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Mozilla: Iodide and Edoardo Viola, Mozillian of the Month

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  • Mozilla releases Iodide, an open source browser tool for publishing dynamic data science

    Mozilla wants to make it easier to create, view, and replicate data visualizations on the web, and toward that end, it today unveiled Iodide, an “experimental tool” meant to help scientists and engineers write and share interactive documents using an iterative workflow. It’s currently in alpha, and available from GitHub in open source.

    “In the last ten years, there has been an explosion of interest in ‘scientific computing’ and ‘data science’: that is, the application of computation to answer questions and analyze data in the natural and social sciences,” Brendan Colloran, staff data scientist at Mozilla, wrote in a blog post. “To address these needs, we’ve seen a renaissance in programming languages, tools, and techniques that help scientists and researchers explore and understand data and scientific concepts, and to communicate their findings. But to date, very few tools have focused on helping scientists gain unfiltered access to the full communication potential of modern web browsers.”

  • Rep of the Month – February 2019

    Please join us in congratulating Edoardo Viola, our Rep of the Month for February 2019!

    Edoardo is a long-time Mozillian from Italy and has been a Rep for almost two years. He’s a Resource Rep and has been on the Reps Council until January. When he’s not busy with Reps work, Edoardo is a Mentor in the Open Leadership Training Program. In the past he has contributed to Campus Clubs as well as MozFest, where he was a Space Wrangler for the Web Literacy Track.

Mozilla, Firefox and Security on the Net

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  • A Look Back at the History of Firefox

    In the early 1990s, a young man named Marc Andreessen was working on his bachelor’s degree in computer science at the University of Illinois. While there, he started working for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. During that time Sir Tim Berners-Lee released an early form of the web standards that we know today. Marc was introduced to a very primitive web browser named ViolaWWW. Seeing that the technology had potential, Marc and Eric Bina created an easy to install browser for Unix named NCSA Mosaic). The first alpha was released in June 1993. By September, there were ports to Windows and Macintosh. Mosaic became very popular because it was easier to use than other browsing software.

    In 1994, Marc graduated and moved to California. He was approached by Jim Clark, who had made his money selling computer hardware and software. Clark had used Mosaic and saw the financial possibilities of the internet. Clark recruited Marc and Eric to start an internet software company. The company was originally named Mosaic Communications Corporation, however, the University of Illinois did not like their use of the name Mosaic. As a result, the company name was changed to Netscape Communications Corporation.

    The company’s first project was an online gaming network for the Nintendo 64, but that fell through. The first product they released was a web browser named Mosaic Netscape 0.9, subsequently renamed Netscape Navigator. Internally, the browser project was codenamed mozilla, which stood for “Mosaic killer”. An employee created a cartoon of a Godzilla like creature. They wanted to take out the competition.

  • Firefox Send – Securely Transfer Large Files for Free

    We have covered several file sharing applications over time with apps like Wormhole, EasyJoin, and Android File Transfer For Linux. Today, we introduce you to Firefox’s recently released file sharing service, Firefox Send.

    Firefox Send is a free, encrypted file sharing service that enables you to privately share files up to 1GB (and files up to 2GB using a Firefox account) with privileged parties. How does it work? Upload the files that you want to share and send the link to the recipients who just have to click the download button.

    Send uses end-to-end encryption coupled with an extra layer of security that you can advantage of by password-protecting the links. That way, people who are able to access the download link will not be able to use.

  • Why is no one signing their emails?


    It seems to me that there is a fairly easy solution to verify the author of an email: sign it with a digital signature. Either S/MIME or PGP will do. I don’t even care about encryption here, just signing to prevent phishing.

Mozilla: Doubling the Number of Content Processes in Firefox, SELinux With Firefox and Mobile Ports

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  • Doubling the Number of Content Processes in Firefox

    Over the past year, the Fission MemShrink project has been working tirelessly to reduce the memory overhead of Firefox. The goal is to allow us to start spinning up more processes while still maintaining a reasonable memory footprint. I’m happy to announce that we’ve seen the fruits of this labor: as of version 66 we’re doubling the default number of content processes from 4 to 8.

    Doubling the number of content processes is the logical extension of the e10s-multi project. Back when that project wrapped up we chose to limit the default number of processes to 4 in order to balance the benefits of multiple content processes — fewer crashes, better site isolation, improved performance when loading multiple pages — with the impact on memory usage for our users.

    Our telemetry has looked really good: if we compare beta 59 (roughly when this project started) with beta 66, where we decided to let the increase be shipped to our regular users, we see a virtually unchanged total memory usage for our 25th, median, and 75th percentile and a modest 9% increase for the 95th percentile on Windows 64-bit.

