Firefox as the choice browser for the x86 version in Webconverger is fast becoming in doubt. Reasons are:

  1. Unable to lock down Firefox
  2. Media playback has become a mess thanks to DRM

Unable to lock down Firefox

For over 10 years, all the crazy malfeatures Mozilla have introduced have been turned off via their extension/addon API and preferences. The webconverger-addon is a key component to Webconverger and without it, Firefox would be absolutely unusable and unsafe in a kiosk or Enterprise environment (think public banking).

Over the years extensions have become increasingly difficult to debug/develop , require signing and after Firefox 52 are likely to completely replaced by the incompatible WebExtensions.

Furthermore WebExtensions as it stands, appears to not have the APIs to lock down Firefox. It's unclear how long "legacy" addon API will be supported by Mozilla.

Media playback

Some Webconverger customers have their homepage set to Spotify for example. Spotify's Web interface used to require Adobe Flash which is distributed in Webconverger and that worked fine as a UX.

Spotify's new way with Firefox of playing back protected content is to click "Enable DRM" & download a three megabyte Widevine CDM binary and execute it. Even if I permitted this extremely questionable form of distribution, it does not appear to work.

Therefore I am tempted to tell my customers who require to playback DRM content, that we cannot service them.

The future

Thankfully there is ... one other opensource browser to choose, but I am very reluctant to choose it. I fear if everyone runs derived Webkit, the open Web which I have personally strived for most of my adult life will be doomed.

Of course switching to would not be easy. Various elements like the powerful prefs API will have to go with Firefox, though a minority of Webconverger customers use that and probably less rely upon it.

To conclude, I am thankful for Firefox, they have had a good run and they probably do need to let their software die to re-invent itself. However this means turbulent times for Webconverger. I fear we will be distributing a "security unsupported" browser for a period of time before a good solution can be found. Thankfully the security design of Webconverger does reduce the risk of exploits by keeping sessions isolated.

Webconverger as a company will endeavour to manage this complex change, to be as seamless as possible for customers, so customers almost do not notice a browser change.