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Why Mozilla Needs To Go Into Survival Mode 464

Posted by Soulskill
from the bears-are-dangerous dept.
Crazzaper writes "I have been using Firefox for many years, and the war of the browsers has been around for longer than that. It just so happens that now we have a lot of options out there: IE, FF, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and others. People are always talking about how one browser is going to take down another, but maybe that's not the issue at all. It seems very possible that one browser, like Firefox, can be taken down by multiple browsers at once, whether or not there was any intention to compete specifically with Firefox. I hadn't seen it this way, but I do now."
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Why Mozilla Needs To Go Into Survival Mode

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  • Firefox lite. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:18PM (#31793384)

    What they need to do is remember why the project started and get back to that.

    Themes in 3.6? WTF were they thinking?

    Chrome and Safari both have excellent built in Web dev/javascript tools, I don't even miss Web Developer Toolbar.

    • Re:Firefox lite. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:23PM (#31793454) Homepage Journal

      Not themes, personas. Themes have been around for a long long time, but I think the personas as silly & superfluous.

    • Re:Firefox lite. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EvilBudMan (588716) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:24PM (#31793466) Journal

      What about Ad Block Plus? That keeps me on Firefox and of course the MASA theme. (Monkeys In Aftermarket Space Administration)

      • I only use Firefox because of their wonderful addons like Ad Block+

      • Re:Firefox lite. (Score:5, Informative)

        by gavinchappell (784065) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:36PM (#31793648)

        Chrome has AdThwart. Seems to work almost as well, although I've noticed more "loading then removing" of content with Chrome/AdThwart than I remember from Firefox/AdblockPlus. I think ABP had an option to not load content at all which is probably why I'm seeing the difference but personally as soon as Chrome extensions touched down and AdThwart was written, I uninstalled every instance of Firefox I had so I can't check. It had been on borrowed time for a while but I didn't have a good replacement.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Glimmer blocker [glimmerblocker.org].

        It works as a 'proxy' so it works with all browsers.
        I can inject javascript into any page (just like GreaseMonkey). Runs in the background. I haven't noticed much RAM or CPU usage.

        Only downside is it doesn't do https sites, because the browser decodes those.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by JWSmythe (446288)

        There is an ABP extension [chromeextensions.org] for Chrome too. :)

        Actually, the question was silly. Why do you "need" Mozilla to survive? As long as they have something that someone wants, then someone will use it. When they have something that no one wants, then they're just entertaining themselves.

        But, the question of if Mozilla is going to die is just academic at this point. They only brought in $78.6 million dollars in 2008 [arstechnica.com]. Ya, only ... well ...

        $78,600,000 (Mozilla)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by maxume (22995)

      They started the project to develop a browser that was driven by user requirements (as opposed to the Mozilla suite, which was a behemoth driven by whatever developers were working on, all of the developers with check-in privileges).

    • Re:Firefox lite. (Score:4, Informative)

      by doti (966971) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:32PM (#31793612) Homepage

      IIRC, the project started to give people choice.
      Their goal was to save the web from a standards-hurting monopoly, not necessarily be the #1 in user base.

      Thanks to Mozilla, we have that now.
      Firefox can die in peace, the web was saved.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hansamurai (907719)

        Wow, how sad and pathetic.

        But there's always a battle to fight, the current one is proprietary codecs for the video tag in HTML 5.

    • What they need to do is remember why the project started and get back to that.

      I know. You'd be surprised how many people would love an internet browser that does nothing but display a web page as fast as possible.

      • Re:Firefox lite. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RanCossack (1138431) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:41PM (#31793724)

        I know. You'd be surprised how many people would love an internet browser that does nothing but display a web page as fast as possible.

        Better way of phrasing that starts with 'You'd be surprised how few people..."

        Let's face it -- Aurora, Midori, and other browsers that do that have been around for years. People don't use them because they want more their browser to do more.

      • You'd be surprised how many people would love an internet that consists of nothing but (X)HTML web pages to be displayed as fast as possible. The internet has grown to be much more complex and the browsers have followed.
      • Re:Firefox lite. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymusing (1450747) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:42PM (#31793746)

        "You'd be surprised how many people would love an internet browser that does nothing but display a web page as fast as possible."

