back to article Top Firefox OS bloke flames Opera for WebKit surrender

A top bod at Firefox-maker Mozilla has ruled out replacing its web browser's brains with WebKit - and lamented Opera’s surrender to the web engine favoured by Apple and Google. Opera revealed last week that it will eventually dump its own web browser's engine Presto after 18 years for the one-two-punch of WebKit - the open- …

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Mushroom

All smoke and no flame

Not much of a flame...

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WebKit alone

is as bad as <whatever IE uses> alone.

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Re: WebKit alone

Exactly! Mozzy stormed up the market share charts through a fight-back against a monoculture. Why the hell would they willing step back towards one?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WebKit alone

No it's not, because it's free and open...

In an ideal world, everything would be Webkit based, and everything would only require testing on Webkit, consumers would finally get a fully working web, rather than the broken web we have today.

"The web needs multiple implementations of its evolving standards to keep them interoperable" If everyone used Webkit, they would be not interoperability to worry about.

Mozilla's problem is they see how this is going. I would bet money that Firefox will be using Webkit in the next couple of years, despite what he said.

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Re: WebKit alone

Just like there was no problem when everyone was using Trident back in the bad old days?

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Re: WebKit alone

The web has broken bits because dumb arse developers use non-standard features in public facing sites.

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FAIL

Re: WebKit alone

"This interwebsite is optimized for Internet Explorer"

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FAIL

Re: WebKit alone

I give you Nokia's WebKit browser. Use it for 10 minutes or so then get back to me.

One browser engine to rule them all won't fix your problems. There'll always be bad implementations and different versions of WebKit about, and if WebKit is the only engine out there then the incentive to fix problems is gone.

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Re: WebKit alone

The first problem with this is that different renderers interpret the standards differently. Case in point: IE5-7 CSS Box Model. They fail the Acid 2 rendering tests. If there is a single renderer, there is no motivation to fix any issues ("our interpretation is correct"). Having multiple renderers helps keep each other sane w.r.t. the standards.

The second problem is that different renderers implement different parts of the standard at different times. Case in point: MathML and SVG. Mozilla have had MathML implemented for a long time, same with SVG. WebKit is only just adding support for MathML. IE has only added cut-down SVG as of IE9 and a more complete version as of IE10. If there was a single renderer, there would be no incentive to implement the other specs (how long has Microsoft dragged their heels on SVG support).

The third problem is that having a single renderer, there will be less sway for others to push for standards as they do not have an implementation to base it on. Especially if the single implementation is pushing their own version.

Also, think about things like eBook readers or text-to-speech/assistive technology programs reading web content. Those have different requirements which may be counter to what the single renderer provides, which that renderer will be reluctant to provide as they go against their goals (think of things like SSML support and the CSS Speech module).

For Mozilla, their stack is tied to their rendering model. They are using XUL (which takes advantage of CSS and JavaScript), which WebKit does not support; the browser runs as a XUL page. They are working on "Paris" DOM bindings to create fast JavaScript <=> Native bindings, which are dependent on their DOM model and JavaScript model (which would be different if they switched to WebKit). They have a rendering stack that supports Direct2D and DirectWrite for fast rendering on Windows Vista and later (and -- along with Microsoft -- were the first to provide a rendering stack using those technologies).

Competition is good and fuels progress. Two is good (e.g. Microsoft and Mozilla); Three is better (e.g. Microsoft, Mozilla and WebKit). Think back to the progress made when Google released their fast JavaScript engine with Google Chrome -- all browsers increased in performance as there was competition in that space, with Chrome put pressure on the other browsers.

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Re: WebKit alone

One browser engine to rule them all won't fix your problems. There'll always be bad implementations and different versions of WebKit about, and if WebKit is the only engine out there then the incentive to fix problems is gone.

<u>THIS</u>

I have nothing against WebKit. I've got plenty of browsers that use it and most of them are fine. I have something against whatever buggy, unfixed version of WebKit they cram into Chrome in order to claim all the latest gadgets and buzzwords.

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Meh

Re: WebKit alone

Assuming everything being WebKit makes life easier is just dumb.

