Desktop Linux Users Face Firefox Issue


The Managing Editor of OS News calls Firefox “the single most important desktop Linux application”, as it is shipped with most distributions, while some users opt for a post-installation download of Chrome. Nonetheless, they are worried about the future of Firefox on Linux.

Neither GNOME Web nor Falkon, the browsers of the two major desktop environments, have been particularly successful. None of the main Linux distributions offer GNOME Web as their default browser, while Falkon’s releases are few and far between. Furthermore, both browsers rely on Chromium through QtWebEngine and WebKit, which are updated separately from the browser, making them dependent on companies like Google and Apple.

Even Firefox, the browser of choice for Linux users, does not consider Linux a primary platform. It is well known that Firefox on Windows has had hardware video acceleration enabled by default for a long time, while Linux users had to wait until Firefox 115, released in early July 2023. Moreover, gesture support and other features have taken much longer to arrive on the Linux version.

The situation is alarming and there is nobody talking about it. The major stakeholders of the Linux desktop, such as KDE, GNOME, and the main distributions, should come together and create a plan of action. The best solution would be to fork one of the major browser engines and modify it specifically for Linux, focusing on optimisation for its graphics stack and desktops. In this way, they would no longer rely on scraps from Windows and macOS browser makers, but instead have a Linux-first or even Linux-only browser engine.

It is irresponsible of the prominent players in the desktop Linux community to apparently have no contingency plans for when Firefox fails or dies.

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