Thoughts on Firefox 89 (with respect to Ubuntu MATE)?

Hi all,

I recently got the update for Firefox 89 on Ubuntu MATE 20.04 today, and was kind of surprised by the design choices. Typically, I keep the menu bar turned on since Firefox no longer supports the global menu (:frowning_face:, but not Ubuntu MATE's fault), but I feel the tabs are a tad too big for that to work. I also have "undecorate maximized windows" turned on so I can make most of the space I have (for any application, really; kind of mimics Lomiri in staged mode really well).

That said, I think that, if you keep the theme as "system theme", it blends in pretty decently with Yaru MATE. The padding feels cohesive with what Yaru offers, and I'm sure it would work well if my MacBook had a touch screen.

I'm curious to hear from the community here as to everyone's initial thoughts on the new Firefox design, especially with respect to Ubuntu MATE and your particular setups. Does it fit well in yours? Is the padding too much?

1 Like

As a Conservative (at least when it comes to user interface design), I personally don't like change so much; I kind of grumble a bit for the first week or month or year, or even decade, that I use a new design. (Now you know why I use MATE. :wink: ) But I'm sure eventually I'll get used to the new-fangled Firefox user interface, even though it's still not to my tastes.

Personally, I always disable Firefox Welcome and just set my default and home pages to about:blank. I prefer the screen with as little clutter as possible. It was enough when my browser became a portal for all manner of Internet communications; now I just can't take having a clock on my browser's home page.

This, with all due respect, of course. I'm sure my opinions differ from others' opinions.

7 Likes

I’ve disabled it on my end and use the nightTab extension instead, which is in the screenshot. It’s pretty close to the speed dial in Opera and Vivaldi, and that’s all I really need from a start page.

I'm very lukewarm to it. The UI seems great for tablets or if it was to blend in with a GNOME 3 desktop, but I prefer traditional UI and metaphors. Floating tabs and lack of icons didn't quite cut it.

Thankfully, you can restore the older look. Navigate to:

about:config

Search for proton and set this setting to false:

browser.proton.enabled

Then restart the browser.

Originally posted here:


:bulb: Ubuntu MATE already sets a default to use https://start.ubuntu-mate.org as a home page, so I suppose if many users are disgruntled, that could be used as a way to bring back the old design as a default for this distro?

6 Likes

So far, FF v89 seems to have fixed my issue with settings restore as closed topic so for now, a happy bunny!
I'm using it with MATE 21.04
EDIT: but then again... I tried later and no change :face_with_hand_over_mouth:
Further Edit: It is working... somehow it seems to want to open in workspace 2 and it is persisting. Open another instance in workspace 1 and it defaults to the incorrect sizing/placement but w/s 2 instance persists after reboot. Interesting!

I'm with you the tabs seem huge. I also want the menu bar enabled and I use blank for home page and new pages. I can do for myself, I don't need my browser anticipating me or showing ads on the home page or blank pages. It is why I don't use Chrome. The last thing we need is another Chrome clone.

4 Likes

I entirely agree with you.

It may be a good idea for the short term, but I imagine Mozilla will phase out this config option over the next couple of releases, knowing how they handle UI. From my understanding, there's too much for them to handle multiple UI designs in the code.

Agreed. I was fine with the new tab page years before, but realistically I was only using the Top Sites functionality. I use the nightTab extension now to be my start page since all I really need is a Speed Dial-like page. No new articles from Pocket to look at, no ads to worry about, and I can customize the look to my heart's content (I currently have a really good Ubuntu-like theme going right now, though I may change the accent color to what the accent in Yaru-MATE-Purple is).

As for the tabs, they're... fine. Yes, they're pretty big and a bit clunky, though I do like the floating concept. It would be better if there was a little less padding (like, 4px for me would do), but I'm not too turned off by it. Personally, I think that if we are to continue this trend, Mozilla should at least reconsider the global menu situation; I say this because I feel that the combination of the menu bar and the somewhat thick UI in macOS works out well. I also wouldn't need to have the menu bar on the window enabled if Firefox just exposed it to the Global Menu applet for it to pick up and render.

Regarding the Chrome comment, I think this UI change is part of changing the design so that it isn't a Chrome clone, so unless Google decides to copy this design trend, I think we'll be okay, at least for now.

I'm hoping the Mozilla team takes a look at my comment on this existing thread regarding the global menu bar situation: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1639332.

