Mozilla Firefox

From LinuxReviews
Jump to navigationJump to search
Firefox-tan.png

Mozilla Firefox is a web browser from the Mozilla Corporation which used to aim to be a lean mean browsing machine. It's been going down-hill for Firefox since around 2007. Each release since then has become sluggish and less privacy-respecting. Firefox is a decent browser with modern features and it's fine for regular web browsing; it's just slower than the competition and less privacy-respecting than it used to be.

A brief history-lesson[edit | edit source]

Firefox was originally a fork of the Seamonkey browser suite aiming to be slim, light and fast. Versions up to 3.6.xx were pretty good. It really started going downhill from version 4. Changes between Firefox 10 and 11 made some JavaScript sites perform horrible to the point where having one tab open with a JS site would make the whole browser slow and useless. This particular issue was eventually fixed after being present in version after version for ages.

The "privacy" browser[edit | edit source]

Mozilla used to promise privacy and Firefox was the most privacy-respecting browser for a long time. Modern Firefox has telemetry and other botnet features. You can type about:telemetry in Firefox's URL address bar to see just how much personal information about you and your loves ones it is gathering and uploading. Firefox also has a "Pocket" feature which promises synchronization between your devices. This works by uploading a copy of everything you do to Mozilla and this copy is then shared with other devices you have as well as law enforcement agencies and other unknown parties.

Usability and performance[edit | edit source]

Firefox is alright for most casual web browsing. It performs alright when browsing not-so-advanced web pages.

Firefox-vs-chromium-motionmark11.png

Firefox on Linux performs horrible when viewing pages that are graphics-intensive or use WebGL. This is partly due to the default renderer on Linux being set to "Basic". It is possible to more than double WebGL and general graphics performance by setting the key gfx.webrender.all in the secret about:config settings to true. Just type about:config in the navigation bar to get to the secret settings page.

Tips and Tricks which help make Firefox more usable[edit | edit source]

HOWTO switch search-engine[edit | edit source]

This is not immediately obvious in newer versions of Firefox since the small search-box next to the address bar was taken away. This box is required for easy search-engine management. Take it back: Go to Preferences and Search and choose Add search bar in toolbar. You will now have a small search-box next to the URL address bar. You can still use the address bar to search. The search-box is more powerful as you can choose a specific search-engine and it can also be used to easily add search-engines.

If you have the search-box and you go to a search-engine or website - like this one - you can click the magnifying-glass icon in the search-box and add the site to your list of search-engines.

Firefox-add-search-engine.png

The best privacy-respecting search-engine option today is the metasearch engine software SearX. It is free software. You can install it on your own machine or server or pick one listed on asciimoos list of Public Searx instances on github. Finding a good searx metasearch-engine that works well may take a bit of effort, some are slower than others. They also tend to slow down as they become popular.

Just click on the search-box's magnifying glass and choose Add when you are visiting a SearX instance or other search-engine you want to add and use.

You can not set a default search-engine from the searchbox. You need to go to Preferences, Search to choose a default.

Privacy-related configuration options[edit | edit source]

There are settings you can change to make Firefox slightly less botnet on a special configuration page you can get to by entering about:config in the URL bar. Consider changing the following keys found there:

value function default recommended
privacy.resistFingerprinting activates the anti-fingerprinting code used by the Tor browser false true
toolkit.telemetry.enabled informs the botnet of your activites on some distributions it's removed entirely, on some it's set to true false
browser.search.suggest.enabled sends everything you type in the URL bar and search-box true false
extensions.pocket.enabled Enables some botnet thing true false

Some of these items warrant some further elaboration. Some, like toolkit.telemetry.enabled, do not. It's all bad and there's no upside.

browser.search.suggest.enabled is something you may want to enable at the cost of privacy. Noticed how you can type in a few letters and by magic get a full search-term matching suggested? Every letter you enter into the searchbox is sent to a search-engine which sends responses back. This can be useful and you may want to have this feature. However, you are sharing everything you type in the URL bar. This includes typing in URLs to websites you are visiting. Search-suggestions are convenient - but do not underestimate the privacy-implications of using this feature.

Setting a sensible minimum tab width[edit | edit source]

It used to be possible to make Firefox tabs shrink as more tabs are opened by going to about:config. The Firefox developers decided that this was too easy and made the tab related options there do nothing.

The current solution is to make a file called userChrome.css in the chrome/ directory in the Firefox profile folder ($HOME/.mozilla/firefox/$profilename).

File: userChrome.css
.tabbrowser-tab[fadein]:not([pinned]) {
min-width: 30px !important;
}

This will make tabs shrink as more tabs than what is possible with the window with are opened.

Getting the actual URL shown in the address bar[edit | edit source]

You can make Firefox show you the full address of a website including the http:// by adding a new boolean called browser.urlbar.trimURLs set to false in about:config.

Using a different User-agent[edit | edit source]

Go to about:config and right-click and select New and String and make the key general.useragent.override and put something in that key like general.useragent.override;Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 12_3 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/605.1.15 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/12.1.1 Mobile/15E148 Safari/604.1 if you want to browse the web as a stupid phone poster.

This will NOT work if privacy.resistFingerprinting is set to true as this setting will force the user-agent Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; rv:60.0) regardless of what general.useragent.override is set to.

Essential extensions[edit | edit source]

Some extensions are more useful than others. These are, in our opinion, worth having.

Best Content Filter (=Advertisement blocker[edit | edit source]

uBlock Origin is the best adblocking plugin for Firefox. You can download and install it from https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/ublock-origin/

uBlock Origin defaults to a somewhat crippled configuration for some reason. You need to click the red shield icon to configure it once it is installed. Go to Filter lists and enable everything under Ads, Annoyances and Privacy.

Big corporations would have you believe that you are stealing this website if you read it with an adblocker enabled. Do not worry, there are plenty of people who have no idea there is a advertisement-free Internet experience to be had. Let them see the advertisements.

Non-Spyware User Style Manager[edit | edit source]

Stylish was the best option for years and years and many still use it by habit. Stylish has been spyware since early 2017[1]. The Stylus extension is a non-spying alternative.

User-script Manager[edit | edit source]

Greasemonkey is an old popular alternative. It's mostly fine. Tampermonkey by Jan Biniok is closed source.

The Violentmonkey Firefox extension is the best choice and it's open source with the source-code available on github.

notes[edit | edit source]