I'm about done with using Firefox

created Apr 8, 2020

Firefox lacks simple features that I grew accustomed to with Chrome, such as the simple simon ass ability to view an image in a separate tab. Being able to highlight words in the URL.

Firefox does not scroll well at times when selecting a lot of text to copy or cut. I never experienced this with Chrome.

But the most infuriating aspect of Firefox is their damn auto-updates that have caused me to lose my writing a couple times over the past few months.

https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-stop-firefox-making-automatic-connections

The ability to disable Firefox update checking was removed in Firefox 63.

Today, the frigging Firefox updated and forced me to do a restart, again. It's now on version 75.0.

I don't mind being nagged that I need to update the browser, but I disapprove with automatic updates that then require me to restart the browser when I don't want to be interrupted.

I type a lot in the old venerable HTML textarea box. I'm doing that now with this post, instead of using my JavaScript editor. I use my editor when I know that I'm going to be editing for a long while.

But sometimes or many times, I spend a good while, maybe too long, creating and updating text within a textarea box. Twice in recent weeks or months, including a few days ago, Firefox has updated while I was engaged in a typing session within a textarea box, and for some asinine reason, the screen flashes/reloads, and everything that I typed was lost. No back button. Nothing to retrieve from anywhere. The text that I typed was gone. Lost.

Within my JavaScript editor, it has an auto-save feature, and I can click the save button whenever without leaving the writing area, of course.

But in nearly 25 years of typing in textarea boxes, I have never lost data like I have recently with this modern piece of crap web browser called Firefox.

Firefox only has a browser market share of 4 to 6 percent. Despite all of the years of development and the hundreds of people who have worked on Firefox and the millions of dollars spent on its development, it only has 4 to 6 percent browser share.

Firefox is probably used only by geeks. So why in the hell did Firefox remove the ability to disable auto-updates? This is absurd by Mozilla. It used to be easy to disable auto-updating.

Today when reading web pages, I noticed strange behavior. For unexplained reasons, the page went blank. After a few seconds, the content returned. When I opened a new tab, then I knew what was occurring. The content within the new window said that Firefox had updated, and that I needed to restart my browser.

This is what has caused me to lose writing when using the textarea box. That same flash, like a reload occurs, except everything new that was added to the textarea box was lost. What is occurring in Firefox after an update and before a restart that is causing tabbed views to reload or blank out temporarily?

Last weekend, I went into about:config and set app.update.auto to false, but it still auto-updated this morning.

If I cannot stop this unacceptable behavior, then I will stop using Firefox. I prefer not to use Chrome, but it's almost as if Mozilla's massive amount of development tries to get people to use something other than Firefox.

This morning's new version changed how clicking in the URL window works. With Chrome, one click highlighted the entire URL for copying or cutting. With Firefox, I had to double-click. Eventually, I got used to having to double-click to highlight the entire URL. Now, I'm making mistakes with Firefox because it functions like Chrome when clicking on the URL window. At least now it's easier to highlight a single word in the URL window, which existed in Chrome. The simple things that we get accustomed to.

The other new action that occurs when clicking on the URL window is a drop-down appears that contains my most visited sites recently. I don't find it useful. I find the drop-down a bit distracting, but I have already grown to ignore it.

I can click the URL window, which now highlights the entire URL. And then I can type "f" which wipes out the entire URL window, leaving only the "f" but because of my history, Firefox completes the rest of the URL window with fastmail.com. Then I hit return. I guess that clicking on the URL window and mousing down to Fastmail that appears in the new drop-down would be a step faster. Maybe I'll try it.

I ONLY want to prevent Firefox from auto-updating. That's it. If I can get that to work, then I'll continue to use Firefox.

https://github.com/mozilla/policy-templates/blob/master/README.md#authentication

AppAutoUpdate

Enable or disable automatic application update.

If set to true, application updates are installed without user approval.

If set to false, application updates are downloaded but the user can choose when to install the update.

That's what I want, but how come that is not happening?

At one time, a "Check for Updates" option existed under the Help option or About. What nefarious reasons do these web browser developers have for preventing technical people from preventing auto-updates?

A moment ago, I opened a tab, typed about:config, and then I typed "update" in the search field.

app.update.auto is still set to false.

This time, however, I clicked on "update" and I set that to false.

I set or added or (I don't know) app.update.enabled to false.

