My current set of Firefox Quantum (57+) addons

March 30, 2018

It turns out that I use way more instances of Firefox than I really expected, between my work laptop (in Linux and Windows), the ones I maintain for Twitter (on two machines), test builds to track Firefox development, and so on. Although I'm still using Firefox 56 as my primary Firefox, I've upgraded all of these other instances to Firefox Quantum, which has caused me to converge on a more or less final set of addons that I'm going to use when I switch my primary Firefox over, which is getting increasingly tempting for various reasons (but not for the last reason; switching from NoScript to uMatrix has basically eliminated my memory issues).

(My current excuse for not switching over is that I'm waiting for this bug to be fixed.)

Partly because I keep setting up Firefox Quantum instances and I want a central reference, here's my list of current addons along with some notes on my experience with alternatives and how I configure them. I have more extensive notes on some of these addons in my previous entry on likely Quantum addons.

  • uBlock Origin is my standard block-bad-stuff extension. I turn on advanced mode, disable WebRTC, and enable uBlock's 'Annoyances' filter list.

    (I don't use the advanced mode so far, but turning it on makes it available and gives me easily available information on what the page uses and what's blocked.)

  • uMatrix is what I now use to block JavaScript and cookies (and other bad stuff). I disable showing the number of blocked resources on the icon because it tends to be too noisy (and uBlock Origin basically does that too) and I turn off spoofing <noscript> tags, spoofing the HTTP referer for third party requests, and regularly clearing the browser cache.

    (Possibly I should allow uMatrix to spoof the HTTP referer, but I have complicated feelings about this in general because of how the HTTP referer is useful to site operators.)

  • Foxy Gestures is the best replacement for FireGestures that I've found. Mozilla's 'find a replacement for your old addon' stuff recommends Gesturefy, but for me it's an inferior replacement; I don't like parts of its UI, it doesn't appear to have export and import of your changes in gesture bindings, and it doesn't allow for user custom gestures which is important to me because I hack some new WebExtensions APIs into my personal Firefox build in order to add gestures that are important to me.

  • Disable Autoplay for Youtube is the best addon I've found for this purpose; it's very close to how FlashStopper works. The one flaw I've found with it, which I suspect is generic to how WebExtensions work, is that if I restart the browser with one or more YouTube windows active, one of them will start to play for a bit as the browser starts before this addon activates and stops it. I'm going to experiment with setting Firefox's media.autoplay.enabled preference to False to see if this is a tolerable solution that doesn't stop too many things or have other undesirable side effects, and it's possible that in the end this preference will be all that I need and I don't need (or want) an addon for this.

    (I can imagine some people wanting to stop autoplay only on YT, but this isn't my situation; I don't want video to autoplay anywhere. It's just that YT is one of the few places that I have configured to play video at all.)

    I configure the addon to also stop autoplay of Youtube playlists; basically I never want Youtube to autoplay things. Sometimes the video or piece of music that I want to play on YT is part of a playlist, which makes it very irritating when YT autoplays the next one on me. I didn't come to YT to listen to the playlist, I came for one thing.

  • Cookie AutoDelete is my current replacement for Self-Destructing Cookies (which I adopted in my primary Firefox due to switching to uMatrix). I enable autocleaning, turn off showing the number of cookies for the domain and notification, and turn on cleaning Localstorage.

    (I wish Cookie AutoDelete had something similar to SDC's 'recently self-destructed cookies' information because it's reassuring to know, but genuine notifications are too obtrusive.)

  • Cookie Quick Manager is a great addon for checking in on what cookies the browser is hanging on to and to peer inside them. I installed it basically to keep an eye on Cookie AutoDelete, but I feel it's handy in general. Because of how my window manager is set up, I configure it to start in a tab.

    (I've looked at Cookie Manager but I didn't like its interface as much.)

  • Textern is my replacement for It's All Text and I like it. In my primary Firefox, I'll be sideloading a hacked version that adds a context menu item for it.

