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Moz/FF

Mozilla: SUMO, CPU Spikes in Firefox and Data Collection (Surveillance)

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Moz/FF
  • Community Management Update

    I have a couple announcements for today. I’d like you all to welcome our two new community managers.

    First off Kiki has officially joined the SUMO team as a community manager. Kiki has been filling in with Konstantina and Ruben on our social support activities. We had an opportunity to bring her onto the SUMO team full time starting last week. She will be transitioning out of her responsibilities at the Community Development Team and will be continuing her work on the social program as well as managing SUMO days going forward.

    In addition, we have hired a new SUMO community manager to join the team. Please welcome Giulia Guizzardi to the SUMO team.

  • Mike Hoye: Ten More Simple Rules

    The Public Library of Science‘s Ten Simple Rules series can be fun reading; they’re introductory papers intended to provide novices or non-domain-experts with a set of quick, evidence-based guidelines for dealing with common problems in and around various fields, and it’s become a pretty popular, accessible format as far as scientific publication goes.

  • Henrik Skupin: Example in how to investigate CPU spikes in Firefox

    So a couple of months ago when I was looking for some new interesting and challenging sport events, which I could participate in to reach my own limits, I was made aware of the Mega Hike event. It sounded like fun and it was also good to see that one particular event is annually organized in my own city since 2018. As such I accepted it together with a friend, and we had an amazing day. But hey… that’s not what I actually want to talk about in this post!

    The thing I was actually more interested in while reading content on this web site, was the high CPU load of Firefox while the page was open in my browser. Once the tab got closed the CPU load dropped back to normal numbers, and went up again once I reopened the tab. Given that I haven’t had that much time to further investigate this behavior, I simply logged bug 1530071 to make people aware of the problem. Sadly the bug got lost in my incoming queue of daily bug mail, and I missed to respond, which itself lead in no further progress been made.

    Yesterday I stumbled over the website again, and by any change have been made aware of the problem again. Nothing seemed to have been changed, and Firefox Nightly (70.0a1) was still using around 70% of CPU even with the tab’s content not visible; means moved to a background tab. Given that this is a serious performance and power related issue I thought that investigation might be pretty helpful for developers.

    In the following sections I want to lay out the steps I did to nail down this problem.

  • My StarCon 2019 Talk: Collecting Data Responsibly and at Scale

    Back in January I was privileged to speak at StarCon 2019 at the University of Waterloo about responsible data collection. It was a bitterly-cold weekend with beautiful sun dogs ringing the morning sun. I spent it inside talking about good ways to collect data and how Mozilla serves as a concrete example. It’s 15 minutes short and aimed at a general audience. I hope you like it.

Mozilla: Firefox 69, Revamping Firefox’s Reader Mode, MDN Ramble

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Moz/FF
  • Extensions in Firefox 69

    In our last post for Firefox 68, we’ve introduced a great number of new features. In contrast, Firefox 69 only has a few new additions. Still, we are proud to present this round of changes to extensions in Firefox.

  • Revamping Firefox’s Reader Mode this Summer

    For me, getting all set to read a book would mean spending hours hopping between stores to find the right lighting and mood to get started. But with Firefox’s Reader Mode it’s now much more convenient to get reading on the go. And this summer, I have been fortunate to shift roles from a user to a developer for the Reader Mode . As I write this blog, I have completed two months as a Google Summer of Code student developer with Mozilla. It has been a really enriching experience and thus I would like to share some glimpses of the project and my journey so far.

  • The Tall-Tale Clock: The myth of task estimates

    On the MDN team, we have begun over the past year to use a time unit we call the hypothetical ideal day or simply ideal day. This is a theoretical time unit in which you are able to work, uninterrupted, on a project for an entire 8-hour work day. A given task may take any appropriate number of ideal days to complete, depending on its size and complexity. Some tasks may take less than a single ideal day, or may otherwise require a fractional number of ideal days (like 0.5 ideal days, or 1.25 ideal days). We generally round to a quarter of a day.

5 open-source Firefox alternatives for Linux users

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Moz/FF
Web

Mozilla Firefox is an excellent open-source web browser, perhaps one of the best tools on the entire Linux platform. Still, the Firefox browser is adding more and more features, and these new additions aren’t for everyone. If you’re looking for an open-source alternative to Firefox on Linux, we’ve got you covered. Here are 5 open-source Firefox alternatives for Linux users.

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Mozilla: Voice, Greenwashing, WebThings, VR, Politics and Firefox 70

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Moz/FF
  • Mozilla Open Innovation Team: Mozilla Voice Challenge: Defining The Voice Technology Space

    Voice-enabled products are in rapid ascent in both consumer and enterprise markets. The expectations are that in the near future voice interaction will become a key interface for people’s internet-connected lives.

