41 votes

Switching from Chrome to Firefox can supercharge your privacy in minutes

35 comments

  1. [3]
    Chrozera
    Link
    I switched from chrome to Firefox at the end of last year. Mainly because of the proposed changes to ad blocking. Then the introduction of fuckery with the url. Not showing the protocol might be a...

    I switched from chrome to Firefox at the end of last year.
    Mainly because of the proposed changes to ad blocking.
    Then the introduction of fuckery with the url.
    Not showing the protocol might be a minor thing for most people, but that in combination with all the other things chrome had been doing the last few years, was enough to push me over the edge.

    It a bit getting used to ff at the start, but after a month or so, it's just browsing as normal again.
    Just without worrying about google.

    24 votes
    1. [2]
      culturedleftfoot
      Link Parent
      What did you use before Chrome? And why did you switch to Chrome when you did?

      What did you use before Chrome? And why did you switch to Chrome when you did?

      1. Chrozera
        Link Parent
        Before chrome I used firefox, but when chrome just came out firefox was a bit of a memory hog at the time if I remember correctly. Before that IE out of ignorance.

        Before chrome I used firefox, but when chrome just came out firefox was a bit of a memory hog at the time if I remember correctly.
        Before that IE out of ignorance.

        2 votes
  2. Wes
    Link
    I didn't think too much of the article. It didn't say anything new. To address some of the comment though, I'd like to argue against the direct comparison of "privacy" as if it were a simple...

    I didn't think too much of the article. It didn't say anything new. To address some of the comment though, I'd like to argue against the direct comparison of "privacy" as if it were a simple metric. In practice, almost every browser privacy feature makes a tradeoff. It's important to understand what those are before suggesting something is better or worse.

    As one example, a browser can choose to allow third-party cookies. This allows easier usage of tracking cookies, but disabling them also breaks a number of website features (especially cross-domain logins). Browser vendors are historically very hesitant to break existing features, and this is a big one.

    Another example: browsers can choose to isolate site caches. This uses more space and hurts performance as shared data needs to be redownloaded, but it means that websites can't probe to see what common assets you have cached. Someone on gigabit internet might feel differently about this tradeoff than someone living in remote Alaska.

    Another big buzzword lately is fingerprinting. A browser can block many signals to websites to reduce their fingerprint. Without listing browser capabilities though, or expressing choices like "Do I prefer dark mode?", a website has to guess. This can result in slower fallbacks or other degraded experiences.

    Safari goes so far as to automatically delete data in localStorage, crippling PWAs. They argue it's for privacy, while others suggest it's to drive users towards their app store.

    Privacy sometimes comes at the cost of backwards compatibility and user experience. Browser vendors have to make difficult decisions that impact hundreds of thousands of users. I feel the weight of that gets lost in all the back-and-forth of browser wars. This article certainly glosses right over that point.

    For what it's worth I use both Firefox and Chromium, on both Windows and Linux.

    15 votes
  3. [6]
    Pistos
    Link
    I want to get away from Chromium. I really do. But the last must-have feature for me that Chromium has that nothing else does is the way it handles multiple users/profiles (e.g. work vs home)....

    I want to get away from Chromium. I really do. But the last must-have feature for me that Chromium has that nothing else does is the way it handles multiple users/profiles (e.g. work vs home). Firefox has profiles, sure, but it takes so many clicks to do what I can do in Chromium in two clicks. And, in Chromium, each window acts as a container for any given profile, and every new tab opened in that windows continues with that same profile. The overall design is just easy and intuitive. I have already tried Firefox's containers feature, but the UX doesn't meet the bar.

    Any browser that can provide this same design to me is a browser I am willing to test drive. Until then, I am shackled to this Google product.

    10 votes
    1. [3]
      wervenyt
      Link Parent
      It doesn't come close to solving the issues with UX, but maybe a tab grouping extension (like Simple Tab Groups) combined with multi-account containers gets you where you want with Firefox.

      It doesn't come close to solving the issues with UX, but maybe a tab grouping extension (like Simple Tab Groups) combined with multi-account containers gets you where you want with Firefox.

      11 votes
      1. [2]
        Pistos
        Link Parent
        I gave this a try today. Not even close. I couldn't figure out how to replicate Chromium's ease of use within a timebox of a few minutes. I couldn't tell which "group" a given tab or window...

        I gave this a try today. Not even close. I couldn't figure out how to replicate Chromium's ease of use within a timebox of a few minutes. I couldn't tell which "group" a given tab or window belonged to. And using "New Tab" from the extension's menu wouldn't create a new tab if the current tab was already blank. Overall, quite confusing and not straight forward.

