Okay people, we've seen degrade more and more for years, and we've always hoped it will find its way and get better.

Now people working on Developer Tools, , and the Rust team - arguably some of the most useful and valuable teams at Mozilla - have been laid off, to make space for more profit making activities.

This is utter bullshit.

But perhaps this is also an opportunity. The FLOSS community forked OpenOffice, XFree86, and other huge projects.


OpenOffice -> LibreOffice fork and transition seems particularly instructive here:

A huge, user-facing organization? ✅
Managing a bunch of connected, complex software projects? ✅
With a huge amount of documentation (wiki, etc) for both developers and users? ✅
Deeply engaged in open standards debates that affect everyone? ✅

It's not about the individual software projects. It's about all of the above. LibreOffice came out stronger after the fork. So could a fork of Mozilla.

@BluRaf @rysiek
ok, how about:

Make a Servo-based browser that is not Firefox?

@BluRaf @rysiek

>This project has been retired

I think this is what needs a fork.

@rysiek It's a brilliant idea, I would donate to such project right away. :dudeeuphoric:
@ParadeGrotesque @rysiek So - what's the next step? What can we do to make it happen? I don't expect a newbie to fork Mozilla, it would have to be someone who already knows the code-base. Such people should be made aware of the fact, that people might want to support this kind of effort. Any ideas?

@pfm @ParadeGrotesque @raucao yeah, it would have to involve people who had already contributed substantially to these projects.

I hear there's a bunch of Mozillians available out there these days though...

The bigger problem is organization and funding. People need to eat and pay rent. And Yahoos and Googles of this world will not be interested in contributing, even if their contributions were to be accepted.

NLnet might be a good place to start looking for funding:

@rysiek @pfm @ParadeGrotesque @raucao already depends on Firefox; maybe such a fork could leverage those existing efforts (and come out ahead on privacy as well ideally).

@rysiek Note that MDN apparently made a call for direct funding some time in late 2018, and "You will be MDN member number 45" does not sound like that was an overwhelming success:

@pfm @ParadeGrotesque @raucao

@rysiek I'd love it if someone(s) could get back to developing the original KDE (the K in Khtml) and update Konqueror to modernity.

@rysiek there is already GNU IceCat, probably the one we should help

@rysiek I have also seen Mozilla's fall from grace, but I am worried that forking it will just add to the fragmentation of the open source ecosystem:

@AgreeableLandscape Sure, it is a risk, but then there’s LibreOffice case @rysiek has mentioned that serves as a counter-example in my opinion.

@AgreeableLandscape that didn't happen with OpenOffice, and Mozilla doesn't seem to be interested that much in developing parts of Firefox that kind of matter for this community. So I wouldn't worry about that.


It's been done already, many times, Waterfox, Pale Moon ... it's a laudable goal, but this can't just be a branch started/managed by a dozen disgruntled ex-Firefox users.

The amount of work that goes into keeping FF in the game against Chrome is huge.

@nattiegoogie @rysiek Well uh, those all work fine though, except on sites that use fingerprinting then deliberately sabatoge themselves when they detect one of those browsers running. I call it the Chase test: whether you can fool the Chase company into thinking you’re using a browser they allow you to use.

@cy @nattiegoogie I remember having to complain to my bank that their online banking system does not work on Firefox. That was ~10y ago. I complained for months and pretty sure I was not alone, since eventually they made Firefox officially supported.

These things are not set in stone.

@nattiegoogie you're not wrong. But again, keeping LibreOffice developed and in the running against MSOffice is also a gigantic task.

And before LibreOffice there were some OOo forks and patchsets (ooo-build, Go-oo). It all fell into place the moment there was an organization to manage it -- The Document Foundation.


Exactly. I guess my point was just that a properly maintained FF fork — that is (ultimately) accepted by the web developers of the world — will require more than just a couple of motivated privacy advocates.

