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Firefox: The Jewel^WEmbarassment of Open Source


Circa 2006, the consensus on Firefox was concisely stated by this classic xkcd:


xkcd: Perspective


This feeling didn't last. In 2016, I wrote In Memoriam - Mozilla, and in 2017, Firefox is on a slippery slope. Well, I was right, and Firefox (and Mozilla) have only become worse since. The fuck-up culture is so ingrained in Mozilla in 2020 that it's hard to see it ever getting better again.


In Memoriam - Mozilla

Firefox is on a slippery slope


In the time since my last article on the subject, Mozilla has:


Laid off 25% of its employees, mostly engineers, many of whom work on Firefox¹

Raised executive pay 400% as their market share declined 85%²

Sent a record of all browsing traffic to CloudFlare by default³

Added advertisements to the new tab page on Firefox⁴

Used their brand to enter the saturated VPN grift market⁵

Built a walled garden for add-ons, then let the walls crash in⁶

Started, and killed, a dozen projects which were not Firefox⁷


The most interesting things they've been involved in in the past few years are Rust and Servo, and they fired most or all of their engineers involved in both. And, yesterday, Mozilla published a statement⁸ siding with Google on anti-trust, failing to disclose the fact that Google pays to keep their lights on.


Is this the jewel of open source? No, not anymore. Firefox is the embarrassment of open source, and it's the only thing standing between Google and an all-encompassing monopoly over the web. Mozilla has divested from Firefox and started funnelling what money is left out of their engineering payroll and into their executive pockets. The web is dead, and its fetid corpse persists only as the layer of goop that Google scrapes between its servers and your screen. Anyone who still believes that Mozilla will save the web is a fool.


As I have stated before, the scope of web browsers has been increasing at a reckless pace for years, to the point where it's literally impossible to build a new web browser. We have no recourse left to preserve the web. This is why I'm throwing my weight behind Gemini, a protocol which is much simpler than the web, and which you can implement yourself in a weekend.


Forget about the web, it's a lost cause. Let's move on.


References


1: Mozilla cuts 250 jobs, says Firefox development will be affected

2: Firefox usage is down 85% despite Mozilla's top exec pay going up 400%

3: Firefox continues push to bring DNS over HTTPS by default for US users

4: A Privacy-Conscious Approach to Sponsored Content

5: Mozilla VPN

6: Technical Details on the Recent Firefox Add-on Outage

7: Killed by Mozilla

8: Mozilla Reaction to U.S. v. Google


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“Firefox: The Jewel^WEmbarassment of Open Source” was published on October 22, 2020.


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