    Unfortunately, the current voice product market is heavily dominated by a few giant tech companies. This is unhealthy as it stifles the competition and prevents entry of smaller companies with new and innovative products. Mozilla wants to change that. We want to help opening up the ecosystem. So far there have been two major components in Mozilla’s open source voice tech efforts outside the Firefox browser:

    (1) To solve for the lack of available training data for machine-learning algorithms that can power new voice-enabled applications, we launched the Common Voice project. The current release already represents the largest public domain transcribed voice dataset, with more than 2,400 hours of voice data and 28 languages represented.

    (2) In addition to the data collection, Mozilla’s Machine Learning Group has applied sophisticated machine learning techniques and a variety of innovations to build an open-source speech-to-text engine that approaches human accuracy, as well as a text-to-speech engine. Together with the growing Common Voice dataset Mozilla believes this technology can and will enable a wave of innovative products and services, and that it should be available to everyone.

  • Eight ways to reduce your digital carbon footprint

    Whether it’s from doing things like burning fossil fuels through driving, cranking up the furnace or grilling a steak, we are all responsible for releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is called our carbon footprint. When we collectively produce more carbon than the planet can absorb, the extra CO2 contributes to climate change. Even less obvious daily activities add to our carbon footprint, such as using the internet.

    While the internet’s data is essentially invisible, it is processed and stored in massive data centers all over the world. Those data centers are powered 24/7, just waiting to send information — videos, podcasts, music, news, memes, messages and everything the internet offers — to our digital devices. All that data that we’ve grown accustomed to having fast at our fingertips along with our always-on mentality ends up contributing to our digital carbon footprints.

  • WebThings Gateway for Wireless Routers

    In April we announced that the Mozilla IoT team had been working on evolving WebThings Gateway into a full software distribution for consumer wireless routers.

    Today, with the 0.9 release, we’re happy to announce the availability of the first experimental builds for our first target router hardware, the Turris Omnia.

  • MrEd, an Experiment in Mixed Reality Editing

    For the past several months Blair, Anselm and I have been working on a visual editor for WebXR called the Mixed Reality Editor, or MrEd. We started with this simple premise: non-programmers should be able to create interactive stories and experiences in Mixed Reality without having to embrace the complexity of game engines and other general purpose tools. We are not the first people to tackle this challenge; from visual programming tools to simplified authoring environments, researchers and hobbyists have grappled with this problem for decades.

    Looking beyond Mixed Reality, there have been notable successes in other media. In the late 1980s Apple created a ground breaking tool for the Macintosh called Hypercard. It let people visually build applications at a time when programming the Mac required Pascal or assembly. It did this by using the concrete metaphor of a stack of cards. Anything could be turned into a button that would jump the user to another card. Within this simple framework people were able to create eBooks, simple games, art, and other interactive applications. Hypercard’s reliance on declaring possibly large numbers of “visual moments” (cards) and using simple “programming” to move between them is one of the inspirations for MrEd.

    We also took inspiration from Twine, a web-based tool for building interactive hypertext novels. In Twine, each moment in the story (seen on the screen) is defined as a passage in the editor as a mix of HTML content and very simple programming expressions executed when a passage is displayed, or when the reader follows a link. Like Hypercard, the author directly builds what the user sees, annotating it with small bits of code to manage the state of the story.

    No matter what the medium — text, pictures, film, or MR — people want to tell stories. Mixed Reality needs tools to let people easily tell stories by focusing on the story, not by writing a simulation. It needs content focused tools for authors, not programmers. This is what MrEd tries to be.

  • Firefox Reality for Oculus Quest

    Following our releases for other 6DoF headsets including the HTC Vive Focus Plus and Lenovo Mirage, we are delighted to bring the Firefox Reality VR web browsing experience to Oculus' newest headset.

    Whether you’re watching immersive video or meeting up with friends in Mozilla Hubs, Firefox Reality takes advantage of the Oculus Quest’s boost in performance and capabilities to deliver the best VR web browsing experience. Try the new featured content on the FxR home page or build your own to see what you can do in the next generation of standalone virtual reality headsets.

  • IRL (podcast): Democracy and the Internet

    Part of celebrating democracy is questioning what influences it. In this episode of IRL, we look at how the internet influences us, our votes, and our systems of government. Is democracy in trouble? Are democratic elections and the internet incompatible?

    Politico's Mark Scott takes us into Facebook's European Union election war room. Karina Gould, Canada's Minister for Democratic Institutions, explains why they passed a law governing online political ads. The ACLU's Ben Wizner says our online electoral integrity problem goes well beyond a few bad ads. The team at Stop Fake describes a massive problem that Ukraine faces in telling political news fact from fiction, as well as how they're tackling it. And NYU professor Eric Klinenberg explains how a little bit of offline conversation goes a long way to inoculate an electorate against election interference.