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Re: WebKit alone

You can just fix WebKit in android or even your desktop. The vast majority have to wait for a release. Secondly they all still use different JS engines so using WebKit does nothing for the JS incompatibilities.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WebKit alone

Same with Android on mobile. Monopolies suck and reduce the need to innovate.

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Re: WebKit alone

Trident.

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Re: Firefox will be using Webkit in the next couple of years

Not sure I'd give it more than one. But that doesn't mean Eich is wrong about the monoculture.

Yes it being open makes it more defensible than being dependent on a closed source binary, but only from the perspective of being able to preserve old versions and fork the code. From the perspective of "the bad guys found a problem in our code base and have an active exploit in the wild" a monoculture in OSS is just as bad as a closed source one.

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Go

Go Gecko Go!

2013-02-13 NEVER FORGET!

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Re: Go Gecko Go!

pardon my ignorance, but the best I can come up with is dark gecko-shaped clouds found in the Sagittarius constellation last week.

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Re: Go Gecko Go!

Mozilla's rendering engine is called Gecko. IE has Trident, Apple and Google use WebKit (though different versions), and Opera - until now - used Presto.

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Holmes

Re: Go Gecko Go!

Thanks for explaining the title, but I knew that already. The comment body remains a mystery.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Go Gecko Go!

Presto and Webkit are LAYOUT engines not rendering engines. Opera has its own as it renders the who UI (nit just the canvas like lesser browsers)

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Re: Go Gecko Go!

Gecko is a layout engine, too, and is also used to render the UI in FF.

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bah

mozilla should fix the memory problems (i assume its memory problems though it could be how it interfaces with the plugins container as stopping that in task manager often stops the lock-up) with firefox before bitching about others choice in browser engine.

im now forced to use chrome (which i hate) because firefox is unstable, and that instability has been getting worse for at least the last 3-4 full revisions. i was a supporter of firefox for years but i dont have time to wait for firefoxs random 5 min lock-ups.

and before people bitch that its my choice of browser plugins - i have tried it on fresh installs of win7 (x86 and x64) and fresh firefox installs with NO plugins. its worse on the x64 systems though it happens on both. and it occurs on pages with minimal content (ie the google home page) or loaded up with heavy flash content.

i hope they fix it soon cause id be back to firefox in a heartbeat.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: bah

What are people doing to their Firefox installs? All I ever hear people say about Firefox these days is that it's full of memory leaks, hogs loads of RAM, is really slow and crashes all the time.

I've not run into any of those problems and I use FF heavily on a daily basis for web development. I'm loaded up with lots of plugins too.

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Big Brother

Re: bah

Lately FF on the Mac is a pile of poo. It chews up huge amounts of memory; takes ages to start-up and shutdown; frequently falls over / locks up; and won't play nicely with a whole raft of web pages. Ok, some of this is not just down to FF but all the same I expect it to play nicely. No browser is perfect I know. So perhaps it's simply that I have come to expect more from FF than from the others.

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Re: bah

I wouldn't say firefox is awful on my pc, but it is noticeably slower than either chrome or internet explorer. This applies to starting up and rendering pages. It doesn't hang for 5 minutes however.

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kit
Thumb Up

Re: bah

I did not know why FF performed so miserably in your computer(s). I normally use FF more then 12 hours every day without a single crash, In addition FF is the fastest web browser in terms of rendering web pages, even faster than Chrome, though its start up time is a bit slower , but no more than a second or two.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: bah

Ditto Android

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WTF?

Re: bah

At one previous work place I had to disable ipv6 in Firefox, otherwise it would do these random lock-ups. Maybe your network is similar? Other than that I'd just have to assume the Windows version is a lot worse... I've been using FF in Linux far longer than I care to remember and (other than that 1 network) never felt any need to change.

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Re: bah

Firefox 18.0.2 here with six plugins and nine add-ons and no crashing or locking up.

It's not the fastes browser to load but how many times a day do you do that?

I forgot to say that I;m using Linux,

<tries hard not to bash MS>

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Re: bah

@shaolin cookie

that is something i havent tried - didnt think that would even matter since ipv6 is disabled in network settings.

at this point though i'll give it a try, anything to get rid of chrome and have firefox back.

thanks for the suggestion.

