Does Desktop Linux Have a Firefox Problem? – Slashdot

Does Desktop Linux Have a Firefox Problem? – Slashdot


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Does Desktop Linux Have a Firefox Problem? (osnews.com)






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EditorDavid

from the tangle-web dept.

OS News’ managing editor calls Firefox “the single most important desktop Linux application,” shipping in most distros (with some users later opting for a post-installation download of Chrome).

But “I’m genuinely worried about the state of browsers on Linux, and the future of Firefox on Linux in particular…”

While both GNOME and KDE nominally invest in their own two browsers, GNOME Web and Falkon, their uptake is limited and releases few and far between. For instance, none of the major Linux distributions ship GNOME Web as their default browser, and it lacks many of the features users come to expect from a browser. Falkon, meanwhile, is updated only sporadically, often going years between releases. Worse yet, Falkon uses Chromium through QtWebEngine, and GNOME Web uses WebKit (which are updated separately from the browser, so browser releases are not always a solid metric!), so both are dependent on the goodwill of two of the most ruthless corporations in the world, Google and Apple respectively.

Even Firefox itself, even though it’s clearly the browser of choice of distributions and Linux users alike, does not consider Linux a first-tier platform. Firefox is first and foremost a Windows browser, followed by macOS second, and Linux third. The love the Linux world has for Firefox is not reciprocated by Mozilla in the same way, and this shows in various places where issues fixed and addressed on the Windows side are ignored on the Linux side for years or longer. The best and most visible example of that is hardware video acceleration. This feature has been a default part of the Windows version since forever, but it wasn’t enabled by default for Linux until Firefox 115, released only in early July 2023. Even then, the feature is only enabled by default for users of Intel graphics — AMD and Nvidia users need not apply. This lack of video acceleration was — and for AMD and Nvidia users, still is — a major contributing factor to Linux battery life on laptops taking a serious hit compared to their Windows counterparts… It’s not just hardware accelerated video decoding. Gesture support has taken much longer to arrive on the Linux version than it did on the Windows version — things like using swipes to go back and forward, or pinch to zoom on images…

I don’t see anyone talking about this problem, or planning for the eventual possible demise of Firefox, what that would mean for the Linux desktop, and how it can be avoided or mitigated. In an ideal world, the major stakeholders of the Linux desktop — KDE, GNOME, the various major distributions — would get together and seriously consider a plan of action. The best possible solution, in my view, would be to fork one of the major browser engines (or pick one and significantly invest in it), and modify this engine and tailor it specifically for the Linux desktop. Stop living off the scraps and leftovers thrown across the fence from Windows and macOS browser makers, and focus entirely on making a browser engine that is optimised fully for Linux, its graphics stack, and its desktops. Have the major stakeholders work together on a Linux-first — or even Linux-only — browser engine, leaving the graphical front-end to the various toolkits and desktop environments….

I think it’s highly irresponsible of the various prominent players in the desktop Linux community, from GNOME to KDE, from Ubuntu to Fedora, to seemingly have absolutely zero contingency plans for when Firefox enshittifies or dies…

You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred.
— Superchicken

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