  • Use Selinux with Firefox.
  • Get better password management with Firefox Lockbox on iPad [Ed: Apple in is NSA PRISM. There are back doors and data-sharing, passwords included.]

    We access the web on all sorts of devices from our laptop to our phone to our tablets. And we need our passwords everywhere to log into an account. This is why we made Firefox Lockbox, a way to securely track your Firefox passwords and access them anywhere.

  • Mozilla Firefox Lite Android App Officially Unveiled In India

    After getting a soft launch last year, Mozilla has officially launched the Firefox Lite Android version at an event in India.

    Additionally, Mozilla has collaborated with various companies such as Times Internet, DB Digital and MoMagic to enhance its presence in India.


    For those who don’t know, Firefox Lite is now available in 15 markets in Asia including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

    Lite-er versions of apps have been quite prevalent in developing countries such as India, where such apps prove apt for low-end smartphones catering to tier 2 and tier 3 segments, which could also prove beneficial for Mozilla.

Mozilla: Firefox Send, Task Configuration at Scale and More

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  • Use Firefox Send to safely share files for free

    Moving files around the web can be complicated and expensive, but with Firefox Send it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of services that let you send files for free but you often run up against small file sharing sizes or have to deal with links that don’t expire, leaving your information online indefinitely. Many of these tools can provide extra control and privacy, but only after you pay for a subscription.

  • Task Configuration at Scale

    A talk I did for the Automationeer’s Assemble series on how Mozilla handles complexity in their CI configuration.

  • Hacks.Mozilla.Org: Iodide: an experimental tool for scientific communication and exploration on the web

    In the last 10 years, there has been an explosion of interest in “scientific computing” and “data science”: that is, the application of computation to answer questions and analyze data in the natural and social sciences. To address these needs, we’ve seen a renaissance in programming languages, tools, and techniques that help scientists and researchers explore and understand data and scientific concepts, and to communicate their findings. But to date, very few tools have focused on helping scientists gain unfiltered access to the full communication potential of modern web browsers. So today we’re excited to introduce Iodide, an experimental tool meant to help scientists write beautiful interactive documents using web technologies, all within an iterative workflow that will be familiar to many scientists.

Google and Mozilla Funding for FOSS

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  • Topics for GSoC 2019

    It is time for GNUnet to run properly on Android. Note that GNUnet is written in C, and this is not about rewriting GNUnet in Java, but about getting the C code to run on Android.

  • Introducing Season of Docs

    Google Open Source is delighted to announce Season of Docs, a new program which fosters the open source contributions of technical writers.

    Season of Docs brings technical writers and open source projects together for a few months to work on open source documentation. 2019 is the first time we’re running this exciting new program.

    Join us in making a substantive contribution to open source software development around the world.

  • Apply for a Mozilla Fellowship

    Mozilla Fellows work on the front lines of internet health, at a time when the internet is entwined with everything from elections and free expression to justice and personal safety. Fellows ensure the internet remains a force for good — empowerment, equality, access — and also combat online ills, like abuse, exclusion, and closed systems.

    Mozilla is particularly interested in individuals whose expertise aligns with our 2019 impact goal: “better machine decision making,” or ensuring the artificial intelligence in our lives is designed with responsibility and ethics top of mind. For example: Fellows might research how disinformation spreads on Facebook. Or, build a tool that identifies the blind spots in algorithms that detect cancer. Or, advocate for a “digital bill of rights” that protects individuals from invasive facial recognition technology.

Introducing Firefox Send, Providing Free File Transfers while Keeping your Personal Information Private

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At Mozilla, we are always committed to people’s security and privacy. It’s part of our long-standing Mozilla Manifesto. We are continually looking for new ways to fulfill that promise, whether it’s through the browser, apps or services. So, it felt natural to graduate one of our popular Test Pilot experiments, Firefox Send, Send is a free encrypted file transfer service that allows users to safely and simply share files from any browser. Additionally, Send will also be available as a an Android app in beta later this week. Now that it’s a keeper, we’ve made it even better, offering higher upload limits and greater control over the files you share.

Read more

Mozilla: 4 Firefox-Derived Browsers, Firefox 66 Volunteers. Smaller Firefox Updates and Firefox Student Projects

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  • 4 Firefox-derived browsers you can use to stave off the looming Chromium monoculture

    The Google led Chromium browser toolkit project is poised to take control over the entire web platform with it’s 72 % marketshare on desktop devices and 56 % of mobile. Firefox is Chromium’s main competitor on desktop computers and you should consider switching to it if you care at all about maintaining some competition and innovation in this market.

