back to article Firefox 122 gets even more competitive with Chrome on translation

The latest Firefox has a raft of modest but desirable improvements for everyone, and a more significant change, external to the app itself, that will be helpful for most Linux users. Firefox 122 is not an especially big release, but the tweaks within the browser itself are all good. The more important shift is not part of the …

  1. cookieMonster Silver badge
    Pint

    Nice

    A bit of good news.

    Pint icon cause it’s almost the weekend

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Since the translation DB can't be held locally ...

    ... then it must be phoning home in order to translate the information you are looking at.

    1. ChoHag Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Since the translation DB can't be held locally ...

      Internet product connects to internet site to provide internet service.

      News at 11.

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

      Re: Since the translation DB can't be held locally ...

      [Author here]

      This is not correct.

      Read more on how it works:

      https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/website-translation

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Since the translation DB can't be held locally ...

        Of course there is the trade-off that to do the translation locally, you have to pre-download some language files for languages you want to translate, it's going to occupy additional resources on your computer, and the translation output might not be as high-quality than, say, DeepL. So, still to be seen if it's good enough and light enough to effectively replace online translations.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Since the translation DB can't be held locally ...

        It does NOT say 'how it works', it only say 'how to use it'.

        1. tinpinion

          Re: Since the translation DB can't be held locally ...

          As the article that Liam linked to only mentioned that the translations are performed locally, here's a bit more context:

          The translation functionality that is now being rolled into Firefox is based on Project Bergamot (https://browser.mt), the product of an EU-funded consortium of universities and (since 2019) Mozilla. Using it requires you to download a translation model onto your device, but being able to perform device-side translation means that the contents of the translation are not shared with an online service.

          Bergamot has been around in the form of browser extensions for a while: the Bergamot extension itself (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/translatelocally-for-firefox/), followed by Mozilla's 'Firefox Translations' add-on (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/firefox-translations/).

          So, in summary: it works by downloading a machine learning model onto your device and feeding the contents of the page into that model locally. If it's using the same codebase as Mozilla's add-on, it'll be using the SSE4.1 CPU instructions to do it.

          1. MacroRodent

            Re: Since the translation DB can't be held locally ...

            This is a huge plus for privacy!

            With server-based translations, you are telling some third party (over a channel that ma be intercepted) precisely what you are reading on the net. Usually it does not matter, but sometimes could be a matter of life and death.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Since the translation DB can't be held locally ...

            thank you, this is VERY helpful info!

        2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
          Headmaster

          common parlance

          'how it works', it only say 'how to use it'.

          I often find these two phrases used interchangeably sadly .

          "How does it work?"

          "you push this button"

          1. Len
            Happy

            Re: common parlance

            "How does the Heisenberg compensator work?" Just fine, thank you.

      3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Since the translation DB can't be held locally ...

        Somewhere I still have a copy of Netscape 0.9c - the first one which worked. It fits on a single 3.5" floppy, along with Trumpet WinSock.

        1. ICL1900-G3

          Re: Since the translation DB can't be held locally ...

          Upvote for Peter Tatcham's (?) Winsock. It was a different word... Waais, gopher.. Thanks for the memories.

    3. Chris Peterson 1
      Megaphone

      Re: Since the translation DB can't be held locally ...

      Firefox translation all happen locally. Mozilla's support article says: "Unlike other browsers that rely on cloud services, Firefox keeps your data safe on your device. There's no privacy risk of sending text to third parties for analysis because translation happens on your device, not externally."

      https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/website-translation

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        'third parties'

        Are Mozilla a "third party" or the "second party".

        1. jmch Silver badge

          Re: 'third parties'

          what part of " translation happens on your device, not externally" is unclear??

        2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          Re: 'third parties'

          If the translation happens locally then that is "first party".

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Since the translation DB can't be held locally ...

      Why can't it be held locally? A machine learning database purely for translation can actually be quite small and wouldn't be resource intensive to run. We're talking potentially 10's of megabytes.

      There are plenty of open source projects that already do this. Like LibreTranslate.

  3. Jurassic.Hermit

    I’ve used FF since the beginning plus all the other main browsers.

