back to article Why Firefox? Because not everybody is a web designer, silly

Write, as I have, about Firefox and you receive the usual slew of critics who demand to know why Firefox matters? Who cares if Firefox continues to exist? This is often accompanied by "Chrome is better! Chrome is all we need!" Clearly a lot of people do think Chrome is better. StatCounter, which offers reasonably reliable …

  1. Steve Graham

    I recently ditched Firefox.

    Firefox 52 on Linux broke audio by dropping support for the standard Linux sound subsystem, ALSA.

    Instead, Firefox now requires PulseAudio. Pulse was originally intended to be a replacement for ALSA, but development stalled, and now it's just a routing layer that requires an actual sound infrastructure underneath it, usually ALSA.

    Some people have got this "architecture" working perfectly adequately. Others complain of latency and glitches, or simply no sound. I don't see the point in even trying, since the existing structure works perfectly well.

    It's the latest stupid decision by Firefox developers, and it was enough. I migrated to the Chromium-based Vivaldi browser.

    1. m0rt Silver badge

      Thread Hijack - why did that planet story get taken away?

      https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:cktStK114yIJ:https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/04/19/404/+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk&client=fire

      Thread closed and allsorts.

      The Truth is out there...

      1. Walter Bishop Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Thread Hijack - why did that planet story get taken away?

        The reg editors must have got a warning from our reptilian shape shifting albino alien overlords ..

      2. smallseo

        Re: Thread Hijack - why did that planet story get taken away?

        Because it was Nibiru !!!

      3. Wayland Bronze badge

        Re: Thread Hijack - why did that planet story get taken away?

        As one poster puts it, Niburu has been found so the story has been removed to keep the conspiracy theorists happy. As a conspiracy theorist myself I find it much more interesting now I have to get it from the web cache.

      4. John Savard Silver badge

        Re: Thread Hijack - why did that planet story get taken away?

        The story is still on The Register. You will have to click on "Older Stories" to see it now, and it has a picture of the interior of a space ship instead of a picture of the Sun, plus some minor wording changes, from the cached page you point to, but it's still there.

    2. Delbert Grady

      Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

      Pulseaudio sucks a bag of d**ks and all the linux distro sheep jumped on board.

      eh.. what it means to be 'different' - ALSA was ok, dmix helped do what most desktop users wanted

      Linux always sucked for people working with audio seriously, so they broke it even more instead.

      Firefox needs pulseaudio. really ? god help us.

      that is why i pretty much ditched Linux tears back & went Mac and BSD.

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

        Whereas I agree with you on Pulseaudio - it is the work of the devil - you ditched linux because of pulse?

        1. Fatman Silver badge

          Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

          <snip>it is the work of the devil - </snip>

          Check out the name of the developer of PulseAudio and Systemd:

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

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

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Agamemnon
            Pint

            Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

            Holy Crap! You've gone and found the Root of the Problem! (Beers, many plurals) for you good sir. Now that we have identified it, let us go about eliminating it, with extreme prejudice.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

          I think he ditched FIREFOX because of pulse...

          I'll stick with firefox but I want to get rid of the HAMBURGER MENU and "fat finger friendly" *GARBAGE* . I like the _OLDER_ look a _LOT_ better.

          So here's what I'm thinking: As MATE was to GNOME, it's time for a FIREFOX FORK!

          Debian had Iceweasel. Maybe it's time to resurrect it, but include those "problem areas" like DROPPING ALSA, and FAT-FINGER-FRIENDLY [desktop irritant] features *like* the hamburger menu.

          In fact, JUST having a SETTING to TURN THAT OFF would make me happy...

          1. keithpeter
            Windows

            Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

            @bombastic bob

            Considered Seamonkey? Still in most repos.

          2. Doctor Evil

            Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

            "VI'll stick with firefox but I want to get rid of the HAMBURGER MENU and "fat finger friendly" *GARBAGE* . I like the _OLDER_ look a _LOT_ better."

            <alt>Tools | Add-Ons | Extensions and search for "Classic Theme Restorer" (current 1.6.4) and add it if you don't already have it.

            Hover mouse over tabs bar or add-on bar, r/c, select Customize, click on hamburger menu, delete.

            Happy now?

          3. quxinot

            Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

            >In fact, JUST having a SETTING to TURN THAT OFF would make me happy...

            Tools -> Addons -> Extensions

            Classic Theme Restorer

            Hide Bar Wtih One Tab

            New Tab Override

            Ublock Origin (or whatever to taste)

            Right click approximately where the tabs are, choose customize. You may now remove the hamburger menu as well as basically anything else you don't want. It's possible to have quite a clean look this way, but the extensions are required to remove the stuff that is normally locked in the customize interface.

            I too dislike Chrome, primarily for the interface, and am disgusted with Firefox's slow mutation into just another Chrome clone. But because the extensions are still available, I can make even new versions of FireFox look pretty close to the old versions.

          4. oneguycoding

            Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

            I heard it through the grapevine that they're going to offer the look of old without the horrendously complicated addon extension plugin (whatever) ClassicThemeRestorer. I bitched about the ugly ass rounded tabs last week on twitter and was assured that an option to switch the look back was imminent.

            Maybe alsa just needs a pulse emulation layer <ducks/>

          5. Trilkhai

            Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

            I'll stick with firefox but I […] like the _OLDER_ look a _LOT_ better. So here's what I'm thinking: As MATE was to GNOME, it's time for a FIREFOX FORK!

            That's exactly what Pale Moon is; I've been using it in Linux since Firefox went full Australis:

            http://palemoon.org

          6. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Pale Moon

            "So here's what I'm thinking: As MATE was to GNOME, it's time for a FIREFOX FORK!"

            It's been here a few years already, it's called Pale Moon. Try it.

          7. MarkSitkowski

            Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

            ...FIREFOX FORK...?

            It's already out there. Get hold of Pale Moon.

        3. julian.smith

          Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

          I keep a nailed down W8.1 machine solely to run WASAPI audio

          [using AMD's Audio driver gives me bit-perfect sound]

          MusicBee for audio

          Kodi for movies, etc

          Now I have to use it for YouTube as well because Firefox broke ALSA in Linux Mint - how stupid can you get?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

            Just ditch Linux for FreeBSD.

        4. Roger 11

          Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

          I'd say it's more because of the music production.

      2. breakfast

        Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

        If you need real audio you're running Jack at minimum latency though, right?

        Pulse is fine for day to day work, but with Jack I've managed to get some fairly nice sounding music on an entirely Open Source stack.

        1. Steve Graham

          Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

          Yes, I didn't want to clutter up my post with detail. As well as my general-purpose machine, I have a Linux-based home studio, with Ardour and using Jack for the plumbing, ALSA for driving the hardware.

          (Although most people would probably be surprised at how much plumbing you can do, purely with ALSA. It's just that the .asoundrc syntax is odd, and it's not well-documented.)

          1. keithpeter
            Windows

            .asoundrc documentation - Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

            "(Although most people would probably be surprised at how much plumbing you can do, purely with ALSA. It's just that the .asoundrc syntax is odd, and it's not well-documented.)"

            Please consider documenting what you know. Just a series of notes in a text file together with a functioning .asoundrc file would be fine.

          2. breakfast

            Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

            "Not well documented" is the curse of anything Linux when you get off the beaten track, which is a shame because the tools are often pretty great if one can ever figure out how to make them do anything and utterly frustrating when one can't.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

        "Linux always sucked for people working with audio seriously"

        As an audio engineer who has used Linux systems for professional sound recording for 10+ years I beg to differ. So do quite a few manufacturers of high-end pro audio gear.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

          Re: "Linux always sucked for people working with audio seriously"

          Then: "As an audio engineer who has used Linux systems for professional sound recording for 10+ years I beg to differ..."

          Actually, I also tend to find that Linux is (still) notoriously crap for pro audio. And I'm not alone... (e.g., https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/5foi3v/its_2016_and_linux_audio_still_sucks_for/)

          For anyone who's seriously used Linux for any sort of serious post-production--or frankly, for any professional realtime, low-latency work that actually requires a DAW (i.e., something beyond just pushing "record" to grab some audio from a couple of mics)--I for one would love to learn what you actually do, who employs you to do it, and what kernel, hardware, and software plugins you use in your setup. Because both latency and support have been truly horrendous on Linux for non-trivial audio work, in my humble experience, and I'd really, REALLY love to learn that this somehow has changed--from someone who's actually done it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

            I also looked at a potential Linux studio in 2011, but was told on the Audio forums that my kit was "Too Professional" for Linux, and there was no support available.

            My kit was a £400 Audio Interface. It's basically High End home kit, not professional at all. I too want to know where the sudden inmprovemnt in Linux audio has come from, and most of all, which professional DAW is now available on Linux, I hadn't noticed one being released.

