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Cover image for Why you need to give Firefox a chance

Why you need to give Firefox a chance

dtroode profile image David Kistauri ・1 min read

We live in the era of browser monopoly. Google occupied the whole web by its Chrome. Chrome has more than 50% of users:
Browsers top
Safari is on the second place just because of macOS popularity.

Now, most of the developers choose between Chrome and Firefox. And in 2017 Mozilla released their updated version of Firefox — Firefox Quantum with new customization settings, better extensions support, privacy and what's more important — speed. 2x faster than old Firefox and faster than Chrome.
Firefox Quantum vs Chrome

Firefox using their own new engine with new Quantum CSS and Quantum DOM rendering. A lot of explanations here. And Chrome uses a lot of memory, Firefox — less.

Also, Firefox has a lot of useful features like showing useless CSS rules and supports prefers-color-scheme: dark media rules, that Chrome supports only in beta now.

Do you scare about extensions? Now, most developers write their extensions for both Chrome and Firefox.

And the final reason — stop the monopoly. Give a chance to other companies that smaller and you can see how frontend develops.

Move all your bookmarks in Firefox for one week and try.

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David Kistauri

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Discussion

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Safari is on the second place just because of macOS popularity.

Safari is second because Apple disallows other browser engines on iOS (all alternative browsers on iOS are just Safari skins but the engine is WebKit, which makes the browser count as Safari).

 

And the answer is Android. Which is also created by Google. I was just reading how Bill Gates thinks they made a mistake by not achieving dominance in the mobileOS market.
Picture that smart phones wouldn't be so awesomely smart and available they would be more like a Windows computer expensive, slow, and insecure with additional features only via licenced upgrades.

 

A lot of innovation came from Apple though. It’s not like Android is single-handedly responsible for creating modern smartphones.

Btw, Android wasn’t created by Google; they bought it after it was already in development.

I completely agree. Apple does a great job at innovation! Thier products are great!
However thier system isn't designed to stand without being locked under secrecy.
They have issues seeing thier true value without nickle and diming the user for every service. This also requires their source to be locked; otherwise we would remove the nickle and diming.
Also Bill Gates point was that Microsoft lost to Android not to Apple. My point is that if Microsoft won, it would be Apple vs Microsoft and eventually that would be worse for everyone.

Android existed but Google made it what is is, certainly a significant amount of work went in to make it the globally used OS that it is today.

Nobody created anything, it's just piecing stuff together and marketing it.

The point is, Android is crap, iOS is crap and mono/duopoly is really bad. Especially over your data.

We need libre alternatives and Firefox is an excellent option against the Blinkopoly

They both are widely used and loved so they are clearly not "crap".

As Bill Gates stated Microsoft made a mistake by allowing Android to gain as much traction as it did. In other words he wished Microsoft would have smashed Android and replaced it with a Microsoft product.
So whatever was "not created" defeated Microsofts dominance.

Apple destroyed smartphones before anyone even used this name, they forced the market to sell devices designed merely to display pictures instead of supporting actual work
and years later that course became even more obvious with devices you have no chance of handling with a single hand, glassy, slippery and abnormally big

 

but WP was fast, nicely designed (both in terms of GUI and APIs) and was just so much better than android

 
 

Yes, I know this problem, but I thought this 'Safari' on screenshot is desktop Safari

 

No, the screenshot is the combined market share (all platforms). If you only look desktop, Safari is at ~7%, below Firefox. If you only look mobile, Safari is at 24%. So, Safari’s market share mostly comes from mobile, for the reasons I mentioned.

 

Although I definitely agree that we need more competition in the Web to facilitate rapid advancements, I just feel bad for the web developers who would have to consider supporting all the different browsers (not just Chromium-based ones) if the monopoly were to end.

The horrors that is Webpack arose from the horrors that is the Web's philosophy of multi-browser and cross-platform backwards-compatibility. I wouldn't say that the philosophy is bad, but it sure does rile up a lot of web developers to support Internet Explorer.

 

It is actually not so hard to support different browsers. You can use standard APIs that are managed by W3C and work across (almost) all browsers.

But if one browser or company has monopoly (which Google currently has), they can create their own APIs that works how they want and not how users or developers want. Sadly, developers have to adopt that new API even if it is not good or even throw away good old API because Google didn't like it (like that recent one about ad blocking).

Also, if you leave Chrome and then use another Chromium based browser, this wouldn't stop Google's monopoly. Even if Chromium is open source, it is still managed by Google so they can do whatever they want.

