r/linux Discusses: Web Browsers and You – How to protect yourself online and bring about a free and open web


Google, who makes their money from Ads, is planning to remove a key component that allows adblocking to be effective in Google Chrome standard edition. While there will still be adblockers on the Chrome/Blink platform they will not work as well as other platforms or how they did before on Google Chrome. Additionally, Chrome has a majority browser share that they've been using to push the web to suit Googles needs and have hampered their websites on other browsers (see: YouTube polymer problems as one example).

Please continue reading if either of the above statements are important to you.

What Can I do?

The easiest thing you can do for your privacy and the open web is install Firefox, especially if you're a Mac or Windows user visiting r/linux. See further below for non-Firefox options.

Get Firefox

Get Firefox Extensions

Firefox by default is great, but there are more things you can do to help enhance your privacy:

There are further extensions you can do to increase your privacy as well, but by default may break your browsing experience. You may also be interested in this guide from https://www.reddit.com/r/firefox that goes into detail on how to migrate from Chrome to Firefox.

  • Noscript: The most well known javascript blocking plugin with sane defaults. Not recommended to be installed alongside uMatrix.

  • uMatrix – also from uBlock developers, it allows granular control over what javascript runs much like Noscript. Not recommended to be installed alongside NoScript.

  • See even more at this thread on r/privacy.

And what if I don't want to use Mozilla Firefox?

If you disagree with Mozilla Firefox (as an organization) there are forks that by default remove some of the non-free components. Notably there is GNU Icecat ran by the GNU Project. There are also Firefox forks that tend to follow the Firefox Extended Support Release code bases. Palemoon still somewhat does, and Waterfox is almost always based on a Firefox ESR. In particular Windows Intel users should see an improvement with Waterfox. Linux users get less performance benefit over Firefox because your distro package manager version should already be optimized, but that's a decision up to you to determine about your distro's packaging methods. See the different extension links up above to get the plugins installed for these forks as the extensions still work.

What if I don't want to use Firefox/Gecko at all?

If you disagree with Firefox/Mozilla entirely then there are alternative browser engines, which at this point is basically just Blink and Goanna (a fork of Gecko for use in Palemoon browser linked above). Apple users can still use Webkit but that's not available on other platforms, directly anyway. GNOME's Web is based off of WebKit at this time. Mozilla and Samsung's Servo project has had components integrated into Gecko and currently released Firefox versions – I don't believe Servo itself will launch as it's own platform but continued to merge with Firefox Gecko and maybe Samsung Browser. This may change, but Servo standalone is not useful at this time.

There are different Blink (Chromium) based browsers as well, but using them doesn’t help the situation of Blinks dominance as the target supported platform of the web. As of now there is no known fork of the Chromium that won't implement manifest v3, but some Chromium-based forks have stated committment to attempt to find a way to keep the functionality.

There are Linux specific Blink-based browsers such as Falkon and the keyboard-driven qutebrowser.

There’s a notable Blink-based browser called Brave. Brave has some nice default settings right now but their platform is also based around ads, leading us to a similar situation with Chrome. Brave also has an altcoin which causes users to push it in order to get their investment in the altcoin, meaning a lot of the pro-Brave comments you see are in fact astroturfers. That said, currently the default settings still block ads so one can't complain much, but be warned of the future with Brave!

Why was this posted?

Here on r/linux we generally allow popular application discussion. This topic in particular had a number of submissions related to it which we didn't consider on-topic However, we would recommend going to a subreddit like r/BrowserWar if you'd like to continue discussing web browser market share. See also r/privacy for more tips on how to browse the web privately, and see this thread on r/privacy to further de-Google your life.

What if I support content creators / I don't want to block ads.

Things can't exist without funding; it's just that many would disagree with how ads have evolved over time. We would recommend asking content creators how they would like to be supported, either via a funding platform of their choice, or the old fashioned subscription model. If you'd still like to support by allowing ads to be viewed, simply install the default Firefox and go about your day. It's still important that Blink doesn't control how we browse the web!

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