            1. m0rt Silver badge

              @fatman

              Very well aware of that - this is one good reason I say NO to systemd

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                If the Linux "all software must be crossplatform" didn't come up with the ill conceived "ALinuxSA", you linux people wouldn't be in the big audio clusterfuck you are now.

                In turn, all of us using sane systems, had to deal with porting stuff that depended on these unneccessary libraries.

                That's the problem with Linux coders. No discipline or maturity. If it doesn't work, no-one can be bothered to fix it, they just have to come up with a new shiny-shiny..

                udev/devd/devfs/Hal oss/alsa/ blah blah.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

              "which professional DAW is now available on Linux"

              Ardour? It supports linux.

              There are other windows DAW known to work to some extent on Wine.

            3. breakfast

              Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

              In terms of DAW the best thing I've found on Linux is Ardour, which is as good as anything else I have used, but I have only really tinkered with other products on Windows and it is a few years since I did that. I can't say how it matches up to a current Cubase but I will say that once you have the routing figured out it is pretty great as a midi controller and works well for multi-track recording. It's not easy to use but no more difficult than any equivalent tool I have tried in the past.

              Of course where VSTs are concerned it is pot luck whether something will run under Wine, I haven't spent as much time looking into that, but for the results I have been aiming for I've found Ardour to be pretty good.

            4. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

              "which professional DAW is now available on Linux, I hadn't noticed one being released."

              If by professional DAW you mean one which is adequate for doing professional quality work, Ardour has been quite usable since around 2006. If you take too much notice of the numerous Dunning-Kruger casualties who infest the "pro" audio forums these days, you might not have accurate information.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Linux pro audio. Was: I recently ditched Firefox.

            "As an audio engineer who has used Linux systems for professional sound recording for 10+ years I beg to differ..." That was me.

            "I for one would love to learn.....what kernel, hardware, and software plugins you use"

            Kernel: Standard 4.x kernel with CONFIG_PREEMPT=y and CONFIG_HZ=1000. I monitor direct from hardware when recording, so don't usually need low latency. If I used a lot of MIDI I'd probably want a realtime patched kernel. These days several mainstream distros have RT patched kernels available, so getting one isn't the chore it used to be.

            Hardware: Choice is better than it used to be. I still prefer the long-supported RME PCI/PCIe cards for high channel counts (up to 192 in/out channels on their triple MADI cards). Obviously you need external A-D and D-A converters with those, but that's pretty standard for pro studio gear.

            Plugins: There's a wide choice of plugins now. I still use mostly LADSPA plugins as I dislike fancy GUIs. I make my own plugins if something doesn't exist and I can't cobble something together from simpler plugins.

            That last point brings up my main reason for using Linux for audio: I need access to source code to do the things I want. If I wasn't freelance and able to make my own software decisions, Linux might not be the most practical choice, but it works for me.

        2. Scubaman66

          Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

          Well in that case I'd be eternally grateful (and I am being 100% serious here) if you could tell me , step by step, how to get my Focusrite 18i8 interface to talk to my Reaper DAW under Ubuntu Studio (17.04 Zesty Zapus) as I'm completely at a loss.

          1. illiad

            Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

            Ubuntu forum???

            1. illiad

              Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

              http://linux.palemoon.org/

    3. Baggypants

      Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

      I don't know what you've been doing but ALSA is still there and drives the hardware, pulseaudio mixes multiple applications sound sources together, has done for years reliably on my Fedora laptop. When I run JACK2 pulse suspends itself and gets out of the way of the hardware until I terminate JACK and then it takes over again. Never had an issue with it. Whatever you're doing, you're doing it wrong. Firefox can be compiled to use JACK too if you like.

      1. Named coward

        Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

        "...Firefox can be compiled..."

        Then you wonder why people prefer other alternatives. Normal people, not the typical reg reader, have no idea what "compile" means

      2. boltar Silver badge

        Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

        " pulseaudio mixes multiple applications sound sources together, has done for years reliably on my Fedora laptop."

        So does ALSA, in theory. That was the whole USP for it to replace OSS back in the day. Frankly as a C/C++ dev I found the OSS API a lot simpler and more intuitive but then I never needed to do anything particularly complex with it.

        1. AdamWill

          Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

          "So does ALSA, in theory. That was the whole USP for it to replace OSS back in the day."

          No, it wasn't. ALSA replaced OSS in most distributions a long time before dmix (the ALSA feature that allows for software stream mixing) was introduced; this is why we used to have various other things that sat on top of ALSA and did stream mixing which no-one remembers terribly fondly (principally esd and arts).

          The reason ALSA replaced OSS was that OSS went to a partially proprietary model (the kernel included a subset of it referred to as OSS/Free - obviously, it wasn't going to include the non-free bits) and development especially of the free software part of OSS stalled heavily.

          PA does software stream mixing, but that's not the only reason for it to be used. It's a 'sound server', like arts or esound were (or like JACK, which is also a sound server, just one tailored specifically to pro audio usage), which provides a convenient interface you can write apps for and easily get the capabilities that most normal applications need, without having to deal with ALSA's much lower level and more awkward interfaces directly (and reinvent stuff like source / output selection).

    4. AdamWill

      Optional

      "Pulse was originally intended to be a replacement for ALSA, but development stalled"

      Um. No it wasn't. PA was never designed to replace ALSA. It was always designed as a higher level, more pleasant interface for apps to use, since writing to ALSA is kind of a nightmare. Here is an article from 2007 that explains this perfectly well:

      https://www.linux.com/news/why-you-should-care-about-pulseaudio-and-how-start-doing-it

    5. illiad

      Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

      If you hate what firefox has done, why not try 'palemoon' , a *users* version of the old thing.. ??

      http://www.palemoon.org/faq.shtml

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I recently ditched Firefox.

      I ditched it as it's slow, really slow compared to chrome or opera, particularly on android, page loads feel like 2-3x longer. Chrome is blisteringly fast. I'm kind stuck however, I want to use the same browser everywhere, opera is awesome on the desktop, vastly superior to anything else around, but it sucks balls on mobile, so I use chrome there..

      I kinds hope Mozilla move to blink and v8, not because of a standard web engine, but it might make Firefox a viable project again .

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge

    There is no one true browser

    How many versions of WebKit and Blink are there out there?

    It shouldn't be a problem to develop for Gecko too if you stick to standards, it's not as if Firefox is like IE where you need to design a page again for it.

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      Re: There is no one true browser

      Indeed, it is just a matter of interface preference. I have a liking for Firefox because of some plugins that make it work especially well for me. Nevertheless, surely I'm not the only one who runs numerous browsers because many have useful features that I like from time to time. Why only use one browser?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Spinning plates

    Too many variations in packages lead to the developer's nightmare of "keeping the plates spinning" ***.

    It becomes a never-ending task to keep your code compatible for all your users. When one browser changes - then you have a support task to bring it back into line. Solving that problem may introduce other problems with other browsers - known as the "squeezing the balloon"***** situation.

    ***in the days of simple public entertainments - a "variety show" would often include a juggling act. One common set piece was to start a series of plates spinning on the end of long sticks dotted round the stage. As each one was started the earlier ones were running down and had to be given a fresh impetus. Eventually they were all spinning but occupying all the person's time as different ones started to approach the point of slowing where they would drop off their stick.

    *****when you squeeze a balloon - a bulge gets displaced elsewhere in the balloon's shape.

    1. User McUser

      Re: Spinning plates

      You know who really likes spinning plates?

      People paid to spin plates.

      Windows is an extremely troublesome piece of software - just this week I'm having to deal with our Windows clients ignoring Group Policy rules for no apparent reason. If it worked correctly the first time and every time then I'd be out of a job.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Spinning plates

        "I'd be out of a job"

        Ehhh no.

        The purpose of support is to keep the ball rolling into the future, not keep plates spinning in the present.

        You should be giving your clients a competitive edge not maintaining the status quo.

        While break/fix is heroic and it takes balls of steel, its by no means the reason professionals like us exist.

        I tend to do my best work when im helping businesses improve their processes and make them more efficient, not when Im firefighting.

        Also, I aim to have to do as little as possible for my retainers to increase their value. Troubleshooting and firefighting cost me time and therefore money.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I avoided Chrome for a long time - favouring Firefox. Recently Firefox has become very clunky on BBC iPlayer videos - yet a concurrent Chrome session has no problems.

    Firefox suddenly stopped allowing Selenium Web Driver remote control a while ago - without any "developer mode" override. Chrome has its own interface for Web Driver that was once a bit clunky - but now works very smoothly.

