[linux-elitists] Yet another mozilla atrocity

Aaron Lehmann aaronl@vitelus.com
Sun Sep 28 16:56:25 PDT 2003

I use this list to rant about things that piss me off. That's probably
because elitists are never truly happy, or something like that.

Mozilla pisses me off. I appreciate NSCP's code contribution, the
contributions of several hackers who know what they're doing, AOL's
temporary support, etc. It's not even that bad a browser. However, I
cannot stand the attitude of upstream.

One can sum up the attitude like so: "The browser should work out of
the box for the dumbest of users. Anything that the elitist community
doesn't like should be labeled a feature. Preference items are a bad
thing because they make the program more complicated to use and slow
down the preferences dialog."

I've had many disputes with the mozilla team over the years. The
foremost and most obvious one is over the use of XUL, which is a pile
of shit. I've almost gotten over that, though, through daily
desensitization. I like Mozilla a lot better than Phoenix. I haven't
tried Phoenix (or whatever it's called now) that recently other than
to verify the claims I make here, but every time I did in the past, it
represented a disturbing trend in mozilla development. Instead of
migrating to an interface that wasn't based on XML and javascript, the
idea was to make the interface spartan to gain a speedup. A good
example of this is the Preferences dialog, which lacked many important
option. When I talked to developers about this, they stated that they
didn't intend to add many of them. The de-facto example was
favicon.ico support. It was enabled by default because "everybody
wants it, right?" IIRC for a long time it wasn't even possible to
disable it through the configuration file. It might be possible now,
but I'm not sure offhand because I don't use Phoenix/Firebird. Of
course, there still isn't an item in the preferences about it. And
Firebird requests /favicon.ico from every site, not just ones with one
listed in a meta tag. I just verified that it still does this. I view
that behavior as despicable and a valid reason not to use a browser.
There are other issues with Phoenix. I remember when they imported a
feature that made it zoom images to the full browser window when
viewing them. Does this remind anyone of IE? Anyway, they turned it on
by default and made it difficult or impossible to turn off. You could
say that Firebird, and even Mozilla itself, are trying to be just like
Internet Explorer, in all the bad ways. There have been plenty more
bad features stolen from I.E., like "smooth scrolling" and countless
others I haven't had the displeasure of using. Oh, and also the sidebar.
Fuck that. It's yet another stupid feature stolen from IE that I
prefer not to use but activate by accident all the time. I don't know
of a way to turn it off.

This brings me to the latest problem. I was unable to access a service
that was running on a nonstandard port. I got a useless message saying
"this port has been blocked for security reasons". It turns out that
this is considered a feature, for no reason that I can understand. It
is described at
http://www.mozilla.org/projects/netlib/PortBanning.html. Judging by
the port list, it looks like there is no real security reason to block
those ports, merely some developers who thought "Hmm, no one would run
a HTTP server on those ports. We'd better block them." I still don't
see the logic, though. As usual, there are no useful preference items.
The preferences dialog has no mention of this feature. It is possible
to disable the blocking of certain ports, but not turn off the whole
mechanism. If you elect to unblock every blocked port, you will have
to keep your list up to date when the mozilla developers decide to
block more. These restrictions even apply to connections to localhost.

The moral is not to implement stupid features just because competitors
have them. If people really want them, they should be available AS AN
OPTION. There is no excuse for pushing features on people, which the
mozilla team loves to do.

FWIW, Konqueror elicits many of the same objections from me. They used
to have favicon.ico implemented as an optional feature, but decided
that the option was "too confusing" and removed it from the
preferences dialog. It was possible to disable favicon spamming
through a configuration file, but I was disgusted that they thought
this option was a second class citizen. I also dislike Konqueror
because it tries to combine web browsing and file management into one
application - a flawed metaphor and UI obviously stolen from
you-know-who. IE features leave a bad taste in my mouth and I'd rather
use a browser whose designers had some originality (basically having
the original idea of not copying shit from IE).

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