10.03.22

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Update on SeaMonkey 2.53.14 and NoScript Crashes/Palefills Not Working

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 1:58 am by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Ryan

In my last post, I said I thought updating to SeaMonkey 2.53.14 corrupted my profile.

I later edited it. I was wrong. There were some changes to SeaMonkey’s version of Gecko that did not get along well with Palefills or NoScript. NoScript now crashes the browser unless you uninstall it, and Palefills (to get stubborn Web sites to work with shims) stopped working.

I’ve been talking to some of the SeaMonkey developers in IRC and they’re aware of the NoScript crash and are investigating a possible solution for that.

As for Palefills, it needs a one line patch to adapt to an API change that landed in Gecko 58, which SeaMonkey brought in just recently.

(Their Gecko is a weird hacked up version that has Gecko 56 APIs but with backports from much later Gecko releases for security and Web compatibility.).

This should be sorted out soon-ish. There’s already a test build for Fedora as an RPM in Koji (the build system) that I’ve installed (seamonkey-2.53.14-3.fc37 in my case), that seems to fix NoScript crashing the browser.

Palefills will need a one line patch which should be trivial.

Despite the troubles, I like to use SeaMonkey because the application itself has a better GUI and more functionality than other “Web” browsers.

Much of what SeaMonkey does isn’t “the Web”, which is why Google and Microsoft are going to war on it. They don’t want you to “deal” with GMail and Outlook breakage and getting around their ads masquerading as email by just using IMAP.

The hack of useragent overrides for Google.com and GMail.com to send them Firefox’s current useragent string gives you the same guarantee that Google or GMail will continue working in Thunderbird itself. None.

Google can still modify “your” account in the future and force you to access GMail using the Web.

The OAuth2 hack of setting general.useragent.override.google.com and general.useragent.override.gmail.com to the current string of Firefox or Thunderbird should not be necessary.

There’s nothing “less secure” about getting your GMail through SeaMonkey as opposed to any other mail client. Google allows Thunderbird and SeaMonkey Mail and News is, under the hood, mostly Thunderbird.

Alleged security expert Matthew Garrett asked me on IRC why I still use SeaMonkey a few weeks ago. I said I mostly like it for ChatZilla and Mail and News.

The Mail and News client mostly follows the Netscape Mail and News HIG that worked well for me in the 1990s and 2000s, and I really don’t like other email programs. There’s no reason I should have to change what I’m doing because Google sucks.

All of the code for OAuth2, which Google is moving to require, exists. They’re just blocking SeaMonkey at a useragent level, which is really petty of them. How many of us could there be at this point?

GMail’s Web interface is sort of like all of those “600 MB browser tab” “modern” coding horrors. If you can manage to make it work with IMAP, your local software will always deal with the mail faster than some crappy Web interface that’s completely bloated and full of spam.

Relying on “WebMail” is bad in other ways too. Microsoft makes getting at IMAP settings really frustrating because they don’t want you to use it, but three times in the past month, their WebMail interface for Outlook has collapsed for hours on end and started returning bizarre server errors instead of my mailbox.

Throughout the ordeal I was able to use IMAP while everyone around me using a Web browser was just like “What the hell is wrong with this thing? Is it working for anybody? Nope.”.

Like Michael Catanzaro, one developer of GNOME Web and WebkitGTK put it, sites that detect useragents and break for no reason have lost their rights to expect a legitimate useragent.

I have like six email accounts. Browsing individually all of those accounts on the Web is not an efficient use of my time or resources. Not to mention dealing with GUIs that change and interrupt workflows.

Email as a generic and relatively pleasant experience seems to be going away. Most popular GNU/Linux distributions don’t even have an email client included anymore.

What pisses me off even worse are people who want to have Zoom meetings when shooting a few emails back and forth would have accomplished the same thing in less time.

I have no idea if Zoom works in SeaMonkey or not. Frankly, I don’t care if it does. If I run into a situation where I absolutely must use it, I have other browsers.