    1. Mark 65 Silver badge

      I switched from Firefox when it started freezing, becoming a massive memory and CPU hog and just running a bit shitty - I generally leave my machine up and running until a restart is mandated by patching or it becomes a bit treacle-like in use and have 30+ tabs open normally. I moved to Chrome, not something I wanted to do, but it was the only real option at the time. It is much better at one tab not screwing the whole thing up but I now find that it becomes a bit of a resource pig on occasion - normally the Google Chrome Helper process. Wonder where to next?

      1. CFWhitman

        I find Chrome/Chromium a much bigger resource hog than Firefox in general. There have been times that Firefox would have a memory leak and would use too many resources over the course of several days. Even now, I occasionally have to restart a Firefox session to combat choppiness if it's been up for a couple of weeks. However, it doesn't gobble up all your resources right away when you have multiple tabs open like Chrome does.

        One thing I like about Firefox is that it has color management, while no browsers not based on Firefox seem to support that. Sure, your color will be pretty good with any browser if you have you session properly calibrated, but only Firefox based browsers seem to fully support color profiles.

      2. Retro Man

        Back to Firefox 45.9.0 ESR ??

    2. Topperfalkon

      Firefox and Web Driver

      Firefox used to have a web driver component built in, but with the new version of Selenium they all use the standard stand-alone. You'll want geckodriver for it to work with Firefox these days

    3. GreenReaper

      Maintaining hardware video accelleration support is a big issue

      Firefox developers are very keen to avoid crashes, but in doing so they have a tendency to disable things like hardware acceleration which are crucial for performance on many systems.

      It has been broken for a while on my Radeon 6970 under Vista and while there were suggestions about what changes might have caused it, it was never fixed. Perhaps more importantly, I regularly have the same problem on my AMD Brazos-based x120e netbook. That's a critical fail, because the CPU is so anaemic that I have to open Chrome to watch any video.

      As always, it's a case of "you get what you measure". Crashes are bad, so reducing crashes is good. But if you do so by disabling an important feature (rather than fix or work around the problem), that's not so good.

  5. gv

    There's always links or lynx.

  6. LiarLiarLiar

    chrome is google spyware, and I've seen a lot of crappy software that tries to install it

    how many users out there actively went out to install chrome, verses the dumb user who installed some garbage freeware that also installed chrome and the user didn't even notice

    1. Justicesays

      Re: chrome is google spyware, and I've seen a lot of crappy software that tries to install it

      Case in point, my fathers laptop got malware that ran a version of Chrome in the background in some kind of sandbox , browsing (presumably) click to pay sites automatically.

      Became obvious when it's dodgy programming meant it filled the disk with literally millions of files.

      1. Malcolm 1

        Re: chrome is google spyware, and I've seen a lot of crappy software that tries to install it

        Given that both Chromium and Firefox are open source, why would malware authors choose Chromium so overwhelmingly that it could affect these results significantly?

        1. Alumoi

          Re: chrome is google spyware, and I've seen a lot of crappy software that tries to install it

          Because most (l)users have Chrome as their default browser and won't notice another instance of it.

      2. Walter Bishop Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: chrome is google spyware, and I've seen a lot of crappy software that tries to install it

        "Case in point, my fathers laptop got malware" when he downloaded that plugin from some thirdparty p04n site :)

    2. SteveGS

      Re: chrome is google spyware, and I've seen a lot of crappy software that tries to install it

      Do you *really* want the all-seeing and would-be world-dominating Google to monitor your web browsing activities?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "When developers say a monoculture is better for users what they mean is that if there were a monoculture the users would always see exactly what developers want them to see."

    True, to a point. The real driving force is that it takes time to create a website that runs across all browsers perfectly without resorting to browser-specific fixes. The moment you start to do that, your testing increases, complexity of code increases, and it takes longer to develop it. Time is money in an industry where web design agencies want to maximise their profits. There is nothing wrong with that, but it depends how it's done.

    When I first started in web development I was told to make the site look perfect in IE6 because "Thats what the client will view it in, and it needs to be signed off so we get paid". This happened for a number of sites, I learnt nothing other than how to con the client. "What's that? A customer said the text was hard to read? I think it's their computer that's at fault not the site, I mean it looks good on your PC doesn't it?".

    Even now the con is different. Charge the client thousands of pounds to hack away at a WordPress website that we have recommended to the client because it's easier for them to edit and update it themselves, and then charge them to make sure WordPress is kept up to date.

    Web designers and developers exist to serve only themselves. A continual game of one-up-manship between them and their peers to make something that looks cool to their peers. Not at any point to make the website work or look cool to the end user. If that was the case websites would be fairly boring, because function would always win out over form.

    A/C because several of the wankers I've worked for in this industry, who I've found all this out from, frequent this website.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Laziness, Impatience, and Hubris

      That's what these people suffer from. And they have fast connections, unlike many of their products' users.

    2. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Web con - often, not always

      As a web designer and web developer myself, I had to ensure that my client saw something that made him happy, but that also made his customers happy, so I had to address the usual browsers, and this started way back. It was part of my professional service to ensure that their site worked and looked good in all browsers, even if they didn't specifically ask for that, because I take pride in my work. If the screens differed wildly, I would send them screen-shots and explain why, just as now I show them what it will look like on a range of resolutions.

      Yes, there are a lot of half-backed web agencies out there who churn out the standard fare and don't build right, but there are a few of us who still believe that offering a superior service is worth it, not only for the client, but also so that we can look ourselves in the eye every morning.

      1. handleoclast Silver badge

        Re: Web con - often, not always

        Too few clients realize that the website should be optimized for their clients, not for themselves.

        Too many web designers choose to pander to their clients' requests rather than explain to the client that unless their customers like the site, it doesn't matter how fantastic they themselves think it.

        Remember the vogue for Shockwave (as it was then) Flash for navigation? I always called it Flush because any website that used it for navigation had gone down the shitter.

      2. Someone Else Silver badge

        @ Hollerithevo -- Re: Web con - often, not always

        Yes, there are a lot of half-backed web agencies out there who churn out the standard fare and don't build right, but there are a few of us who still believe that offering a superior service is worth it, not only for the client, but also so that we can look ourselves in the eye every morning.

        Looking yourself in the eye every morning sounds like it hurts!

    3. tiggity Silver badge

      Website dev

      Though of course it is possible to design a website that is simple and relatively unaffected by various random browser changes.

      .. Though then PHB demands to know why the website is not (needlessly) full of JavaScript blingy fripperies like every other site, so simple site gets "upgraded"

      So, even if the web devs like simplicity, someone above them will not be happy until there's a few tens of thousand lines of script pulled in, references to at least 15 other domains and the site shows zilch if scripting disabled

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Website dev

        it is possible to design a website that is simple

        If only people would. I've just been looking at the e-commerce site of a leading retailer, attempting to assess the security of payment information. A futile task, it transpires, as even if I were prepared to wade through the thousands of lines of "minified" JavaScript that support "critical" functions such as fixing up the complicated UI layout in obsolete browsers and tracking the customers every movement with several different commercial services simultaneously, I could come back next week and find they'd blindly pulled in a new version of the impenetrable code without a second thought.

        The web is not a "beautiful, flexible, powerful mess", it's just a mess. Competition amongst browsers hasn't really spurred innovation, it's simply led to half-finished specs half-implemented in a half-hearted attempt to gain attention for the new shiny thing. If competition drove genuine innovation we'd have a universal mechanism to access hardware security tokens from browsers by now.

        1. Daniel 18

          Re: Website dev

          "hardware security tokens"

          Will break many use models, and probably not improve security significantly.

        2. Someone Else Silver badge

          Re: Website dev

          The web is not a "beautiful, flexible, powerful mess", it's just a mess.

          Pretty accurately describes web programming in general, I wot....

      2. Daniel 18

        Re: Website dev

        "someone above them will not be happy until there's a few tens of thousand lines of script pulled in, references to at least 15 other domains and the site shows zilch if scripting disabled"

        Of course, enabling random unfamiliar domains or oft-corrupted domains breaks any pretense of security, which means such sites should simply be left unread.

    4. bazza Silver badge

      Web designers and developers exist to serve only themselves. A continual game of one-up-manship between them and their peers to make something that looks cool to their peers. Not at any point to make the website work or look cool to the end user.

      Not just Web developers. There's more than a few handset designers who are like that, and mobile OS developers. Even the Linux world is not invulnerable to fashion over function.

    5. Kiwi Silver badge

      Web designers and developers exist to serve only themselves. A continual game of one-up-manship between them and their peers to make something that looks cool to their peers. Not at any point to make the website work or look cool to the end user. If that was the case websites would be fairly boring, because function would always win out over form.

