Saturday, May 3, 2014

It's Love All Over Again With New Improved Mozilla Firefox 29

Firefox logo
Firefox logo (Photo credit: Titanas)
by Dietrich Schmitz

I go back to a time when in Linux Firefox didn't exist.  Then, I used Mozilla.  For me, Mozilla Application Suite, a fork of Netscape's Communicator, was the best browser available in Linux Distro-Land and when it came out with 'Tabbed-browsing' I thought that was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

It was 'love at first sight'.  My infatuation with Mozilla grew and I became a loyal user overnight.

Enter Mozilla Firefox.  The genesis of Firefox was born out of many of Mozilla's features and overnight it became a hit.

Naturally, I switched away from Mozilla to Open Source Firefox and remain a loyal user.

Today, when I think about Open Source, I cannot stress its importance enough.  The need for Transparency in today's world has become magnified by world events and the increased public awareness that software can be exploited for nefarious purposes has become all the more clear.

How can we overcome such exploitation?  I believe that Open Source is vital to ensuring that rogue software exploit code becomes a thing of the past.  Proprietary code, that which cannot be seen, vetted with oversight by the general public, has the increased potential to become exploited on various levels.

Take for example something as simple as your average Microsoft Windows license.  Most people never read it.  And nobody other than Microsoft's programmers know what is specifically in their code base on an intimate level.  

How did Stuxnet happen?  

I am inclined to believe, it could not have happened if Windows was Open Source and I am also inclined to believe that it could not have happened without Microsoft's participation on some level.  There are 'back doors' into Windows legacy (x86) software, of that I am sure.

These 'back doors' are undocumented APIs which facilitate various control levels and, depending on the need, Microsoft shares those APIs with law enforcement and governmental agencies who request their assistance, unbeknownst to the general public.

This is only possible if the code base is proprietary and thus the programming APIs remain hidden.  And, proprietary being what it is, the ability to not disclose the full extent of how software governs itself is always an option and that is why I believe Proprietary Software = Exploitation.

Recently, I wrote WARNING: Google Chrome UNSAFE FOR GENERAL USE.
In that story, I disclosed my decision to stop using Chrome was based on its not being Open Source.

With world events in mind, Stuxnet, North Korean satellite launch systems (Windows) disabled, Flight 370 Boeing 777 'fly by wire' remote control software being undocumented and alleged to have been used for controlling and diverting said flight, I remain a staunch Advocate of Open Source and Transparency.

Just the other day Mozilla released their newest version of Firefox, version 29.

My good Friend Igor has scorned the design decisions made by Mozilla.  Okay, let's get it out of the way -- it 'looks' (to a degree) like Chrome.  But, if you really stop to think -- so what?  These are critical usability design considerations which I feel, on net, make Firefox all the more usable and at the same time extend its feature set with new much-welcomed rich functionality.

Firefox 29: A big win for Mozilla.  

When you combine the open source features of Firefox with the vast repository of plugins at users' disposal, the result is a powerhouse web browser.  There is no equivocating on that!

In fact, I'll go as far to say, I am in love all over again with Firefox and would like to thank the Mozilla Firefox Developer Team for all the innovative work done to date.  

Thank you.  Thank you.  -- Dietrich
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