        > Now Servo has been designed from the start to be composable,

        I am neither a software nor web developer. What does this mean?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why I Use Vivaldi

          The browser decomposes if you don't include it?

          :)

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Why I Use Vivaldi

          It could mean many things, due to the lack of context, but my guess is OP meant that Gecko isn't suitable for building dedicated applications on top of a canned rendering engine, like Electron is.

          Personally, I think those things are abominations.

          1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

            Re: Why I Use Vivaldi

            Yes Electron the pos that hog gigabytes just to display one lousy page.

  11. Crypto Monad Silver badge

    Self-reinforcing

    Originally, Firefox lost its market share to Chrome because Firefox had become sluggish and bloated and crashy, and Chrome gave a much slicker experience.

    That may not be true today. However, now that Firefox is down to 3% market share, it's very hard to claw it back. Has your bank's website been tested with Edge, Safari and Chrome? Very probably. With Firefox? These days, probably not.

    If 29 out of 30 users *don't* use Firefox, you need to have a very good reason to be the other one.

    1. gerryg

      Re: Self-reinforcing

      I have never not used Firefox except when I used to use Konqueror and to date have not experienced any problems.

      Save me posting twice, WebKit is derived from and reintegrated into KHTML.

      So Konqueror is the other browser.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Self-reinforcing

        "and to date have not experienced any problems"

        I have. With my bank, signing in takes you on a loop where you are asked to sign in, and sign in, and sign in.

        I don't know if it's something that UBlock (etc) is affecting, or something with Firefox itself.

        But, yeah, it works on Chrome...

        Problem with Chrome, other than the Google aspect, is that it insists upon trying to decode the page to work out what size to make each block of text, and you can't turn that shit off (as it gets it wrong about as often as it gets it right).

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: Self-reinforcing

          Same here. I'm defaulting to Safari more often just to get sites to work properly. I get the login loop on one of my banks and a couple of sites I use simply don't work - either don't load fully or stuff is missing. Tried troubleshoot mode and they don't work. The most worrying is one bank where the login seems to have failed, I get presented with the login screen again but if I do nothing and wait a few secs then it logs me in. I don't know much about web design and security, but it feels like there's a few seconds where a token or something is lost and wandering and could be a security issue. The bank says "use Chrome".

          It's a shame. I know it's not FF's fault other than they're not popular enough for sites to test with them.

        2. Grogan Silver badge

          Re: Self-reinforcing

          If you're using something like Ublock Origin on your bank's website, problems would not be surprising. Click the icon UBO icon, and the big "Off" symbol to disable it for your bank's site.

          Note that Ublock Origin DOES MORE as a Firefox extension, than it can in a Chrome based browser. Extensions lost the ability to modify streams in Chrome, so UBO has less functionality in the Chrome extension. Google wants Firefox to switch to their new extension model so users don't have that kind of control. They say it's for your safety and security, but it's because they want to make it harder to block revenue streams.

          My bank is very friendly to browsers (and they do list "Firefox" as supported) but we have trouble with Ublock Origin on our bank's sites (banking and other finance management UI's)

          1. Ian 55

            Re: Self-reinforcing

            I have several browsers for different things:

            Opera - built-in VPN that works fine for the little region-locked stuff I want

            Chromium - the handful of sites that won't work in Firefox

            Firefox - everything else. NoScript + uBlock Origin + tree style tab + various other addons make this by far the best experience 99% of the time.

    2. Pete Sdev Bronze badge

      Re: Self-reinforcing

      Perhaps. Though it's a brave company willing to potentially lose 3 from every 100 customers.

      From experience, generally if it works on Chrome, it also works on Firefox. It's usually Safari that is a pain in the arse. Safari is the new IE in the world of fronted web development.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Self-reinforcing

        "Though it's a brave company willing to potentially lose 3 from every 100 customers."

        Not brave at all. Some companies are really obsessed about making sure that every customer has a brilliant experience, sometimes to a level where their workers suffer from it. Most others don't bother with that, even if it means that some of the customers won't want to stay customers. A lot of tactics to save money can deal with a 3% drop if they save enough, and businesses take that gamble all the time, sometimes to their benefit and sometimes not. In addition, most companies that don't work on Firefox assume that the users will just use something else, and often they're correct. My family uses Firefox (I didn't make them or even ask them to, so it's not just us technical people), but if something doesn't work, they'll temporarily use Chrome rather than make a big deal about the problem. Of the Firefox users, what proportion will really refuse to use something that doesn't work well in it?

