Mozilla, Gecko Archive

Firefox is back – it’s time to give it a try.

Mozilla recently hit the reset button on Firefox. About two years ago, six Mozilla employees were huddled around a bonfire one night in Santa Cruz, Calif., when they began discussing the state of web browsers. Eventually, they concluded there was a "crisis of confidence" in the web.

"If they don't trust the web, they won't use the web," Mark Mayo, Mozilla's chief product officer, said in an interview. "That just felt to us like that actually might be the direction we're going. And so we started to think about tools and architectures and different approaches."

Now Firefox is back. Mozilla released a new version late last year, code-named Quantum. It is sleekly designed and fast; Mozilla said the revamped Firefox consumes less memory than the competition, meaning you can fire up lots of tabs and browsing will still feel buttery smooth.

Firefox is in a good place right now, and has gained a lot of momentum since the release of Quantum. With Chrome's dominance, I'm really glad people are looking at alternatives such as Firefox and even Edge (the latter being my browser of choice for some inexplicable reason).

Linux sandboxing improvements in Firefox 60

Continuing our past work, Firefox 60 brings further important improvements to security sandboxing on Linux, making it harder for attackers that find security bugs in the browser to escalate those into attacks against the rest of the system.

The most important change is that content processes - which render Web pages and execute JavaScript - are no longer allowed to directly connect to the Internet, or connect to most local services accessed with Unix-domain sockets (for example, PulseAudio).

This means that content processes have to follow any network access restrictions Firefox imposes - for example, if the browser has been set up to use a proxy server, connecting directly to the internet is no longer possible. But more important are the restrictions on connections to local services: they often assume that anything connecting to them has the full authority of the user running it, and either allow it to ask for arbitrary code to run, or aren't careful about preventing that. Normally that's not a security problem because the client could just run that code itself, but if it's a sandboxed Firefox process, that could have meant a sandbox escape.

Mozilla adds sponsored content to Firefox

Mozilla's Nate Weiner:

Content on the web is powerful. It enables us to learn new things, discover different perspectives, stay in touch with what's happening in the world, or just make us laugh. Making sure that stories like these - stories that are worth your time and attention - are discoverable and supported is central to what we care about at Pocket.

It's important for quality content like this to thrive - and a critical way it's funded is through advertising. But unfortunately, today, this advertising model is broken. It doesn't respect user privacy, it's not transparent, and it lacks control, all the while starting to move us toward low quality, clickbait content.

We believe the Internet can do better. So earlier this year, we started to explore a new model and showed an occasional sponsored story in Pocket's recommendation section on Firefox New Tab. Starting today, we're expanding this work further - now Firefox Nightly and Beta users may also see these sponsored stories. We're preparing for this feature to go fully live in May to Firefox users in the US with the Firefox 60 release.

Luckily, you can turn this off.

Firefox is on a slippery slope

For a long time, it was just setting the default search provider to Google in exchange for a beefy stipend. Later, paid links in your new tab page were added. Then, a proprietary service, Pocket, was bundled into the browser - not as an addon, but a hardcoded feature. In the past few days, we’ve discovered an advertisement in the form of browser extension was sideloaded into user browsers. Whoever is leading these decisions at Mozilla needs to be stopped.

Mozilla garnered a lot of fully deserved goodwill with the most recent Firefox release, and here they are, jeopardising all that hard work. People expect this kind of nonsense from Google, Apple, or Microsoft - not Mozilla. Is it unfair to judge Mozilla much more harshly than those others? Perhaps, but that's a consequence of appealing to more demanding users when it comes to privacy and open source.

How Firefox got fast again

People have noticed that Firefox is fast again.

Over the past seven months, we’ve been rapidly replacing major parts of the engine, introducing Rust and parts of Servo to Firefox. Plus, we’ve had a browser performance strike force scouring the codebase for performance issues, both obvious and non-obvious.

We call this Project Quantum, and the first general release of the reborn Firefox Quantum comes out tomorrow.

orthographic drawing of jet engine

But this doesn’t mean that our work is done. It doesn’t mean that today’s Firefox is as fast and responsive as it’s going to be.

