Linux Mint signs a partnership with Mozilla

Linux Mint signed a new partnership with Mozilla.

Mozilla develops two of the most important software applications in our distribution:

  • The Firefox Web Browser
  • The Thunderbird Email and Calendar application

Mozilla is one of the Open Source greatest champions of all time. It played a unique role throughout history in the promotion of Free Software and greatly contributed to the success of Linux.

In the 90’s Netscape Navigator was the most popular Web browser but it quickly lost its lead to Internet Explorer which came bundled with Microsoft Windows. The Web was changing rapidly, Explorer was dominant (it reached 95% user share in 2003) to the point where most websites no longer cared about compatibility with other browsers or operating systems and we got in a situation where Microsoft de-facto dictated Web standards.

Netscape did something formidable at the time. It released its source code to the World. Mozilla was formed to use that code and coordinate the development of a new Open Source browser, which eventually became Firefox. A few years later the Web was no longer dominated by a single browser. In 2010 Firefox represented 30% of the user share and Internet Explorer had gone down to 50%.

Firefox didn’t just save the Web, it promoted the idea of Free Software to millions of people who were using Windows, Mac or other proprietary operating systems. In the 2000’s, distribution shipped with Firefox, which many Windows users already knew and loved. This made it easier for people to migrate to Linux and distributions became more mainstream.

We have our champions. Pioneers and early adopters remember the importance of key projects and key personalities in the history of Linux and of Free Software. I remember using Netscape on Unix terminals at the university, even before we had Linux at home. I remember having the best browser available at a time when even getting a sound card to work in our favorite operating system was a challenge and very few software applications were available.

Nowadays this is still true. Firefox is still a champion of Open Source, it still proudly promotes Free Software outside of our community and it still produces one of the best and the most open browsers available not only to us but to millions of people who enjoy it on proprietary operating systems before migrating to Linux.

It’s a real pleasure for us to join forces with Mozilla and to start this partnership.

Changes in Firefox

Firefox will continue to be distributed as .deb packages through the official Linux Mint repositories. Its configuration and the way it is built is changing to make the Linux Mint version of Firefox much more similar (almost identical in fact) to the version which is distributed by Mozilla.

In the past Linux Mint used its own default settings and configured Firefox in a specific way. Most of this configuration is abandoned to go back to Mozilla defaults.

  • The default start page no longer points to https://www.linuxmint.com/start/
  • The default search engines no longer include Linux Mint search partners (Yahoo, DuckDuckGo…) but Mozilla search partners (Google, Amazon, Bing, DuckDuckGo, Ebay…)
  • The default configuration switches from Mint defaults to Mozilla defaults.
  • Firefox no longer includes code changes or patches from Linux Mint, Debian or Ubuntu.

For Mozilla, the goal is to make Firefox work the same way across all platforms to ease maintenance and simplify development and bug fixing. With these changes Firefox will give the same experience in Linux Mint as it does in other operating systems.

For us, this change means a tremendous simplification in terms of maintenance and development. We used to build Firefox ourselves using Ubuntu’s packaging (which is set to be discontinued as Ubuntu is moving towards snap). We now package the Mozilla version of Firefox instead.

With this partnership we also satisfy Mozilla’s requests when it comes to using their intellectual property (their name, brands and identity). For example, the Firefox icon is changing to follow Mozilla’s usage guidelines.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this a commercial or a technical partnership?

It’s both. Thanks to this partnership it’s also much easier for us to communicate with Mozilla and to work with them on improving Firefox in Linux Mint.

In the past we added support for XApp window progress, which is the the ability to show progress in the Cinnamon panel window list when you download something with Firefox.

Better support for rounded corner in Firefox’s own window decorations is coming in Firefox 96.

We’re hoping to work with Mozilla on software updates in 2022, to make it easier for Firefox and the Update Manager to work together and for users to be able to see and apply browser updates straight from the browser itself.

When is the Firefox transition to Mozilla settings taking place?

In Linux Mint 19.x, 20.x and LMDE the transition is taking place with Firefox version 96, and it is planned for January 11th – January 12th.

In Linux Mint 20.3 the transition took place during the BETA with Firefox version 95.

Will the transition change “my” settings?

Technically and ideally, no. Preserving user settings is key. It’s a very important notion in software development and it’s taken very seriously both by Linux Mint and by Mozilla.

Changes to the default settings can however have an impact on your experience, since your settings are basically a layer of changes (overwrites) on top of the default values. As the default values change, any setting which isn’t overridden by a user value can indeed trigger a behavior change.

I added Google as my default search engine, will it still be there?

Yes, your default engine will continue to be Google. The only change is that it no longer will be a user added engine, it will be considered (and replaced by Firefox) as a system core engine.

I used Yahoo/DuckDuckGo/StartPage as my default search engine, will it continue to be my default?

No, these were core engines in the Linux Mint configuration. They no longer are present in the Mozilla version of Firefox. The default engine will switch to Google. DuckDuckGo will remain available but with a different URL (it’s a Mint search partner in the Mint configuration, but only a Mozilla partner in the Mozilla configuration).

Which search engines generate an income for Linux Mint?

In Firefox the only engine which generates an income for Linux Mint is Google.

In other browsers the only engines which generate an income for Linux Mint are Yahoo, DuckDuckGo and Startpage.

Will the transition negatively affect performance?

No. In fact we’re getting slightly faster performance with the transition.

Bug Reports

My version of Firefox looks wrong in the About dialog…

Note that “mint-001” and “1.0” are not the version of Firefox. They don’t relate to the packaging version either. They just represent identifiers of Linux Mint within Firefox.

The version of Firefox appears lower, “95.0.1” in this screenshot.

Firefox says it’s being managed by my organization

In Linux Mint the Update Manager is responsible for all software updates, and applying updates requires root privileges.

Your browser is being managed by your organization” might look a bit scary but all it means is that Firefox was told to not worry about updating itself.

In the About dialog, “Updates disabled by your system administrator” has the same meaning.

We’ll work with Mozilla on this, first to rephrase this, and hopefully later this year to be able to handle Firefox updates from within Firefox.

Where can I report bugs I find?

You can report bugs directly to us at https://github.com/linuxmint/linuxmint.

Or upstream to Mozilla at https://bugzilla.mozilla.org.

When reporting a bug please include the output of the following terminal commands:

locale
dpkg -l firefox*
dpkg -l ubuntu-system-adjustments

This helps us understand what language you’re using, and to see what relevant packages and versions are installed so we can reproduce issues and troubleshoot them.

172 comments

  1. > Will the transition affect performance?
    > No. In fact we’re getting slightly faster performance with the transition.

    Surely, that should be: Yes, in fact we’re getting slightly faster performance with the transition.
    …?
    Making something faster is affecting it. Positively, in this case.

  2. “The default engine will switch to Google.”
    Should we understand the search engine will be changed, despite we already setup an other search engine in firefox ? i dont like google..

    1. I’m using Mint20.3 with Ubuntu ESR from the Ubuntu PPA.
      I had telemetry thoroughly disabled. Thanks @dju for calling my attention on this one!
      Just rechecked and I had some telemetry re-enabled!
      I’ll keep an eye on this to see if the ESR keeps on doing this or if I eventually change to the Mint’s version and if it also does this.
      If I say NO and if Mozilla keeps on intruding on my Privacy, I’ll dump them and switch back again to Waterfox.
      @Clem, please tell this to Mozilla: If I say NO and want to keep telemetry away I want this to be kept, and this is not negotiable! If Mint does not enforce this Privacy issue on Mint users’ behalf and protect us, I personally will be VERY disappointed, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one. Thanks for understanding.