      2. Pete Sdev Bronze badge

        Re: Self-reinforcing

        Not sure if my comment got downvoted by mindless Apple fanbois or people disagreeing with my first assertion.

        If it’s the latter, please mention why (as for example doublelayer did). Civil discourse is welcome.

    3. gosand

      Re: Self-reinforcing

      I switched away from FF when it started sucking, and I had been using it since it was Netscape (save a year or so on Opera). But I didn't go to Chrome, I chose Pale Moon. It was great for a couple of years, then I had continued problems with it not working/crashing. I made the mistake of asking about it on their forum, where developers lamented about how users were 'morons'.

      By then FF had fixed things and it's been great ever since.

      Many years ago I managed testing teams at a large bank, and our platform requirement was to work on FF, but at the time FF wasn't an 'approved' brower. Can't install it, can't test with it. Tools to test on different browers are light-years ahead of where we were then. Not to mention that if things are coded to 'standards' and you don't have custom code, there are many fewer problems. Of course, Google is pushing things down that same road that MS did with IE, hopefully not to the same extent.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Self-reinforcing

        Pale Moon is my default browser (except on Android, where it's Vivaldi). I haven't had problems with it in recent years.

        There are sites that don't work properly except under Chromium-based browsers. For those I used to use Comodo Dragon, but Comodo made their add-ons mandatory, so I've been switching to Vivaldi for my Chromium-based work. Been using Pale Moon and Vivaldi on my work laptop for a while now and that's all been good. My personal machine still has Pale Moon and Dragon, as I haven't gotten around to replacing Dragon there.

    4. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Self-reinforcing

      And also because Google paid companies to bundle it with their software so that every time people downloaded a new app and selected "Express Install" they ended up with a new browser.

    5. Combat Epistomologist

      Re: Self-reinforcing

      My bank "upgraded" their site this year. The new site has KNOWN problems with Firefox. Lots of people (myself included) have found that you can't log in using Firefox. They don't seem to care. As long as it works in Chrome, they're happy.

  12. Kev99 Silver badge

    I've noticed that the last few updates have actually made some pages harder to render.

  13. ConstantCustard

    Thunderbird the client who would not die

    Around 2010, I used Thunderbird but switched when it started being neglected and forecast for closure, so I'm surprised it is still limping along.

    When Chrome appeared I stuck with FF, but with every update there were more issues with sites loading, so Mozilla pushed me onto Chrome and then through a range of browsers, I'm now with Vivaldi and as it's now launched on IOS, I can have the same bookmarks on my iPad, Android and Windows devices

    Firefox is the upstart you want to clip round the ear, in an attempt to get them to regain and fulfill their lost potential. However I fear it is too far gone for those without fond memories of this browser to even consider it

    1. aerogems Silver badge

      Re: Thunderbird the client who would not die

      When you think about it, Thunderbird is basically feature complete. Unless something happens like Microsoft open sourcing their Exchange protocol or someone inventing a whole new way to do email, there's very little in the way of improvements that are needed with Thunderbird. Just someone to address security concerns and update the version of the Firefox rendering engine to whatever the latest LTS version is. Maybe slap a new coat of paint on the UI every now and again. But honestly, you could probably use a much older version of Thunderbird, like 2.0 or something, and the only problem you might have is outdated versions of TLS.

      1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Thunderbird the client who would not die

        [Author here]

        > there's very little in the way of improvements that are needed with Thunderbird.

        I disagree. *I* am quite happy with it, but it is interesting reading user comments on this one.

        There are various features that seem small, obscure, or indeed incomprehensible to me, that some people *desperately* want.

        • 2 lines of Subject in the message list

        • Separate "From" addresses on a per-folder basis

        • Compose window always in a tab (or never in a tab)

        Me, I'd like:

        • spam filtering in Usenet (e.g. block any message sent to >1 group)

        • *forced* always-on plain text sending

        The project that tried to graft the Eudora UI onto T'bird stalled and petered out. That would be good to resurrect.

        https://wiki.mozilla.org/index.php?title=Eudora_Releases&oldid=1061787

        So, no, I disagree. What is small to one person is a deal-breaker to another. There is a lot left to do.

