Mozilla, Gecko Archive

Mozilla opts to extended Windows 7/8/8.1 support

Among them, Byron Jourdan, Senior Director, Product Management of Mozilla, under the Reddit username ComprehensiveDoor643 revealed that Mozilla plans to support Firefox on Windows 7 for longer. When asked separately about whether it also included Windows 8 and 8.1 too, Jourdan added that it was certainly the plan, though for how long the extended support would last was still undecided. ↫ Sayan Sen at Neowin Excellent move by Mozilla. I doubt there’s that many new features and frameworks in Windows 10 or 11 that are absolutely essential to Firefox working properly, so assuming it can gracefully disable any possible Windows 10/11-exclusive features, it should be entirely possible to use Firefox as an up-to-date, secure, and capable browser on Windows 7/8.x. Windows 7 and 8.x users still make up about 2.7% of Windows users worldwide, and with Windows’ popularity, that probably still translates to millions and millions of people. Making sure these people have access to a safe and secure browser is a huge boon, and I’m very happy Mozilla is going to keep supporting these platforms as best they can, at least for now. For those of us who already consider especially Windows 7 a retrocomputing platform – I sure do – this is also great news, as any retro box or VM we load up with it will also get a modern browser. Just excellent news all around.

Mozilla integrating AI chatbots into Firefox

Mozilla has announced it’s adding easy access to tool like ChatGPT, Gemini, and so to Firefox. Whether it’s a local or a cloud-based model, if you want to use AI, we think you should have the freedom to use (or not use) the tools that best suit your needs. With that in mind, this week, we will launch an opt-in experiment offering access to preferred AI services in Nightly for improved productivity as you browse. Instead of juggling between tabs or apps for assistance, those who have opted-in will have the option to access their preferred AI service from the Firefox sidebar to summarize information, simplify language, or test their knowledge, all without leaving their current web page.  Our initial offering will include ChatGPT, Google Gemini, HuggingChat, and Le Chat Mistral, but we will continue adding AI services that meet our standards for quality and user experience. ↫ Ian Carmichael My biggest worry is not so much Mozilla adding these tools to Firefox – other browsers are doing it, and people clearly want to use them, so it makes sense for Firefox, too, to integrate them into the browser. No, my biggest worry is that this is just the first step on the way to the next major revenue agreement – just as Google is paying Mozilla to be the default search engine in Firefox, what if OpenAI starts paying to be the default AI tool in Firefox? Once that happens, I’m afraid a lot of the verbiage around choice and the ability to easily disable it all is going to change. I’m still incredibly annoyed by the fact I have to dive into about:config just to properly remove Pocket, a service I do not use, do not want, and annoys me by taking up space in my UI. I’m afraid that one or two years from now, AI integration will be just another complex set of strings I need to look for in about:config to truly disable it all. It definitely feels like Firefox is only going to get worse from here on out, not better, and this AI stuff seems more like an invitation for a revenue agreement than something well thought-out and useful. We’ll see where things go from here, but my worries about Firefox’ future are only growing stronger with Mozilla’s latest moves. As a Linux user, this makes me worried.

Mozilla acquires ad analytics company, for some reason

One of my biggest concerns regarding the state of the web isn’t ads (easily blocked) or machine learning (the legal system isn’t going to be kind to that), but the possible demise of Firefox. I’ve long been worried that with the seemingly never-ending downward marketshare spiral Firefox is in – it’s at like 3% now on desktop, even less on mobile – Mozilla’s pretty much sole source of income will eventually pull the plug, leaving the already struggling browser effectively for dead. I’ve continuously been warning that the first casualty of the downward spiral would be Firefox on platforms other than Windows and macOS. So, what do we make of Mozilla buying an online advertising analytics company? Mozilla has acquired Anonym, a trailblazer in privacy-preserving digital advertising. This strategic acquisition enables Mozilla to help raise the bar for the advertising industry by ensuring user privacy while delivering effective advertising solutions. ↫ Laura Chambers They way Mozilla explains buying an advertising network is that the company wants to be a trailblazer privacy-conscious online advertising, since the current brand of online advertising, which relies on massive amounts of data collection, is unsustainable. Anonym instead employs a number of measures to ensure that privacy is guaranteed, from anonymous analytics to employing differential privacy when it comes to algorithms, ensuring data can’t be used to tack individual users. I have no reason to doubt Mozilla’s intentions here – at least for now – but intentions change, people in charge change, and circumstances change. Having an ad network integrated into the Mozilla organisation will surely lead to temptations of weakening Firefox’ privacy features and ad-blocking abilities, and just overall I find it an odd acquisition target for something like Mozilla, and antithetical to why most people use Firefox in the first place. What really doesn’t help is who originally founded Anonym – two former Facebook executives, backed by a load of venture capital. Do with that little tidbit of information as you please.

