#11944 NORM 12.1.0: Add Firefox for Gnome

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Thu Jun 21 17:11:20 EDT 2012

#11944: Add Firefox for Gnome
           Reporter:  reuben        |       Owner:  dsd          
               Type:  defect        |      Status:  new          
           Priority:  normal        |   Milestone:  12.1.0       
          Component:  not assigned  |     Version:  not specified
         Resolution:                |    Keywords:               
        Next_action:  never set     |    Verified:  0            
Deployment_affected:                |   Blockedby:               
           Blocking:                |  

Comment(by dsd):

 We discussed this a little in the 12.1.0 meeting.

 We don't fully agree with all of the criticisms - e.g. the title bar, menu
 bar and close buttons are no different from other GNOME apps. Flash works,
 but only as of recent builds configured in the right way. The set of
 offered preferences is different but that is not necessarily a bad thing
 (it could be to some, but this is subjective).

 Other points are perfectly valid - e.g. no homepage, no proxy settings
 (these are shared with all GNOME apps, which is actually a plus, but the
 bad side is that we don't ship a GUI for changing these). Hopefully we can
 work on these going forward.

 Either way, changing any piece of software to an equivalent is going to
 cause some pain for users as they adjust. But I do think in this case we
 have this justified.

 There are several advantages of epiphany/webkit, including:
  * Startup time is quicker, easy to see
  * Memory usage (in a simple test of opening two tabs with two sites on
 side-by-side laptops) is lower, easy to verify
  * We gain working <audio> support (#11771), and <video> support also
 arrives but does not perform brilliantly
  * Epiphany/webkit has lower disk footprint
  * Epiphany/webkit performs a smoother and less choppy browsing experience
 on the XO, based on opinion but I feel I've spent enough time with both on
 XOs to state this
  * More simplistic UI - this is subjective, as some people may prefer more
 controls and more power, but my opinion is that simplicity is better for
 the users that we target

 There were also some problems with firefox that we never solved, but we
 have working better on epiphany:
  * Font sizes and toolbars look better
  * We had various rendering bugs in the past, we haven't seen any such
  * We never had Spanish translations working in firefox, we do have them

 Newer firefox versions have changed things around significantly and when I
 spent a few hours on this earlier in the cycle I couldn't figure out how
 to update our customisations. We need these for good media support and for
 correct font sizing. I'll try to find time to spend on this even if we go
 ahead not shipping this in the default image.

 We were forced to move to WebKit in Sugar - Mozilla pulled the plug on
 Browse, we had no choice. There is value added in using the same
 technology in GNOME, for all the resources that are automatically shared
 between the two, and consistency between desktops. This is also the
 direction that GNOME itself is going, with various components now using
 WebKit e.g. evolution, epiphany, help viewer, which adds some value for us
 as well.

 The fact that Mozilla pulled the plug on Browse is somewhat representative
 of their larger direction of focusing platforms that operate differently
 from our own - e.g. the notion of embedding everything into a single
 packet even if it is wasteful. This direction makes it harder for us to
 work with and support, especially when we need to apply customisations and
 when we run a different type of platform from the norm (limited disk
 space, low power system, high-DPI screen), etc. In contrast,
 epiphany/webkit is designed differently and uses much more of the
 underlying technologies used by the rest of the desktop, avoiding this
 class of problems. Everything is much more in line with what we're used
 to, e.g. build systems, libraries used, embedding style. We never got much
 dialog from mozilla upstream, but webkit and epiphany has been a totally
 different story here, they are very responsive. These things have an
 impact on our engineering time and ability to support what we ship.

 In the meeting the feeling was that the direction we have taken makes
 sense, even if it does initially cause a switchover cost. Deployments can
 continue to add firefox (and remove epiphany) via simple os-builder

 18:15 < reubencaron> the underlying concern here aside from the look and
                      what to tell content providers to design for
 18:16 < reubencaron> "oh we just epiphany..based on WebKit..just design
                      that" and you we'll get weird looks
 18:17 < reubencaron> We always seem to deviate from standards to do our
                      weird thing and it continues to hurt us.

 I don't think this will be an issue with any modern designer. Epiphany is
 a straight-up user of webkit, which is a dominant web platform these days,
 and looks like it will continue to grow.

 Here is info about the epiphany web app mode that Jon mentioned on IRC:

Ticket URL: <http://dev.laptop.org/ticket/11944#comment:6>
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