I Quit Firefox!
June 3rd, 2021 at 1:25 AM by Kugee
After the first browser war resulted in a bloody mess and Internet Explorer emerging as the sole dominating force of the internet, progression on internet experience stagnated. For years, many online users would be stuck with the same Internet Explorer 6 being sorely neglected right in front of their faces. There were no browser tabs, pop-ups were as rampant as ever, and every tech company insisted on occupying some of your precious screen real estate with a toolbar designed to serve them.
So you could imagine the delight when Firefox made its roaring debut with version 1.0 in late 2004. It was pitched as the browser to use for taking back control of the Web, which is nothing short of a beautiful retribution against Microsoft's aggressive monopolistic efforts. Thanks to Firefox being open source software, it enjoyed support on a ton of platforms beyond Windows, including Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, and even OS/2 Warp! Since Microsoft is totally incapable of marketing without having a monopoly on something, finally it was sure to get its ass booted off the browser field in due time.
A New Web Journey
I was slow to adopt Firefox, admittedly. I didn't understand why I needed a better browser, and stuck to IE6 and later IE7 up until I got fed up with the bullshit of Windows XP and overheating computers to the point where I got a MacBook. From there, of course, I stuck with Safari for a couple of years, until I decided to give Firefox a spin in 2009. It didn't take long for me to start defaulting to that browser for everything.
I mean, if I am to be real here, it didn't feel radically different from Safari, as I didn't make use of some of its special features for a while, but it just fucking worked, and it was glorious. This was at a time when it seemed like the wonders of the internet from the late 2000's would only lead to yet more great adventures in the following decade.
It was right on that year that pretty much everything peaked. Mac OS 10.6, Firefox 3.5, a still good YouTube, and multithreading becoming prevalent... really, we could've been at a truly amazing point in technology, but a series of strange and questionable decisions along the way ruined that chance.
The first sign that something was going wrong with Firefox was when they started ramping up the major version number wildly in mere months instead of at least a year, all while doing little to add to the browser with each release. What's the point of this, exactly? All I knew was that Firefox 4.0 broke a tad few plugins I was previously using, which was offputting.
Nonetheless, I faithfully stuck to Firefox for many years as I started to better understand the kind of heinous company Google is, affirming that I would never touch their trendy "Chrome" browser. Even as I did, I had a subtle feeling that this Firefox thing really wasn't as cool as it once was.
Over the years, Firefox began stripping out a number of legitimately useful functions, like being able to subscribe to RSS feeds natively, completely ignore updates if desired, and more recently connect to FTP servers. Unlike Chrome, it did manage to remain true to its privacy principles, which is the reason why I was able to justify putting up with its dumb changes, including the flattening of button icons and the so-called "Firefox Quantum" which debuted on version 57. Quantum was okay, but left a lot to be desired in regards to elegance.
It also comes off as rather sketchy that Mozilla decided to make Google the default search engine with the Quantum update. Now, many of us are still forced to use Google a lot of the time for more detailed web searches since DuckDuckGo doesn't really manage to nail it - possibly a compromise for the privacy it offers. That, and Yahoo is basically nothing but a zombie. Nobody wants to use it, unless you happen to be dealing with its much more fortunate spinoff Yahoo Japan. Regardless, for a browser developer that supposedly cares so much about privacy, couldn't they have at least defaulted to DuckDuckGo? Simply doing that could've done wonders to strengthen that search engine.
Moves like this just kind of give you the feeling that Mozilla really hasn't been trying to do much good over the course of the last decade (and what a shitshow that was). They just try to do more or less of what other e-bweenesses do as new buzzword technologies get shoved in our faces. Oh hey, check out this new cloud service we have that nobody wants to use. Just more screen clutter I've gotta remove!