      There were some customers of mine who were just starting out in business, and with a tight budget. I hosted their sites on my equipment for free. I spent several nights working outside of work hours, often till the early hours, for "free" (actually much word-of-mouth advertising, "site design and hosting by" notes on the bottom of their pages to boost my own search ranking...).

      As to site development, I did my best to make it look good but load fast, made sure sites were device-agnostic and would show well on a phone or a desktop (the same site, not showing different sites to different users, though I would load smaller versions of the pictures for smaller screens). I often edited graphics to make sure that they would be as small as possible while also remaining clear.

      I did it because I knew it would be a benefit in the long term, if my customers were expanding then they had more money to spend on me. But more, I did it because these were people who's welfare I did care about, and not for selfish reasons. I know a number of other designers who are like that as well, will charge some customers full rates but will take into account what a customer could do in the future, not just the paltry few dollars they can afford today.

  8. Justin Case

    Chrome works better

    I use Chrome and Firefox on Linux. I realise the usual caveats about Google's slurping of data but for El Reg, Amazon and my banking websites, Chrome works better with less glitches and less unpredictable behaviour.

    Usability and reliability trumps principles when you've got to get stuff done. Sad ain't it?

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Chrome works better

      "Usability and reliability trumps principles when you've got to get stuff done."

      I stick with Firefox. If a site has trouble, I just go and don't come back. Their loss.

      However a rear of these comments (stupid sound issues, compatibility, reliability, etc) perfectly illustrates why a browser monoculture is a bad thing. You can whinge about the bad decisions of Firefox, but more importantly you can choose something else. If there was only One Browser, you would be beholden to the whims and desires of the company that produce it, you would get the features they think cool and that's that.

    2. Snake

      Re: Chrome works better

      "Chrome works better"

      You should know better than to make an unsupported declarative. You know that, until 1.5 years ago, Chrome was one of the biggest memory hogs on the Windows desktop, bringing just about any system below maxed-out to its knees after a period of continuous usage. Add in the dumbed-down interface, with few user controls, and the "works better" declaration depends on your point of view.

      And what of Firefox? The problem with Firefox isn't the program per-se (hold on for a thorough explanation, it gets complex) the problem is the arrogant programmers *behind* the program, who make changes regardless of user feedback or preferences. Sadly, that has become all to typical in modern programming: the "We Know Better" attitude that the person sitting 6,000 miles away from you knows what you want more than you do. Microsoft with the Ribbon (and lots of other things, too many to mention really); Adobe with...almost anything, really; Firefox with stripping features and adding unwanted ones (who thought that making a Bookmark button that automatically sets the new bookmark to the Recent folder, rather than giving the user a choice, was a good idea??)

      Firefox is becoming irrelevant because of the hubris of its open source programmers, who feel that they do not have to respond to users because We Know Better, like the little errant children that they so well emulate. So, users are walking away. Many users like the idea of an alternative to the big boys (Chrome and IE) but then get so disappointed with Firefox's constant little irrational irritations, ones that should have been worked out long ago, that they bail out and simply go to the popular model.

      In other words, the market was Firefox's to win or lose. Sadly, the pomposity of the Firefox team has doomed them to the latter.

      Signed,

      a current Firefox user

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Chrome works better

        Chrome is pretty awesome though. Firefox is good too. Anything is better than IE.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Chrome works better

          Chrome is pretty awesome though. Firefox is good too. Anything is better than IE.

          Unfortunately Microsoft would like to disagree with this therefore they created Edge. As a result they feel a need to push this tripe browser and therefore have put a shitty little icon in the latest version of IE prompting the user to open using Edge instead.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chrome works better

      "Chrome works better

      "Usability and reliability trumps principles when you've got to get stuff done.""

      Indeed, and for my secure browsing... and my 'heavy lifting' on the web, Firefox works a lot better.

      No one browser will ever be the best for everyone.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chrome works better

      If chrome works better for you. Good for you.

      Unfortunately, I had more experience of chrome making thinks not work right. Mostly because of the hidden updates. One day your extension works, the next day it doesn't. I still have a few manual backups of different chromes version just to avoid critical moment something breaks. Not to mention newer chrome installer is not stable, it just downloads the newest version. That's just terrible when you need a specific version of chrome.

      Firefox on the other hand just works (or it used to). You pull out any older version on the list, it works. If you just copied the whole firefox folder, it just works. If you got it with the plugins folder, it still works. Also if I'm lazy, I could get a portable version. Need the newest firefox for testing? no online installation required, just copy and go.

      In terms of usability chrome may have an edge in speed, but I haven't seen a chrome with the same reliability.

  9. poohbear

    Designers..

    "The web is never going to look the same everywhere," ... I don't think the artists/designers got that memo.

    1. nijam

      Re: Designers..

      > I don't think the artists/designers got that memo

      Artists & designers should never have been allowed in...

      1. handleoclast Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Designers..

        The designers who should have been excluded are the ones that like to disguise links so they look indistinguishable from ordinary text. They should be killed slowly and painfully.

        Almost as bad are the sites where links are distinguishable from ordinary text but visited links look just the same as unvisited links. This is unforgiveable, especially on news aggregator sites. Even the BBC news site does it in places - in individual articles visited links look like unvisited links so you end up clicking on links you've already seen. Severe clue-batting should be applied.

        As for the ones that insist on a design that works only on their browser only at the screen resolution they're using and looks shitty or is unuseable on anything else... Use a cheese grater to remove their skin, douse them with vinegar, then sprinkle them with salt. Then really hurt them.

        1. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: Designers..

          The thing about visited vs. unvisited links looking the same is one of many things I fix with Firefox extensions. I don't care if a page looks different on various browsers-- in fact, that is my intent. I make it look the way I want it to look, savagely stripping out the designer's intent and replacing it with my own. That was the original vision of the web-- HTML was only meant to mark the text and elements as being a certain type of content, and the user's browser would decide how to display content of that type.

          Of course, almost as soon as the web became mainstream, it began evolving away from that ideal, and now browsers are more oriented to faithfully following the site designer's whims than those of the user. Well, I don't want a browser that serves the webmaster... I want one that serves ME. That used to be what Firefox was about, but now the goal over at Mozilla is to copy whatever Google is doing with Chrome.

          Even so, addons are the saving grace of Firefox. All of Mozilla's idiotic decisions can be reverted... Australis is handily dispatched by Classic Theme Restorer; the removed status bar (no, addon bar is not the same) can be restored with the unfortunately named Status-4-Evar. More and more, it has fallen to addon devs to make Firefox live up to its billing.

          Similarly, the idiotic design decisions made by webmasters can be undone with addons too. When I can't tell if I have visited a link or not, I click the icon on the status bar corresponding with the Monochro addon... it instantly discards the page-specified colors and replaces them with ones that I have chosen (which Firefox can do natively; this just switches it on without having to go through the menus). Instantly, all links are blue and underlined; all visited links are the same darker purply color that has always meant visited link. It's also good for dispatching stupid or illegible text color/background combinations.

          I used to use that all of the time, but as Mozilla has implemented the feature, it obliterates all backgrounds with the solid background color I've set (#e1e1e1, to keep my retinas from sizzling from the blinding white glare that everyone seems to think is mandatory these days). Unfortunately, many of these "designers" use backgrounds for actual content, and with the option to override page backgrounds set, I can't see that stuff.

          Of course, that's typical these days, but "background" tags are supposed to describe, um, backgrounds, which are by definition not content. Why code a page correctly when you can do it incorrectly and still have it work? The trend now is to assume that the browser works for the web developer, so of course it is going to render the page exactly as he wanted it, correct or not.

          So that's why I have to be able to switch the background color override on and off. When it's off, though, I am still subjected to the ever-present white backgrounds. There's an addon for that, too... the appropriately-named DarkenBackground. Works a treat 99% of the time... but for those rare instances where something doesn't look right to me, I still have the override color button.

          I have an addon to override scripts that prohibit or redefine my browser's context menu (which to me would be like a MS Word document banning right-clicks; what business does a document have telling the program's UI how to behave?), GreaseMonkey to remove annoyances with userscripts (I have one that disables many of the page-reloader scripts that aren't caught by FF's feature to warn on meta refresh, another to restore google.com's cached-page link, stuff like that), and of course the usual ones like NoScript and uBlock Origin. I have one to delete all cookies on command, another to delete cookies when a tab is closed...

          Some of those addons are within the scope of Chrome's addon structure, but not all of them. The ones like Classic Theme Restorer that back out Australis and allow the user very fine-grained control over the UI are not possible in Chrome, and Google is okay with that, since they know the one true way of doing everything, and if you don't agree, it's because you're wrong.

