Tag Archives: Mozilla


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


Brendan Eich steps down as CEO of Mozilla

Mozilla was caught in an unwanted controversy when it appointed Brendan Eich as the new CEO. Eich is accused of being an opponent of equal rights for gay couples as he supported Proposition 8 which would ban same-sex marriages in California. Eich just announced that he is stepping down as the CEO of Mozilla Corporation and is also leaving the Mozilla Foundation board.

There was a widespread protest against Eich’s appointment from Mozilla employees as well as pro-gay organizations like OKCupid which called for a boycott of Firefox browser.

Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker said, “Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it. We know why people are hurt and angry, and they are right: it’s because we haven’t stayed true to ourselves.”

Baker said, “Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.”

The wider sentiment within the Open Source community was the Eich should continue as CEO as long as his personal beliefs don’t effect work at Mozilla. In an interview with CNET, Eich said that he was not going to step down from his position. However looking at the opposition and then protest from OKCupid, Eich chose to keep Mozilla out of any possible controversies.


Mozilla employees want incoming CEO Brendan Eich to step down

In a rather surprising turn of events, a number of Mozilla employees sent out messages on micro blogging site, Twitter, asking incoming CEO of Mozilla Corporation CEO, Brendan Eich to step down.

The chain of posts began with Chris McAvoy, Mozilla Open Badges project lead who first tweeted, “I love @mozilla but I’m disappointed this week. Mozilla stands for openness and empowerment, but is acting in the opposite way.” He was referring to Eich’s decision to donate thousands to both California’s Proposition 8 and political candidates who supported it. For the uninitiated, California’s Propostion 8 is the ballot initiative that sought to ban gay marriage. He followed with another tweet: “I’m an employee of @mozilla and I’m asking @brendaneich to step down as CEO.”

This fuelled more employees, who then started retweeting and posting messages in similar tone. The ones who followed suit included Mozilla Festival curator Chloe Vareldi, partnerships lead John Bevan, designer Jessica Klein, and engagement team member Sydney Moyer, Arstechnica reported.

McAvoy also added that he feels fortunate to work for a company like Mozilla where he can say that without fear of retribution.

Brendan Eich

Mozilla co-founder Brendan Eich is the new CEO

Mozilla board of directors have unanimously announced that Brendan Eich, co-founder and CTO of the company will be appointed as the CEO of Mozilla with immediate action. Acting CEO, Jay Sullivan will be leaving the company to pursue new opportunities once the transition period is complete.

The new CEO said, “I would first like to thank Jay Sullivan for his contributions to Mozilla and to the Web. He has been a passionate force at Mozilla whose leadership, especially during the last year, has been important to our success, in particular with Firefox OS. Thank you, Jay! I am honored to have the role of leading Mozilla, as we look forward to our audacious goals across all of our products and the project as a whole.”

Simultaneously, Li Gong will be appointed as the Chief Operating Officer. A host of functions will be moved under him including Cloud Services, IT, Marketplace, Mobile & Research, and Platform Engineering. Mitchell Baker will remain Mozilla Executive Chairwoman.

Eich has deep expertise in both the technical and product sides of the organization, as well as the Web in general. Commenting on the new development, Reid Hoffman, Mozilla Board Member said, “Mozilla speaks for the open Web, where consumers and developers alike can prosper and express themselves free from the constraints imposed by commercial, profit-driven technologies. Mozilla’s organization and Firefox products help keep the Web balanced to every individual’s interests, and not just for the highest profit. Brendan Eich, as a founder and a well-respected innovator of Web technologies, is uniquely equipped to lead Mozilla with his deep understanding of the organization’s core values and technology vision.”

Source: The Mozilla Blog


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.


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.

Mozilla aims to do a $25 smartphone

Mozilla is all set to invade the entry level smartphone market with its brand new web-based platform, the Firefox OS. At the MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2014, they have announced that they might come up with a smartphone priced at 25 US dollars!

After a series of developer targeted devices, Mozilla aims to make its entry into the consumer market. To achieve this, they have partnered with a Chinese chip maker Spreadtrum, renowned for its inexpensive hardware, to design low end phones. They claim that with this partnership, they might be able to reduce the cost drastically, to something as low as $25.

The specs of this phone stand at 1 GHz Cortex-A5 ssingle core CPU, 1 GB RAM and 2 GB storage. While this might not sound like much, it is enough to run Firefox OS, since most of its apps are cloud-based and do not require much power at the client side.

Till now, the cheapest smartphone was the ZTE Open, also running Firefox OS, at $80. The new Spreadtrum SC8621 cuts that down to a third.

This is good news, especially for the emerging markets, because it would enable a lot of people in developing countries to own their first smartphone and ease their access to the Web.


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.”


Mozilla introduces Firefox Accounts

Taking the next step into the world of online services, the Mozilla Foundation has announced the launch of Firefox Accounts. In other words, Firefox now moves closer to offering what Google’s Chrome has delivered for years.

Mozilla’s Mark Mayo said in a blog post, “While we’ve worked to offer services that deliver value and put users and developers in control of their Web experiences, we’ve never had a simple way for you to sign up and sign in to access these integrated services across our products.”

With Firefox Accounts, users are provided with an easy way to create an account that enables them to sign in and take their Firefox with them anywhere.

“With Firefox Accounts, we can better integrate services into your Web experience, like the new Firefox Syn,” the post added.

Firefox Sync lets you browse data like passwords, bookmarks, history, and open tabs across several computers. But users find it clunky as it requires them to pair each new device by first generating a code on one machine and then entering it into another.

The new version does away with that as it is now “even easier to setup the service and add multiple devices, while still delivering the same browser-based encryption.”

The new version of Firefox Aurora lets you test the experimental new Firefox Accounts and Firefox Sync, the post said.


$300,000 Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund launched

Mozilla has announced the launch of the $300,000 Gigabit Community Fund with an aim to support the development of open source applications for gigabit networks.

Launched in partnership with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and US Ignite, the fund promises to help transform Chattanooga and Kansas City into “living laboratories” for experimentation and development of public benefit uses for gigabit technologies.

As mentioned in a post on the Mozilla Blog, the company plans to establish Hive Learning Communities in Chattanooga and Kansas City, similar to its Hive Learning Networks in NYC, Chicago, Toronto and Pittsburgh, where organizations collaborate around shared goals in digital learning and making, and economic opportunities.

As planned by the company, two, 12-week pilot periods will run in each city under which up to 10 projects will receive awards between $5,000 and $30,000.

“Gigabit networks have the potential to change how we live, work, learn and interact on the web, much like the switch from dial-up to broadband did,” says Mark Surman, executive director of Mozilla. “The educators, developers, students and other inventive thinkers in these leading gigabit economies have a unique opportunity to help shape the web of the future, in ways that can help us all know more, do more and do better.”