    2. Hi Bruno,

      First, let me say that this doesn’t not affect your PPA ESR. Your ESR is in /usr/lib/firefox-esr afaik, it doesn’t follow our configuration.

      Second, if a user value changes you can consider this a bug and report it to Mozilla. Make sure it is indeed the same setting that you changed before, and not a newly introduced setting though.

  3. After update do 20.3 all my settings in Firefox stayed in place, except… telemetry! I had to “tick” it off again. :/

    1. This is not acceptable. I did not consent to send data to Mozilla. I explicitly opted out of it.

    2. It’s on by default in Mozilla’s configuration but what’s also on is a dialog requesting your review.

      Because it was OFF in Mint’s configuration, the fact that you kept it OFF or reset it to OFF means you were basically running the default value. That’s what this post explains in the FAQ section. It’s the default value which is changing and thus that’s why changes can impact your settings.

      Review your settings upon transitioning. There’s only one transition. Firefox asks you to look at them anyway.

    3. OK, that makes sense, but I disabled the telemetry in Ubuntu (where it defaulted to on) and copied my profile over to Mint (my Firefox profile directory is 10+ years old).

    4. Yes, but if the user config is essentially made of overrides (that’s my assumption, I’d need to check the code to be sure), then only values which differ from default are stored and/or kept in the profile. So they would have been in your profile under Ubuntu, but since they were no longer different in Mint they’d become just core defaults again. I assume it works like that because that’s what you see in about:config when you change a value back and forth, it becomes modified/unmodified (bold/normal), back and forth, it doesn’t just stay modified, when its value matches the default it stops being a custom setting value basically.

  4. “…working the same way across all platforms…” Translation: We will force mobile interface on you.

    “…make it easier for Firefox and the Update Manager to work together and for users to be able to see and apply browser updates straight from the browser itself.” A possible move toward removing user choice about when to update?

    Trying to force Google down my throat will be the thing that makes me abandon Firefox forever. We should be blocking Google’s ambition of world domination, not aiding and abetting it.

    1. You will be able to change the engine, of course. It’s just won’t be same default settings. Perhaps Clem may update the text.

    2. > We should be blocking Google’s ambition of world domination, not aiding and abetting it.

      Money talks, obviously.

    3. I’m not sure what’s ambiguous. We’ve always been able to choose the engine, to update what and when we want and there clearly are separate versions of Firefox when it comes to Desktop and Mobile environments. You have the right to be annoyed and not welcome to change, you have the right not to like Google, but there isn’t any confusion here afaik. Nothing is forced down that throat 🙂

    4. The thing is Google has an arrangement with Mozilla, and with that money they develop Firefox. In a ideal world, Firefox would be supported only with donations of individual people, but that’s not the rule. Every other browser is on the shoulders of big corporations (and they’re Chromium-based).

      You’re free to change it back to whatever search engine you use instead of Google, but I don’t blame Mint or Mozilla from changing it to Google.

    1. Good point!
      I’m on Mint 20.3 using Firefox ESR, using the PPA
      deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/mozillateam/ppa/ubuntu focal main

      So this is not under the Mint’s umbrella, it’s Ubuntu’s. Any idea how will this might change over time?
      Sometimes Firefox changes a bit too fast and a bit too weird. I love their product and their ecosystem, and I respect their Open Source efforts and initiative, but sometimes under the hood their politics are way too shady.
      (worst chances, if they screw up big time again like when they changed their engine, ruining all the plug-in environment, I’ll move back to Waterfox)

  5. Hey! I uninstalled Firefox from Mint. Now how can I install the Mint version of Firefox? Or it’s just okay to download the package from Ubuntu software repo? I’m not a fan if Snap, so how can I install the latest version? From the deb file?

    1. Hello @Clem!

      But is it the latest version? I learned that apt install Firefox is older version than Snap package of Firefox.

  6. Being more specific in what this deal entails commercially (corporation money doesn’t come without strings attached) as well as sharing a specific list of default configuration settings being changed and patches being removed would be appreciated. More telemetry, tracking, remote-triggered “studies” or Google being the default are not welcome on my installs.

    1. We cancel almost all of our changes (you can see what these are by looking at /usr/lib/firefox/distribution/distribution.ini) so we end up with the same configuration as in other distributions or other operating systems, Mozilla’s defaults.

      We’re keeping just the following:

      browser.shell.checkDefaultBrowser=false
      intl.locale.requested=””
      widget.content.gtk-theme-override=”#”
      browser.backspace_action=0

      The patches are available upstream, they’re part of the Ubuntu packaging: http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/pool/main/f/firefox/firefox_95.0.1+build2-0ubuntu0.20.04.1.debian.tar.xz.

    1. The .deb format was a requirement on our side. Its our native package format. APT provides us as a distribution and you as users with the essential freedoms described by the FSF, the ability not only to modify software, but also to pin repositories, freeze versions, play with various sources under various priorities.

      Even though Flatpak is fully open and we could control our own repositories, we don’t ship with any Flatpaks by defaults. It’s a great addition to access even more software, but I’m not keen with the idea of not having our basic needs fulfilled by our own repositories. I hope we never need to ship software in a different way. If we ever do it will be because the software is important and we’re not able to ship it the normal way.

  7. Reducing the maintenance work as well as ensuring Firefox as the default is good news. Usually most “normal” users had to take extra steps to switch their search engine to Google, which is now simplified.
    The important thing is that the more privacy oriented options can always be available.

    PS. Maybe it would be beneficial for LM to have Brave in its repositories.

    1. > PS. Maybe it would be beneficial for LM to have Brave in its repositories.

      No! We should not promote any browser that uses the Blink browser engine!

  8. If the Icon is original, thank you very much, as I never liked the Firefox icon in Mint.
    I still hope that you will continue to work on the design so that there is transparency and rounding at the bottom, and I also hope that in the future you will return Kde Plasma back.
    Thank you developers!

    1. > If the Icon is original, thank you very much, as I never liked the Firefox icon in Mint.

      100% of LM userbase reading this will nod 😀

    2. It’s not the original icon. It only follows the Mozilla guidelines more closely. You can see the new Firefox icon in the first screenshot of the Mint 20.3 Release announcement. The orange changed a bit and the shape of the white fox changed.

    1. Hi Paul,

      Not necessarily. Predictions are good but it’s too early to say. We just don’t know how many people already run Google (which is currently monetized by neither Mozilla nor Mint). We’ll lose revenue from Yahoo and DuckDuckGo but we’ll get revenue from Google.

      The partnership is in place because we’re both happy with the outcome. Without the partnership we would have had to stop using the Mozilla brand if we wanted to continue to monetize the traffic with our search partners. I think people weren’t already keen with our customization, and I think losing the name “Firefox” would have been detrimental to our project long-term. Forking the browser or even continuing to adapt to changes when it comes to search is also very costly in terms of development. So no matter what, we couldn’t continue the way we did. Not having to spend resources on the Web browser is a huge plus for us. The Mozilla and Google brands are also extremely popular. Even if we lose money on search performance we think the change will make people happy, bring Google users in the Mint community back to monetization and attract more people long term to our distribution.

