Thanks Firefox, for screwing me


Firefox just closed weeks worth of tabs, and thus I decided to close it, for the last time on my desktop.

Here is a thing I do often with Firefox: restart it when it starts using up too much memory. Tabs are lazily loaded, and I’ve configured Firefox to load the ones from the last session every time it starts. So when there are too many tabs, I restart Firefox, and only load tabs that I’ll use immediately, and the others wait until I return to them, sometimes weeks later.

Some minutes ago, I just did the same: tens of tabs were open since days, freeing up some memory would be nice. I hit Ctrl-q like I did all the time, then started it up again with my usual profile. And I got back… an empty window. All my tabs closed, and because I’ve disabled history (I do empirically know this does not interfere with reloading tabs, I have it configured this way since years), eternally lost. I rushed to my phone, hoping to open them up in the phone from the Synced Tabs menu, but before I restored a dozen, it refreshed, and lo and behold: an empty list, clean as fuck.

At this moment I’ve declared Firefox unreliable software for myself. I use the version from Debian unstable, and haven’t updated it in weeks. I cannot risk using it as my default browser anymore, if it can not deliver the promise of restoring my tabs after restarts.

I can not describe how frustrated I am. I did not lose some tabs. I lost product of weeks and weeks of research, reading feeds and newsletters, URLs that I did not make a note of elsewhere because I trusted Firefox. Searches on DDG and wiki pages opened from my lesson notes that I did not digitalise because I already had the relevant stuff in my trusty tabs in Firefox. But only so far. This is unacceptable for me.

I do not want to suggest anybody to leave it with me. But I strongly recommend not relying on this feature of restoring your tabs. I want to rely on it, and thus I’m departing. My current alternatives off the top of my head are Qutebrowser, Next browser (the Common Lisp one), and some other similar browsers. I will also try to move quite a bit of my web browsing into EWW, given most links I find them either in my notes, from Elfeed, or from Gnus.

The thing is, this was not like I didn’t see it coming. Firefox for Android, my second most used browser after Firefox on my laptop, started to crash every other day. I did lose some important tabs there too, albeit configuration to reload them. But I thought that was an issue with Android. And I didn’t care because I did not keep important tabs there, always sent them to my laptop Firefox. It never occured to me that I could’ve lost my dozens of tabs on it. But here I am, complaining in a blog post because I can’t do anything else.

One thing I’ll miss will be Sync, though I’ll just replace it with Orgzly.

I stayed in Firefox through privacy fuckups. I stayed through policy fuckups. I stayed through the genocide of extensions. I stayed through daily crashes in the stable Android app.

Now, bye.