Would you please share your coping experiences with Firefox Quantum(57)?
November 17, 2017 5:04 PM   Subscribe

My daily productivity has declined since Firefox Chromium installed. Anybody else have the same problem? What are your alternatives, suggestions? More within.

Please believe me, I am not trying to start a chat here. I genuinely am lost now that so many of my extensions that I relied upon on a daily basis are gone.

My Google research suggests that Mozilla gave devs minimal APIs and so even if they wanted to they couldn't recreate their original functionality. But ignoring the why, what do you now use for Pinboard, Speed Dial, Tree Style Tabs, Flash Block, Copy URLs Expert, etc.? Some are gone, some appeared to still be available but don't work anywhere near as well (I'm looking at you, FVD Speed Dial).

Some of these Add Ons do not appear to even be available in Chrome (?).

Nothing would make me happier than hearing "You are missing the obvious, just do this..."

I figure this is just as valid a question as "how do i deal with this plumbing clog?", but I worry it might actually be harder (?).
posted by forthright to Technology (22 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
What about installing an older version of Firefox and disabling updates?

If you want to make sure you get security updates while staying on an older version, look into the Extended Support Releases (ESR).
posted by clawsoon at 5:08 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestion clawsoon. I had considered using an old release but as you say I figured it was insecure plus I was just delaying the inevitable. But I didn't know about the ESR, I just read the page, perhaps I will try it on my laptop first and if it's good for my important legacy add-ons then I'll put it on my main Windows machine.

I would still be interested to know what workarounds other MeFites might have found.
posted by forthright at 5:26 PM on November 17, 2017

Best answer: Tree Style Tabs has a Webextension version already.

You can set Flash to Ask to Activate, not sure what functionality you liked about FlashBlock but that works well enough for me.
posted by ropeladder at 5:27 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This may prove helpful in finding alternatives that perform the same function.
posted by WCityMike at 5:36 PM on November 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: I can feel the "thread sitting" sword hanging over my head, but:
* ropeladder, Tree Style Tabs wasn't working well (couldn't close tabs, would undock, and the horizontal Firefox tabs across the top are distracting), so I tried disabling it and then reenabling it, and it's working somewhat better. And I didn't know about the Shockwave Flash "Ask to Activate" but I do now. Thanks!
* WCityMike, yes, that is a very interesting table! Speed Dial with 220K daily users and a status of "port unlikely", arghhhh. But it pointed me to Group Speed Dial which looks like it will do fine. Unfortunately, neither Pinboard nor CopyURLs Expert seem to be listed. Oh well.
posted by forthright at 6:03 PM on November 17, 2017

Best answer: I had Flash set to "ask to activate" but videos were auto-playing anyhow, which made Salon and the AV Club hell to read. I got around it with the tips to stop auto-playing videos on this site. Now the videos aren't auto-blocked but they do freeze unless I specifically click on them. Adblock Plus also works, so I've managed to eliminate most of the auto-playing BS.

I find a lot of the Quantum annoyance is minimized by moving the buttons around, deleting the crap I don't want and putting things back where they're supposed to be. (Although that damn "save to Pocket" button apparently isn't going anywhere.) I often rant about big tech updates that are not better, just different. Windows 10 set a very high goalpost for NBJD, but Quantum is pretty impressive in this regard too.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:51 PM on November 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

You could try Pale Moon. It's like the good old Firefox. Not sure which extensions are supported, but it supports many Firefox extensions.
posted by H21 at 7:15 PM on November 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Also with tree style tabs you can disable the top bar tabs but it's pretty hacky. Google 'Firefox 57 disable to tab bar', the answer on stack overflow about creating userChrome.css worked for me.

Also just in general, ublock origin is a really great ad blocker that I prefer to Adblock plus.
posted by ropeladder at 7:16 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: As stated above, Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) is your best bet. Mozilla indicates that it will be maintained and updated with security fixes until July 2018. Many of us are hoping that they'll come to their senses and go beyond that, but who knows.

I've been using the ESR version of Firefox for more than a year, since Mozilla switched to their rapid release schedule, and I'm much happier and just as productive. I can confirm that TreeStyle Tabs still works on FF ESR, but I don't use any of your other extensions. You might want to give uBlock Origin a try instead of Flashblock. It's much better!

Be sure to save your profile before up/downgrading. Firefox sometimes chokes and can corrupt things when switching between versions.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 7:20 PM on November 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

A couple of months ago ublock origin stopped working for Firefox. That, plus what I think is buffering of HTML5 videos, ate my data plan. Right now I'm running with a hodgepodge of ad blockers plus image loading disabled but that video buffering is still chewing up my data.

I haven't yet upgraded Firefox, I'm afraid things will get worse and I will share your pain. Right now I wish I could block all videos period.
posted by jointhedance at 7:22 PM on November 17, 2017

Running old web browsers on today's internet is a bad idea, so please don't take any advice that includes disabling updates. I would personally recommend running Firefox ESR for now and see how the extension scene looks like when support for ESR expires, and then potentially look at alternatives like Pale Moon or Waterfox if you decide that the situation hasn't improved enough.
posted by Aleyn at 1:13 AM on November 18, 2017

Also, you can disable Pocket in FF Quantum if you muck with about:config settings.
posted by Aleyn at 1:18 AM on November 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

This might be a heavier solution than you want but for blocking flash/videos/etc. there's always NoScript, which is supposed to be available for Quantum soon. You can play around with the settings if you feel that it's blocking too much and see if you can customize it for your needs.