    2. The flipside of that aspect is, looking at the user perspective, Google/Alphabet will be thrown into user’s pathways; which imho is in the same camp as Microsoft, Facebook, Apple.
      So the very first thing for me will be to get rid of Google in every single location that I will be able to identify. Addionally having to go through all about:config settings, but I do that anyway on every FF installation.

      Whereas in general I regard Mozilla software as above par, they did some questionable things in the past, e.g. rolling out experimental features in the past without active user consent. The telemetry issue was already mentioned on another comment, so no need to go into that again; it’s a big no no.
      Thunderbird’s implementation of OpenPGP in version 78+ in theory was a good idea, but AFAIK you still need to set up a master password, which becomes very annoying in everyday use, to protect the unprotected key stored in the key4.db file in the Thunderbird directory.

  9. “What about Firefox ESR users how will that change?”

    I’ve got the Firefox ESR PPA installed I Think so how is that managed.

  10. Why don’t you move to Librewolf? It’s Firefox, but more free. Mozilla nowadays seems just looking for money and personal users data. (Cloud, VPN, Google, etc.)

    1. Probably because it needs money to exist. That’s the downside of being closer to a corporation. The upsides are pretty obvious – it’s still popular in spite of Google and Microsoft’s pushiness for good reasons.

      I don’t like it, but the bug is upstream, so to speak. There are no ethical web browsers under capitalism /s

  11. hello

    I would like to know once lmde4 reaches the end of life,firefox will continue to update it via debian lts as is the case with lmde3 or not?

    thank you for your answer

    and thanks to all the linuxmint team for their work on this beautiful distribution(mint “classic” and lmde)

    1. Hi chris, LMDE 4 has the regular version of Firefox (the latest release, currently 95.0.1) but the Debian 10 package base repository instead has Firefox ESR (currently 78.15.0). So if LMDE 4 reaches end of life and Debian 10 has (extended) support left and you want to continue using LMDE 4 and not upgrade to LMDE 5, you would install the package `firefox-esr` to downgrade your Firefox. That will cause Linux Mint’s Firefox to be uninstalled. Mind that likely your bookmarks, preferences, saved passwords and so on aren’t carried over to Firefox ESR so make backups of your important data in Firefox before you install Firefox ESR!

    2. Thank you for the reply.lmde 4 being based on debian 10 ,j ai remarque que debian 10 est blocage a firefox esr 78.15 et n’arrive a pas à mettre a le jour alors que sur debian 11 et lmde 3 (based on debian 9) la mise a a fait à jour!
      In conclusion ,I think that once lmde 4 at the end of life ,I will download the firefox directly from their site to use the official version and continue to see their update until the end of the wine of debian 10 (in about 2 years)I shall then pass to Lmde 6 at that time;
      I am delighted with lmde 4 so as long as it works everything is ok
      I’ll put lmde 5 on a secondary computer.

  12. The above article is the news about Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird. But I read only news about Firefox. What about Thunderbird. When comes the newest version of Thunderbird

    1. Hi Johan,

      It’s currently maintained by Ubuntu and only getting security fixes (like most software, we’re a frozen distribution not a rolling one). We should be able to ship Thunderbird the same way we do with Firefox though. It’s not something we looked into yet but we can consider it in the future.

    2. Please ship Thunderbird the same way you do with Firefox as it will improve the UX. Thank you

  13. I’ve been considering removing Mint due to upgrade issues over the last couple of releases.

    Thank you for making me realise it is definitely the right choice.

    1. First browser any Linux, macOS or Windows user needs is Vivaldi. (Only on Android I’m not quite convinced yet.)

      Still, I’m happy with how this Mozilla deal worked out. I still fire up Firefox once in a while, and I was wondering what the Linux Mint team would be doing now that Ubuntu’s Firefox packaging is moving to snap, just like Chrome did there.

  14. Ah that’s why Firefox seemed like Firefox with my test over the weekend with Linux Mint 20.3, both with MATE and Cinnamon version. That’s good, and congrats on the partnership.

  15. #1 Congratulations!
    #2 Be careful please with money

    Linux Mint shaped my view of software development. 5y ago, I would have never thought that just a few people can put together the by far best OS available. Let me reiterate that – You are amazing, despite and also because you are not a huge company. Please stay true to the Mint team I love, that is not afraid to call out weird decisions in tech (like snaps). That don’t care about what is “modern” like Gnome. That doesn’t try to be flashy like Deepin. An OS that puts solid, honest, freedom loving, basic user empowering decisions first.
    I just don’t want you get too corporate under a bigger cashflow and outside influence. If we see you make some weird “modern” community guidelines paper, that would definitely look like a step backwords, not forwards. A place where its easy to fall into and hard to crawl out of.

    1. Thank you.

      When I fell in love with Linux, it was in the 90s. My favorite distribution was founded and led by Patrick Volkerding, aka Slackware’s “Benevolent Dictator for Life”, aka “The Man”. Whether it’s on their own (actually it’s rarely on their own but within a small team at least) or within big structures, just a “few people” can do a lot. Outside of Linux, people like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs have been extremely influential. These are people who know/knew who they are, clear about their vision and what they want to achieve. Look at how far just a few individuals brought us, Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman.

      Gael Duval (founder of Mandrake) and Steve Jobs tried to make their company bigger than them and they both got fired. It eventually paid off for Apple, look at how big they are now. But Job’s goal wasn’t just to have fun. I think that’s a fundamental difference. This will not happen here because this isn’t for sale. I actually quite enjoy the fact that we remain small as a structure. Linux Mint started as a fun project, purely for fun. It’s obviously way more than that nowadays, but it’s still extremely fun to work on.

      Slackware is still Slackware. Mint will continue to be Mint.

      It’s not the first time we sign a big partnership or a big sponsorship. People we work with are important to us and what’s important to them comes with it, but if that changes who we are then we’re not working with them. We work with them because they bring a net positive. If they get in the way of us having fun, whether that’s by restricting our empowerment or harming your experience then we’re not interested. It would defeat the purpose. You know, at a smaller scale we already have that stance with our user base as well. We take donations and feedback but there’s absolutely no link between the two. The day we start using bounties (i.e. letting people donate for particular ideas, to decide what we work on) not only do we stop having fun, we go in the wall. There’s no fun without us being us and you enjoying it. That’s what it’s all about, doing our best and seeing happy people play with our latest toys.

      Of course in practice we do also bend a bit and deviate from our own vision. Everybody does. It’s a mistake to think pressure comes from commercial actors though, they usually don’t or if they do they usually do very early in the relationship. The most pressure comes from trends, FUD, controversies, lobbying and the media. Most of the time we say no, sometimes if it’s just easier we accommodate.

      PS: Thanks for this comment. I always enjoy an opportunity to talk about Slackware and my Linux heroes 🙂

  16. Good evening, Clem.

    Personally, I am quite happy to learn that not only current Mint releases, but also future Mint releases will deploy Firefox as .deb packages.
    From my point of view, partially different Firefox default configuration settings are not a big thing really, nothing to get upset about. After all Firefox permits changing settings either through the preferences dialogues or through about:config.

