I am really digging Basilisk

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CodeLurker
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I am really digging Basilisk

Unread postby CodeLurker » Wed, 07 Nov 2018, 21:27

FF is getting faster, and gets security updates. Unfortunately, they are Hell-bent on losing everything that makes it FF, and making a work-alike of Chrome out of it. For example:

  • No menu bar by default
  • A new "hamburger menu"
  • The Omnibar is now the default in FF; and the Search Bar is off by default.
  • You can't turn off checking for updates now. How soon will it be until only developers can turn off their automatic installation?
  • Screwing addon developers by forcing use of Chrome's underpowered WebExtensions and disabling XUL-style plugins almost overnight, when making it an option would have been feasible; since guidelines had been drafted to allow for multi-threading compatible XUL-style plugins
Quick! Somebody post an enhancement request to get rid of scrolling tabs in FF, and make them just squish up more and more, the more you open. Don't even give a reason why, and everybody else support it. That should be roughly the last main difference! I think they'll probably accept it! Firefox also has some sort of severe problem where, if you leave it running overnight sometimes, but almost always for three days, its performance degrades to the point where it's unusable. Note that the CPU is NOT running wild when this happens. Furthermore, this is a gradual process; so performance is gradually degrading from the moment you turn it on.

I've tried a LOT of browsers. I don't like the privacy concerns of Chrome; that Chrome and its Chromium variants can't handle a lot of tabs open well, that its WebExtensions are underpowered, and that its GUI can't be customized much. Vivaldi looks promising, but CRAWLS when recalling a lot of tabs. Opera Neon looks promising, as it too has scrolling tabs, but it is just in its infancy, and requires tabs to be huge and on the right, currently. Seamonkey doesn't have an official 64-bit build, and the one I tried, which was a later version than I had initially been trying, broke all but one of my legacy plugins that otherwise worked in it. I think my problem with PaleMoon was limited plugin compatibility, too.

So far, I'm not seeing what not to like about Basilisk. I'm running vers. 2018.11.07. I can run great legacy plugins. There is no WebExtension version of Session Manager, and its WE replacements don't work right in FF variants. You just can't do "Add Bookmark Here2" right in WebExtensions. They're too limited. You can't have a plugin like older versions of ForecastFox create multiple items on the status bar in WE, although I confess to using a later version than that. From GreaseMonkey:

"Due to the external deadline (when Firefox 57 comes, Greasemonkey 3 won't work anymore) not all features you're used to are available. For example: Firefox Sync and script auto update are missing. There are no per-script settings (custom include/exclude), and some of the UI is still quite basic. This as well will be improved in the future."

As for Basilisk: I was getting high CPU usage with runaway JS pretty regularly. I continued to use it, but had to restart it ~5X/day. Still, I really liked that it worked the way it should. I had tried FF in safe mode, and STILL found that its performance kept degenerating over time, until you restarted it. I found that the landing page of YT was making that happen. Then, I tried it in Safe Mode. Whoa! It quit happening! I tracked it down to a GreaseMonkey script: YouTube Links 2.01. I disabled that, and it doesn't seem as if performance degrades in time, anymore. Of course, a rogue JS can still bring it to its knees. I really like that you are also trying to support WebExtensions. I hope that you can one day enable e10s. You might offer users a choice of e10s XUL plugins, or to support almost all of them, but without e10s. Perhaps you'll solve the technical problem that FF didn't even really try to solve; and make most legacy plugins work with e10s. Perhaps problem ones could be flagged, and the user given a choice to disable them, or turn off e10s. e10s holds great promise, sort of like the difference between XP and Win7: one misbehaving process can't usually bring the whole system to its knees. Still, compared to what you have already achieved, it would be icing on the cake for me.

