Time in Firefox
I love Firefox, it's reasonably secure, private, customizable, and most importantly it's different. In the world of Google's reign this is a big plus. You can be sure that the one spying on you will be at most Mozilla "anonymous data collection" ;P Recently with upgrade to version 68.8.0 I have experienced weird image artifacts: some favicons on tabs were replaced with white squares and random images would have artifacts on them. The whole YouTube website had pink & green distorted thumbnails. I have experienced this behavior on my T440 Thinkpad (Intel GPU) laptop and my desktop with Nvidia. I had posted this under a bug report of another user who experienced weird behavior on some websites with the 68.8.0 version of Firefox here. With update to 76.0.1 I was logged off from all the websites and my stylus themes got deleted (luckily i had a backup). The 76.0.1 searchabr is absolutely hideous, it feels like something made for a Windows tablet. The artifacts still remained on 76.0.1. So i decided to give Waterfox a shot.
Experience part 0
Lest talk about pre-experience; keep in mind that this is really not a good comparison. Waterfox in not available in the main gentoo repository, but using "eix -R Waterfox" I was able to find it in the poly-c overlay (overlays are similar to AUR in Arch). The only hiccup i had during compilation was to be expected. There is a problem with the "-fno-common" flag being turned on by default in GCC 10, so for some builds you have to turn "-fcommon" on. Other than that the compilation went smoothly, it took 37 minutes 43 seconds on first run which is ridiculous compared to Firefox which takes approximately 1 hour on my 4-core development machine.
I only want you to think of Chrome or Chromium - they are produced by the biggest advertising company in the world. So yes, Waterfox seems like a lesser evil, but you can always dive in and block any or all malicious connections with /etc/hosts and packet filters (yes i know this is not ideal). Lets confront some statements on spyware watchdog
Waterfox connects to spyware services when it is first run
Same as Firefox. It may not do that if you import your own profile (haven't tested that though).
Waterfox has a communication problem
I wanted to read the "policy" - link doesn't work - https://www.waterfox.net/en-US/privacy/waterfox/ Contents of the linked webpage:
Waterfox "phones home" with information about your computer whenever you start it up
Waterfox offers spyware search engines to its users and uses Bing as its default search engine
That is literally the first change I do on my browsers.
Waterfox sends all website notifications through Mozilla's servers
So does Firefox…
Waterfox is integrated into the "Firefox Accounts" spyware platform
You don't have to use it. With Waterfox I stopped to.
Waterfox is self updating software
It is not as much as Discord is. Discord as a example will refuse to connect to the server if its version is too low. You can still run outdated Waterfox if you wish to. Also those updates will be disabled if you use the ebuilds. This is mostly used only on Windows… and if you use your Windows you probably know what you signed up for.
I do not question the legitimacy of Spyware Watchdog's statements. I just compare them with my own habits and thoughts. For me Waterfox == Firefox spyware level. Keep in mind that Firefox introduced more questionable integrated services in new releases.
Small things that make me happy
I was very impressed to find some cool features in Waterfox:
- it's menu is compatible "global menu" on KDE Plasma - i was very surprised by this; this thing is mostly sound on chromium-based applications (the damned electron) and QT applications
- better theming - Waterfox uses the old Firefox theme by default with "smooth" tabs
- most addons just work - uBlock Origin, Decentraleyes, Plasma Integration, Smart HTTPS, SpanTree - GitLab Tree and Stylus work fine
- it's Firefox as you knew it; I missed the good old Firefox ;)
- back-ported security settings - container tabs work!
Is this worth it?
Absolutely. In my opinion Waterfox is a great browser that I can live in. Maybe consider giving Waterfox a shot if you are not as much into security as Spyware Watchdog people are and want reasonable compromise.