          I don't know what will happen when FF drops much of its huge, powerful addon library in favor of Chrome addons in under a year. Firefox is unusable without the addons... all the other browsers I've tried are just unusable period. I have very specific demands of a browser, how its UI must be, all that kind of thing... and only Firefox (and other related browsers, like maybe Seamonkey or Pale Moon) so far is configurable enough to give me what I require.

          1. Havin_it

            Re: Designers..

            This. I don't think they appreciate quite how big a kick in the market-share nuts the upcoming bonfire of the legacy add-ons is going to be. The current add-on ecosystem is the only thing besides sentimentality and inertia that's keeping me on board (though I certainly don't much fancy the alternatives either).

    2. strum Silver badge

      Re: Designers..

      >"The web is never going to look the same everywhere,"

      Indeed. And it isn't just down to the browser, or its engine.

      Someone who views their websites full-screen, on a big, wide screen, is going to see something different from someone (like me) who tends to reduce the browser window to be just big enough to read the text I want (I never see Register ads, not because of an ad blocker, but because they're way over there, somewhere).

  10. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    People use browsers because they run on their platform and render content without dying

    Not because the web 'is messy' or any other specious reason.

    People want a browser that is fast, compatible, stable, easy to use, and doesn't hang the entire browser when one page goes slow. They don't care who achieves that.

    Until very recently Firefox's lack of multi process capability, and a willingness to hang every tab when one site became bogged down with javascript complexity was a huge problem.

    Firefox is more portable than Chrome, so a better option on minority platforms.

  11. ratfox Silver badge
    Happy

    I lost it at the Haskell mention.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      But he's an excellent rugby player...

  12. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    Let the Gros Michel banana be a lesson to us all...

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

    1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      Re: Let the Gros Michel banana be a lesson to us all...

      I fail utterly and completely at constructing a satisfying metaphor between fat mike bananas and firefox browsers. Is Firefox supposed to be the fat mike and Chrome the Cavendish? They both seem more like fat mikes. Perhaps it's me.

  13. LDS Silver badge
    Devil

    Funny that a dominating browser from a megacorp was the devil itself...

    ... while another dominating browser from another megacorp is the anointed one (and at least the old one didn't spy all your online activities).

    Lack of competition is always bad. It was in IE5-6 times, it's now with Chrome. Chrome had to do better because it had to overcome IE and Mozilla.

    Once it will become the One Browser, the only new features will be those aimed at spying you better - especially now ISP competition in that area is greatly increased.

  14. Alan Sharkey

    I still use Firefox (and recently Vivaldi) for the simple reason that it has a bookmark menu that allows me to view the hundreds of favourites I have collected without taking lots of real estate. Chrome doesn't have it, IE has it, Edge doesn't.

    Firefox can also sync my bookmarks which is nice.

    Alan

  15. Simone

    The same everywhere...?

    Take any browser, load a page. Now decide that you want to do some work, so the browser can only use half the screen.

    The irritating designers that want users to see their layout, which usually wants a lot if not all of your screen, and often is a fixed width, make this choice impossible. What happened to the idea that HTML would 'flow' around the page, adjusting to match the width. I want to see the stuff I want to see, in a window that is as big or small as I want it to be (not ridiculously small, obviously). I want the elements on a page to move around to use all the space I have given the browser.

    1. Rhyd

      Re: The same everywhere...?

      Umm, that's called responsive web design and is being used all over the place so that websites are usable on mobiles and tablets. The "looks the same everywhere" thing is becoming less relevant.

      1. no-one in particular

        Re: The same everywhere...?

        > responsive web design and is being used all over the place so that websites are usable on mobiles and tablets.

        So why are so many websites serving up two *different* sites, one for desktop and one for mobile/tablet? That isn't responsive, it isn't HTML flowing to suit

        the available space, it is two distinct and seperately UNresponsive page designs. Just look for any site that suggests you go look at its 'mobile' version

        (like, ooh, The Register).

        The very fact that anyone even thought to include an option in a browser for "request desktop site" confirms the point that Simone was making.

        1. Nosher

          Re: The same everywhere...?

          Responsive Design is an absolute scam, as the one thing it does little to address is data usage (although it got a bit better since actual pre-download support for different image resolutions was added). Downloading 4MB of content before deciding which parts of it you want to use is completely missing the point and is exactly why I often use The Reg's mobile variant on my laptop on the train and despaired when the BBC dropped its proper mobile version.

      2. TitterYeNot

        Re: The same everywhere...?

        "Umm, that's called responsive web design and is being used all over the place so that websites are usable on mobiles and tablets."

        Yes, responsive web design has become extremely popular in recent years due to the fact that advertisers will pay more per impression when a 'main' website (i.e. not the mobile version of said website) is viewed on a mobile device.

        I think the point that Simone was trying to make is that, while responsive design does indeed make a site more usable on a mobile device, and is quite effective in managing the differences in screen estate between a smartphone and a tablet, it's usually a right pain in the arse when viewed on a desktop with a decent sized monitor.

        Whether this is due to immature web publishing tools, or simply lack of experience of good responsive design principles amongst web devs/designers, I have no idea.

  16. nematoad Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    An alternative.

    One browser that I haven't seem mentioned in the debate is Palemoon. A fork from Firefox it keeps much of the original Firefox look and feel but also keeps up with the times.

    Some distros I've tried don't have it in their repos but it does have it's own website, so give it a try if you have run out of choices.

    Oh, one more thing, it still supports ALSA.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: An alternative.

      I use Palemoon, but I'm finding increasingly that site developers (eg google, slack) think it's just an outdated version of firefox and demand that I update it.

      Being somewhat obstinate, I don't.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: An alternative.

        "site developers think it's just an outdated version of firefox and demand that I update it."

        yeah, this is a problem. It's making it hard for me to use an older version of Firefox (or Epiphany) with github. I happen to like *STABILITY* on development systems, and don't believe that I _MUST_ have "bleeding edge" all the time (I would rather spend time earning money and NOT 'updating' my computer all the freaking time). Since it's FreeBSD, it's quite stable. not like windows or anything. Constant "updates" are *OVERRATED* (and sometimes breaks things).

        And BESIDES, I *HATE* the 'hamburger menu' fat-finger-friendliness of CHROME and 'default Firefox'.

        I have an idea: tell those web "developers" to STOP IT with ALL THAT SCRIPTING (especially if NOT BACKWARDS COMPATIBLE). If it can NOT be done server-side, consider *NOT* *DOING* *IT* *AT* *ALL*! And that goes for YOU TOO, GITHUB!!!

        (The problem with Palemoon is that I could not easily get a copy of it, last time I tried. So I gave up on it. That was a while ago. So maybe someone (finally) put it in FreeBSD ports when I wasn't looking...)

    2. Captain DaFt

      Re: An alternative.

      "One browser that I haven't seem mentioned in the debate is Palemoon"

      Personally, I find SeaMonkey better.

      Gets all the bugfixes, but keeps a constant look and feel.

      And despite being smaller than Firefox, manages to be a full suite, including browser, email, RSS, and IRC client in one.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    main issue I have fire firefox is its pretty piss poor in a corporate environment, I really don't want to be dicking around with cfg files in 2017. At least IE, Edge and Chrome can be controlled via GPO

    1. Maventi

      That's certainly the case in Windows, but funnily enough on 'nix Firefox is quite straightforward to manage in a corporate environment (as is Chrome/Chromium).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        not very handy for the majority of corporates that use windows then. Firefox under windows is s total pain, hence why we don't use it

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      he doesn't like 'cfg' files?

      "At least IE, Edge and Chrome can be controlled via GPO"

      no WONDER you posted as an 'Anonymous Coward'!

      NEWS FLASH: Only Micro-shaft operating systems have 'Group Policy' nonsense and a polluted "registry" to hold it. Last I checked, they were outnumbered by LINUX. Every other significant OS, as I understand it, is either "unix-like" (Linu) or derived from an actual Unix distribution (Apple). So Micro-shaft STANDS ALONE with their ridiculous "policies" and the monolithic REGISTRY to store them in.

      Thanks, I prefer well organized "cfg" files, especially if I can edit them myself. And because Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and others run on NON-WINDOWS systems at least as well as on Windows [from my observations, anyway], I would expect ALL of them to use a method that is CONSISTENT across all platforms to store things like personalized settings in.

      So, WELL DONE to the open source world for STAYING with 'CFG' files. Thank you!

      /me points out that Windows once did things like this with 'INI' files. putting all of that in "the registry" grew it into the monolithic pile of EXCREMENT that it is today

  18. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Chrome has no decent RSS reader and continually nags me for Keychain access, so I don't use it.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I use firefox mostly.. because it's got options and lots of extensions.

    remember options ?

    you know, like being able to configure it to your needs or preferences.

    extensions ?

