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Mozilla Leftovers

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  • This Week in Rust

    Hello and welcome to another issue of This Week in Rust! Rust is a systems language pursuing the trifecta: safety, concurrency, and speed. This is a weekly summary of its progress and community. Want something mentioned? Tweet us at @ThisWeekInRust or send us a pull request. Want to get involved? We love contributions.

  • My trip in Cuba

    Olemis Lang is one of the founders and very active in promoting open source in Cuba. We’ve had some similar experiences in running user groups (I founded the Python french one a decade ago), and were excited about sharing our experience.

  • Mozilla Files Suit Against FCC to Protect Net Neutrality

    Today, Mozilla filed a petition in federal court in Washington, DC against the Federal Communications Commission for its recent decision to overturn the 2015 Open Internet Order.

Mozilla: VR, Ford Money, WebRender, Firefox Extensions Discovery, Firefox 58

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  • Mozilla and Sundance Film Festival Present: VR the People

    On Monday January 22, Mozilla is bringing together a panel of the top VR industry insiders in the world to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, to explain how VR storytelling is revolutionizing the film and entertainment industry.

    “We want the storyteller’s vision to exceed the capacity of existing technology, to push boundaries, because then the technologist is inspired to engineer new mechanisms that enable things initially thought impossible” says Kamal Sinclair, Director of New Frontier Lab Programs at Sundance Institute. “However, this is not about creating something that appeals to people simply because of its novel technical achievements; rather it is something that has real meaning, and where that meaning can be realized by engineering the technologies to deliver the best experience possible.”

  • Host an Open Internet Activist [Ed: Mozilla now in the pockets of the Ford Foundation, just like the ‘Guardian’]

    Today, we’re launching the Ford-Mozilla Open Web Fellowship call for host organizations. If your organization is devoted to a healthy internet for all users, we encourage you to apply.

  • WebRender newsletter #12
  • The User Journey for Firefox Extensions Discovery

    The ability to customize and extend Firefox are an essential part of Firefox’s value to users. Extensions are small tools that allow developers and users who install the extensions to modify, customize, and extend the functionality of Firefox. For example, during our workflows research in 2016, we interviewed a participant who was a graduate student in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While she used Safari as her primary browser for common browsing, she used Firefox specifically for her academic work because of the extension Zotero was the best choice for keeping track of her academic work and citations.

    Popular categories of extensions include ad blockers, password managers, and video downloaders. Given the variety of extensions and the benefits to customization they offer, why is it that only 40% of Firefox users have installed at least one extension? Certainly, some portion of Firefox users may be aware of extensions but have no need or desire to install one. However, some users could find value in some extensions but simply may not be aware of the existence of extensions in the first place.

    Why not? How can Mozilla facilitate the extension discovery process?

    A fundamental assumption about the extension discovery process is that users will learn about extensions through the browser, through word of mouth, or through searching to solve a specific problem. We were interested in setting aside this assumption and to observe the steps participants take and the decisions they make in their journey toward possibly discovering extensions. To this end, the Firefox user research team ran two small qualitative studies to understand better how participants solved a particular problem in the browser that could be solved by installing an extension. Our study helped us understand how participants do — or do not — discover a specific category of extension.

  • Firefox Release, Xen, KDE's Plasma and More

    Set your calendars for January 23, 2018, to download the latest Firefox 58 release packed with performance/bottleneck and bug fixes, an even better site source code debugger and more.

Browsers: Mozilla Firefox and Bromite

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  • Firefox 60 Product Integrity Requests Report

    Late last year I was putting out weekly reports on the number of requests Mozilla’s Product Integrity group was receiving and how well we were tracking toward our self-imposed service-level agreement (respond to 90% within 48 hours).

    The initial system we set up was only ever intended to be minimally viable and has not scaled well, although that’s probably to be expected. There’s been quite a lot of growing pains so I’ve been tasked with taking it to the next level.

  • Tab Warming: How Firefox Will Improve Web Browsing Experience? How To Get It Now?

    Mozilla developer Mike Conley described the details about Tab Warming in a post on his personal blog. It will improve tab switching by pre-loading the contents of a tab before it gets displayed in front of the users.