This is ridiculous. I don't know if any of this will work. Why is this so hard?

Apr 9, 2020

Today, I installed GNU's IceCat web browser, which is based upon Firefox, except that IceCat is not updated as much.

https://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/gnuzilla/60.7.0/

icecat-60.7.0.en-US.gnulinux-x86_64.tar.bz2   2019-06-02 16:49    51M

https://directory.fsf.org/wiki/Gnuzilla

https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/javascript-trap.html

On my Linux laptop, the main, "modern" web browser that I will use the most will continue to be Firefox. I'll probably use IceCat occasionally, like how I occasionally use NetSurf and Brave. The browser that I use the most after Firefox is Links2.

I still need to install Tor.


Today, Apr 9, 2020, I also installed the GNOME Web web browser.

sudo apt install epiphany-browser

https://wiki.gnome.org/Apps/Web/

Um, a problem. Increasing and decreasing the font size of a web page is done in 25 percent increments, instead of the typical 10 percent increments.

Other browser to consider, listed at the bottom of this page about the Konqueror web browser:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konqueror

Blink-based: Avast Secure Browser Beaker Blisk Brave Chrome Chromium Coc Coc Dragon Edge Epic Falkon Kinza Maxthon Opera Otter Puffin SalamWeb Samsung Internet Silk Sleipnir Sputnik SRWare Torch UC Vivaldi Whale Yandex

Gecko-based: Firefox Conkeror GNU IceCat IceDragon K-Meleon PirateBrowser SeaMonkey TenFourFox Tor Waterfox

WebKit-based: Dolphin Dooble GNOME Web iCab Konqueror Midori Safari surf

Other: 360 Avant Basilisk Cake Browser CM Browser eww Internet Explorer Links Lunascape Lynx NetFront NetSurf Pale Moon QQ browser qutebrowser SlimBrowser w3m

Apr 10, 2020

HN thread started today that pointed to a post about version 75.0 of Firefox.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22831506

https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/75.0/releasenotes/

Thus far, the HN thread contains 190 comments. The top comment:

The new style of the address bar is extremely jarring, and (imo) ugly. It breaks all kinds of UI conventions, drawing itself over other UI elements like the tab bar and the toolbar to the left and right of it.

For this reason alone, at least I've found that setting browser.urlbar.update1 to false in about:config reverts to the old code--mostly. Firefox 75 still seems to have changed the click behavior of the bar to be totally unlike any other program too; it highlights the entire text by default, without putting it in the selection buffer, and in general makes handling it with the mouse a lot more tedious than it used to be.

I'm ragging on this a lot, but seriously, it's a major regression in UX.

Reply:

The select-all Chrome-like behaviour is so horrible. It makes the two most useful interactions with the address bar much more difficult - putting the address into the primary buffer (on X11) so you can paste it somewhere else (this now requires a triple click), and putting the caret inside the address to edit the URL (which now requires clicking twice, but not double clicking because that is different, so you have to click with exactly the right pause inbetween, which is a horrible interaction).

What's extra annoying is that a single click will select the whole address but not put it in the primary buffer! Another UI convention broken.

All of this is to optimise for the most useless address bar interaction - clicking into it with the mouse and then changing to the keyboard to type a new URL, instead of just using ctrl+L. This is a feature made to optimise for people using the software (IMO) incorrectly.

Some of that I understand because of my experience with using Chrome in the past and using Firefox almost exclusively, since late November 2018. But some of what was mentioned in those two comments is unfamiliar to me.

It's amazing how complex and feature-bloated web browsers have become. In a way, it's understandable, since the web is massively popular and used for many functions.

Another reply:

Fully agree that this change is needless, gratuitous and downright ugly. But it gets worse...

The pref that disables the ugly behaviour is going away. Indeed, in some sense it's already gone: "Remove the megabar pref" is already marked as closed.

Again, I believe that the tiny percentage people who use Firefox are mainly geeks or tech savvy web users. If true, then why is Firefox preventing advanced users from customizing the browser's behavior when the functionality existed in the past?

Another HN reply:

I understand Mozilla's need to target base users in this losing war against google, so I'm forgiving when they make Firefox more like Chrome, but I just wish that in their releases they could say "hey, loyal Firefox fans - just disable this, this, and this to keep the previous behaviour".

That way they can pander to the masses as much as they want and still keep their fan base. Right now it feels like the fanbase is being ignored.

