Fears for the Future of Firefox

With the most recent update to Firefox 55, users are presented with a long overdue reality check: their favourite add-ons are going away. When browsing the about:addons page, the user is presented with beautiful labels next to their installed extensions:

Screenshot from 2017-08-09 22-22-43

With this indicator, Mozilla is finally trying to make it clear to the end user: we are 3 months away before older add-ons lose compatibility with Firefox.

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Preparing for a faster Firefox

Over the course of the next year, there are many exciting features being brought to Mozilla Firefox, particularly in the aim to improve the browser’s performance. Most notably is project Quantum, which is Mozilla’s new web engine. What makes this interesting is that its using the Servo browser engine, which is being developed in Rust. This allows it to easily adopt parallel processing constructs which can improve performance, particularly for users with multi-core CPUs (mostly everyone). An excellent overview of the development and current status of this back-end can be viewed here. While this major update is still many months away from public stable release, there are a few things to be done in the mean time, in preparation for this. Continue reading

Removing extra language packs in Firefox on Linux

Something that had been bothering me for a while now was that whenever I went to change the dictionary I used to spellcheck in Firefox, it would list about 20 different variations of English, of which I only used 2. Looking in the Dictionaries list in the add-ons menu, there was only one of those packs listed, which I added manually. As it turns out, my installation of the hunspell-en package added every variant of English, and for whatever reason Firefox decides to include all of them. The easiest way to remove them is deleting the non-essential packs listed in /usr/share/hunspell. After a quick restart, they are no longer listed in Firefox.

Disabling middle-click page loading in Firefox

One little annoyance I’ve had recently is accidentally middle-clicking on a web-page when my clipboard contains a URL. When this happens, it load that page on the current page. I don’t find this behaviour particularly useful, and more of a frustration. I originally thought it was due to an add-on, but I discovered is a built-in setting in Firefox, so I disabled it. In the about:config menu, set the following to false:

middlemouse.contentLoadURL

 

My new favourite browser plugin

One of the main reasons I use Firefox as my daily driving web browser is because of its reliability, its community, and most of all its add-ons! I regularly have between 25 and 30 tabs open at all times. One thing I hadn’t really considered until recently, was how add-ons affect browser performance. I recently learned about an add-on that that not only improved the performance of my browser, but also solved some security concerns I’ve had about other add-ons. Continue reading