back to article Firefox Quantum: BIG browser project, huh? I share your concern

Mozilla has been rolling out a major change to Firefox during the last year, the results of what the company calls its Electrolysis project. Electrolysis gives Firefox something Chrome has had for years now – multiple processes (in the best case scenario that's per tab). The change is a boon for speed – somewhere Firefox has …

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I don't know about lynx and w3m

But if weren't for the fact the Web as we know it is being controlled by uncaring corporate interests, perhaps it's time to rethink how the WWW is working and take a few steps back to what it once was: a more-passive protocol that wasn't about cramming everything including the kitchen sink into it and more about simply conveying information.

I mean, when you think about it, why is it that we ended up with an interactive WWW protocol rather than delegating this interactivity to other, more-dedicated protocols like VNC?

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

Hear hear.

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

BTW, can anyone point me in the direction of a bare-bones web browser that has absolutely no capacity for interactive stuff like JavaScript that I can download for Windows. It would make both a good test browser for web work as well as a safer browser to use with alternative nets like Tor and Freenet.

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

My gopher server is still working nicely, thank you.

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Re: a bare-bones web browser that has no JavaScript

You can disable it in the settings of all the major browsers.

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Re: a bare-bones web browser that has no JavaScript

And someone or something can secretly turn them back on behind my back and then LIE to me. No, the only real way to make sure you can't run JavaScript and so on is to not have the functionality to begin with. Last I checked, a browser isn't able to run JavaScript without a JavaScript engine built into it, and that's what I want. Not to mention it seriously cuts the memory use.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a bare-bones web browser that has no JavaScript

Its an open source project. It will be almost trivial to permanantly switch off the Javascript engine. If there is enough people interested in a version of Mozilla with Javascript completely severed then I am happy to take a look at doing this.

Anon for now.

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Re: a bare-bones web browser that has no JavaScript

Off By One browser has no Javascript or plug-in support, just a bare-bones HTML 3.2 web browser. I only remembered this browser because it was included in Bart PE bootable environments.

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Happy

Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

@ Charles 9:

I think the most Lynx-like text browser for Windows is probably Lynx <http://lynx.browser.org/lynx.html>

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

Nope, because then the proprietary app platforms will eat the web's lunch.

I don't install mobile "apps" ever because I don't trust them, and it's reassuring to know that the web page's execution context will be torn down and destroyed when I close the tab. Also I can view the source.

I bet you're a massive hypocrite (anti-javascript types *always* are), and have all sorts of shitware installed on your android or iOS device.

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

If the content is a video, a Flash video, or an externally-retrieved piece of JavaScript, it's going to be hard to view the source of the thing that'll nail you. Plus with EME endorsed, this is only going to get harder. And all this bloat is spreading like a plague, making the entire Web much harder to accept. My feel is that if you don't trust their dedicated and legally-liable app, you don't trust the company and shouldn't be doing business with them at all. At some point, you have to jump.

"I bet you're a massive hypocrite (anti-javascript types *always* are), and have all sorts of shitware installed on your android or iOS device."

Not really. Most of my stuff comes from F-Droid. Plus with explicit apps, I have more control over them since I can prune.

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Re: a bare-bones web browser that has no JavaScript

"Off By One browser has no Javascript or plug-in support, just a bare-bones HTML 3.2 web browser. I only remembered this browser because it was included in Bart PE bootable environments."

It also returns a 404, meaning it's no longer maintained. As for Lynx, I need a graphical web browser, just a baseline one, so Lynx won't do it.

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

Someone's sounding more bitter than 3-day-old coffee. If you are depending on everything from a web page being completely destroyed when you close the tab, you are incredibly naive. There's tons of malware that says you're totally wrong.

Having to download everything every time you visit a web page (including all the ads and trackers from over 100 servers in some cases) is defective by design. I'm not going to use a web-based document editor, spread sheet, or graphics program when I have free versions that only update (and possibly change the way they operate) when *I* tell them to, and keep my local data local. Not being able to cache content because they added an extra line-feed without making any other changes is dumb.

No web site that dynamically injects javascript or css from another site can offer any sort of guarantee that it's secure. The big ad networks serve up crap all the time.

