I have been trying to keep up with all the info on the “enough is enough with firefox” thread and didn’t want to hijack it, but I’m wondering what everybody’s choice or choices are for browser that they use?
On my L14 I use the default browser that comes with PureOS, as well as LibreWolf and Brave, trying to split how I use each. I’m also trying to decide which I like best, as well as which is more secure and/or private.
So I’d like to hear thoughts from everyone else on what browser they have settled on currently? And why? Also which ones they have rejected and why?
Awful lot of Firefox users for all the Firefox criticism?
I like LibreWolf, but if I choose to save passwords I need Btmrave or Gnome browser as that doesn’t seem to work on LibreWolf.
So instead I use Bitwarden to copy and paste info as needed.
Tor browser, firefox (hardened (removed telemetry, pocket, etc)), librewolf, ungoogled-chromium, icecat. Those are all the ones I use. On my qubes disk, only FF + TBB on hardened settings and never JS when running that machine except for something I don’t care about to do in a disposable fedora box and the site doesn’t function without JS for whatever reason.
At least it isn’t the google made chromium which runs practically everything. Monopolies aren’t fun. Firefox is still generally free software but with complicated programs, the community can’t just fork and keep development going in a way of a generic, general purpose web browser that doesn’t follow mozilla firefox and just makes a few changes. The only that parts most is TBB but that’s about it. I hate mozilla and almost everything they do from where their funding comes from to trying to push stupid crap like pocket on users unless they disable it in about:config. I wish we could just say bye to mozilla with a true, hard, secure, well maintained, completely separate fork that only adds some things from mozilla firefox only when it matters. https://rosenzweig.io/blog/software-freedom-isnt-about-licenses-its-about-power.html
Since Opera stopped developing its Presto web engine in 2013 and Microsoft stopped developing edgeHTML in 2019 and will stop supporting IE’s Trident in 2022, we are now left with three viable web engines with the following market share according to StatCounter:
Global market share
Google is already the most powerful voice on the W3C committees. Yes, the Chromium derivatives (Edge, Opera, Brave, Vivaldi, etc.) have 11.74% market share, but they hold little power because they aren’t implementing the standards. It is getting to the point that Google can basically define any web standard that it wants, and it has enough market share to make it the reality. Yes, there are 450+ organizations that participate in the W3C committees, but the only ones that really matter are the ones that can implement the standards, which gives Google and Apple enormous power to control the web, and do we really trust those two companies to define the future of the web? We need at least one voice of sanity in the room that cares about the rights of users, FOSS and free/open standards, which has been Mozilla’s historic role.
The problem is that Mozilla needs to pay a huge team of programmers just to keep up with current web standards and maintain a secure web engine with decent performance. Chromium, Firefox and WebKit have 25.68, 23.75 and 18.77 millions of lines of code, respectively, and there is simply no way to maintain those huge codebases without a big budget. I don’t think highly of Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker, but the Mozilla Foundation (and its subsidiary the Mozilla Corporation) does employ ~800 people, and they maintain the code of Firefox, Thunderbird, Lightning Calendar, WebAssembly, Rust, Fluent and a lot of other essential stuff.
I don’t know whether it was necessary for Mozilla to have spent $495.3 million in 2019, but I do know that 92.0% of its revenue in 2019 came from royalties from Google, Yandex and Baidu and only 0.7% came from donations:
Subscriptions & advertising
Interest, dividends, investments, etc.
Total (excluding Yahoo! settlement)
Considering that Mozilla spent $303.5M on software development in 2019, it would have to layoff almost all its developers if it stopped accepting search royalties. If Mozilla gave up those search royalties, it could probably increase its donations from grateful users, but even if Mozilla actively solicited its users for more donations, I doubt that it could get more than $20 million per year in donations, whereas its software development budget is 15 times larger.
Even if Mozilla moved out of the Silicon Valley and massively cut its budget for everything but paying programmers, I don’t see how it could operate with less than $200M per year and still be effective. Maybe some organizations or governments would step forward and pay programmers to work on the code, but the most likely outcome if Mozilla stopped accepting search royalties would be that the code wouldn’t be maintained very well and Firefox would slide into irrelevance.
Mozilla probably could attract more volunteers if it became a grassroots organization that refused to accept any funds from surveillance Capitalism, but there is no way that volunteer labor can maintain the 23 million lines of code in Firefox. The Linux kernel is the most successful project on the planet at attracting volunteer developers, yet roughly 90% of its new code is coming from paid contributors. Only 4.0% of the changed lines in Linux 5.10 came from contributors who don’t have an employer paying for their work and another 5.3% came from contributors whose employer is unknown. Keep in mind that the structure of Linux makes it much easier for volunteers to contribute, since there are thousands of device drivers and lots of different architectures, so a lot of its code operates independently and requires less coordination among the programmers. Firefox’s code, however, is more tightly integrated and requires more coordination among the developers, so it is harder for volunteers to contribute code to the project.
