Firefox 57 is not my Firefox

Just a note to add to the multitude of ignored voices floating about the web. I also had to vent out my frustration.

This is a screenshot of my Firefox addons page as it appears today. Everything marked Legacy will be unusable in Firefox 57 and above.

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I can compromise on some but a few of these are essential. Keepass Helper, Private Tab, Tab Group, Session Manager and uMatrix are the reason I use Firefox. I had to give up Pentadactyl and the wounds are still fresh.

Those familiar with my workflows or who have been around me when I’m using my machine will understand why. I constantly have between 50-500 tabs open, some of them for months, organised into contexts via tab groups and trees using tree style tab. I’m aware of the counter arguments to having so many tabs open. But this works for me, and this works well. I don’t use a high end machine either. It is a 7 year old HP Pavilion g6 with 4G RAM, Intel i5 processor, no SSD, missing hinge caps, and a keyboard that is beginning to act crazy. On my best days Firefox takes about 500 MB RAM, and I’ve never seen it use more than 1.5 – 2 GB RAM. As I write this FF has 119 tabs open in 9 groups, takes 1137 MB out of total 1.5G usage on my machine.

I jump between thoughts often and my setup allows me to switch effortlessly. When you do something a hundred times a day, one extra step or a few hundred milliseconds of perceivable delay adds up – no, compounds – to a lot of frustration.

I probably fall into Firefox Power Users category. I use just three graphical applications most of the time. Termite (my terminal emulator), KeepassXC (my password manager) and Firefox (my browser, pdf viewer, occasional audio/video player, and almost-always-on audio link to my colleague – uses WebRTC). It is a rare day when I need anything else. Out of these three, Firefox and Termite easily compete for the top spot in terms of time spent.

Despite typing with just two fingers (I never learnt how to type), never using gestures and rarely using my touchpad, I work efficiently thanks to my established tools and workflows. Having to let go of pentadactyl meant I had to give up on some of my efficiency, and some other things were flat out impossible (or atleast very hard or inconvenient) to accomplish. Breaking my FF workflows cripples me in a very real way.

My friends have known me as a Firefox advocate, a very passionate and convincing one, and have almost always been impressed at my Firefox usage. I’m afraid that won’t remain the same going forward. I have a hard choice to make:

  • Stop at Firefox 56 and remain vulnerable to any future security issues, miss out on future enhancements, etc or
  • Work with a crippled Firefox, which won’t really be Firefox to me. At this point I might as well use chromium or chrome.
  • Or give up on “modern” web, its 20 MB pages for 200 word articles, ubiquitous trackers, slow-as-a-snail-running-reverse-on-a-travelator web applications and stick to lynx or setup something similar to what Richard Stallman does.
  • Or, fork Firefox and try to salvage whatever I can from updates, without losing out on what I need. This is not possible given my current time constraints and lack of experience with the codebase.

I choose to stop upgrading FF and deal with whatever that entails. Firefox 57 is not the Firefox I loved, and won’t be the one I use.

Addendum:
I don’t like the “modernisation” drive. Regardless of motivations, the execution is terrible. I’ll just use this post to collect a few relevant links:

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