  • Bromite Is the New NoChromo — Open Source Chrome Port with Ad Blocking

    A while back, we told you about NoChromo, a no-root ad-blocking browser based on Google Chrome's open source code base, Chromium. That browser was wildly successful, as it offered an identical interface to regular Chrome, but without any ads. Sadly, the developer abandoned NoChromo, but a new ad-blocking Chromium port called Bromite has been released to fill its void.

Mozilla Development and Developers

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  • Firefox 59 Is Dropping GTK2 Support

    Now that Firefox's GTK3 support is finally into shape, Firefox 59 will be doing away with GTK2 tool-kit support.

  • Review of Igalia's Web Platform activities (H2 2017)

    Last september, I published a first blog post to let people know a bit more about Igalia’s activities around the Web platform, with a plan to repeat such a review each semester. The present blog post focuses on the activity of the second semester of 2017.

  • News flash: is not special in any way

    Once upon a time, Google dared to experiment with HTTPS encryption for their search instead of allowing all search data to go unencrypted through the wire. For this experiment, they created a new subdomain: was the address where your could get some extra privacy. What some people apparently didn’t notice: the experiment was successful, and Google rolled out HTTPS encryption to all of their domains. I don’t know why is still around, but there doesn’t seem to be anything special about it any more. Which doesn’t stop some people from imagining that there is.

Firefox Development News

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  • Not every bit of code you write needs to be optimal

    It's easy to fall into the trap of obsessing about performance and try to micro-optimize every little detail in the code you're writing. Or reviewing for that matter. Most of the time, this just adds complexity and is a waste of effort.

    If a piece of code only runs a few (or even a few hundred) times a second, a few nanoseconds per invocation won't make a significant difference. Chances are the performance wins you'll gain by micro optimizing such code won't show up on a profile.

  • Making tab switching faster in Firefox with tab warming

    Since working on the Electrolysis team (and having transitioned to working on various performance initiatives), I’ve been working on making tab operations feel faster in Firefox. For example, I wrote a few months back about a technique we used to make tab closing faster.

    Today, I’m writing to talk about how we’re trying to make tab switching feel faster in some cases.

  • Firefox 60 Is The Next ESR Release, Introducing Policy Engine

    For those sticking to Firefox Extended Support Releases, the Firefox 60 branch will be the next ESR version.

    Firefox 60 will be an ESR release and the plan is to have the ESR 60.0 release out on 8 May, the Firefox 60.1 ESR release on 3 July, and to end Firefox 52 ESR on 28 August when releasing Firefox 60.2.

Top 5 Firefox extensions to install now

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The web browser has become a critical component of the computing experience for many users. Modern browsers have evolved into powerful and extensible platforms. As part of this, extensions can add or modify their functionality. Extensions for Firefox are built using the WebExtensions API, a cross-browser development system.

Which extensions should you install? Generally, that decision comes down to how you use your browser, your views on privacy, how much you trust extension developers, and other personal preferences.

Read more

Mozilla Leftovers

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  • Mozilla Release Management Team: Firefox Release management at FOSDEM 2018
  • Mozilla Reps Community: Reps Council at Austin

    The All Hands is a special time of the year where Mozilla employees along with core volunteers gather for a week of many meetings and brainstorming. The All Hands Wiki page has more information about the general setting. During the All Hands, the Reps Council participated in the Open Innovation meetings as well as had meetings about what 2018 planning. One of our main topics was about the Mission Driven Mozillians proposal.

  • Announcing ESR60 with policy engine

    The Firefox ESR (extended support release) is based on an official release of Firefox desktop for use by organizations including schools, universities, businesses and others who need extended support for mass deployments. Since Firefox 10, ESR has grown in popularity and many large organisations rely on it to let their employees browse the Internet securely.

    We want to make customization of Firefox deployments simpler for system administrators and we’re pleased to announce that our next ESR version, Firefox 60, will include a policy engine that increases customization possibilities and integration into existing management systems.

  • Web. Period.

