Tag Archives: Firefox


Firefox “Australis” redesign goes stable in version 29

Version 29 of Mozilla’s Firefox web browser went stable on Tuesday, showcasing a new design, deemed “Australis” that has been testing in the Firefox Nightly beta channel since November. Among the most noticeable features of this new design are the curved tabs and the Firefox Menu (similar to Chrome’s “hotdog menu“), which make for a much sleeker look, albeit a look much like its competitor browser, Google Chrome.

The idle tabs are now transparent, allowing for better use of themes, and there are some smart touches, including the absence of a forward button, that is, until you actually go back a page, in which it appears at your disposal. The design principles are in line with what can be seen in Firefox OS, and Mozilla seems to be looking to unify its browser on all form factors.  

The design also streamlines the menu customization, add-on management, and Firefox Sync sign-in. The menu customization is quite handy, and allows you to organize browser buttons and functions on the toolbar, as well as add-ons. The add-on manager is now right in the menu, an improvement over previous releases where the most readily available access was through the Mozilla Firefox Start Page. Firefox Sync works much like the signing in with a Google account on Chrome: all bookmarks, passwords, history, and preferences are synced between devices that have been signed into, whether it be a phone or a computer.

It seems Chrome has the upper hand on this, as it also offers an iOS app and Chromebooks to sync, in addition to the Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux browsers that Firefox offers as well. In terms of technical development, the latest release is also an improvement. The stable version of Firefox now offers WebRTC, a web feature created by Google and Mozilla, supported in Chrome since version 25, but only in Firefox Nightly until now. The protocol enables plugin-free video chat and file sharing between browsers.

The browser also boasts special JavaScript enhancements for plugin free games (plugin free being consistent with Mozilla’s stated goal of an “open web”), Web Audio API implementation, and developer tools for Firefox OS debugging. [youtube id=”bEw7VdZ_CZw”]The release may gain some negative reception due to its uncanny resemblance to Google Chrome, but the latest Firefox has its own feel.

It looks and feels fresh, an may bring momentum to a browser that has been slipping lately in favor of Chrome.

Source: Mozilla


Mozilla updates Firefox Beta for version 29; brings revamped Firefox Sync, customization mode

After releasing Firefox 28, Mozilla has now updated the Firefox Beta for version 29. This has been updated for Linux, Mac, Android and Windows. This is not just a minor update but a massive one. Wondering why? Mozilla has renewed Firefox Sync and is now powered by Firefox Accounts. There is also a new customization mode and a totally revamped Australis is here too.

To get a first hand experience of the Firefox Sync, all you have to do is create an account, which is supported by all major platforms. Mozilla has said that the new features make it even easier to setup and add multiple devices.

For the uninitiated, Accounts and Sync features were introduced just last month. Firefox Accounts allows you to track login credentials for a number of services, bookmarks, history, or even for any open tabs.

Firefox Sync service that allows you to take all your information to another device is far more secure now.

Mozilla has clearly outlined three improvements in this update: Client side key stretching technique guards users against attacks, even when their SSL credentials have been compromised; end-to-end encryption that makes it difficult to access a user’s data even if Mozilla’s servers are compromised; Public key cryptography along with BrowserID protocol that separates authentication, authorization, and data storage servers to bring down the number of servers that handle authentication material.

To know more, have a look at the official release notes.


Five easy-to-use Firefox tips

A web browser is clearly the most important aspect of your online existence. So knowing the right way to go about it is imperative to enrich your overall experience. So if you are using a Firefox browser, we bring you tips to make your Firefox journey worthwhile. Read on…

If you don’t change your password, you are putting everything you do online at risk. If you are scratching your head over this, here’s help. The fun way to do it is by thinking of a phrase or your favourite nursery rhyme and then picking the first letters from there. For example, if we choose ‘Mary had a little lamb’, your password will be ‘mhall’. Now to make it more secure, consider adding some special characters. So we make it ‘#mhall:’. Now to keep separate passwords for your accounts, try this.
Facebook – #mhall:FB
YouTube – #mhall:YT
Gmail – #mhall:G

Pinned tabs
By pinning tabs, you can keep your favourite and most often visited sites just a click away. They come super handy and are easy to create. These tabs are small and cannot be shut down or can even turn on automatically when you open the browser. To create a tab, right click on the tab that you want to pin and then select Pin Tab from the menu.
To remove a Pinned tab, right click on it and choose Unpin Tab from the menu.