So, let’s look at how Firefox got fast again and where it’s going to get faster.

I should definitely give Firefox another try - I've tried it over the years but it always felt a little sluggish compared to the competition. Chrome's gotten way too fat over the years, so I've resorted to using Edge on my main computer lately - it isn't perfect, but it it sure is fast, and places very little strain on my machine. I want my browser to get out of my way, and gobbling up processor cycles is exactly not that.

The story of Firefox OS

So I'd like to tell you my version of the story of Firefox OS, from the birth of the Boot to Gecko open source software project as a mailing list post and an empty GitHub repository in 2011, through its commercial launch as the Firefox OS mobile operating system, right up until the "transition" of millions of lines of code to the community in 2016.

During this five year journey hundreds of members of the wider Mozilla community came together with a shared vision to disrupt the app ecosystem with the power of the open web. I'd like to reflect on our successes, our failures and the lessons we can learn from the experience of taking an open source browser based mobile operating system to market.

Project Mortar wants Pepper API Flash & PDFium in Firefox

PDFium is the Google open-source project for PDF support in Google Chrome. PDFium was previously closed-source based upon Foxit PDF technology while now it's been fully open-source since 2014.

The Pepper API Flash implementation is also what's used by Google's Chrome web-browser. By switching to the PAPI-based Flash, Firefox would be able to finish getting rid of their NPAPI support with the Firefox Flash support still relying upon it with Shumway and other projects not panning out.

Mozilla ceases all Firefox OS development

By the end of 2015 Mozilla leadership had come to the conclusion that our then Firefox OS initiative of shipping phones with commercial partners would not bring Mozilla the returns we sought. We made the first of a series of announcements about changes in the development of Firefox OS at Mozilla. Since then we have gradually wound down that work and, as of the end of July 2016 have stopped all commercial development on Firefox OS. This message recaps what transpired during that period of time and also describes what will happen with the Firefox OS code base going forward.

Symbian, Sailfish OS, BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone, Firefox OS.

Firefox 48 beta, release, and E10S

In the next few days, Firefox 48 Beta becomes available. If all goes well in our beta testing, we're about 6 weeks away from shipping the first phase of E10S to Firefox release users with the launch of Firefox 48 on August 2nd.

E10S is short for "Electrolysis". Similar to how chemists can use the technique called electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, we're using project Electrolysis to split Firefox into a UI process and a content process. Splitting UI from content means that when a web page is devouring your computer's processor, your tabs and buttons and menus won't lock up too.

Save Firefox!

We need competition; we also need diversity. We need the possibility that young, game-changing market entrants might come along. We need that idea to be kept alive, to make sure that all the browsers don't shift from keeping users happy to just keeping a few giant corporations that dominate the Web happy. Because there's always pressure to do that, and if all the browsers end up playing that same old game, the users will always lose.

We need more Firefoxes.

We need more browsers that treat their users, rather than publishers, as their customers. It's the natural cycle of concentration-disruption-renewal that has kept the Web vibrant for nearly 20 years (eons, in web-years).

We may never get another one, though.

Sometimes, I feel a little dirty for using Chrome just about anywhere, instead of Firefox. The problem is that switching browsers is not something I just do willy-nilly; you build up certain ways of using a browser, and with it being by far the most-used and most important application on my PC, even the tiniest of things become ingrained, and the tiniest of differences between browsers will annoy the crap out of me. I do give other browsers a chance every now and then, just to keep up with the times - but I always end up back at Chrome.

That being said, Doctorow's article paints a very bleak picture of the future of browsers, because according to him, the W3C has basically become a tool for the few big tech companies to dictate the direction of browsers and therefore the web with it, with disastrous consequences.

Mozilla stops developing and selling Firefox OS

Farewell Firefox OS smartphones. Mozilla today announced an end to its smartphone experiment, and said that it would stop developing and selling Firefox OS smartphones. It will continue to experiment on how it might work on other connected devices and Internet of Things networks.

Firefox OS was doomed from the start, just as all the other attempts at competing with iOS and Android. The cold, harsh, and sad truth is that modern mobile computing just isn't conducive to small and upstart platforms. You need the applications, you need the scale, you need the hearts and minds.

