31 votes

All Good Things… (Leaving Mozilla)

32 comments

  1. [24]
    Bear
    Link
    As a user looking at Mozilla, they seem to be hemorrhaging money and talent, and I've read that the active user count for Firefox has fallen dramatically. Why is that? Is there a root cause? I use...

    As a user looking at Mozilla, they seem to be hemorrhaging money and talent, and I've read that the active user count for Firefox has fallen dramatically.

    Why is that? Is there a root cause?

    I use Firefox every day, and it's a pretty good web browser, easily on par with Chrome.

    14 votes
    1. [14]
      dblohm7
      Link Parent
      First of all I would like to thank the Tildes community for being what you are. There are some very thoughtful comments in this thread. (Seriously, have you seen the dumpster fire that is...

      First of all I would like to thank the Tildes community for being what you are. There are some very thoughtful comments in this thread.

      (Seriously, have you seen the dumpster fire that is r/Firefox these days?)

      I don’t think there is any “one” cause, but there are a lot of issues.

      One of them is differentiation. So many browser features are now table stakes that it’s pretty hard to stand out from the crowd. This is especially difficult when up against the default browsers shipped with the OS.

      Engine diversity and privacy unfortunately do not appear to be significant enough differentiators.

      24 votes
      1. FeralKatt
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I don't think anything a reddit sub says has anything to do with any internal firefox development that actually matters.

        (Seriously, have you seen the dumpster fire that is r/Firefox these days?)

        I don't think anything a reddit sub says has anything to do with any internal firefox development that actually matters.

        12 votes
      2. [2]
        BlindCarpenter
        Link Parent
        That sucks. I wish there were more competitors to Chrome. Firefox has been an outstanding browser for so long. As an ex-employee, do you think it will survive much longer?

        That sucks. I wish there were more competitors to Chrome. Firefox has been an outstanding browser for so long. As an ex-employee, do you think it will survive much longer?

        6 votes
        1. dblohm7
          Link Parent
          I have no idea! I hope so!

          I have no idea! I hope so!

          4 votes
      3. [8]
        hungariantoast
        Link Parent
        Nyxt has been really exciting to me in terms of innovative browser features, and innovating how we browse and interact with information on the web. Of course, being a small project, it faces small...

        Nyxt has been really exciting to me in terms of innovative browser features, and innovating how we browse and interact with information on the web.

        Of course, being a small project, it faces small project problems like not yet having a content blocker like uBlock Origin. That's the only thing left for the project to implement before I start using it full-time though. WebExtension support is on the roadmap.

        4 votes
        1. [7]
          babypuncher
          Link Parent
          Nyxt is still in the WebKit/Blink family so it's not really helping with the renderer diversity problem.

          Nyxt is still in the WebKit/Blink family so it's not really helping with the renderer diversity problem.

          10 votes
          1. [6]
            hungariantoast
            Link Parent
            To be fair, writing a new web engine from scratch, getting it to feature parity, and keeping up with the other major engines, is an impossible task for all but the largest organizations. I'm also...

            To be fair, writing a new web engine from scratch, getting it to feature parity, and keeping up with the other major engines, is an impossible task for all but the largest organizations.

            I'm also not convinced that only having three or four usable web engines is such a bad thing. I think the biggest problem is that the by far most popular engine is controlled by a single for-profit company.

            7 votes
            1. [5]
              babypuncher
              Link Parent
              With Microsoft abandoning Trident, we are now down to only three. Two of which are very similar (Blink and WebKit). That is why I think it's important to keep Firefox around.

              With Microsoft abandoning Trident, we are now down to only three. Two of which are very similar (Blink and WebKit). That is why I think it's important to keep Firefox around.

              7 votes
              1. teaearlgraycold
                Link Parent
                As a web developer I develop my websites for Firefox first. Most of the other team members will run a Chrome-based browser, so that's covered. But I'm at least doing what I can to keep the web...

                As a web developer I develop my websites for Firefox first. Most of the other team members will run a Chrome-based browser, so that's covered. But I'm at least doing what I can to keep the web Firefox compatible. I recommend all web developers that can switch to Firefox do so for this reason.

                13 votes
              2. hungariantoast
                Link Parent
                Sure, I also don't want Firefox to go away any time soon

                Sure, I also don't want Firefox to go away any time soon

                5 votes
              3. [2]
                Wes
                Link Parent
                Blink and WebKit are really not that similar. The fork happened eight years ago. That was before ES6, before grid, before flexbox. Their box model logic is likely similar but they have an entirely...