        1 vote
        1. wervenyt
          Link Parent
          You are entitled to your opinion, and from a general accessibility perspective it's irrelevant, but a time frame of a few minutes to understand a program and become fluent in its UI is an...

          You are entitled to your opinion, and from a general accessibility perspective it's irrelevant, but a time frame of a few minutes to understand a program and become fluent in its UI is an unreasonable standard to hold. If you really want to get away from Chromium, accepting that is necessary. That said, the UX is going to be jankier with an extension-based approach no matter your familiarity.

          8 votes
    2. [2]
      PetitPrince
      Link Parent
      Sea Container perhaps ?

      Sea Container perhaps ?

      3 votes
      1. Pistos
        Link Parent
        Mmm... that looks close but not quite. With all these suggestions, and having looked at the source code of them, I think it might not be too hard for me to write an extension myself to do what I want.

        Mmm... that looks close but not quite. With all these suggestions, and having looked at the source code of them, I think it might not be too hard for me to write an extension myself to do what I want.

        1 vote
  4. [17]
    Muffin
    Link
    What's the verdict on Microsoft's new Edge, that is based on chromium?

    What's the verdict on Microsoft's new Edge, that is based on chromium?

    5 votes
    1. [15]
      vord
      Link Parent
      It's Chrome, but now you have Microsoft spying/manipulating you instead. Windows 10 has shown they are no more reputable about data aggregation than Google. Firefox is the only large browser not...

      It's Chrome, but now you have Microsoft spying/manipulating you instead. Windows 10 has shown they are no more reputable about data aggregation than Google.

      Firefox is the only large browser not directly owned by one of the tech titans. For this, it remains invaluable.

      19 votes
      1. [2]
        Deimos
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Even that's kind of an iffy thing to say. Google doesn't officially own Mozilla, but they supply almost all of its funding. Mozilla wouldn't be able to exist in anything resembling its current...

        Firefox is the only large browser not directly owned by one of the tech titans.

        Even that's kind of an iffy thing to say. Google doesn't officially own Mozilla, but they supply almost all of its funding. Mozilla wouldn't be able to exist in anything resembling its current form without Google's money.

        From the "Concentrations of Risks" section of their 2018 financials, which is the most recent available (link to PDF, emphasis mine):

        Mozilla has entered into contracts with search engine providers for royalties which expire through November 2020. Approximately 91% and 93% of Mozilla’s royalty revenues were derived from these contracts for 2018 and 2017, respectively [...]

        Royalty revenues were 95% of their overall revenue in 2018, about $430M of the $451M total. The Register reported in August that their deal with Google had been renewed for somewhere around $400M-450M/year, and since Firefox's market share has only been dropping, I highly doubt the new deal is an increase.

        So even if we guess that the Google deal was giving them about $400M/year in 2018, that would mean that Google alone was the source of almost 90% of Mozilla's revenue (and it could very well be more). That puts Mozilla in an extremely awkward and precarious position—they try to position themselves as the ones fighting back against the evils of Google & co., but in practice they're funded almost entirely by those exact corporations.

        If they ever do something that truly has a major negative impact on Google, they'd probably be putting that deal at risk, and that would be an existential threat to Mozilla itself. Google probably wouldn't even care about dropping it. I highly doubt they're still getting $400M/year worth of benefit out of the deal—Firefox's market share is very low now, and its users would easily find their own way to Google without Firefox doing it by default. Nobody's using Firefox without knowing what Google is.

        I suspect that Google mostly continues funding Mozilla more from a counter-antitrust perspective, since it's one of the only oppositions to their browser monopoly. But that's getting questionable too as they keep losing even more market share. If Firefox's user count gets low enough, they're no longer meaningfully filling that role either. At that point it's not clear to me why Google would keep paying them billions of dollars.

        14 votes
        1. vord
          Link Parent
          This is all very true, and why I mentioned 'not directly'. In theory, if they could raise sufficient funding elsewhere (an uphill battle), they could be free from tech giants.

          This is all very true, and why I mentioned 'not directly'.

          In theory, if they could raise sufficient funding elsewhere (an uphill battle), they could be free from tech giants.

          1 vote
      2. [12]
        suspended
        Link Parent
        This makes me very nervous. If FF were to shit the bed, then what would we do?

        Firefox is the only large browser not directly owned by one of the tech titans.

        This makes me very nervous. If FF were to shit the bed, then what would we do?

        8 votes
        1. [9]
          vord
          Link Parent
          Leave the WWW behind for the corporations and consumers. For everything else, build a pirate web. Shed the complex legacy cruft. Build it to be distributed by default. Embrace the 'information...