    Firefox itself might not be the perfect web browser for you, however. Here are four other web browsers built on top of Firefox that you may want to consider to stave off the looming Chromium web-monoculture.

    Most web browsers of today are based on either Google Chromium, Apple WebKit, or Mozilla Firefox. There are very few vendors crazy enough to attempt making a web rendering engine, yet alone a full web browser. Microsoft recently abandoned their EdgeHTML engine in favor of Chromium and thus further reducing competition in this space.

    But what does it really mean to build a web browser on top of another web browser? It can mean many things to many different developers and therein lies the possibilities for neat new feature that can delight users and make them more productive.

  • Firefox 66 new contributors
  • Smaller Firefox Updates

    Back in 2014 I blogged about several ideas about how to make Firefox updates smaller.

    Since then, we have been able to implement some of these ideas, and we also landed a few unexpected changes!

  • Firefox Student Projects in 2018: A Recap

    Firefox is an open-source project, created by a vibrant community of paid and volunteer contributors from all over the world. Did you know that some of those contributors are students, who are sponsored or given course credit to make improvements to Firefox?

    In this blog post, we want to talk about some student projects that have wrapped up recently, and also offer the students themselves an opportunity to reflect on their experience working on them.

    If you or someone you know might be interested in developing Firefox as a student, there are some handy links at the bottom of this article to help get you started with some student programs. Not a student? No problem – come hack with us anyways!

    Now let’s take a look at some interesting things that have happened in Firefox recently, thanks to some hard-working students.

Mozilla: DevEdition 66 Beta 14, Socorro, Servo, Browser Extensions and Facebook

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  • QMO: DevEdition 66 Beta 14 Testday Results

    As you may already know, last Friday – March 8th – we held a new Testday event, for DevEdition 66 Beta 14.

    Thank you all for helping us make Mozilla a better place: Iryna Thompson, Rok Žerdin (zerdo), gaby2300, noelonassis.

    From Mozilla India Community: Aishwarya Narasimhan.

    From Mozilla Bangladesh Community: Sayed Ibn Masud, Maruf Rahman, Saheda Reza Antora, Sajedul Islam, Hasibul Hasan Shanto, Kazi Ashraf Hossain and Mim Ahmed Joy.

  • Socorro: February 2019 happenings

    Socorro is the crash ingestion pipeline for Mozilla's products like Firefox. When Firefox crashes, the crash reporter collects data about the crash, generates a crash report, and submits that report to Socorro. Socorro saves the crash report, processes it, and provides an interface for aggregating, searching, and looking at crash reports.

  • This Month In Servo 126

    In the past month, we merged 176 PRs in the Servo organization’s repositories.

  • Spring Cleaning with Browser Extensions

    Flowers in bloom, birds singing, cluttered debris everywhere. It’s Spring cleaning season. We may not be able to help with that mystery odor in the garage, but here are some exceptional browser extensions for addressing digital life disorder.

  • Mozilla Open Policy & Advocacy Blog: Meet the newest walled garden

    Recently, Mark Zuckerberg posted a lengthy note outlining Facebook’s vision to integrate its three messaging services – WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram (through its Direct messaging functionality) – into one privacy and security oriented platform. The post positioned Facebook’s future around individual and small group conversations, rather than the “public forum” style communications through Facebook’s newsfeed platform. Initial coverage of the move, largely critical, has focused on the privacy and security aspects of this integrated platform, the history of broken promises on privacy and the changes that would be needed for Facebook’s business model to realize the goal. However, there’s a yet darker side to the proposal, one mostly lost in the post and coverage so far: Facebook is taking one step further to make its family of services into the newest walled garden, at the expense of openness and the broader digital economy.


    How does this square with the very active conversations around competition and centralization in tech we’re witnessing around the world today? The German competition authority just issued a decision forcing Facebook to stop sharing data amongst its services. This feels like quite the discordant note for Facebook to be casting, even as the company is (presumably) thinking about how to comply with the German decision. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission is actively pursuing an investigation into Facebook’s data practices. And regulators in the U.S., the European Union, India, Israel, and Australia are actively reviewing their antitrust and competition laws to ensure they can respond to the challenges posed by technology and data.

    It’s hard to say whether integrating its messaging services will further entrench Facebook’s position, or make it harder to pursue the kinds of remedies directed by the Bundeskartellamt and being considered by politicians around the world. But it seems like Facebook is on a collision course towards finding out.

    If Facebook believes that messaging as a platform offers incredible future innovation, the company has a choice. It could either seek to develop that potential within a silo, the way AT&T fostered innovation in telephones in the 1950s – or it could try the way the internet was built to work: offering real interoperability on reasonable terms so that others can innovate downstream.

