Why I use both uBlock Origin and uMatrix
Isn’t uMatrix an advanced version of uBlock Origin? What’s the rationale behind using both of them?
(Writing this has given me a new appreciation for the difference between the blocklist sources included in uMatrix and the filter lists included in uBlock Origin. The blocklists uMatrix uses just list hosts, because that's what uMatrix deals with. uBlock Origin's filter lists include all sorts of sophisticated matching rules to make HTML elements disappear, as well as some host lists. Having just checked it now, I believe that all of the default uMatrix hosts lists are also in uBlock Origin, although they may not all be enabled by default.)
My Firefox addons as of Firefox '74' (the current development version)
As I write this, Firefox 72 is the just released version of Firefox and 73 is in beta, but my primary Firefox is still a custom hacked version that I build from the development tree, so it most closely corresponds to what will be released as Firefox 74 in a certain amount of time (I've lost track of how fast Firefox makes releases). Since it's been about ten versions of Firefox (and more than a year) since the last time I covered my addons, it's time for another revisit of this perennial topic. Many of the words will be familiar from the last time, because my addons seem to have stabilized now.
My core addons, things that I consider more or less essential for my experience of Firefox, are:
- Foxy Gestures
probably still the best gestures extension for me for modern
versions of Firefox (but I can't say for sure, because I no
longer investigate alternatives).
(I use some custom gestures in my Foxy Gestures configuration that go with some custom hacks to my Firefox to add support for things like 'view page in no style' as part of the WebExtensions API.)
- uBlock Origin (Github) is my standard 'block ads
and other bad stuff' extension, and also what I use for selectively
removing annoying elements of pages (like floating headers and
(Github) is my primary tool
cookies as far as I know, and in any case uMatrix gives me finer
- Cookie AutoDelete
deals with the small issue that uMatrix doesn't actually block
cookies, it just doesn't hand them back to websites. This is
probably what you want in uMatrix's model of the world (see my
entry on this for more details), but
I don't want a clutter of cookies lingering around, so I use
Cookie AutoDelete to get rid of them under controlled circumstances.
(However unaesthetic it is, I think that the combination of uMatrix and Cookie AutoDelete is necessary to deal with cookies on the modern web. You need something to patrol around and delete any cookies that people have somehow managed to sneak in.)
Additional fairly important addons that would change my experience if they weren't there:
(Github) gives me the ability
to edit textareas in a real editor. I use it all the time when
writing comments here on Wandering Thoughts, but not
as much as I expected on other places, partly because increasingly
people want you to write things with all of the text of a paragraph
run together in one line. Textern only works on Unix (or maybe
just Linux) and setting it up takes a bit of work because of how
it starts an editor (see this entry),
but it works pretty smoothly for me.
(I've changed its key sequence to Ctrl+Alt+E, because the original Ctrl+Shift+E no longer works great on Linux Firefox; see issue #30. Textern itself shifted to Ctrl+Shift+D in recent versions.)
- Open in Browser
(Github) allows me
to (sometimes) override Firefox's decision to save files so that
I see them in the browser instead. I mostly use this for some
PDFs and some text files. Sadly its UI isn't as good and smooth
as it was in pre-Quantum Firefox.
- Cookie Quick Manager (Github) allows me to inspect, manipulate, save, and reload cookies and sets of cookies. This is kind of handy every so often, especially saving and reloading cookies.
The remaining addons I use I consider useful or nice, but not all that important on the large scale of things. I could lose them without entirely noticing the difference in my Firefox:
- Certainly Something
(Github) is my
TLS certificate viewer of choice. I occasionally want to know the
information it shows me, especially for our own sites.
- HTTP/2 Indicator
(Github) does what
it says; it provides a little indicator as to whether HTTP/2 was
active for the top-level page.
- Link Cleaner cleans
the utm_ fragments and so on out of URLs when I follow links. It's
okay; I mostly don't notice it and I appreciate the cleaner URLs.
(It also prevents some degree of information leakage to the target website about where I found their link, but I don't really care about that. I'm still sending
Refererheaders, after all.)
- HTTPS Everywhere, basically just because. But in a web world where more and more sites are moving to using things like HSTS, I'm not sure HTTPS Everywhere is all that important any more.
Some of my previous extensions have stopped being useful since last time. They are:
- My Google Search URL Fixup,
because Google changed its search pages (as covered above for
Stylus) and it became both unnecessary and non-functional. I
should probably update its official description to note this, but
Google's actions made me grumpy and lazy.
- Make Medium Readable Again (also, Github) used to deal with a bunch of annoyances for Medium-hosted stuff, but then Medium changed their CSS and it hasn't been updated for that. I can't blame the extension's author; keeping up with all of the things that sites like Medium do to hassle you is a thankless and never-ending job.
I still have both of these enabled in my Firefox, mostly because it's more work to remove them than to let them be. In the case of MMRA, perhaps its development will come back to life again and a new version will be released.
(There are actually some branches in the MMRA Github repo and a bunch of forks of it, some of which are ahead of the main one. Possibly people are quietly working away on this.)
(There are somewhat scary directions in the Decentraleyes wiki on making it work with uMatrix. I opted to skip them entirely.)