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TechRepublic: Mozilla 'Is Desperately Needed to Save the Web' (techrepublic.com) 317

"I can't remember the last time I cared about Mozilla," writes Matt Asay at TechRepublic. "I also can't remember a time when we needed it more." An anonymous reader quotes TechRepublic: Mozilla's Firefox is almost a rounding error in desktop market share, and nonexistent in mobile browser market share. It offers a few other services, like Pocket, but largely gets ignored... This is a mistake. Our world is increasingly mediated by the internet, and that internet has just a few gatekeepers, collecting tolls as we browse. As Python guru Matt Harrison put it, "Vendors control the default browser which 99.9% of people use." Those vendors are happy to sell us access to information. Nothing about it is free. You are most definitely the product.

On mobile, where the majority of the world's content is now consumed, Google and Facebook own eight of the top 10 apps, with apps devouring 87% of our time spent on smartphones and tablets, according to new comScore data. For that remaining 13% of time spent on the mobile web, Google and Apple offer the two dominant browsers... the majority of our time online is now mediated by just a few megacorporations, and for the most part their top incentive is to borrow our privacy just long enough to target an ad at us. Then there's Mozilla, an organization whose mantra is "Internet for people, not profit." That feels like a necessary voice to add to today's internet oligopoly, but it's not one we're hearing... We clearly need an organization standing up for web freedom, as expecting Google to do that is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse. Google does many great things, but its clear incentive is to sell ads. We are Google's product, as the saying goes.

The article applauds the Mozilla-sponsored Rust programming language as promising, "but not to save the web from the all-consuming embrace of Facebook and Google, especially as they wall off the experience in apps... "If I sound like I don't know what to propose Mozilla should do, it's because I don't. I simply feel strongly that the role Mozilla played in the early browser wars needs to be resurrected to save the web today."
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TechRepublic: Mozilla 'Is Desperately Needed to Save the Web'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 03, 2017 @03:37AM (#55131167)

    ... except Mozilla.

    Every release they make the browser worse. Their mantra is "just like Chrome, except slower and with more bugs." No wonder people switch to Chrome.

    Firefox is supposed to be the browser that people use because they care - they want to customize, they want features, they want control. But with every release this slips a little farther away. Things constantly stop working, and it gets harder and harder for the extension makers to keep up.

    Oddly, Android is the one place where Firefox is still actually better than Chrome - because it's got a real ad blocker. Sure, it's slow and crashes all the time, but it's a worthwhile tradeoff.

    But at least there's Pocket! Oh yay.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 03, 2017 @03:52AM (#55131219)

      Most extension makers have already given up. People who have been coding and maintaining extensions for decades are now retiring because Firefox kicked their extensions out. Running Firefox without extensions is just not an option. When all relevant Firefox extensions get disabled on November 14, I'll just try to stick with the last working version and hope there aren't too many exploits against it. But my enthusiasm for Mozilla is completely gone. I don't think they can "save the web" if they can't even keep their browser working.

      • by mea2214 ( 935585 )
        Firefox recently auto updated itself (I forgot to disable it) and now my sound doesn't work because Firefox only supports Pulseaudio which is a pile of shit that caused my Ubuntu system to repeatedly crash. So I'm ALSA only. Fire up Chrome and it has no problem playing audio with ALSA only. There needs to be some kind of hippocratic oath for software where the first requirement is "do no harm." Windows 10, systemd, Gnome, etc. could also benefit from that philosophy.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I used to hate Firefox on Android, even though it got a proper adblocker, simply because it was so slow and buggy that it was unusable. However, they recently released a new app Firefox Focus, and that is now my main mobile browser. It's faster than Chromium, it blocks ads and trackers by default, and it automatically removes cookies and so on when you close it.

      • I used Firefox on Android with the self-destructing cookies plugin (best cookie management policy ever: moves cookies away after you leave a site, so the next visit doesn't see them, but keeps them for a bit in case you decide later that you needed them). Unfortunately, their hostile relationship with F-Droid (which could be fixed by simply providing their own F-Droid repo) meant that updating became painful and so I switched to using the new Chrome-based browser that comes with LineageOS.
    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      No that was the old Mozilla/Seamonkey suite. Firefox as a whole was the browser people chose because they did not care. FF scrapped a lot of good features and customization, offered nothing new, it was lighter weight for all of like three releases...

      FF is where Mozilla started to go wrong! They should have re-branded the suite and fixed the performance issuers there at the time.

    • Firefox is supposed to be the browser that people use because they care - they want to customize, they want features, they want control

      Yep, and the less than 10% of internet users who care about that stuff actually use it. Don't confuse the general public with the desires of the Slashdot IT elite. Most people couldn't care less about customisation. A few of the general public care only enough to use something that allows them to install an ad blocker, but most don't even care about that.