  • Open in Browser is a traditional extension that I use because some websites try to have you download things that I can perfectly well view in the browser instead (for example, some bug trackers want you to download attachments to bug reports even for things like patches or logs that I could perfectly well view in the browser).

  • My Google Search URL Fixup addon, for the obvious reason. It turns out that Don't track me Google (written by the author of Open in Browser) will also do this (and for more Google search domains), but it's a lot more heavyweight so I'm sticking with my own addon.

  • HTTPS Everywhere, basically just because.

(Some of these addons work best on the most recent version of Firefox that you can get, because they use WebExtensions APIs and the like that weren't in Firefox 57. This is especially important for Foxy Gestures, due to issues with the middle mouse button on Linux in Firefox 57. Fortunately you shouldn't be running Firefox 57 anyway. I expect and hope that Firefox's WebExtensions APIs keep improving in new releases (and I have at least one bug that I should file sometime, because about:home currently doesn't work too well in my setup).)

In general there are some limitations and irritations in the new WebExtensions world but I can basically get something equivalent to my current Firefox environment, Firefox Quantum appears to have real performance improvements, and like it or not Quantum is my future. I know I don't sound too enthused here, but I kind of am. At this point I've put Firefox Quantum through a reasonable amount of use (primarily due to Twitter) and it's left me reasonably enthused about eventually switching.

I don't bother to use all of these extensions in every Firefox instance I have (and I can't sideload my hacked Textern version in anything except my own builds, since only 'developer' versions of Firefox can load unsigned addons), but this is the full set. Possibly I should use uMatrix more widely than I currently do, since it's not too annoying to set it up to allow only Twitter to use JavaScript and cookies (for example).


Comments on this page:

By nxadm at 2018-03-31 03:59:35:

"media.autoplay.enabled"

I actually don't understand why this isn't false by default. Zero issues with it.

Thank you for the list!

By Opk at 2018-03-31 06:16:04:

You don't elaborate on your about:home problems but one of the main things that has kept me on the old 52 ESR release in most places is that the New Tab Override plugin was broken in 57. I use a local file for my bookmarks where the file contains quite a bit of JavaScript that I don't want to lose. Some of the problems stem from the fact that I want this file displayed for new tabs.

There's also New Tab Homepage which solves some problems by pulling the local file into it's storage area but the JavaScript doesn't work. I had to put images inline in the HTML in base64 for them to work.

Where I do have 57, I have to middle-click on the home icon to open new tabs.

By cks at 2018-03-31 15:46:44:

My about:home problem is that about:home itself is currently the same as about:newtab (what you get for new tabs, which is locked to a choice of either a blank page or the 'Firefox Home'). My actual home page is a file:/// URL and for good reasons there's no way for addons to open such URLs. The net result is that Foxy Gestures has no way to do an 'open new window' that creates the same thing that I'd get with Ctrl-N. It can't provide the URL directly, and telling Firefox to use about:home gets the wrong result.

The terrible hack around this is to run a local web server that holds your home page/new tab page and then have Foxy Gestures or things inject this URL for new pages and new tabs. The WebExtensions API does let you use HTTP and HTTPS for at least new windows, and it works fine. I just hate the idea of having a little web server running just for this (and having to depend on it).

(Since I was already hacking in new WebExtensions APIs, I added another one that basically invokes the Ctrl-N 'New Window' Firefox code. This only works in my own builds, but that's the only place that I really care.)

By Jukka at 2018-04-01 11:14:56:

Your list looks quite exhaustive, but you're not alone.

I guess maintenance is a problem. And even Firefox moves too fast nowadays.

For these reasons, I have actually put an entry to my coding TODO list: "write your own browser". Not from scratch, of course; WebKit provides a robust base and you can implement a capable browser in Python in less than 10k LOC with PyQt5.

If nothing else, completing the TODO item would be a nice exercise in understanding what is actually going on within browsers.

Written on 30 March 2018.
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