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please port Firefox to SailfishOS to replace current browser

asked 2014-08-17 12:45:29 +0200

mordae gravatar image

updated 2014-08-22 16:14:47 +0200

jiit gravatar image

The alien mobile Firefox is faster, more stable and supports most of the official add-ons such as adblock.

After almost a year of development the built-in browser takes several seconds to even start loading a page, often starts ignoring all input and must be restarted, crashes on some sites and does not support add-ons at all.

Please, stop wasting resources on this software and explore the possibility of porting mobile Firefox to Sailfish instead. It may not adhere to your design guidelines, but users no longer expect browsers to. Does the best phone in the world not deserve the best browser?

EDIT: Mozilla wasted enough money on Windows Phone version and they won't be porting it anywhere else after that fiasco. What needs to be done is a redesign of the desktop Firefox chrome (user interface) for mobile devices. As it have been before the switch to native Android widgets in 2012. Maybe it's not too late to resurrect that code and bring it up-to-date. If you try the old fennec-13b1, you'll notice that it's basically fine and all the improvements from the past few years should be enough to make it an excellent native browser for Jolla.

EDIT: Google stopped shipping a base browser in 4.4 and Apple with Microsoft never did. Why is it so important for Jolla to deliver an application that will be immediately replaced with something more useful instead of providing a sane default?

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Porting mobile Firefox to Sailfish would take even more time than what is being done right now, and using the Android Firefox by default isn't an option because it would require Android support to be installed on every device.

(Besides, Firefox is far from the best mobile browser as it is also slow to start loading a page if you have more than 0 add-ons installed, or at least it is that way on my tablet. The Android Webkit-based browser is a lot faster.)

nthn ( 2014-08-17 14:12:10 +0200 )edit

I already have the best browser on my Jolla and I use it on a daily basis. It's called Opera and its APK is downloadable directly from their site. Of course it would be nice to see a native version instead of the Android version, especially since Opera is (was?) a member of the Sailfish Alliance, but we haven't heard much about that lately. I agree that is dubious that Jolla uses its resources to develop their own browser.

hana ( 2014-08-17 15:13:33 +0200 )edit

Note that you can set Firefox as your default browser. Not very easy to do, but doable:

Nux ( 2014-08-17 15:40:27 +0200 )edit

I think Jolla should have their own native browser as it is important for a mobile platform to provide basic first party functionality (like android does, the android browser isn't anything fantastic either).

But instead allow for default applications to be set, and encourage third party developers to adopt the platform (firefox, opera, chrome .etc), this allows for individuals to choose and takes pressure off Jolla to provide a "one size fits all" solution.

If you want firefox to be ported to sailfish, then send your request to mozilla, they may already be working on a port or will simply take your message as sign of demand for sailfish native apps.

r0kk3rz ( 2014-08-17 15:44:29 +0200 )edit

@nthn Firefox would only need a custom XUL chrome like it used to have on Android until the move to native widgets 2+ years ago. Hopefully, the performance of the phones caught up since then.

@hana They don't precisely create their own browser, but I don't think that replicating any non-core functionality in Qt is a way to go.

mordae ( 2014-08-17 15:45:23 +0200 )edit

5 Answers

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answered 2014-08-19 13:43:27 +0200

veskuh gravatar image

Unfortunately what you are suggesting is not easier nor faster than what we are currently doing.

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Has there been any interest from mozilla. Any communication between you (jolla not veskuh) and them of some sort??

ApB ( 2014-08-19 13:48:53 +0200 )edit

Are you sure this is really a good use of your time? The Browser, if any anything, has gotten worse in the 10 months since release. As of 1.08 it crashes all the time, and the freezing and input denial it has always suffered from is a lot worse now. Rather than polishing a turd, wouldn't the limited developer resources be better concentrated on improving the currently very poor reliability of the OS as a whole, and improving other core Apps (which so far haven't seen any progress)? Firefox for Android works flawlessly on Sailfish, and whilst in theory it should be more power hungry and less reliable as it's non native, it isn't at all ... it's so much faster, less buggy, has better UI and massively better features and configurability that it would take a gigantic leap from the current Jolla browser to even come remotely close.

