Does Desktop Linux Have a Firefox Problem?

Share This Post

OS Information’ managing editor calls Firefox “the one most necessary desktop Linux software,” delivery in most distros (with some customers later choosing a post-installation obtain of Chrome).

However “I am genuinely worried about the state of browsers on Linux, and the way forward for Firefox on Linux particularly…”

Whereas each GNOME and KDE nominally put money into their very own two browsers, GNOME Net and Falkon, their uptake is proscribed and releases few and much between. As an illustration, not one of the main Linux distributions ship GNOME Net as their default browser, and it lacks most of the options customers come to count on from a browser. Falkon, in the meantime, is up to date solely sporadically, typically going years between releases. Worse but, Falkon makes use of Chromium by way of QtWebEngine, and GNOME Net makes use of WebKit (that are up to date individually from the browser, so browser releases usually are not at all times a stable metric!), so each are depending on the goodwill of two of probably the most ruthless companies on the planet, Google and Apple respectively.

Even Firefox itself, despite the fact that it is clearly the browser of alternative of distributions and Linux customers alike, doesn’t think about Linux a first-tier platform. Firefox is before everything a Home windows browser, adopted by macOS second, and Linux third. The love the Linux world has for Firefox is just not reciprocated by Mozilla in the identical manner, and this reveals in varied locations the place points mounted and addressed on the Home windows aspect are ignored on the Linux aspect for years or longer. The perfect and most seen instance of that’s {hardware} video acceleration. This characteristic has been a default a part of the Home windows model since eternally, but it surely wasn’t enabled by default for Linux till Firefox 115, launched solely in early July 2023. Even then, the characteristic is barely enabled by default for customers of Intel graphics — AMD and Nvidia customers needn’t apply. This lack of video acceleration was — and for AMD and Nvidia customers, nonetheless is — a significant contributing issue to Linux battery life on laptops taking a critical hit in comparison with their Home windows counterparts… It is not simply {hardware} accelerated video decoding. Gesture help has taken for much longer to reach on the Linux model than it did on the Home windows model — issues like utilizing swipes to return and ahead, or pinch to zoom on photographs…

I do not see anybody speaking about this downside, or planning for the eventual attainable demise of Firefox, what that will imply for the Linux desktop, and the way it may be averted or mitigated. In a great world, the main stakeholders of the Linux desktop — KDE, GNOME, the varied main distributions — would get collectively and severely think about a plan of motion. The very best answer, for my part, could be to fork one of many main browser engines (or choose one and considerably put money into it), and modify this engine and tailor it particularly for the Linux desktop. Cease dwelling off the scraps and leftovers thrown throughout the fence from Home windows and macOS browser makers, and focus totally on making a browser engine that’s optimised absolutely for Linux, its graphics stack, and its desktops. Have the main stakeholders work collectively on a Linux-first — and even Linux-only — browser engine, leaving the graphical front-end to the varied toolkits and desktop environments….

I feel it is extremely irresponsible of the varied outstanding gamers within the desktop Linux neighborhood, from GNOME to KDE, from Ubuntu to Fedora, to seemingly have completely zero contingency plans for when Firefox enshittifies or dies…

Related Posts