    The name of Thunderbird was mentioned, too, but it does not seem to be included in the current agreement between Mozilla and Linux Mint. Is there perhaps any plan of including Thunderbird as well?

    Best regards,
    Karl

    1. Please include Thunderbird .deb packages as the Flatpak version is not maintained by the core Thunderbird team and the release is always delayed. Also opening attachments in Thunderbird flatpak does not work well. Thank you

    2. I thought ,, at one point ,, Thunderbird was supposed to be free and open-source , but when I tried to implement it , the first thing that showed up was a flash page with the cost of using Thunderbird . I cancelled the page and have not been back since , I was wondering if Thunderbird was still charging for their email service and how much?

  17. To those of you who haven’t caught the obvious, Google now controls another part of the Web. Firefox is receiving revenue from Google for making Google the default. Linux Mint is receiving revenue for making Google default, instead of receiving revenue from DuckDuckGo, and etc.

    Does this make Linux Mint evil? No.

    It means we (you and I) have to switch our default search engine to something besides Google, if you don’t want Big Brother dictating your life. In the end, this is what open source is all about. Freedom to choose and make our own decision.

    Is it Firefox’s fault? Maybe… They put their default search engine setting up for sale. Google bought it. I assume Google indirectly forced Linux Mint/Firefox to switch to Google default search. Now it’s up to us (the common people) to do something about it.
    Meet the new threat to open source and freedom of information. No, it’s not Microsoft. It’s Google. After we all have broken noses, we end up loving Big Brother Google.
    For more reading:

    https://aofirs.org/articles/google-pays-to-put-search-engine-back-on-firefox-browser-in-us
    https://www.androidheadlines.com/2020/08/mozilla-firefox-google-search
    https://duckduckgo.com/?t=lm&q=google+pays+firefox&ia=web

    1. Thanks for this. Informed users like us can, and do, of course, change default settings, but the danger is that most people will just leave it as is. Google knows this, which is why they pay so much to have it, and why it’s so wrong for anyone to further enable their domination of the internet.

    1. If you look at them the wrong way, sure. The same can be said of any web browser or bittorrent. They can of course be used for piracy or other illegal purposes, if someone points decides to use them in that manner, but that’s not their intended purpose. Hypnotix only comes with free and legal IPTV content sources. VLC comes with none. If they are used for IPTV piracy it’s because someone decided to do the work themselves to configure and use them for that specific purpose on their own. This has nothing to do with the programs themselves, nor does it have anything to do with Linux Mint

  18. Thanks, the fact that I needed every time I installed Mint on a new computer to setup google and change default home page was the only thing that I thought was annoying in Mint. The the list now is empty 🙂

  19. The advantage would be that Linux Mint, Ubuntu based and Debian based, would be able to make the most recent Thunderbird versions available to its users in a more timely fashion than Ubuntu and Debian do at the moment.
    But maybe I am the last Mohican still to use Thunderbird as my preferred local mailing application.

    1. Agreeing with Rob. S.: You are not.

      (And just yesterday I mentioned to a friend something regarding how I use Thunderbird and he said, “I wonder if there’s a setting in gmail for that.” No, there’s not.)

  20. Clem! It’s an honor to interact with you personally; thanks for taking the time to reply to all of us. Some of us were/are hoping for The Mint Browser; would that be too much work? I honestly have no idea what it would take, but it does sound cool.
    What do you think about the Braver browser (and Brave search)?
    And what about Chromium? Those and FF are my only (3) browsers, but I’m open to a more professional opinion on the subject of browser choices. Thanks so much! PAA

    1. Hi Paul,

      It really depends on the scope. What’s for sure is that it would require a lot of resources (it already does right now), and as Firefox gains in complexity and code changes upstream it would become more and more costly. This is a huge piece of software, which changes every 6 weeks, which is very important in terms of security and in terms of usage. We can’t go wrong with it. We can do anything if we put our mind to it, but at what cost and for what purpose? And if it’s not fun and it’s not what we enjoy doing, then why do it at all? Extra work translates into less development so it’s a net loss for users.

      From a project point of view we need to think also of what people want. Do people want Firefox or an unknown “Web Browser”? Many people already didn’t accept the absence of Google in Linux Mint. Would they accept the absence of Firefox and its replacement with a custom browser? We can’t continue to keep using Mozilla’s trademarks and brand identity if they don’t agree with our changes.

      If we were to actually spend that much resources into a Web Browser we would need to go huge. Would it be costly? Absolutely, I’d say it would eat most of our resources. We might even need to scale up and grow our development just to be able to do just that. It’s not our goal though. It’s not our mission. It’s not why we’re here. I can think of so many other things which are more important, which we know how to fix/improve, which we’re actually experts on, and which we really want to focus on.

      Firefox is the best browser for us. That’s why we use it. That’s why we’ve been using it from the start. The goal isn’t to build a web browser, it’s to continue to work on Mint and to make it better. This partnership helps us do that. It’s less work, we continue to monetize, people enjoy the mainstream brands and we’re able to focus and develop more than before, not less.

      In contrast switching to Chromium is relatively easy, but even that is a plan B and it’s a regression for us compared to the past situation. It’s typically a scenario that would be considered if we couldn’t agree with Mozilla. But we did. This partnership allows us to keep what’s important to us and to continue to ship our favorite browser.

    2. To Paul Anderson, Thank you for your comments. We all got a great reply from Clem and some understanding of his points of view in regards to the changes within in the Firefox Browser ! I love Firefox because you can go to settings and reconfigure it to your own settings, search engines and plugins ! I do this everytime there is a new release of Mint. You can change what information you send to Firefox. This is what makes Firefox the best. I did think that everybody would be doing this ? Thanks to Clem and team for keeoing us all informed of the changes, Great Job. Cheers NUM NUTT.

  21. Wise decision. This frees up valuable developer time for the Mint packages.

    The continued .deb packaging of Firefox is a good thing as well: it underlines the core Mint ideal of being as non-disruptive as possible for its users.

    Keep up the good work, guys. It’s much appreciated. 🙂

  22. As someone that does not want to use Firefox at all, in any circumstance, will this change my experience? Is the only option to plaster over it with a local setting and hope you never need to open a browser as root?

    1. Sorry I don’t understand. You can use any browser you want. There are many alternatives available. If you don’t use Firefox then these changes do not impact you in any way.

    2. I don’t care about the search engine it uses, I don’t want to use Firefox AT ALL. It’s a PITA when a program arbitrarily decides it wants to open itself in Firefox because it doesn’t feel like respecting user settings. I didn’t uninstall it last time because I was a new user, but this is just pushy.

      Love your operating system, respect your commitment to usability, but I hate opaque commercial deals and I *never* wanted to use Firefox.

    3. Ah… well, I mean the way we open URLs is using mime handlers. We’d typically invoke Gio and xdg-open, so that would open up the link not with Firefox, but with your default browser, according to your settings.

      If one of our software apps opens links with Firefox despite the default browser being set to another browser, then that’s a bug and you’re welcome to report it to us. We don’t take money to frustrate users and create bugs and open links with a hardcoded choice which violates user preferences.. I mean who do you think we are? 🙂

      Can you show me where this happens? I can’t wait to get it fixed now.

