Mozilla has made too many mistakes. It all started with putting tabs on top and getting rid of the status bar in Firefox 4. It wasn’t much of a big deal back then because the functionality could be brought back with an option and a recommended add-on, respectively. Things all changed when Mozilla announced that a new look, called Australis, had landed in Firefox Nightly.
Even though Mozilla denies it, it seems quite obvious that they’ve been heavily influenced by Google Chrome. Customization is highly restricted compared to the previous interface, and many features have been removed to make the browser slightly more restrictive. Considering I have numerous add-ons enabled (more than 65) to make my browser look and act like Firefox 2 to a large extent, Australis is unacceptable. Just so I wouldn’t be putting it down without trying it, I installed Firefox Nightly and tried it out; even after installing Classic Theme Restorer, it made me cry.
Since then, I’ve had more motivation to migrate to another browser. I knew it was going to be tough, because nothing else compares to Firefox, especially in customizability. I had previously tried looking for another browser when Mozilla announced Firefox was switching to the RapidRelease scheme (yet another thing inspired by Chrome. I hate to say it, but IE is the only major browser to have legitimately reached a two-digit version number). Thankfully, Mozilla decided to create an ESR (Extended Support Release) channel for large organizations who want something that doesn’t change too drastically too often. Until Firefox 10, I was still using v3.6; I switched to the ESR channel with Firefox 17, and had been using Firefox 24 ESR when Fx17 ESR was no longer supported.
Being on the ESR channel meant that I wouldn’t be hit with Australis until support for Fx24 ESR ends on October 14, 2014, but I knew that I would only have until then to find another browser.
Back in my previous search, I tried out SeaMonkey, the official fork of the Mozilla Application Suite, ancestor to Firefox and Thunderbird. This was my first choice for an alternate browser because I would be going back to Firefox’s roots, with the interface of “the good-ol’ days” but with the modern page-rendering advantages. Before Firefox, I actually used the Mozilla Application Suite. In addition, using SeaMonkey would allow me to stop using Thunderbird because it has an integrated mail client (hence “Application Suite”; Firefox and Thunderbird are the result of separating the suite into its components). Unfortunately, many of the add-ons which gave me functionality that I had become accustomed to would not install in SeaMonkey without doing a little hacking in the add-ons’ manifest files, and I was not willing to do that, especially since I would have to do it for many of my add-ons, and possibly every time the add-ons would update.
One of the browsers that I came across early in my search was Lunascape. It had many appealing features, including the ability to switch rendering engines (Trident, Gecko and WebKit) on the fly. Lunascape also supports addons from both Internet Explorer and Firefox. Unfortunately, I found it to be a little clunky to use, and it would crash every so often. Furthermore, to my knowledge, it’s proprietary freeware and not available for Linux (running under Wine is out of the question). Lunascape was not what I was looking for.
Over and over, I kept hearing of recommendations for Pale Moon. Pale Moon started off as a bit of an optimized build of Firefox for Windows, including a 64-bit version which Mozilla does not offer, plus with good features retained which were removed by Mozilla. Eventually, it considered itself a fork and went on its own way. It seemed highly suitable, especially since all the reviews I’ve read about it all praised it. I would have loved to switch, but there was one thing that held me back: it was only available for Windows. I disappointingly discounted it as an option.
Earlier in May, an article on gHacks caught my eye: “Pale Moon author confirms that browser will not ship with EME, ads or Australis”. Highly appealing, indeed. Keeping the thought in mind that it was only available for Windows, I read on.
The article surprised me: it said “[Pale Moon] is available [...] for Linux.” Considering that Pale Moon was optimized for Windows, I did not expect to hear about a Linux version. Even thought it was on gHacks, I still had some doubt, so I went over to the Pale Moon website, and sure enough, there was a Linux version.
Apparently, the first Linux version appeared late January, early February. Having been a few months, I was sure that someone would have submitted it to the Arch User Repository, and indeed, someone did. I installed it and copied my Firefox profile.
Even on my first run, I was very pleased with it. V. T. Eric Layton’s first experience with Pale Moon more or less sums up my first experience: almost seamless, and it appeared to be less resource-intensive. I had planned to transition from Firefox to Pale Moon within two weeks; I switched over completely in three days.
Even better, I was able to get rid of some of the add-ons that I used to restore all that lost functionality because they are retained in Pale Moon.
All in all, I’m very pleased with Pale Moon, and I highly recommend it. Something that would make me want to recommend it even more is if it had a Mac OS X version. I’m sure that someone will make a build by October when the next ESR version is released, but then again, the new Firefox fits right in with the Mac look and paradigm anyway.
Just to be fair to Australis, I tried customizing it for a bit. Thankfully, my Firefox 2 theme and Status-4-Evar are now Australis-compatible, so some of the most jarring elements of Australis were fixed. After that, I figured it would be a waste of my time and effort to go any further.
I’m sorry, Mozilla. Firefox has served me well, but it’s time to admire the pale moon’s light.
- Pale Moon
- Mozilla Firefox ESR
- Pale Moon Browser – a Review [Nocturnal Slacker v1.0]
- Firefox, fired fox! Switching to Pale Moon [sqwabb]
- Express your individuality, but within these confines [Motho ke motho ka botho]
- Firefox 2, the theme, reloaded [AMO]
- Status-4-Evar [AMO]
- Classic Theme Restorer [AMO]
- Prepare yourself: Australis landing on Firefox Nightly on Monday [gHacks]
- Mozilla finalizes proposal for changes to Firefox’s customization options [gHacks]