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

can anyone point me in the direction of a bare-bones web browser that has absolutely no capacity for interactive stuff like JavaScript

I quite like Netsurf, mainly because it started life on RiscOS. It is still being developed slowly, and as far as I'm aware still has no plans to add Javascript support.

Tools like "NoScript" can, of course, be used to turn off Javascript in Firefox...

M.

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Re: a bare-bones web browser that has no JavaScript

It also returns a 404, meaning it's no longer maintained. As for Lynx, I need a graphical web browser, just a baseline one, so Lynx won't do it.

True it hasn't been updated since 2006 but it can still be downloaded from the offbyone.com download links (hover your mouse over the middle links in the download links and you'll see, I just downloaded from all three).

In any case this and Lynx are your only two choices for Windows browsers with no JS.

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Re: a bare-bones web browser that has no JavaScript

"It also returns a 404, meaning it's no longer maintained. As for Lynx, I need a graphical web browser, just a baseline one, so Lynx won't do it."

Updating my own post, which raises a curiosity. It may not be gone but rather so deprecated that modern browsers return a 404. If you browse to the same site using its own browser, it shows up. That said, one of the download mirrors is Gone.

UPDATE:

"True it hasn't been updated since 2006 but it can still be downloaded from the offbyone.com download links (hover your mouse over the middle links in the download links and you'll see, I just downloaded from all three)."

Link #1 returns "As of September 30, 2014, the Verizon Site Builder tool has been decommissioned and all online Personal Web Space pages have been deleted." #2 and #3 work, and I eventually got a working copy off Softpedia.

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

I don't want to have to deal with settings that could be reverted behind my back. Especially for stuff like TOR or Freenet where you're already strolling the dark web. I'll stick with Off By One and Links for the time being, but this is something that should seriously be addressed in the name of security: a browser with no capability to leak things because the potential leaks never exist (meaning there's no way to secretly turn them on, either).

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

Linux is not an option because I use Steam, and most of my library is Windows-ONLY.

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Gimp

What WWW procotol??

The crazy little thing called web consists of thet HTTP protocol and the HTML markup language. A browser like Lynx is an interactive tool in the sense that the user supplies an 'URL' and the browser decodes and sneds it to a server, and the server sends a reply that usually contains some HTML. The user wats & waits & waits. Eventually the data have arrived and the browswer displays the text. This interactivity is a huge waste of time and bandwitdth, compared to smarter protocols. Why not send a request to a server, which forwards it to another server, and eventually returns the HTML, perhaps in an e-mail message.

Consider that all the Mozilla project has to do is to remove excessive features from the Netscape browser and fix the bugs in the remaining code....

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VNC

Well the problem with that is that it would make web-app development as simple as desktop development. You suddenly wouldn't have to worry about login procedures (built into VNC) or cookies. You wouldn't have to use framework over framework over framework.

That would demotivate the current web-developers who are working on or with frameworks, always on the edge of their capabilities. Those people would be relegated to writing code they actually are able to manage. They'd have to think about whole new ways to make things complex.

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Libvnc

https://libvnc.github.io/doc/html/examples.html

What's missing is a simple, but flexible toolkit for GUI applications. Perhaps modeled a bit after the one in Delphi (which apparently was copied by C#) with hooks to satisfy design constraints.

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Devil

Re: a bare-bones web browser that has no JavaScript

noscript plugin and cookie blockers. that should do it.

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Re: a bare-bones web browser that has no JavaScript

@Charles 9 What in the name of satan is your ultimate purpose with this 'ultra-secure' web browser? Real life security is a trade-off between convenience and being more secure. If you have specific planned activities for this type of web-browsing, that changes the goal posts.

Firstly I'd be more skeptical about a browser software connecting to today's public internet that was last updated in 2006.

If you're that paranoid, just switch to Qubes OS where every application window can basically can be it's own "VM / sandbox" to be destroyed and re-created at whim.