Exclusive: Mozilla reverses course, re-lists extensions it removed in Russia

Two days ago, I broke the news that Mozilla removed several Firefox extensions from the add-on store in Russia, after pressure from Russian censors. Mozilla provided me with an official statement, which seemed to highlight that the decision was not final, and it seems I was right – today, probably helped by the outcry our story caused, Mozilla has announced it’s reversing the decision. In a statement sent to me via email, an unnamed Mozilla spokesperson says: In alignment with our commitment to an open and accessible internet, Mozilla will reinstate previously restricted listings in Russia. Our initial decision to temporarily restrict these listings was made while we considered the regulatory environment in Russia and the potential risk to our community and staff. As outlined in our Manifesto, Mozilla’s core principles emphasise the importance of an internet that is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. Users should be free to customise and enhance their online experience through add-ons without undue restrictions. By reinstating these add-ons, we reaffirm our dedication to: – Openness: Promoting a free and open internet where users can shape their online experience.– Accessibility: Ensuring that the internet remains a public resource accessible to everyone, regardless of geographical location. We remain committed to supporting our users in Russia and worldwide and will continue to advocate for an open and accessible internet for all. ↫ Mozilla spokesperson via email I’m glad Mozilla reversed its decision, because giving in to a dictatorship never ends well – it starts with a few extensions today, but ends up with the kind of promotional tours for China that Tim Cook goes on regularly. Firefox is a browser that lives or dies by its community, and if that community is unhappy with the course of Mozilla or the decisions it makes, especially ones that touch on core values and human rights, it’s not going to end well for them. That being said, this does make me wonder what would’ve happened if the forum thread that started all this died in obscurity and never made its way to the media. Would Mozilla have made the same reversal?

Under pressure from Russian censors, Mozilla removes anti-censorship extensions

A few days ago, I was pointed to a post on the Mozilla forums, in which developers of Firefox extensions designed to circumvent Russian censorship were surprised to find that their extensions were suddenly no longer available within Russia. The extension developers and other users in the thread were obviously not amused, and since they had received no warning or any other form of communication from Mozilla, they were left in the dark as to what was going on. I did a journalism and contacted Mozilla directly, and inquired about the situation. Within less than 24 hours Mozilla got back to me with an official statement, attributed to an unnamed Mozilla spokesperson: Following recent regulatory changes in Russia, we received persistent requests from Roskomnadzor demanding that five add-ons be removed from the Mozilla add-on store. After careful consideration, we’ve temporarily restricted their availability within Russia. Recognizing the implications of these actions, we are closely evaluating our next steps while keeping in mind our local community. ↫ Mozilla spokesperson via email I and most people I talked to already suspected this was the case, and considering Russia is a totalitarian dictatorship, it’s not particularly surprising it would go after browser extensions that allow people to circumvent state censorship. Other totalitarian dictatorships like China employ similar, often far more sophisticated methods of state control and censorship, too, so it’s right in line with expectations. I would say that I’m surprised Mozilla gave in, but at the same time, it’s highly likely resisting would lead to massive fines and possible arrests of any Mozilla employees or contributors living in Russia, if any such people exist, and I can understand a non-profit like Mozilla not having the means to effectively stand up against the Russian government. That being said, Mozilla’s official statement seems to imply they’re still in the middle of their full decision-making process regarding this issue, so other options may still be on the table, and I think it’s prudent to give Mozilla some more time to deal with this situation. Regardless, this decision is affecting real people inside Russia, and I’m sure if you’re using tools like these inside a totalitarian dictatorship, you’re probably not too fond of said dictatorship. Losing access to these Firefox extensions through the official add-store will be a blow to their human rights, so let’s hope the source code and ‘sideloaded’ versions of these extensions remain available for them to use instead.