Full screen browsing
Getting bored with the normal screen size? You have the option of taking Firefox full screen, that too by following some simple and quick steps. To do so, click the Firefox button and press the Full Screen option. If it shows the Menu Bar, click View and Full Screen. To turn the option off, move the cursor to the top of the screen and right click on an empty section of the Tab Strip. Then you can click Exit Full Screen Mode.

Smart keywords
Do you access some sites quite often? Do you go about entering the complete web address or rely on cookies for some help? Well, you could instead make use of smart keywords. Next time you wish to visit a site, add that smart keyword and you are set to roll.
To create a smart keyword, visit the page of the site, for example, IMDB. Now right click on the search field and click Add a keyword for the search. This will make the Add Bookmark dialog appear. Next you have to enter an appropriate name for the bookmark- like for The Internet Movie Database, use a keyword like imdb. Choose the bookmark folder to contain the smart keyword and press OK. Now to use the smart word, enter the keyword and the search string in the Location bar. Now press Enter.

Do Not Track
While you must have heard about this feature, do you know how exactly it works? Well, the Do Not Track feature in Firefox sends requests to websites on your behalf, letting them know that you do not want your activities to be tracked on their website.

To turn on the Do Not Track feature, click the Firefox button on top of the Firefox window. Now select Options> Privacy Panel and choose Tell sites that I do not want to be tracked. Press OK to shut down the Options window.


Dell justifies charging £16.25 to install Mozilla Firefox

Computer and accessories manufacturer Dell is charging customers ₤16.25 to install free and open source software, Mozilla Firefox. This is quite shocking, as this browser is available free of cost and also its policy dictates not to charge users for its download or installation.

As reported by TheNextWeb, the Mozilla foundation was not aware of this practice by Dell and there has been no agreement between Mozilla and Dell to charge customers for the Firefox browser:

“There is no agreement between Dell and Mozilla which allows Dell or anyone else to charge for installing Firefox using that brand name,” Mozilla’s Vice President and General Counsel Denelle Dixon-Thayer told TNW. “Our trademark policy makes clear that this is not permitted and we are investigating this specific report.”

However, as per the following screenshot, customers do get charged of they opt for the browser while checking out online.


As per Mozilla’s trademark policy:

“If you are using the Mozilla Mark(s) for the unaltered binaries you are distributing, you may not charge for that product. By not charging, we mean the Mozilla product must be without cost and its distribution (whether by download or other media) may not be subject to a fee, or tied to subscribing to or purchasing a service, or the collection of personal information. If you want to sell the product, you may do so, but you must call that product by another name—one unrelated to Mozilla or any of the Mozilla Marks. Remember that we do not want the public to be confused.”

Dell, however clarified that the practice is justified as they are charging for the “service” not the “product”. The service ensures that the customers have a completely running and ready system when they get the product and the user doesn’t need to do any configuration or installation to use the system.


Firefox ads won’t be tracking users

Mozilla created a storm when they announced that they will be using ads to support the world’s most popular web browser. The announcement lead to some confusion among users as it drew comparison with Ubuntu’s Dash search. I have already written about the reasons why Mozilla is taking a U-Turn from it’s previous stand on online advertisement, which upset the entire online advertisement industry. As far as I am concerned there is no privacy or annoying concern that arises from Mozilla’s move. The ads won’t start popping up when you are trying to open a web-page.

Mitchell Baker of the Mozilla Foundation clarifies doubts around Firefox ads. She says that this is not the first time Mozilla has tried to add adverts to Firefox. All such previous attempts were rejected by the community.

She said that they have seen very very negative reaction whenever Mozilla tried to add ‘features’ like bookmarks, tabs etc to the product to generate revenue. So Mozilla is aware of what users will tolerate and what they would not.

She also said that Mozilla resisted offering any content to users, as she believed it made sense initially when the web was young but now people ‘expect’ their software to do things on their behalf. And that’s why she thinks that Mozilla can offer “people useful content in the Tiles.”