    Yep. It's said that the Firefox codebase needs a re-write, i don't know,

    but i can imagine it does, but remember what happened to KDE when they went QT4 ?

    - if you dont, they slowed the desktop down, introduced crashiness and bugs, and, once again,

    removed options to config. The whole desktop OS world has been hiding more and more options

    and it really is 'art for arts sake' now. Apple has been slimming down and reducing much of their portable hardware too so much actual physical and mechanical integrity is becoming an issue.

    Hiding options.. well, it's 2017 and OS have been around a bit by now, so what do OS designers do?

    - hide the things (options) you're used to ! Stop these ass hats. i guess these Mom's basement kind

    doing GUI design live in a bubble and don't even read 'El Reg' or of they do, think they know better than the people who have been using the software all these years.. but i digress..

    Firefox is becoming a security nightmare and will eventually piss everyone off so much that shares will plummet.. this will happen when they inevitably make their change to codebase, as the reasons people use FF will be gone. I would have likely ditched FF had i not found 'classic theme restorer' as it was so big and fugly i could not deal with it.

    Chrome sucks, privacy is a joke, plenty of extensions for functionality, but no way to tweak the UI to not make it look like it was designed by someone who still thinks big fugly rounded tabs and no user buttons and even less options to change the settings.. it's shite.

    Brave is better, still a bit crashy on Mac, but the UI is way better than chrome or chromium,

    though Brave needs more fine grained settings and customisation. still Chrome code though, sadly.

    Safari.. on Mac, well, no. a good attempt by Apple, still got way more options than Chrome (and WTF, this is Apple too) but i don't trust Safari, i trust Google less, though i do remove parts of Safari i really don't need, but still let it work.

    Edge on Windows ? NO. No Windows. move along and don't be silly.

    Yes there are other browsers with less or no plugins, i tried many, but often they are abandoned, too old to be useful, pig fugly or have less options than a ubuntu desktop, and so when i can't do what i need to do, how i want to do it, i guess i'll be forced to ditch FF and hope someone who can code better than me, and felt as frustrated as i did, has saved me the trouble of compiling my own browser on my then OS of choice. Yes Linx or Lynx aren't really of much use are they, i used them over 20 years ago when i went Linux and started Unixing, but today, though i haven't checked since the 90s, they won't work for 99.9% of users.

  20. DrXym Silver badge

    Internet Explorer is the lesson here

    Chrome might be a "team player" at the moment but that doesn't mean it will always be so. Look how Google pushed out tech like SPDY, NaCL etc. without waiting to see if it was suitable for adoption or not and without much specification to say how to handle edge cases. The implementation was the specification. Eventually after tweaking and standardization SPDY was adopted, NaCL is being dumped for web assembly. Standards and consensus are a good thing for honing and refining good ideas and rejecting imperfect ones.

    Microsoft used to operate a monopoly to push stuff and make it stick no matter how broken or proprietary it was. Consequently sites were tainted with bad proprietary technology for years. Not just proprietary technology but bad HTML and CSS because IE was a bad browser. Even when the web moved on and devs started to code their content against standards instead of implementations, intranets were still polluted with time management systems and the like that needed to run some ActiveX control or use VBscript for whatever reason.

    That's why standards matter and as many implementations of the standard as possible. Besides that Firefox happens to be an excellent browser. It also doesn't spy on you as you browse.

  21. Timmy B Silver badge

    Cat meet pigeons.....

    Ok - I'm going to out myself as a minority. I use Edge. It's fast, stable and does the job (well, everything I need it to do). Also it's installed with Windows 10 and doesn't require further downloads. I find that firefox just isn't that stable and crashes more than other browsers and I got fed up with chrome keeping on nagging me to enter my gmail account every time I started it. At work, though it's chrome or ie - because Windows 8. I'll try new releases of ff just because I want it to work.

    Suppose it's worth mentioning that I have a Win 10 tablet and only edge really works with a touchscreen.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why give your web life away

    and use a Google supplied browser?

    I use Firefox ESR (currently 48.8) and a number of addons on Linux, MacOS and Windows. I don't have Googleapis allowed permantly so I have to make a concious decision to allow Google into my web browsing.

    Paranoid? Probably but if you search on Google for my name I don't exist I want to keep it that way.

    Chrome might be a better browser but Firefox does me ok. There is only one site that I have to use an alternative on when they run a poll but otherwise, I'm satisfied and see no reason to change.

    As for Safari being irrelevant? I guess all those iDevice users don't use the internet with their hipster device but with around 200Million in regular use, I'd expect a higher score unless like me, sites like statcounter are blocked at my home firewall. I am probably not alone there. My employer blocks it as well.

  23. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Firefox. It's awash with Mozilla developer stupidity

    I think that the real Firefox developers have left the house. The only "developers" left are the resume-padding "look ma! imma firefox developer!!" losers. They remove features because it's beyond their ability to add new ones. How else do you explain things like removing working useful features like the tabs preferences for absolutely no reason?

    They've removed:

    * the ability to turn off javascript

    * the ability to not use tabs

    * the activity indicator

    * the user profile manager

    * tab groups

    * the ability to disable cookies

    * fine-grain cookie management ("accept/deny this cookie" dialogs)

    * sound (PulseAudio only, no ALSA)

    Removed from mobile Firefox:

    * doubletap to zoom

    * "Quit/Exit" menu item

    Other important failures:

    * Still doesn't respond to SIGHUP/SIGTERM properly, after a decade.

    * Still can't properly print in landscape.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Developer stupidity

      * the ability to turn off javascript - most users don't want to do this, if they do they'll have done it accidentally. Use NoScript or toggle javascript.enabled in about:config

      * the ability to not use tabs - what's wrong with tabs?!

      * the activity indicator - As in, the bar that shows what portion of a page has loaded? In the Responsive Web 23.0 world, that's a bit meaningless

      * the user profile manager - as in, firefox.exe -P? Still works for me...

      * tab groups - :-(

      * the ability to disable cookies - Settings -> Privacy -> Firefox will "Use custom settings for history" -> [ ] Accept cookies from sites

      * fine-grain cookie management - Sad :-( but you can still block 3rd party cookies from the above settings

      * sound - So install PulseAudio. It's silly that we're in this situation, but is it that big of a deal?

      1. AJ MacLeod

        Re: Developer stupidity

        "* sound - So install PulseAudio. It's silly that we're in this situation, but is it that big of a deal?"

        Yes. Happy Pale Moon user now because of this, and I've been a FF user since before it was even called that.

      2. Dagg

        Re: Developer stupidity

        fine-grain cookie management - Sad :-( but you can still block 3rd party cookies from the above settings

        No, you can use Settings -> Privacy -> Firefox will "Use custom settings for history" -> [ ] Accept cookies from sites to select individual sites to be excluded. This is just not only 3rd party.

  24. Zebo-the-Fat

    Cyberfox??

    works for me

  25. Emmeran

    Lets declare Chrome King

    All hail and hate the current king. Adoption will become pervasive until it's fad star fades as well. Personal desktop browser preference follow the fad winds so in the end if your current favorite is now on top you are about to fall out of favor.

  26. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    History repeating

    First there was Netscape, then IE was a little bit better (yes there was some dodgy Business stuff there as well - prepackaging, etc, but IE was a little better than Netscape), and Netscape died because it abused its position, didnt innovate and got caught out. Then IE was dominant, and abused it's position to such a degree that, now even if the new IE (or Edge as its called now as they want to try and get away from the old name) was fantastic, People are still loathe to go back. Burnt once, never forgotten.

    Firefox, was for a long time the Champion, the competition to IE's dominant position. Now Chrome is in the dominant position and Held as the Champion. So far its a relatively benelovent dominatrix, but once it has full dominance, I expect it to abuse its Position no differently than IE did (you could say that blocking NoScript and ABP was already abusing its Position if you wanted to).

    I'll stick with Firefox, it may not be the best anymore but I can still install NoScript, ABP and other add-ons to block the more nefarious tracking and ad slinging, and if that means I sacrifice a small amount of Performance, I'm willing to pay that price... just my two Cents...

    1. AdamWill

      Re: History repeating

      FWIW, I'd recommend replacing ABP with ublock and noscript with umatrix. They're substantially more capable replacements. umatrix especially is a lot more powerful and flexible than noscript, and - the most practical benefit - lets you change the settings for multiple domains without reloading the goddamn page between *every single change*...

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: History repeating

        Cheers I will check them out... :)

  27. dajames Silver badge

    If you're a web developer looking at that chart what you see is, "Man, wouldn't it be nice if Chrome would just finally finish off the others to become the one true browser."