          Leave the WWW behind for the corporations and consumers.

          For everything else, build a pirate web. Shed the complex legacy cruft. Build it to be distributed by default. Embrace the 'information wants to be free' ethos and don't cater to corporate whims like DRM.

          I of course am mostly daydreaming.

          13 votes
          1. [6]
            suspended
            Link Parent
            I would get behind this 100%

            I would get behind this 100%

            3 votes
            1. [5]
              vord
              Link Parent
              My daydream involves some combo of Tor-like routing, PGP signing/keyservers for authenticity, SSH for encryption as the core transport. For client rendering, use markdown for text, optional image...

              My daydream involves some combo of Tor-like routing, PGP signing/keyservers for authenticity, SSH for encryption as the core transport.

              For client rendering, use markdown for text, optional image support (mandatory alt text). All other media gets sent to an external program for handling.

              No client side code execution. If you want to run something on a client machine, send them the blob or code and have them choose to run it.

              Have every user be a server too...you cache and re-serve data you consume, you host the initial data you share.

              4 votes
              1. [3]
                scissortail
                Link Parent
                Have you taken a look at the gemini protocol? It's been posted about a few times here on tildes and is not too far off with reference to markdown-like text, no media support, no client-side code...

                Have you taken a look at the gemini protocol? It's been posted about a few times here on tildes and is not too far off with reference to markdown-like text, no media support, no client-side code execution, etc.

                7 votes
                1. ohyran
                  Link Parent
                  I've been thinking of checking in to Gemini but never really got off doing it. It feels just too technical and too limited at the same time... although thats just my impression I suppose

                  I've been thinking of checking in to Gemini but never really got off doing it. It feels just too technical and too limited at the same time... although thats just my impression I suppose

                  4 votes
                2. vord
                  Link Parent
                  I have been scoping it out on the periphery, but too many other hobby projects going to do a deep dive. Not gonna lie, it's what inspired half of that.

                  I have been scoping it out on the periphery, but too many other hobby projects going to do a deep dive.

                  Not gonna lie, it's what inspired half of that.

                  4 votes
              2. knocklessmonster
                Link Parent
                That sounds like existing mesh networks. The irony is, these meshes require distribution to work, and tend to exist in scattered, disparate pockets. I believe there are ham operators who extend...

                That sounds like existing mesh networks. The irony is, these meshes require distribution to work, and tend to exist in scattered, disparate pockets. I believe there are ham operators who extend these, but you need a radio license to do it.

                4 votes
          2. [2]
            ShroudedMouse
            Link Parent
            Beaker browser - A P2P web. It reminds me of how the web used to be back in the 90s.

            Beaker browser - A P2P web. It reminds me of how the web used to be back in the 90s.

            3 votes
            1. admicos
              Link Parent
              (Hoping I didn't get anything wrong) The problem I see with Beaker (and to be honest, a lot of other "new web" projects) is that "the protocol" is the easy part of the puzzle. There are a LOT of...

              (Hoping I didn't get anything wrong)

              The problem I see with Beaker (and to be honest, a lot of other "new web" projects) is that "the protocol" is the easy part of the puzzle. There are a LOT of independent HTTP(S) implementations, and as far as I know it passes my "open standard" test¹ of being implement-able by your average programmer in ~2 months².

              Beaker still expects the HTML+CSS[+JS] combo, which is the most complicated part of all this, especially with the rapid expansion of new "features", where not even Microsoft could keep up with them and had to switch to Chromium.

              You (or someone else) might think then: Why not just serve other formats over (a subset) HTTP and create browsers to render those instead? Gemini's original author Solderpunk has a pretty nice writeup answering that: gemini://gemini.circumlunar.space/~solderpunk/gemlog/why-not-just-use-a-subset-of-http-and-html.gmi (HTTP proxy)

              ¹: See the first paragraph of https://ecmelberk.com/posts/open-standards-are-simple.html
              ²: I don't really follow HTTP's development. It might be a lot more complicated than I expect here.

              3 votes
        2. [2]
          TheMeerkat
          Link Parent
          Fork Firefox and keep going from there. It's open source, and not impenetrably difficult to do (several projects already have).

          Fork Firefox and keep going from there. It's open source, and not impenetrably difficult to do (several projects already have).

          10 votes
          1. stu2b50
            Link Parent
            I'd say it would end up being close to impossible. Google is inevitably going to keep pushing for new features for their own purposes, and that's not necessarily something done in malice, web...

