Happy Birthday, Mozilla

Mozilla is 20 today. Most of what can be said about that has been ably said by others, some of whom have been involved for even longer than the 18 years I managed. Asa and I started at roughly the same time, but at least Mitchell, Myk and dmose have been around longer and are still involved. (Apologies if I’ve forgotten someone.)

As most of you know, I probably won’t be around to see much more of it, but (this will seem trite if it’s not to seem big-headed!) Mozilla is much more than one or even a few people. There will always be a Mozilla as long as there is an Internet and people who care about people on it. In that vein, let me also say that I’m absolutely delighted with the final outcome of the worldview project. The four items in the addendum to the Manifesto are admirable goals to aim for, and ones I endorse wholeheartedly.

Going Home

I’m going home.

As some of my readers will know, my cancer (read that link if the fact I have cancer is new to you) has been causing difficulty in my liver this year, and recently we had a meeting with my consultant to plot a way forward. He said that recent scans had shown an increased growth rate of some tumours (including the liver one), and that has overwhelmed my body’s ability to cope with the changes cancer brings. The last two months have seen various new symptoms and a reasonably rapid decline in my general health. The next two months will be more of the same unless something is done.

After some unsuccessful procedures on my liver over the course of this year, the last option is radiotherapy to try and shrink the problem tumour; we are investigating that this week. But even if that succeeds, the improvement will be relatively short-lived – perhaps 3-6 months – as the regrowth rate will be faster. If radiotherapy is not feasible or doesn’t work, the timelines are rather shorter than that. My death is not imminent, but either way I am unlikely to see out 2018. In all this, my wife, my children and I are confident that God is in charge and his purposes are good, and we can trust him and not be afraid of what is coming. We don’t know what the future holds for each of us, but he does.

We’ve taken this news as a sign to make some significant changes. The most relevant to readers of this blog is that I am stepping away from Mozilla so I can spend more time focussed on the most important things – my relationships with Jesus, and with my family. I love my work, and God has blessed my time at Mozilla and enabled me to do much which I think have been good for the Internet and the world. However, there are things in life which are much more important, and it’s now time for others to take up those projects and causes and carry them into the future. I have every confidence in my colleagues and fellow Mozillians that this will be done with the greatest care and skill. The CA program, MOSS, and Mozilla’s policy work are all in very good hands.

If you pray, please pray that we would make wise decisions about what to do when, and that we would live through this process in a way that brings glory to Jesus.

In case it’s of interest, we have set up a read-only mailing list which people can join to keep informed about what is going on, and to hear a bit about how we are handling this and what we would like prayer for. You can subscribe to the list using that link, if you have a Google account. If you don’t you can still join by emailing lightandmomentary+subscribe@googlegroups.com.

“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” — 2 Cor 4:16-18.

If I have done anything good in 18 years at Mozilla, may God get all the glory.

Turns Out, Custom T-Shirts Are Cheap

The final party at the recent Mozilla All Hands, organized by the ever-awesome Brianna Mark, had a “Your Favourite Scientist” theme. I’ve always been incredibly impressed by Charles Babbage, the English father of the digital programmable computer. And he was a Christian, as well. However, I didn’t really want to drag formal evening wear all the way to San Francisco.

Instead, I made some PDFs in 30 minutes and had a Babbage-themed t-shirt made up by VistaPrint, for the surprising and very reasonable sum of around £11, with delivery inside a week. I had no idea one-off custom t-shirts were so cheap. I must think of other uses for this information. Anyway, here’s the front:

and the back:

The diagram is, of course, part of his original plans for his Difference Engline. Terrible joke, but there you go. The font is Tangerine. Sadly, the theme was not as popular as the Steampunk one we did a couple of All Hands ago, and there weren’t that many people in costume. And the Academy of Sciences was cold enough that I had my hoodie on most of the time…

My Addons (2)

My last post on this topic aroused some interest. Here’s the current status of my addons, according to my research.

Name

u

Legacy?

No-e10s?

Solution

Adblock Plus

Y

N

They seem to be working on it. Install from here but you need to disable addon signing.

Bookmarklets Context Menu

N

N

Works

Cleanest Addon
Manager

Y

N

Emailed author, but port very unlikely to be possible due to lack of API to alter chrome

HTTPS
Everywhere

Y

N

They seem to be working on it

JSONView

Y

N

Enable Firefox’s built-in JSON viewer

Mailman-admin-helper

N

N

Works


Qotter Copy & Show

N

N

Works

Send to
Kodi

Y

N

Bug filed, author says he’s planning to do it, but no progress; port should be possible


Vidyo Replay Download

N

N

Works

Wayback Machine

N

N

Works

1-Click YouTube Video
Downloader

Y

Y

Switch to YouTube Video and Audio Downloader

About
Startup

Y

Y

Emailed author: not possible to port to WebExtensions

Activity
Stream

N

N

Works

Advertising Cookie Opt-Out

Y

Y

Replaced by this addon, but that one is still legacy. Asked my Google contact to file a bug.

AutoAuth

Y

Y

Addon has ceased development due to the changes :-(; Chrome option “has a plan for Firefox”.