        Those are probably the same idiots who want a cell phone that reliably makes phone calls.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by wmbetts (1306001)
          I really don't see how I'm an idiot for wanting a phone that does 1 thing well and that's make a phone call. I don't care about all the other crap that most phones have. I will agree though that I'm in the minority.
      • by Shagg (99693)

        You'd also be surprised at how many people claim to want that, but as soon as they get it begin asking... now what about all of the features it's missing. :)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by RajivSLK (398494)

          Agreed, a spell check engine could easily be seen as bloat but I wouldn't use a browser without one.. same goes for tabs, an easily accessible search box, plug ins, full screen mode, auto complete, java-script debugger, and I'm sure the list is different for everybody.

      • Re:Firefox lite. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Tim C (15259) on Friday April 09, 2010 @04:01PM (#31794012)

        You'd be surprised at the number of people who think that's what they want, but if they got it would then complain that Facebook didn't work properly, or Google mail or maps, etc.

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      The benefit I found from the new themes thing is that I was able to pick a theme that shaved about 5 pixels off the top by eliminating some of the horizontal lines between the menu bar, address bar, and bookmarks toolbar.

      • You can drag the address bar up next to the menu bar, that's what I used to do when I used FF.. makes sense on a widescreen monitor. The bookmarks toolbar is also pretty pointless when you have the bookmarks menu.. and at the very least there's probably a keyboard combination to toggle the bookmarks bar (ctrl-b on Chrome, probably the same for FF).

      • Re:Firefox lite. (Score:4, Informative)

        by apoc.famine (621563) <apoc.famine@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday April 09, 2010 @04:01PM (#31794008) Homepage Journal
        On my little netbook, with the short-but-wide screen, I did as somersault did and put the address bar next to the menu, but also went a step further:

        Tree Style Tab

        That takes your tabs, puts them on another side, (left, right, top or bottom, actually) and orders them as a tree, with the page you spawned tabs from as the main branch. Since I have widescreen monitors on everything, I set mine to be on the left. That gives me the maximum vertical space, and to be frank, I like the tree style, now that I've gotten used to it. I find it far more sensible than the default of putting them on top next to each other.

        That and NoScript keep me stuck on Firefox. I won't choose another browser until I can get something as powerful and easy to use as NoScript for it. Every time I use a computer without it, it kills me. Life is so much better when you control what your browser does.
    • Re:Firefox lite. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by uberjack (1311219) * on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:51PM (#31793866)
      I love Firefox because of its plugins (Firebug alone is the bee's knees), but it's an absolute memory hog. On both my Windows and Linux machines, I have to restart the application every few days - it's not shy about eating up 4-5 GB of RAM easily. In many cases (and if I leave the system running long enough, as I often do) it consumes all of the available memory until the system slows to a crawl. It especially annoys me that it's been this way for the last 2-3 years, and still nothing is being done.
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      What programmers start talking about making an app 'skinable' or 'themeable' its a good sign you need to run as they've stopped working on the goal and instead are fucking around with code for fun.

      Mozilla is slightly different in this respect as it needs some 'skin'ability since it is recreating the widget set for the OS it runs on. However, when you jump to the point that users should be able to reskin your application ... and you invest a bunch of effort into 'making it easier' to skin the application ..

  • by EvilBudMan (588716) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:18PM (#31793386) Journal

    So does this mean they have to stock up on rice and firearms and survival gear?

  • Extensions (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:19PM (#31793398)

    Unless, the extensions I use are ported to another browser, I couldn't change from Firefox.

  • Name recognition? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:22PM (#31793430)
    One browser can be taken down by others? I thought they should have been competing on technical excellence instead of name recognition. Nobody was complaining when it was IE being taken down by Firefox! Falling into the trap that I like it so everyone should is just weakening yourself in the long-term. If something better than Firefox appears then the logical choice is bu-bye Firefox! But people are rarely logical and tend to just do what others are doing.
    • But people are rarely logical and tend to just do what others are doing.

      That, or they keep doing what they've always been doing.

  • What they need... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by B5_geek (638928) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:24PM (#31793472)

    They really just need to go on a diet.
    Hey guys; remember how it was supposed to be a fast browser?

    • They really just need to go on a diet.
      Hey guys; remember how it was supposed to be a fast browser?

      Firefox stresses my machine more than the games I play on it. I know browsers aren't simple pieces of code anymore but goddamn do they eat a ton of resources (said me with twenty tabs open.) Yeah, we're asking them to do a lot but they still fall on their faces quite a bit with memory leaks. Firefox is awful about that, hands down. The next release should be less about doing new things and doing the old things better.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)

      Hey guys; remember how it was supposed to be a fast browser?