    I'm not a web developer, but what I see there is "Man, wouldn't it be nice if all the browser writers just embraced the (open) standards that define the web and wrote their products to display all correctly-written web pages quickly, efficiently, and correctly!"

    Of course, it would also be nice if all web designers wrote their pages correctly to display in a standard way in a standards-compliant browser.

  28. MJI Silver badge

    Stop hiding things

    FF with CTR here.

    Rounded tabs annoy me.

    No file edit menu annoys me.

    No window bar annoys me.

    A blank screen with address bar and no search field annoys me.

    Chrome annoys me

  29. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Googley eyes

    Let us also not forget that Chrome was created by a marketing company that specializes in intimate data collection. The fine print of the TOS must surely bother some people or conflict with security requirements at work environments. I'm actually amazed that most people don't care.

    Next stop: Google extending their untrusted certificates and harmful sites blacklists to include things Google just doesn't like.

  30. Zmodem

    chrome is mentally retarded like opera

    1. Captain Badmouth

      chrome is mentally retarded like opera

      After Opera 12 maybe.

  31. HildyJ
    Mushroom

    Developers, developers, developers, developers!

    As a retired developer, it's always a bad idea when developers design things. It's worse if anyone with "art" in his title gets involved. "Marketing is worse than that. And management is the total pits. These are the people who gave us banner ads, pop-ups, and forced Flash on us.

    As a user of the web, there is nothing on 99% of the websites I visit that couldn't be served up using just HTML.

  32. Sbicknel

    This article misses the point of Firefox

    When IE6 ruled the web it gave Microsoft the power to determine what OS users ran because it only ran on Windows. Since Microsoft had a near monopoly on web browsers (about 90% share) it could afford to ignore standards for web development and encourage developers to use its proprietary features. This helped make it difficult to use anything but Windows and still remain productive. Firefox was developed specifically to combat this situation. That's why it matters. It's the only cross-platform browser not tied to a profiteering corporate entity.

  33. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Need more variety, not less

    I use one browser for banking, and only banking. Another for on-line purchases and yet another for general casual browsing.

    I never run any two at the same time. it's only a small thing but makes me feel a bit safer.

    1. keithpeter
      Windows

      Re: Need more variety, not less

      @Will Godfrey

      Thought of using some vms? One for each task, and trash/restore once a week or so?

      1. PTW
        Linux

        @Will Godfrey @keithpeter

        QubesOS FTW! Xen/Fedora base, took me a while to get used to. It uses AppVMs that, if you choose, can reset on close. Supports Win7 apps too, if you need it.

    2. Havin_it
      Boffin

      Re: Need more variety, not less

      Some impressively over-engineered solutions above, but this can be accomplished using Firefox alone. I use this feature myself to insulate extra-sensitive workloads from day-to-day omnivorous browsing. Just start Firefox's profile manager:

      firefox -P

      Create a new profile called e.g. 'banking'. When done, launch not this new profile but your original one (called 'default' by, er default).

      Now, without closing Firefox, execute this:

      firefox -no-remote -p banking

      Voilà: a completely separate instance of Firefox running side-by-side with, but fully insulated from, your normal browsing. And because it's completely separate, you can customise the browser UI, add-ons and other preferences completely independently, to optimise them for the one or few sites you'll use it for.

  34. Someone Else Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Write, as I have, about Firefox and you receive the usual slew of critics who demand to know why Firefox matters? Who cares if Firefox continues to exist? This is often accompanied by "Chrome is better! Chrome is all we need!"

    Except that Chrome sux0rz!

    Recently got force-marched to Chrome and all my nicely tailored stylings and force fields around the browser that I had set up for Firefox were gone. Trying to recreate them in Chrome is a real headbang; some of then just don't work anymore (due to insufficient or non-existent plug-ins; I'm talking to you, NoScript...).

    Plus, Chrome, for all its vaunted rendering prowess, is just plain fugly.

  35. steviebuk Silver badge

    Chrome is quicker (no it's not!)

    That's how it was sold to people in a place I worked. The people attempting to sell that falsehood to users didn't appear to understand it was only quick because it had no plugins. Once you begin adding plugins and pinned tabs (so all your specific pages load at start up) Chrome becomes just as slow as IE or Firefox. Worse still, Chrome chews up memory like there is no tomorrow. More and more people noticed this at work.

    I do, however, like it's integration with Google Keep. One of the best features of the GSuite, also available to every day users and not just the corporate world.

  36. Disk0
    Thumb Up

    "...some weird browser only 15 people have ever downloaded

    Thanks for the props - that's me for the past 20-odd years...experimental software is fun, and the Internet is one big experiment anyway - might as well add some quirks from my end.

  37. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    The only way anything will ook the same on every device is if every device is the same - which they aren't. It's more fundamental than pixels and stuff, my desktop PC has a landscape display, my tabletty thing has a portrait display. From the advertising blurb I've seen those wristwatch thingies have a square display.

  38. djnapkin

    While Chrome is better for web designers (like me), for using the web, Firefox is massively better.

    Firefox has features that make using it a pleasure. Whenever I use Chrome to surf the web, as opposed to debugging a DOM/CSS problem, I am reminded of how little attention Google pays to real world users.

    Browser history searching and the URL bar are just one example.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I use both. Chrome for work, mainly a corporate Google Drive/Docs login. Firefox with a personal Google login and all my personal stuff. There is one thing that keeps my Firefox the favourite- add-ons like SoundCloud Downloader, ScreenGrab and very importantly Adblock. These add-ins are either only on Firefox or in the case of Adblock, just seem to work better.

    Anyone that can't see why choice and open source is important to the web is pretty silly.

  40. smallseo

    Almost ditched FF.

    Almost ditched it, it's very slow these days compared to IE and Chrome.

  41. kmac499

    Why FireFox?

    Same reason I choose any program.

    1) Does it do what I want ? Browse the Web

    2) Is It intuitive to use ? Same UI design as most of my other programs

    3) Can I customize\tailor it to suit me. across muliple devices? Book mark Sync

    Firefox does all these, Chrome is Pig Ugly, IE\Edge don't have the extensions.A.N others are too niche to invest the time in.

    Is Firefox perfect Hell No! It eats memory bitches at some sites and occasionally needs re-tweeking to undo the latest developer 'masterpiece' innovations. But for me it's the best option.

  42. Steve B

    I loved Firefox when it came out but then they got meglomaniac

    There were some fantastic innovations in Firefox which made my research time so much easier and more productive, but then they did the simple thing of removing the singular "active tab" X which up till then had always been i one place allowing you to open loads of tabs from a search engine query and then without moving the mouse to easily discard those which were irrelevant. All thoughts were on content, but suddenly there was the interruption to thought process as you now located the new "relevant" X position and clicked it, then you could get back to whatever? Many discussions on the developers bug forums evolved into them finally stating that they knew everything and as a long time IT professional ALL my knowledge was now totally irrelevant as it had been superseded and they were geniuses! No surprise they have dug themselves into a hole. I switched to OPERA and am still one of the few.

  43. tfb Silver badge

    How soon we forget

    Apparently "this time it's different, because Chrome is different, Chrome is pretty good", because, implicitly IE was pretty bad.

    Except it wasn't. Yes, it was terrible by 2006 or something, because it was competing with Firefox which was actually a modern web browser. But that's not what IE originally competed with: it competed with Netscape Navigator. And by 1998 or something IE was just better than Navigator was: yes MS competed unfairly but they would have won that war even if they had competed fairly, because Navigator had turned into this bloated buggy horror which just needed to die.

    Of course, once IE had killed Navigator and gained control over any kind of corporate installation it sat and rotted, because that's what monopolies do.

    I think I agree with everything else about this article.

    1. dbtx Bronze badge
      Joke

      Re: How soon we forget

      *first ran Netscape in 1997 on Win95

      *ran AOL 3 or 4 in the background for the internet connection

      *of course ran Win95

      *all in 32MB from a 1.5GB disk

      Everything is bloated buggy horror, it's just going to take you 10 more years to realize that... or 20. So far, GB have replaced MB for units of working memory while the numbers are roughly the same, and TB replaced GB likewise in long term storage. Three orders of magnitude can't be wrong: we kinda suck at KISS :D

  44. jason.bourne
    Alien

    The Cult of Chrome

    If Mozilla decide to drop Firefox, I will use one of the lesser maintained forks of it. I archive the XPI's for the addons just in case. I have Chrome for the 1 website that Firefox and my addons selection do not play well together. For everything else, there is Lynx.

    Also, why did the planet story get taken down?