AutoHiDPI

Y

Y

Bug filed, author will look into it but no progress; port may not be possible due to lack of arbitrary pref API

Expiry
Canary

Y

Y

My addon; I believe it’s not possible to update due to lack of SSL APIs in WebExtensions

geckoprofiler

Y

N

New version available from here

Google
Translator for Firefox

Y

Y

Switch to Google Translator (webextension)

HTTP
Logout

Y

Y

Perhaps some interest; emailed author, who says he has little time

Jidesha

Y

Y

Enables screensharing; not needed since Firefox 52

LinkChecker

Y

Y

Original website gone away; can’t find non-legacy alternative

Live HTTP
Headers

Y

Y

Use Firefox’s dev tools

Mass Password Reset

Y

Y

Abandoned by authors; doesn’t seem like there are password APIs

Min
Vid

N

N

Works

MoCo
Authorizer

Y

Y

Emailed author; seems like some function may be portable but not all

MoCo SSO Tweaks

Y

N

Mozilla is moving away from Okta

No Flash

Y

Y

Bug filed; it may be that the extension is no longer needed

RESTClient

Y

Y

Switch to RESTED

Tab Center

N

N

Works

Test Pilot

N

N

Works

TiddlyWiki for Firefox

Y

Y

Bug filed on e10s work but no progress; porting would be a very big job

UAControl

Y

Y

Switch to User Agent Switcher (revived) and Custom UserAgent String

Ubuntu Modifications

Y

Y

Ignore; doesn’t do anything useful

User Agent Switcher

Y

Y

Switch to User Agent Switcher (revived) and Custom UserAgent String

User Agent JS Fixer

Y

Y

Switch to User Agent Switcher (revived) and Custom UserAgent String

YouTube Downloader – 4K Download

Y

Y

Switch to YouTube Video and Audio Downloader

So the situation is not terrible, but it’s not awesome either. Several useful extensions, particularly those that modify the chrome or the browser behaviour, or which tweak prefs, are simply not replaceable in the new world.

My Addons

Firefox Nightly (will be 56) already no longer supports addons which are not multiprocess-compatible. And Firefox 57 will not support “Legacy” addons – those which use XUL, XPCOM or the Addons SDK. I just started using Nightly instead of Aurora as my main browser, at Mark Mayo’s request :-), and this is what I found (after doing “Update Addons”):

  • Addons installed: 37
  • Non-multiprocess-compatible addons (may also be marked Legacy): 21 (57%)
  • Legacy addons: 5 (14%)
  • Addons which will work in 57, if nothing changes: 11 (29%)

Useful addons which no longer work as of now are: 1-Click YouTube Video Downloader, Advertising Cookie Opt-Out, AutoAuth, Expiry Canary (OK, I wrote that one, that’s my fault), Google Translator, Live HTTP Headers, Mass Password Reset, RESTClient, and User Agent Switcher.

Useful addons which will also no longer work in 57 (if nothing changes) include: Adblock Plus, HTTPS Everywhere, JSONView, and Send to Kodi.

I’m sure Adblock Plus is being updated, because it would be sheer madness if we went ahead and it was not being. As for the rest – who knows? There doesn’t seem to be a way of finding out other than researching each one individually.

In the Firefox (I think it was) Town Hall, there was a question asked about addons and whether we felt that we were in a good place in terms of people not having a bad experience with their addons stopping working. The answer came back that we were. I fully admit I may not be a typical user, but it seems like this will not be my experience… :-(

Root Store Policy 2.5 Published

Version 2.5 of Mozilla’s Root Store Policy has now been published. This document incorporates by reference the Common CCADB Policy 1.0.1.

With this update, we have mostly worked through the backlog of modernization proposals, and I’d call this a policy fit for a transparent, openly-run root program in 2017. That doesn’t mean that there’s not more that could be done, but we’ve come a long way from policy 2.2, which we were using until six months ago, and which hadn’t been substantively updated since 2012.

We also hope that, very soon, more root store operators will join the CCADB, which will reduce everyone’s costs and administrative burdens on all sides, and hopefully allow root programs to be more responsive to changing circumstances and requests for inclusion or change.

Caddy Webserver and MOSS

The team behind the Caddy secure-by-default webserver have written a blog post on their experience with MOSS:

The MOSS program kickstarted a new era for Caddy: turning it from a fairly casual (but promising!) open source project into something that is growing more than we would have hoped otherwise. Caddy is seeing more contributions, community engagement, and development than it ever has before! Our experience with MOSS was positive, and we believe in Mozilla’s mission. If you do too, consider submitting your project to MOSS and help make the Internet a better place.

Always nice to find out one’s work makes a difference. :-)

Thunderbird’s Future Home Decided

Here’s the announcement. Rather than moving to live somewhere else like The Document Foundation or the Software Freedom Conservancy, Thunderbird will stay with the Mozilla Foundation as its fiscal home, but will disentangle itself from Mozilla Corporation infrastructure. As someone who has been helping steward this exploration process, I’m glad to see it come to a successful outcome.

Also in the world of Thunderbird, the community is discussing the future of the product, in the face of significant upcoming changes to the Gecko platform. On the table is a “Thunderbird++” rewrite/transformation using web technologies. Interesting times…

Mozilla CA Policy 2.4 Published

Version 2.4 of Mozilla’s CA Policy has now been published. This document incorporates by reference the Common CCADB Policy 1.0 and the Mozilla CCADB Policy 1.0, two new documents which govern our use of the Common CA Database which we hope several root programs will use to ease the administration burden.

This seems pretty super-geeky, but having clear, current, enforceable policies regarding the CAs and root certificates in our root program is important for us to continue to be open and transparent about how we run it, and to enable us to continue to drive the security of the web (which depends on the certificate system) in a positive direction.

The policy had not changed for a long time before this update, so this update addressed issues which were uncontroversial and/or urgent. The next job is to rearrange it into a more logical order and then, after that, for version 2.5, we will be looking at some of the more difficult and longer-term policy challenges we face in this space. Here’s the issue tracker if you want to get some idea of what those are. :-)