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Mozilla Adds Do-Not-Track Feature To Firefox 4 Pre-Beta Builds 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the hitting-the-ground-running dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla cranked out a new version of Firefox 4 (Beta 11-pre) that includes the proposed do-not-track feature. Both the nightly builds and latest trunk builds integrate the do-not-track feature. You could accuse Mozilla of wasting time with Firefox 4 beta-testing, but this feature certainly has surfaced fast."
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Mozilla Adds Do-Not-Track Feature To Firefox 4 Pre-Beta Builds

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  • Having a browser with a feature that no one else uses!
    • It's the great chicken and egg dilemma. Why would anyone use it if there are no browsers that supports it?
    • by shia84 (1985626)
      Well, having a browser with a feature that no one else used (for a short time span, until others started using it) was great many times before, so why not now? One has to be the first.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      >>>Having a browser with a feature that no one else uses!

      When Netscape first introduced the concept of Inline Pictures, or Frames, or Blink, nobody had ever used them before either. But the web quickly adapted.

      (Still not sure why blink was deprecated. How am I supposed to design a website header that mimics Neon signs?)

      • by bws111 (1216812)

        Of course inline pictures, frames, and blink were positives for the site developers. 'Do not track' not so much.

        • by Shikaku (1129753)

          I was about to retort with PRIVACY WARBLE, but then I wondered if visitor count would apply for Do-Not-Track.

        • Re:It's great (Score:4, Insightful)

          by bunratty (545641) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @09:01AM (#35066916)
          The more important point is that anyone who writes a web page can use inline pictures, frames, and blink just by editing their page with a text editor. Do not track requires web server support. I think most web developers do not have access to the configuration of the web server, and even if they do have access, they generally don't know how to configure it properly.
      • by bunratty (545641)
        text-decoration: blink;
  • I used FF4 b7 in my Mac for a while - whenever I closed it, I get half my system's memory (2GB) back, visible from Activity Monitor's pie chart. This thing eats more memory than a Windows 7 VM for opening a bunch of YouTube tabs, there's no way I'll go back until they fixed this.
    • by Shikaku (1129753) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @08:45AM (#35066742)

      https://addons.mozilla.org/af/firefox/addon/configuration-mania-4420/ [mozilla.org]

      Install this addon.

      Click Edit for Mac/Linux or Tools for Windows, Configuration Mania, which should be under preferences.

      Make sure Browser is highlighted on the top row, if not click it. Click Browser Cache on the Left Column. Press Disabled under Max Number of Pages Stored in Memory.

      It keeps closed pages all in RAM, and decides based on your total RAM how much it will save. There are almost no leaks, just dumb decisions (developers) and judgments (users).

      • Have you actually used Firefox 4 on a Mac? The usual excuses are simply invalid - you open FF4b10 with Google as home page with barely anything on screen - 230MB is now gone! Safari opening Apple's oh-so-blingy home page is only using 100MB. "Max Number of Pages Stored in Memory" simply doesn't apply.

        Plus... I know there're about:config entries that can tune this behavior. But I also know I can use Chrome without setting anything and it'll work without slowing things down (and Chrome did have a similar pr
        • by Shikaku (1129753) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @11:51AM (#35068792)

          Have you actually used Firefox 4 on a Mac? The usual excuses are simply invalid - you open FF4b10 with Google as home page with barely anything on screen - 230MB is now gone! Safari opening Apple's oh-so-blingy home page is only using 100MB. "Max Number of Pages Stored in Memory" simply doesn't apply.

          This "this is not technically a memory leak" thing is irrelevant when user experience is concerned.

          This next statement direct answer to both your statements.
          Webkit (Chrome and Safari) and Gecko (Firefox) work very differently. Firefox has sane disk cache limits (the default is 75MB), but instead opts to store much more in memory for the sake of speed.

          There is no setting for Chrome nor Safari to change the disk cache, and in Chrome only a command line setting will change it. I've seen it balloon to 1GB.

          So you see, for the sake of speed, something has to give. Firefox chose the route of RAM, probably following the philosophy that Linux users have that unused RAM is wasted RAM (hence Linux OS having the RAM cache full of files and regular users freak out. Since you are on a Mac, try running free in the command line and see your cache usage). Webkit I'm not sure why they do what they do, but considering the disk is currently much faster than any non-LAN network, it opts to use the disk.

          So you see, there's very good reasons why these behaviors occur, and both have obvious advantages and disadvantages, all in the name of speed.

          I'm babbling, I should get back to work now.

          • by rjstanford (69735)

            You made an interesting babble:

            So you see, for the sake of speed, something has to give. Firefox chose the route of RAM, probably following the philosophy that Linux users have that unused RAM is wasted RAM (hence Linux OS having the RAM cache full of files and regular users freak out. Since you are on a Mac, try running free in the command line and see your cache usage). Webkit I'm not sure why they do what they do, but considering the disk is currently much faster than any non-LAN network, it opts to use the disk.