For regular everyday browsing, I think most would be more happy with a modified Firefox using Ublock Origin, HTTPS Everywhere (not in FF add-ons, visit eff.org/https-everywhere ) and NoScript. The NoScript project is the most interesting, is now a "security suite" I've been using for happily 6 years. It takes the whitelist approach, so everything is gets blocked first, then you choose which sites you trust to enable individually. Nearly every site you visit will be broken at first, due to the high dependency on Javascript of the modern internet just to display text/images properly, so you will have to fiddle with enabling sites to get it right. Rarely do you have to enable all the sites with Java/javascript/Flash elements, and many ads get blocked in the process. My whitelist today is a baby years in the making.

But what if you're a budding druglord kingpin trying to get your empire off the ground, and are just worried about that pesky NSA finding your whereabouts? Stick to a series of VPN's, TOR, disable all cookies forever, and worry obsessively about DNS leaks. Put all this on a burner laptop wiped with your favorite flavor of penguin, and no links or credentials to any of your personal resources.

And if your evil genius doomsday plan requires the utmost security to prevent your volcano lair from being discovered, wipe your burner laptop with Qubes and do all of the above.

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Windows

Re: a bare-bones web browser that has no JavaScript

try curl

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

@Charles 9

"Linux is not an option because I use Steam, and most of my library is Windows-ONLY."

Linux VM?

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

Thinking about it, but I have an 8GB cap and regularly do some heavy work (media encoding, 3D, etc.). Currently keep an XP VM knocking around for legacy apps.

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Re: a bare-bones web browser that has no JavaScript

Note that Firefox uses JS under the hood and throughout the chrome for (apparently) as much as possible besides web pages, IIUC. If you had a real, successfully-compiling, JS-free Firefox, that's going to be somewhat useless at first. Not aware if how it compares but I'd very probably start with Midori instead, just to avoid that entire jungle of abstractions.

Don't forget extensions and WebExtensions. And don't say almost trivial, in the words of JWZ -- "the universe tends toward maximum irony." And it's listening. And he worked for Mozilla.

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

I bet you're a massive hypocrite and viewing the source of a web page accounts for all the times you ever had to look source in the eye, like me more than half my life ago.

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Re: VNC

They'd have to think about whole new ways to make things complex.

Nailed it. The whole point of the early days of the Internet was that almost anyone could learn how to build a website.

Hell, anyone remember Netscape Composer? I built my first websites with that.

Now? Do we really need literally dozens of scripts and languages to create a damn website? No. It's just nerd boi circle jerking at the gates of the priesthood of the temple of corporate mammon to REALLY bad pron, at this point.

Dial it back from 11. It's my bandwidth, not yours.

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Re: VNC

Actually, it's BOTH of yours, as BOTH ends have to give and take. That's why there are data caps and peering agreements.

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

In my opinion, owning an Android or iOS device automatically makes an anti-javascript type a hypocrite. Guess a huge percentage of mobile apps (including bundled ones) are running behind the scenes?

Besides, there are so many sites now that require JavaScript to even be usable.

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

Perhaps this is what you want?

http://www.netsurf-browser.org/downloads/windows/

Some info about this program. http://www.netsurf-browser.org/about/

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

Thanks for pointing me to a Windows port. This seems to be the best of the lot compared to Links and OffByOne, especially when used together with Freenet, making it my browser of choice now for that purpose. Might also be a nice option for a Tor browser since it has internal proxy support.

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

"Besides, there are so many sites now that require JavaScript to even be usable."

I make it a point to avoid websites that require JavaScript to operate, as they could be drive-by sites in disguise. If it's a place I can't avoid (like a manufacturer's website), I tend to inform them on the strongest of terms how I feel about not using a simple HTML link listing like in the old days.

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cca

Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

There is d-plus on sourceforge, built, I believe, from the dillo sources. https://sourceforge.net/projects/dplus-browser/

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

You might try Vivaldi

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Re: I don't know about lynx and w3m

And worst, none of the major browser makers have any real incentive to protect the user because they make revenue on the searching and ads. Where do you think Mozilla got all it's money?

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Colour me baffled...

It surprises me that Firefox seems to take such ongoing criticism and constant negative comparison against the like of Chrome and IE/Edge for what amount to such minor functional niggles. In my experience, Firefox and 3rd party forks and derivatives such as CyberFox are as equally performant and stable as either of Google or Microsofts offerings.