            I'd say it would end up being close to impossible. Google is inevitably going to keep pushing for new features for their own purposes, and that's not necessarily something done in malice, web standards have many holes in them, after all. But it becomes incredibly difficult for free volunteers to keep up Google engineers. And the further behind in features FF falls, the more people stop using it, because in the end, having web pages work properly is what 99% of people care about.

            16 votes
    2. knocklessmonster
      Link Parent
      Chrome with Microsoft telemetry. Not too much of a difference if you're already using Windows, but if you're on MacOS or Linux and want to limit who's tracking you, dont use it.

      Chrome with Microsoft telemetry.

      Not too much of a difference if you're already using Windows, but if you're on MacOS or Linux and want to limit who's tracking you, dont use it.

      8 votes
  5. ohyran
    Link
    This is an odd one being that I've used FF for years and switching to Chromium is just a headache, trying to set up something similar to containers and similar privacy and UX features is just...

    This is an odd one being that I've used FF for years and switching to Chromium is just a headache, trying to set up something similar to containers and similar privacy and UX features is just impossible on Chromium.

    But I guess its the same the other way around - all the little work arounds you get used to seems like features when you leave them.

    5 votes
  6. [7]
    Turtle
    Link
    IMO Firefox is a lost cause. Personally I abandoned it months ago. If you're worried about privacy, Chromium + addons is just as good as anything you can do with Firefox. Might as well switch now...

    IMO Firefox is a lost cause. Personally I abandoned it months ago. If you're worried about privacy, Chromium + addons is just as good as anything you can do with Firefox. Might as well switch now and get it over with. It's a lot faster too!

    5 votes
    1. [6]
      suspended
      Link Parent
      Is this a joke?

      Is this a joke?

      22 votes
      1. [5]
        lionirdeadman
        Link Parent
        There truly are people who think a monoculture around chromium is not problematic and that Mozilla is a time-bomb. I don't think it's a joke unfortunately.

        There truly are people who think a monoculture around chromium is not problematic and that Mozilla is a time-bomb. I don't think it's a joke unfortunately.

        19 votes
        1. [4]
          Turtle
          Link Parent
          I do think a Chromium monoculture is problematic. I just don't think there's anything I can do about it. And is the time bomb thing actually wrong? It seems like the writing is on the walls with...

          I do think a Chromium monoculture is problematic. I just don't think there's anything I can do about it. And is the time bomb thing actually wrong? It seems like the writing is on the walls with the lay offs, all of the weird monetization schemes, the sheer disparity in available resources, the fast pace of web evolution, shrinking market share, etc. I just don't see how Mozilla can survive.

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            lionirdeadman
            Link Parent
            Using a non-Chromium browser would help at least with marketshare. The lay offs did not affect the browser, it was research projects which got cut off. This is because they're trying to not rely...

            I just don't think there's anything I can do about it.

            Using a non-Chromium browser would help at least with marketshare.

            It seems like the writing is on the walls with the lay offs

            The lay offs did not affect the browser, it was research projects which got cut off.

            all of the weird monetization schemes

            This is because they're trying to not rely on the search deals as much to survive monetarily. I don't see how that's weird at all.

            the fast pace of web evolution

            While this is true, that has always been the case and in recent times, Igalia at least said this was getting better to deal with on the compatibility side of things.

            14 votes
            1. dblohm7
              Link Parent
              This is really frustrating as an insider. Either we suck for taking money from Google, or we suck for trying to find ways to move away from that. Usually it devolves into the following: Execs are...

              This is because they're trying to not rely on the search deals as much to survive monetarily. I don't see how that's weird at all.

              This is really frustrating as an insider. Either we suck for taking money from Google, or we suck for trying to find ways to move away from that.

              Usually it devolves into the following:

              • Execs are too highly paid;
              • The staff are too highly paid to be working in non-profit and should just be working for peanuts;
              • Discussions on the semantics of “non-profit” and whether Mozilla Corporation qualifies as non-profit being a for-profit legal entity that is 100% owned by a non-profit foundation;
              • Somebody suggests that paid Mozilla staff should only be hired from inexpensive jurisdictions;

              And so on and so forth...

              21 votes
          2. vord
            Link Parent
            Because Mozilla was able to yank IE6 from almost 100% market share by un-stagnating the web. Mozilla itself might not be able to do it again (I truly think they can... the new containerization is...

            , the fast pace of web evolution, shrinking market share, etc. I just don't see how Mozilla can survive.

            Because Mozilla was able to yank IE6 from almost 100% market share by un-stagnating the web.

            Mozilla itself might not be able to do it again (I truly think they can... the new containerization is phenomenal), but they will leave behind enough of a legacy that another group could take up the reigns.

            8 votes