Tag: firefox

Firefox abandons old Netscape APIs

Red-Panda-pik-2-10alwllAfter years of active service, the big cheeses at the Mozzarella Foundation have pulled the plug on some old bit of code which was first used in the Netscape browser.

When Firefox first appeared, it ran on the Netscape Plugins API infrastructure which has now got so old it makes the Spinning Jenny look cutting edge. From March,

Mozilla will kill off all plugins built on the old NPAPI technology will stop working in Firefox, except for Flash.

This means good-bye to Java, Silverlight, and various audio and video codecs.

Once these plugins once were the backbone of the world wide wibble but now they have been replaced by standalone Web APIs and alternative. The old NPAPI plugins will continue to work in the Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) 52, but will eventually be killed off in ESR 53.

A series of hacks are available that will allow Firefox users to continue using old NPAPI plugins past Firefox 52, by switching the update channel from Firefox Stable to Firefox ESR.

Mozilla improves multi-process Firefox

Red-Panda-pik-2-10alwllThe big cheeses at the Mozzarella Foundation have expanded the use of multi-process Firefox so that it can run all extensions.

The outfit said that Firefox 51 will enabling multi-process fruit-powered Red Panda for users with extensions that are not explicitly marked as incompatible with the software.

Multi process architecture improves performance and minimises the impact of content process crashes. It also improves security sandboxing.

“Multi-process Firefox has been a big undertaking but it’s already bringing positive results to our users in terms of responsiveness, stability, and security. Stay tuned to this channel for further updates as new multi-process capabilities are developed, tested, and deployed to Firefox users the world over,” A spokes Red Panda said.

While you would think that this tech would give Firefox the edge, so to speak, it is actually catching up with other browsers which have had the tech for ages. Internet Explorer and Chrome both implemented it in 2009.

IT started looking at it but abandoned it until 2015 when it switched to a new extension system in 2015 that opened the door to a multi-process design.

In Firefox 50, a separate renderer process is used for most users and most extensions. Developers are now able to mark their extensions as explicitly multi-process compatible. Firefox 51 will extend this even further to cover all extensions, except those that are explicitly marked as incompatible.

Mozilla says that, even with the limited changes made in Firefox 50, responsiveness of the browser has improved by 400 percent due to the separation between the renderer and the browser shell. During page loads, responsiveness will increase to 700 percent.


Mozilla allows Firefox to rust

Red-Panda-pik-2-10alwllBig cheeses at the Mozzarella Foundation have announced that its Firefox browser will ship with a large dose of rust.

For those who came in late, Rust is a programming language developed as a safer alternative to C++ with a unique construction that reduces the chances of having dangerous memory exploits. It also never sleeps.

The first ever Rust components will arrive in Firefox 48, scheduled for release on 2 August, 2016, just two days before the anniversary of Britain entering WW1.

Memory corruption issues such as use-after-free and buffer overflows are the main source of security bugs and the reason why our editor keeps banging on the door of the Kite, even when it closed months ago.

Mozilla has been a key player behind Rust for the last seven years ago and teased a version of the browser with Rusty features last year. What we will see is a new media stack component that’s entirely coded in Rust. Media components are the most likely to execute malicious code when parsing multimedia files.

Those testing Firefox are yet to see a crash or issue in the Rust media component, a spokesMozilla said.

In mid-June, Mozilla released the first versions of Servo, a minimal browser created in Rust code alone.

Mozilla might get a payout if Yahoo is sold

scrooge-mcduck The big cheeses at the Mozzarella Foundation might see a pay out if Yahoo is sold off.

Recode has seen paperwork which indicates that Yahoo might have to pay Mozilla annual payments of $375 million through to 2019 if it does not think the buyer is one it wants to work with and walks away.

This was part of a clause in the Silicon Valley giant’s official agreement with the browser maker that CEO Marissa Mayer struck in late 2014 to become the default search engine in Firefox.

Mozilla switched to Yahoo from Google after Mayer offered a much more lucrative deal that included what potential buyers of Yahoo say is an unprecedented term to protect Mozilla in a change-of-control scenario.