Have any #MozillaLifeboat ex-Mozilla employees joined this thread?

Is this idea being discussed anywhere else? (Website forum, Discord, IRC, etc)?

@nattiegoogie totally, this is a big thing.

Not that I know of, and no.

@rysiek @nattiegoogie There is already a Foundation dedicated to the development of Firefox and Free Software. It's called Mozilla. As bad as it is, it's not like they ceased to exist. They're still the organisation that's best equipped (financially) to run the development of Firefox.

@rysiek They laid off the Rust developers? That must surely have been one of the more commercializabe aspects of Mozilla. Corporate training courses, etc.

Interesting and kind of exciting prospect. That's my concern: that Firefox is my absolute go-to. Other than Ungoogled Chromium there's no other browser I use for everyday browsing. If needed, I'd probably fall back to GNU IceCat.

@syntax I wonder what's the status of GNU IceCat these days?

Is it actively developed? Is there enough developer clout around it to start developing it as an independent project if/when Firefox stops being a viable upstream?

@rysiek how do you know the composition of the layoffs? you've talked to Mozilla devs?

@2ck mostly from toots around Fedi. I would love a first-hand source though.

@2ck some info here:

Seems to somewhat confirm developer tools team, MDN, and Rust team are affected:

"we are reducing investment in some areas such as developer tools, internal tooling, and platform feature development"

@rysiek @rmdes Quite the opposite. Mozilla is a bad business that had to make the hard choice to layoff people to survive, but Mozilla is an excellent open source collaborator. They need us more than ever. No need to fork.

@jeremiahlee @rmdes I have not seen a lot of leadership from Mozilla-the-opensource-entity lately though. They had their chance on EME, they have plenty of chances to do things with privacy that Chrome would never be allowed to do, but don't.

I need a first-hand source on who got laid off, but my understanding is that it's mostly Rust team, MDN people, and Developer Tools people. If that's the case, that doesn't leave me hopeful.

Finally, do we have any info on what is the business strategy?

No idea but they just got billions from Google, after the mass layoffs.

@rmdes wait, what? can you link to some source that can corroborate that statement? a quick web search on the web didn't yield any results for me.

@rysiek @jeremiahlee

@rysiek @rmdes damn it! this is outrageous! after being a #mozilla fanboy and #mozillian for a long time, this just makes me so frustrated and pissed off!

now that they don't have the funding issues anymore, they should call all of those laid off mozillians back. they probably used the lack of funding to lay them off and then once the deed was done, went and signed the contract. 🤦‍♂️ 😡


@rysiek @rmdes I have a strong feeling that this was a deliberate effort to oust a lot of things that are clearly good for the non-profit organization, but not "profitable" for the for-profit organization. 😠

They did a similar stint approximately 3-5 years ago when they slowly killed off a lot the community-run projects like #FirefoxOS to "focus" on other projects that were run by "staff". That was also the time that I lost my interest in #volunteering for the community.🤦‍♂️ 🤷‍♂️


@shine @rysiek @rmdes firefoxOS should have been huge a mobile platform without spyware and garbage by default and functional in low bandwidth environments o was so sad when it was cut

@shine @rysiek @rmdes @jeremiahlee They can't run on air... Which means stuff that are investments may or may not be worth it. Sadly I think there are no open source model that would work reliably. All the other browser has a parent company that earn their revenue in other areas.

I don't think it is possible to be sustainable with only a browser as a product. Ubuntu had a similar problem until they found the solution. Mozilla has to do the same.

@shellkr @shine @rmdes @jeremiahlee as long as we think in terms of products, markets, and revenues, we're doomed.

@rysiek @shine @rmdes @jeremiahlee Yes, but sadly this is how things are... The problem is that Mozilla has a very nice product but one that they can not sell.

So tell me how you think they should earn money. How should they be able to get "food" on the table?

Personally I think they need to offer some kind of service.. like hosting or similar. Like a merge of DO and Mozilla...

