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I upgraded to Firefox 57, and it wasn’t so horrible after all

When Firefox 57 “Quantum” (please, please, get rid of that ludicrous name in the near future) was released, I didn’t want to update at first, because so many of my beloved add-ons got destroyed by the move to WebExtensions. Namely, APK Downloader, Cookie Manager+, RefControl, Small Tabs, Tamper Data (and Tamper Data Icon Redux – funny how those 2 never merged), and YesScript. And the speed of Fx 56 wasn’t that bad IMO, particularly on Windows 10. On Windows 7, it was indeed a bit slow at times, but I’m not sure if my weaker config is to blame for this.

There was, however, the concern over security updates. Which is why I started looking at forks, mostly Waterfox, a somewhat long standing project which started in 2011 as a 64 bits build and apparently evolved into a lot more over time, and Basilisk, a new fork brought to us by the same team as Pale Moon just to escape the WebExtensions hell (just like Pale Moon itself was mostly about escaping the UI massacre that happened when Fx decided to copycat Chrome some years ago). Those 2 seemed quite satisfying, so I pretty much intended to stay on Fx 56 and then migrate to either, when security issues would require it.

But there was another problem: more and more sites started to become really unusable on Fx 56. It was so horrible that I would joke some frameworks like Angular got sabotaged in the purpose of making Fx look bad. Sites like Slack, Gmail, AWS (no, I don’t use those personally but I regrettably have to use them at work) would work (badly) for a few minutes, then totally freeze. Or freeze right away. In the end, the choice was either to upgrade to Fx 57, or to use all of those in Vivaldi.

So I started looking for alternatives to my extensions. And I did find a few interesting ones:
– RefControl got replaced by Smart Referer. It’s not exactly the same, notably its default behavior is to send referrers only when staying on the same domain. Which is nice, because it avoids most of the trouble I used to get when forging all my refers with RefControl
– YesScript got replaced by YesScript2. Again it’s not exactly the same, but this time it’s worse: it toggles between non blocking, “half” blocking, and blocking. Half blocking means it will block all external scripts. I guess this is intended against trackers and ads, but since it’s off by default (needs to be enabled per site) it’s not quite efficient against tracking, and for ads (and trackers too) there are way better dedicated add-ons like uBlock and Ghostery. And it sends “full” blocking a click farther away. Still, I didn’t use YesScript that often, so that’s good enough
– NoScript, which I stopped using a while ago in my main profile, is, according to hearsay, having issues in Fx 57. But ScriptSafe, which I’ve been using for a while in Vivaldi, has now come to Firefox 🙂 It also features great functions against tracking and fingerprinting, so I added it to my setup. With scripts enabled
FoxyProxy got fully rewritten, and a lot of users seem unhappy about it. I, however, like the new version, as I find it a lot less messy than the previous one (I suppose having lost a bunch of unimportant features helped ^^). Sure, it’s a bit ugly, but that not the kind of concern people juggling with proxies usually have.

Sadly, I couldn’t find replacements for quite a few:
– APK Downloader is gone :/ But I tested it in Fx 56 and it seemed broken already, so I guess I can’t really count it as a loss caused by Quantum…
– Cookie Manage+ and Tamper Data (and Tamper Data Icon Redux) are gone too. There are ways to accomplish kind of similar things (the developer tools, other weaker cookie management add-ons…), but it really sucks not being able to mess around with the cookies without any limits, or to easily intercept and modify live POST or GET requests on the fly

Last but not least, a special mention for Small Tabs. It made the UI quite more compact and I found no replacement for it either. However, Fx 57 introduced a “Density” setting, which you’ll find at the bottom of your screen in “Customize” mode. It features a “Compact” mode which, while not as compact as Small Tabs, saves pretty much enough space for most of my needs.

Well that covers it, my other extensions uBlock, Ghostery and HTTPS Everywhere were ready for the migration quite some time before the Firefox 57 release, so overall the move wasn’t as catastrophic as I expected. On sites that were not obviously broken, the speed gain from Firefox 57 wasn’t very obvious at first, but after using it for a bit more than a week, it really feels a lot more responsive globally (and notably on Windows 7).
I don’t see any valid reason for sticking to Chrome now that Firefox copied their GUI and their speed, except if you have some irresistible compulsion to keep giving always more power to Big Brother Google… The future of the World is in your hands 👀

Posted in Firefox, Internet.

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