  45. dbtx Bronze badge
    Unhappy

    I moved to Pale Moon. It's all right, just the JACK backend in cubeb came back apparently *after* the fork so its native powers are kinda missing. I can still get audio "my way" following this guide but then of course JACK has to always be running unless I feel like manually and temporarily telling ALSA apps to use anything other than default. Which is fine-- JACK is pretty much always running. After I work out some theme-related weirdness in the urlbar, or just give up on that theme, I expect to have totally torn off the bandaid.

    Of course I can just USE="-pulseaudio" and things are OK (for local builds only) but I'm finally just voting against Mozilla's madness. Pulse was acceptable only because it was mandatory for having my mic work in Xubuntu for voice chat in L4D2 and that's all, 2014 was the last time. I eventually had Pulse insisting on using the rear Mic jack because the front one just didn't have the proper Azalia design & wiring, in order to indicate a plug was inserted. Of course ALSA lets me mute/unmute both if I want... Rather than fight with it, I just set up my audio kit so JACK would start and in qjackctl's post-launch-script, pulse would get killed so that it had to restart as a JACK client. Then everything was fine, I could just use whatever Mic I knew I wanted and adjust it with alsamixer, and connect the alsa capture outputs to the Pulse inputs in JACK. I kinda hate it when a piece of software is too smart by half and then gets it wrong so that making it work correctly is significantly harder than manually configuring ITFP, putting together the UNIX-like worse-is-better bits-and-pieces MYSELF. That is one of the things that Windows was really "good" at. That is why systemd is Somebody Else's Problem. That is why telling me that portage needs to add media-sound/pulseaudio to my package.unmask is a shooting offense.

  46. rmstock

    Sliverlight ohhh gimmi Moonlight not ? Well let it be Pipelight with wine .... that was the verdict of Firefox on ubuntu 14.04 ... the problem was and is that flash is dead. Adobe refuses to release flash 64bit on Linux. Enter the new alternative, which became the standard : Adobe Flash Player PPAPI 25.0.0.148 and HTML5 . Add your chrome browser , and everything is up and running. Firefox is dead in the Desert sand. On my own favorate platform, a tweaked Mandriva 2011, which on a brandnew iron runs like that Dodge Challenger 69 hotrod with no CIA/NSA surveillance hookups, i recently managed to get Opera Stable 44.0.2510.1218 running. On the about page :

    Version information :

    Version: 44.0.2510.1218 - Opera is up to date

    Update stream: Stable

    System: Pretty Unknown (x86_64; default)

    Browser identification :

    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/57.0.2987.133 Safari/537.36 OPR/44.0.2510.1218

    See https://crashrecovery.org/opera/RPMS/mdv2011/ for details, which includes HTML5 Encrypted Streaming using Widevine DRM (VIA CENC)

    : https://crashrecovery.org/opera/RPMS/mdv2011/images/opera-44.0.2510.1218-2-Widevine-s.png

  47. VicMortimer
    FAIL

    So, the real problem here is that all browsers suck.

    Obviously the worst ones are anything MicroSloth has touched, but Chrome is a close second.

    It's absolutely awful.

    Firefox used to be good, but it's getting more stupidly Chrome-like with recent releases, so we're probably going to need somebody to fork it soon, probably back at 48 or something, but putting back in menus and tabs from much earlier, or at least installing Classic Theme Restorer as part of the standard build.

    I have no idea what's wrong with the developers at Mozilla these days, but dropping plugin support and crippling addons like they want to do is NOT going to fly. It's like they want to go from being the absolute best browser to being the worst.

    1. illiad

      RE: VicMortimer

      well you need to goto the OTHER open source versions of the firefox code... :)

      Palemoon is a good one, with good sense, and still supports linux... :)

  48. stephanh Silver badge

    Chrome is a bloated mess

    It basically doesn't run in a 1GB Linux VM, requires at least 2 GB to get to some screeching action.

    Firefox runs fine in 1GB.

    Also Firefox on Android is great, provides lots of privacy-protection add-ons. Which are strangely missing from the Android version of Chrome.

    There was a time that Chrome was faster than Firefox, that time is long past now.

  49. Graham Triggs

    Rather silly article...

    "vulnerable to the capricious whims of a single corporate entity"

    Yep, that's why WebKit (on iOS), IE 6 and even Netscape before it, sucked. Because you have / had a rendering engine, with no competition, and *controlled by a single corporate entity and closed off to the world*.

    It particularly sucks that you have a platform like iOS, where you are *forced* to use that closed off rendering engine.

    But, do these arguments really apply to an open source rendering engine? One where a Google, a Mozilla, a Microsoft, an Apple, etc. can all contribute to the development?

    "innovation" isn't so cool when it creates fragmentation, and you are seriously underestimating the cost of all these browser incompatibilities - even significant and relatively simple sites have problems. Try tracking a parcel delivery via Royal Mail, using Safari.

    I'm not saying that the possibility of people creating alternative browser engines is bad. And I do think that a *closed source* corporate controlled monoculture IS a bad thing.

    But you're not going to convince me that a single true open source rendering engine, contributed to and used by all the main players in a diversity of applications, is worse than the fragmentation and incompatibilities that we have now. And I'm saying that from my experience as a *user*, not from my web development.

  50. Randall Shimizu

    Firefox needs to fix basic issues

    FF is still my favorite browser, but Mozilla needs to fix some issues like memory leaks and web page compatibility. Firefox still has not solved the memory leak issue. I run FF64 and it gulps memory like crazy. I will be running FF for a 1-2 hours and it will use 4 gigs of memory. FF needs a tool to see how much memory each add-on or plugin is using. Having to go into safe mode and test each add-on is a big hassle. Another possiblity would be for FF to contribute to memory fox and keep it upgraded. Memory fox used to have a clear memory button. But it went away for some reason.

    Video playback web page display is still a big issue in FF. There is 3 or 4 times a day when I am unable to properly a page or video in FF. This is one reason why I use Chrome view to see those problematic pages with Chrome.

    1. illiad

      Re: Firefox needs to fix basic issues

      I am using an offshoot of the firefox source, called PaleMoon.. you will find it VERY familiar to older versions of firefox, with regular updates to keep up with current trends...

      http://www.palemoon.org/faq.shtml

      I find it is NOT the browser, but scripts and flash that take up the memory.. an addon is available to switch on/ off these on demand, removing the problem!! :)

      1. T J

        Re: Firefox needs to fix basic issues

        Pale Moon does indeed rock.

  51. Anonymous Crowbar

    Can I put my tabs under the address bar in Chrome yet? No? Then I won't be using it.

  52. William Higinbotham

    Screen of Help Me

    I am for any web browser that does not show the Exclamation Mark.

  53. T J

    Mozilla are not sane.

    I stick with Firefox for a few reasons, but I don't like any of them. They are reactive reasons.

    * The add-on population. But you really gotta take note of how many of them I and others have installed to FIX FUNCTIONALITY THAT MOZILLA BROKE.

    * Chrome sucks, ergonomically, and I don't like some of the decisions it 'makes for you'. Up until recently Firefox was reasonably free of that rubbish ... yeah, recently.

    * I hate Google. I really f******* hate them.

    * There are no other browsers. No, just shut up, there aren't. Opera died, good efforts like Flock and Pale Moon rock but you know they're just going to end up in a cave like everything good, Safari remains a joke. Ironically, Edge actually isn't bad - but it's MS and therefore a security hazard and not something you want to code for.

    But Firefox, now?

    As of 45 it wouldn't accept unsigned add-ons (NO, this is NOT a f****** ADVANTAGE! It is a HUGE, TROUBLESOME, INCONVENIENCE!), not unless you use the 'Developer' edition. Oh oh, here we go into MS arbitrary forks. "No, no, it's perfectly reasonable that there be a development line with those things deactivated. And some other things. And oh yeah we keep changing the name. And yeah you have to keep track of what version you are on. And ..."

    As of 52 the Linux version won't work with GTK2. "JUST UPGRADE YOUR OS!"

    JUST UPGRADE YOUR ANUS, MOZILLA, WITH THIS REFRIGERATOR! PLUGGED IN!

    Mozilla's attitude to backwards compatibility is just shocking. Which also brings me to ...

    Mozilla are a bunch of amateurs, pretending to be professionals. No, they really are, they ignore basic use-cases and even basic computer-science, and it's becoming a real problem.

    That's the W3C also described, in general, really. But Mozilla? Your stuff used to be smart and fault-tolerant, and NOT DO STUPID SH**. Now it is none of those things.

    I think 52/53 may be their Waterloo. Their Apple OS X Server. Their Netscape 6. Their Windows 8. I think this may be the one that forces them to make peace with their gods and decide where they want to go.

    I'm finding myself using Pale Moon more and more, despite the hideous interface font-rendering (who cares).

    And Chrome is starting to look more attractive ...

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