It Is OK To Not Use Firefox If You Are For Free Software

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I am seeing more and more people advocating for Mozilla's Firefox browser. I was a fan of the browser myself, using since version 1.5 probably, although it seems like a few decades now. I loved it, until it become a little heavy, and I looked at other browsers. In that time I used mostly 2, qutebrowser and Brave. Both are FLOSS browsers.

 Original story by parasurv. Originally published 2020-08-14.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike.

Qutebrowser lynx falkon brave-2020-09-10.jpg
Qutebrowser, Lynx, Falkon and Brave. All of them are free software web browsers.

People are saying that Firefox is the only browser against Google's monopoly. Google Chrome currently has most of the market share, almost as high as Internet Explorer was back in the day. However unlike back then, we have some other browsers around. However in many people's eyes, if you are using Google's technology - even if it's FLOSS - you are supporting Google. So in their eyes, even if you are using a little browser like, Qutebrowser, you are still advocating for Google.

Which is very strange indeed. I think using free software is more important, so if a browser is FLOSS, in my eyes, use it! And the worst part is that if you are using something other than Firefox, let's say Brave, you can be shunned. However Brave at least try to solve one of the biggest problems of the current internet: ads. But if you don't want to use their system, you can disable it, and you will never see any ads either from BAT or otherwise.

People think, that you should use Firefox, because it doesn't use Blink browser engine (the engine that was a fork of WebKit, which originated from KHTML, which was the engine in Konqueror). I say that the underlying tech isn't the problem as long as it's free software. And Blink is free software, dual licensed under BSD and LGPL. It's simple, Blink is made by Google, so it's unacceptable to use it, even if it is FLOSS. This thinking is like tunnel vision, like certain aspect of veganism.

Brave is more than just an alternative browser

In fact I see more websites are shunning Brave actively. Which is a fully free software browser, under the same MPL 2.0 license, just as Mozilla Firefox. Let's see those websites. These reports are mainly talking about proprietary software. I have a suspect that they won't report about Brave, since Brave is very active about adblocking, which is a direct revenue source for many of these websites. It's simple not in their interest to write about something that goes against their interests.

Techradar's The best browser 2020: they talk about Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi and Edge. That's one FLOSS browser, and 4 proprietary. I archived the page, because it's a general URL, and they are doing comparison annually.

Digitaltrends.com wrote about The best web browsers for 2020 (July 29th 2020), Brave is only mentioned as an alternative browser, and says "Brave performs no user tracking, making it a private browser as well.", yet when they have section about privacy, they don't talk about Brave at all. Note, that Brave is the first major browser, that has built-in Tor support, which makes for the user much easier to use the Tor network.

PCWorld, major website, right? In this article Brave gets one mention, again as an alternative web browser, while they support proprietary browsing. I wonder how much Microsoft paid for them to be Edge the top pick?

"Let’s take a look at the four major options—Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera—to see how they stack up in 2020. Last time around, Opera topped our charts as the best browser to get. This year, Edge (yes, Edge) is our top pick, but don’t get too excited. You’re not losing much, if anything, if you stick with Chrome instead. Read on to find out why."

Techadvisor's article is about the most popular browsers, which of course doesn't mean they are the best for the job, even though they are trying to sell it as The best web browsers for 2020. Again, no mention of Brave at all, while the website is full of scripts and ads. Other than Firefox, the article is full of proprietary junk, and they even mention the questionable Yandex and Maxthon, which I didn't know still exist.

As you can see, many internet sites aren't really questioning the status quo. They don't ask: how the hell we created Chrome as a beast, and why the web has become so one-sided, and proprietary.

I remember when Chromebooks and ChromeOS came out, many well-known tech people celebrated it, without thinking, that the device in question hurts our freedom to use the internet and the tech. While ChromeOS is built on Linux, it uses a proprietary web browser and web apps to operate. Might as well as just use Windows, or if you have so much money, just buy the latest rotten apple thing...

Advocating for free software in the mobile age

There is no question, that if you care about your privacy on the web, you have to use a free software licensed web browser. Market share shouldn't be a good indicator, after all 10 thousands flies on a big pile of shit, doesn't make that pile of shit good for you. You simple cannot trust a software, which you can't see their source code. You might not a coder yourself, but other's do, and the freedom to do that, makes sure, that piece of software is not doing any malicious thing.

And FLOSS itself is just a starting point. Right now, I feel that Firefox is behind, because it doesn't differentiate enough from either Chrome or other proprietary browsers. If you are a simple user you get the same stuff, in fact they have very similar look. A non-techie person simple won't recognize the difference. I still remember that in my country, for many people, the blue E was the internet. They didn't even know what a browser is.

It's increasingly difficult to get to people, and to advocate for free software, especially in the mobile age. Everything is an app now, just an icon on the screen. We have a whole generation who grew up on smartphones. The smartphones which are the most privacy invading devices in human history.

FLOSS browsers you can use: Chromium (and there a bunch of de-Googlyfied versions), Brave, qutebrowser, Icecat (Firefox, without their trademark), Palemoon, Waterfox. LibreWolf is the latest Firefox fork, which reminds me of Brave, as they are focusing on adblocking and privacy. Check out Cris Were's video about it. See there are already plenty of Firefox forks for everybody. Or you can use surf, which is a suckless browser. Or go full crazy and use Emacs, it has a web browser too! (sorry couldn't miss this one)

Last, but not least here is DistroTube's latest video, about Want Social Justice? The Free Software Movement Fights For Everyone! I wholeheartedly agree with him, and it's definitely his best video to date. It's worth mentioning that he is a divisive person, because he dared to criticize the Gnome devs, and the current cultural changes in the free software world. And even after his video, he will get some shit, I am sure. :)


This was day 49 of #100DaysToOffload, where we write about different things on our personal blogs. Join the project or just read the blogs (we have RSS and coookiez!).

5.00
(one vote)

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Anonymous user #1

2 months ago
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frankly i just find FF to work better because it has native auto-scroll and you can edit the item locations in the top bar.

Even userChrome can help with some of the BS mozilla has been pushing.
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Anonymous user #2

2 months ago
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Never really liked Firefox on desktop, not sure why.

Mobile experience sucks too.
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WaiLin

2 months ago
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I tried Firefox on my Android mobile once. It was so slow and unresponsive it was laughable. I'm not sure that's changed with their brand new "Firefox Daylight" for mobile, perhaps I should test it.

The desktop version is, at least, usable.
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FeTiBoKr

2 months ago
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Chromium-based and FF-based browsers are really heavy. So... I suppose... the best browser is Lynx!
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Anonymous user #3

2 months ago
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Just keep a steady bookmarks list and wget all you need.
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Anonymous user #4

2 months ago
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this is a companythat enforces its bs marxist ideology on employees, so no I wont be using it.
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