            What we really need here is a way for the OS to handle some of the network retrieval protocols (or expose direct access in another way) so that webpages can be stored in the OS file cache space. That way all "excess" memory is used, but data is immediately kicked out (instead of being pushed out to disk or, worse yet, causing other apps to swap to disk) when memory usage becomes an issue.

            Ironically, I'd guess that it would be a lot easier for the tighter integration in Window

  • So i guess the privacy browsing feature doesn't work as well?? or at all?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Where Private Browsing prevents the *browser* from storing information on your session, Do-Not-Track presumably prevents tracking by parties on the Internets.

      (Not that I've read TFA, of course.)

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      They do different things. Privacy browsing gives you a new, clean session that's trashed (with temp files, cookies, etc.) when you exit. Do-not-track tells sites they should not be tracking your activity, without affecting your session's permanence. In some situations you'd want neither, either, or both.

    • by Rhaban (987410)

      Firefox's private browsing is the worst among the main browsers. In opera you can open a private tab alongside your other tabs, chrome opens a private window, but firefox is the only one to close all your current tabs when you want private browsing.

      • by bunratty (545641)
        I suppose one could consider Firefox's implementation worse. One could also consider Opera's or Chrome's implementation worse because a user could get confused about which tabs or windows are private and mistakenly open a URL meant to be private in a non-private tab or window. One person's bug could be another person's feature.
        • by anilg (961244)

          Chrome privacy window is of a different color. When you regularly use it, you immediately know when you're in privacy mode by the color. It's intuitive, and in no way confusing when you're used to it.

          • by rjstanford (69735)

            It's intuitive, and in no way confusing when you're used to it.

            If it was actually intuitive, it would be no way confusing even when you weren't used to it.

      • whenever i need to use the 'p' mode, i just fire up ie9, whose shortcut i've modified to always open in inprivate mode. its much better than firefox's close-everything-that-is-open-and-start-afresh approach.

  • by zixxt (1547061)
    They just need to fix the blurry fonts in 4.0 betas on Windows, geez I cannot use Firefox for more than 10 minutes with out getting dizzy.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Turn off hardware accelerated rendering in the options.

      • by wmac (1107843)
        and one of the most convincing features in FF4 is the hardware acceleration which should be turned off to restore usability??!!
    • i think they fixed aliased ui text in b10?
      and anyway the content is beautifully anti-aliased.

  • by codeButcher (223668) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @08:34AM (#35066636)
    Is this a header that nicely asks advertisers not to track you? And if they choose to ignore it??
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Seumas (6865)

      Correct. You can use the "opt-out" feature, but it only works if the advertiser also "opts-in". In other words, this is completely fucking useless. It's like having a car that is crash-proof, as long as nobody crashes into you. (Because this is slashdot and this post would be useless without a car analogy).

      • I thought so - this should have been under Idle....
      • It's potentially quite useful, if we ever got the legislative backing behind it. If I have Do Not Track enabled, and some advertiser grabbed a session, including the do-not-track tag, then a nice crispy penalty should apply. Per page click.

        At the very least, Google on Slashdot should obey it. FF4 Beta / unknown others seems to crawl waiting for ssl.google-analytics.com.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      It's like robots.txt*. People are entitled to ignore it, but they will reap the consequences if they do. Whether adoption of this flag is as heroic will say a lot about the maturity of the web.

      *Appropriate, really. Used to be you'd make a site and decide how much you wanted to share with spiders using robots.txt. Now you make a Facebook profile and decide how much you want to share with advertisers similarly.

    • by anilg (961244)

      And if they choose to ignore it?

      All it takes is a couple high profile sites to recognise this header. Something along the lines of "Hey, we see you requested DO-Not-track, and we'll honor this" . Once this feature and it's usage is in the average user's radar, it creates an incentive for the website to garner some karma. And as the web grows focuses more on privacy issues, this would very likely lead to content providers and advertisers honoring the header. I'd be interested in seeing how Mozilla and others

  • Whenever there's a Beta release (11 times so far) we get a post. And NOW we have a post about a release that not even a full beta, but just a pre-build.

    But we don't ever get updates when Mozilla Seamonkey has a release (upto beta 3 now), or Chrome, or Safari, or Opera. Yes Firefox is my favorite browser (because of the addons), but can we at least have some balance? Coverage of other browsers would be good too.

    • Have you submitted the story?

      • I have submitted stories when Mozilla Seamonkey released 2.1 Alpha and Beta. Both were rejected. (But betas about firefox get promoted.) In fact seamonkey hasn't been covered by slashdot since 2009.

        Opera doesn't get much coverage either. They released 10.1, 10.5, 10.6 and nary a word from slashdot, and opera's the most popular browser in Eastern europe and Russia.