      I remember how it was supposed to be, but I don't remember that it ever was. I switched from the Mozilla Suite to Thunderbird and Phoenix, and found that the total RAM footprint went up. Firefox used less memory than the entire suite, but the combination of the two apps used more because they didn't share the core libs (they each came with their own install of all of the XUL/XPCOM stuff). Since then, it got progressively bigger.

      I actually have FireFox 3.6 installed at the moment, and it seems quite l

    • Re:What they need... (Score:5, Informative)

      by mcrbids (148650) on Friday April 09, 2010 @04:19PM (#31794244) Journal

      Hey guys; remember how it was supposed to be a fast browser?

      While FF has certainly gained features, it hasn't slowed down while doing so. In fact, it's seen fairly dramatic performance INCREASES. FF hasn't gotten any slower; expectations have sharply risen.

      We now expect to be able to program a 3D FPS in Javascript and CSS. The very idea was considered laughable just a few years ago. I've spent the last year building a statistical computation software that's entirely web-based, and entirely written in javascript. This, too, would have been a laughable goal if not for the dramatic performance improvements in FF and Chrome. (We don't currently support IE8 because it's just too slow; hopefully IE9 will be worthy of supporting)

  • Firefaux (Score:5, Funny)

    by T Murphy (1054674) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:27PM (#31793528) Journal
    They should develop another browser, Firefaux, and make it appear to be the biggest threat in the browser wars. Firefox can then team up with Chrome and Opera to take down Firefaux, all the while distracting everyone from the need to take down Firefox instead. Just re-animate Firefaux as needed to keep up the distraction. No one will ever catch on to the connection between Firefox and Firefaux, and world domination will only be inevitable.
  • by abolitiontheory (1138999) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:29PM (#31793544)
    Survivor 10: Internet Edition. Web-browsers battle it our in the toughest of surfing environments: hundreds of tabs, incompatible add-ons, swamps of malware, installs on wristwatches! (Spoiler: In the finale, FireFox and IE team up (gasp!) in a last ditch effort to defeat young upstarts Safari and Chrome!)
  • by rolfwind (528248) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:32PM (#31793608)

    to be.

    Back in the early 1990s, it was seen as a threat by Microsoft to usurp the OS paradigm. They thought whoever controlled the browser market controlls the internet and what it can do -- the tail wagging the dog and it seemed like the future of computing was at stake. And for a while, it succeeded when IE took over and had ridiculously large marketshare.

    But now that the ecosystem is more varied, the browser simply does not have this power. Until a browser become so dominant again that they can embrace, extend, extinguish standards, it really doesn't matter that much anymore. Now, the best browser is almost as impotent to change computing as the best picture viewing software (except for maybe data gathering and ad revenue) -- if everything is correctly specced JPGs, PNGs, etcetera -- the picture viewer doesn't matter that much and can be readily interchange with regards to personal preference.

    Mobile phones is one exception but also because you can't swap out browsers/rendering engines.

    • by Old97 (1341297)
      Sorta, but not completely true. Browsers don't all implement the same standards in the same way. You still need to do quite a bit of testing if you want to support multiple browsers on a non-trivial site. Cross-browser compatibility support built into many libraries typically only support a few (2, 3 maybe 4) of the most popular browsers. So since companies cannot afford to or don't want to support all the browsers out there, the ones with the greatest market share get first priority. Right now Firefox
  • Not buying it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr. Spontaneous (784926) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:36PM (#31793650)

    Yes, Firefox has some issues. Yes, the Mozilla team needs to fix them. However, I think this article is being overly sensationalistic (surprise, surprise). In a wonderful bout of irony, the same forces that made long-standing IE users jump to FF are keeping them using FF. Some are averse to learning a new UI/control scheme, others needs certain extensions to remain productive. Then there are a few, like me, who don't see the performance/crashing issues that others report. I'm not saying that they don't exist, just that I haven't experienced them.

    Additionally, FF has been approved for use in many businesses, as well as the DoD/DHS to run on their networks. Chrome, AFAIK, hasn't.

    With these forces slowing down non-Firefox adoption, the Mozilla team has bought themselves some crucial time in the quest to right some of their browser's weaknesses. Hopefully they'll be able to meet that challenge, and, from reading the various blogs published to Planet Mozilla, I'm fairly confident that they will.

    • Re:Not buying it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shallot (172865) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:49PM (#31793832)

      However, I think this article is being overly sensationalistic (surprise, surprise).

