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Why We Love Firefox, and Why We Hate It 665

Posted by Soulskill
from the numbers-at-the-end-of-it dept.
An anonymous reader sends this quote from Conceivably Tech: "Admit it. You are in a love-hate relationship with Firefox. Either Mozilla gets Firefox right and you are jumping up and down, or Mozilla screws up and you threaten to ditch the browser in favor Chrome. Mozilla's passionate user base keeps Firefox dangling between constant ups and downs, which is a good thing, as long as Mozilla is going up. Unfortunately, that is not the case right now. Mozilla's market share has been slipping again at a significant pace. There has been some discussion and finger-pointing, and it seems that the rapid release process has to take the blame this time. Are we right to blame the rapid release process?" What do you find most annoying or gratifying about Firefox these days?
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Why We Love Firefox, and Why We Hate It

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  • Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:10PM (#40879689)

    I don't love or hate Firefox. I just appreciate it for what it's done, what it's represented, and the fact that it's STILL relevant and sharping the web, even in the face of gigantic corporations like Google, Apple, and Microsoft trying to wring the web in their own directions.

    As a browser, it's just one of the good ones.. which is exactly the way I like it. I like having multiple good browsers available, in case one of them can't do something. And Firefox is the all-rounder that does what I need it to when all the cooler new browsers fail.

  • My love-hate (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lord Lode (1290856) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:11PM (#40879703)

    Love: It can browse the web (yeah!). It's multiplatform. It's well maintained. It's up to date with the latest standards. The "3D View" feature in Inspect Element. The many good plugins.

    Hate: A single tab can hang the whole browser. No convenient way to view an image with the wrong MIME type in the browser anyway. Too little and dumbed down settings. No more status bar. Still no good debugging tools, and the plugin Firebug is unhandy and annoying. The weird branding thing they do that caused Archlinux to not call it Firefox but various other lame names in the past (are they for open source or what?). No more innovation (why not try things like multiple tab groups or so instead of "innovating" by removing stuff from the interface?). The Android version sometimes crashes and once made the whole phone reboot after a crash.

    I'm probably missing many things :)

  • Re:Flash (Score:5, Informative)

    by Volante3192 (953645) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:12PM (#40879717)

    Kill 'plugin-container.exe' if you're using Firefox. You have to reload the page to get flash working, but the rest of Firefox is unaffected.

  • Re:Annoyances (Score:4, Informative)

    by gigaherz (2653757) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:14PM (#40879737)
    I have never felt those leaks everyone seems to get, but regardless the recent (10+) versions of Firefox have been removing most of the leaks. And many of them weren't happening in the core any more, they were in poorly coded extensions.
  • Re:Annoyances (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:15PM (#40879747)

    Which is why Mozilla worked so hard to fix most of them, and my 2 day old Firefox window is reporting a little over 500MB with some 13-25 tabs open (not sure how different panoramas are handled).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:29PM (#40879875)

    As noted before, you do realize that Chrome is even worse in terms of frequency of updates, right? You just don't see it happening.

  • Re:Forced Upgrades? (Score:5, Informative)

    by McDutchie (151611) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:30PM (#40879885) Homepage
    Firefox fixed that problem ages ago.
  • Re:Forced Upgrades? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:30PM (#40879889)

    Funny thing is, most people who ditch Firefox move on to Chrome, which has a rapid release cycle with automatic and hidden updates.

    Unlike Firefox, Chrome was designed and developed with such a rapid release cycle.

    Firefox has a rapid release cycle because of a desperate bout of "Me Too!"

  • by PineHall (206441) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:45PM (#40880037)
    The last two months [] Firefox's browser share has increased according to []. Now this article uses StatCounter stats and eyeballing the chart it looks like Firefox's share has been mostly flat since January according to StatCounter. The point being is the slide I believe has stopped or at the worse lessened to next to nothing. The article talks blames the slide on communication and execution. The author likely has a point there, but I think things are no longer as dire as he makes them out to be. Another reason for the slide is Google advertising the Chrome Browser. I think that also has hurt Firefox and there is not much they can do about it. I believe the slide has ended or is ending.
  • The quality problem (Score:4, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:48PM (#40880063) Homepage

    Firefox suffers from an antiquated code base. It's single-thread, and the project to make it multi-thread failed. [] There are two interpretive systems inside - Javascript and XUL - and they aren't on good speaking terms. There are two plug-in systems, "classic" and "Jetpack", and the teams for those sometimes don't seem to be on speaking terms. The number of open bugs keeps creeping up, and much bug-closing is "developer in denial", not an actual fix. Startup is slow, and, at times, shutdown is even slower.

    Then came the frantic release cycle, which didn't help.

  • by AuMatar (183847) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:54PM (#40880111)

    Try SeaMonkey, the old Mozilla suite. It's stable, no frequent updates, no GUI changes every 2 weeks, and actually uses less memory than Firefox. The Firefox UI devs are obviously pretty god damn bad.

  • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:56PM (#40880135)

    There are two main webstats providers - statcounter, and Net Marketshare. TFA uses the former, Ars Technica uses the latter.

    Statcounter uses 3 million + sites; net marketshare 40,000.
    Statcounter counts total page views, net marketshare counts unique visits per site per user per day.
    Statcounter doesn't weight their stats, net marketshare does by country, using rather elderly CIA stats IIRC.

    Basically, their measurements aren't measuring the same thing. I think weighting by country is a fairly large error, especially as the CIA internet usage stats aren't exactly up to date at times; for example, they don't include substantial chinese mobile device traffic, so can rather drastically weight the stats towards desktop users - and given china is a big holdout of old versions of IE on the desktop, and the substantial size of china's population, that kind of weighting will likely show IE usage higher than it is, which does fit one of the differences. Aditionally, unique visitors is hard to measure, and can also give misleading statistics - if a work user browses a single page at work on their elderly stock IE browser (say, checks the headlines), but then catches up on the same site at home and reads a ton of pages from chrome or their ipad, net marketshare would count that as 50-50 usage between IE and chrome or safari; in reality, they're using their home browser much more, which stat counter would reflect.

    The downside of statcounter's approach is when a browser inflates their page views; for example, the chrome 'pre-fetch' default option was thought to drastically inflate its marketshare, because it was silently fetching pages in the background, most of which weren't ever viewed. Statscounter now correct for that, and it affected chrome's share by a fraction of 1%, so in the end wasn't a large factor.

    While both use plenty large enough samples to be statistically valid, they still have to be representative samples of a very diverse population of browsers and users. I can't help but think a much larger sample is more likely to be representative.

    Overall, while both measures have flaws, I think statcounters methods give a closer approximation to real usage than net marketplace does. That said, I certainly wouldn't use the data from either to two decimal places worth of accuracy on month to month drifts, as many sites (such as ars technica) do - the variation is just not measured that precisely to draw the kind of conclusions that the media often do.

    What can be said is that IE's share is steadily shrinking other than the odd blip, while chrome and firefox have been the primary beneficiaries on the desktop of that - firefox is fairly static or shrinking, chrome is growing. Whether they're neck and neck, or chrome is ahead depends upon your stats. No matter how you measure, IE is below 50%. Safari is the big beast in mobile browsing by a long way.

    Mor than that is rather hard to say with any great reliability.

  • Re:Forced Upgrades? (Score:5, Informative)

    by PixetaledPikachu (1007305) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @04:07PM (#40880243)

    Plus, Chrome's UI seems more set in stone. Firefox's did seem that way until some time after Google introduced their competing product, but then Mozilla thought it would be a brilliant idea to fuck with the UI to the point where not only the interface but now the release cycle tries to mimic Chrome as closely as possible. Mozilla's browser still feels like it's in a constant, never-ending state of flux, and Mozilla is still trying fucking with the UI, making me dread every new "version" of Firefox that is released.

    The default UI yes, but if you have a customized UI, version updates will keep your customization from one release to another. I've been using this [] scheme for about one year on the nightly version which is automatically updated by firefox PPA channel. It also works on the current stable version.

  • Re:Forced Upgrades? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Shining Celebi (853093) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @04:12PM (#40880289) Homepage

    This is the biggest problem Mozilla has. They listen to everybody and everything, and so they can't win because surprise, people don't agree.

    People were pushing hard for Firefox to have a more minimalist UI like Chrome. Mozilla acquiesced. Then all the people who use their browser as a tool and not a lifestyle got a big surprise when the update came down the pipeline and got irritated about it.

    People are pushing hard for Firefox to update more often - this was probably legitimate, since it was taking a year plus between releases. They did. Then another group of people got irate about rapid releases.

    People were pushing hard for Firefox to reduce memory usage. Mozilla reduced Firefox's memory usage. Now people complain that Firefox is a bit slower and uses more CPU because less is cached in memory.

  • Re:Annoyances (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @04:29PM (#40880403)
    Go to your firefox preference, under "Tabs", uncheck the selection "Don't load tabs until selected".
  • Gripes (Score:2, Informative)

    by nonsensical (1237544) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @04:29PM (#40880411)
    Firefox broke all the useful URL bar shortcuts and replaced them with text replacers.

    For example:
    control-enter used to open the URL in a new tab, with control-shift-enter opening it in a new tab in the background, now it adds www. and .com to whatever is in the location bar. If someone wanted those they would type it, or the built in system would add those if what they typed was not a proper domain.
    shift-enter used to automatically download an URL, whatever it was, a file, a webpage, whatever. now it adds www and .net.
    alt enter used to do something useful too I just don't remember, now it opens a webpage in a new tab, albeit without being able to use the shift modifier to not automatically switch to the tab.