    Seen from here, EPUB is a technical dead end. The ebook market just cannot absorb newer versions of EPUB any more, and I’m not sure when it will be able to absorb even light incremental changes again. EPUB books based on EPUB 3.0.1 or a light and for once backwards-compatible evolution of 3.0.1, are here to stay for a very, very long time.

  • User Style for

    Yesterday, I was talking with Kohei Yoshino (the person behind the Bugzilla Quantum effort that recently landed significant UX improvements to the header strip) about some visual issues I have on which basically boil down to our default view being a bit too noisy for my taste and not emphasizing enough on the key elements I want to glance at immediately when I visit a bug (bug Status, description, comments).

    Given that I spend a significant amount of time on Bugzilla and that I also spend some time on Github issues, I decided to see if I could improve our default theme on Bugzilla with a user style to make it easier on the eyes and also closer visually to Github, which I think is good when you use both on a daily basis.

Mozilla leftovers

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  • Mozilla Marketing Engineering & Ops Blog: Kuma Report, December 2017

    We have a lot of things we have to do in Q1 2018, such as the CDN and Django 1.11 update. We postponed a detailed plan for 2018, and instead will spend some of Q1 discussing goals and priorities. During our discussions in December, a few themes came up.

    For the MDN Web Docs product, the 2018 theme is Reach. We want to reach more web developers with MDN Web Docs data, and earn a key place in developers’ workflows. Sometimes this means making the best place to find the information, and sometimes it means delivering the data where the developer works. We’re using interviews and surveys to learn more and design the best experience for web developers.

    For the technology side, the 2018 theme is Simplicity. There are many seldom-used Kuma features that require a history lesson to explain. These make it more complicated to maintain and improve the web site. We’d like to retire some of these features, simplify others, and make it easier to work on the code and data. We have ideas around zone redirects, asset pipelines, and translations, and we hope to implement these in 2018.

    One thing that has gotten more complex in 2017 is code contribution. We’re implementing new features like browser-compat-data and interactive-examples as their own projects. Kuma is usually not the best place to contribute, and it can be challenging to discover where to contribute. We’re thinking through ways to improve this in 2018, and to steer contributor’s effort and enthusiasm where it will have the biggest impact.

  • Retained Display Lists

    As part of the lead up to Firefox Quantum, we added new telemetry to Firefox to help us measure painting performance, and to let us make more informed decisions as to where to direct our efforts. One of these measurements defined a minimum threshold for a ‘slow’ paint (16ms), and recorded percentages of time spent in various paint stages when it occurred. We expected display list building to be significant, but were still surprised with the results: On average, display list building was consuming more than 40% of the total paint time, for work that was largely identical to the previous frame. We’d long been planning on an overhaul of how we built and managed display lists, but with this new data we decided that it needed to be a top priority for our Painting team.

  • Multilingual Gecko in 2017

    In January 2017, we set the course to get a new localization framework named Fluent into Firefox.

    Below is a story of the work performed on the Firefox engine – Gecko – over the last year to make Fluent in Firefox possible. This has been a collaborative effort involving a lot of people from different teams. It’s impossible to document all the work, so keep in mind that the following is just the story of the Gecko refactor, while many other critical pieces were being tackled outside of that range.

    Also, the nature of the project does make the following blog post long, text heavy and light on pictures. I apologize for that and hope that the value of the content will offset this inconvenience and make it worth reading.

Mozilla: AMO, Socorro, Rust and Alliance for Open Media

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  • New Contribution Opportunity: Content Review for

    For over a dozen years, extension developers have volunteered their time and skills to review extensions submitted to (AMO). While they primarily focused on ensuring that an extension’s code adhered to Mozilla’s add-on policies, they also moderated the content of the listings themselves, like titles, descriptions, and user reviews.

    To help add-on reviewers focus on the technical aspects of extension review and expand contribution opportunities to non-technical volunteers, we are creating a new volunteer program for reviewing listing content.