@shellkr @shine @rmdes @jeremiahlee personally I think we need to understand and acknowledge that we need to support communities and projects we feel are important, including financially.

Demanding such projects to be at the same time principled and profitable is disingenuous.

So the question is not can Mozilla become "profitable", but how to support important projects and communities in a sustainable way. And that's a completely different question.

@rysiek @shine @rmdes @jeremiahlee Yes, definitely.. but the "donation economy" have been with us very long and do not really work. I do my part and will continue to... but is not sustainable.

We live in a culture/society that is not ready for something like this just right now. Just look at the struggle of WikiMedia..

If we push for a shift in culture as our only mean for change.. nothing will be left staying alive. A fork would die just as fast or simply be left behind.

@shellkr @shine @rmdes @jeremiahlee Mastodon is a good example of donation economy working in a rather sustainable way. Wikipedia is another. The Document Foundation, developing LibreOffice, is yet another -- and perhaps the most on-topic here.

For-profit companies also struggle with revenues. So regardless of the model, finances will always be a struggle.

But with no profit motive, the advocacy and principled approach are easier (or indeed at all possible) to do.

@rysiek @shine @rmdes @jeremiahlee Mastodon is the only one I know that has succeeded in a good way.. All the other are gravely underfunded and Mozilla would probably be even more so..

@shellkr @rysiek @shine @rmdes @jeremiahlee

Mastodon receives €43.45/week

QubesOS gets about $1200/week

I completely agree that there is a need for open source projects to be sustainable, but I don't see evidence we are there yet.

The Linux Foundation is funded by large companies, and that seems to work for them. Could that model be replicated?

@rysiek @shellkr @shine @rmdes @jeremiahlee That doesn't seem to be working out for them, either financially, or for the users.

I guess the difference is that the companies that support Linux also sell it, whereas the companies supporting Firefox don't sell the browser.

@rysiek @adam I think that is because of #scale. When the project has a large reach or is a huge project in itself, it would require more resources, hence more funding too.

again, #mastodon is an exceptional case where it has grown, but still hasn't needed to scale in terms of resources. Maybe, that's because of many voluntary contributors.

#mozilla had the same kind of resources 5 years ago, but they instead decided to focus on "enterprise" contributors which was a mistake IMO.

@shellkr @rmdes

@shellkr @rysiek @shine @rmdes @jeremiahlee If we could have a gift economy with public credit to the gifters, we might sometimes be able to use that instead of money! And you could call it “greedy” or “egotistical” but it’s nothing compared to the greed and hubris that comes with money.

@cy @shine @shellkr @rmdes @jeremiahlee I strongly believe that activists and techies working on important FLOSS projects should be well paid! Nothing wrong with that.

I just see we need better ways of getting the money to pay them. Profit is the wrong incentive for such projects, plain and simple.

@rysiek @shellkr @shine @rmdes @jeremiahlee

It's possible to be both principled and profitable. If we consider Dead Cells, they're still delivering many free DLCs with both new contents, a smoother gameplay, and so on; because the money isn't going into luxury homes but in attractive wages and in the development of products.

Considering forking Mozilla software in a new cooperative entity would be a starting point.

@redbookworm I would like to respectfully disagree. #mozilla already has 2 entities - a non-profit foundaton and a for-profit corporation. I don't know exactly, but I think the reasoning behind the corporation was to be able to pay developers or something of that sort. That good intention evolved into this greed for profit.

What I think should happen is for the corporation to shed this greed for profit and acting like all the other corporations of the world.

@rysiek @shellkr @rmdes @jeremiahlee

@redbookworm @rysiek @shellkr @rmdes @jeremiahlee This new-found "focus" on bringing in a new cash-cow is what is pissing off a lot of people.

If they knew how to make good use of the money they got, they wouldn't have to "re"-focus their strategies. They should instead "focus" on paying those good developers who are doing a good job in maintaining their products.

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