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Mozilla Plans To Remove Support For Firefox Complete Themes 267

AmiMoJo writes: Mozilla's engineers have announced the removal of Firefox complete themes as a way to lighten the browser core and remove a feature they don't see as heavily used any more. "Personas", or lightweight themes that are basically just wallpaper images, will remain. The Firefox community did not respond well to this piece of news, most seeing it as the engineers "chromifying Firefox." The change is part of Mozilla's Great-or-Dead initiative, which plans to simplify the Firefox codebase and remove features that are not popular.
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Mozilla Plans To Remove Support For Firefox Complete Themes

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 12, 2015 @05:07PM (#50917349)

    We already have gui toolkit theming, why do we also need individual application theming?

    • A good reason? Hum... How about "keeping the look you like the Firefox from more or less 3 years ago" ? The design of the most current version for me is a total clowning invented by people who do not have a clue how to make a useful interface.
  • Agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Look, if a few people are the only ones using a specific feature, and they can't live without it, fork the code. Don't continue to bloat the browser for the other 99% of users that would rather have a light, fast browser without this obscure feature.

    • Re:Agree (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Burz ( 138833 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @06:09PM (#50917783) Homepage Journal

      FF still ignores OS themes, making their special "complete themes" necessary for many people. And I do mean "necessary"...

      I like to read at night without having to turn display brightness to nearly zero (which is still too bright and makes everything look like dishwater). Even if I use an extension like BYM to darken web pages, I still have the FF GUI blaring at my eyes. The solution is to use an addon like DeepDark to tame the UI.

      Now I'll have a browser that neither honors my Gnome dark theme setting, nor honors its own custom dark theme. THAT is a clusterf*ck.

      • I tried to pull up that extension and was greeted to a EULA. Is this common now? The only addon I use noscript - figured if I wanted to complain that ads are evil because of the insecure scripts then I should start just blocking ads that use scripts

        I just tried tab tree based on another post here, so I guess that makes two.

    • Too bad I already already posted in this thread. Notwithstanding that, here's your complimentary -1, Fuck You, Your Condescending Attitude, And The Horse You Both Rode In On

  • Time to go back to the tried and true sensible interface that is SeaMonkey.

    • Try: [] With the screen dimmer extension this is pretty nice: [] there is a few glitches with GTK + screen dimmer on linux, but it's way better than anything chrome has to offer which keeps blinking like crazy.
    • I still use the suite products, like SeaMonkey, since Netscape v3.x days. :)

  • by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @05:19PM (#50917425)

    Really, themes are an important feature? I hardly ever configure something in my browser so it looks different. I might do so if I find something annoying, like this chat thing they included several releases ago. I want a working browser. It should be fast and stable. And I want to share bookmarks and the keyring in a save way between all my accounts. True the tool should be able to use the icons of the specific host OS or UI framework, but beyond that. I do not see the need of some extra theming stuff.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      So you basically want Chrome then?

      • Most people just want to use their browser. Almost everyone I know uses Firefox mostly because IE sucked so much in the past. And they do not play around with themes. They might install icon sets, but only at home.

        I know geeks like to configure everything and that is OK , but it is not what matters for the majority of users.

        And no I do not want to use the Google sees it all tool for obvious reasons.

        • People are going to look strange at me for saying this but i've been rather impressed with the edge browser that came with windows 10. It's fast for casual browsing. I still load firefox when I need with more muscle but just quick look ups edge seems to be what I go with.

        • by MyAlternateID ( 4240189 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @06:27PM (#50917919) Homepage

          Most people just want to use their browser. Almost everyone I know uses Firefox mostly because IE sucked so much in the past. And they do not play around with themes. They might install icon sets, but only at home.

          I know geeks like to configure everything and that is OK , but it is not what matters for the majority of users.

          And no I do not want to use the Google sees it all tool for obvious reasons.

          The great number of useful extensions is my own main reason for using Firefox. I also have Chromium and Konqueror installed but I hardly ever use them.