  • Socorro in 2017

    Socorro is the crash ingestion pipeline for Mozilla's products like Firefox. When Firefox crashes, the Breakpad crash reporter asks the user if the user would like to send a crash report. If the user answers "yes!", then the Breakpad crash reporter collects data related to the crash, generates a crash report, and submits that crash report as an HTTP POST to Socorro. Socorro saves the crash report, processes it, and provides an interface for aggregating, searching, and looking at crash reports.

  • Rust 2018

    I want 2018 to be boring. I don't want it to be slow, I want lots of work to happen, but I want it to be 'boring' work. We got lots of big new things in 2017 and it felt like a really exciting year (new language features, new tools, new libraries, whole new ways of programming (!), new books, new teams, etc.). That is great and really pushed Rust forward, but I feel we've accumulated a lot of technical and social debt along the way. I would like 2018 to be a year of consolidation on 2017's gains, of paying down technical debt, and polishing new things into great things. More generally, we could think of a tick-tock cadence to Rust's evolution - 2015 and 2017 were years with lots of big, new things, 2016 and 2018 should be consolidation years.

  • A proof-of-concept GraphQL server framework for Rust

    Recently, I've been working a new project, a framework for GraphQL server implementations in Rust. It's still very much at the proof of concept stage, but it is complete enough that I want to show it to the world. The main restriction is that it only works with a small subset of the GraphQL language. As far as I'm aware, it's the only framework which can provide an 'end to end' implementation of GraphQL in Rust (i.e., it handles IDL parsing, generates Rust code from IDL, and parses, validates, and executes queries).

    The framework provides a seamless GraphQL interface for Rust servers. It is type-safe, ergonomic, very low boilerplate, and customisable. It has potential to be very fast. I believe that it can be one of the best experiences for GraphQL development in any language, as well as one of the fastest implementations (in part, because it seems to me that Rust and GraphQL are a great fit).

  • The Fight For Patent-Unencumbered Media Codecs Is Nearly Won

    Apple joining the Alliance for Open Media is a really big deal. Now all the most powerful tech companies — Google, Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla, Facebook, Amazon, Intel, AMD, ARM, Nvidia — plus content providers like Netflix and Hulu are on board. I guess there's still no guarantee Apple products will support AV1, but it would seem pointless for Apple to join AOM if they're not going to use it: apparently AOM membership obliges Apple to provide a royalty-free license to any "essential patents" it holds for AV1 usage.

Chrome and Mozilla (Robert O'Callahan Unlocks Secrets)

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  • Robert O'Callahan: Ancient Browser-Wars History: MD5-Hashed Posts Declassified

    Another lesson: in 2007-2008 I was overly focused on toppling IE (and Flash and WPF), and thought having all the open-source browsers sharing a single engine implementation wouldn't be a big problem for the Web. I've changed my mind completely; the more code engines share, the more de facto standardization of bugs we would see, so having genuinely separate implementations is very important.

    I'm very grateful to Brendan and others for disregarding my opinions and not letting me lead Mozilla down the wrong path. It would have been a disaster for everyone.

    To let off steam, and leave a paper trail for the future, I wrote four blog posts during 2007-2008 describing some of my thoughts, and published their MD5 hashes. The aftermath of the successful Firefox 57 release seems like an appropriate time to harmlessly declassify those posts. Please keep in mind that my opinions have changed.

  • On Keeping Secrets

    Once upon a time I was at a dinner at a computer science conference. At that time the existence of Chrome was a deeply guarded secret; I knew of it, but I was sworn to secrecy. Out of the blue, one of my dinner companions turned to me and asked "is Google working on a browser?"


    One thing I really enjoyed about working at Mozilla was that we didn't have many secrets to keep. Most of the secrets I had to protect were about other companies. Minimizing one's secrecy burden generally seems like a good idea, although I can't eliminate it because it's often helpful to other people for them to be able to share secrets with me in confidence.

  • Chrome is turning into the new Internet Explorer 6


    Chrome, in other words, is being used in the same way that Internet Explorer 6 was back in the day — with web developers primarily optimizing for Chrome and tweaking for rivals later. To understand how we even got to this stage, here’s a little (a lot) of browser history. If you want to know why saying "Chrome is the new Internet Explorer 6" is so damning, you have to know why IE6 was a damnable problem in the early ‘00s.