    Worse, you used to be able to use these modifiers with bookmarks or on any link you clicked. Now you can't even middle click a bookmark and have it open in the background even while middle clicking links does. A lot of functionality that used to exist doesn't, and when it is there, It's totally inconsistent.

    And if you go and report these issues it won't even let you do that.

    Cookie management is a pain too, in seamonkey, if you want to change a sites cookie permissions, you go to a menu->sub menu->allow/deny cookies. In firefox you have to right click, open page info, select the privacy tab, click allow/deny cookies, then close the window, which is 3x as long, for a browser that's supposed to care about your privacy.

    </end rant>
  • Re:Forced Upgrades? (Score:5, Informative)

    by nmb3000 (741169) <> on Saturday August 04, 2012 @04:53PM (#40880627) Homepage Journal

    Bad form to reply to oneself, but I forgot my favorite:

    More in the stop dicking around with the UI category, we have an idiot named Carlo Alberto Ferraris to thank for destroying standalone image viewing [] (when you open an image file directly, or via right-click and View Image). He was so very offended by that page having a white background that he felt it necessary to ruin a feature that's been standard in browsers for over a decade.

    This isn't just an issue of changing something for the sake of change, it's a plain stupid idea in the first place. First, a dark background when most websites and images are very light is jarring. Second, centering the image makes it harder to click on for actions like saving or copying. And third, it destroys the usability of a very common entire class of images.

    Open this image of waveforms [] in Firefox 13+ to see the problem. Transparent GIFs have the same issue. The solution? Yet another addon [] to fix stupid Firefox developer mistakes.

  • by billcopc (196330) <> on Saturday August 04, 2012 @05:14PM (#40880775) Homepage

    Firefox itself seems pretty decent these days. The biggest and ugliest problem is the extreme sluggishness of its most popular add-ons. I don't think I'd want to live without Firebug and AdBlock, but these two are huge performance hogs and I almost think they should be absorbed into the main codebase, rather than being sandboxed and crippled in their current incarnation.

    A clean install of Firefox loads instantly, just like Chrome and IE9. As soon as I load those two add-ons, it starts taking 2-3 seconds to launch, pages often freeze up due to the repetitive and redundant DOM swizzling. This over-reliance on Javascript-based functionality leads to really sloppy performance and sometimes massive memory leaks. Right this second, with only two tabs open, Firefox is guzzling 450mb of memory. Chrome uses 1/10th of that to display the same content, with the same add-on functionality.

    I've been holding out for a long time, but Chrome is starting to lure me over. I don't like being at the mercy of Google's totalitarian whims, but Firefox' idealism is wearing thin unless some real programmers get in there and clean things up. For the average user, Chrome is a clear winner simply because it's faster.

  • Re:Forced Upgrades? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <> on Saturday August 04, 2012 @05:26PM (#40880831) Journal
    If you are on Windows try Pale Moon [] which has forked away from FF as of V12 because they too grew tired of UI changes. it also has the SSE flags set at compile so its snappier than FF. if you decide instead to go to the Chrome side I'd suggest Comodo Dragon [] which is Chrome without the phone home.
  • Re:Forced Upgrades? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Aranykai (1053846) <> on Saturday August 04, 2012 @05:55PM (#40881053)

    So the sum of the parts is somehow more than the total?

    Not to be rude, but it sounds like you need more memory. I just opened two dozen tabs in quick succession and all the chrome processes combined never hit the disk for more than 1Mbps.

  • Re:Forced Upgrades? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <> on Saturday August 04, 2012 @07:05PM (#40881549) Journal

    Noooo it is NOT having "security vulnerabilities" because the Pale Moon devs are fixing holes and porting patches themselves so that is not a problem, and they have already said in their forum they are sticking with the V12 UI because they don't like what the Moz roadmap looks like. Isn't that the point of FOSS? If you don't like the direction you can fork? Well that is what they did, they forked.

    And you can make any "placebo" claims that you want, I've seen with my own eyes the difference on an Athlon X2 I keep at the shop. FF is a little piggy core hog while Pale Moon isn't slamming the shit out of the cores. Most likely that is because PM is using the SSE flags so its using the parts of the core that FF never touches, but in any case FF sucks major ass on older chips like Pentium Ds and Athlon X2s while PM is snappy.

  • Re:Forced Upgrades? (Score:5, Informative)

    by I(rispee_I(reme (310391) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @08:44PM (#40882255) Journal

    Firefox version history [].

    Note that the 3.6.x lineage continues to receive updates to fix security holes and improve stability. The most recent was March 13, 2012.

    The download is here [].

    Install it, set the appropriate update options, and enjoy.

    Best of all, I have yet to encounter an extension that doesn't work with it.

    The trick is to disable extension version checking [].

    Most extensions will work fine, even when Firefox says they won't (based on the extension target version number not matching your Firefox version).

Hold on to the root.