Notes on Browsing the Web with Firefox
posted at August 13, 2015 with tags chrome, firefox, google, internet

I had always been a big fan of free and open source software (F/OSS). To the point of trying to avoid using any propriatery software on systems that I have control over. My main motivatation for going along this route has many dimensions within itself that are offered in the nature of F/OSS ecosystem. That is, sources are publicly accessible, you can modify the product to adapt your needs, you can directly get in touch with developers to have any sort of information on the product internals, there is (most of the time) a strong community and user base behind the project, etc. And you know that it does no evil.

Nearly 2 years ago, my frustration with Firefox hit to its peak and I completely switched to Google Chrome. From then on, no need to worry about unreasonably slow page loads, lagging scrolls, video/audio encoding issues, etc. Chrome was working perfectly fine with all the bells and whistles one would need while surfing. And honestly, I never looked back. While I was aware of Google’s do no evil motto is something just in the surface, I did not imagine that they could have gone to the point of turning on the microphone and actively listening to the room, maybe partly due to I was so satisfied with the product experience. This felt like the last drop of a massive flood of privacy invasion. Right that moment I uninstalled anything related with Google Chrome on my computer and switched to Firefox back. So how did it feel to surf the web just using F/OSS tools after 2 years? Frustratingly disappointing – particularly, while using Firefox 39.0.3 shipped with Ubuntu GNU/Linux.

  • You almost cannot have a proper browsing experience in IMDB, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Almost every video is not supported by the browser by default. Further, YouTube limits you to have 360p at maximum. I do not even want to talk about the annoying advertisement videos that litters all the joy. (I do not know if it is just me, but I was not shown any ads while using Chrome.)

  • I am Turkish guy living in the Netherlands, communicating in English, and learning Dutch along the way. A majority of utility and govermental mails that I receive and websites I visit for similar purposes are all in Dutch. You cannot imagine what an impediment it was for me to live without Google Translate support shipped with Google Chrome.

  • In order to study Dutch, I am regularly using Duolingo. And it was not functioning properly under Firefox.

  • When you hit to a damn slow website, Firefox just falls down to its knees and the entire application becomes unresponsive. Compared to this, Google Chrome’s one process for each tab approach was working far superior and I experienced absolutely no troubles with it.

  • Needless to say, Google Chrome saves you a larger view with all the buttons, fields, etc. are packed in a smaller area.

Long story short, switching back to Firefox took all the fun away from surfing. It felt like I was working in an army base, where access to internet is limited by a damn load of firewall rules. On the other hand, I also understand (some of) Firefox’s shortcomings, which were there for a certain reason like sticking to free and open standards without causing any potential licensing issues. Anyway, right now I believe I found a middle ground. I only open Google Chrome for certain websites and use Firefox for the rest. While I am not totally satisifed with this solution either, it is something I can stick to until there exists a better one.