So, to preach to the choir, let's look at what you have achieved:

  • One of the fastest FF variants out there, if not THE fastest
  • A high degree of compatibility with modern web standards
  • You can still plug in Adobe Reader and Flash. It seems they were getting blamed for FF's problems, but they didn't deserve it. (Perhaps word had leaked out that someone at Adobe had voted for a Republican?)
  • Recent FF security improvements
  • A sensible GUI, once one makes some customization back to earlier FF stuff: a separate search bar, no hamburger menu, a menu bar, scrolling tabs ...
  • Most legacy addons that I care about are working. (The only one that's not? FF3 theme for FF4. It just looks kewl.)
  • Some WebExtension support (although I can't really think of a WebExtension killer app)
  • It is privacy aware. I used to use IronBrowser, until I got sick of Chromium.
Legacy addons are sort of like WinAMP plugins, skins and codecs. The community of fans is so large, that people won't let them die; in spite of very bad mismanagement (although they finally dropped a new version, and it IS a modest improvement). With Basilisk, it goes even deeper, as although it has one or a few contributors, contributions from FF and plugin developers are a HUGE part of it too. It is all surely very complex, and most users spend more time using a browser than listening to music. If performance continues not to degrade, this is everything I've been hoping for in a browser, save e10s. Even without e10s, given FF's tendency to have performance degrade, Basilisk gives me a much faster and smoother experience (so far). I'll report on this thread if I keep having runaway JS, or other performance degredation problems.

While sandboxing is important, I don't use AV at all! By using Sandboxie, Hostsman with selected HPHosts malware lists, and WinPatrol, I've been able to keep three networked computers nearly malware-free for some years - with the last infections being programs from untrusted sources that were unwisely installed without running them in Sandboxie first. Yes, sandboxing is an important feature; but I've found Basalisk to run very well in Sandboxie. It would be good if it could one day make it to Basilisk or PaleMoon. Sandboxie can require some technical expertise to use. I'd say it is a great solution if you have some modest technical expertise. I'd say it is a must to run a browser in some kind of sandbox or a virtual machine, to avoid malware. Thus, sandboxing would be a great long-term goal, to make Sandboxie unnecessary; but I for one do not find it at all pressing, for now.

I joined this forum just to tell you how well I thought your were doing. I think a lot of people are too ready to be disappointed again, and you may not be hearing it often enough. I'm sick of Chrome, and of not having some really great legacy plugins, and of really poor performance. Basilisk is the ONLY browser on WIndows I've tried that has none of these problems. I've also had a similar performance slowdown in FF when testing on Linux; but Basilisk turns out to be really fast, thus far. Thanks for removing all the telemetry, although some people may yet want it to help FF. Ideally, there might be a global absolute telemetry defeat: some kind of truly private browsing switch - no anti-phishing or attack site warnings, search engine suggestions, etc.

I notice some posts that said Basilisk won't have language packs or be a production browser. I think it's great. I wish it would have and be those things. What else does it need to be great? If I don't keep getting frequent runaway JS's, it's by far the best browser I've ever used (with the possible exception of, some poster somewhere recommended FF 26). I realize that some of these things will require a lot of work; and you are doing incredibly well with the work you do put into it. Perhaps you can't imagine ramping up your work to flesh out the rest of these issues. I say, never say never. I imagine Basilisk might keep growing in popularity, and when it doubled, tripled, or dectupled in popularity, perhaps more committers and/or crowdfunding might help fill in the void in the labor gap. Perhaps PaleMoon will become as good as this; and it can become this browser, but as a mainline release. I can only hope. I must say, I like the Basilisk name and icon better than PaleMoon; although many girls might not agree. These last two are only details, though. Suffice it to say, that I hope a browser as good as Basilisk becomes a mainline, long-term release. As for me, right now, my browser of choice just got a lot better (by turning off that rogue GreasyMonkey script - although another is running fine without problem).

Thx for your efforts, and I, for one, feel like you're hitting it out of the park. I felt I should post a msg here, lest you lose heart, or others not really understand what they have here.

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