Mozilla Does a Flatass
Out of nowhere, something happened to Firefox that was so insufferable that I quit using it IMMEDIATELY. Now, what might that have been? Oh yeah, the new UI rehash that's so eye-splitting in the name of "friendly" flatass bubble corner design. It's that horrid chain reaction that started with Microsoft and Apple. Of course Google started doing that shit too, basically passing on this dumb idea that EVERYTHING has to look like some stupid ass pathetic plastic toys without choking hazards but also with hazardous amounts of lead paint. Guess what... web designers ate it all up.
OF COURSE Firefox had to jump on that fucking bandwagon at a time when they've been struggling like hell to get a grip on the market. Earth to Mozilla? Many of your most loyal users are probably using your browser to get away from all the shit Google pushes... pulling a stunt like this is only going to expedite your eventual slip and Chrome's total monopoly that Bill Gates wishes he could've achieved!
Basically, this is what Firefox did starting with version 89: the browser decided to start disregarding a lot of my system's appearance settings to push its own. Now, the tabs, address bar, and bookmarks toolbar have to force a background color as eye-splitting as possible. Can anyone explain to me what's wrong with keeping my grey 3D objects? You know, the best UI design ever conceived when it came out with Windows 95? Oh, also the main icons are a lot thinner, it seems... because that definitely makes them easiser to see, right?
This just in: NOBODY GIVES A FUCKING SHITCAKE ABOUT PRETENTIOUS HIPSTER DESIGN TRENDS IN SOFTWARE PROGRAMS! And if they do, 99% of the time it's only enough to say "wow, this looks disgusting, can we go back?" The other 1% are, of course, Susan's pet shills on YouTube. Again, nobody in the real world could give a flying fuck if Windows still looked the same today as it did 25 years ago, as long as it kept refining itself in non-obtuse ways purely for the sake of improving productivity. If any tech article out there moans "eueuuuh we need new design we stuck in the 90's duuude" NUH UH. NO. NADA. IGNORE. IT IS AN EXTERNAL MOUTHPIECE OF AN IDIOTIC, OUT OF TOUCH MARKETER.
I can't believe companies like Mozilla can continue to put out such shitty designs and have the audacity to tell me they are more clear and refined. They're so full of shit, all this ever ends up doing is creating more eyesores that most users will eventually have to numb themselves to.
You had me for 12 years, and then you blew it bigtime. Nice going, lizard.
As my eyes were assaulted by Firefox 89, my gut reflex was to switch to the first browser I had slight familiarity with, the one that had a strong resemblance to old school Firefox and some other goodies as well - SeaMonkey! Ever since I got it all configured with a version of uBlock Origin for "Legacy Firefox", well, I haven't been this excited about a web browser since I jumped onto Firefox in 2009.
For the first time in ages, I was treated with actual chromatic icons in a user interface, let alone an entire web browser that actually looked like a normal desktop program - something a number of major applications seemed so reluctant to do for a long time now. Paired with the classic Win32 theme, SeaMonkey looks amazing. I shouldn't have to call it that since this is the kind of UI design that everyone should expect in a desktop program, but with how sorely neglected the desktop is compared to touchscreen telephones, it's incredibly refreshing to see there is plenty of vitality being channeled into making a good desktop browser.
Being more of a complete internet suite rather than a standalone web browser, SeaMonkey comes with a few additional features that are really neat. It has an integrated email program that matches up with Thunderbird, as well as a ChatZilla-based IRC client! Now, if only stubborn Discord users had actually used my IRC server when that was up... I'd still use HexChat either way, but maybe a Matrix/IRC bridge ought to be in order one of these days... I just don't have the time to set up the former right now.
I'm still getting settled in this new thing, and have yet to adapt to all of its quirks and differences from modern Firefox, but so far everything's going all smoothly - that is, except when it has trouble handling certain modern websites. That's not on SeaMonkey, though. These new websites are so damn bloated and script-heavy, why should a normal browser have to try to account for them? Give me a reason that is NOT "because they get the most traffic".