      They want simple, elegant, functional, and out of the way, not at all the browser that Slashdot envisages as ideal.

    • I use FF on Android 100% of the time because of uBlock extension. I use it on my "desktop" occasionally, but if they supported easy "user accounts" like Chrome, I would use FF instead of Chrome for most browsing.

      I use multiple "user accounts". One for "general browsing", one for my software development, one for "more secure" browsing, etc. Each come with their own extensions, bookmarks, and saved PWs. I know you can actually have more accounts with FF, but the ease and simplicity on Chrome is one of the

    • they want to customize, they want features, they want control

      just like Chrome, except slower and with more bugs

      Did it occur to you that the former might be one possibly cause of the latter? Because the design goals of "Loaded with features that have a million different options and permutations that the user can control" and "performant and bug free" seem to me totally at odds.

      Every new feature adds (usually) bugs, degrades (some) performance and (surely) consumes engineering resources that could be spent on stability. And then, you get to allocate testing resources to the new feature to find and polish it, testing r

  • Nope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 03, 2017 @03:39AM (#55131171)

    Mozilla is too busy trying to be an inferior version of Google as evidenced in their attempts to convert Firefox into an inferior version of Chrome.
    Mozilla lost its philosophy and soul during that period when it was subsidized by Google, and that's when everything started turning to shit for the company.
    As far as wasting money on diversity programs and social justice instead of improving its products, well the latest financial report that emphasizes ruin talks for itself.
    Forget about Mozilla, it's time to give some of the Firefox forks some support and attention. Mozilla has been corrupted by Google and its philosophy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 03, 2017 @03:40AM (#55131175)

    The entire browser is going to be hidden under one giant hamburger button. No menus, no URL bar, no scroll bars, hell no rendering window. Just one giant hamburger button that crashes the browser when you click it.

    You heard it here first, folks.

    • The entire browser is going to be... Just one giant hamburger button that crashes the browser when you click it.

      No it won't crash the browser. It will get a a pack of hamburgers delivered to you together with a crate of cola. Don't worry about paying, it will debit you automatically. Then the hamburger button will be replaced by a theatre ticket button. And so on.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      You must be working for Mozilla's team. :P

  • by Dracos ( 107777 ) on Sunday September 03, 2017 @03:47AM (#55131197)

    ...specifically since January 8, 2008, working to be as irrelevant, feckless, and misguided as they are now. The only positive and notable thing they've done for the web in that time is Let's Encrypt.

    Two versions of Firefox from now, they will jettison what made their browser great: the extensions. Mozilla needs a radical change in direction to save itself.

    • by theweatherelectric ( 2007596 ) on Sunday September 03, 2017 @03:58AM (#55131231)

      Two versions of Firefox from now, they will jettison what made their browser great: the extensions.

      Prove it. The extensions API is changing, that's all. I'm using the WebExtensions version of uBlock Origin (version 1.14.4) in Firefox 56 beta and it works fine. Tree Style Tab is another add-on people like and the WebExtensions version is in development [github.com].

      Add-ons will either migrate to the new API or they won't. If WebExtensions APIs to support your pet add-on are missing, then get involved and add them. Mozilla wants you to [mozilla.org].

      • by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Sunday September 03, 2017 @05:00AM (#55131351) Homepage Journal

        If WebExtensions APIs to support your pet add-on are missing, then get involved and add them.

        Why the hell should we? Mozilla ignored what their users wanted and scrapped an extensions architecture that worked fine. Now you want us to reward them by putting work in to port stuff over? Hell no.

      • The concern is not the API. It's that Mozilla no longer has the critical mass to encourage people to port old extensions to the new API, let alone make new ones.

        Lots of authors are just quitting.

        • Lots of authors are just quitting.

          So? It's a good opportunity for new authors. Find some extension you like and offer to take over as the maintainer. It'll look good on your resume.

        • It is the API, at least for me and for many of the extensions I use that were written by other people. WebExtensions don't give the access necessary to write the type of extensions I write, so... I can't write them.

          It's not an issue of critical mass. I'd port them if it was possible (if only so I could upgrade off of this ancient version of Firefox), but it's not.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 03, 2017 @10:01AM (#55132125)

        If WebExtensions APIs to support your pet add-on are missing, then get involved and add them. Mozilla wants you to.

        That's exactly the problem. Mozilla continues to head in the direction of a consumer shopping service and then they invite the tiny, tech-literate population to use extensions. Why doesn't Firefox have easily usable NoScript-type options? Why not block known 3rd-party trackers by default? Is it so radical to think people have a right not to be spied on? Instead they've hidden the script settings. They've hidden cookie settings, allowing 3rd-party cookies by default. They've hidden the status bar and encourage people to do all their browsing through a search engine.