Mozilla: Firefox UX, Mozilla Thunderbird, European Policy and More

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  • Firefox UX: How to validate an idea when you’re not working in a startup.

    People in startups have tried so hard to avoid spending time and money on building a product that doesn’t achieve the product/ market fit, so do tech companies. Resources are always limited. Making right decisions on where to put their resources are serious in organizations, and sometimes, it’s even harder to make one than in a startup.

    ChecknShare, an experimental product idea from Mozilla Taipei for improving Taiwanese seniors’ online sharing experience, has learned a lot after doing several rounds of validations. In our retrospective meeting, we found the process can be polished to be more efficient when we both validate our ideas and communicate with our stakeholders at the same time.

    Here are 3 steps that I suggest for validating your idea:

  • Mozilla Thunderbird: FOSDEM 2019 and DeltaChat

    During the last month we attended two events: FOSDEM, Europe’s premier free software event, and a meetup with the folks behind DeltaChat. At both events we met great people, had interesting conversations, and talked through potential future collaboration with Thunderbird. This post details some of our conversations and insights gather from those events.

  • Mozilla Open Policy & Advocacy Blog: One hour takedown deadlines: The wrong answer to Europe’s content regulation question

    We’ve written a lot recently about the dangers that the EU Terrorist Content regulation poses to internet health and user rights, and efforts to combat violent extremism. One aspect that’s particularly concerning is the rule that all online hosts must remove ‘terrorist content’ within 60 minutes of notification. Here we unpack why that obligation is so problematic, and put forward a more nuanced approach to content takedowns for EU lawmakers.

    Since the early days of the web, ‘notice & action’ has been the cornerstone of online content moderation. As there is so much user-generated content online, and because it is incredibly challenging for an internet intermediary to have oversight of each and every user activity, the best way to tackle illegal or harmful content is for online intermediaries to take ‘action’ (e.g. remove it) once they have been ‘notified’ of its existence by a user or another third party. Despite the fast-changing nature of internet technology and policy, this principle has shown remarkable resilience. While it often works imperfectly and there is much that could be done to make the process more effective, it remains a key tool for online content control.

  • Mike Conley: Firefox Front-End Performance Update #14

    We’re only a few weeks away from Firefox 67 merging from the Nightly channel to Beta, and since my last update, a number of things have landed.

    It’s the end of a long week for me, so I apologize for the brevity here. Let’s check it out!

  • Hacks.Mozilla.Org: Real virtuality: connecting real things to virtual reality using web technologies

    Today we’ll report on the proof-of-concept we built in half a day, after our lucky meeting-of-minds at FOSDEM. Our prototype applies 3D visualisation to power an IoT interface. It demonstrates how open, accessible web technologies make it possible to combine software from different domains to create engaging new interactive experiences.

    Our proof of concept, illustrated in the video below, shows how a sensor connected to the Internet brings data from the real world to the virtual world. The light sensor reads colors from cardboard cards and changes the color of entities in virtual reality.

    The second demo shows how actions in the virtual world can affect the real world. In this next video, we turn on LEDs with colors that match their virtual reality counterparts.

  • Mozilla is bringing Tor's 'letterboxing' privacy technique to Firefox

    The technique, known as "letterboxing" is expected to appear in Firefox 67, due in May, and is designed to stop advertisers from tracking you using the size of your browser window.

    It sounds bizarre, but that's just one of the sneaky techniques being used by the people determined to serve up adverts that are tailored to you, whether you like it or not.

    Letterboxing works by adding grey bars to the side of the screen as you resize, which gradually disappear over the next few seconds. Doing so confuses the "sniffing" technology used by the advertisers, and thus diverts the unwanted attention.

Mozilla: Tor, Mozilla's Reps Community, Using TPM Based Client Certificates on Firefox and Apache

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  • Tor’s Anti-Fingerprinting Technique ‘Letterboxing’ Coming To Firefox 67

    Once again, Mozilla has taken a leaf out of Tor browser’s handbook with the introduction of user anti-fingerprinting technique in Firefox 67 which is scheduled for a release this year in May.

    Dubbed ‘Letterboxing,’ this method protects against window-size related fingerprinting which is used for profiling and tracking users.

  • Mozilla Reps Community: Rep of the Month – November 2018

    Currently he is an active Mozilla TechSpeaker and loves to evangelise about WebExtensions and Progressive Web Apps. He has been an inspiration to many and loves to keep working towards a better web. He has worked extensively on Rust and WebExtensions, conducting many informative sessions on these topics recently. Together with other Mozillians he also wrote “Building Browser Extension”.