  • IRL (podcast): The Internet's Carbon Footprint

    Manoush Zomorodi explores the surprising environmental impact of the internet in this episode of IRL. Because while it’s easy to think of the internet as living only on your screen, energy demand for the internet is indeed powered by massive server farms, running around the clock, all over the world. What exactly is the internet’s carbon footprint? And, what can we do about it?

    Music professor Kyle Devine considers the environmental costs of streaming music. Geophysicist and pop scientist Miles Traer takes his best shot at calculating the carbon footprint of the IRL podcast. Climate journalist Tatiana Schlossberg explores the environmental influence we don’t know we have and what the web’s got to do with it. Greenpeace’s Gary Cook explains which tech companies are committed to renewable energy — and which are not. Kris De Decker tries powering his website with a homebrew solar power system. And, Ecosia's Chief Tree Planting Officer Pieter Van Midwoud discusses how his company uses online search to plant trees.

  • Upcoming deprecations in Firefox 70

    Several planned code deprecations for Firefox 70, currently available on the Nightly pre-release channel, may impact extension and theme developers. Firefox 70 will be released on October 22, 2019.

  • QMO: Firefox Nightly 70 Testday Results

    As you may already know, last Friday – July 19th – we held a new Testday event, for Firefox Nightly 70.

    Thank you all for helping us make Mozilla a better place: gaby2300, maria plachkova and Fernando noelonassis.

Mozilla debuts implementation of WebThings Gateway open source router firmware

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Moz/FF
OSS

For the better part of two years, the folks at Mozilla have been diligently chipping away at Mozilla WebThings, an open implementation of the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web of Things standard for monitoring and controlling connected devices. In April, it gained a number of powerful logging, alarm, and networking features, and today, a revamped component of WebThings — WebThings Gateway, a privacy- and security-focused software distribution for smart home gateways — formally debuted.

Experimental builds of WebThings Gateway 0.9 are available on GitHub for the Turris Omnia router, with expanded support for routers and developer boards to come down the line. (Separately, there’s a new build compatible with the recently announced Raspberry Pi 4.) Mozilla notes that it currently only offers “extremely basic” router configuration and cautions against replacing existing firmware, but the company says that it’s a noteworthy milestone in its path to creating a full software distribution for wireless routers.

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Mozilla: Android, VR and Rust

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Moz/FF
  • Recent fixes to reduce backlog on Android phones

    Last week it seemed that all our limited resource machines were perpetually backlogged. I wrote yesterday to provide insight into what we run and some of our limitations. This post will be discussing the Android phones backlog last week specifically.

    The Android phones are hosted at Bitbar and we split them into pools (battery testing, unit testing, perf testing) with perf testing being the majority of the devices.

  • Q&A: Igniting imaginations and putting VR in the hands of students with Kai Frazier

    When you were in school, you may have taken a trip to a museum or a local park, but you probably never got to see an active volcano or watch great whites hunt. As Virtual Reality grows, this could be the way your kids will learn — using headsets the way we use computers.

    When you were in school, you may have gone on a trip to the museum, but you probably never stood next to an erupting volcano, watching molten lava pouring down its sides. As Virtual Reality (VR) grows, learning by going into the educational experience could be the way children will learn — using VR headsets the way we use computers.

    This kind of technology holds huge potential in shaping young minds, but like with most technology, not all public schools get the same access. For those who come from underserved communities, the high costs to technology could widen an already existing gap in learning, and future incomes.

  • This Week in Rust 295 [Ed: Just delete GitHub , Mozila, And why you're at it, stop using proprietary software and imposing it on Rust contributors.]

    This Week in Rust is openly developed on GitHub.

  • How to speed up the Rust compiler in 2019

    libsyntax has three tables in a global data structure, called Globals, storing information about spans (code locations), symbols, and hygiene data (which relates to macro expansion). Accessing these tables is moderately expensive, so I found various ways to improve things.

Firefox 69 Beta On Linux Bringing Better Performance

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Linux
Moz/FF

With the recent release of Mozilla Firefox 68 there are some nice WebRender performance improvements that Linux users can enjoy. But with Firefox 69 now in beta there is even better performance, including when enabling WebRender on Linux.

Given the recent Firefox 68.0 release and Firefox 69.0 being promoted to beta, I ran some fresh browser benchmarks for checking out the current state of Mozilla's Linux performance from the Ubuntu desktop. The official Mozilla Firefox binaries for Linux x86_64 67.0.4, 68.0, and 69.0b3 were tested on the same system in a variety of browser benchmarks.