(jointhedance, you might want to give it a try. It's available on mobile, though you might need to install it through the noscript website and the settings options are more minimal.)
posted by trig at 2:42 AM on November 18, 2017

Thanks all.

I tried disabling Javascript and that breaks a lot of websites.

Mozilla discourages individuals from downloading the ESR versions. Mozilla also made it hard to tell if I was downloading individual Firefox 56 or Firefox 57 so I stopped prying at that aggravation and started on Waterfox.

I easily downloaded and installed desktop Waterfox on my Windows laptop. Cookie management is hard to find buried under Privacy > History. (What, no session only cookies setting?)

I'll stop threadjacking and make a proper Ask about stopping the HTML5 buffering and other nonsense that's enraging me (nothing should move on a webpage unless I tell it to) and stealing my data plan. I often hotspot my phone for my laptop so the data abuse applies to desktop and mobile browsers.
posted by jointhedance at 6:34 AM on November 18, 2017

Best answer: The easiest solution is to stick with ESR until a lot more webextensions are available that meet your needs.

Some easy about:config fixes:
- stop autoplay media.autoplay.enabled; false
- replace Flashblock plugins.click_to_play; true
- kill Pocket browser.pocket.enabled; false

> A couple of months ago ublock origin stopped working for Firefox.

It shouldn't have, the developer supports both webext and legacy versions, and currently plans to maintain the legacy version indefinitely.

If you're on 57, install uBO from addons.mozilla.org. If you have a backup of your old settings, you can restore from that.

If you're on ESR, use the legacy version from the official GitHub repo, the one named uBlock0.firefox.xpi.
- First go to about:config and set xpinstall.signatures.required; false
- Install uBO and restore your old settings from backup
- Disable auto-updates for uBO in about:addons so that it won't migrate automatically to the webext version
- Optionally install this auto-updater that will ensure you stay on the legacy version
posted by Bangaioh at 6:59 AM on November 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: For Pinboard I use Pinboard+.

The reason you're not finding equivalent addons in Chrome is Chrome hasn't allowed addons to do this kind of thing for a long time. Firefox's new WebExtensions have roughly the same restrictions as Chrome. Specifically no messing with the deeper parts of the browser UI.
posted by Nelson at 8:18 AM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't know everything the Pinboard extension did, but I'd guess that you can use Pinboard's bookmarklets for the major functions.
posted by cnc at 11:32 AM on November 18, 2017

For command-line-aversive folk: right-click on the Pocket icon makes it go away.

I adore the open-source psuedo-VPN AdGuard, which is available for iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac.

Pinboard Pin works well for me: it even checks to see if I've already bookmarked the link.
posted by Jesse the K at 1:06 PM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for all the helpful advice and suggestions! It looks like I am now almost back to where I was before the Quantum disruption.

Thanks to Nelson for pointing me to Pinboard+ (I now realize that the "Find a Replacement" button in the Legacy section of the Add-Ons manager showed me weirdly inappropriate suggestions for Pinboard because it wanted me to type Pinboard in the search box...UX fail).

Thanks to Bangaioh I have turned off Pocket and autoplay, and thanks to WCityMike's reference I found Group Speed Dial. As I mentioned above Tree Style Tab was flaky at first but after a disable/enable it's been solid ever since.

I found on my own the extension OneTab, which can almost be used (via its Export function) the way I had used Copy URLs Expert.

The only thing I lack is MOST of the links I had managed via the original Speed Dial. I manually browsed my History and opened the most recent/important pages so I could add them to Group Speed Dial (and then did a GSD backup).

So it would seem (???) that I don't need to go the ESR route. And I hadn't heard of Pale Moon but it's good to know that's another alternative.

I think I will leave this question open for a while for the sake of others who might want to share discoveries (unless that violates some AskMeFi rule).

Thanks again, I really appreciate your help!
posted by forthright at 5:04 PM on November 18, 2017

Best answer: The only thing I lack is MOST of the links I had managed via the original Speed Dial

If you're referring to this Speed Dial and you've kept your old profile in the upgrade, you can probably still access all the old URL configuration through about:config, under the extensions.speeddial.thumbnail-###-url entries.

The easiest way is to open your profile directory (about:support > Open Directory), open the prefs.js file located within, and search for the -url", string in your text editor.
posted by Bangaioh at 5:36 PM on November 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, thanks again Bangaioh!

You are right, that was the Speed Dial I had been using, and so I copied the prefs.js file from about:support Open Folder to a junk.txt file which I opened in Notepad++ and did a Regex "Find all in Current Document":
I found 141 links, which was way more than I was able to identify by just looking through my recent History. Fantastic, and I hope this helps others who stumble on this thread.
posted by forthright at 5:50 PM on November 18, 2017

Response by poster: It's been all this time and I just noticed the typo, calling the new release Firefox Chromium (instead of Quantum) at one point, although I got it right in the title. Head palm.
posted by forthright at 10:06 AM on November 20, 2017

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