Mike Becky

Tag Archive for ‘Mozilla’

Platform Tilt ➝


This dashboard tracks technical issues in major software platforms which disadvantage Firefox relative to the first-party browser. We consider aspects like security, stability, performance, and functionality, and propose changes to create a more level playing field.

There are more issues for Apple platforms than Microsoft and Google combined.

➝ Source: mozilla.github.io

Stop France From Forcing Browsers to Censor Websites ➝


The French government is working on a law that could threaten the free internet. The so-called SREN bill (‘Projet de loi visant à sécuriser et réguler l’espace numérique’) would require web browsers – like Mozilla’s Firefox – to block websites in the browsers themselves. It would set a dangerous precedent, providing a playbook for other governments to also turn browsers like Firefox into censorship tools.

I’d like to see a lot more of this version of Mozilla and a lot less of the other.

➝ Source: foundation.mozilla.org

Brave’s Statement on Web Environment Integrity ➝

As far as I could tell, Mozilla hasn’t made a statement about this at all. Perhaps their reliance on Google for funding has a much larger influence on the direction of Firefox than Brave’s use of Chromium does.

➝ Source: brave.com

Each Firefox Download Has a Unique Identifier ➝

Martin Brinkmann, writing for gHacks:

Internet users who download the Firefox web browser from the official Mozilla website get a unique identifier attached to the installer that is submitted to Mozilla on install and first run.

The identifier, called dltoken by Mozilla internally, is used to link downloads to installations and first runs of the Firefox browser. The identifier is unique to each Firefox installer, which means that it is submitted to Mozilla whenever it is used.

Cool. I guess this is just another reason to use something else.

Update 3/26/22: Michael Tsai points out that this is unlikely to be the case with Firefox for macOS because it would be difficult to accomplish with notarization.

➝ Source: ghacks.net

On Being Frustrated With the Current State of Browsers ➝

Michael Harley, on the state of the web browser market:

Has the Internet just become an ad delivery network? Is there so much money sloshing around from ad people that software companies/teams doing browser development are simply unable to pass it up? They have to take the money because it’s so much, but everyone seems to recognize people don’t want to be served ads, or tracked across the web. The browser developer organizations recognize the concerns of users but really all they’re willing to do about it is use the word private in the title of their ad tracking platform.

Maybe I’m being too naive, rigid or unrealistic but I don’t want to be served ads at all. I’m sorry that businesses have built their websites using an ad-based model but that’s not my problem. Offer me a subscription service, and if it’s valuable enough to me then I’ll pay for a subscription.

I’m currently using Brave because, despite my lack of interest in their ad network or BAT, I appreciate that they’re trying to build a business model that doesn’t rely on Google or other major tech companies for funding . And it’s easy enough to disable the features I dislike.

I’m not thrilled about it being built on Chromium, though. I hate the idea that there could be a future where the entirety of the market is Safari, Chrome, and Chrome-based browsers. But until Mozilla gets their act together and spends a little more time building a great browser and a little less time encouraging censorship, I’ll have to settle with the least offensive option.

➝ Source: obsolete29.com

Mozilla Works With Meta on ‘Privacy Preserving Attribution for Advertising’ ➝

Martin Thomson, writing on Mozilla’s weblog:

Attribution is how advertisers know if their advertising campaigns are working. Attribution generates metrics that allow advertisers to understand how their advertising campaigns are performing. Related measurement techniques also help publishers understand how they are helping advertisers. Though attribution is crucial to advertising, current attribution practices have terrible privacy properties.

For the last few months we have been working with a team from Meta (formerly Facebook) on a new proposal that aims to enable conversion measurement – or attribution – for advertising called Interoperable Private Attribution, or IPA.

I’m glad I switched to Brave. It just saddens me that it’s built on Chromium. I wish Mozilla was a better steward of privacy and freedom online, but that doesn’t appear to be who they are anymore. So, Brave it is.

➝ Source: blog.mozilla.org

Firefox for iOS

Firefox on iPad

I switched to Firefox on my work laptop a couple of months ago and it went so well that I thought I’d give it a try on iOS too. It hasn’t gone quite as well, but I think I’m in it for the long haul anyway, if only because I think it’s important to support alternatives. And incredibly important to support alternatives on a platform with artificial limitations on those competing with the platform owner.

The only way to change the limitations on iOS is to bump up against them and encourage Apple to make changes when possible. So I thought I’d share the notes I’ve taken over the past month using Firefox on iPhone and iPad — the biggest pain points I’ve experienced during that timeframe. Some of these are Firefox-specific where others are more generalized complaints about the state of third-party browsers on iOS in general.

  • Shortcuts’ Open URLs action always opens in Safari instead of your system’s default web browser.
  • Firefox’s URL scheme doesn’t support opening multiple URLs in tabs, it can only be used to open a single URL.
  • File downloads often don’t work at all. For example, I use AllTube to download YouTube videos as audio files, it always works in Safari, but results in simply loading the audio file within the current Firefox tab, without an option to save it to Files.
  • If you open an image file’s URL in Firefox, there’s no way to save it to Files, it can only be saved to the Photos app.
  • When opening links from external applications, if you’ve closed all tabs, you end up with two tabs — one empty tab and a tab with the link you opened.
  • The ad blocking built-in to Firefox is pretty weak. So the only option to improve it is to use a DNS-based solution. But that’s a little more difficult to bypass if you have trouble with a page. Apple should let third-party browsers use Safari Content Blockers.
  • No way to search browser history.
  • Bookmarks are buried two clicks within a menu and there’s a forced folder structure.
  • No way to add websites to your Home Screen from Firefox.
  • There’s no option to download directly to the Downloads folder in iCloud Drive. This makes downloading a file from a website and then uploading it to another website a cumbersome experience.
  • The “Get Details of Safari Webpage” action in Shortcuts only works on Safari webpages. It doesn’t work in Firefox.
  • No way to open multiple webpages side-by-side using Split View in Firefox.
  • No support for extensions, which Safari will add support for in iOS 15 and Firefox currently has support for on Android.
  • Firefox and all other third-party web browsers are forced to use WebKit as their rendering engine on iOS.

Even with all these faults, though, I’m sticking with Firefox for the foreseeable future. One of the primary reasons being the ability to add a custom default search engine to Firefox, which isn’t possible on Safari. I have a SearX instance setup and I prefer it to any of the options available in Safari.

But I’m going to keep complaining about the pain points. Because I want Apple to fix them. Because fixing those pain points will improve the platform for developers and users alike.

Mozilla Acquires Pocket ➝

Dan Frommer, reporting for Recode:

Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox web browser, is buying Pocket, the read-it-later service, for an undisclosed amount. Pocket, which is described by Mozilla as its first strategic acquisition, will continue to operate as a Mozilla subsidiary. Founder Nate Weiner will continue to run Pocket, along with his team of about 25 people.

When companies like this are acquired, there’s always promises that nothing will change for the worse, but we all know it rarely ends well. I hope Pocket is able to buck that trend and continue as a standalone service for the long haul rather than turn into just a feature built into Firefox.