    4. If you don’t want it and you don’t want to accidentally use it, best route would be to uninstall it.

      apt remove firefox

  23. Hey Clem,

    I understand about simplifying things on Linux Mint, it makes sense; except that Mozilla dealing with Google, Microsoft is not my cup of tea. Google and Microsoft are Evil companies.

    1. Exactly true! I hate to leave Linux Mint, after so many years of use, but this is something I just cannot accept.

  24. A seemingly perfect solution to the impending problem of Ubuntu’s Firefox going snap, less work to do, and there’s even money in it? I guess there’s nothing left to say but congratulations!

  25. Hi Clem,

    Do you have any more details about how Firefox would self update? Is this optional and opt-in? Would the mechanism involve Firefox triggering an APT update or would it somehow update itself in-place?

    Linux Distros’ package managers are for me a standout in terms of UX compared to Windows or OSX. Not needing each package to idiosyncratically implement their own update mechanism greatly reduces redundancy and bloat, as well as giving users full control over their system (timing of upgrades etc.)

    1. Hi,

      It wouldn’t self-update. It would be able to ask the OS if the repositories had a new version (right now it has no clue, it only knows if there’s a new version upstream) and let the user trigger that update (which underneath would be performed by the package management system).

  26. Oki, all in all, I think this is good. And I use Ff also on other OS, so no trouble to change search engine if I want to, which I do, here in Linux Mint in same manner as I do on other OS. Cheers to Linux Mint!

  27. Hi Clem,
    First and foremost, how are you? I hope everything is going well.
    Great news! Good to see this deal.
    Any news on the new version of LMDE?

  28. I will not be using anything Mozilla in my systems. They have already stated they will be sharing user data for research and public use. Not something I am interested in. Linux is supposed to be secure, Mozilla has chosen not to be secure and hand out user data.

  29. So sad. Linux Mint selling out to Mozilla and Google. I never would have thought something like this would happen. Oh, well. It’s been a good, decades-long marriage but it’s time for Mint and me to go separate ways.

  30. Wrong decision! Leave it as they intended? What happened with freedom and community needs? Money? Why you’re bailing on your day one sponsors and yourselves for clout? Less work? You mean not doing what you want? Deb package? Should we be thankful for not loosing basic functionality and is that a reason not to pay attention to the other losses? There is always a way! Using an older version is not shameful! Mozilla should be grateful for having the opportunity to be featured in Linux Mint not the other way around! They’re the ones that have to comply to our standards, not to change them to fit their way in service of some agenda! We use their browser, why should it matter what search engine or settings are in place? It’s crazy how fast morals are thrown on the ground! Same thing that is happening with the Gnome project! This globalistic bullshit is getting too much! Just tell them that the settings and search engine preferences are brand limited features! Bring us back our original setup and set DuckDuckGo as default, because this covert Google partnerships are devastating! Ditch Ubuntu already! God damn it!

    1. It’s great that Mint project got money. Money is the lifeblood of our world. Many of us donate to the project not because we want to throw a coin to a random guy, but because we want Linux Mint to grow and get better, to get more of the cool stuff that the Linux Mint team does.

      But most of us could not donate a lot of money. This deal helps us, users, to support the project. We need to be passionate about this because we choose this operating system for ourselves. It’s opened to the community and makes our daily work easier, faster and more enjoyable.

      And it took nothing from you. Deb package stays. All settings can be changed. You just need to invest a little time to do this, when developers of the project invest a lot of time to make OS better.

      The job of a software developer is hard. And I hope it’s not the last deal that will bring the reward for them.

    2. It’s all about principles! The loss of which may not be visible in the beginning, but is most surely recognizable and will have effects in the long run! The proof for this compromise is the integrated updates, outside of the standard package manager and the other requirements, which won’t be able to be changed in the settings next time! Money can be made by following them or by selling them! In the end freedom is more important than profit, as they’re not equal! Not to mention that the financial benefits from these changes are not significant, lacking or a loss! If something takes your independence, it takes everything from you! This problem is not Mint specific, but it concerns the whole Linux community! Take Libadwaita for example!

  31. Good on you guys. Linux mint is a wonderful system and this partnership bodes well if it means Linux mint is going to go well in the future

  32. I have a question about the “managed by my organization” thing…
    I already use “Firefox enterprise policies” with a policies.json file.
    (ref: https://github.com/mozilla/policy-templates)
    Will the new Firefox overwrite my configurations or only add new settings (eg DisableAppUpdate) to my existing configurations?

    1. Hi Stéphane, the distribution policies.json is loctated in /usr/lib/firefox/distribution. If your policies.json file is in that location currently it would be overwritten. Place your policies.json files in the directory /etc/firefox/policies (create it if needed) and it will supplement the distribution policies. You can check your policies after restarting Firefox by going to about:policies.

    2. Hi Stéphane,

      We package /usr/lib/firefox/distribution/policies.json, so you can’t use that path, this would get overwritten. However you can use /etc/firefox/policies.

  33. Firefox with the changes has also changed the settings within the ” Web Apps ” configerations to collect ” DATA USAGE ” Had to go inside settings Privacy and Security + Firefox Data Collection and Use, and them off !
    Had to do this “With all of the differant “Wep App’s “.

    There desclaimer for 30 days before DATA to be Clearsd. Hope this helps.

    NUM NUTT.

  34. Hi! And what about Thunderbird?

    Will it be improved? For example, minimization to tray with tray icon. Or will we also be deprived of this functionality compared to other platforms?

    Will there be any targeted improvements or will it only affect the web browser?

  35. I am having problems understanding what the problem is.
    I mean, I have DuckDuckGo set as default, telemetry disabled, so I am not sure if I am missing something here.

    I am running Mint 20.2 waiting for the official stable 20.3 release. As the comments go, 20.3 appears to be the ones with problems like telemetry magically being enabled back for example. Either way, the browser should still allow you to add a different search engine or something is very wrong.

    1. 20.2 hasn’t transitioned yet.

      Telemetry doesn’t magically get enabled back, the default settings are changing, so it goes from an OFF by default to an ON by default.

      You can remove any engine and add new ones, just as before. What’s changing here are the defaults.

    2. “ON by default”

      Huh.

      I guess anyone that trusted Mint’s version of the default browser wouldn’t change hands to a version that turns on tracking without explicit consent – and with no noticeable announcement until days after stable release – had misplaced that trust. Shoulda read the small print. Now we know that looking through pre-installed app settings for silent telemetry is part of the Mint experience.

    3. Since when do people run Linux Mint because telemetry is OFF? It’s only been disabled recently (a year ago if I remember right) and it was never talked about. It’s not something we promote as a feature or an improvement. We just did it at the time because we had no use for it. Mozilla obviously uses that data so they have in ON in their defaults. If you want it OFF, turn it OFF. Mozilla suggests you make that decision anyway. One of the first thing Firefox asks you is to review “what you share”.

      Regarding the changes, we’ve two blog posts right now to explain what is happening and the update is postponed until Friday. How’s that for small print?

      The main issue here is timing when it comes to the 20.3 upgrade. The transition was part of 20.3 BETA and announced on the tracker. It’s announced now before it impacts all releases. We should have taken the 20.3 upgrade in consideration and delayed it until after this transition. There’s a lack of planning here. Sure, we’ve have a BETA, a stable release, an upgrade, a browser transition, and EDGE ISO, covid cases and holiday breaks to juggle with, but we did mess that up. We should have delayed the 20.x -> 20.3 update. That’s where you can be disappointed.