Yeah, @lah7 and @marquiskurt, I got deja vu from your comments above, respectively:

...and:

I remembered this post from only about a month ago where somebody complained about Brave having flat, gray "Material" folder icons, and somewhere in the conversation this Reddit article came up which gave a workaround:

So much for that workaround today. It doesn't work now. Of course Mozilla doesn't have the resources (or the intentions) on keeping a "classic" user interface alive across browser generations. If they did have the intentions and resources, we could still use Firefox 89 with a Phoenix user interface 18-and-a-half years later. :laughing: The very classic user interface is one of the selling points of the Pale Moon browser, but it's got its own set of problems which are far, far harder to tolerate than an occasional user interface change in Firefox (at least IMHO -- probably someone like @jymm has a differing opinion).

1 Like

Not necessarily a bad idea, but ultimately pointless. You can turn Proton off *for now *. But you can safely bet your life's savings that it'll only be a matter of months - at most - before Mozilla rips out all the "old" UI completely. (Along with the "Compact" mode that they lied about a couple of months ago and then buried in this release purely out of spite and pettiness after being called out on that lie).

I'll leave this while I'm here: GitHub - Aris-t2/CustomCSSforFx: Custom CSS tweaks for Firefox 57+.

Excellent project, allowing far more customization of brower appearance etc (which we can't call "chrome" any more, because now everyone things that means the spyware browser) than the base browser has ever offered.

Of course though, Mozilla's already-announced plan is to remove the ability to change the browser appearance that way as soon as possible too, because they've gone Full GNOME in how much they look down on users as scum and how much they don't care about accessibility. sigh.

When Mozilla fired half their dev team so the execs could pocket more of the revenue, they unfortunately got rid of the Rust team and other productive people rather than the 20 UI monkeys they have. Imagine how much better Firefox would be by now if they'd done it the other way round. :frowning:

1 Like

I understand the sentiment and frustration, as do others here in the community; I’d probably be just as irate if I relied on those accessibility features or if we were focusing too much on the UI. However, let’s not try to attack anyone in the process; no matter how problematic or troubling their point of view is, they are human, just like us.

That said, I really appreciate all of the points everyone has made in this thread and how more productive the conversation feels here.

3 Likes

I like the new appearance - even the disconnected tabs. In dark theme, the icons are clear and sharp. No shades of gray.

You can create your own home page as a local html file on your computer and bypass the Firefox default. You just need some very basic html coding knowledge and use the custom URL option to point to it.

The new tab page has the option to turn off the recommended by pocket stuff at the bottom, leaving just the little boxes of places.

1 Like

Agreed: it's not productive anyway.

Not sure what part of that you see as "an attack" though. The mass layoffs, Baker's excessive salary, the UI team's attitude - these are all from public statements or public records made by Mozilla corp/employees, not some Facebook conspiracy theory. (It would be a lot less depressing if it was...)

2 Likes

After having used FF 89 the only thing I really don't like is the scrolling. I have tried every configuration and it jumps the page, it doesn't scroll in my opinion.

1 Like

Not personally experiencing that with FF 89

1 Like

I've noticed that happening sometimes (but not all the time), though I can't recall if this was an issue with Firefox 89 itself (or even older iterations) or if this is just my trackpad being a bit too sensitive. I went into my mouse settings last night to disable some stuff like the tap to click and some other scrolling parameters because I'd end up dragging something or selecting a large part of a webpage, simply by scrolling. The trackpads on MacBooks are great, but sometimes they can get a little eager under Linux :sweat_smile:

If the issue just started with Firefox 89, you might want to file a bug report.

True. You can also get an addon for the new tab page and then do some magic in the Firefox preferences to set it as your homepage. I've done this with nightTab and it's honestly pretty great.

This was a setting I would turn off most of the time, since it was unnecessary noise.

I haven't met a tabbed interface I like because they take up too much real estate and I can navigate a menu just as fast, or faster, than a tabbed interface.

I haven't done the update with Ubuntu MATE to see what it looks like, but I'm also on a version that no longer gets support, an issue that I'm going to fix soon with a new system and install.

On Windows, at least 7 and 8.1. both supported by Firefox, the menu is intact. In fact it's very compact and I like it, a lot. The menu, with open tabs, along with taskbar take up minimal space and it doesn't bother me. Some of this may be based on the theme I use for those systems, where I get rid of most effects so the interface runs faster, and I use a standard Windows theme.

If you can't change the tabbed interface back to a menu interface with the Linux install you have, maybe you should message Mozilla and tell them how much you hate it. If they hear from enough people, they'll listen I think.