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Firefox 100: technological resurrection, popular death

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Recently appeared Firefox 100, an event that is more symbolic than anything else, although Mozilla has emphasized it with a thank you message shown to all those who have executed it. Do not misunderstand, when I speak of symbolism, I am referring only to the psychological impact that the number 100 has, nothing more.

Firefox 100 maintains the good progress that the browser has shown in recent months, a good job that, unfortunately, is not helping it to rise in user quota, since it is currently behind the current Microsoft Edge , based on Chromium and with official version for Linux .

It’s no secret that I’m a staunch supporter of Wayland, so I use Firefox almost out of obligation because it’s the only major web browser with mature support for the graphics protocol. Until January 2022 I used the RPM version provided by Fedora , which has Wayland support enabled by default, and from that date I started using the Flatpak build hosted on Flathub , whose Wayland support can be easily enabled with Flatseal .

In other words, I have been closely following the evolution of Firefox for a long time, although, yes, from the perspective that a simple end user would have. I think it’s a good application, with a debugger/inspector in my opinion superior to that of Chromium and interesting possibilities such as containers that allow you to start different sessions on the same website. However, ordinary users will rarely use such features and, to be honest, at least until recently it crashed against Chromium at the most basic of a web browser, which is web browsing itself .

That my motivations to use Firefox were mainly based on principles and because of my stubbornness in using Wayland, my opinion of the application did not correspond to the hours of use that I dedicated to it. The truth is that the browsing experience was clearly inferior to that of Chromium, the rendering of the sources is worse and it also suffered from stability problems. Given this scenario, I had decided to migrate to Brave as soon as Wayland support offered by Chromium was mature, but circumstances are beginning to change in favor of the Mozilla browser.

How to enable Firefox’s Wayland support with Flatseal.

Mozilla is late, very late

While my experience with Firefox over the past few years hasn’t been idyllic, I have to admit that the app has improved tremendously over the course of the last year. Since the establishment of the Proton interface , loved by some and hated by others (I am one of the first), I have noticed a constant improvement that is beginning to lay the foundations for me to keep it definitively , even if the support of Chromium for Wayland finished maturing.

The first thing I’ve been noticing is that the Firefox experience over Wayland is getting more and more polished and today I don’t notice any major deficits or flaws compared to Xorg, with the addition of the greater fluidity that Wayland brings and the priority that enjoys when it comes to having hardware acceleration support. Hopefully support for the protocol will start automatically soon, which has started to be seen on the Nightly channel .

All this evolution around Wayland and hardware acceleration support is largely the result of the involvement of Red Hat, which until two years ago made more efforts than Mozilla itself to prevent Firefox for Linux from ending up totally off the hook compared to the versions for Windows and macOS.

Second, since the appearance of Firefox 99 I have not had any random crashes , which occurred mainly when I had many tabs open (generally spread over several windows) or thoroughly reorganized the bookmarks, being able to delete or move hundreds of them at once ( I have more than 3,000 saved). Mozilla’s browser has dragged problems that have affected performance, memory management and even stability, but little by little I am seeing that the application is improving to catch up with Chromium . Too bad about those websites and services that only work well with Google technology, which obviously contribute to the establishment of a monopoly.

Yes, Firefox is getting better, really, but I keep getting the feeling that Mozilla has started to catch up too late. The foundation has been widely scattered over the past decade with failed projects like Firefox OS and Lockwise while largely neglecting its flagship product.

While Chromium and especially Chrome evolved and improved at a dizzying pace thanks to Google’s powerful machinery, Mozilla decided to focus on other things and focus the virtues of Firefox on propaganda. As a result, Firefox ended up accumulating more than five years of technological delay, an amount of time that under normal circumstances is practically a death sentence unless your rival gets a bitch like Intel’s at the processor level, a circumstance that allowed amd remount to re-hook.

Quantum had to have arrived at least three years earlier and what can we say about Servo, that great technological promise that has ended up in smoke managed by The Linux Foundation . In addition to the rendering engine itself, there are features like multithreading and multimedia support that put Chromium way ahead of Firefox. Moreover, Chromium and Chrome showed overwhelming leadership in terms of multimedia support until the appearance of the original Edge, which is currently a dead project.

It is sad to see that Mozilla had to bite the dust based on good to start getting the batteries and take care of the only bastion that remains: Linux. Today, even among Windows and macOS users, it is assumed that if Firefox is still alive, it is thanks to Linux users .

In short, using Firefox is once again a pleasant and enjoyable experience, but I can’t help but feel a bit frustrated that Mozilla could have gotten its act together 10 years earlier to prevent its browser from now fighting not to dominate the web, but to not disappear.

Firefox, a technological resurrection that may be in vain

It is obvious that, after seeing that it was peering over the abyss, Mozilla has begun to get its act together so that Firefox once again becomes that technology that amazed the world a decade and a half ago, that conquered the followers of free software and web standards and showed Microsoft that things could be done differently. It’s true that it was never the most used browser, but at its peak it had approximately a third of all desktop users.

And well, when web browsers are compared, we always talk about desktop operating systems, but rarely about mobiles. This has been the sector that has allowed Chrome to put the finishing touch to Firefox through Android, where it has definitively become the new Internet Explorer .

The current Firefox for Android is based on Fenix ​​and has left users divided due to the fact that it has brought many cutbacks compared to the previous technology, but in its favor it has the fact that it offers a clearly superior browsing experience. Personally, setting the browser’s own blockers to strict allows me to bypass uBlock Origin by stopping enough elements for smooth browsing. In addition to that, on several devices it has been more stable than Chrome for me.

Firefox is gradually coming back to life, so its biggest challenge in the future will not be so much to continue improving (which it has to do out of obligation) but to seduce users again. One of the main problems here is that the brand already smells stale to many and takes them back to that time when Chromium gave it monumental beatings at the performance level.

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