If it seems like Google is paying an exorbitant amount to keep Firefox on life support, that’s because it is.

No search engine would pay $450 million _per year_ just to be the default engine in a browser that’s going away as fast as Firefox is.

It benefits Google to keep Mozilla around, but as a non-threat for the same reason Microsoft bailed out Apple, which was a failing company on the razor’s edge of bankruptcy in 1997.

Google already gets antitrust regulators after it. Imagine what would happen without Mozilla around.

It’s “competition” even if it’s something nobody uses anymore.

Instead of cherishing their GNU/Linux users, where Firefox is often the default Web browser, Mitchell Baker caters to Windows and Mac users, most of whom are all on Edge, Safari, and Chrome by now.

There’s already been serious talk for years in major and influential GNU/Linux distributions (albeit not any that give a damn about your freedom or privacy) about making Chrome the default Web browser.

According to statcounter’s global statistics, Firefox fell from over 4% of users last year, to just 3.18% today. It’s going sideways fast. Instead of spending money efficiently, Mitchell Baker keeps raising her salary, and spending only 60 cents on the dollar on Firefox development. Even sacking hundreds of actual Firefox developers (which, face it, were working on Mozilla’s only product that matters).

If you go to Mozilla dot org today, it’s not even a tech company anymore. It’s all blog spam about canceling and de-platforming the leftists’ political opponents.

The last thing I want when I open my browser is a face full of ads and a keylogger, and Firefox has a lot of those now, but other than that, it’s political crap.

Mozilla “quit” Facebook a few years ago. They said it was to “take a stand”. Today, they’re on something nastier than Facebook called TikTok.

Mozilla keeps sabotaging building Firefox with GCC. (The GNU Compiler)

The only reason Fedora still uses GCC is…..fesco actually rushed to rubber stamp an exception just for Firefox, and then had to reverse itself when it became obvious that Clang doesn’t support certain GCC security hardening features and no-ops them just to make the build not fail, and there was also talk about the rather useless debuginfos that Clang-built packages get.

Free Software is in a rather sad state where “open source” people come in and commit libel and slander against you and say that your political opinions are reasons to just close your bug reports. Unfortunately, Mozilla has been taken over by people who are fundamentally like Matthew Garrett. He calls for his political rivals to be ousted from the Internet. (Petitioning CloudFlare and others to drop Web forums so that they won’t be protected from crime, such as DDoS attacks, etc.)

Speaking of which, I ran into these.

Enjoy!

Matthew Garrett tweet
Matthew Garrett tweet
Matthew Garrett tweet

It’s my observation that people who have fully formed political opinions when they were in their 20s and had managed to graduate college with a PhD don’t actually change them. If anything, they just get smart and don’t advertise it so they can remain employable.

Now, I don’t know what’s going on in Matthew Garrett’s head, but I think the structure of his posts sort of disturbs the sensibilities of the casual observer.

Free Software doesn’t benefit anyone when you have people like Garrett degrading it and trying to make it under the complete control of Microsoft as to whether the computer can even run any of it.

All under the guise of “security”, you know.

“Security” in the “modern” sense means that the user isn’t permitted to operate the computer in his or her desired way. And with everything from malicious UEFI firmwares attacking us, to what was the last Free Software Web browser standing, I don’t know that we’re going to win.

I mean, open source is doing well, in the sense that pushover license people are fine with Microsoft and others running off, making it proprietary, using it against people, and saying “This is ours now! Nyaaah!”, but open source is a watered-down Free Software, which is strictly about a method of creating software.

And “open source” people have enabled some hideous things.

For example, Andrew Tanenbaum’s MINIX system is probably inside your computer running, right now, if you have a modern Intel system. It’s what powers the “Management Engine”. The Management Engine is a secret computer that you’re not supposed to know about, that can do things behind your operating system’s back, including opening up security holes and backdoors, and even reporting on you to government spy agencies.