      Regarding the trust. Once it’s lost it’s lost. If you don’t trust what is said there’s no need to talk or read. Do scrutinize, do review everything. You should anyway. It’s your computer, your settings, taking time to fine tune everything can only be a good thing.

  36. I stopped using FF specifically for one issue – I can no longer move the configuration among releases. I have a few systems and I always enjoyed sharing configuration among the various computers but since some version last year this is no longer the case … maybe it was introduced by Mint controlling FF ? I will have to retest after I am sure I am running FF native again…

    Cheers 🙂

    1. Hi Bill,

      No, we didn’t put any such restrictions in place. I think one possible issue could be to use a profile that has been used in a more recent version of the software and to port it back to an older one. Maybe Mozilla’s sync service can help here?

    2. I too have noticed that sometimes I can’t use an old profile with a newer version, it even gives a dialogue saying something to this effect. I can understand vice versa to a point. I assumed the reason they did this was to encourage the sync service as Clem suggested… which most of us naturally don’t want to use. I am liking Librewolf but I’m sure there are hard coded things that it cannot stop.

  37. The support outside Ubuntu packaging is possible! There are workarounds except forking! For example standard .deb package alongside snap! I really don’t believe there is any profit in this partnership and updates! The only obvious changes are the loss of functionality and freedoms!

  38. The updates to firefox should come from the package manager ideally rather than within firefox itself imo. Silent updates managed by individual software is very windows-like, snap does that too I think

  39. Is it a typical Google thing of “thou shalt not have other gods beside me”?
    I know how to change/select my search engine, but for me it’s not understandable that Mint only get paid by using Google inside Firefox. Using this combination as default is a paradox to me.

  40. For people who realy don’t want to use Firefox, you’ve got the choice:
    – Pale Moon: https://palemoon.org (XUL extensions)..
    – Artic Fox, fork of Pale Moon: https://github.com/wicknix/Arctic-Fox.
    – Basilisk: https://basilisk-browser.org (XUL extensions).
    – Borealis Navigator: https://binaryoutcast.com/projects/borealis/. (XUL extensions).
    – Falkon: https://falkon.org. Very light.
    – Iridium : https://iridiumbrowser.de. Fast. Based on Chromium.
    – Otter Browser: https://otter-browser.org. Opera clone.
    – Waterfox: https://waterfox.net.
    – Dooble: https://textbrowser.github.io/dooble/.
    – Brave: https://brave.com. Based on Chromium, fast. Tracking with unique token?
    – SeaMonkey: https://seamonkey-project.org.
    – LibreWolf, fork of Mozilla Firefox: https://librewolf-community.gitlab.io.

    1. I don’t have an issue with Firefox, just with Google. Once they get their foot in the door, there’s no turning back and whatever they touch will turn into crap. I am currently ridding myself of everything related to Google, including GMail.

  41. Re: Mozilla Firefox defaults – Homepage

    “The default start page no longer points to https://www.linuxmint.com/start/

    If you change “Homepage” in Firefox settings to “Custom URL” https://linuxmint.com/start/una/ you will have a Linux Mint start page (home page) which shows the three most recent blog postings at the bottom of the page.

    It’s a quick, easy way to see if there’s a new blog posting available.

    If you just use https://www.linuxmint.com/start/ (without una/) as a start page (home page), the three most recent blog postings do not appear.

    1. Hi Tom,

      Yes. I just put start/ so I wouldn’t put a codename, but you’re right, it’s start/una, or start/uma, start/ulyssa..etc.

  42. I won’t have any violent reactions to the corporate partnership as long as I’d still be able to opt out of the telemetry and choose my search engines. I’ve already made my peace long ago with the fact that I’d have to turn a lot of switches off before using Firefox, and it’s true on any platform that I’ve used it on, be it Windows or Android or any Linux distro.

    My bigger concern is the upcoming administrative task of having to flip some of those switches back off again. For me, unfortunately, this happened with less warning than now after I updated my system from 20.2 to 20.3. With the announcement on the blog post, hopefully other users are getting a much fairer warning than I did about the upcoming change. Does the settings overwrite happen only once, as in, during the user-initiated update from pre-Mozilla settings to Mozilla settings? If the overwrite happens only once, does this mean that a user who hasn’t updated yet can create a backup copy of their Firefox profile/s, run the update, delete the overwritten profile/s, paste the backup copy where the deleted profile/s used to be, and end up saving themselves the trouble of having to switch anything back off again?

    On another, perhaps unrelated note, is there any chance that the partnership with Mozilla can make the Seamonkey browser available in the Mint repositories? I use Seamonkey as a secondary browser on my daily driver. Unfortunately, if I want the same setup on Mint, I’d have to either download and extract the archive from their website or use a 3rd party repository like a ppa. None of those options are as simple and straightforward as having it in the distro’s repositories.

    1. Very good points. The reason it’s in 20.3 is because we took advantage of the BETA to stage this and get early feedback (https://github.com/linuxmint/mint20.3-beta/issues/47). I wish we had made this announcement prior to opening the 20.3 release to update and to the stable release. It’s easy to see, looking back, what happened though is that we just focused on the release as a priority, we tried to squash all the bugs and to get it out. We got delayed with the holiday season too.

      We’re going to make another announcement today and postpone the transition by a day or two to cover technical details. You’re absolutely right about making a profile copy, especially since neither Firefox, nor APT, not Timeshift cover this.

      Regarding the settings, the changes are done to the profile by Firefox itself. APT doesn’t deal with user data/settings, only system files/settings. It couldn’t technically anyway (it’s very dodgy to do that) and it shouldn’t from a philosophical point of view. When you run the new Firefox for the first time, that’s when the profile gets updated. As far as I understand, the settings work in an overlay fashion. Values which do not differ from default values aren’t kept in the profile. settings which are obsolete are cleaned up etc..

    2. That is useful information to learn that Firefox does the changes to the profiles, if any, on the first run. I’ll try to remember that next time I encounter a similar situation.

      Going back to my other question, is there any chance that Seamonkey will be available in the Mint repositories in the future?

      Also, let me just say: I appreciate all of this communication from the distro side to the users. I have no clue about what happens behind the scenes, but between this, the 20.3 release, LMDE, and the next Ubuntu LTS coming in a few months, it sounds like the team’s got their hands full. Huge respect for being able to find time to communicate with the users on top of all that work.

    3. We’re definitely busy at the moment 🙂

      Sorry I missed your question. We’re not planning on maintaining Seamonkey.

  43. That’s great! For many years I always deleted Firefox after installing Mint. Then downloaded the “original” Firefox from Mozilla, to get the “original” behaviour. Seems like this is not necessary anymore in the future. Thank you!

  44. First post in many years of using and appreciating Mint, making small donations when I can, without much in the way of technical knowledge.

    I was disappointed to see my fresh install default Firefox to Google and telemetry and came to the blog to read more. In many areas of life things seem to get worse, but that there’s engagement here with the makers of the OS I use, who post long and personal explanations and admit where things could have gone differently, seems to me a place a million miles away from ‘Don’t be evil’.