    For work my primary browser is MS Edge which, aside from all the Bing AI garbage foisted upon me is a very decent and surprisingly fast browser.

    I very recently bought a Thinkpad with an i13 cpu and 32Gb RAM, currently only running Orifice 365. Firefox is a complete dog on it, unlike Edge. It’s been a trend in recent releases, no idea why, but I’d like FF to succeed and regain its lost market share eventually; this doesn’t help.

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Since you mention you are only using the laptop for Office 365 I suspect that is your answer as to why it seems slower on FF than on Edge, Microsoft probably has Edge optimised JS code for 365 and then every other browser gets a load of unoptimised cruddy JS that loads up when it detects your not using Edge, which will make other browsers appear slower than Edge. Google have done the same technique before with Chrome and Youtube, of course it was just some testing that was going on and nothing deliberate yada yada.

      Have you tried to spoof the browser agent in FF to be Edge and see if it speeds up 365?

    2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Firefox is much slower and more resource hungry than Chrome on Linux Mint too.

    3. ICL1900-G3

      One advantage of Edge is that it allows you to watch BFI video on Linux - despite what they say. Maybe there are others, but it's the only thing I use it for.

  4. Mockup1974 Bronze badge

    Really needs some non-EU languages in there. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, and so on. For Romance and Germanic languages I don't *need* a translator

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      re: For Romance and Germanic languages I don't *need* a translator

      Could you contemplate getting over yourself for a second?

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

      [Author here]

      > Really needs some non-EU languages in there.

      Well, it does need more languages in general, yes. Not just EU, no: nearly half the EU is Slavic speaking and those are hard even with years of study.

      To get to the level of Czech that I attained in German in three _days_ of hard work took about 4-5 years.

      For me, Czech would be a big win, and it can't do that. But it's a new feature. I think it will grow over time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well, one thing is that the Bergamot project received funding from the EU.

        It is a little bit strange how the Firefox Translations extension (which is now supposed to be rolled into the browser proper but that I still have installed) from https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/firefox-translations/ does have Czech language, but the newly integrated auto-translate feature in the browser apparently does not.

        Probably I am just confused and there is some difference between the extension and the built-in functionality?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    more competitive with Chrome on translation

    unfortunately, the FAQ on this section, says NOTHING about the translation engine behind this 'translation feature'. Based on the computer, that is, on what exactly?

    ..

    but hey, never mind that minor detail, I installed a couple of extra languages and wanted to test the feature. No translation tool bar, automatically, popping up, down, or sideways, do not lose heart, says mozilla, click on the toolbar (translation icon)... not there. OK, don't lose heart v 2.0, says mozilla, Translate page from the "Hamburguer". So I go to the 'Hamburger' menu to find the translation toolbar, and voila - now the Hamburger menu shows in... one of those languages I just installed! But no, the menu does NOT include the 'Translate page' option (in one of those languages installed) as afirmed in the 'Help' page. To add a bit of irony, when I opened a new page in one of those languages, the 'Hamburger' menu opens in another one of those newly-installed languages. And that page itself remains untranslated. This is the end of the experiment, cause I can't be (...) to guess what and why didn't go as it 'should'.

    And I only wanted to know how good / bad that firefox mystery translation is...

  6. Joe-Thunks

    Shame on the Reg

    -- The FOSS Desk endorses the suggested 2024 new year's resolution to switch browser to Firefox, whatever your OS.

    Endorsing the horribleness that Firefox has become is not good. Sorry, but it just doesn't wash. Firefox lost out years ago. The other current article about Firefox says this is due to "relentless marketing [by Chrome/Google]". It's not. The truth is Firefox is not a very good browser. The last decent version of "Firefox" was Netscape Communicator.

    And as for packaging up Firefox to make it easier to install, that's just an indication of how bad package management is on Linux. After all these years...

    1. Morten Bjoernsvik

      Re: Shame on the Reg

      Endorsing the horribleness that Firefox has become is not good.

      Compared to years ago, it is now quite good. and It gives me a nice feeiling I'm not pumping metrics to google or microsoft, except for the

      search. I prefer duck duck go, but then Mozilla do not get any revenues. And I have a bad concious since I've not donated the last two years .

