Using the Pale Moon Browser

For a week, now, I've revisited a nice little browser called Pale Moon, and have been using it alongside my once-main browser Firefox since. My initial impressions told me to go back to Firefox. Why? Pale Moon, next to a Firefox window, navigated slower and looked older. Why revisit a browser that looks old and performs worse when I could use another based on modern design principles and speed?

palemoon-homepage.png, Nov 2020

The Pale Moon homepage as of November.

I had doubts. I didn't know whether I'd be safe using the browser. Whether I could visit important websites with it, like eBay and PayPal, or use it for banking and payments at all. I continued using it, though. Google websites, unsurprisingly, didn't work as well as they did on Chromium, let alone Firefox. Other sites worked well. Eventually, after a few days of regular use, I began to migrate my account credentials to it. And then my bookmarks.

Soon, the browser "grew" on to me; the tab-on-bottom default looked odd at first but now felt natural and intuitive, regardless of the little bit of vertical space it takes up when arranged that way - I had enough vertical space, anyhow, with this external 5:4 monitor. Looking at Firefox now, it looked too minimal to me. And dark - this obviously varies depending on the users' theme setting, but because its design, like almost all modern design, incorporates so much white space, you'd need a use a dark theme to avoid eyestrain late at night. And besides themes (which sadly only change colors and rarely anything else), the flatter design, well, flattened all the buttons and made them notably harder to see than on Pale Moon. It also had just a few buttons on the screen compared to Pale Moon's visible, not-hidden-away array of powertools. Sometimes, I think to myself, an interface too minimal and sparse makes your experience less enjoyable. I realized how much Firefox and Chrome — both of which have started to look suspiciously similar lately — gave me the impression of a smartphone app. Pale Moon took me back to the times when most computers had interfaces that truly targeted mice and keyboards rather than trying to accomodate touchscreens to its own detriment.

But about my security worries: out of curiousity, I looked online for some kind of a website that "audited" a visitor's browser. Immediately I found BrowserAudit. First I tested Pale Moon. Then I tested Firefox. Then I tested Chromium. I took a screenshot because the results turned out entirely opposite to my assumptions. Here are the results:

temp.webp, Nov 2020

Each browser's BrowserAudit result.

In any case, I'd like to end this entry here. Pale Moon, so far at least, has served as a great browser for my use case. Notwithstanding its rather toxic forums and intermittently rude developers, I think it's a browser more people should be using.

I've also come to a few other conclusions. One, namely, is that Chrome, Chromium, and other Blink/V8-based browsers, because of Google's power, aren't actually, reliably, compliant with published web standards. Maybe that's why it received so many warnings - twenty four - and maybe that's why Docs, Drive, Slides, and such don't work well on, for example, Firefox and its derivatives. Because those sites, designed by Google, fit Google's slightly standards-bending browsers.Did it surprise you, too? It sure surprised me, but also made me happy: if I had no other justification to use Pale Moon besides my own liking to it before, then here I had a real justification. Don't get me wrong, here: I don't think one should depend this kind of judgment on a single website's self-claimed security audit, especially if the judgment has high stakes. But for my purposes, its results were enough. It provided a detailed overview below the results of the tests it passed and didn't pass. If you're wondering what Chromium's "critical fault" was, according to BrowserAudit, it apparently allowed a bit of data (I think it was a cookie) to send over HTTP with JavaScript. How much this realistically affects daily use is, frankly, beyond my technical knowledge. But still - enough reason for me! I didn't like Chromium's smartphone UI anyway :).


Author: Umit

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