At the time Mayer that would never thought would happen, but now her hand has been forced. According to the change-of-control term, 9.1 in the agreement,

“Mozilla has the right to leave the partnership if — under its sole discretion and in a certain time period — it did not deem the new partner acceptable. And if it did that, even if it struck another search deal, Yahoo is still obligated to pay out annual revenue guarantees of $375 million.”

About 90 percent of Mozilla’s revenue was due to its Google deal which paid Mozilla an annual guarantee of $300 million.

Sources said Mayer thought she could make the Mozilla deal work better and had dreams of rolling out Yahoo search on Mozilla outside the US – which did not happen.

The deal was only marginally profitable for Yahoo after the payment is taken out.

Of course while Mozilla has the right to leave and collect its money, but it might not if it is satisfied with the buyer’s commitment to search.

All roads lead to Chrome

firefox-on-chromeThe big cheeses at the Mozzarella Foundation appear to think that the rival Chrome is the future.

Senior VP Mark Mayo has announced that the Firefox team is working on a next-generation browser that will run on the same technology as Google’s Chrome browser.

Writing in his bog, he said that his team were working on browser prototypes that look and feel almost nothing like the current Firefox.

“The premise for these experiments couldn’t be simpler: what we need a browser to do for us – both on PCs and mobile devices – has changed a lot since Firefox 1.0, and we’re long overdue for some fresh approaches.”

Dubbed Tofino, the project will not use Firefox’s core Gecko technology in favour of Electron, which is built on the technology behind Google’s rival Chrome browser, called Chromium.

Since he posted his blog Mozzarella Foundation has blocked the project for a year. Possibly because punters were mortified that Google’s Chrome could end up powering Firefox.

Mayo said that he should have been clearer that Project Tofino is wholly focused on UX explorations and not the technology platform. We said that he was working with the Platform team on technology platform futures too, and was excited about the Gecko and Servo-based futures being discussed.

However it seems that Electron might not be going away.  Mozilla has announced a new project called Positron which takes the Electron API and “wrap it around Gecko.”  The idea is that it takes the guts out of Chromium and gives it to Gecko, of course this is not the same thing at all.


Mozilla props up its Open Source projects

rms-meets-open-sauce-detail-1Open saucy browser maker Mozilla is spending a million dollars to make sure that the projects, upon which the company depends on do not collapse.

One of the problems of Open Sauce software is that projects get dumped because they cannot find enough developers interested in maintaining them, or the money to keep them active. This is a problem for a big organisation like Mozilla which needs some projects to be kept going at all costs.

Now the maker of the Firefox browser, Mozilla is launching an award program specifically focused on supporting open source and free software. Its initial allocation for this programme is $1,000,000.

Mozilla has had a grant programme for many years, but now feels it is time to formalize a systematic way to provide a new level of support to this community.

Dubbed the Mozilla Open Source Support programme is designed to “recognise and celebrate” communities which are leading the way with open source projects that contribute to its work and the health of the Web, said Mozilla.

“The cash will not only be used to “give back” to existing projects on which Mozilla depends, but can also be used to support other projects where financial resources from Mozilla can make our entire community more successful.”

The Mozilla Open Source Support programme will also have a component supporting increased attention to the security of open source and free software programs.

The outfit has promised more cash to the project in the future. Initially it will identify up to 10 projects we rely on and can fund in a thoughtful, meaningful way by December 12.

Firefox fixes 14 year old bug


bugBig cheeses in the Mozzarella Foundation have finally gotten around to fixing an ancient bug with its Firefox browser which will be great for Adblock Plus users.

Mozilla developer Cameron McCormack recently fixed bug 77999, enabling sharing of CSS-related data. Data structures that share the results of cascading user agent style sheets are now a go, which allowed the second issue (bug 988266) to be fixed as well.

Adblock Plus was registering a single style sheet for its element-hiding feature, but Firefox was creating a new copy of it for each page being loaded. This meant that the memory consumption could skyrocket (up to 2GB in one edge case) as more copies were created.

Mozilla developer Nicholas Nethercote said that the update meant that in one extreme example memory usage dropped by 3.62 MiB per document. Since there were examples of 429 documents on a single page it meant that the user was saving 1,550 MiB.

