Free Fall

This isn't really news, but Mozilla is in free fall.

A somewhat summation of the situation goes like this.

Though Mozilla is a non-profit foundation, executive salaries rival that of for-profit big tech companies (Apple, Google). While most of the funding does come from large corporate sponsors (such as Google, via Search placement), it makes it hard to justify asking individual users to prop up overpaid execs.

It wouldn't be nearly as bad if those execs were doing/building productive things, but we've seen several off-brand projects and attempts to monetize various online services - services that no one really asked for or needed.

Ergo, Mozilla has both too many resources, and too few resources to compete, and is in free fall. While no one wants to see another browser engine succumb to Chromium, there's a lot of valid apathy surrounding the situation.

What to do

Firefox seems to be getting buggier for me. This is a very open-ended, dense thing to say, but overall it's true, and it's frustrating.

While there's certain aspects I still like and appreciate - particularly the plugins available (uBlock Origin), it's such a laggy drain of system resources that I don't like to keep it open for all that long.

I have never really liked Chrome. There's something that's off-putting about its visual chrome and I don't know what else to say other than I just don't like it. My distaste was further cemented in when Loren Brichter discovered that Chrome is bad.

Look I don't care what or why the Chrome updater works the way it does. I don't. Makes performance worse, even when the app isn't open? Non-stater. Will not install on my system. And FWIW, my machine's performance did improve after I removed all trace of Chrome.

I'm migrating myself back to Safari.

Safari is not without its problems, but there's one key difference that makes Safari more bankable - it's development is propped up by the iPhone and iPad, of which Mozilla/Firefox simply can't compete.

I feel more strongly that Safari will survive well into the future because it's so crucial for Apple, and the integrations are becoming too nice: iCloud tabs, Passkey, Private Relay, etc.


Some particular points I have noticed with this experiment.

  • Safari uses less resources, in general.
  • BitWarden plugin uses a TON of resources inside of Safari. It just creeps up, and soon you're looking at 1.5 GB of RAM being used by that plugin.
  • Ad block plugin options aren't as good - I use Wipr instead of uBlock origin (which is no longer available for Safari).
  • Less browser chrome takes up less screen real estate.
  • Tab groups are nice.

That the BitWarden plugin takes up so much RAM between browser restarts is a problem for me. I like BitWarden, but I can't stand the RAM usage. My solution has been to migrate key/critical passwords back to iCloud Keychain.

And while iCloud Keychain lacks the feature set that BitWarden does, it's still usable and efficient, and will only get better with the upcoming Safari authn/Passkeys feature. While I'll take a pass on FaceID, being able to log into websites using TouchID on a MacBook is so, so nice.

I am very much looking forward to using Passkeys when Ventura launches, though you can kind of get a taste of this now if you enable biometric login for eBay.

Things Safari Could Do Better

I don't have a ton to say here, but Safari is not the best to actively develop in, from experience. Actually these two things are the things that pushed me away from Safari to begin with, and what I'll still use Firefox for.

Live/hot reloading of webpages.

Particularly those being run by npm, doesn't seem to work too well.

Stuck Caching

Sometimes it seems like Safari will cache build assets a little too aggressively and leave you pulling your hair out over trivial issues. I can't recall if I had developer tools open, with caching disabled, but this had happened to me more than once.

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