Firefox Propaganda

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Overall I think people don’t understand propaganda well, and this leads to the perpetuation of bad journalism among other things. I could go on about that, but suffice it to say there is propaganda out there in the tech press and other places concerning web browsers. I don’t really get the reasoning behind why there is propaganda regarding web browser software. A little, just not well enough to articulate or go into here. Anyway may as well add my voice to the noise. Reasons I continue to use Firefox as my primary browser.

  1. It is decent software that is constantly improving. On the whole, in numerous practical benchmarks and measures it compares well with Chrome, IE and Safari. Meaning there is no obvious or sweeping practical reasons that serve as justification to sacrifice ideologically superior software.
  2. Ideologically superior software?! Firefox is open source AND the only major browser with development driven by an open community facilitated by a non-profit organization. Consider why companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple may want you to use their browser; why they even make web browser software at all… They do not have your interests in mind, at least not primarily. Their primary interests are necessarily those of the businesses and shareholders who profit from you in some form or another. The fact that their source code is open or that their development happens within public view doesn’t diminish the significance of this fact.
  3. The focus of Mozilla being the interest of their users leads to innovative and interesting projects that stand to directly improve the experience of web users.
    1. Rust: a new language that focuses on concurrency and memory safety. This has more potential to benefit users than the languages and platforms advanced by the other browser vendors. Dart, Go, Swift, .NET, etc. They are all interesting, and not bad or anything, but their primary directions and focuses all seem to revolve around solving business and development problems rather than end user problems specifically.
    2. ASM.JS: making code, especially gaming code, blazing fast in the browser. This vastly expands the scope of products that could be delivered though the web browser reducing the reliance on particular OS’s or vendor specific app stores to deliver such products and services.
    3. FirefoxOS: a whole mobile OS that uses the web platform as the development framework and the web itself as the app distribution model! Mobile OS’s have notoriously delivered a relatively poor web experience preferring ‘Native’ Apps and the App Store model for distribution each for various reasons, but some aspects of this model are inferior and detrimental to users experience comparatively speaking.
    4. Shumway, Firefox’s Sync and WebRTC implementations, PDF.js, OculusRift/3D support, etc…
  4. The focus of Mozilla being the interest of their users leads to standards that tend to center around the benefit to web users and developers in general rather than specific features or functionality that some company or companies perceive as important for their products/users/developers.
  5. A few particular features that may or may not be replicated in options or add ons for other browsers:
    1. Firefox Sync: Passwords, history, bookmarks, settings, etc shared between devices, including mobile versions, in a way that remains completely private! Actually, it looks like Chrome supports a form of this now, but it is opt in. By default Google will be able to see all your data unencrypted. (and that makes sense according to their business model, so I wouldn’t expect that to change.)
    2. Just in time tab loading: I like to have my browser open with tabs in state it was when I closed it. This is convenient for me. However there is usually no need to load the content, and start playing videos or whatever might be on those tabs, until I switch to it for the first time. Besides avoiding annoying videos starting to play on some unfocused tab the just in time option keeps memory, battery, and network uses lower in many cases while improving the start-up experience. It is a small thing that makes a significant difference. Apart from some technical challenge that makes it much more difficult than it would seem to be I genuinely can’t see why the other browsers wouldn’t decide to implement this.
    3. Firefox Hello/built in WebRTC tool: The new chat feature bundled with Firefox just floors me. No sign in or pre-agreed upon shared service is necessary between you and whomever you want to video chat with! Just share a link and go!

Recently there was a post going around about switching back to Firefox from Chrome. Even though it is in favor of Firefox in this instance it is this sort of ‘journalism’ that I find disappointing.

2020 update

Firefox is still really good, and getting better in innovative ways. The picture in picture feature, and containers plugins are must haves. I wish FirefoxOS hadn’t died.