The new Firefox ESR release has hit my desktop this week. Debian stable is stable; except for Firefox. Firefox ESR releases last only for about one year. Debian release cycle is typically about two years so in order to keep up with security fixes, Debian stable has to switch to a new major Firefox version once a year. That means replacing old bugs with new ones in Firefox more often than in the rest of the system.
This time, color management has stopped working for me after the update. The only way I’ve found to avoid green faces and/or completely false colors at some places was to disable color management completely. (Yes, using those cryptic undocumented numeric values in
about:config.) I don’t know what’s wrong, the rest of my system hasn’t changed and all the other color management capable applications work normally. There are reports about color management bugs in Firefox 77 and later (the ESR version is 78). It’s not a critical problem, I can use a different browser when I need to see accurate colors, but it’s still annoying. But what is worse, such a kind of regression indicates that there is something wrong with Firefox development.
Firefox is dying and IMHO one of the reasons is that it stops offering attractive features to its users. Which of the new Firefox features introduced in the last years do you use? I can’t recall any. Which of the old Firefox features removed in the last years do you miss? I can recall several.
Firefox has still some significant advantages over most other web browsers: It can still browse the web, it’s free software and it doesn’t track its users (this may be a bit arguable but there is a clear difference against the most popular web browser). But I’m afraid Firefox won’t survive and we will be able to use only proprietary web browsers in the future, returning to what we had a quarter century ago. There is at least hope we won’t remain just with The Only Mighty Web Browser on GNU/Linux.
Enough is enough and I think it’s time to start looking around. Firefox has already set my web browser UI expectations so low during the time that there is little barrier to start preparing for the future by switching to a different browser. So I’m switching to Brave. Well, who knows how long that web browser survives. But it’s free software, based on a popular code base, led by Brendan Eich, and with an interesting approach to privacy, advertisements and content creators. And yes, color management works in Brave.
The Brave concept is definitely worth to try. Replacing spying advertisements with micropayments should have already been here long time ago and I’m happy we have finally something that starts pushing the very needed change seriously. It’s currently only a half-step IMO because of the use of cryptocurrencies (the concept of money based on wasting electricity is flawed) and requiring me either to accept privacy-respecting advertisements (no, thank you, I’m not interested in advertisements) or to upload my identity card to an internet service (I don’t know why Binance needs it for small exchanges; there is no such need when using real money). So I’m taking also only a half-step now and just switching to Brave and not joining its Rewards program. Hopefully the service will evolve and will allow me to use real money sooner or later to reward content creators.