Which web browser should I use: Firefox, Brave, or Vivaldi?
September 26, 2018 10:32 AM   Subscribe

Partly inspired by this post and the fact that Chrome is no longer being subtle about its surveillance activities, I would like to replace Chrome as my web browser.

I use Linux, Mac, and Windows machines (in that order of frequency). Right now I use the Brave browser on mobile and Linux and Chrome elsewhere. I like Brave's performance and philosophy in general, but it does display the occasional odd behaviour handling certain content (like videos with pre-roll ads). I use Pinboard for bookmarking and make limited use of extensions. Are Firefox or Vivaldi preferable to Brave in terms of privacy or performance?
posted by Svejk to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Firefox has never let me down, and with the recent ovehaul it’s better than ever. The Mozilla foundation does good work, and I trust them re:privacy, security, stability and philosophy more than any of their competitors.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:40 AM on September 26, 2018 [5 favorites]

I think Tor is the best, even though it's not among the three that you've mentioned. It works on Linux/Mac/PC.
Also, whatever browser you pick, you might want to change your default search engine from Google to DuckDuckGo.
posted by typify at 11:05 AM on September 26, 2018

Brave talks a good game about privacy, but remember its starting point was "Brave blocks ads! (And replaces them with other ads! (From which Brave will keep most of the revenue!))"

Based on the outcry at the time they've backed back down from that considerably, and turned it into a future "opt-in" feature... but there's still text in their FAQ describing how the browser makes "decisions about what preferences and intent signals to expose to maximize user, publisher and advertiser value;" it's still their long-term game plan as far as I can tell.

Technology-wise it's based on a fork of Electron, which they're apparently migrating into a different custom Chromium-based app. I'm not certain whether that transition is past, future, or ongoing; but in either case, the actual rendering-and-displaying-of-web-pages portion of the application is the same as Chrome.
posted by ook at 11:10 AM on September 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

I stopped using Chrome with 69. However, today, Google responded to the criticism of the new forced sign in policy. https://www.androidpolice.com/2018/09/26/google-responds-controversy-chrome-69s-account-login-changes/

Having said that, I use Firefox for most and Brave for some.
posted by AugustWest at 11:43 AM on September 26, 2018

I like Firefox. I've taken Vivaldi for a spin a couple of times, and while there's a lot that I like about it, I always run into performance issues.
posted by Ragged Richard at 11:49 AM on September 26, 2018

I like Firefox on Linux now that CSD has been rolled into release versions. If you use a laptop, set MOZ_USE_XINPUT2 DEFAULT=1 to enable touchpad support.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:51 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Pale Moon
posted by H21 at 3:06 PM on September 26, 2018

"I think Tor is the best, even though it's not among the three that you've mentioned. It works on Linux/Mac/PC. "

Doesn't merely using the Tor browser flag you to authorities for potentially suspicious activity? I also seem to recall that feds had a way to intercept traffic on Tor anyway so that it's fundamental privacy concept was totally undermined.

Found a link for the Tor being compromised: https://www.deepdotweb.com/2018/01/31/leak-shows-us-army-nsa-compromised-tor-i2p-vpns-wants-track-monero/
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:12 PM on September 26, 2018

tl;dr: Firefox

Tor Browser is just a not-quite-fork of Firefox and they're converging rapidly to ease the maintenance burden on Tor developers, TB exclusive features like first party isolation are now available on Firefox.
If you care about that sort of thing, you can technically use TB without Tor and benefit from the not yet ported features and more privacy focused configuration but imo it's simpler to use plain FF and tweak a few settings.

I'm vehemently against Brave's philosophy and on top of that it's based on Chromium which makes it a non-starter.

Vivaldi seems interesting because I loved old Opera but like its predecessor it's non-free software which I try to avoid unless there's no comparably good alternative.
posted by Bangaioh at 3:49 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I love Vivaldi, personally. Have tried Firefox a bunch of times, couldn’t get used to it. Vivaldi is basically Chrome with a lot of (lovely) extra features. That said, I’ve never used Brave, so I can’t really compare.
posted by sailoreagle at 5:45 PM on September 26, 2018

I'm currently running both Vivaldi and Firefox, based on the above recs. Some thoughts to pass on:
1. Exporting passwords and settings from Chrome to Vivaldi was marginally easier, probably because they are both Chromium browsers and use the same text storage format.
2. Customization options and startup times for Vivaldi are nice. It seems speedy and pretty enough. The tabbed and columnar views are novel and useful.
3. Chrome extensions work in Vivaldi.
4. Vivaldi is not open-source, but the source is available for audit as text. I'm not sure this is enough to attract and enable the scrutiny of the goodhearted infosec nerd community I rely upon to for these matters.
5. I like the feel and ease-of-use of Firefox. In comparison, Brave feels like a skin of Chrome (Vivaldi, Brave, and Chrome are all Chromium browsers). I am moved by arguments that adopting non-Chromium browsers is good for the browser ecosystem.
6. Firefox extensions meet all of my needs. In addition, I am very impressed by the work the Mozilla community has put into helping users understand and customize their privacy options. The privacy extensions curated here are excellent.

I think both Vivaldi and Firefox are good options. I think Firefox may be the best option for me, although I might keep using Brave on my mobile devices.
posted by Svejk at 9:49 AM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

Fwiw I think it’s completely reasonable and good to favor different browsers on Mobile platforms vs laptop/desktop. Heck I don’t love chrome but last I checked I liked it better than Firefox on mobile. Maybe I should give Brave a try on mobile, because I am not liking the latest mobile chrome update.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:55 PM on September 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

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