      2. Mockup1974 Bronze badge

        Re: Thunderbird the client who would not die

        >Thunderbird is basically feature complete

        It STILL can't do all-day tasks (you HAVE to MANUALLY set a random time like 23:59 every time you create a task). And it doesn't support PGP Autocrypt and all the extensions that used to have that feature are not compatible with the new Thunderbird versions.

    2. mdubash

      Re: Thunderbird the client who would not die

      I too was a TB addict. But since the browser now renders my provider's emails in pretty much any way I want, I couldn;t see the point in a separate app. I now - like everyone else and despite my best instincts - live in the browser. It's a bit like OS wars: ultimately, I don't really care about the OS, I care about the information and the apps. Life's too short.. mutter mutter...

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Thunderbird the client who would not die

        If you have more than one email address, possibly with more than just Gmail, a dedicated app starts to become real useful.

      2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Thunderbird the client who would not die

        [Author here]

        > I couldn;t see the point in a separate app.

        I wrote a whole story on this:

        https://www.theregister.com/2023/05/26/new_betas_of_firefox_and_tbird/

        #1 Reason: local backups of your mail in case you lose access to your account.

        Others, in no particular order:

        • Email on the move when not connected: read & reply offline.

        • Proper quoting.

        • Provider independence and integration

  14. Omnipresent Bronze badge

    The smart ones know.

    You really don't want to be liked. You don't want to be noticed. All I know is, fire fox with all the script blockers and duck duck make my user experience old school. I still get tracked by IP, but I expect that. I can deal.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: The smart ones know.

      I suspect the real percentage is rather higher than 3%, probably around double that.

      Because almost everyone who uses Firefox, uses it for the privacy features, so many simply won't be counted by any methodology relying on hidden pixels, adverts etc.

      1. Dave559 Silver badge

        Re: The smart ones know.

        Exactly. And those same security features and add-ons also keep you informed about what spyware a site would be trying to load, if it weren't blocked, of course. I haven't seen mention of StatCounter on any site that I visit for a good number of years, so I'd take their self-preservation data claims with an entire salt mine of salt and regard them as essentially meaningless and erroneous nowadays.

  15. Dan 55 Silver badge

    The Australia Chrome-like theme in Firefox 29 annoyed users and was a driving force behind Pale Moon

    That sentence was auto-incorrected... I remember reading a while back that Mozilla's UI mock-ups came before Chrome's UI change, but Mozilla took such a long time to execute that Chrome got there first with the same idea (either copied or independently), but don't ask me to find the source now.

    Which is also Mozilla's problem today, they take such a long time to execute, probably due to lack of resources and having to dedicate the resources they do have to following Google's latest mad idea as it's the de facto standard. Other browser developers can make minimal changes to Chromium where most of the work is already done.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Australis

      It's already fixed - don't forget to drop corrections@theregister.com a line if you spot anything odd, please.

      C.

  16. keithpeter Silver badge
    Windows

    Seamonkey...

    ...has advantages if you are squeezing the last few cycles out of old i386 laptop (e.g. Thinkpad T42/1G RAM) just for the sake of keeping them out of landfill while the capacitors hold out.

    Single process. Browser/Email/Wep page editor that can double as rich text editor ('print to .pdf' and simplify header/footer - page breaks a bit rough but it gets the job done) and RSS subscriptions. Modest memory footprint. Noscript legacy plug-in available. I also use a /etc/hosts file to block ad-servers where possible. No use for online banking or MS Sharepoint or similar. Works on a surprising number of other Web sites, especially if the firefox compatibility options are set in about:config.

    PS: That Web page on Firefox navigation was an eye opener. The vi of browsers?

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Seamonkey...

      [Author here]

      > PS: That Web page on Firefox navigation was an eye opener. The vi of browsers?

      Thank you! I am glad someone noticed.

      It is, and Chrome is the Notepad: it does the absolute bare minimum and no more, and it's amazing that many people are able to cope with just that.

  17. ShameElevator

    Firefox on iOS

    Firefox on iOS is so underwhelming. My biggest beef is the lack of being able rearrange the icons on the start page. You can’t just drag them or do some other easy thing, but have to pin and unpin the icons in the right order for the icons to be placed like you want. Just hope you don’t want to change something or you risk having to do it all over.

    1. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

      Re: Firefox on iOS

      Firefox on iOS is basically a reskinned Safari, since Apple won't allow alternative rendering engines.