Mozilla is already doing something on those lines by offering Google search to generate revenues for the organization. It has not met with any resistance, most users would either way use Google to search content online.  At the same time Mozilla is using Bing in Thunderbird, something that’s not much talked about.

One thing, and that’s the most important thing, is certain that unlike Ubuntu Dash search, Mozilla won’t start tracking user activities to show ads. Baker has made it very very clear, “These sponsored results/ ads would not have tracking features.”

She argues that “If the Tiles are useful to people then we’ll generate value.  That generates revenue that supports the Mozilla project.   So to explicitly address the question of whether we care about generating revenue and sustaining Mozilla’s work, the answer is yes. In fact, many of us feel responsible to do exactly this.”

Mozilla is a huge organization, with huge workforce which need salaries so it’s quite obvious that the organization needs revenues to pay employees and other bills. Mozilla’s case is different from that of Fedora or openSUSE which are sponsored by their respective companies and are community edition of product, here Firefox “is” the product.

But the moment money is talked about people get suspicious. Many raised concern when CyanogenMod took community work and became a company. The good thing is that Mozilla is much more open and trusted, and they have already came out as transparent. Since Baker has once again made it clear that Firefox won’t track users, the way Ubuntu does, there is now zero privacy concern around it.

That said, I trust many users will be upset if Bing becomes the default search engine for Firefox so it’s equally important what kind of content will Mozilla be populating those tiles with. I don’t think many free software users will like it if all 9 times show Windows ads. So, Mozilla will have to be careful with which partners they choose and what kind of content they should in those tiles.


Mozilla will start showing ads in Firefox

Mozilla is in a trickier position than other open source projects like openSUSE, Fedora or KDE which get direct funding from profit making companies like Red Hat or are purely driven by ‘work for free’ community.

Mozilla is a huge organization and is also the world’s leading mobile browser. Mozilla needs money to pay employees and to pay it’s own bills.

They have a multi-year deal with Google where they use Google as the default search engine for their Firefox browser. Last time there were a lot of uncertainties whether Google would renew the deal or not and Microsoft was lurking around to put Bing in the search box. Mozilla’s ThunderBird email client already uses Bing for ThunderBird search and there is a Bing version of Firefox.

What if Google doesn’t renew the deal? What if Microsoft is no more interested in Mozilla? What’s the contingency plan for Mozilla’s survival?


Looks like so.

Mozilla’s Darren Herman calls it Directory Tiles and says that it “is designed to improve the first-time-with-Firefox experience.”

Currently when a new Firefox user opens the browser he is greeted with the empty ‘Directory tiles’ page with no content there. Mozilla is targeting this landing page and will show what they call pre-packaged content for such users. The content which would appear on these tiles range from products from Mozilla ecosystem, popular websites to ‘sponsored’ content – which in other words would be ads. Darren says that ‘sponsored’ content will be clearly marked as such so there is no confusion.

Darren says that Mozilla is “excited about Directory Tiles because it has inherent value to our users, it aligns with our vision of a better Internet through trust and transparency, and it helps Mozilla become more diversified and sustainable as a project. While we have not worked out the entire product roadmap, we are beginning to talk to content partners about the opportunity, and plan to start showing Directory Tiles to new Firefox users as soon as we have the user experience right.”


Don’t blindly trust Open Source, verify it: Mozilla calls for protection from NSA spying

You can’t trust a closed source product period. No matter what companies like Microsoft say, they are fully closed source technologies and hence can have as many backdoor as they want. The entire situation changes with any _fully_ Open Source product or project as the entire source code is available for review. Now the word I used here is _fully_ which means the entire source code of the very instance you have installed on your system.

Unfortunately that’s not true in those where the software is fully open source but it uses a business model which poses similar privacy or data leak threats which closed source systems offers.

The most controversial example can be of Ubuntu’s Dash search where Canonical gathers the keystrokes made by a user in dash. Canonical is making every effort to turn dash into the only gateway to access anything – whether it be an app, your local date, or any web-content through Dash. The more people use dash the more Canonical will know about them.

We never know if GCHQ or NSA has access to this ‘collected’ data as a gag order will prohibit Canonical from disclosing this information.

It’s ironic that GCHQ’s security arm has placed Ubuntu as the ‘most secure OS‘ putting it among other ‘secure’ operating systems such as Windows and Mac.