midnightoil ( 2014-08-19 16:51:02 +0200 )edit

Additionally, both Opera Mobile and Firefox will almost certainly be ported to Ubuntu Touch and probably quite quickly once Ubuntu is released. Since it uses C++ and Qt and a gesture based UI, it'll be very little work to port this to Sailfish. Why waste time and resources?

midnightoil ( 2014-08-19 20:59:28 +0200 )edit

I have noticed too that the browser crashes a lot with the current Jolla release.

hana ( 2014-08-20 20:53:13 +0200 )edit

@veskuh Grudgingly accepting, but please think about it. You have nothing to gain from wasting you time on a basic browser.

mordae ( 2014-08-25 15:43:02 +0200 )edit

answered 2014-08-17 14:19:06 +0200

ApB gravatar image

The browser is based more or less on mozilla technology. And the only one who can port FF to sailfish is Mozilla themselves.

As for features missing (ie Adblock, Sync) you can up vote the feature requests here in TJC.

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@ApB You are kidding, right? After a year the browser is not capable of even the basic things and you expect me to believe that I am going to get adblock or FF-compatible sync before the next model comes out?

mordae ( 2014-08-17 16:56:49 +0200 )edit

The browser is open source, you can add those features yourself if you feel Jolla is taking too long.

nthn ( 2014-08-17 17:09:21 +0200 )edit

I agree that FF for Android is the most usable and most feature-rich browser for sailfish (with android vm) today, not opera (which lacks so many features since switching to blink). It's also easy to see that the native browsers lacks in usabilty and many features, it is far away from being your every day browser.

@ApB is right though, only Mozilla can port FF (if you want it done right). Maybe the Sailfish foundation could encourage Mozilla to port it tough (with money or otherwise)? It's definitely something the devs have to talk about.

acidicX ( 2014-08-17 17:25:12 +0200 )edit

@mordae Adblock used to work (you could install it) at some point and i have it on my browser. Sync has to be implemented. And as @nthn said the browser is open. Anyone (hat knows how to code) can implement a feature he needs.

You have to remember that jolla is the smallest company that makes it's own OS. Even Canonical has something like 500 employees. Like it or not the jolla journey needs patience.

ApB ( 2014-08-17 19:03:24 +0200 )edit

Last time I tried Firefox, it couldn't even play YouTube/Vimeo videos. By the way, what's up with these modern browsers lacking the possibility for a user to choose the default homepage? Only WebCat allows it! But WebCat doesn't show all the sites correctly and I don't understand the zoom that bounces back automatically.

hana ( 2014-08-17 20:22:41 +0200 )edit

answered 2014-08-19 15:16:43 +0200

snowfun gravatar image

I agree that there is a need to emphasise that the current jolla browser is embarrassingly poor. I disagree with those who adopt a "it's open source so DIY" approach - many of us purchased the product with no desire (or, indeed, knowledge) to have to write software for it ourselves. The Opera solution sounds intriguing... any chance of providing additional information as to how to do this? Since the browser experience is so crucial to extending the user-base the issue needs addressing. It is far more important than yet another compass/spirit level/bus-timetable app and the members of the community who are able and willing to write for Sailfish need to focus their attention to it. Who knows, if community efforts pick up then Jolla might actually attract users because of the browsing experience?

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I assume that anyone that purchased a jolla knew from the beginning that this is not a "complete product" (whatever that means) backed by a multinational multibilion dollar company.

As for your comment on compasses/spirits etc you have to remember that we are not in a dictatorship that we can force people to work on whatever we need -even though i believe that three spirit apps is more than enough :P -. People are free to do whatever they want. If you need an app just ask for it with an app-request tag. Someone might find it interesting and code one. Or he will see a business opportunity once jolla allows paid apps in the store.

ApB ( 2014-08-19 15:37:04 +0200 )edit

Only Jolla decided, in their great wisdom, to drop the Beta tag from Sailfish 3 or 4 months ago. There is now some rightful expectation of relability and features; something we categorically don't enjoy at the moment. 1.08 is arguably the worst release yet for reliablility and core functionality, since the reboot loops, power management issues and Browser problems are the worst yet.