If Mozilla decided to become a low-budget grassroots organization that relied on outside code contributions, I don’t think that it would have much success. Firefox’s code makes it more like LibreOffice than the Linux kernel, since it requires a lot more coordination to contribute code. 73% of the new features in LibreOffice 7.1 came from just three companies (Collabora, Red Hat and CIB), and those three companies have business cases for contributing. I can’t see what is the compelling business case for outside companies to pay developers to work on Mozilla’s code, especially when Chromium and Webkit are also open source and much easier to use in external projects than Firefox and Gecko.
I don’t like the fact that Mozilla depends on surveillance Capitalism, but I do have to ask what will happen if Mozilla stops participating in it. It seems to me that the most likely outcome is that its code will be poorly maintained, and it won’t be able to compete with Google and Apple. There will be some diehards like me who keep using Firefox no matter what, but most of Firefox’s users will abandon the browser if it falls significantly behind Chrome/Chromium.
Mozilla has been harmed by the rise of mobile devices, since it doesn’t have a mobile OS to install its web browser by default like Apple and Google and it has nothing compelling to offer mobile device makers like Google. Phone makers and other search engine providers who want to control their mobile browser simply use a derivative of Chromium, as Samsung and Yandex do. However, even on the desktop, Mozilla has been losing market share. In April 2020, Firefox was overtaken by Apple’s Safari, and in March 2021, it was surpassed by Microsoft’s Edge, so it has dropped from second to fourth place among desktop web browsers, with just 7.64% market share according to StatCounter.
I don’t see a way out of this conundrum for Mozilla. I don’t think that Mozilla will die, because Google will probably keep throwing it enough bones to keep it limping along, so that Google can avoid antitrust regulation. However, by accepting Google’s search royalties, Mozilla is less able to oppose Google. It is more likely to bow to the pressure of Google in the W3C committees, because it is so dependent on Google’s money and is less able to publicly criticize its bad practices.
It seems to me that Mozilla is trapped in a catch-22 situation. Everything that it tries to do to recapture market share seems to backfire. In order to compete with Chrome in terms of performance and security and make its code more maintainable, it had to switch to Quantum, which is slowly replacing its old single-threaded C++ code with multi-threaded Rust, but that also meant getting rid of its old XUL+XPCOM extensions which were one of the major reasons why users were loyal to the browser. Switching to the same WebExtensions API as Chrome/Chromium made a lot of sense on a technical level, but it means that there is no longer a compelling reason for many users to prefer Firefox over Chrome/Chromium, because they both run the same extensions. Mozilla’s recent decision to update the Firefox interface to look more like Chrome’s interface has also backfired, since many of its users chose Firefox because they want a browser that is different than Chrome.
On a technical level, I see a lot that Mozilla is doing right. For the last 25 years I have been reading about languages that were designed to deal with the shortcomings of C/C++, like Ada, D, C#, Objective C/C++, Java, Go, Swift, etc., but none of them were truly a full replacement for C/C++ until Rust, and Mozilla deserves a lot of credit for creating it. Currently Firefox wins in terms of memory usage with a large number of open tabs, but Chrome/Chromium outperforms Mozilla on most speed tests. However, as CPUs move to larger number of cores and switch from x86 to ARM, I think Mozilla’s strategy of replacing C++ with multi-threaded Rust is going to eventually give it unbeatable performance and security.
Likewise, I have been reading for years about how web-based applications will eventually replace desktop applications, but until Mozilla designed WebAssembly, it wasn’t possible for web-based applications to match desktop applications in terms of graphics and performance.
Another area where Mozilla deserves credit is its creation of Fluent, which is the most flexible software localization system that I have ever seen. I’m currently involved in a project where we are trying to create a Linux distro that supports native languages (Quechua, Aymara and Guarani), and I really wish that every program used Fluent instead of Gettext.
I think it is ridiculous for Mitchell Baker to have earned a salary over $3 million in 2020, when she laid off 250 employees and Firefox continued to lose market share. I do think that Mozilla should fire its leadership, and should operate more like a grassroots non-profit organization rather than a typical Silicon Valley company, but those reforms won’t solve the fundamental problem that Mozilla has to participate in surveillance Capitalism to some degree in order to pay its programmers.
Whether we like it or not, we need Mozilla to prevent the web from becoming a duopoly controlled by Google and Apple. Mozilla kept the web an open and free domain in the early 2000s when Microsoft threatened to embrace and extend it, and now we face the same threat from Google.
I have suggested other links for hardening Firefox elsewhere in this forum, but those are getting dated.
I want to mention one item in all these lists. If you set privacy.resistFingerprinting to ‘true’, Firefox will not initially maximize, no matter what you try. This drove me nuts–my friends would say ‘short drive’–until I figured out what was causing it. I know the side-effect of this setting has caught others too.
It will also not restore the previous window dimensions.
Basically, if you set resistFingerprinting it wants the window dimensions to be completely standard - so that the window dimensions are in common between all customers who have set this option and hence the window dimensions do not form part of the fingerprint (as far as is possible).