But the killer for me is that (A) Firefox doesn't have the shady tentacles of some data slurping and privacy invading behmoth hard baked into it by design, and (B) the sheer amount of add-ons and/or secure custom forks allows me to assure myself that I can keep my browsing habits private as far as practically possible.

Which is just the way I want it.

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"It surprises me that Firefox seems to take such ongoing criticism ..."

This is the Internet - there's always some vocal minority taking a stand and, as soon as you do something, somebody will be unhappy about it.

For me, I see the proposed orientation favorably, if I can keep using NoScript and uBlock Origin, that is, because those two add-ons are the keystone to online security. Without them, I am exponentially more vulnerable and I don't like that.

So go for the changes, Mozilla, but keep things secure where at all possible.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Colour me baffled...

"Doesn't have data slurping built in by design"

Oh really?

https://wiki.mozilla.org/Firefox/Data_Collection

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Surprised that speed is still an issue

With the general standard of hardware today I don't see browser speed as an issue anymore, even on my old 2009 vintage pc, loading and web access is almost instanteious whether it is Chrome, Edge or Firefox.

I much prefer Firefox and find nothing to complain about.

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Re: Surprised that speed is still an issue

When they talk about speed they're more referring to the fact that your phone / tablet / PC might have a GPU and 2, 4 or 8 cores and yet the browser does most of its work on the main thread. So stuff like relayouts, animations etc. is a lot slower than it should be and potentially wastes more battery in mobile devices because the CPU is doing stuff the GPU could do.

Retrofitting concurrency is a virtually impossible thing to do with the existing code base. So they're writing a new layout engine which is multi-threaded and takes advantage of the GPU from the ground up.

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Re: Surprised that speed is still an issue

Never mind sorting the speed out; please please take a bucket pitch and caulking hemp and start plugging memory leaks.and CPU useage.

If I leave it running most of the day it can use over 1Gig of memory and regularly peg the CPU at over 70%

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Flame

Re: Surprised that speed is still an issue

They need to stop messing with the GUI.

Why do I have to:

1) Install Classic Theme Restorer

2) Install Noscript

3) Disable built in PDF

4) Disable various stupid URL bar options in about:config

5) Disable 3rd party cookies

Etc.

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Len

Re: Surprised that speed is still an issue

Don't confuse multithreadedness with multiprocess.

Firefox has been seriously multithreaded since version 4.0 with many process offloaded off the main thread. My Firefox is currently running 57 threads divided over my two cores.

What Mozilla is currently working on is spawning more than the standard two processes (one for the browser and one for plugins such as Flash) that it currently uses. That has some stability benefits although it comes at a price of more overhead. Chrome's multiple processes are one of the main causes for it being one of the biggest resource hogs.

Mozilla has probably now decided that, with multiple cores and multiple gigs of RAM as standard, it doesn't hurt to become a bit heavier if aids stability.

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Devil

Re: Surprised that speed is still an issue

The millenial ADULT-CHILDREN, who view everything through social media on a 4-inch screen, had way too much influence on the project. Fat-finger-friendly spacing, hamburger menus, all of that. BLEAH.

If I want to view a PDF file I'll download it first and use 'evince'. That should be an easy option to set up. But it's not.

(yeah I have my list o' plugins, too)

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Re: Surprised that speed is still an issue

"If I leave it running most of the day it can use over 1Gig of memory and regularly peg the CPU at over

70%"

IINM, that's mostly the websites' fault, not Firefox's, unless you can show the same thing leaving it open for a whole day using nothing but about:blank.

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Re: Surprised that speed is still an issue

Why do I have to:

1) Install Classic Theme Restorer

2) Install Noscript

3) Disable built in PDF

4) Disable various stupid URL bar options in about:config

5) Disable 3rd party cookies

Etc.

Because the "customer"/end-user base for Firefox these days is other Firefox developers, not people who need to actually use it.

What I have to wonder is **WHY** it seems that **ALL** modern browsers suck to extreme levels. The web is broken.

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