    2. techulture

      Re: Firefox on iOS

      Also in iOS: How hard could it be to let me have the bookmarks list as the default start page, instead of having to scroll down and click the link to view all of them? In Android, for some strange reason when I type something in the address bar, my recent visits are displayed above my bookmarks (even when they are identical). Firefox hates bookmarks?

  18. Nematode

    Won't find me using Google Chrome except the odd site which demands it (such as some NHS videoconf sites). Even then I usually try FF first and more often than not it works. I can do without the Chrome-only functions in for example Google Docs, again FF works fine. I don't trust Chrome's more than likely user surveillance. I do get fed up having to fiddle with about:config or userchrome on updates, to return features which were the reason I chose FF for in the first place. FF on Android is pretty poor, though. At least it loads certain extensions you have on your desktop FF. Totally agree Mozilla need to focus on power users.

    1. usbac Silver badge

      I use Vivaldi as my backup browser when Firefox has problems with a site. I don't even have Chrome installed, since I don't trust it.

      1. jonathan keith

        Yup.

        Same here. If I absolutely *must* load a webpage that FireFox / NoScript / Ghostery throws a fit over, then it's Vivaldi that gets the shit jobs.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Firefox remains a powerful, capable, fast, and resource-efficient browser. For instance, it doesn't just render PDFs in-browser, without plugins or helpers, it lets you amend or annotate them too."

    Isn't this kind of thing part of the problem - who asked for these features to be built into the browser? Every time they do something like this I waste time working out how to get back to it being handled by an external program that is actually good at it instead of a half-baked first pass.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      I don't know, but I have heard lots of complaints when PDF support wasn't in browsers. One typical complaint was that there were a lot of PDFs online and they didn't like downloading them. The other one was typically targeted at Windows by Linux and Mac users who thought that an operating system that didn't ship with a PDF viewer was substandard. Oddly enough, when Microsoft added PDF viewing to Edge, they didn't change their minds; one might think they didn't like Windows for a different reason. So yes, people did ask for it, just not us although since I don't edit PDFs, a reader in the browser works well enough for me.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Every time? Isn't this a one-time settings change in Settings > General > Applications for PDFs?

      Also, what other things usually done by external programs have been built into Firefox apart from PDFs recently?

    3. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

      Recently at work: Windows 11 box of a colleague

      PDFs opened in the browser won't be printed. Saving the PDF to disk, opening it with a proper viewer and voila, the printer happily accepted the print job.

      Why? No idea.

      Take away: opening/viewing PDFs with a web browser sucks.

  20. DS999 Silver badge
    Megaphone

    Mozilla leadership reminds me of GNOME leadership

    Don't listen to users, just continue blindly down the path you believe in. Ignore all the complaints and forks that result from your bad decisions as irrelevant to your grand plan and not indicative of any real dissatisfaction.

  21. ecofeco Silver badge

    30 Years on

    And we are still arguing about browsers?

    LOL!

    Use what you want. The whole Internet has turned into a war zone in an outdoor sewer while acid rain is failing. Sod it all.

    1. Omnipresent Bronze badge

      Re: 30 Years on

      How else will we still access the usless webz? Log directly onto google's servers? Please, even monkeys are smarter than that.

  22. Korgonzolla

    I've been using Firefox since it was called Phoenix and was involved in my own little way in stripping out Netscape code once the fork was made. I've never moved from it since, and still find it to be a highly-performant and capable browser. I'm also okay for the most part with things like Sync and Pocket, even if I don't use them myself.

    An open-source browser that often made decisions by mind-numbingly long message lists was never going to be able to compete with a company who realised that owning the engine and browser was their path to enormous profits and domination of the end-user experience for billions of people.

    Mozilla is now a vassal of Google. That is not a good thing, but at least we still have a browser that offers us some level of control over the end-user experience.

    The Internet has lost a lot of what made it exciting and new. The suits won.

  23. Grunchy Silver badge

    I like Firefox

    Wow, 3% market share? But what difference does it make: nobody pays any money for a browser, they’re not making anything from sales. I like Firefox because it is NOT constantly upheaving everything all over the place. It’s an information appliance and that’s good enough for me. As for the “app” store, I bought exactly one app ever and that was Star Chart on the iPhone: a very clever “augmented reality” view of the sky. I have never found reason to pay $5 for any other app. I got my Firefox web browser, Thunderbird email, voip, sms, instant banking, gps mapping. Good enough!