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Games Leftovers

  • Atari reboots Ataribox as Atari VCS, teases April pre-order date
    Legendary game company Atari set retro hearts aflutter last year when it launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for something called the Ataribox, a living room device running Linux and supposedly combining the features of a PC with a video game console -- complete with some Atari classic games. But the December 14 pre-order date Atari set was abruptly canceled after an unspecified technical issue, and it looked like the Ataribox would never reach any actual customers. This week, however, the company has emerged at the Game Developers Conference with some very similar hardware, albeit with a new name.
  • The Rocket League 'Spring Fever' event is live promising lots of flower power
    Ready to earn some more cosmetic items? The Spring Fever event in Rocket League [Steam] is now live and you can earn yourself some new items using Flowers you earn while playing like this:
  • Epic Games releases the assets from Paragon, for Unreal Engine developers
    In a move that's both surprising and rather welcome, Epic Games has decided to release the assets from their FPS MOBA Paragon for Unreal Engine developers, since they're shutting it down. This will include 20 AAA-quality characters, with their respective skins, animations, VFX and dialogue, along with over 1,500 environment components from Paragon. Here's where it's a bit insane, this all cost Epic Games around $12 million! It's pretty insane how much it costs to make AAA-like games now—eye watering.
  • Game engine Construct 3 adds a remote preview, new runtime is coming to improve game performance
    I'm a huge fan of drag and drop creation tools like Construct 3 [Official Site], that allow you to create games by building simple events sheets and it seems they've continued making Construct 3 more awesome to use.
  • Open-source re-implementation of RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 'OpenRCT2' has a fresh update
    Miss the days of playing RollerCoaster Tycoon 2? Miss them no more, as OpenRCT2 [GitHub, Official Site] is alive and well with a fresh update. Like many open source game engines, it allows you to play RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 on systems not designed for it—like Linux. Naturally, it comes with tons of improvements like user interface theming, fast-forwarding gameplay, multiplayer and so on.
  • Zombasite - Orc Schism, the expansion to the action RPG is out adding more content
    Here's one I sadly missed, released back in December (oh my!), Zombasite - Orc Schism [Steam, GOG] is an expansion to the dynamic zombie apocalypse action RPG.

GNOME: GitLab Migration and More

  • IMPORTANT: GitLab mass migration plan
    I know some fellows doesn’t read desktop-devel-list, so let me share here an email that it’s important for all to read: We have put in place the plan for the mass migration to GitLab and the steps maintainers needs to do.
  • ED Update – week 11
  • Reflections on Distractions in Work, Productivity and Time Usage
    For the past year or so I have mostly worked at home or remote in my daily life. Currently I’m engaged in my master thesis and need to manage my daily time and energy to work on it. It is no surprise to many of us that working using your internet-connected personal computer at home can make you prone to many distractions. However, managing your own time is not just about whipping and self-discipline. It is about setting yourself up in a structure which rewards you for hard work and gives your mind the breaks it needs. Based on reflections and experimentation with many scheduling systems and tools I finally felt I have achieved a set of principles I really like and that’s what I’ll be sharing with you today. [...] Minimizing shell notifications: While I don’t have the same big hammer to “block access to my e-mail” here, I decided to change the order of my e-mail inboxes in Geary so my more relevant (and far less activity prone) student e-mail inbox appears first. I also turned off the background e-mail daemon and turned off notification banners in GNOME Shell. [...] Lastly, I want to give two additional tips. If you like listening to music while working, consider whether it might affect your productivity. For example, I found music with vocals to be distracting me if I try to immerse myself in reading difficult litterature. I can really recommend Doctor Turtle’s acoustic instrumental music while working though (all free). Secondly, I find that different types of tasks requires different postures. For abstract, high-level or vaguely formulated tasks (fx formulating goals, reviewing something or reflecting), I find interacting with the computer whilst standing up and walking around to really help gather my thoughts. On the other hand with practical tasks or tasks which require immersion (fx programming tasks), I find sitting down to be much more comfortable.

OSS, Openwashing and FUD

Open Data (OD) for Research of Shootings