With Cameron’s patches applied Firefox with AdBlock Plus used about 90 MiB less physical memory, which is a reduction of over 10 per cent. Even when AdBlock Plus is not enabled this change has a moderate benefit.

This improvements have been trickling down since July’s Nightly build, first to Firefox Developer Edition, then to Firefox Beta, and now to the latest stable version. This means that Firefox now uses “about the same amount of memory” whether you’re running the most popular add-on or not.

Many Firefox users will gladly use more memory to block ads, but now they don’t have to use nearly anywhere as much.

Quite why it took Mozilla so long to fix the problem is anyone’s guess.  Firefox is famous for hanging on to your memory and never giving it back and gave Google’s Chrome a foothold into the market.


Firefox will kill web based adverts

huet_fox_chickenBig Cheeses at the Mozzarella Foundation have decided to build in an ad-blocker into their Firefox browser.

A brand new Developer version of Firefox has been released which provided a real look at Mozilla’s enhanced privacy features. The new tracking protection is so effective that if you show up on a website you will be invisible and see it ad-free.

Ad networks and content providers are almost certain to be outraged to see their ads broken by the new tracking protection in Firefox. But it could be the key to getting Mozilla popular again.

Mozilla’s believes that if you have clicked in to a private window that you really, really want your privacy respected. Sadly, a block-everything tracking protection may never make its way into the non-private Firefox browsing windows.

Certainly Mozilla’s own efforts at do not track were watered down to the point they were nearly useless.

Since it is all in developer stage, Mozilla might find a way to block tracking without blocking the actual adverts or it might just give up on it.

Firefox TVs go on sale in Europe

old-school-tvSmart TVs powered by Firefox OS have gone on sale in Europe.

The operating system is being seen under the bonnet of six models of Panasonic Viera TV the CR850, CR730, CX800, CX750, CX700 and CX680. This is almost all of Panasonic’s new TVs, and include 4K panels as well.

The flagship CR850 (curved) costs £3,500 and and CX800 (flat) will set you back £3,200. The cheapest Firefox telly is £700 for a 40-inch CX680, which is not exactly cheap.

Early reviews suggest that Panasonic’s new 4K TVs are rather nice especially the top-end models with 10-bit colour – which Panasonic calls “4K Studio Master”.

The Firefox OS for TVs will be much like any other smart TV platform. Every app is written in HTML5, just like the Firefox phones. The new Panasonic TVs ship with a decent number of Firefox OS apps, including a Netflix app that supports 4K streaming. There is an “apps market” if you want to download some more.

Everything can be pinned to the home screen which makes it easy to grab with a remote after you have set everything up.

Still the Firefox OS was supposed to be a smartphone OS, but in early 2014 Mozilla announced it would also be coming to some other platforms, such as TVs. So far Mozilla hasn’t yet announced any other smart TV partners.

Governments warn against Internet Exploder

The US and UK governments advised computer users to consider using alternatives to Microsoft’s Internet Exploder browser until the company fixes a security flaw that hackers used to launch attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team said in an advisory that the vulnerability in versions 6 to 11 of Internet Explorer could lead to “the complete compromise” of an affected system.

The UK National Computer Emergency Response Team told British computer users, that in addition to considering alternative browsers, they should make sure their antivirus software is current and regularly updated.

Versions 6 to 11 of Internet Explorer dominate desktop browsing, accounting for 55 percent of global market share, according to research firm NetMarketShare so there are lot of people who are going to have to download a different browser.

High on the list are Google’s Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox. The last time that there was a panic like this, Mozilla cleaned up, particularly in the EU.

Cybersecurity software maker FireEye warned that a sophisticated group of hackers have been exploiting the bug in a campaign dubbed “Operation Clandestine Fox”.

There is an additional concern that even after Microsoft fixes the bug; it will not be available to those who use Windows XP. Microsoft has stopped upgrading XP except for selected customers who pay for it. There has been a reluctance for some businesses and uses to go off the aging operating system despite government warnings that use of the software might endanger your business’ health.