    (I used to do web browsing with Emacs on the Vax terminal at Uni, Mozilla still seems like the “new thing” in comparison. Shrug.)

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: I like Firefox

      I'm a One App person too. A shout-out for Keyboard Helper Pro on Android because I have a little freebie tablet and they've fucked up the firmware so no matter what sort of keyboard you tell it is connected, it automatically reverts itself back to French AZERTY. It's stupid bullshit like this that really annoys me - Android is capable of handling dozens of keyboard layouts, but no, they'll break all of that to force it to always be AZERTY and screw the user who might want, say, a French/Arabic keyboard or whatever.

      Keyboard Helper Pro allowed me to put QWERTY stickers onto a Bluetooth keyboard to use it as I'm used to. It also permitted the same thing to be done to a little laptop-style Android device with a built in (via USB) keyboard. Well worth the three euros whatever that it cost.

  24. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Firefox remains a powerful, capable, fast, and resource-efficient browser.

    Well, perhaps. However, I note in passing that displaying a single tab with this Reg article requires 35% more memory with Firefox than with Chrome under Linux Mint.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Serious question, I'm not the downvoter.

      How does that actually impact you? Does it make a significant difference to how your machine runs or cause battery to die quicker? What is your opinion about Edge and Chrome launching background tasks on start-up which are left running when you close down the browser?

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        I don't use Firefox because I find it needs more resource than Chrome, it's slower to start, it can't do some websites and it still has fucking separate URL and search boxes, like we had a hundred years ago. I keep it around because very, very occasionally it is useful for a website which doesn't play nice with Chrome, or possibly with UBlock Origin.

        1. DJV Silver badge

          Re: separate URL and search boxes

          The DEFAULT is to have a single box. Try looking in the settings once in a while where you can turn this feature on and off!

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: separate URL and search boxes

            My car has a separate steering wheel and brake pedal. Dedicated controls? So primitive!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          My Firefox installation takes less time to start then I can measure. Are you sure your PC isn't being slowed down by the MSEdgae and Chrome 'Boost' feature which basically load them into memory at start-up so they can render pages quicker?

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Have you ever seen what Google Chrome "prefetches"? That alone is a reason to avoid it.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I use more than one browser here and there - Edge, Firefox, Chrome - but mainly Firefox. These days, I really don't see what Edge or Chrome would have over Firefox when it comes to performance, compatibility, or features (that I use) for personal web browsing.

    I do somehow prefer Chrome's DevTools, so there's that.

    On the other side, I love Firefox multi-account containers more and more, and rely on a couple of other extensions (and it really is just a couple) to keep the browsing experience sane. They provide some serious lock-in.

    The new in-browser translations looks like it could be another one I will use, though of course I have missed the announcement - time to try it, thanks!

  26. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

    Kept for competition reasons

    That's why Google fund Mozilla. So part of "the deal", the real deal, is that Firefox can never get too good.

    The canary for this will not be Firefox implementing ManifestV3, but dropping support for ManifestV2, so that the Adblockers are defanged.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Kept for competition reasons

      I am an advertising atheist (not a daylight atheist) but I accept Mozilla's efforts, a little advertising is OK, but not the massive Google advertising with everything.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Kept for competition reasons

      The real deal is Google will fund Mozilla to claim there's competition, but nobble Firefox on their own web properties to push people to Chrome where they're busy building in more and more tracking features (Google login, "privacy" sandbox, web attestation...).

  27. Ian 55

    Ooh, you can access Slack via Thunderbird

    Worth reading just to discover that.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Ooh, you can access Slack via Thunderbird

      [Author here]

      I am very happy that you liked it, but, um...

      > Ooh, you can access Slack via Thunderbird

      Er, did I say that? I did not mean to say that. I thought I said that you can access Slack via *Pidgin* -- which you can; I've done it -- but that it would be great *if* you could do it in T'bird.

      1. Ian 55

        Re: Ooh, you can access Slack via Thunderbird

        Never having tried IM in Thunderbird, I was thinking that libPurple was used by it.

        I'd use Pigdin but not the official app, so thanks again..

  28. Ian 55

    I was upset at losing a couple of addons when XUL was ditched

    TabMixPlus was one, obviously.