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Best free email program for Windows, Mac and Linux

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Moz/FF

You’ve got mail! Who doesn’t these days? With the number of business and consumer emails sent and received every day expected to exceed 293 billion this year, according to the Radicati Group, it seems everyone’s got mail.

One downside to such a volume of email is that most inboxes are cluttered and unmanageable. While many email users opt for utilizing multiple services such as Gmail, Outlook, or Yahoo to tame the mess and keep personal emails from getting mixed up with work emails, it is still a challenge.

One method for reigning in emails and keeping your accounts separate without the hassles many email clients come with is using a free email program that Kim recommends, Mozilla Thunderbird. This handy tool works across all platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux systems, and Android and Apple devices.

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Firefox 68 available now in Fedora

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Red Hat
Moz/FF

Earlier this week, Mozilla released version 68 of the Firefox web browser. Firefox is the default web browser in Fedora, and this update is now available in the official Fedora repositories.

This Firefox release provides a range of bug fixes and enhancements, including:

Better handling when using dark GTK themes (like Adwaita Dark). Previously, running a dark theme may have caused issues where user interface elements on a rendered webpage (like forms) are rendered in the dark theme, on a white background. Firefox 68 resolves these issues. Refer to these two Mozilla bugzilla tickets for more information.
The about:addons special page has two new features to keep you safer when installing extensions and themes in Firefox. First is the ability to report security and stability issues with addons directly in the about:addons page. Additionally, about:addons now has a list of secure and stable extensions and themes that have been vetted by the Recommended Extensions program.

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Mozilla Firefox: Firefox 68, Charsets and Grizzly Browser Fuzzing Framework

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Moz/FF
  • Mike Hommey: Reproducing the Linux builds of Firefox 68

    Starting with Firefox 68, the Linux builds shipped by Mozilla should be reproducible (it is not currently automatically validated that it definitely is, but 68.0 is). These builds are optimized with Profile Guided Optimization, and the profile data was not kept and published until recently, which is why they weren’t reproducible until now.

    The following instructions require running Docker on a Linux host (this may or may not work on a non-Linux host, I don’t know what e.g. Docker for Mac does, and if the docker support in the mach command works with it). I’ll try to make them generic enough that they may apply to any subsequent release of Firefox.

  • Mozilla Releases Firefox 68 as the Next ESR Series with Cryptomining Protection

    Mozilla officially released today the Firefox 68 web browser for all supported platforms, including Linux, Mac, and Windows, making it an ESR (Extended Support Release) version.
    The popular open-source and cross-platform Firefox web browser from Mozilla has been updated to version 68.0, a major release that expands the dark mode in the reader view to make the controls, toolbars, and sidebars on windows dark too. Additionally, Firefox 68 introduces new cryptomining and fingerprinting protections to strict content blocking settings.

    Firefox 68 also improves add-on security and discovery by introducing a Recommended Extensions program in about:addons to help users easily find high quality and secure add-ons and themes, a new reporting feature in about:addons to let users quickly report security and performance issues with add-ons, and revamp the extensions dashboard in about:addons.

  • Dave Townsend: Please watch your character encodings

    I started writing this as a newsgroup post for one of Mozilla’s mailing lists, but it turned out to be too long and since this part was mainly aimed at folks who either didn’t know about or wanted a quick refresher on character encodings I decided to blog it instead. Please let me know if there are errors in here, I am by no means an expert on this stuff either and I do get caught out sometimes!

    Text is tricky. Unicode supports the notion of 1,114,112 distinct characters, slightly more than a byte of memory can hold. So to store a character we have to use a way of encoding its value into bytes in memory. A straightforward encoding would just use three bytes per character. But (roughly) the larger the character value the less often it is used, and memory is precious, so often variable length encodings are used. These will use fewer bytes in memory for characters earlier in the range at the cost of using a little more memory for the rarer characters. Common encodings include UTF-8 (one byte for ASCII characters, up to four bytes for other characters) and UTF-16 (two bytes for most characters, four bytes for less used ones).

    What does this mean?

  • Grizzly Browser Fuzzing Framework

    At Mozilla, we rely heavily on automation to increase our ability to fuzz Firefox and the components from which it is built. Our fuzzing team is constantly developing tools to help integrate new and existing capabilities into our workflow with a heavy emphasis on scaling. Today we would like to share Grizzly – a browser fuzzing framework that has enabled us to quickly and effectively deploy fuzzers at scale.

    Grizzly was designed to allow fuzzer developers to focus solely on writing fuzzers and not worry about the overhead of creating tools and scripts to run them. It was created as a platform for our team to run internal and external fuzzers in a common way using shared tools. It is cross-platform and supports running multiple instances in parallel.

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