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Re: bah

I've not run into any of those problems and I use FF heavily on a daily basis for web development. I'm loaded up with lots of plugins too.

Snap. I use it under Linux, where it doesn't have some of the Windows-based optimisations, and it's rock solid. And really, on my development machine, which is currently using 1.5GB of my 8GB RAM to run Netbeans and an attached Tomcat instance, do you think I give two shits about my bajillion Firefox tabs using 400MB?

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Re: bah

Firefox isn't bad with memory at all these days. There are program's that change that one of which is the popular Adblock but that's not Mozilla's problem.

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Re: AC@15:18

You must restart it a lot then. It does leak memory like a sieve.

The big reason I have up on them, is they want me to restart the damn thing too often. It's disruptive.

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Re: bah

I do it more than I'd like. Restarting the browser is the only way to get FF to let go of all the memory it has gobbled up.

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Bronze badge

Re: <tries hard not to bash MS>

Go Ahead!

You'll feel better!!!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: bah

I find that it helps to clean out the profile now and then. Export favourites, delete profile and then re-import.

I think there's a sqllite database behind the scenes that gets bloaty and slow.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: bah

Agreed. Safari, Chrome and Sleipnir all use WebKit and all use more memory (for the same tasks) on my machine than Firefox. Opera currently uses least.

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Thumb Down

Re: bah

Chrome may use more memory to display a given page, but at least it stops using it when you close the page.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: bah

Sadly, you are correct. It pisses me off while FF goes into CPU la-la land and then gets religion and processes the message queue and one ends up totally lost.

It is, by any measure, a memory hog of biblical proportions. Is it just too hard to write tight code these days, are programmers lazy, is the problem intractable? ... questions questions.

For a faster, "better" FF try www.palemoon.org (still a memory hog though)

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Linux

Re: AC@15:18

Which is why I always install "Memory Restart"

A comforting, big red button appears when memory usage grows to an intolerable level.

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Whoever said opensource didn't innovate?

Its quite amazing the amount of people running a fork of KDE's built in browser.

Its a shame that more of you aren't running the full desktop though - it is the most usable to work with IMO.

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Linux

The upside to the "Webkit Monoculture" is that you have many Companies and individuals contributing to a common codebase. Whilst monocultures can be a "bad thing" in terms of one company controls the code for 'X' software, in this case it is a collaboration success, having Opera's engineers onboard with the project can only be a good thing.

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Last nail in the coffin of Opera's irrevelance

No longer a browser - just a GUI like Maxthon. How much lower can Opera's marketshare go?

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Re: Last nail in the coffin of Opera's irrevelance

The engine itself is not something the average user thinks about. They're more interested in what the favourites or history looks like. If Opera can create a few unique features in their GUI that separate them from the usual bunch then they might do well. It's just a case of marketing it.

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WTF?

Re: Last nail in the coffin of Opera's irrevelance

Just because they use WebKit? Surely the same could be said for Chrome or Safari, then?

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He said: “Monoculture remains a problem that we must fight. The web needs multiple implementations of its evolving standards to keep them interoperable.” His lengthy essay continued:

-- well, the question remains, why? The reason why an IE monoculture is / was bad, is that it's a closed source single platform. When that is a de facto standard, it becomes a major problem for anyone not wishing to be tied to a single company's platform(s).

But why is there any advantage to having a standard with multiple implementations, versus a single implementation that is itself open and portable across multiple platforms?

OK, potentially, competing implementations can encourage better implementations of the standards (e.g. faster Javascript), but a single, open, portable implementation could lead to faster evolution / innovation.

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Paris Hilton

Who bought Opera?

So for those people who bought Opera because it was different, did we really, in the end, just buy Safari?

I remember a time when, while not overwhelmingly adopted by the public, Opera was known for being THE standards-compliant engine, even in the face of those who attempted to redefine standards with broken implementations *cough* Microsoft *cough*.

Ah, well, life is like a party.

Paris, the party must end.

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Pint

Re: Who bought Opera?

Seems to me Konqueror (KDE) which Apple took and made into Safari is not remembered any more. Opera I think feel they can improve Opera without spending energy on the rendering engine. Why should I doubt it.

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