      It's not actually so much sensationalist as much as it's pointless. It's a huge laundry list of statistics that don't actually add up to any really worthwhile conclusions on their own merit. And I always hate it when people blow up the graph of a 1-6% change (in this instance Chrome) to the same absolute size as the other graphs where data is tenfold, but the slope is steeper so it looks fantastic. That's just plain silly. A less generic graph would have been one showing changes relative to IE6's graph (decline), or something like that, something that actually paints a picture of what is going on, beyond the obvious. But that would take some real effort...

  • #1 firefox issue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedyNO@SPAMtpno-co.org> on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:37PM (#31793666) Homepage

    I can't manage it in a corporate/enterprise environment. Push out updates? Not as a limited user. Push out configuration? Not simply. Push out plugins, or plugin updates? Not simple.

    That, more than anything else, will keep firefox out of the enterprise/corporate markets. If that even matters to them, seeing how this is still an issue.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eggnoglatte (1047660)

      Out of curiosity: why does it matter whether you can do this as a limited user or whether you need admin privileges? I would have thought that anybody who is tasked with doing this kind of maintenance for a company would get admin rights?

  • FTA: "It is believed that Google’s royalties account for about 80-90% of Mozilla’s entire revenues. The royalty contract will end in 2011."

    So they can kill FF soon. Although they're already doing a pretty good job feature-wise.

    This has been discussed on /. before. Will "don't be evil" be enough to stop them killing a strategic competitor?
    Anyways, as shown by the article, for the moment IE, (in all its versions) remains the one to catch.
    How many corporations, (some still stuck with ActiveX shit

  • All observations made by the submitter notwithstanding, I really think there is no reason to drag concepts like "survival mode" in here. What Mozilla needs to do for Firefox to survive is to make it compelling. Compelling enough that people will want to use it in preference to other browsers. I don't think there is much more to it than that.

  • by Veramocor (262800) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:45PM (#31793788)

    They are actually working on a mind controlled version of Firefox. Unfortunately it only works if you think in Russian.

  • HTML5, Web 3.0 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:52PM (#31793874) Homepage Journal

    The thing that concerns me the most is the issue with HTML5 video codecs. Microsoft, Google and Apple all want Flash to die. Apple's latest licensing change with iPhone OS 4.0 is a full-out declaration of war against Adobe.

    HTML5, SVG, hyper-optimized Javascript and the embedded video tag will make Flash redundant. If Firefox cannot stay on the bleeding edge of these advancements then it does not stand a chance.

    So I suggest less bells and whistles (skinning / themes, for example), and more concentration on HTML5 - especially the video codec licensing / patent issue.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Randle_Revar (229304)

      The solution is simple, and now probably inevitable: use the platforms native media framework (QT, DS, GST) (or perhaps use gst on all platforms). Momentum continues to increase for h.264, and it seems less and less likely that Mozilla, Opera, and Wikimedia can force Theora into widespread use. Mozilla will certainly continue the good fight against h.264 for some time, but soon enough there will be little choice, aside from becoming a bit player. Using the media framework as a backend shouldn't actually be

  • Mozilla/FF should focus on making it the best place to develop plugins and making the browser fast and stable. I don't care about anything else really.
  • by QJimbo (779370)

    Me and my colleague were using the spreadsheet app on google docs last night whilst on the phone. I made a remark that we should probably be using chrome instead of firefox due to the faster javascript. He decides to go with it then suddenly says to me "In the time it takes firefox to load, I've installed chrome, launched it and I'm back on google docs."

    Firefox needs to get it's act together to keep up basically.

  • theora = suicide (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DrXym (126579) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:56PM (#31793924)
    I hope Mozilla gets a clue about their video tag implementation while they still have a chance. It is quite obvious that sites want HTML5 but they also want to stream h264. If Mozilla doesn't provide a way to do this, the browser is going to get sidelined.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nerdfest (867930)
      It sucks that you're right. Theora is the 'right' choice, but it's looking like it's too late.
  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday April 09, 2010 @03:59PM (#31793980)
    Chrome is the future because what could go wrong with giving one company complete domination of the Internet?
    I don't have anything against Google, but the thought of them having the browser market share that IE currently has scares me. It is not unreasonable to think that it might happen. Google is already the overwhelmingly dominant search engine. They have been fairly successful at most of the things they have worked at.
  • Flaming (Score:3, Funny)

    by fulldecent (598482) on Friday April 09, 2010 @04:19PM (#31794236) Homepage

    Please dont describe obscure brands like Firefox without providing an introduction.

    For those of you that haven't heard, please see more at http://en.wikipedia.com/wiki/Firefox [wikipedia.com]

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