          The Web is just too shitty of a general experience to use any browser without a good ad blocker. The many, many other available extensions is just icing on the cake.

      • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @05:58PM (#50917675) Homepage

        Does "basically want Chrome then" mean "don't want a browser which tries to put 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag"?

        Because the answer is overwhelmingly "oh hell yes".

        If Firefox is differentiating itself by adding features most people don't want or use, they're doing it wrong.

        So many features added to browsers these days leave me immediately thinking "How do I disable this crap?".

        • So just because a browser doesn't match your personal preferences, it's shit?

          Because not everyone wants lightweight browser. Those who do can use Chrome. It's already cornered the lightweight browser market, and a non-profit like Mozilla is not going to be able to oust one of the most profitable tech companies in the world from a market that it has dominated for years.

          Mozilla doesn't seem to have any real sense of strategy beyond "let's do what Chrome does", but they don't understand that people who like Ch

        • I hope I haven't missed anything else as offensive as these.

      • How does not having a use for themes equate to wanting Chrome? Underneath they are still very different browsers.

        I can tell you what I don't want, custom themed apps. I remember the abomination that was the early 00s where we had windows of all different sizes, shapes and colours. Is it too hard to have software simply respect the default OS?

        • How does not having a use for themes equate to wanting Chrome? Underneath they are still very different browsers.

          Most users couldn't care less about whether their browser is written in C or C++ or with Gecko or Blink.

    • I normally don't play around with themes too much but I do have the Classic Theme Restorer plug-in installed. I wonder if they are doing this just to kill off this type of plug-in and force everyone onto their new interface. I wouldn't put it past them.

      • That was my first thought.
        • by RDW ( 41497 )

          That was my first, second and third thought. I don't generally bother with themes as such, but Classic Theme Restorer is what has kept me from switching to Palemoon or Seamonkey as it currently provides the best of both worlds - access to the huge library of Firefox plugins and the occasional useful innovation in the core browser, with an interface I can make look like a subtly updated 3.x (for me the high point of FF interface design). CTR is an extension rather than a theme, but I assume it hooks into the

          • I feel much the same and have the plug-in Classic Toolbar Buttons that almost certainly hooks into the XUL to give me that 3.x look and colors I like - its one of the things that keeps me on Firefox.

            It's crazy what the leadership is doing...get rid of their plug-in architecture (so that advantage is smashed), get rid of the UI customization (so that advantage is smashed)...eventually all we'll have left is Chrome with a different web engine. This must be what its like when the marketshare water is goin
      • Try Pale Moon if that is what you are looking for. I think the Fork started in the early v20s of Firefox. It doesn't have the new UI crap in it.

    • So when Firefox releases yet another version, and the buttons and tabs and other stuff you "never configure" have been moved around and start acting differently, yet again, you're OK with that?

      Or is that when you might actually want to configure your browser and put all the stuff back the way you like it ? Because this is exactly what you have to do if you "hardly ever configure something in [your] browser so it looks different".

      That is exactly what they're going to break...your ability to keep the brow

    • Themes go heaps further than what colour the buttons are.

      Themes are (or were) our way of undoing self-serving/short-sighted UI changes otherwise forced down our throats.

      Or maybe you missed it when, for example, some tool at Mozilla decided that since he didn't like the status bar, no-one was going to have one anymore...?

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @05:20PM (#50917435) Homepage

    Can I get a version which doesn't have social network tie-ins, isn't a mail client, doesn't have its own chat, make it easy to block ads and other crap, doesn't spy on me, and doesn't otherwise think it's going to be the center of my damned universe?

    Because that would be awesome.

    Probably never gonna happen, but it would be awesome.