 

We need to support most of browsers because if we’ll have one browser or technology, there will not more competition and moving forward. And monopoly is bad because of all our data stored in one company and there’s no privacy

 

Fair point, but then again, I pray for the poor souls who are on the receiving end of that competition.

Of course, this is not to say that I disagree with the competition. This is just some tough nut that I'm not really sure where to place myself in. It's quite a dilemma.

 

Do you live in a fantasy world? Are you being ironic?

My clients still request IE11 support... I must say that at least IE11 has easy fixes and an official test VM. Safari has none of those and is a hell to deal with. But that doesn't matter.

Monopoly in the browsers world has always been bad and this one might become the worst of all.

Also, Firefox and Chrome mostly agree on the features that they both implement so it's really easy to support both.

 

In a perfect world, diversity is definitely great! We have a bunch of standards committees that guide the many browsers towards a common interface and API for the Web. If all of these browsers comply with all (or at least most) of the standards at the same pace, then diversity will truly bring the best out of competition. Firefox and Chrome, as you said, are a great example of two competing browsers that implement standards at around the same pace, and thus introducing good competition.

Unfortunately, we don't live in such a world. Google is a monster of a company who has a bunch of resources that can easily stump and outpace the other smaller browser vendors in implementing web standards (in such a world with a diverse ecosystem of browsers).

My point is not to say that a monopoly is entirely good or entirely bad. I'm simply worried for the web developers and teams who might have a harder time to support a diverse ecosystem of (small) browsers that each implement web standards at a different pace.

But again, if pacing is not a problem, then I'm definitely all for diversity. Competition is always a good thing (from a user standpoint at least 😅).

Well I'm saying that unregulated monopoly is all bad and especially if the company holding it is as big as Google is.

Suppose that someone tells you that you can have as many chocolate cakes as you want as long as you keep your balls in their vice. But hey they promise not to squeeze! Would you do it?

Abdicating on competition and letting Chrome win is exactly doing this. No later than last month Google announced that they would make some browser API paid.

Is that worthwhile to give so much power to Google in exchange of glitter down your throat just a few week in advance from the competition?

Ah, I apologize. I misunderstood earlier.

Of course it would not be pleasant to be in such a situation as we are in right now. It just surprises me, given the "free" nature of the Web, Google is considering to add proprietary features and APIs. Something doesn't seem to be adding up.

But that's besides the point. I see now how my initial comment sounded as if I was "letting Google win for the sake of giving developers less work for browser support". I failed to properly communicate the true essence of my point wherein "too much diversity" is bad from a web developer standpoint.

 

When you are a developer you need to test things all of them just to make sure, but as a user it comes down to preference and it lies on details. I use Opera, in my opinion an extremely underrated browser, it is fast, never had any memory problems with it and has features that none of the other browsers have without resorting to plugins, which sometimes are not reliable or well developed.
I tried to use Firefox many times, there was always something that bothered me and stopped using after a few hours and it is the proof that all this lies on details. Unfortunately I cannot take a print screen now, but I can do that later. In any case it is something about the custom scroll that Tweetdeck that it doesn't render at all.

 

Yes, we have a lot of underrated things that good, but I write this article as developer on a developers resource. I don’t think that Opera is so good for developing

 

Why do you think that? Opera uses chromium and basically the same tools that Chrome has works on Opera. The DevTools is the same.

I have used both Firefox and Opera quite extensively, and eventually moved to Vivaldi. Best decision ever. I can honestly say it’s the best browser available today, and I have tried them all, not just for a test run. It has about all the features I could think of, and so much more I never knew I needed.
I even made a post all about it. Check it out!
And if we’re talking about not supporting the biggest kid in town, then sure, ditch Chrome, but Firefox is the second biggest (iirc). Don’t get me wrong, Firefox is great, I used it (and Quantum) for years, and I really support Mozilla, BUT it just doesn’t compare to Vivaldi, in my opinion. Try it out, you might just get to love as much as I do 😄

It's all Blinkopoly, the way buttons are shaped doesn't matter. Maxthon never saved the web from IE, Firefox did.

"the way buttons are shaped" makes a browser, that's the exact reason why Firefox 57+ is unusable: they removed what made it great, their extensions, making everyday web surfing a struggle

 

I am almost a Firefox user. Problem is, I get weird scroll behavior when on an infinite scroll site (like Reddit or Facebook.) Things would jump around as the page was loading.