        The list goes on. A case could be made that those changes are for convenience, but when options are actually removed (like javascript settings) that's coercion, not convenience. As someone else said, they became corrupted by the Google money. Matt Asay wants to know how it can be fixed? Simple: Always design with the idea that you're serving the customer. In this case, make it as easy as possible to protect privacy and security. Don't assume everyone wants to shop or go to Facebook. Don't treat people like idiots. Everyone knows how to get to Google or Yahoo. There's no need to let those companies take over the address bar. Just be honest. The beauty of a non-profit is that you don't have to be popular. Remember?

      • I'm worried that there be so many spit before I found you. Most of the previous comments I read are just petty indeed :-D
        That's a concern about what /. audience is becoming :-(

        H.
        (using FF on linux, pc and mac for everything
        -quietly forgetting iCab, the first ad-blocking browser 10y before FF was born, because indeed FF is easier to set -and, well, I'm migrating everything on linux now)

      • The impression that I get is "We just rewrote our extension in Jetpack months ago. If you require us to now rewrite our Jetpack extension in WebExtensions, we quit."

        From Keybinder README [github.com]:

        SORRY GUYS, BUT I'M AFRAID THIS IS THE END OF THE LINE.

        I wanted to release a last update to address a couple bugs, and mkz's locale but I'm afraid this will be the last update to Keybinder. Mozilla's self-destruct course wth Firefox (coupled with not even having adopted all WebExtensions APIs yet) makes this addon impossib

    • by Deb-fanboy ( 959444 ) on Sunday September 03, 2017 @04:03AM (#55131245)

      they will jettison what made their browser great: the extensions.

      And that is why I am having to use the browser 'Pale Moon' in order to use the extensions I love such as Pentadactyl.

      Since firefox have disregarded what was great about their browser, i.e. the extensions, they are effectively killing it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        they are effectively killing it.

        How? Extensions still exist and Firefox 57 really is a whole lot faster. You should try out the nightly version now, or wait for 57 to move to beta.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rockoon ( 1252108 )
          There has never been a more obvious shill on this site.

          Thanks for breaking records.
          • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
            I understand that Slashdot readers have mandatory groupthink policies, but new Firefox IS much faster due to its multiprocess and multithreaded architecture. Which is not possible with the old extension model.
            • Which is not possible with the old extension model.

              This fact is refuted by dev builds. Thanks for playing the "lets attribute a casual relationship that doesn't exist" game.

      • Since firefox have disregarded what was great about their browser, i.e. the extensions, they are effectively killing it.

        Disregarded them by providing a better frame work and a whole 2 year period for developers to port over? Let me help you: http://www.dictionary.com/brow... [dictionary.com]

        • Mozilla actively refuse to provide same or similar feature to key extensions like classic theme restorer, or session manager, or anything that makes Firefox truly uniquely more powerful and customizable than Chrome. And you call it "a better frame work"? I heard they won't even let extensions touch settings in about:config anymore!

          If you Firefox developers want to overhaul the UI again, go do it. It's not the first time and I was expecting classic theme restorer to save the mess when I don't like some pa

  • by johnjones ( 14274 ) on Sunday September 03, 2017 @04:19AM (#55131289) Homepage Journal

    why not aim for a secure browser audience...

    Ditch SSL Certificate authorities unless users trusted them and verify the DNS responses (DNSsec) present that information to the user

    • I fail to see how DNSSEC is the solution.
      You'll be going from trusting a bunch of different CAs, to trusting a single domain name registry for your security.
      Yes, the current CA system is bad, but having a single point of failure is even worse IMO.
      • Yes, the current CA system is bad, but having a single point of failure is even worse IMO.

        There's a difference between trusting the best out of 400 and the sum of 400.

        Every single out of 400+ CAs can falsify a certificate. No matter if they're sloppy, broken into, operated by a bad government or susceptible to orders from a bad government -- all it takes is to get a single CA to cooperate against you.

        On the other hand, with DNSSEC+DANE, you're trusting only a single TLD operator and a single registry. You even get to pick the latter arbitrarily, and get to pick the former if you're fine with c

      • Assuming we're talking DV certs here, then you're already trusting the domain name registry -- and without DNSSEC you have no way to even detect an MITM on it. Adding DNSSEC and then skipping CAs to get the identity info straight from the source would be a massive improvement.

        EV certs are a different beast, of course. With those, the CAs are providing a useful identity verification service that verifies your identity separately from DNS.

    • by DES ( 13846 ) *

      DNSSEC alone is not enough. You want DANE for certificate validation.

  • This whole argument looks like a lot of hand waving and FUD. The only rational argument I can see is that we need to Save the Web from the oh so horrible fate of being controlled by corporations whose "top incentive is to borrow our privacy just long enough to target an ad at us". Just what is wrong with targeted advertising? How would resurrecting Firefox prevent it in any way?

