Updating Firefox ESR — 2

In certain ways updating software has become a mess. For much software security patches are merged into current versions rather than back porting. That means most users are nominally forced into continually updating to receive security patches. Many developers treat software as a personal playground. This is a painful nightmare model.

For the past few years I loathe updating Firefox. I stick to the Extended Support Release branch (ESR) to reduce the pain of software playgrounds. Because ESR is released about once a year, one challenge is keeping abreast of rapid release notes to avoid getting blind sided with too many changes. New features and options become available in the previous Firefox versions. For ESR users many of the changes are new and seen for the first time.

At work I began testing the ESR updates from version 68 to 78. So began another round of loathing.

While I had already incorporated changes into my custom user.js I again scoured the web looking for additional options to disable nonsense such as the silly URL “megabar” and “top site” recommendations. After that effort I reduced my loathing to a short list.

  • The tab bar. URL bar, and bookmark tool bar are larger.
  • about:config is crippled with a Show All button and has a new interface.
  • Enable picture-in-picture video controls is enabled by default.
  • Recommend extensions as you browse is enabled by default.
  • Recommend features as you browse is enabled by default.

Some of the larger space and padding can be recovered by selecting the menu Customize and using Compact. Additional help is needed with custom userChrome changes, which now needs toolkit.legacyUserProfileCustomizations.stylesheets enabled to activate. Why are the Firefox developers so bull headed determined to limit users from customizing Firefox? This seems to be a trend for many years.

There are spacers on either side of the URL bar that can be removed by using menu Customize.

The Browsing options also are configurable in user.js. I don’t want intrusive “recommendations” from anybody for any reason. Picture-in-picture? I see some merit but not a big deal to me.

Searching the web indicates the previously usable about:config interface can be restored with chrome://global/content/config.xul or chrome://global/content/config.xhtml. The former option does not function with ESR 78, likely disabled or removed by the developers.

I don’t like dumping on developers, but I have no idea what is happening at Mozilla any more. The Firefox of lore no longer exists. I have all but lost hope in Firefox. The developers continue to push questionable changes to the detriment of users. Many of the changes I see in Firefox do not address real issues and are lipstick on a pig. Perhaps these annoying changes imply a reason developers were laid off — too many developers with too little to do.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: Firefox

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