Please do not drop Firefox support!

Forums Apps Please do not drop Firefox support!

This topic contains 48 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  krt 5 months ago.

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    first I’d like to thank everyone involved with F-Droid for the awesome work!

    Please reconsider the plan to drop support for Firefox in F-Droid – at least until there is a smooth migration path to Fennec or FFUpdater.

    In my experience there are many people out there who are really grateful if one tells them about freedom in software and how to take back control by installing F-Droid. Many of those people aren’t experienced computer scientists or developers.

    Even though the decision of Mozilla to include DRM and proprietary video streaming are disputable, we have the problem that by including Firefox in F-Droid in the first place, we (the free software movement) have created a user base that depends on us and security updates for Firefox provided by F-Droid.

    We are now responsible for those users who trusted us. So we might have to make a compromise here.

    On the other hand despite some problematic decisions Mozilla still is a huge and successful supporter of free software and open standards. Firefox is a well known brand name.

    Please consider also that the description of Fennec contains the following warning at the moment: “DO NOT INSTALL unless you know what you are doing!”. So what should an inexperienced user do?

    Best regards



    Mozilla is free to host their own F-Droid repo like the Guardian Project does. Have you contacted them about that option?


    Good suggestion.

    I fear a Mozilla repo would not offer a smooth migration path for existing inexperienced users. We would have to extend F-Droid in a way that offers all existing Firefox users a hassle free switch to this repo and a way to export and import all configuration and add-ons into the new Firefox installation from the Mozilla repo.



    >a way to export and import all configuration and add-ons into the new Firefox installation
    Currently, F-Droid hosts a binary package of Firefox that is identical to the one hosted on Mozilla’s website and Google Play so there won’t be any need to make any changes. The source is not important as long as it is signed with the same key.

    If a user were to switch to Fennec F-Droid the app settings would not transfer and they would need to reconfigure things.

    >a smooth migration path
    If the end result is that users continue to use software with proprietary components, the ease of migration seems irrelevant. Users with priorities other than software freedom may be better served by other sources. Of course, I can’t and don’t speak for the F-Droid maintainers so it is ultimately their decision.



    Mozilla: I talked to Mozilla about them hosting the repo (or even just enabling their build-in updater for release builds as well) but they declined (for now).

    Smoothness: Them or someone else providing a 3rd party repo with the official binaries is the only way for really smooth transition, because — as pointed out — we currently use the official binary signed by Mozilla. Only binaries signed by them can be used to upgrade. So ffupdater is my own attempt to make everything smooth, but I am not a (good) android developer, so if someone wants to fix it up or just write an own, you are gladly welcome. Another thing that I’d like to see is fdroidclient being able to show notifications for specific apps. Nobody reads the description, so I’d rather have a way to notify existing Firefox users before we drop it.

    Fennec F-Droid: I use it as my daily driver. The reasons I have set up the warning is simple: The build is complex and my time is limited. (Btw: Big thanks to Manizuca for providing MozLocales and fixing quite a few build bugs before I even encountered them ;)).


    @krt Thank you very much for the effort!


    If the end result is that users continue to use software with proprietary components, the ease of migration seems irrelevant. Users with priorities other than software freedom may be better served by other sources.

    This leads me to new questions:
    1. Dropping Firefox will leave unexperienced users with an unpatched version of Firefox with potentially many security problems. Will this benefit our cause?
    2. Is F-Droid a tool that cannot be recommended to inexperienced users because we will drop support without offering a smooth migration path? Is the free software movement better served if we “create” new Google Play users by dropping Firefox support (or support for any other important app for that matter)? In my experience there are many people who care about free software that have limited computer knowledge. We have to take them by the hand. We cannot afford to leave those people behind.
    3. If we all have to spend our time migrating F-Droid Firefox-Users to Google Play or F-Droid Fennic, we cannot focus on other problems. Is this what we want?
    4. I think Mozilla should not be one of our primary concerns: There are far bigger problems. We should combine our efforts to solve the biggest problems first. Mozilla wouldn’t be urged to implement DRM and so on, if Mozilla’s competitors wouldn’t enforce those things. I’d say: First things first. Solve the problems with Mozilla when all the other problems are solved.
    5. F-Droid already runs on Android platforms that include a lot of unfree software like firmware, drivers or baseband software. Should we also drop support for those devices? Haven’t we already made a compromise?



    1) We cannot ensure updates for any app. If upstream does not cooperate, we might run into issues when building: Either complex builds or proprietary stuff (like Firefox) or even disappearing source.

    5) I fail to recognize what that has to do with the things we do. We dont force the users to have a free device, we dont force the user to dont have proprietary apps. We don’t have a problem with them using Firefox or whatever. The only thing we want is to provide and build floss apps.

    2-4) Actually the answer is the same as in 5: We are a very small team, all of us have different reasons for being here and they are free to work on whatever they like (or fight the battle they chose for them selves). There is a lot to improve, sure, but the question is: Where are the people addressing these issues?

    As I said, I really care about providing a smooth transition. But I cannot guarantee anything. Btw.: I talked again with some Mozillians. Upstream bugs are /


    I did not want to criticize you –the opposite is the case! I really appreciate your work!

    I fully recognize that there are different reasons that make it difficult or impossible to support a certain app.

    My comments were only meant as a response to the following comment:

    If the end result is that users continue to use software with proprietary components, the ease of migration seems irrelevant. Users with priorities other than software freedom may be better served by other sources.

    I simply don’t share the view that support should be dropped as soon as it leads to the usage of proprietary components. Dropping support for a supported app, just for this philosophical reason might hurts more than is helps, because it might puts inexperienced users in danger.



    Yet another chat with some Mozillians: Some say out-of-playstore updates are a WONTFIX, some even say this would be an anti-feature. I think we are on our own.


    I think we are on our own.

    Sad 🙁

    I personally switched to Fennec now. No Problems so far. Great work!

    Should I try to migrate other F-Droid Firefox users as well?



    Well, I am the wrong person to answer this. I use Fennec as my daily driver, as do others. However, I don’t think the build is stable enough.

    Btw: I just updated the Firefox metadata with possible upgrade options (should be there tomorrow). Also, Mozilla re-opened the ticket (which doesn’t mean it’s gonna get fixed anytime soon).



    As much as I appreciate getting Firefox updates through F-Droid, I can understand if it gets dropped. F-Droid is handling a lot of apps at this point and it doesn’t meet the criteria. I don’t find it that difficult to just go to Mozilla’s ftp page (which I bookmarked) for the most recent Android build and download it after my desktop browser updates automatically since they’re on the same update schedule. Also, Firefox for Android has both “check for updates” (under Settings->Mozilla->About Firefox) and “Download updates automitically” (under Settings->Customize) options in its menus, but I’ve never been able to get either to to work so it might not be much help, or it might just be my setup that’s causing them not to work.



    The FTP server has been shutdown (thus breaking my updater once), but the http mirror is still there.. for now. Talking with Moz, they seem to already include the updater, but it is not enabled and they actually don’t provide files for the updater. If you use the aurora builds, the updater is enabled and gets updates.



    any experiences – will Fennec run popular addons (noscript,addblock)?

    Will Fennec suffer addon singing ( ) ?



    Actually I have no idea and don’t intend to do any modifications here. Since we are not an official release build we most likely have the option to disable those checks in any case. We will see after Fx41.

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