                Blink and WebKit are really not that similar. The fork happened eight years ago. That was before ES6, before grid, before flexbox. Their box model logic is likely similar but they have an entirely different JS engine, PWA support, and implementations of modern CSS methods.

                4 votes
                1. lionirdeadman
                  Link Parent
                  From my own personal testing of my website, I can somewhat agree but I still think that neither of them really exist exist independently of their OSs so I still see them as equally problematic...

                  From my own personal testing of my website, I can somewhat agree but I still think that neither of them really exist exist independently of their OSs so I still see them as equally problematic personally. Here's two recent examples of the behaviour being similar vs different.

                  I tried putting a class on a br tag. Probably very illegal and bad and well, this is old but WebKit and Chromium just didn't apply the styles while Firefox did.

                  Although, the way they handle .currentSrc is different. WebKit does it on DOM load while Chromium does it when the element is loaded. Firefox seems to have odd behaviour, I'm not entirely sure if it's a bug. This is entirely fixed if I just listen for loading though.

                  4 votes
      4. [2]
        patience_limited
        Link Parent
        Have you ever considered "browsing" as a public utility? It seems that when you're talking about basic functionality (and privacy protection) as "table stakes", you're talking about something as...

        Have you ever considered "browsing" as a public utility? It seems that when you're talking about basic functionality (and privacy protection) as "table stakes", you're talking about something as fundamental as electrification, clean water, and mass transit, a gateway to the civilization of our age.

        That being said, you've reached the point where it's a political, not merely programming, endeavor. I remember the halcyon days of "Internet in a Box", where Mozilla's contribution was fundamental to most people's Internet access. The code for most HTML/CSS functionality consists of extensions to now 30 year-old technology - there's a clear lineage pointing from what's absolutely essential to what's nice-to-have in modern browsers. Would you consider branching off to work on a libre basic browser that ensures everyone can get to fundamental content?

        4 votes
        1. dblohm7
          Link Parent
          🤷‍♂️ I’m getting out of the browser wars, so we’ll have to see whether anybody picks up the torch!

          🤷‍♂️ I’m getting out of the browser wars, so we’ll have to see whether anybody picks up the torch!

          5 votes
    2. [6]
      vord
      Link Parent
      Everything that's old feels new again. There's more and more websites that don't function in Firefox and we're rapidly heading to an IE6 type situation. Users getting pissed at Mozilla for sites...

      I've read that the active user count for Firefox has fallen dramatically.

      Everything that's old feels new again. There's more and more websites that don't function in Firefox and we're rapidly heading to an IE6 type situation. Users getting pissed at Mozilla for sites not working are blaming the wrong people. Heck, many of the broken sites magically work after I change my UA to Chrome/Windows.

      I personally only see upticks of Firefox among my peers (other than the web developers), in part due to these privacy features.

      16 votes
      1. [5]
        Bullmaestro
        Link Parent
        Honestly think the best browser for privacy these days is Brave, not only for being based around Chromium but for also implementing solid DNT and ad-blocking features in-browser. Plus, Brave Ads...

        Honestly think the best browser for privacy these days is Brave, not only for being based around Chromium but for also implementing solid DNT and ad-blocking features in-browser. Plus, Brave Ads are a good and relatively non-intrusive way to earn crypto.

        I mean... there's also Tor, but you're almost guaranteed to be put on a FBI watch list for using it, just because of how many illegal sites are buried within the deep web.

        2 votes
        1. dozens
          Link Parent
          I thought Brave was pretty widely regarded to be a crypto scam.

          I thought Brave was pretty widely regarded to be a crypto scam.

          28 votes
        2. babypuncher
          Link Parent
          Brave doesn't come off as trustworthy to me. Their CEO has also donated money to anti-LGBT causes. As far as privacy goes, I don't think Brave does anything useful that you cannot accomplish with...

          Brave doesn't come off as trustworthy to me. Their CEO has also donated money to anti-LGBT causes.

          As far as privacy goes, I don't think Brave does anything useful that you cannot accomplish with Firefox and a plugin or two. Plus, Firefox has the benefit of not contributing to the growing Blink monoculture.

          20 votes
        3. [2]
          Adys
          Link Parent
          No such thing exists. Unless DNT is picked up by something like the EU and mandated as a signal as part of GDPR when online, it's going to be completely irrelevant. A dozen websites implement it...

          solid DNT

          No such thing exists. Unless DNT is picked up by something like the EU and mandated as a signal as part of GDPR when online, it's going to be completely irrelevant.