The last thing I would use would be NSA or GCHQ recommended hardware or Software – for obvious reasons.

The situation is not different for other ‘open source’ products which use non-free components (whether they be drivers, firmware or applications). Google’s Android and Chrome OS are based on Open Source technologies but contain quite a lot of non-free code.

There is one such player in the consumer space which can boast of it’s fully open source product and that’s Mozilla. Not only their products is fully open source, but also they are quite a huge supporter of Open Web and prefer user privacy over their own interest.

Since Mozilla is a US-based organization, it faces the same challenges as anyone else does – suspicion. Mozilla’s CTO Brendan Eich says:

As a result of laws in the US and elsewhere, prudent users must interact with Internet services knowing that despite how much any cloud-service company wants to protect privacy, at the end of the day most big companies must comply with the law. The government can legally access user data in ways that might violate the privacy expectations of law-abiding users. Worse, the government may force service operators to enable surveillance (something that seems to have happened in the Lavabit case).

Worst of all, the government can do all of this without users ever finding out about it, due to gag orders.

As I stated above Mozilla is in a unique position due to their fully open source model, but how do we ensure there is no backdoor in it?

Is there any NSA code in Firefox?

Brendan says:

Trust but verify.

Mozilla is calling for people around the globe to vefiry their code-based.

To ensure that no one can inject undetected surveillance code into Firefox, security researchers and organizations should:

  • regularly audit Mozilla source and verified builds by all effective means;
  • establish automated systems to verify official Mozilla builds from source; and
  • raise an alert if the verified bits differ from official bits.
  • In the best case, we will establish such a verification system at a global scale, with participants from many different geographic regions and political and strategic interests and affiliations.

Security is never “done” — it is a process, not a final rest-state. No silver bullets. All methods have limits. However, open-source auditability cleanly beats the lack of ability to audit source vs. binary.

Through international collaboration of independent entities we can give users the confidence that Firefox cannot be subverted without the world noticing, and offer a browser that verifiably meets users’ privacy expectations.

See bug 885777 to track our work on verifiable builds.

End-to-End Trust

Beyond this first step, can we use such audited browsers as trust anchors, to authenticate fully-audited open-source Internet services? This seems possible in theory. No one has built such a system to our knowledge, but we welcome precedent citations and experience reports, and encourage researchers to collaborate with us.

That’s the stand we want from companies which are using any piece of code which deals with our data. Microsoft or Apple are not going to do that as their entire business is based on closed source software but that’s what any company must do which deals with Open Source.

Just saying that your product is Open Source or uses Open Source technology is not enough, let experts verify it.

If any company wants to be trustworthy in this NSA-GCHQ era, their motto should be – ‘don’t trust us, verify it yourself.


Mozilla organizes Gaming contest for web, desktop and mobile, prizes worth $45,000

Mozilla, the organization behind Firefox browser and operating system, is organizing a contest for creating games. They have teamed up with Goo Technologies for Mozilla and Goo’s Game Creator Challenge to engage ‘budding’ game creators.

Mozilla says that it has “…helped pioneer technology that has set the Web up as a serious platform for distributing and developing games. WebGL, Emscripten, asm.js and Web Audio API are just a few of these technologies that now ensure that the Web offers the best and most complete platform for gaming possible.”

The game contest is aimed at showcasing these powerful technologies at the same time building a loyal gaming community around these technologies.

A participant doesn’t have to be a seasoned game developer, anyone can participate. There are three categories a contestant can choose from:

  • Best Amateur Interactive Game Scene and prize for the top 5 contributions is $1,000 in cash and 5 year access to Goo Create Pro ($2900 value)
  • Best Desktop Game and the prize is a trip for two people to the GDC Conference in San Francisco, scheduled for March 17 – 21, 2014 or to GamesCom in Cologne, August 13-17 (maximum value $10,000) or $5,000 cash, at the winner’s option. 5 year access to Goo Create Pro ($2900 value) along with a guest post on the Mozilla Apps blog.
  • Best Mobile Game and the prize is same as that for the ‘Best Desktop Game’

These contestants will be using Goo platform consisting of Goo Engine – a 3D JavaScript gaming engine entirely built on WebGL/HTML5 – and Goo Create – a visual editing tool running on top of the engine.

