Friday, April 4, 2014

Life after Firefox

Not a lot of people are talking about the real problem with the resignation of Mozilla's CEO.  The problem is a lot deeper and more profound than political correctness or charges of Hatey McH8terson, and long pre-dates the current brouhaha:
The irony is that although they have damaged American corporate culture by sowing seeds that will bear destructive fruit for years and decades to come, Eich's critics did Mozilla a genuine service by exposing the mistake that was made in promoting a man who had been a very effective technology innovator to the CEO position. Eich was less a victim of the point-and-shriek crowd than the Peter Principle, which states: "in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence".

And now Mozilla is out a perfectly good CTO, Eich has been humiliated and is unemployed, the left-wing lunatics have been encouraged by successfully taking a scalp, and every Christian and conservative in corporate America now knows that it is purge or be purged time. (Don't forget, small business owners, it is legal under federal law to fire an employee for his Democratic Party affiliations.) All because the Mozilla board did not know its internal candidate well enough to realize that he lacked the backbone to be a CEO-caliber leader.
This has nothing to do with gay marriage (which I support) or the Progressive desire to burn heretics (which I find to be profoundly disturbing, in a fascist-meets-religious-fanatic sort of way).  Rather, it goes back to the very roots of why I have run Firefox/Mozilla/Netscape for 20 years: technical excellence.

That is quite questionable now.  It appears that Mozilla has serious organizational issues, (by implication) serious morale issues, and that their employees and Board of Directors would prefer to jettison* one of the tech industry's premier CTOs than violate non technical Progressive social norms.

And so, the only logical conclusion is that Firefox will (is?) become a second tier browser.  Technically speaking.

And so the question is what to replace it with.  I'm not sure, but I'm going to start looking around. And from Mozilla's perspective, this is a Very Bad Thing - once your users begin to think about changing, it's very difficult to get them not to.  It's like with friction - the big energy input is to overcome static friction and inertia, to get the object sliding.  It takes much less effort once that's happened.

It's too bad, but maybe inevitable in the cloud cuckooland that is the Bay Area.  Maybe what the industry needs is a major player to be seen to put themselves on the fast track to irrelevance because of an emphasis on non-technical trivialities.

* Eich has left Mozilla entirely:
Eich has personally confirmed he has not only stepped down as CEO, he has quit Mozilla outright.

"I’m leaving Mozilla to take a rest, take some trips with my family, look at problems from other angles," he said. "I encourage all Mozillians to keep going."


Jason VanLanduyt said...

I've run Firefox since Netscape got taken by AOL. I've been using Thunderbird almost as long.

I was absolutely repulsed by the reaction of these idiots. Their hypocrisy is so staggering in its magnitude I'm surprised the organization hasn't collapsed into a black hole.

On Chrome now (hate it); looking for a less-evil browser and email function. Let us know if you find something worthwhile.

Dave H said...

What's Opera like these days?

SaphirJD said...

Good choice would be Seamonkey and Cyberfox or Pale Moon.

Not owned by Mozilla, different developers. But please not use Chrome or Opera, because Google controlls Opera and Mozilla.

That was just another part of the scheme to drive users towards Chrome.

You can make a difference and say no to that :)

Matt W said...

I dumped Mozilla awhile back because I started having severe stability issues that I was never able to resolve. I toggle between Chrome, Opera, and at work IE these days.

Eich may have handled his role as CEO poorly, but Mozilla and their Board of Directors handled the whole situation in a spectacularly poor fashion.

Typical progressive hypocrisy though - "We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public." Unless of course your beliefs and opinions differ from ours.

airphoria said...

Upon seeing this yesterday, it didn't take long for me to start a switch. I must run Windows (for most things) at the office, and I have trust issues with Google (ergo, not sure I want to try Chrome yet), so I started by uninstalling Firefox and putting Opera in it's place. Today, my personal MacBook also got a copy of Opera to run alongside Safari.

Funny thing; I'm astounded how snappy Opera runs on Windows. Stability and memory leakage will take time to assess, but simple raw performance goes a long way.

I gave up on Mozilla/Thunderbird awhile back; there were several issues with it (only one "local folders" possible, and poor IMAP interaction are both examples). Now that I've started my divorce with Firefox, I'm surprised at just how mediocre it really had become. I took it for granted. Shame on me...