          A dozen websites implement it and actually do something meaningful with it. It's completely meaningless and all it is, is one more signal to use for ad fingerprinting.

          17 votes
          1. babypuncher
            Link Parent
            Seriously, at this point any DNT token is just another data point that can be used to fingerprint you.

            Seriously, at this point any DNT token is just another data point that can be used to fingerprint you.

            5 votes
    3. stu2b50
      Link Parent
      There's at least two issues: bleeding out existing users, and inability to gain new users. For new users, of course Chrome has been eating their lunch for the last decade. The rise of mobile...

      There's at least two issues: bleeding out existing users, and inability to gain new users.

      For new users, of course Chrome has been eating their lunch for the last decade. The rise of mobile hasn't helped either, as it's pretty unlikely a smartphone only or smartphone primary user would bother to get firefox. Being a default is powerful - Samsung Internet almost has as much market share as Firefox now, with that of course being entirely driven by people using Samsung phones.

      Another way Chrome has made life harder for Mozilla is simply making it easier to make browsers. Chromium means you have an easy, extendible base from which you can build out a modern web browser, without any of the incredibly hard work that is maintaining your own renderer and your own Javascript engine.

      Brave, Vivaldi, etc. have really taken hits at the "privacy" niche Firefox use to own. And they exist because it's really quite easy to build off of Chromium.

      That also applies to other big browsers; Edge is quite good, for instance, and now officially has more market share than Firefox by a fair margin. Gone are the days of Firefox disrupting a market of godawful, slow, inaccurate browsers like IE. A new Windows user will likely be quite happy with Edge.

      So the question becomes: why switch to Firefox? And that's a question without a good answer. The main one is ideological: to prevent a Chromium hegemony. But if that's the primary reason to switch, then you're doomed from the start.


      As to bleeding out existing users, that's a hard question, and a much bigger problem (or, at least one you should probably solve before tackling the other). There's been a lot of complaining about the UI revisions - I think the extensions overhaul, while it makes perfect sense, probably drove a lot of people out, since their collection of Firefox extensions was what was keeping them on the platform.

      If it's any consolation, I think Google will be more than happy to throw their pocket change at Mozilla for years and years to come, if nothing else as another line item if they ever are pressured on their browser monopoly. So I think Mozilla the corporation, at least, will likely continue for years and years, even if they slink more and more into obscurity and irrelevance.

      13 votes
    4. [2]
      JXM
      Link Parent
      The answer is Chrome. Mozilla can't compete with one of the largest companies in the world shoving their browser in your face all the time.

      The answer is Chrome. Mozilla can't compete with one of the largest companies in the world shoving their browser in your face all the time.

      7 votes
      1. Octofox
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        There is also no non ideological reason not to use chrome. Chrome supports every feature, works really fast, comes by default on android and does many other things. Firefox's biggest feature is...

        There is also no non ideological reason not to use chrome. Chrome supports every feature, works really fast, comes by default on android and does many other things. Firefox's biggest feature is being not google, and that isn't enough for most people.

        I suspect the main reason they lose users is more that they eventually buy new computers and choose not to install firefox again rather than intentionally getting rid of it due to some drama.

        11 votes
  2. [2]
    Wes
    Link
    I've enjoyed hearing your insider take on things. Best of luck in your next endeavor!

    I've enjoyed hearing your insider take on things. Best of luck in your next endeavor!

    9 votes
  3. [2]
    xnaas
    Link
    Hey, we had a conversation some time ago that I never got around to replying to. Apologies for that. Best of luck in your future endeavors.

    Hey, we had a conversation some time ago that I never got around to replying to. Apologies for that.

    Best of luck in your future endeavors.

    4 votes
  4. [4]
    moriarty
    Link
    Best of luck to you! Where are you headed?

    Best of luck to you! Where are you headed?

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      dblohm7
      Link Parent
      Thanks for asking! I was holding off on answering this until I started - yesterday was my first day at Tailscale.

      Thanks for asking! I was holding off on answering this until I started - yesterday was my first day at Tailscale.

      10 votes
      1. [2]
        Surira
        Link Parent
        Lots of talented people have headed to Tailscale recently. I still don't know what it is or what it does (trying to learn...) but the amount of talented people heading there surely is a good sign....

        Lots of talented people have headed to Tailscale recently. I still don't know what it is or what it does (trying to learn...) but the amount of talented people heading there surely is a good sign. Good luck!

        5 votes