    What I wonder is whether the concerns raised and addressed in the comments might form their own blog post as in my case they’ve largely informed and reassured (albeit if you saw my efforts with Terminal that wouldn’t mean much…).

    Anyway, thank you for this new version and the work you do.

  45. It’s not clear how to reset the browser settings – a central component on many PC’s.
    First they came for ESR,
    Then they came for 95…
    So I’ve printed ALL Firefox settings to PDF files.
    When 96 turns up, with built-in trackers!!!
    I shall tediously check ALL settings and ensure that Google is thoroughly deleted.
    I have to do this for each user on a multiuser setup.

    I think some people won’t bother and just move to a more secure browser.

    1. If you want to help Google monopolize the web and increase their exploitation of your personal data, sure.

  46. What I like about the Mozilla version of Firefox is that we now have the original icon and the fact that they included a search engine that is not incorporated in the USA: Qwant. If we could also have the MetaGer search engine included sometime in the future, it would almost too good to be true.

    In this regard Mozilla are doing better than for example Opera, which only includes American search engines of various types. I have always wondered how much Opera is being paid (and by who) to block out European search engines from their otherwise excellent browser. By using a search engine based in the EU, users are protected by stricter privacy laws.

  47. If you change your locale settings and restart your computer, will the search engine and other settings remain unchanged? At the moment it seems to change to the default. Thank you

  48. Hello, Clem & Linux Minters:

    First, thanks Clem for the transparency, regarding this transition. Second, congratulations on this partnership with Mozilla. Third, after reading your blog posts and other user comments, it’s my opinion, for what it’s worth, that this is a good option. One of my main wishes was that Firefox would remain a .deb package, via the official Linux Mint repositories. This partnership accomplishes this wish—excellent! Fourth and I apologize up front if I do not fully understand your explanations, I agree with Cian Donovan’s post, regarding the Firefox update mechanism:

    “Linux Distros’ package managers are for me a standout in terms of UX compared to Windows or OSX. Not needing each package to idiosyncratically implement their own update mechanism greatly reduces redundancy and bloat, as well as giving users full control over their system (timing of upgrades etc.)”.

    I must admit I am still a bit confused on how Firefox updates will be handled going forward, after this transition. Your comment:

    . . . “hopefully later this year to be able to handle Firefox updates from within Firefox.”

    Again, I echo Cian’s comments, preferring the Linux Mint Update Manager handle all system updates, upgrades, etc, including Firefox updates going forward, following this transition. Likewise, I am still confused on what your above comment means for Firefox updates going forward, specifically, . . . “handle Firefox updates from within Firefox.” Will the Firefox updates be handled outside of the Linux Mint Update Manager eventually or will the Update Manager continue to handle Firefox updates going forward or will it be something in between? Again, I apologize for my lack of understanding of your explanations, regarding the Linux Mint Update Manager and upcoming Firefox updates; I appreciate any additional clarifications you may provide. Once more, congratulations and thanks for the transparency, your hard work and dedication to Linux Mint and the Linux Mint community.

    1. Hi Dylan,

      No, the idea is to let Firefox ask the package management system whether an update is available and let the user trigger it. Underneath it would all go through apt/dpkg and from the repositories. You can see how that works already between mintupdate, mintinstall and mintreport, they all use the same APT backend and the same repository sources.

  49. Hi, Clem:

    Excellent…that clarifies it for me. I appreciate the quick and informative response. Once again, congratulations on the new release and the new partnership. All the efforts and excellent transparency and communication are much appreciated. Thank you.

  50. On the one hand, I’m glad to hear this cooperation makes it easier for the Mint team to deliver Firefox; on the other, I don’t like the sound of defaults (especially search engines) changing back to Mozilla’s defaults. It’s ironic that this announcement comes almost at the same time when Mozilla makes another blunder with the http3 setting and causes Firefox to crash or not load pages.

    At any rate, I already switched to LibreWolf (“yet another Firefox rebranding”), and I like it.
    And I’ll keep happily using Linux Mint, although I’ll be more cautious.

  51. Interesting news.
    I just updated to Una, and most things are working/looking great.. However, Firefox is the only application which seems to have an additional window-border around it on all sides. This glitch makes it hard to click tabs or the scroll bar.
    I tried correcting it myself with old userChrome.css stuff, but I can’t really get that to look right.. Please fix!

  52. Great LinuxMint is gaining let sane defaults, Google Search as the default search engine?, why?

    I’m always advising new users to step over to LinuxMint, I’ve got to reevaluate the options now that Google pays Mint (via, via)

  53. Hi Clem,

    I’m wondering if you’ve ever considered creating an opt-in newsletter mailing list for LM. For every user that either reads the blog, or visits the main site or forum, there must be many others that have installed LM and rarely return, at least on a monthly basis. The reason I ask is sparked by the ‘Updating to FF 96’ post, and its relevance to all LM/FF users.
    I’m imagining receiving a newsletter email that simply notifies me of a new blog post, with a link back to the related article. As is standard I would have the choice to opt in or opt out at my discretion. Apart from ensuring users are kept up to date with developments, it would also encourage that sense of engagement with the distro, it’s community, and of course the great team behind it.

    Good/bad idea?

    1. I’ve just ‘Followed’ on FB 🙂

      Having said that, I wouldn’t necessarily discount email. It still has the greatest reach, growth, and no sign of social media overtaking it in terms of numbers or click-through response.

  54. Thanks for the clarification. As for the issue of thunderbird mail being brought up by others here. I think personally it’ll be for the better if it’s kept more up to date.

    I understand Ubuntu lagging a bit behind in feature updates for thunderbird due to Ubuntu itself being more server oriented, but I think with mint tending to find its way onto more and more personal computers then Ubuntu on average it’ll be a welcome change.

    Other than that. Keep up the amazing work, can’t wait to see what’ll be new in Mint 21

  55. Hi, privacy and anonymity are my highest priority, that’s why I use Linux Mint. Will this update and this partnership reduce privacy, anonymity or send more personal data to someone?

  56. Hi,

    I had explicitly disabled all Firefox telemetry. Now it is enabled again, and Clem, no, there was NO dialog asking me about that.

    Also, I do get the line that my browser is being managed by my “organization”. From what I learned from this blog is that it is a badly phrased term from mozilla. But be reminded that all you can find on the internet about this information is that it comes from Windows’ group policies, which obviously do not exist on Linux Mint, or that it is being caused by a file policies.json in the profile.

    Which doesn’t exist either…

    Let me make another point, and I deem this highly relevant:
    Since your partnership includes Thunderbird, be reminded that Mozilla introduced a “feature” that is in essence a HUGE breaking of security. Mozilla “integrated” enigmail in Thunderbird, so it claims.

    In reality, Mozilla only included a mock version I would like to call it that emulates SOME features of enigmail. But it cannot read keyrings… Because of that Thunderbird has a migration dialog that will import your personal keys. But what Mozilla doesn’t tell you upfront: With this migration Thunderbird strips all your keys from your passphrase!

    Thunderbird then re-encrypts the keys with a Mozilla key (a security risk) AND renders your Thunderbird open to misuse. One quick example: Say you run the PC of a family, and because you do not that every familly member constantly needs to log in with username and password and log out again, so you have a user account for the entire family. But parents have passphrases on their enigmail keys, so the kids cannot send out encrypted or cryptographically signed e-mail that the recipients must interpret as stemming from YOU.