    • by Zocalo ( 252965 )
      That is supposedly the objective of the "Great or Dead" project - strip out all the crap, discard the stuff that few people use outright and reimplement the rest as optional modules/plugins or whatever. Quite how Mozilla is defining "optional" is to be determined, but I doubt it's going to be a simple case of opting for a custom install and then telling the installer not to install the modules that you see as worthless. I'm skeptical, given that things like the ill-received Pocket module bring funds to th
      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        If they do it well then maybe they'll get one user back and I can make the move to putting GhostBSD on bare metal.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Pale Moon. Doesn't support every Firefox plugin, but most of the important ones work. It switch to chromium.

      • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

        Hard as crap to netflix on Pale Moon (this is 1000% Netflix's fault), but generally a solid experience otherwise.

    • So... Chrome or Edge then? ;-) *ducks*
      • by cfalcon ( 779563 )

        Or Netscape Navigator!

        It's becoming quite obvious that Firefox and Chrome have become assimilated. Chrome and Firefox will become Internet Explorer 2.0- the browser you use when you need to access content that uses obsolete crap, like how Netflix can't stream to Linux without blah blah or how you will probably need Firefox to run Java applets. But I'm pretty sure we'll see a lot of people jumping to Pale Moon, and there's several chromium derivatives that should at some point be relevant enough to point t

    • Incognito window in Chrome - isn't that supposed to be quite privacy-safe?
    • Isn't that just Seamonkey? You even get plugin support (more or less). My little FF plugin works in Seamonkey with only a few minor differences.
  • by Snufu ( 1049644 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @05:25PM (#50917471)

    Step 1: Eschew everything that makes Firefox distinct from Chrome.
    Step 2: Make an inferior clone of Chrome on a budget smaller than Google's sofa change.
    Step 3: ???
    Step 4: Overtake Chrome!

    • by iONiUM ( 530420 )

      They're in a shitty spot. Their once very-fast-market-dominating browser has become very slow in recent years, and lost a lot of reputation with non-technical people.

      So what can they do, leave the browser (and their ever declining market share) as-is, and have a slow (but very customizable) browser, or start cutting out features to try and create a more manageable product which is hopefully also faster to try and compete with Chrome.

      This entire situation is a really good example of what exactly the trade-of

      • by ADRA ( 37398 )

        These trade-offs are mitigated with expressive and potentially vast extensibility mechanisms. Firefox seems to already have a very good trade-off between ease-of-use and extensibility, but gutting extensibility for real or perceived efficiency gains seems problematic.

        I think the more likely cause for the removal is that someone has to maintain compatibility with the component and its a hassle to do so. I assume that instead of plugging efficiency gaps, they're using perf loss as an excuse to remove the comp

        • by iONiUM ( 530420 )

          I think you're probably right. I think the real reason is just maintainability. I think by reducing the code, it will make it easier to maintain as well as try to find performance gains in general. Technically they can find it without removing the code, but it's much easier with a smaller code base. I'm also assuming their funding / team size has decreased in the recent years (I have no idea if it did), and this might be related?

          At the very least, it's a good way to get morale of developers up when you star

          • by narcc ( 412956 )

            I find Firefox very difficult to use these days, and their debugger console is a total mess (especially when it was Firebug before, and now it isn't) especially when you compare it to Chrome's.

            I completely disagree. It's a lot better than it was in the firebug days, and a bit better than what Chrome offers. What do you think is better and why?

        • by snadrus ( 930168 )

          I figured this relates to their effort to stop using their weird XUL system. The fewer parts of Firefox that are over a decade old, unused, and unmaintained, the better.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      To be fair, people have been moaning that Firefox is too bloated, but if they remove any bloat they get criticised. Being able to theme the whole ui seems a bit extravagant and not something that many people use.

      Firefox has some serious issues that are limiting its performance. Web is a platform now, and the browser is the OS, so performance is critical. To fix these issues is going to be painful. I'm not saying that the UI redesigns were not a mistake, but some big changes are inevitable.

      • I think the complaint has never been bloat, but ridiculously high memory usage. While they're similar in concept, bloat generally means "A program that uses up huge amounts of computing resources by implementing crap that nobody wants", vs ridiculously high memory usage which is more of a "Why is that I'm using 2 gigabytes simply by having Twitter, GMail, and a bunch of news articles open?"