If anything, it is YouTube that needs to better optimize itself for SeaMonkey. One of the first things I noticed with that site is that it is outrageously slow in there. You might say that playing a high resolution video is a taxing process that requires certain optimizations SeaMonkey wouldn't have, but here's why you're wrong on that... if I just load up an ordinary MP4 video somewhere in my browser and immediately start dragging the browser window around, it's as buttery smooth as ever. Compare this to loading a video page on YouTube - it chokes HARD on all sorts of initialization scripts. Even on a recent version of Firefox in 2019, YouTube's current design absolutely strangled a Pentium D computer with 2GB of RAM, whereas one could just barely get by on those specs with the previous design. Now, the simple task of watching an online video someone wants to share becomes such a tall hurdle that I may find myself not even wanting to bother going through the trouble.
Believe it or not, though, some sites are even worse offenders when it comes to spiting non-major browsers. My VPS provider is so carried away with throwing super flatass fake dolphin animations in my face that I'm still having trouble logging into it from SeaMonkey. I know for a fact it doesn't have to be this way, though, as I can log into my VoIP provider's site on SeaMonkey just as easily as I could on Firefox, all because they didn't cave in to the idea of giving their site any "facelift" in all the eight years I've been registered with them! Still, I had to install Firefox 78 ESR to keep handy as a failsafe for the most stubborn Chrome-worshipping websites.
For all the hideous changes that browsers and websites have made over the years, at least all that effort I went through putting my own website together really paid off given this minor resurgence it created in old school website design. I now have a great plentiful of other websites around me that I can regularly check on, and navigating all of them is nothing short of instantaneous, exactly how it should be.
Modern design trends aren't simple, they're lazy and poisonous. We make websites that are actually simple, not the kind of shit that looks "simplified". In both function and form, we try to make our sites as clear and straightforward as possible (though I may want to address my excessive use of bulleted lists), and we don't throw in anything more than we need to in order to accomplish the task of delivering content to the end user. This is a philosophy that web developers on a larger scale should really start to adopt more, but all the noise of "beep boop make new innovate and wow look amazing i phone" keeps obstructing the path to that... I sometimes find myself questioning if those pushing out all those dumb trends are even humans. There may be androids among us.
Only Two Remain...
As an irregular reminder, there used to be a wide range of browser engines out there. Now, only two major players stand: Chromium and Gecko. With Google Chrome absolutely dominating the browser market these days in part due to the tragic dethroning of the desktop platform by the cellular touchscreen telephone, I worry that Gecko may be on its last legs, and could soon be forced into the underground. Those of us continuing to hang on to a non-Chromium browser for dear life will be lumped in with conspiracy edgelords just because we don't want to compromise on our principles.
Unlike Google, a company that can get away with randomly killing off whatever endeavors it wants to thanks to its larger successes it rides on, Mozilla may be in deep shit if it continues to shoot itself in the foot with actions like this. By moving to SeaMonkey (and possibly asking others to do the same), who knows if I am just making it worse for Gecko. Can a mere community really exert the kind of leverage to make websites actually become lighter? I want it to be that way; we just have to find a way to get more people to become more aware of how bad things are getting for the internet at large.
Oh, but what about Internet Explorer? Isn't that just Edge now? And didn't Edge also turn into a Chromium clone? Hah... three undesirable browsers from Microsoft, now available for Windows 10! Internet Explorer 11 is that other major browser still using an original rendering engine. Yeah, it's derived from Mosaic, but it's way different now, and I'm not sure NCSA had so many malicious intentions like Google does.
I'm not here to say Microsoft is innocent here; they DID use unfair tactics to kill off Netscape, and like I said, they can't market worth shit. Internet Explorer is getting exactly what it deserves in the end, as it's going to be completely discontinued next year. Still, I can't help but see this as yet another case of a soulless entity devouring everything in its path. Contacting Google is next to impossible, they never listen to any complaints, they never care that sketchy shit is going on behind the scenes, and they screw over countless users in cold blood on a regular basis. Is this really what you want controlling the browser market?
If we want an internet that's worth using, we are on our own. Case in point... make websites, not accounts.