Firefox nightly now available for Linux on ARM64

Linux distributions running on ARM have had to roll their own Firefox builds for the architecture since forever, and it seems that Mozilla has taken this to heart as the browser maker is now supplying binary ARM builds of Firefox. They come in either a tarball or a .deb package installable through Mozilla’s apt repository. Do note, though, that Mozilla does not give the same kinds of guarantees for the ARM build of Firefox as they do for the x86 builds. We want to be upfront about the current state of our ARM64 builds. Although we are confident in the quality of Firefox on this architecture, we are still incorporating comprehensive ARM64 testing into Firefox’s continuous integration and release pipeline. Our goal is to integrate ARM64 builds into Firefox’s extensive automated test suite, which will enable us to offer this architecture across the beta, release, and ESR channels. ↫ Gabriel Bustamante These new builds won’t mean much for the average ARM Linux user since distributions built Firefox for the architecture already anyway, but it does offer users a direct line to Firefox they didn’t have before.

A better, more compact UI for Firefox

Proton is Firefox’s new design, starting from Firefox 89. Photon is the old design of Firefox which was used until version 88. Proton’s overall feel is good, but there were a few things I didn’t like and wanted to improve.That’s why this project was born, and Lepton to denote light theme layer. Lepton’s photon styled is preserve Photon’s feeling while keep Original Lepton’s strengths. ↫ Firefox UI Fix GitHub page I do not like the current Firefox user interface, because even with the ‘compact’ layout re-enabled in about:config, I find it just too bulky and wasteful of my screen real estate. I’ve been using the above Firefox user interface mod for ages now, and I can’t imagine using Firefox without it. The GitHub pages and guides are a bit of a mess and difficult to follow due to the project consisting of several overlapping different styles, but I just use the script listed here, selecting the style “2” when running the script. It won’t be for everyone, but for me, it makes Firefox nice and compact, turning it into a mouse-first interface without trying to accommodate touch. This is also by far not the only project with this goal, so if you’re using something else – feel free to list them.

Mozilla drops Onerep after CEO admits to running people-search networks

The nonprofit organization that supports the Firefox web browser said today it is winding down its new partnership with Onerep, an identity protection service recently bundled with Firefox that offers to remove users from hundreds of people-search sites. The move comes just days after a report by KrebsOnSecurity forced Onerep’s CEO to admit that he has founded dozens of people-search networks over the years. On March 14, KrebsOnSecurity published a story showing that Onerep’s Belarusian CEO and founder Dimitiri Shelest launched dozens of people-search services since 2010, including a still-active data broker called Nuwber that sells background reports on people. Onerep and Shelest did not respond to requests for comment on that story. ↫ Brian Krebs It’s good that Mozilla has immediately responded properly to this discovery, but it does make one wonder – how did this happen in the first place? It seems like a service provider like this would be thoroughly vetted, especially considering Mozilla’s stated mission and types of users. My worries about Firefox’ future are no secret, and this gaffe certainly doesn’t help reduce my worries. It’s clear something went horribly wrong here, and my hope is that it’s a random fluke, and not a sign of more structural problems in Mozilla’s vetting process for potential partners.

Why I use Firefox

Questions like “Which browser should I use?” regularly come up on the r/browsers subreddit. I sometimes respond to these posts, but my quick replies usually only contain one or two points. To be honest, until recently I wasn’t even sure myself why I use Firefox. Of course it’s a pretty good browser, but that doesn’t explain why I’ve stubbornly stayed loyal to Firefox for more than a decade. After giving it a bit more thought, I came up with the following reasons. ↫ Šime Vidas There’s really no viable alternative to Firefox for me. I wish we had more choice, more competition, and more vibrancy in the browser space, and I’m definitely anxious about the future of Firefox, but with every other browser being either Chrome, possibly with skin, or Safari, there’s really nowhere else to go.