The entries will be judged by folks from Angry Birds(Rovio), Mozilla and Goo Technologies and the winners will be announced by January 17th.

Contestants can sign up for the contest here and Mozilla will send them instructions on how to take it from there. Deadline for submitting entries is Tuesday, January 14 at midnight PT.


Third-party cookie-blocking in Firefox delayed again

Mozilla announced its plans to automatically block third-party cookies in its Firefox browser earlier this year. The announcement earned praise from privacy advocates along with the bitter response from the ad industry.

The feature first seemed on track for Firefox 22, which launched in June this year and later for Firefox 23, the edition slated to ship in August. But Mozilla has been postponing the tool for several months now and according to a new report in San Francisco Chronicle, “it’s not clear when it will happen — or if it will at all.”

The report said: “Now that effort is on hold, pushing completion of the project well into next year, The Chronicle has learned. Even then, Mozilla won’t necessarily adopt the feature, an executive said in an interview.”

“That remains to be seen,” Harvey Anderson, senior vice president of business and legal affairs was quoted as saying. “Once that’s out there, I think you still have to compare that against the other systems and ecosystems being proposed.”

As Mozilla explains on its site, third-party cookies are cookies that are set by a website other than the one you are currently on. For example, cnn.com might have a Facebook like button on their site. That like button will set a cookie that can be read by Facebook. That would be considered a third-party cookie.

Some advertisers use these types of cookies to track your visits to the various websites on which they advertise.


10 things to do after installing Kubuntu 13.10

Kubuntu was released yesterday and it comes with the brand new KDE Plasma workspaces and other KDE technologies. Like any other operating system Kubuntu also needs a little bit of work to get it ready for you.

There are a few things which are optional and I have added them here based on my own usage, you may not need them.

#1. Install proprietary drivers

The first thing you need to do is install drivers if you are using proprietary GPU. Kubuntu comes with free software so it will work out of the box, but if you need better and smoother performance than you may want to do it.

Hit Alt+F2 to fire Krunner  and then type Additional Drivers.


Open the tool and it should show the drivers available for your GPU. Go ahead and activate it.


You will need to reboot your system in order for the driver to work.

#2. Install non-free codecs

If you watch online videos or listen to patent incumbent MP3 music you may want to install drives and codecs which are not pre-installed due to licensing and patent issues.

Open Muon Package Manager from Krunner and then search for kubuntu-restricted, it will show two packages, select them and install them. Once installed you should be able to play all video and audio formats.


#3. Install Firefox and Chrome browser

Kubuntu comes with a free browser Rekonq, which respects user’s privacy. However if you want to take advantage of Firefox plugins or if you use Chrome Apps then you would want to install these two browsers. While Firefox, Chrome is based on open source Chromium project.

Firefox and Chromium are available in the official repositories of Kubuntu so you can install them by searching in the Muon Package Manger. However, if you want to install Google Chrome, go to this link and download the appropriate version (32 or 64 bit .deb) and the click on it to install it just like you would install .exe files on Windows.

#4. Install VLC

VLC is more or less like Swiss Knife when it comes to play videos. It supports virtually ever video format available out there. VLC is also available in the repositories (aka repos) so you can easily install it from Muon Package Manager. Once VLC is installed, you won’t have to worry about playing videos on Kubuntu.

#5. Install more fonts

Kubuntu come with a decent set of fonts. However if you want you can increase your font collections – for free. Google has made available its Web fonts for free. If you want only a few of Google fonts then you can download them manually from here. But if you want to grab the entire collection, go ahead and open Konsole (terminal for KDE):

First you need to install Mercurial by running this command:

sudo apt-get install -y mercurial;

Once done, run this command to clone the font repo on your KDE system:

hg clone https://googlefontdirectory.googlecode.com/hg/ googlefontdirectory;

The command will create googlefontdirectory folder in your home. That’s where all the fonts will be downloaded.

Once the fonts are downloaded you have to install them. Stay in the home directory and hit Alt + . to view hidden folders. If you already installed some fonts manually you will see a folder called .fonts in home; if not then create a folder named ‘.fonts’. Now copy the fonts folder that you downloaded to this folder and all Google fonts will be enabled on the system.