    After Thunderbird did the key migration, every family member can happily send out encrypted e-mails to your bank or whatever you use encrypted mails for without knowledge of your secret phassphrase! And thunderbird even doesn’t tell you! That’s what I call a HUGE security hole. Mozillas answer to numerous (!) complaints in Bugzilla was to simply close all those bug reports saying in essence “it’s not a bug, it’s a feature!” and telling reporters that if you want to protect your encrypted mails you can either setup a master password for Thunderbird or protect your user account…

    Master passwords have the disadvantage that everyone has to enter them every time even for run-of-the-mill standard mails where encryption isn’t necessary, and separate user accounts for every family member means harrassing family member with the necessity to constantly log in and out all the time…

    The solution is simple, but Mozila won’t tell you: Thunderbird is still able to use external encryption! But you have to enable it in the first place.

    So to make a long story short: Be VERY cautious with which settings you migrate Linux Mint user’s Thunderbird installations and do not remove personal secret passphrases by default!

    Thanks
    hman

    1. Thunderbird isn’t affected by this partnership. Thanks for describing this though, if we backport newer versions we’ll have a look at this. I wonder if it’s related to the presence of thunderbird-gnome-support. Is there a bug report for this issue in Launchpad or Bugzilla?

      Changes in default values can trigger a change in behavior even if settings had been set prior to the transition. This is explained at https://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=4259. We do ship with a policy to disable updates, hence the message you see. In every single test scenario we see a dialog to choose your colors and one to decide what you share (it’s not a dialog per se, it’s an infobar at the top of your browser).

  57. Thanks for the answer, Clem.

    I DID get a dialog asking about colors. Since I did not start any color configuration, I interpreted this dialog (which I could not close) as some kind of nasty pop-up coming from the web site that was currently on display (I had started Firefox with a hundred or so tabs open which I closed yesterday). I was angry that I could not even close the tab on display, now I know why.

    So I clicked “keep my colours”, and was immediately angry again, because Firefox said it would send some data to Mozilla, which I (see above) explicitly prohibited years ago.

    The security risk of stripping enigmail keys from their personal secret passphrases is well-documented in Bugzilla (but Mozilla closed each and every bug report as invalid), and I reported it to Germany’s official government computing security agency (BSI).

    The security hole created by Mozilla ist even more HUGE than what I described above. In the very first version of Thunderbird that incorporated the key migration dialog, Thunderbird did store the keys, after the passphrases were stripped, UNENCTRYPTED (at all!) on the hard disk… In plain text… Open for every trojan to read and relay to the respective command & control structure. At least, THAT got fixed by Mozilla. If they would not have done that, I am pretty sure that BSI would have issued a red flag warning in Germany against the use of Thunderbird. But currentyl the storage encrypted with a key by Mozilla is only slightly better. If at any given time in the fure, Mozilla’s key gets compromised than every key from Thunderbird users gets compromised as well.

    So my personal recommendation to Thunderbird users is to NOT run the migration dialog, but rather to enable Thunderbird’s use of external mail encryption, and leave the keys in the keyring unaltered.

  58. Update “debian-system-adjustments: Debian adjustments specific to Linux Mint * Changelog * FF: Move distribution.ini to /opt/firefox” if that doesn’t sound suspicious then you have issues. I think it’s time I part with Linux mint now. You all have sold out.

    1. If you were trying to hide something would you put it in a changelog?

      There’s a pretty cool story behind that change. It’s there so you don’t get swapped to a new profile, after the ESR->FF migration which happened already in 2021. At the time we patched FF in LMDE to fix it. Now that we’re using vanilla source code we just move the path to /opt.

      You could have just asked. Good luck wherever you go.

  59. Yes! Thanks for this upgrade. Please bring thunderbird up to date too. I think the folks at mozilla are doing a great job and on my windows pc (at work) I only very rarely got into trouble for updating. I’m generally not a rolling release / cutting edge person (learned my lessons ;-), but for thinderbird and firefox I think this exemption is fine. Thanks for Mint.

  60. Hi Clem

    Regardless of your views on this move (which personally I’m perfectly fine with) it’s awesome to see the openness and honest from Clem and the team, that’s what makes Mint different.

  61. Hello Clem,
    It seems that dual booting may be something that can only be a memory. My 5 year old ThinkPad still dual boots and spends most of it’s time running Linux Mint with occasional needs for Windows. But, it seems to be very difficult to dual boot with recent versions of Windows on a new machine, even if two or more separate SSD’s are installed. Can we hope that a solution may be on the way?

  62. Very pragmatic move and makes a lot of sense for the distribution’s future. I salute it, even though I do not use either Firefox or Google on any of my Mint installs.

  63. Firefox has a problem with not being able to open digital rights management videos (even with all its correct DRM settings). This is a problem with Netflix. Accordingly I have to use Chrome for DRM situations even though I would prefer Firefox. It would be great if this Firefox DRM issue could be fixed.

    1. I was able to upgrade Wine to 7.1. Now what do I do with it? Is it better than version 5 or did I just do an interesting upgrade with no practical improvement?

  64. The latest version of Thunderbird’s Calendar insists on showing times in European and US Military 24 hour format. Unfortunately there seems to be no way to switch to the previous AM/PM time system. Recommend this choice be added,

    1. @Scott Ochiltree
      My TB is 91.5.0 and times are in 24-hour format too. I hadn’t noticed that change. But it isn’t something Mint has any control over, its something you would take up with the TB developers (thunderbird.net). Maybe request a feature change at https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/

  65. Hi Clem,
    congratulations for the partnership with Mozilla, hopefully it will also return a certain revenue eventually,
    aside from also (hopefully) liberating your valuable developer time / resources for maintenance etc etc.

    If you don’t mind, i’d like some further clarification on the “We now package the Mozilla version of Firefox instead” statement above.
    Does this mean (in essence) that it will be the very exact same binary contained in Mozilla’s tar.gz, yet packaged in a convenient .deb alternatively?
    Does this mean you will still continue compiling it yourself, but by using instead Mozilla’s standard ‘recipe’ (eg. regarding preferred gcc / rust version etc etc?)

    All the best

  66. Hopefully this will help make the Firefox experience and update more consistent across Mint. I think this will be helpful as updates can be a bit different depending on setup.

  67. Well, I for one noticed an immediate performance increase after upgrading to 96. It’s no longer sluggish, no longer stutters when scrolling a page, and loads pages quickly.

    All the issues I had since 90 are gone.

  68. I thought Mozilla would force the snap version instead of building themselves a deb just for Mint Kinda odd approach

  69. The new partnership of Mozilla and Linux Mint sounds interesting.

    Perhaps Linux Mint Ubuntu edition will supports now the more stable Firefox -esr edition like LMDE4 are already doing.

    The more stable thunderbird -esr edition looks like not supported by Linux Mint Ubuntu edition and the LMDE4 edition. That can be improved too.

  70. network.cookie.lifetimePolicy change on every firefox start from 2 to 0
    Linux Mint 20.3 Xfce 64bit with Firefox 102.0 64bit mint001- 1.0 (German)
    Mainboard Biostar A68N-5600E with 2x ssd and 16Gb DDR3

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