Though I might try again since I'm not having that behavior now.

 

Everything works good for me. Maybe, I didn’t scroll so long

 

Yeah I just tried out a few different sites and nothing was up, but a few months ago I tried to switch from Chrome but all the sites with infinite scroll behaved weird. Even went to reddit about it but found no help.

Maybe an update got rid of whatever it was.

 

Here is a suggestion... Mozilla go do what Vivaldi have done to improve the power features of a browser, literately go copy every option Vivaldi has, alot are features from various Firefox addons back when Firefox wasn't just a chrome clone. Do that I might come back.

Until then, Firefox has nothing I care about any longer, it's only dev tool that chromium devtools doesn't have is the css history changes which make it useful to make numerous css changes in a session and then get a list of them all to implement properly in code..... it could still be better, but where are the devtool features that chromium has and Firefox doesn't?

Sad because since Firefox v3.5-> until Quantum garbage... was only browser that was truly customizable with some of the best browser addons, and from v2 - v4 were some of the best progresses Mozilla made for the web browser experience... after v4 it just started becoming stupid, pointless shit changes on the ux side, fluff crap that paled in comparison to the usefulness of addons they often broke, it seemed like they had employed googletards into the company and it became cancer, more useless version upgrades and pointless changes breaking far better addons for what? crap updates.

I had enough after Quantum, final straw, Firefox literately turned into a chrome clone, broke all of it's best addons, and turned out even worse on features than Vivaldi... what a sad joke Mozilla, all of the pointless fluff they did from v3.5 onwards.. finally leading to having a browser less people even care about. Frankly Quantum version of Firefox shouldn't even have the name Firefox, Firefox is dead.

They should have just called it QuantumChrome CrapFox...to be fair.. Google garbage Chrome on it's own is even more complete crap, but yknow for all the normies, good is just whatever seems work at doing basic normie stuff seemingly fast and is marketed infront of them alot...youtube was good for increasing garbage chrome usage.

 

this, if they don't want to give us APIs to allow us to make extensions then give us native features
but Vivaldi isn't really a role model, they are repeating a lot of mistakes Opera (Software) did: implementing POC level features and never reiterating to bring config to them

 

Why go give chance to Firefox instead of using and sync Chrome on all platforms. Because if you like Google Ecosystem, but don't have Chromebook (original, not with installed Linux), your single way to that ecosystem is Chrome with all it sync of accounts, history etc. Firefox just don't do it very well, because they don't have their own OS now(who remember FirefoxOs?)) If you are paranoid, I am sure, that Firefox don't secure enough for you, so you will go with Thor. BUT Firefox and some other browsers must exist and try to overthrought Chrome (despite they obviously don't able to do it) because competition will move industry (browser in our case) forward. Shortly, Firefox and other than Chrome browsers must exist, but they are doomed to fail, because they are not ready to world of tech ecosystems

 

Yes, Chrome in some aspects is better than most of the browsers, but now Firefox has interesting features for web developers (for example dev.to/gabe/four-firefox-dev-tools...). I also love Chrome and it's very good working with cache, but a lot of developers using ONLY Chrome, that's not good. We need to support other companies and users, who use Firefox and use what is convenient in our case. Using ONLY Chrome is like using a spoon for all of our cases (do you like digging with a spoon?)

 

Chrome with all it plugins is module swiss knife, while firefox is swiss knife, but some instruments doesn't look or work as good as in chrome

Swiss knife is a bad knife, bad screwdriver, bad corkscrew, bad scissors but all in one. Not so good

You haven't just used good Swiss knifes)

 

Forgot to mention, Google's site like search, YouTube, gmail etc are undoubtedly popular and just works better with Chrome (it can be just tricks from Google, but they have rights to use them imo,because these services are developed by then)

 

The only reason I don't use Firefox because of its aesthetics. Chrome just looks good, I have no problem with performance as my laptop's configuration is good enough to handle 100+ tabs in Chrome while running 2-3 instances of VS Code and some other small applications.
Show me how to customize its look and feel!!!

 

Firefox just looks good for me. Don't have problems with it

 

I've been using Firefox as my main browser for almost a year now, but it still doesn't feel right for me. The reason I've chosen Firefox is privacy. Chrome and Google in general is evil in that regard.
But Firefox is not the fastest browser out there in my opinion. In my personal experience I find chromium based browsers and Safari faster than Firefox. Plus, it crashes sometimes (very rarely, but it does). I really hope Mozilla will improve it.
Lately, I've been trying out Brave browser. And it is looking very promising. I checked it out long time ago and it was not very good. But since then it has improved drastically. So maybe I'll switch to Brave after some extensive testing.