      1. anoncow

        a nice feeling

        "it gives me a nice feeiling I'm not pumping metrics to google or microsoft, except for the search"

        I now do most of my searches directly to Wikipedia, because 90% of the time the first link google or bing feeds me is in fact Wikipedia. From time to time I use google or bing to search Wikipedia, because Wikipedia's search isn't actually very good... but good enough when your search terms map more or less direction to a Wikipedia page. This probably accounts for about half the remaining 10%, so google and microsoft can spy on some of my wikipedia searches.

        Oh wait, I use duckduckgo for almost all of those, and 80% of my remaining searches. So I only expose 1% of my searches to the evil eyes of google and microsoft, and then in a private browsing page, which won't stop their snooping, but certainly puts a crimp in it.

        As a reality check on all these defensive measures, I note that the few embedded ads that get past my ad blocker are really randomly targeted, which gives me some confidence that they are not seeing most of my search terms. Note: the level of creepiness exhibited by googlesoft pales in comparison to Facebook. That stopped when I permanently logged out of Facebook, destroyed all its cookies and removed anything remotely related to Facebook from my devices.

        And did I impose any new burden on myself in my low level pushback against evil snooping? I really don't think so. A few extra clicks or buttons. As a sweetener, perceptibly faster loading pages.

    2. P.B. Lecavalier

      Re: Shame on the Reg

      I just use the firefox-bin package from the distribution (Gentoo) without any problem. I've also used Firefox Nightly (pre alpha release), binary issued from Mozilla, for over 10 years now.

      Mozilla wants to participate directly to the packaging effort? Fine. But somehow that's a problem for you? You obviously have no idea what you are taking about.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Shame on the Reg

        Mozilla wants to participate directly to the packaging effort? Fine. But somehow that's a problem for you?

        <Package> is straightforward to install ought to be the default position, but with abominations like Snap and Flatpak around it sadly is not. So while it's nice that Firefox is helping avoid these, that does indeed reflect more on how lousy package management has become than on how wonderful Mozilla is.

    3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Shame on the Reg

      The truth is Firefox is not a very good browser.

      You've been downvoted to hell, but I agree. The best you can say about Firefox at the moment is that it isn't as bad as it has been but it's still not a patch on Chrome. Like far too many open source projects its developers seem obsessed with introducing new features rather than getting the basics to work.

  7. DJV Silver badge
    Happy

    Waiting for the Geordie translation to be added!

    1. David 132 Silver badge
      Happy

      And the Glaswegian translation model will just be a simple regexp to replace all nouns, verbs and adjectives with the ‘C’ word.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        In Glasgow, the word "fucking" is just a general indication that a noun is on its way. - Frankie Boyle

  8. captain veg Silver badge

    platform identification

    "Firefox 122 for Android [...] has improved privacy controls, including concealing the potentially identifying info of your Android version: it always reports that it's running on Android 10."

    I would like an option for it not to identify that I'm using Android at all.

    -A.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: platform identification

      You can forge the user agent to say that you're running any browser you like or to exclude it entirely. The reason not to do that is that you're presumably trying to blend in with a crowd, and so you want to look like as many people as you can. If you say you're running Chrome on Windows, probably the largest user agent out there, other fingerprinting techniques can determine that you're lying about that. If you say it's Firefox on Android, but all the users are identified the same way, then it makes it harder to fingerprint you.

      1. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: platform identification

        Actually what I want is for web sites not to serve me different stuff based on what they think is appropriate for the device.

        It's nice to know that I can spoof the UA. Alas that's only the most superficial way in which browsers implicitly communicate the platform with web servers. Other HTML APIs are more explicit, no fingerprinting required.

        -A.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: platform identification

          That is exactly the problem. If you don't want it to claim you're on Android, what do you want to claim to be? You can easily use a desktop user agent, but lots of indicators about your device point to it being a phone and a misbehaving site that's actually looking for them will not have much trouble finding them out. I suppose you could pretend to be an iPhone running Safari.

          In my experience, sites that send data specific to the browser and device can either be fooled by presenting the user agent of a browser you would like to use or it's really not worth trying to get anything past them. A site that refuses to show the desktop version even though you're presenting a desktop user agent might be tricked if you patch enough things to not look like a desktop, but it's usually more effort than it's worth, and any site that's bad enough to do that is likely to have something else that makes it unusable should you succeed.