Mozilla downsizes as it refocuses on Firefox and AI

Specifically, Mozilla plans to scale back its investment in a number of products, including its VPN, Relay and, somewhat remarkably, its Online Footprint Scrubber, which launched only a week ago. Mozilla will also shut down Hubs, the 3D virtual world it launched back in 2018, and scale back its investment in its Mastodon instance. The layoffs will affect roughly 60 employees. Bloomberg previously reported the layoffs. Going forward, the company said in an internal memo, Mozilla will focus on bringing “trustworthy AI into Firefox.” To do so, it will bring together the teams that work on Pocket, Content and AI/Ml. ↫ Frederic Lardinois for TechCrunch I’d like to remind everyone that I’ve been warning the Linux world about the precarious, uncertain future of Firefox for years now. The single most important desktop Linux application is in a death spiral and entirely dependent on free Google money. Not a good base to work from. With today’s news, I only feel strengthened in my conviction that the major desktop projects in the Linux world need to come together in a serious manner to discuss the establishment of a browser project optimised for Linux. Pick an engine, let the GNOME and KDE developers build a native UI on top, and take matters into your own hands. If you can build the two best desktop environments in desktop computing today, you can build a first-class browser together. This is existential.

Mozilla names new CEO as it pivots to data privacy

Mozilla Corp., which manages the open-source Firefox browser, announced today that Mitchell Baker is stepping down as CEO to focus on AI and internet safety as chair of the nonprofit foundation. Laura Chambers, a Mozilla board member and entrepreneur with experience at Airbnb, PayPal, and eBay, will step in as interim CEO to run operations until a permanent replacement is found. Baker, a Silicon Valley pioneer who co-founded the Mozilla Project, says it was her decision to step down as CEO, adding that the move is motivated by a sense of urgency over the current state of the internet and public trust. “We want to offer an alternative for people to have better products,” says Baker, who wants to draw more attention to policies, products and processes to challenge business models built on fueling outrage. “What are the connections between this global malaise and how humans are engaging with each other and technology?” ↫ Diane Brady for Fortune Mozilla is in such a tough spot. They basically have zero consumer appeal, have no recognisable products other than Firefox, and effectively exist by the grace of Google, of all companies. If Mozilla gets in even more trouble, a lot of OSNews readers are going to feel it – and the internet as whole will feel the repercussions even if they don’t realise it. Hearing so much talk about “AI” from Mozilla doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

Over the edge: the use of design tactics to undermine browser choice

In order to be able to choose their own browser, people must be free to download it, easily set it to default and to continue using it – all without interference from the operating system. Windows users do not currently enjoy this freedom of choice. To investigate Microsoft’s tactics and the impact on consumers, Mozilla commissioned Harry Brignull and Cennydd Bowles, independent researchers and experts in harmful design. Today, the researchers have published a report detailing how Microsoft prevents effective browser choice on Windows. In the report, they document how Microsoft places its own browser — Edge — at the center of its operating system and weaponizes Windows’ user interface design to undermine people selecting rival browsers. ↫ Mozilla Research We all already know Microsoft does these things, and of course, a study paid for by Mozilla agreeing with Mozilla is not exactly earth-shattering, but stuff like this is important for aiding in convincing regulators to do something about this stuff. It simply shouldn’t be legal to employ all kinds of nasty tricks and dark patterns to force people to use a certain browser.

Mozilla creates Firefox ppa and .deb package

Great news for Linux users, after months of testing, Mozilla released today a new package for Firefox on Linux (specifically on Ubuntu, Debian, and any Debian-based distribution). If you’ve heard about Linux, which is known for its open-source software and an alternative to traditional operating systems (OS), and are curious to learn more, here are four reasons why you should give our new Firefox on Linux package a try. ↫ Gabriel Bustamente and Johan Lorenzo It’s a ppa and .deb package straight from Mozilla itself, so you don’t have to to rely on your distribution’s maintainers (as long as you use a Debian-based distribution, that is). Do note, however, that some distributions actually make changes to the default Firefox code, such as Fedora enabling things like Wayland-by-default and hardware-accelerated video decoding long before those became default in Firefox-proper. By using Mozilla’s package, you’ll lose all of these changes. As a sidenote, Mozilla’s instructions for enabling the ppa and installing the .deb are a bit… Dubious, though.

Platform tilt: documenting the uneven playing field for an independent browser like Firefox

This tilt manifests in a variety of ways. For example: making it harder for a user to download and use a different browser, ignoring or resetting a user’s default browser preference, restricting capabilities to the first-party browser, or requiring the use of the first-party browser engine for third-party browsers. For years, Mozilla has engaged in dialog with platform vendors in an effort to address these issues. With renewed public attention and an evolving regulatory environment, we think it’s time to publish these concerns using the same transparent process and tools we use to develop positions on emerging technical standards. So today we’re publishing a new issue tracker where we intend to document the ways in which platforms put Firefox at a disadvantage and engage with the vendors of those platforms to resolve them. ↫ The official Mozilla blog Excellent initative.

