Linux News Today: Ubuntu Developers Talking About the Future of Firefox in the OS
Ubuntu developers are talking about the future of Firefox in Ubuntu, which is creating a disturbance with its NPAPI support that will be deprecated in a little over a year.
Ubuntu ships by default with Firefox, and it’s been discussed already quite a few times if it would be a good idea to replace it with something else. Things are getting a little bit complicated in this regard, since Mozilla is dropping the NPAPI support by the end of 2016. It also means that the Ubuntu developers need to consider very carefully what they will integrate by default in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and which browser will be supported for the next five years.
Mozilla announced a few days ago that it had plans to drop support for all the NPAPI plugins in Firefox, with a single exception, Adobe’s Flash. Despite being declared dead on several occasions, and despite the fact that other browsers have already dropped it, Adobe continues to keep it alive. Adobe knows very well that the majority of websites are still using it, and Mozilla wants Firefox to continue to support it, for the time being. Flash is living on borrowed time.
Firefox as default to be discussed again
Ubuntu devs are now facing this issue once more. Keeping Firefox, dropping it, or some other middle ground? This is usually discussed during UDS (Ubuntu Developer Summit) sessions and one is coming up pretty soon.
“If we do nothing for 16.04 LTS, then for Firefox: 8 months after released all plugins (aside from flash) stop working 10 months after release Flash is no longer maintained. Flash 11.2 has also become less useful thanks to dependencies on hal which is no longer in Ubuntu, so many sites just don’t work. These are really only relevant if we can get Adobe to commit to support Flash 11.2 for longer. I’m happy to ask upstream if we can have some people from Mozilla join us in a UDS session too, but it makes sense to hash this out a bit here first,” wrote developer Bryan Quigley.
To make things clear, dropping Firefox only means that it won’t be integrated by default, but it will still be present in the repositories and maintained accordingly. The issue of the default Internet browser is still debatable and open for discussion, but we have to remember that Canonical is also working on its own browser. Coincidentally, the Ubuntu Internet browser is quite good, but it’s nowhere near ready for a default integration.