 

Now I want to test Brave. Maybe it’s better

 

Brave is just a chromium with few flags flipped, exactly unusable as other projects like this and even worse than crippled quantumfox

 

Best reason of all: Firefox on Android supports full addons (uBlock, Privacy Badger) just like its Desktop incarnation.

 

nah, it supports just WE
I admit that on mobile I don't miss any of the big extensions they killed, but they are not full extensions

 

The chromium engine Kiwi browser on android support chrome web extensions... xda-developers.com/kiwi-browser-go...

 
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Antifa is not a shady group. That’s just right wing populism, because Antifa is an organization „fighting“ against Nazis ever coming to any power.

I am from Germany and I am worried about right wing populism getting more and more voices, so I‘d prefer such organizations getting some money instead of for example „Völkische Bruderschaft“

 

But Firefox is a good step to start trying other browsers. I have a lot of recommendations about Vivaldi and Brave and want to try them. Thanks!

 

I've been using Firefox almost exclusively as a developer for over 3 years now. It's gotten better with Quantum. It can be hard to switch browsers especially given that some extensions you rely on can create silos, and because you sync some stuff on to the browser account, so I pick stuff that is more likely to be cross-platform and less influenced by other business considerations. My reasons:

  1. Privacy. I use Google, but Chrome just sucks everything now. Google's reasons for pushing Chrome and Android are rooted in their main revenue source: ads. If they control your browsing experience, they can make sure you see their ads. Essentially, Chrome is doomed to side with ads vs you.
  2. Memory management is noticeably better.
  3. Firefox, like Chrome, is available on all platforms and comes preinstalled with most Desktop Linux distros.
  4. Supports WebExtensions that can be ported if needed.
  5. Pocket

When on the off-chance I'm developing a front-end app, I can rely on Firefox to support the canonical HTML/CSS/ES standards and I can test cross-browser with Opera.

 

it got much worse with Quantum, even if we forget about all the performance issues it had (and seems to still have on some systems) it's nowadays just a glorified chromium with no features to make users happy, WE limitations are so bad it's PITA to create proper Pocket client or RSS reader (still a bit less bad than actual Chromium extensions though) but there's so much things you can't do...

 

I'm not a browser loyalist and have had Firefox, Opera, and Chrome all as my defaults over the years. Currently I use Chrome but earlier this year I tried Firefox as my default for about a month.

Despite Firefox being an amazing browser, its missing a killer feature that is implemented in Chrome: the ability to delete event listeners in an inspected page. While Firefox will show me the listeners on a page, there is no option to delete or disable them.

If Firefox ever adds this feature, I'll definitely give it another go.

 

Luminous does that for you, it's not exactly a dev tool, more of a privacy/control one but should do
note that it requires some APIs introduced in crippledfox so won't work on 56, but if you're using Chrome you probably couldn't care less

 

I tried switching to Firefox and found that it's multi-user feature is crap.

I just need two clicks to switch to another-user in Chrome.

But in Firefox, I need to type "about: profiles" in address bar, press enter, scroll down, and press the button to switch to another profile.

In the end I decided to switched back to Chrome and wait for Mozilla to optimize the UX of switching profile in Firefox.

 

You could also start a new Firefox instance via command line (or desktop-starter or whatever) using firefox -P --no-remote and can start another instance with another profile and also run multiple profiles in parallel.

 

I don't want to use multi-user. But it's a good reason

 

I’ve been using Firefox as my mostly first browser and I’m happy.

I find there are some times I wish I were using Chrome but I know the tide is always shifting and I really do want to support a future where the web browser is not proprietary Google and Apple technology.

 
 

In Firefox on MacOS, I don't know what the problem is, but my 2017 MacBook Pro has TERRIBLE battery life when using Firefox. And I mean terrible. It literally will use 1-2% of battery per minute, and will drain my battery in about an hour to an hour and a half at most.

