I was a FireFox user for a long time. For years, its layout and rich extension community meant I could get it to work exactly “just so” for my needs. I had it laid out with the standard Windows Menu bar at the top.. the toolbar with URL bar next down but searching from the URL bar was disabled and there was an explicit search bar next to it so I never accidentally searched when I meant to type in a direct URL. It had my script and ad-blocking tools there too… then below that a marvelous tab bar with up to 3 rows of tabs and buttons to Close all tabs and new tab right there then the main browser window and a status bar at the bottom so when I hovered over a link I could sanity check before clicking.
All was good from FireFox 4 to version 28.
Then, DISASTER: everything changed.
Firefox for whatever reason (I assume because Google Chrome was beating them numbers wise) they completely redesigned their UI to look/act more like Google Chrome. They ditched the separate search bar, they moved where the address bar was in relation to tabs, they ditched the status bar…
In short, they made it look/feel just like Chrome which I was EXPLICITLY NOT USING BECAUSE I DIDN’T LIKE IT!
I was able to dig around and found that there was an official FireFox branch meant for enterprise/extended support, called ESR (Extended Support Release) where they would keep around an older build (I think roughly v26 was the last pre-Chromification .. and continue to support it for a couple years. This was what I did.. because .. UGH CHANGE!
As that clock was ticking down a project called PaleMoon came to my attention. Apparently I was not the only person who thought that the change in direction to “be more like Google Chrome” was a bad idea. They “forked” Chrome at v28 and started building/maintaining their own (FireFox is Open Source so this is totally fine) Every time FF would come out with security updates, they’d port in the updates but leave out the changes that related to the updated interface.
This was great – FireFox kept making it more like Chrome and PaleMoon kept just making it work like it always did.
Then, on November 14m, 2017, FireFox upturned the apple cart.. they released “Quantum” which entirely killed NPAPI plugin architecture. This is a fairly involved, geeky subject I’ll not delve into except to say that even though I was happily on PaleMoon, this was a problem for me. You see, PaleMoon was able to just use the same plugins as FireFox. Even with PaleMoon forked nicely there were customizations I used certain Extensions for. Those extension authors never heard of PaleMoon but they didn’t need to .. it “just worked” for us PaleMoon types.
However, with Quantum, FireFox utterly changed everything and every plugin author needed to make new ones. Some just /RageQuit and others dutifully replaced their old extensions with the new ones.. but that left PaleMoon users stuck – because very few if any extension authors continued to make updates/fixes/security patches for PaleMoon. Soon, the whole architecture of PaleMoon needed to be redesigned as it could not use Mozilla plugins site anymore. PaleMoon had a few dedicated extension devs who did maintain their extensions for that fork.. but over time, it got fewer and fewer.
However, what really did me in: Facebook (surprise)
I’ve been used to dealing with little issues on and off in lots of sites as I use heavy script and ad blocking.. but I’ve always mostly been able to work out how to adjust settings so I get minimally annoyed, but usually, I can get things working.
So, I am stuck with not being able to use PaleMoon on the social site I use to keep up with my friends… I finally got upset enough that I installed FireFox so I could use it to get around a couple of the nastier glitches.. like one where I can’t post new posts to my timeline (but can to groups and other feeds .. just my own timeline)
And then I set about seeing if extension devs had come up with enough extensions to force some of the more egregious Chrome-Isms in FireFox to behave.
I’ve been digging a while but I think I managed to find all of the things I need between Extensions that finally updated and some hidden about:config options and some (ironically named) tweaks to userChrome.css
I’ve made a new note ( HOWTO: Tame FireFox Quantum so it Stops Trying to be Google Chrome ) with the details of what I did / do so anyone interested in fixing some of the deficiencies I’ve seen in FireFox can play along.
Ultimately, I recognize that most of this is my own “Aspie Brain” not coping well with change. But honestly, I’m mostly OK with change when there’s a need for it.. I HATE “change for change’s sake” and certain UI design decisions really feel like that.. and it really throws me for a loop some days.