Why I Broke Up With Firefox
Dear Firefox: It’s not me, it’s you. Our courtship began a little over four years ago when I realized that I was doing myself a disservice by limiting myself to the slow and bare-bones Microsoft Internet Explorer. There was a whole new world of open source for me to discover, and I thought I’d be happy installing extensions and opening tabs forever. After the last couple of releases, though, our relationship turned sour, and yesterday I had to break it off. Here’s what I hope the open source community learns from my unluckiness in love.
Open source is a means, not an end. Mozilla really broke new ground with the Firefox project. I understand that, and I applaud its dedication to its cause. That said, I feel like the Firefox dev team sometimes takes their eye off the ball and gets so caught up in adding all sorts of cool little features that they forget to plug a memory leak that’s been plaguing it for ages.
I could always tell when Firefox was running because my computer would slow to a crawl – and no, it didn’t get better with the new Firefox 3.6 Release Candidate. If I could tell FOSS developers one thing, it’s that real people need to use your software, not just developers and like-minded open-source zealots.
These days I’m with Firefox’s younger cousin Google Chrome. Like Firefox, Chrome lets me customize my installation with extensions and themes. Unlike Firefox, it’s lightning fast, open source, new-toy shiny out of the box, and best of all, it’s not built on the ruins of a company that hasn’t been relevant for over a decade.
There’s a lot of really good free and open software out there, but there’s a ton of rubbish, too. Learn from Google’s example, developers of rubbish: free doesn’t have to mean unusable.