Tag: Mozilla

Cyberfox is officially dead

The web browser Cyberfox appears to have been torn apart by hounds while rich toffs on horses stand by applauding and another makes loud farting noises on a bugle.

In a blog entitled Cyberfox and its future direction, the browser’s lead developer of Cyberfox proclaimed the death of their web browser.

Toady, said that the project was taking too much of his personal time, and the changes required by Mozilla were requiring more and more time to maintain.

He said: “This project has been amazing no one could ask for a better project or community sadly as much as i love this project my heart is no longer fully in it, dreams of pursuing game development were pushed aside and lifestyle steadily declined ultimately slowly coming to this point where changes and choices have to be made ones that will affect this project and the future of what i have spent all these years building.”

The issue appears to be that Mozilla announced major changes to Firefox, some of which landed already, some are in process, and others are announced for 2017. These include multi-process Firefox, the removal of plugins and WebExtensions will replace all other add-on systems of the browser.

That’s too much change, for projects that are maintained by a small but dedicated group of developers such as Cyberfox.

The author of Cyberfox made the decision to switch the browser’s release channel to Firefox 52.0 ESR. This means that Cyberfox will be supported with security updates for the next eight release cycles, but new features that Mozilla introduces in Firefox Stable won’t find their way into the browser anymore.

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Once these plugins once were the backbone of the world wide wibble but now they have been replaced by standalone Web APIs and alternative.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.

Google works out how to make Chrome faster

mercedes_benz_slr_mclaren_9qiu5Google announced that it has worked with Facebook and Mozilla to make page reloads in Chrome for desktop and mobile  about 28 percent faster.

The big idea is that if you can cut down the number of network requests the browser makes to see if the images and other resources it cached the first time you went to a site are still valid you can speed things up rather a lot.

Writing in his bog, Google engineer Takashi Toyoshima said that users typically reload pages because they either look broken or because the content looks like it should have been updated. When browser developers first added this feature, it was mostly because broken pages were common. Today, users mostly reload pages because the content of a site seems stale.

Google simplified Chrome’s reload behavior and it now only validates the main resource. Facebook, just like other pages, says its pages now reload 28 percent faster, too.

Google admits that is a very minor change but the effects aren’t so minor. They estimate that the new method reduces the number of validation requests by as much as 60 per cent, making pages reload 28 per cent faster. And the sooner the browser finishes reloading a page, the sooner it can stop using data and hardware resources.

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.

Adobe kills Flash

flash-gordonAdobe has decided that the name “Flash” is pretty poisonous and will kill off the brand name next year.

The 2016 iteration of Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription software scheme will see the end of the ‘Flash’ branding, and an even greater emphasis on  HTML5.

Adobe said that the Flash product will be called Adobe Animate CC from January’s update of the Creative Cloud suite. There’s no explicit mention of what the browser plug-in will be called, but presumably it will mirror the change of name.

This is a low key exit for a name which pioneered rich text media and video in the age before broadband. For the last decade it has been a buzzword for security vulnerabilities and exploits.

The Flash browser plugin has always been binary, hard-coded software and it was impossible to fix because of the proprietary nature of the code.

The rapid emergence of HTML5 and more ‘open’ standards which could more effectively and safely replace the web’s dependence on Flash.

Google’s Chrome browser has its own custom Flash player which allows Flash content to continue to run on its browser. Mozilla has agreed to continue Flash plugin support despite its plans to kill off some aspects of it.

In January of this year YouTube progressed its experimental HTML5 video support into the default format for video, and from September Amazon began to refuse Flash-based ads in its own consumer networks.

However the tech is still with us, but it will not be called Flash. Any new version of the plugin will continue to run Flash content in 2016. The company said:

“Today, over a third of all content created in Flash Professional today uses HTML5, reaching over one billion devices worldwide. It has also been recognized as an HTML5 ad solution that complies with the latest Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) standards, and is widely used in the cartoon industry by powerhouse studios like Nickelodeon and Titmouse.”

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.


Mozilla hunts hate speech employee

KKK-1000x600Big Cheeses in the Mozzarella Foundation are hunting for an anonymous employee who posted hate speech on a social notworking site.