One Mozilla employee (whom I'm too lazy to currently look up, but she is key with OpenNews) hit the core point of the dispute over Eich dead-on; even though she considered California's Prop8 hurtful, she also understood that free speech mattered far more than a political position (which I'm paraphrasing): Because of what Mozilla has done over those 20 years, an "open web" still exists, and we're all better off for it. It could be argued that we wouldn't have a successful electronic venue for free speech had Mozilla not existed. That is a legacy to be valued and preserved. She certainly "got it".

But fascist politically correct thinking took over anyway. Behold the inquisition...

Now, from a practical perspective, I took a look elsewhere, and found Mozilla software to be increasingly mediocre. Now that I see evidence that the organization responsible for it is more interested in conformity to political dogma than technical excellence, perhaps this is not a surprise.

I'm approaching 34 years in the technology business, perhaps the end of my career is coming into view. In those years, it has always been a meritocracy at it's core. I have had the privilege of working with some astoundingly bright people, many of who could be, ummm, "eccentric". Perhaps those days are disappearing, and I'm truly saddened as a consequence.

Borepatch said...

Dave, I've run Opera in the past, but it doesn't seem a great bet for Linux. I could be wrong on that, and will take a look.

Airphoria, word.

burt said...

Midori. Check it out. Small footprint, fast, pretty good for most of what you need to do.

And its "private browsing mode" is PRIVATE INDEED!!!

UK Houston said...

Amen, brother. Gotta move. Those imbeciles at Mozilla should not be rewarded with my custom even one minute longer. Oh, wait, you mean it's free? So, I have no leverage then? That's sad. It's also a problem that the extensive base of plug-ins (NoScript, DownloadThemAll, etc.) are so valuable. No other browser will do all the things I want done on a daily basis. Perhaps I will grit my teeth and keep it ... just as I do with Chrome for those few things it does better (developer console) than any other.

OMMAG said...

Firefox works and I'll keep using it. Not a problem.

The management practices do not matter to me because I am not an investor. Not a problem.

The PeeCee mob will continue to bully the moral weaklings in corporate America to attack those who disagree with them. A problem that can be cured.

No need to conflate any of these issues.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Left Firefox some time ago due to memory and instability issues.

Currently running Opera and decently satisfied, except for some sites which aren't compatible.

Would have preferred Eich tell the homogamy lynch mob to go pound, well, never mind, and remind them that diversity is their strength. Or something.

TinCan Assassin said...

If he goes off and makes another browser, I think he should cal it Green Goblin. "I'm out, am I? Bwahahahaha!"

William Newman said...

It's not a triviality, it's a long-standing truce that works pretty well. And, outside the echo chamber of left political activism, I think the truce has a lot of popular support. IIRC laws very close to this issue --- forbidding firing people for how they vote --- have been on the books since deep into the 19th century, well before most modern restrictions on freedom of contract, though I can't think how to describe them to a search engine, dammit. My take on ordinary public opinion is that those laws are are not just uncontroversial, they are duh-of-course uncontroversial for a large majority.

Feeling safe because your political allies, especially in the judiciary, will keep the other side from doing the same thing to you ... is perceptive, in a way. But it creates new incentives (for the majority who voted for that ballot measure, and maybe for some people who cared about the old truce, too) to try to remove your political allies. Maybe they have no chance, no matter how strong their incentives become and no matter what other mischances might occur in the next few years. But I doubt many of the people involved in this are perceptive enough to judge that reliably.

TOTWTYTR said...

I installed Avant last night and it's working pretty well. I've set it up to use the Firefox engine, so it's not that much of a transition.

It also does a better job of blocking unwanted stuff than did Firefox.

It even imported all of my bookmarks automatically. It's taking a bit of getting used to the different look, but it works pretty much the same.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

All those people saying they'll leave Firefox over Eich "being fired" should note that he left on his own initiative. The Mozilla board tried to convince him to stay, and even offered him a different position if he didn't want to stay as CEO.

I understand that "voluntarily" resigning is a common face-saving strategy at the higher corporate echelons, but everything I've seen so far makes me believe it's genuine in this case. If Mozilla did anything wrong, it was in not vetting their candidate for possible PR issues like this, and even that's only an "if".