    But they've been replaced by others that together do more or less the same thing, and the experience of using Firefox with addons craps all over the Edge or Chrome experience I get somewhere I have no choice.

  29. uqrxur

    3% is actually an enormous number

    IMO, comparing Firefox with other browsers is like comparing a Debian installation to a Windows 11 retail computer: they shouldn't be compared because they don't offer the same service.

    Chrome and Edge are gateways to their respective editor's ecosystems, with web functionality as a "module". Firefox is a web browser that also permits access to editor's ecosystems who still run on web protocols.

    What the author fails to recognize is that 3% of the entire population of users is actually an enormous number once we start talking about the very small population of users who care about their privacy.

    I think this would have been a very much better article if the author had framed the discussion a bit differently: "Amongst the population of users who care about their privacy, Firefox is the most widely adopted browser."

    Which brings me to my second point. By failing to frame the questions correctly, these articles tend to do even more damage towards products like Firefox because they signal naive or more vulnerable users that "nobody uses Firefox", which is a very different message than "almost everyone who cares about this topic uses Firefox".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 3% is actually an enormous number

      3% of global users might be 15-20% of users in developed countries. Long established web users probably using PCs instead of mobiles.

      1. old_n_grey

        Re: 3% is actually an enormous number

        "3% of global users might be 15-20% of users in developed countries." Except it isn't. I recommend looking at the Statcounter figures for the various breakdowns.

        I'm no power user but have always preferred FF to the vested interest browsers, IE & Chrome.

        Back in my pre-Linux days I used to get infuriated when installing a piece of software that also installed Chrome, without asking, and made it the default browser. I ran out of expletives when telling Google why I had uninstalled their intrusive browser.

  30. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Management

    The problem with Mozilla is its management, who are actively plundering the assets of the open-source organization to enrich themselves. For starters, they've split the organization into a commercial and open-source arm with all the rights and trademarks belonging to the commercial arm and also the chair of its management. All the money flows into the commercial arm and its management imagines itself at the helm of a billion dollar company requiring commensurate compensation for itself.

    The open-source arm is merely used to extract ransom from Google for internet search. They're also cutting back on promising projects like Rust and Servo to increase the profitability even further so they can have more spoils.

    If the open-source arm is unable to cut itself loose from the commercial-arm it is doomed to wither and die.

  31. myhandler

    There's a very good email client for Android called "Fair Email"

    Handles multiple accounts, no ads - yes that's right no sodding ads - and it's free though I paid.

    Setup is quirky but it's all there

    I still use ThunderBird on the computer

  32. Binraider Silver badge

    I still like Firefox on the desktop despite changes, though mobile Firefox is decidedly poor. That said, find me a good mobile browser?

    If I needed a mail client outside of work, Thunderbird would be client of choice. As it is, I have Outlook foisted upon me on work devices, just like most others.

    Market share is what it is. Most people don't know enough to care for a swap from Chrome or Safari.

  33. Combat Epistomologist

    Supernova - seriously, WTF?

    I just got suddenly exposed to the Supernova UI this weekend. Dear gods, what were they thinking? The customizable toolbar is ABOVE the menubar. In fact, I'm given to understand they actually consider it the titlebar. A search box in the titlebar? WTF?

    And that seems to be the ONLY place you can add controls. So, here I am, reading a message, and in my preferred layout here's the message, halfway down the screen with my inbox contents above it, and here in the messages pane are all the usual reply, forward, junk, delete buttons ...

    But not 'redirect'. THAT button is sitting up in the titlebar. The only place I'm allowed to put it.

    Seriously, Mozilla, WTF?

    I can't help wonder if what's REALLY going on with this "supernova" UI, behind the scenes, is "Only mobile matters. Everyone else can go pound sand."

  34. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    The original what now?

    Netscape was the original open source web browser

    www, lynx, Viola, and Mosaic would like a word.

    Hell, I wrote my own text-mode mini-browser in Perl in 1993, before Netscape appeared in 1994. It wasn't open source merely because there were so many already out there that there was no demand for one.

    Among closed-source browsers, Spyglass and IBM WebExplorer both beat Netscape to the door too.

  35. Palladini

    Firefox is the only web browser I use, and have used for many years. I will not use chrome, as it is a Google item, and Google, first and foremost is an Advertising Company, and users of their browser, it tracks all your keystrokes

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