An anonymous person with the handle “aioyama “ complained about “social justice bullies” on Reddit effectively saying that the outfit was relieved to lose community organizer Christie Koehler.

Koehler had left complaining about Mozilla’s lack of diversity in the workplace and its failure to address accessibility issues.

The Reddit user cheered Koehler’s exit. “Frankly everyone was glad to see the back of Christie Koehler. She was batshit insane and permanently offended at everything. When she and the rest of her blue-haired nose-pierced asshole feminists are gone, the tech industry will breathe a sigh of relief.”

However the comment miffed Mozilla CEO Chris Beard who said that the person had crossed the line from criticism to hate speech.

Beard said the remarks indicated a discomfort with diversity that he would not tolerate and if he finds out who they are, then the will be escorted from the building with their belongings in a photocopy box.

Being identified as a backward misogynistic organisation adapted for life in the civil war south is a sore spot for Mozilla.    Its CEO resigned last year amid outrage he supported groups that opposed gay marriage.

Beard said the person was “not welcome to continue to participate in the Mozilla project. It is not who we are.”

Sorry Chris, if a former CEO was a homophobe, the person you hired to improve diversity leaves in frustration and your staff cheers, you might be sitting on a bigger problem.  You might think that “it is not who we are” but evidence suggests otherwise.

All roads start to lead to Chrome in browser wars

All roads lead to RomeGoogle’s browser has increased its control of the browser market according to the latest figures from Net Applications.

The figures show that between March and April, Internet Explorer use was down 0.71 points to 55.83 percent Chrome: up 0.69 points to 25.68 percent. Firefox fell 0.19 points to 11.70 percent. Safari increased 0.12 points to 5.12 and Opera: up 0.05 points to 0.48 percent.

Breaking the IE figure down further shows the latest version, IE11, grew 0.82 percentage points back over the 25 percent mark. IE10 and IE9 both slipped a bit, while IE8 fell a solid 1.26 percentage points.

In October, IE11 managed to pass IE8 to become the world’s most popular browser, and the gap continues to widen. This new trend became possible when Windows XP, whose users can’t upgrade past IE8, started to lose significant share. As a result, IE11 can grow unchallenged, until, of course, Edge arrives.

Google’s Chrome gained 0.69 percentage points this past month, and for the first time has passed the 25 percent mark. In other words, one in four Web users now use Chrome.

Chrome 42 captured 7.69 percent, Chrome 41 slipped 1.80 percent, and Chrome 40 fell 5.56 points. Older versions will continue to plummet as the latest version takes over, as is typical with Google’s numbers.

Mozilla’s Firefox has been hitting new lows for months. The browser hit a new low of 11.6 percent in February, and it’s back down very close to that figure once again.

Chinese watchdog furious at Google snub

fortuneA Chinese Internet regulator is furious that Google will no longer recognize its certificates of trust, which could stop Chrome browser users accessing sites approved by the authority.

Google said on its official security blog it would no longer recognise the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) certificate authorities, after a joint investigation between the company and CNNIC into a potential security lapse last month.

Google’s Chrome users may get a warning when attempting to visit sites certified by CNNICCNNIC, which plays a central role in administering China’s internet by allocating and certifying IP addresses and web domain names, urged Google to consider user rights and interests.

“The decision that Google has made is unacceptable and unintelligible,” the agency said in a statement on its website.

CNNIC’s certificates came under scrutiny after an official Google blog post said the Chinese agency had allowed Cairo-based MCS Holdings to issue unauthorised certificates for various Google domains.

That rendered connections between users and those websites vulnerable to ‘man-in-the-middle’ hacking attacks, Google said.

Microsoft and Mozilla also removed trust of those unauthorized certificates last week, following Google’s post.

“While neither we nor CNNIC believe any further unauthorized digital certificates have been issued, nor do we believe the misissued certificates were used outside the limited scope of MCS Holdings’ test network, CNNIC will be working to prevent any future incidents,” Google said on Wednesday.

CNNIC was welcome to reapply for recognition “once suitable technical and procedural controls are in place,” and CNNIC’s existing certificates would be trusted for a limited time through a whitelist.

MCS Holdings said in a statement on its website last week that the security lapse was the result of human error following testing of certificates issued to it by CNNIC, which was meant to take place in a controlled environment.