In 2024, please switch to Firefox

This December, if there’s one tech New Year’s resolution I’d encourage you to have, it’s switching to the only remaining ethical web browser, Firefox. According to recent posts on social media, Firefox’s market share is slipping. We should not let that happen. ↫ Roy Tanck I mean, yes, obviously, but how depressing is it that the only choice we have is between a browser made by Google, and a browser kept afloat by Google money? Where’s the real sustainable alternative?

Firefox on the brink?

A somewhat obscure guideline for developers of U.S. government websites may be about to accelerate the long, sad decline of Mozilla’s Firefox browser. There already are plenty of large entities, both public and private, whose websites lack proper support for Firefox; and that will get only worse in the near future, because the ’fox’s auburn paws are perilously close to the lip of the proverbial slippery slope. ↫ Bryce Wray US government guidelines say that US government websites only need to be tested on browsers with more than 2% market share – and Firefox is getting perilously close to that threshold. While it won’t kill Firefox overnight, it would definitely make Firefox progressively more cumbersome to use for American users, and could have ripple effects elsewhere.

Firefox lost users during “failed” Yahoo search deal, says Mozilla CEO

This week, Mozilla CEO Mitchell Baker rose as a key figure in Google’s defense against the Justice Department’s monopoly claims. Providing a video deposition for the landmark trial, Baker testified that Mozilla’s popular browser Firefox tried to switch from using Google as a default search engine but reverted back after a “failed” bet on Yahoo made it clear that Google was Firefox users’ preferred search engine. That fits in a long string of similar claims – namely, that defaulting to anything but Google is impossible, because nothing else is even remotely as good as Google Search, because none of the others are the default, meaning they don’t get the amount of queries needed to improve search quality, and on the spiral goes. What’s spicy here is that this trial could potentially turn out to be Mozilla’s downfall, since Google’s search deals with, among others, Mozilla, are up for debate. Desktop Linux’ Firefox problem could explode sooner than we might think.

Can browser choice screens be effective?

Mozilla has conducted one of the first – maybe even the first – studies into the effectiveness of browser choice screens, and they conclude: This research showed that browser choice screens have the potential to be effective. Well designed browser choice screens can improve competition, giving people meaningful choice and improving people’s satisfaction and feelings of control. And they can do all of this without overburdening people or taking too much of their time. What’s more, people have strong preferences: it turns out they want the ability to choose their default browser (rather than being assigned one by the operating system/device manufacturer); they also want to pick from a wider range of browsers. You can download the full report from Mozilla.

The Servo project is joining Linux Foundation Europe

Created by Mozilla Research in 2012, the Servo project was the first major Rust codebase other than the compiler itself, and has since been a hallmark for experimental web engine design. Major components of Servo have been incorporated into the Firefox web browser, and several of its parsers and other lower-level libraries have become foundational to the Rust ecosystem. As a promising, modern, and open web engine for building applications and immersive experiences using web technologies, stewardship of Servo moved from Mozilla Research to the Linux Foundation in 2020. In 2023, Servo experienced renewed activity led by Igalia, a Linux Foundation Europe member that now has a team of engineers working on the project. Today we are pleased to announce that the Servo project has officially joined Linux Foundation Europe. I’m very curious to see where Servo goes in the future.

Firefox for Android to get full extension support in the coming months

Mozilla has announced that the Android version of Firefox will soon support any and all extensions, and has informed extension developers about this change. For the past few years Firefox for Android officially supported a small subset of extensions while we focused our efforts on strengthening core Firefox for Android functionality and understanding the unique needs of mobile browser users. Today, Mozilla has built the infrastructure necessary to support an open extension ecosystem on Firefox for Android. We anticipate considerable user demand for more extensions on Firefox for Android, so why not start optimizing your desktop extension for mobile-use right away? This almost instantly makes Firefox the most capable and versatile browser on Android. It’s taken them a long time, but the ability to load whatever extension we want will be a great asset.