Alternative Web Browsers (And Why I Still Use Firefox)
21st February, 2023
A little while ago, I wrote an article covering the many alternative web browsers that exist. Partly, I did so to let people know about the other options they have besides Chrome & Edge. But it was also a decent excuse to play around with some different browsers. And I had a blast doing just that.
Yet as fun and fascinating as these browsers were (to someone who likes tinkering with these things), I ultimately concluded that I would still stick with Firefox. And it's still my top recommendation for other people to use.
I'm aware that I'm becoming an ever-decreasing minority in this respect, as the last several years have seen Firefox's market share plummet. For the most part, this is simply down to how the average internet user is becoming ever more entrenched in the Microsoft and Google ecosystems. Plus, most people just don't really care about what browser they use, so long as it works. So why wouldn't they just stick with the default option or go with what they know?
But Firefox's own actions have played their part too. And it is hard to argue that it is as fantastic out of the box as it was a decade ago.
Thankfully, due to Firefox's open-source nature and configuration options, it's easy enough to tweak Firefox using the about configurations to improve its security and user experience (There are plenty of tutorials on how to do this, or you can copy across a user.js template from GitHub). And this is how I use the browser (with a few add-ons and altered settings). And it's pretty much as secure as you can get without turning to Tor (and even then, Tor has its issues).
But that raises the question: why not just use one of the Firefox clones that are more security-focused by default?
The issue is that browsers, such as Waterfox and Pale Moon, are entirely reliant on base Firefox updates. And no matter how great the developers are, there will always be a delay before these updates are implemented. Some Firefox clones are also based on older code, which makes security patches even more complicated. So while I have all the respect in the world for these projects and the developer behind them, the convenience is rarely worth it. Or at least, anyone thinking of using them should do their research first. For now, though, the only Firefox clone I'd honestly consider is LibreWolf, and even then, I personally don't see much benefit in switching as things stand.
A lot of privacy advocates love Brave. And it is indeed a good browser. But it's still Chromium. And it's no more an alternative to the Chrome of the world than Waterfox is to Firefox.
Therein lies another reason I stick with Firefox. It's the only other "real" choice.
There may be dozens, if not hundreds, of browsers in existence. But this variety is mostly an illusion of choice. The browsing world is really a one-sided duopoly between Firefox and Chromium spin-offs (unless you use an apple product, but that's a whole other issue). If Firefox goes, the internet experience most people will be left with will be based almost entirely on the Google Chrome engine. And monopolies are rarely a good thing for innovation.
Finally, there's another, less "philosophical" reason I use Firefox. It just works. And it's been my go-to since I learnt there was an alternative to internet explorer as a teen. And as things stand, I'll quite happily use it well into my old age. Chromium be damned.