A lot of people are acting like Jolla are a couple of bedroom coders who decided to write a new OS completely from scratch. Of course they're a collection of extremely experienced former Nokia staff who are building on the legacy of Maemo, Meego and now Nemo. The lack of progress we've seen in some (most) areas is rightly decried.

midnightoil ( 2014-08-19 16:55:55 +0200 )edit

I neither have reboot issues & since 4G activation my battery lasts more than pure 3g. If you have those you should contact care. I'll agree though that they dropped the beta tag a bit early. For my use case things that are missing are localization (official keyboard for my native language), some email and wifi functionality, media player functionality and some configuration options (already on the hone GUI missing). All of them are here in TJC and have quite a few votes and we know they work on it. We still don't have a huge native app ecosystem -ie. i really miss a native tapatalk app- but you cannot blame jolla for this.

ApB ( 2014-08-19 20:14:57 +0200 )edit

Take a look at the 400 upvote thread about reboots and reboot loops. It's been present since the beginning, but became intolerably bad with 1.08. Care won't and can't do anything. It's a combination of poor power management, low quality batteries used in the Jolla Phone and poor battery contact. Hence the bodging with pieces of paper and using a pencil rubber on the contacts. Processes randomly getting stuck in a state of high CPU use / battery drain are also worse than ever ... which of course makes the reboot problems worse. Also, if 4G does offer an improvement that assumes you're in one of the minority of areas with access to it and with a plan to support it. I think UI options and core app and core OS functionality need a lot of work generally.

midnightoil ( 2014-08-19 20:57:00 +0200 )edit


Have you sent your phone in and it came back having the same behavior??

ApB ( 2014-08-19 20:59:09 +0200 )edit

answered 2014-11-23 02:02:28 +0200

pavi gravatar image

Yes there is sailfish browser which is open source and is on github with an issue queue and active development. But the browser is a Gecko rendering browser which means it has quite some similarities to the main firefox browser. Can it catch up to provide a seamless experience as good as firefox ?

Balancing Proposal : Please make the sailfish browser do as many good things as firefox does and make it fast as the first thing many people would love to do on a phone is to check some website online and if the browsing experience is not on par with "firefox,chrome,safari etc" or even "ucbrowser" as some people complained its gonna leave a raw experience.

  1. Allow Extensions - Adblock plus would be the first on list for everyone
  2. Easy search engine changes - Already fixed by hacking it but isnt there by default. ( DDG,ixquick,startpage etc)
  3. Firefox Apps - There are a hell lot of them and they follow "Web standards" - yes there is a thread on it. has no updates :(

Dear @jolla as you have noticed most of the above issues have links solving these issues. Please fix them and make it a seamless experience for the users. And sailfish browser can have a look at small browsers like epiphany and midori for inspiration. In this particular case you have a loyal user base which is ready to test your every update every moment you release an update.

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answered 2014-11-23 02:41:35 +0200

shmerl gravatar image

I'd personally prefer Mozilla to participate in it and mainline IPC embedlite, but they so far were reluctant to do it. Their Android browser already isn't using XUL for UI and uses native Android runtime. So they should be OK with using Qt as well. The only reason Mozilla didn't do it is because Sailfish is a minority. So, please convince Mozilla to do something about it.

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I rely on Firefox on PC and many of the security/privacy addons. I need these to be available on Sailfish either on the native browser or a Firefox version. I see this as an essential requirement for Sailfish above many other apps.

mariner ( 2014-11-23 11:40:43 +0200 )edit

I agree with @mariner : I want the same browsing experience which would be possible with addons like ABP, ghostery etc.

pavi ( 2014-11-23 15:47:22 +0200 )edit

Yep, I'm all for it. See these proposals which I submitted a while ago:

But I think that without Mozilla's participation it won't move fast enough.

shmerl ( 2014-11-24 00:00:02 +0200 )edit
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Asked: 2014-08-17 12:45:29 +0200

Seen: 7,469 times

Last updated: Nov 23 '14