Matthew Garrett is one of the people who isn’t exactly adding value to the world. At one point, he did do legitimate Linux kernel work on power management, which benefited real people.

But then he went off and decided it was easier to work for the Evil Empire, and implement boot restrictions, and “shim” bootloaders that you’re not allowed to modify, so that your computer only starts if it’s been signed by Microsoft _and_ their Third Party CA is enabled. Which, it’s not (by default) on these new “Secure Core” Windows “11” PCs.

Windows 11 is just more useless bloatware from a has-been software company, trying to prop up its ailing marketshare.

Part of the TPM 2.0 requirement was to mask the fact that Windows’ memory and disk footprint quadrupled again. And it managed this incredible feat while accomplishing nothing important that its predecessor couldn’t do already. I’m sure their thinking went that if you have a system new enough for TPM 2.0, you’re less likely to notice the added bloat.

They also figured they could take advantage of COVID and “work from home” to foist new PCs on people, but…Now we’re in the midst of a horrible recession (they’re even saying Credit Suisse is about to fail, which would be the biggest bank failure since Bear Stearns), the housing market’s collapsing, people are losing their jobs, and hyperinflation shows no signs of abatement.

People are not buying new PCs if they can avoid it, which explains why Windows “11” uptake barely registers, and I’m sure they had to sneak it in using Dark Patterns or middle-of-the-nigh “What the hell happened to my computer while I was sleeping!?!?!?” like they did to get Windows 10 out.

If you look in the release notes of each Windows “major update” you start to see things like the removal of stuff that hasn’t even done anything in 20 years, or you weren’t supposed to use it and the only user was malware.

Only in 2019 did Microsoft purge the last remnants of Outlook Express, which hadn’t even done anything as a functional program since Windows XP. Only in 2021 did they remove syskey.exe, which is from Windows NT 4, iirc, because tech support scammers were using it to lock you computer and demand money.

But they’re sort of poking around the corners, leaving the worst of it behind, and adding pointless new iterations instead.

They have 5 terminals, 3 Web browsers, and two GUI shells, and part of a third shell.

One of the three browsers is a relic from the 1990s that got foisted on people for a long time even though they hated it, and is still there, they just lied about “removing” it, but it’s not really removed.

The EdgeHTML engine is still there, you’re just not allowed to use it now. But it’s there.

Then they brought in a completely new disaster packed with spyware also called Edge. They based this one on Chrome. Edge is a password steal, adware, and the least private Web browser.

The Classic Control Panel is still there. The one from Windows 7. Using it, you can actually get Internet Explorer to launch as a Web browser, on Windows “11”. So none of that has actually been removed either.

So this Windows 11 crap is piling up sky high and it leaves a lot of attack surface.

Windows 10 was already incredibly bloated, but Windows 11 keeps piling it on. Including an entirely new GUI shell, except…..the old one is there too so things that expect it don’t break. You just can’t see it. Well, except that time there was a bug and you could, and the start menu didn’t work. But Microsoft hid it again in a different update.

In Free Software, we don’t tend to get messes like this, because nobody would put up with it.

When I upgraded to GNOME 43, it runs the GNOME 43 Shell and GNOME 43 applications.

GNOME didn’t just leave GNOME 3’s shell running and hidden, alongside GNOME Panel from GNOME 2.x, and a control center that Novell wrote and last touched in 2011, and the previous version of the Epiphany browser, only it doesn’t start, and it has GTKMozEmbed sitting there based on Firefox 2.

I mean, this is the kind of crap you get in a sad proprietary OS from a failed company like Microsoft. You get this and Telemetry, and then they want to tell you they’re working with some fool called Matthew Garrett to “secure your boots”. Uh huh.

Microsoft still thinks it’s competing with Apple. Apple isn’t selling $249 laptops at Walmart that can barely run the Mac OS.

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