    • Have you ever looked at a product on Amazon, Target, or another online store, only to have banner ads for that product stalk you to other, unrelated websites? This is called "retargeting", and it's creepy, and it's powered by cross-site tracking.

      Would you want an ad network or ad exchange to sell your browsing history, including websites about sensitive medical conditions, to your health insurer so that the insurer can raise your premiums based on the websites that you have visited?

      Have you ever had an ISP

      • Sure, "retargeting" and unwanted video ads have happened to me. As a Firefox user. I don't really care about the former and there are blocker plugins for the latter. As for selling my browsing history to my health insurer, that sounds like a something for law enforcement to handle, not my browser. In any case, you're still just waving your hands really hard and not answering my question.

  • but when i do, it's to say that articles like this are very right on.. I couldn't imagine using another browser besides firefox these days, and I feel a sense of dread when I have to use chrom(ium/e).. it's disheartening that I'm the weirdo.
    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      You are so right.
      The type of comments we get are a nasty indication of how remote freedom is to many.
      Not using Chrome and Edge are steps to at least claim back some of that freedom, Firefox and it's parent Mozilla were always at the forefront of that fight.

      I've used Firefox so long that it's hotkey still is [Meta + N] and I see little problems with it, certainly nothing that warrants me trading in more of my privacy to Google Chrome.
      Not long ago someone here asked for a listing of the privacy advantag
    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Ditto. I still use Mozilla's suite product, SeaMonkey, since I was always had been a fan of those since Netscape days. SeaMonkey hasn't changed its GUI frontend much like Firefox and others. It uses the older Firefox/Gecko versions. Its v2.48's user agent shows "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:51.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/51.0 SeaMonkey/2.48". Upcoming versions will be relying on ESR versions.

  • It's that simple. The open standards internet has been taken over by shiny services like a commercial Usenet with a web interface that Facebook is.

    We need an entirely new set of services and protocols with finished implementations of working and well designed applications that support them. Firefox used to be the best usable browser. Then chrome came along and had a great fast JavaScript engine, a new platform people could build client side logic on. In many ways Chrome is the new Flash, which makes it so attractive.

    We just had this issue a few weeks ago. The internet we all use needs a redo. Hard encryption and signing on the lowest app protocol layer and by default with no option out, independant namecoin DNS, asynch and offline capable base protocols and services, an interactive capable web replacement that does away with the HTML 5/CSS bloat of today and a useful optional binary app format including baked font rendering, 3D, audio and some other gadgets people want. All new email/Usenet/IRC would also build on top of said base protocols. Bye bye spam, bye bye NSA, bye bye Farcebook and WhatsCrap.

    Maybe Mozilla should put some effort into that. ... Just saying.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Hard encryption and signing on the lowest app protocol layer and by default with no option out

      How do you recommend that the operator of an internal server on a private home LAN obtain a certificate for said signing?

      baked font rendering

      Perhaps I misunderstand what you mean by "baked font rendering", but how well will that work for people who use text-to-speech or a braille display to read documents?

  • There are many other options. Never touched Chrome... Google has been too big for a long time and I didn't want to feed it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Mozilla's Code of Conduct is driving contributors away.

    They should cherish their contributors who are voluntary spending their time trying to help.
    Instead when you use a word like "guys", you get blocked. I'm just stupified by the bullying behavior of Mozilla's employees: https://mzl.la/2gu5521

    • by Mr. Shotgun ( 832121 ) on Sunday September 03, 2017 @11:13AM (#55132435)

      Instead when you use a word like "guys", you get blocked. I'm just stupified by the bullying behavior of Mozilla's employees: https://mzl.la/2gu5521 [mzl.la]

      Lol, that thread is freaking great. A contributor asked about the status on a two year old feature request and makes the mistake of using "guys" when referring to a collective group and get three responses about his use of "gendered language" and his responses marked as abusive and off-topic. And the icing on the cake is that guys is considered non-gendered by both Mirriam-Webster [merriam-webster.com] and Oxford [oxforddictionaries.com]dictionaries. As for the feature request itself, still in an unknown status. Honestly if that is how they react to every perceived slight, I can see why Firefox is struggling.

  • In regards to applauding Rust; I point to n-gate.com

  • I don't think they included that 1 billion Chinese from main land and a few 100 million restricted user from other pockets of the world in the survey.
  • Chrome is winning because Google aggressively pushes its use on all its web services and sites. It's also auto-installed as bundleware in tons of downloaded software and utilities. It also benefits from so many people not understanding what a browser is and how it's different from a website, i.e.people install it because they think they need it to use Google.com. It may be a faster browser, but the vast majority of clients I work with do not notice a difference, they just use it because it was offered an

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