An Epiphany regarding Purebrowser – Purism


The success of Epiphany depends on extensions.


If I understand the situation correctly, Purism doesn’t control either browser - not Firefox and not Epiphany. It is unlikely to be practical for Purism to “make” extensions be compatible. Either they are already compatible (or will be) because Firefox and/or Epiphany between them choose that to be the case or they aren’t compatible. (Even if they are compatible at one point in time that is not an absolute guarantee that they remain compatible.)

More problematic is whether the full generality of the extension interface is compatible with privacy and security. That would require detailed study.

In my opinion there is some functionality that is much safer being integrated directly within the browser - even if that ultimately restricts your choices - because the alternative is opening up parts of the browser to random extensions. Extensions are good and all but they might not be smart from a security or privacy point of view. The attack surface is greatly expanded by extensions.

Notwithstanding any of the above, it is not as if a decision to provide a default browser of Epiphany prevents you from installing and using Firefox, with whatever extensions you must have. The “power of defaults” remains only a default. Open Source is all about choice. You may even be able to choose Chromium or Chrome instead.

As an alternative approach, for some types of extensions you may alternatively be able to use a local web proxy and implement the extension in a web proxy. That completely separates and isolates the functionality from the web browser.

To be fair … first and foremost it depends on compatibility of the core browser with popular web sites. If the browser itself does not work well in practice then people won’t use it even if the extensions are fantastic.

However in a situation like the above, it may be helpful for you to identify which are the “must have” extensions for you.

I’ll start the ball rolling with: something equivalent to Flagfox (in address bar show IP address and flag of country where web server is) and Privacy Badger.


that could be implemented inside the “site information” to the left of the URL … for a more clean look …


Purism is upstreaming code to epiphany which is kindly appreciated by the maintainers. So, they can be part of it. On the other hand is firefox which is not so open and busy with itself.
Regarding the extensions: The epiphany team didn’t decide against exstensions. They just prioritize other things but would be willing to accept support/MRs. This is where Purism can come in…


What I read said that extensions are a planned featured for Gnome Web. As soon as they are, I’ll switch to it. Right now Brave with extensions is about as good as it gets. (In terms of privacy, security, and web compliance)


Of course, I said that assuming we already have a decent browser.


After reading the article and this thread, I was looking for a bit of clarification. I realize the plan is to shift towards Epiphany as the default browser, and that Purebrowser should still be available in the repos. However, how will the team approach updates to Purebrowser going forward? Will it continue to be updated and maintained?


When I read it, my interpretation was that they were planning to change it so that Purebrowser would at some point in the future be based on Epiphany instead of being based on Firefox as it has been previously. So then the package would still be called “purebrowser” but it would be Epiphany-with-modified-defaults instead of Firefox-with-modified-defaults as it has been before.

But I am not at all certain that my interpretation is correct, it’s just what I was assuming. Looking at the text again, I guess it does not really say that, but it could be what is meant. I don’t know.


My interpretation would be “no”. Purism would not want to maintain two browsers, one based on Epiphany and one based on Firefox. So if you want to use the one based on Firefox, you might instead have to use Firefox itself (which would continue to get bugfixes from Mozilla).

It would be relatively dangerous to continue to use a browser derived from another browser where the former is no longer being reissued (and hence is based on a quite old version of the latter). Sooner or later a significant security issue will be discovered in the latter, and it will continue to be exploitable in the former long after it is fixed in the latter - as we saw with attacks on TOR Browser.


And does anyone was able to install firefox?

Last time I checked I did not found the libstdc++5 for firefox binary build to run.


I read the post a few times these past several weeks, and I found it could be interpreted the way you described as well. I knew the gist of the post was to announce Epiphany as the new default browser, but I didn’t get a sense of PureBrowser’s fate as a separate (optional) browser.

Anyway, I downloaded and ran the Byzantium live ISO this morning, and found no sign of PureBrowser when searching the repo via apt. That appears to suggest that it’s completely out going forward. However, Firefox ESR is currently available in the Byzantium repos in its place.