  9. aerogems Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Awesome Bar

    I remember reading somewhere a person saying that there's a reason white people keep stealing slang from black people, because the last time white people came up with a phrase of their own they came up with "awesomesauce". The surfer lingo of the 80s seems to have been the last hurrah for white people coming up with catch phrases. And I suppose to be fair, "dude" is a surprisingly versatile word. You can literally have whole conversations with "dude" being the only word.

    1. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Awesome Bar

      > You can literally have whole conversations with "dude" being the only word.

      You literally can't. Dude.

      -A.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Awesome Bar

        You literally can, dude. Granted it would be limited to scenarios with spoken word only, because vocal inflection would be conveying the specific meaning. Maybe if you had two people who knew each other really well you could do it via written communication, but it'd be more the exception than the rule.

        Similarly, the word "fuck" can make up almost every word in a sentence. For example, "Fuck the fucking fucker!"

        1. Return To Sender

          Re: Awesome Bar

          - Similarly, the word "fuck" can make up almost every word in a sentence. For example, "Fuck the fucking fucker!"

          Or indeed, "Fucking fuck. Fucking fucker's fucking fucked"

        2. General Purpose
          Coat

          Re: Awesome Bar

          Fuck that, dude.

        3. The Organ Grinder's Monkey

          Re: Awesome Bar

          See also Jack Wagner's / Monty Python's / A.N.Other's "usage of the word Fuck."

  10. Athwartlier

    Too late Ubuntu

    I was a satisfird ubuntu & FF user until canonical embalmed it in Snap, and I and many users with me were cut off from chip crad reafers and unable to access banks, gouverment and public health websitrs etc..

    Canonical doesn't care, more over the ubuntu community reacted with hostility and indifference, snap acts like malware and even if removed re i stalls and reactivates.

    Mint eas much more forthcoming and i could work fron the F.F.deb install psckage

    Very pkeased with this turnabout from Mozilla

  11. sarusa Silver badge
    Angel

    Nice to see

    Since every Chrome based browser has been rapidly going to shite thanks to Google's no longer even bothering to pretend they're not being evil it's nice to see real improvements for FF.

  12. sabroni Silver badge
    Unhappy

    it always reports that it's running on Android 10

    Why bother?

    If you can't tell me the Android version then don't tell me the Android version, but don't lie about it being 10 when it isn't.

    If you say "Not available" I can make a sensible decision about how to proceed, if you lie I end up treating that lie as truth my code potentially breaks.

    How is this helpful?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: it always reports that it's running on Android 10

      Browser sniffing was always a bad idea.

      Test for features.

      -A.

  13. Morten Bjoernsvik

    Firefox has a nice beta that autoupdates

    go here and install:

    https://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/releases/123.0b2/

    Then you can go to help->"about firefox" and it will autoupdate. Been using it since their flatpack only shite some years ago.

  14. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    The one time I'll get excited about Firefox news is when they announce they have fixed all memory leaks.

    So never, then.

  15. FuzzyTheBear
    Linux

    Mint

    I been using mint ( mate ) for 5 years at least and never turned back.

    It's all rock stable , great features , works fine and FF 122 as usual is doing it's job.

    Highly recommended,

    Firefox is a great browser , on mint it's a headache free experience.

  16. fromxyzzy

    No more of those stupid damned Flatpaks or Snaps? Finally. Those things are an XKCD-style abomination of pointless 'standards' that aren't.

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      The latest MuseScore is only available as a Flatpak for Linux Mint. And won't run, because it needs a C library which isn't in Mint. What the fuck is the point of a Flatpak if it doesn't contain everything needed to run?

  17. Rikianux
    Linux

    ESR is not exactly "favoured"

    When describing the release-pin feature, Debian support pages recommends to pin Firefox to the testing/sid version, since it is the latest one with all security updates.

  18. Rikianux
    Meh

    ESR is not exactly "favoured"

    When describing the release-pin feature, Debian support pages recommends to pin Firefox to the testing/sid version, since it is the latest one with all security updates.

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