Firefox Redux

December 2, 2023

This weekend I installed Firefox Nightly from Mozilla’s APT repository and then switched my desktop browser from Chrome to Firefox. Thoughts so far…

Firefox Pros

  • uBlock Origin and other useful extensions will continue to work past June 2024.
  • Importing bookmarks, credentials, and history was seamless.
  • Tab switching and omnibar searches are faster than Chrome.
  • Firefox Sync and Firefox View are great; I prefer them to their Chrome equivalents.
  • Better interface customization.
  • Better bookmark management.
  • Better PDF reader.

Firefox Cons

  • No tab groups. There are several tab management extensions, but none are as elegant as tab groups. (Update: Tab Stash is a passable alternative for me).
  • Occasional screen tearing on complex pages.
  • Chrome has smoother scrolling.

I also worry about Mozilla as an organization; a substantial portion of their revenue comes from their contract with Google and they have made some questionable business decisions in the last couple of years.

Why Ditch Chrome?

Manifest V3 was the final straw; it is a thinly-veiled attempt to hobble ad blockers. Before that there was AMP, FLOC, Web Environment Integrity, Privacy Sandbox, and probably a dozen other anti-competitive and user-hostile changes I have forgotten about (see also: enshittification).

I switched from Firefox to Chrome a decade ago because of the minimalist interface and better performance. Neither reason applies today; the Chrome interface has become cluttered and Firefox performance has improved substantially.

In retrospect it was probably unwise for us to give an effective browser monopoly to an advertising company.

Other De-Googling Recommendations

  1. Search engine: Duck Duck Go. Fast, good results, spartan interface, useful shortcuts, doesn’t feed your search history to Google.
  2. Mobile: Firefox for Android. Fast, great interface, supports uBlock Origin. I’ve used it for years on my phone and tablet.

Update (2023-12-04): Added note about Tab Stash.