  • James Bottomley: Using TPM Based Client Certificates on Firefox and Apache

    Firefox is somewhat hard to handle for SSL because it includes its own hand written mozilla secure sockets code, which has a toolkit quite unlike any other ssl toolkit1. In order to import a client certificate and key into firefox, you need to create a pkcs12 file containing them and import that into the “Your Certificates” box which is under Preferences > Privacy & Security > View Certificates

    Obviously, simply supplying a key file to firefox presents security issues because you’d like to prevent a clever hacker from gaining access to it and thus running off with your client certificate. Firefox achieves a modicum of security by doing all key operations over the PKCS#11 API via a software token, which should mean that even malicious javascript cannot gain access to your key but merely the signing API

    However, assuming you don’t quite trust this software separation, you need to store your client signing key in a secure vault like a TPM to make sure no web hacker can gain access to it. Various crypto system connectors, like the OpenSSL TPM2 and TPM2 engine, already exist but because Firefox uses its own crytographic code it can’t take advantage of them. In fact, the only external object the Firefox crypto code can use is a PKCS#11 module.

  • Mark Surman: Mozilla, AI and internet health: an update

    Last year the Mozilla team asked itself: what concrete improvements to the health of the internet do we want to tackle over the next 3–5 years?

    We looked at a number of different areas we could focus. Making the ad economy more ethical. Combating online harassment. Countering the rush to biometric everything. All worthy topics.

    As my colleague Ashley noted in her November blog post, we settled in the end on the topic of ‘better machine decision making’. This means we will focus a big part of our internet health movement building work on pushing the world of AI to be more human — and more humane.

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More in Tux Machines

Android and GNU/Linux Software on Chrome OS

  • Chrome OS 76 adds a flag to enable GPU support for Linux apps
    The new feature was first noticed by Keith I Myers. It is available in Chrome OS 76.0.3789.0, which is the first dev build of Chrome OS 76. It goes without saying that the feature is unstable right now. It is in the very early stages, so bugs and stability issues are to be expected. Also, keep in mind that GPU acceleration is only supported on a handful of Chromebooks...
  • Google working on new way to run Android apps in Chrome OS called ‘ARCVM’
    For the past few years, it’s been possible on many Chromebooks to install the Play Store and run Android apps. This opened the door for Chromebooks to become more than just glorified web browsers. Now, Google is looking to make some major under-the-hood changes to Chrome OS’s Android apps support, which may allow for a long-requested feature.

Android Leftovers

AMD Staging Another Fix To Try Correcting Some Raven Ridge Systems On Linux

AMD Raven Ridge APUs have been out for more than one year now and at least under Linux can still be quite problematic depending upon the particular motherboard BIOS and other factors. Fortunately, while Raven 2 and Picasso APU support is appearing to be in better shape, the AMD open-source developers haven't forgot about these problematic Raven 1 systems. Out today is the latest patch trying to help those with original Raven Ridge systems. This latest hopeful fix is now skipping over loading the DMCU firmware for Raven Ridge. DMCU in this context is the Display Micro-Controller Unit and is the micro-controller used for Panel Self Refresh (PSR) and similar functionality. Read more Also: Intel 19.20.13008 Open-Source Compute Stack Restores Broadwell To Production Quality

Graphics: Intel, XWayland and Vulkan

  • Intel Linux Graphics Driver Adding Support For The Mule Creek Canyon PCH
    Mule Creek Canyon is the PCH to be paired with Intel Elkhart Lake processors. Elkhart Lake as a reminder is the Gemini Lake SoC successor that will feature Gen11 class graphics and now thanks to the open-source Intel Linux graphics driver we know that new PCH is the Mule Creek Canyon. Mule Creek Canyon doesn't appear to be widely publicized up to this point but appeared in today's latest open-source development activity. Mule Creek Canyon is the new PCH for Elkhart Lake and required some minor changes around Port-C remapping that differ from other Icelake graphics hardware.
  • XWayland Receive An EGL-Based GLX Provider, Helping Various Games On Linux
    A notable improvement was merged into the "xserver" Git tree for the eventual X.Org Server 1.21 release that will improve the support for various Linux games relying on XWayland for running under a Wayland compositor.
  • Vulkan 1.1.109 Released With Two New Intel Extensions
    Vulkan 1.1.109 was released today as the latest update to this graphics/compute specification ahead of the US holiday weekend. With two weeks having passed since Vulkan 1.1.108 there are a few different documentation corrections/clarifications. There are also two new vendor extensions contributed by Intel.