And all of those are taken by Google and Apple, and nobody else matters. It's too late.

The future of Thunderbird

Mozilla chairperson Mitchell Baker:

Therefore I believe Thunderbird should would thrive best by separating itself from reliance on Mozilla development systems and in some cases, Mozilla technology. The current setting isn't stable, and we should start actively looking into how we can transition in an orderly way to a future where Thunderbird and Firefox are un-coupled. I don't know what this will look like, or how it will work yet. I do know that it needs to happen, for both Firefox and Thunderbird's sake. This is a big job, and may require expertise that the Thunderbird team doesn't yet have. Mozilla can provide various forms of assistance to the Thunderbird team via a set of the Mozilla Foundation’s capabilities.

Are there still any Thunderbird users left? It's been in maintenance mode for a while, and there's several great alternatives (some of them even based on Thunderbird). That being said, having Thunderbird as a separate entity from Firefox, that can make its own decisions, could benefit the open source project greatly.

Firefox OS 2.5 Developer Preview; Firefox for iOS

Today we have made Firefox OS 2.5 available worldwide. We are also making an early, experimental build of the OS - Firefox OS 2.5 Developer Preview - available for developers to download on Android devices.

So you can flash Firefox OS 2.5 as a standalone operating system, or run parts of it atop your existing Android device.

On a related note:

Firefox for iOS lets you take your favorite browser with you wherever you go with the Firefox features you already love including smart and flexible search, intuitive tab management, syncing with Firefox Accounts and Private Browsing.

iOS, of course, doesn't provide real browser choice to its users, so even this Firefox iOS browser uses iOS' own rendering engine.

Revisiting how we build Firefox

Big changes afoot for Firefox.

We intend to move Firefox away from XUL and XBL, but the discussion of how to do that is in the early stages. There are a ton of unanswered questions: what technologies/best practices for web development should we adopt in its place? How does this affect add-on developers? Is there space for a native-code main-window on desktop like we have on Android? How much time should we spend on this vs. other quality issues? What unanswered questions have we not asked yet?

This clearly isn't a small endeavour, but the rationale given seems sound to me.

First Panasonic smart TVs with Firefox OS debut

Panasonic Smart TVs powered by Firefox OS are optimized for HTML5 to provide strong performance of Web apps and come with a new intuitive and customizable user interface which allows quick access to favorite channels, apps, websites and content on other devices. Through Mozilla-pioneered WebAPIs, developers can leverage the flexibility of the Web to create customized and innovative apps and experiences across connected devices.

Great news for Mozilla, of course, but I honestly wonder about the longevity of the smart TV. Much like the smartwatch, it feels like whole lot of forced hype with little to show for itself.

Mozilla’s Flash-killer ‘Shumway’ appears in Firefox nightlies

In November 2012 the Mozilla Foundation announced "Project Shumway", an effort to create a "web-native runtime implementation of the SWF file format."

Two-and-a-bit years, and a colossal number of Flash bugs later, Shumway has achieved an important milestone by appearing in a Firefox nightly, a step that suggests it's getting closer to inclusion in the browser.

I was unaware Flash needed a 'killer' at this point.

The transparent Fx0 will finally make you want a Firefox OS phone

Firefox OS is coming to Japan and doing it in style.

Announced at a KDDI press event in Tokyo today, the Fx0 is a striking 4.7-inch smartphone with a transparent shell and a home button decorated with the golden Firefox logo embracing the Earth. It runs the latest version of Mozilla's web-centric mobile OS and was designed by noted Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka, whose previous collaboration with KDDI produced a phone worthy of making it into the Museum of Modern Art's collection. With the Fx0, Yoshioka has worked around the familiar outlines of LG's G3 design (LG is the silent partner producing the device) and adapted them to a smaller size while producing a delightful aesthetic in the process. Like a watch with a window showing its internal mechanism, this phone's exposed electronics are a subtle reminder of its technical sophistication - plus, that Firefox home button is just plain cool.

It's different, surely, but.... No. Just no.