In my circle of friends and family members, I'm probably the only one who uses Firefox, and my choice of using primarily Firefox only began over four months ago when I purchased a new laptop that runs Linux.

I still experience annoying little problems that do not exist in Chrome on Linux, such as using the mouse to scroll through a lot of text to highlight it for copying. At times, I have to also use the down arrow to get the page to scroll.

First world problems. But when I use the web and create and update text content a lot, using my own CMS, then I don't want the browser to interfere with the simple things.

Here's an opposing view that, in my opinion, is a lame defense of Firefox's actions.

You (and others in this thread) are way, way underestimating the cost of configuration options in software used by lots of people. There's the cost of having to support that huge fractal in the code. And there's the cost of things being broken for users who don't understand the options and broke things for themselves. Configuration options are bad news for software not intended exclusively for technical users.

I don't believe that Firefox is used by a large number of non-technical uses. Not the default Firefox produced by Mozilla. Non-tech people may use Firefox-related web browsers, managed by other orgs, such as the Tor web browser.

When Firefox's browser share is only 4 to 6 percent, I'm guessing that it's mainly tech people who use Firefox.

Here's a reply to that lame defense.

Alienating some of your most loyal users whom have spent decades advocating for Firefox has its costs too, and there are always ways to safeguard or hide configuration options, such as about:config.

Obviously, I'm not one of Firefox's most loyal users. I would like to continue to use Firefox, but if I continue to be annoyed by their features and inability to disable functions, then I'll jump back to surveillance Chrome.

I don't understand why Firefox removed the easy ability to disable auto-updates. It used to be a click under Preferences, apparently.

Another HN comment:

It would be nice if Firefox stayed friendly to technical users then. They have a large market factor that Chrome does not have in that it's favorable to us techies; we then contribute to Firefox in return. Shooting tinkerers in the foot loses the value we provide.

Non-tech users might need to their browsers automatically updated, but I don't. I'm okay with being nagged about updating, and then I'll update on my own time. I will no longer tolerate Firefox auto-updating and interfering with my web usage, especially with losing info that I typed.

Hopefully, my recent about:config changes worked, but about:config shows that Firefox is meant for geeks.

HN comment:

and companies copying features no user asked for from the top competition is even more expensive and dumb.

HN comment:

changed the click behavior of the bar to be totally unlike any other program too

I am using Firefox Developer Edition, and I was also stunned at first a while ago. But now as I'm getting used to it, I tend to like it more and more. It was really hard to select just one part of the path (word) before this change, and now I can just double-click those parts to delete them then (useful when you want to cleanup the URL from some mess).

Also here is the description and justification for this change from OP link:

On Linux, the behavior when clicking on the Address Bar and the Search Bar now matches other desktop platforms: a single click selects all without primary selection, a double click selects a word, and a triple click selects all with primary selection

After a couple days, I'm still fumbling at times with the URL window, click-number-wise, but I'm getting better. As far as the drop-down UI/UX after clicking in the address bar, it's not something that I need. It has become something that I ignore.

Apr 15, 2020

Yesterday, I installed the following web browsers:

Pale Moon offers you a browsing experience in a browser completely built from its own, independently developed source that has been forked off from Firefox/Mozilla code a number of years ago, with carefully selected features and optimizations to improve the browser's stability and user experience, while offering full customization and a growing collection of extensions and themes to make the browser truly your own.

For Ungoogled Chromium, I managed to install my favorite web browser extensions/add-ons: uMatrix, Privacy Badger, and Quick JavaScript Switcher.

For Pale Moon, I installed a clone/fork of uMatrix called eMatrix.

Apr 17, 2020

For the past three days now, I have used the Pale Moon web browser almost exclusively.

Apr 18, 2020

The Ungoogled Chromium web browser is simply called Chromium. I have not used Ungoogled Chromium much since installing it, but it's a nicer alternative to Brave. I have not installed Google's Chrome web browser, and I don't plan to. If I need a Chromium browser, I'll use Ungoogled Chromium.

The "about" for Ungoogled Chromium:

Chromium

Version 80.0.3987.163 (Developer Build) built on /, running on Ubuntu bionic/18.04 (64-bit)

May 19, 2020 update

Over the past month or more, the Pale Moon web browser has been my main browser on my Linux laptop. Occasionally, I use Links2.

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