        Some of it, in fairness, is more to do with how we program webpages these days. jQuery, for example, encourages the

        • I think the complaint has never been bloat

          You don't have to go beyond the comments on this page to know that is false

        • by narcc ( 412956 )

          I think the complaint has never been bloat, but ridiculously high memory usage.

          Only by idiots. Chrome has been the biggest memory hog for years now, using significantly more memory than FF. Yet the same yahoos that bash FF eagerly promote Chrome as a 'lightweight' alternative. It doesn't make any sense.

          it does seem to be mindboggling how we've gone from browsers like Firefox 3.x, which I happily ran on a 128Mb (yes, megabyte) Slackware Linux laptop, with no apparent memory leakage and decent performance, to today's Firefox which seem to have added little in features, yet end up sucking gigabytes of memory on a regular basis.

          As for memory usage and performance, you can thank modern web standards for a lot of that. Pages are heavier and more resource intensive than they were 10 years ago, and far more is expected of the browser. You'll want to include modern web standards when you're feature counting.

    • Step 3: ???

      For starters, and ahead of themes (?!), they have other problems to address: watching porn on FF is slow, on Chrome it's fine.

  • Having worked on a number of commercial projects, I'm proud of having pulled "custom themes" and other cruft out of about a half dozen shipping pieces of software. I've seen these features go in because 1) a lead developer wanted to play with a customization library 2) a key customer wanted the whole application in their corporate color or 3) product management thought people spent all day with their application maximized on the screen and needed to twiddle every button.

    For once, I agree with Mozilla. Yan

  • Please please (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Thursday November 12, 2015 @05:41PM (#50917569)

    Can someone tell me if this actually affects me? Oh they removed some underlying feature. That is neither here nor there if its of truly marginal use or something that can be added back with Add-Ons. All this isn't clearly outlined in the comment or announcement, so here goes:

    I have the following plugins. Which Add-Ons if any will be broken without any future fix after the deprecation?
    - Classic Theme Restorer
    - Add to Search Bar
    - Adblock Plus
    - Quick Search Bar
    - Hard Refresh
    - Flashblock

  • Interesting to see all of the complaints now about removing little used features and reducing bloat.
    The outrage here now is as great as I have seen in the past when FireFox was adding features and bloat.
    Can we make up our minds?... or do we just like to whinge?

  • This is actually a side effect of the other changes they are planning; particularly, the deprecation of XUL. The bug itself has comments dictating that they are not removing the concept entirely, but want to revamp it to fit the new architecture. Theoretically, a new theme system could be built under the new architecture.
  • I loved this.

    "This is why I'm here asking for feedback."

    But when given actual feedback.

    "Sorry, the decision about this has already been made."

    Not to mention that a new architecture for this can't be done yet because the new plugin setup isn't ready yet.
    And anything else they do will be deprecated the second they kill XUL and the old plugin setup. Translation: Wasted time and effort.

    Basically this has been a pattern at Mozilla for a good, long while now.

    A bunch of these top-down decisions, without actually

  • But the last theme I liked, and could actually install because the author hadn't abandoned, was for FF 3.5. I absolutely can't stand the default FF theme (which Australis made worse) and personas are useless. The complete theme concept has been deliberately allowed to atrophy over the last several years. The lack of updated complete themes is one of the reasons why I'm still using FF33 (and every time I upgrade I lose at least one extension I rely on).

    When they yank XUL out, FF will cease to be useful an

  • I remember when I had my first computer all to myself in college, and for about the first two or three years I'd get skins for different music players and whatnot, and spent a lot of time finding every which way I could customize/personalize every program. And now, it's more of a meh. Personally I feel like I "matured" out of the desire to completely overhaul the look of every program. I'm not saying that all personalization is bad, but there can be tasteful lines drawn. Plus, now that I code I'm aware of t

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