This is a known bug with screen scaling on MacOS, but oddly when I recently reinstalled MacOS and didn't touch the Display Settings, the bug still happened. Until this is fixed, Safari gives me several times the battery life. I wish I could use Firefox, but it just has a lot of performance problems on my laptop. :(

 

I am using Windows + Firefox and after realizing this article I hear a lot of bad comments from MBP Firefox users. Strange bug with performance and battery life. Mozilla need to fix this

 

I've been transitioning back over to FF for a month or so, for both personal and work use. However, I'm also slowly breaking my dependence on Google in general. My personal laptop (running Ubuntu 19) only has Firefox and Thunderbird which I use for my ProtonMail account. Google has been shifting far away from their core values for a while and it's starting to show in their products IMO.

 

I don't have any problem with software that's provided with freely available source code. Along with Google valiant efforts to enhance open web standards, W3C. Making the web better for everybody, and making those improvements not propriety and licenced but part of the open standards.
I hear the arguments about "browser dominance", however we aren't living in the same time as IE.
IE was a horrible tool, it made propriety changes that benefited nobody but Microsoft. It created it's own standards. Dominated the market; Strategized to make its features only work on IE and IE only work on Windows.
Now our issue is that a browser that's open source developed with open standards has become very (too?) popular, and doesn't run non-standard, propriety, ad blocking functions.
I will be sticking with Chrome until they stop providing improvements to the W3C.
Firefox just isn't keeping up with open efforts to improve the W3C along with often times not meeting the W3C standards, this is why CSS doesn't, didn't, work correctly in Firefox sometimes.
The current state seems like Firefox doesn't want the standards to improve because they aren't on top... Or can't keep up...? Either that or some twisted conspiracy from Microsoft to start fueds between fully open source, open standards browsers then package and force Edge, IE under chromium EEE disguise, browser back into all our lives.

 

I don’t mean you need just to use Firefox. If so, why we talking about monopoly. I think we need to try different solutions in dev world. Chrome is too popular and a lot of people didn’t tried Firefox or tried a long time ago. We need to give a chance. Personally I am using both Chrome and Firefox as developer

 

Oh definitely! Firefox is definitely my second used browser!

 

This doesn't mention the MASSIVE render speed improvement with Quantum, as well as the massive memory footprint reduction and background processor time usage.

 

It's really difficult moving away from chrome for browsing. This is more difficult now that all my passwords are randomly generated and I access them by being 2-Factor authenticated into chrome, not to mention all the other information synchronized via cloud.

 

Moving away from anything is difficult, but sometimes it's worth

 

Well, I am using Firefox from the time it was named "Phoenix". With a little pause, when they started to make their UI like the Chrome one. But I switched to PaleMoon that uses a forked Gecko engine. But with Quantum, they fixed the UI as well and with some hacking I can make it as I like it.

 

Thanks! Another browser to my list for testing

 

they betrayed us by removing extensions in 57 and are not doing anything to get us back
they have to atone for their sins, they have to pay us back in full, and in the meantime we have Waterfox that cares about people, unlike Mozilla

 

I'm writing a full post in response to your insightfull article. I shall link it later

 

Very excited!
Now I am collecting minuses of FF and I think, there will be a new article from me (now longer)

 

Using Intel Core i5 7200U, 256 GB SSD/8 GB RAM. Everything works fine 🤔

 

For some reason the link of the preview article refuses to save. THis is the github link
github.com/AmigaGPU/fat-agnus/blob...

 
 

A chance? Where Mozilla removed all their unique creations to be mainstream user compatible and removed their massive amount of customization almost fully in the meantime out of the browser?

Also, Mozilla is dominated and controlled by Google and Mozilla jumps if their overlord commands them to do so.

Seeing no reason why i should support sell-outs - both moral wise and concept wise!

 

90 alternatives.

dev.to/vuild/giant-list-of-web-bro...

The majority of dev is using Android & Chrome rn. No good.

 
 

👍

Discontinued is interesting too.
vuild.com/discontinued-browsers

Disclaimer: they are both lists, not recommendations.

How many browsers I didn't heard about

 

I have zero compassion with Firefox, a highly political cesspool that has sat on their asses for 10+ years while it was obvious on day 1 that Chrome was better.

 

Now Chrome isn't so private and in some aspects, Firefox is better for webdev

 

Have almost switched a few times in the last few months and finally did today. Exported my chrome passwords to last pass and away we go.

 
 

I stopped using Firefox on Ubuntu due to a bug that prevents the 1password extension from working.

 
 

A chance? After Mozilla made a pathetic Chrome imitation browser out of it to be mainstream compatible and for this removed their own unique creation and massive customization abilities?

I see no reason why i should support a cheap sell-out company which is the slave of Google and does everything what their overlord demands.