    • by bunratty (545641)
      The post isn't about a build. The post is about the second most popular browser suddenly adding support for a much desired feature, soon after the third most popular browser added the same feature. To put it another way, it really doesn't matter whether SeaMonkey or Opera alone supports a particular feature, because their usage share is so low they can't influence much on their own.
      • >>>their usage share is so low they can't influence much on their own.
        >>>

        And yet everyone keeps copying Opera:
        - the "paste and go" function in the title bar
        - the speeddial function that displays 6-12 icons for websites
        - the online "cloud" storage of bookmarks so they can be accessed from anywhere
        - spellcheck
        - instant display of half-loaded pages
        - Turbo for slow dialup lines
        - and of course the biggest one: Tabbed browsing.

        Plus other features I've forgotten, but originated with Opera origin

  • Chrome's competition forced their hand I think. And that's good. Competition, is good. Not that anyone would doubt it anyway.

  • You could accuse Mozilla of wasting time with Firefox 4 beta-testing, but this feature certainly has surfaced fast.

    Actually, I'd rather accuse the Mozilla team of not understanding the purpose of a beta release. Adding support for shiny new features (and introducing, and then fixing, the inevitable bugs that follow) is great activity for a point release. The idea behind the beta is to make sure that all existing features work well, and that any true functionality gaps (often seen as bugs - for example, not supporting .png by design, while not a bug, would fall into this area) are addressed.

    Once 4 is released, this typ

    • Re:Beta (Score:4, Insightful)

      by icebraining (1313345) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @08:59AM (#35066900) Homepage

      This is a checkbox which adds a single static header to each request, it's too simple to delay FF4 in any way.

      • This is a checkbox which adds a single static header to each request, it's too simple to delay FF4 in any way.

        From TFA:
        "Currently, the feature shows up in the “Advanced” panel within Firefox Preferences. It pains me that it’s not under the “Privacy” panel, yet. This reflects our desire for speed in getting the feature into Firefox, as updating the “Privacy” UI and content will require additional engineering bandwidth. We’ll have more to say on this once we move the new feature into upcoming beta releases."

        Translation: Even though we are already at Beta 11 and should

      • This is a checkbox which adds a single static header to each request, it's too simple to delay FF4 in any way.

        This is also what programmers worldwide hate the hear from their PM/VP/CxO right before release - sorry, no software feature is "too simple to delay release in any way". This is an all-too-common blind spot when the requestor only thought about the time needed to make the change, but neglected to consider the effects it can have on other parts of the project and the user. It's actually quite worrying to see Firefox doing that - it's poor project management.

      • by rjstanford (69735)

        This is a checkbox which adds a single static header to each request, it's too simple to delay FF4 in any way.

        O rly?

        And you've never had a checkbox not save properly? Or cause the screen on which its placed to overflow when shown on a particular resolution netbook, causing a previously unimportant scrolling issue to surface that was being masked because the screen wasn't overflowing? And all of those situations would need to be tested, which takes time, and documented (for testing) which also takes resources... Don't forget internationalizing the checkbox label - I hope that German doesn't cause the label to ove

    • You could accuse Mozilla of wasting time with Firefox 4 beta-testing, but this feature certainly has surfaced fast.

      Actually, I'd rather accuse the Mozilla team of not understanding the purpose of a beta release. Adding support for shiny new features (and introducing, and then fixing, the inevitable bugs that follow) is great activity for a point release.

      Unfortunately, this is what Firefox has become. Its development process has gone completely off the tracks. Instead of implementing a fixed feature set, and getting everything working properly, they are constantly adding new features. That's why they are up to Beta 11.

      • by bunratty (545641)
        It doesn't seem like Mozilla's development process has changed much. I think it used to be trendy to praise Firefox, and now it's trendy to criticize Firefox.
        • by Rizimar (1986164)
          I don't see it as trendy. The praise and criticism have largely been legitimate for Firefox. People praised this browser because of its execution speed and flexibility with add-ons as well as better support for standards than many other browsers, particularly Internet Explorer (which might not sound like much until one considers how many people used IE and how newer browsers like FF have helped things like CSS grow on the web). Now, people criticize it because this software that has proven to be so useful i
    • Still this feature is kinda irrelevant.. Turning it on does not force the website your visiting to obey..

      For this type of Opt-in style Feature to work (I use Opt-in as the websites would have to want to comply) there would need to be some way to verify that they are actually not tracking you.. In all likelyhood they will still track you and this feature will end up being as effective as a big sign on your lawn that says "My house is unlocked.. But I do not want anyone to steal my stuff.. So don't please"

  • When enabled and supported by advertising networks

    i.e., never.

  • Buzzer goes off>
    another point for mozilla.....and nothing as usual for IE

  • From TFA:

    When enabled and supported by advertising networks...

    For its likely effectiveness at stopping the slimeballs, I'd put voluntary support by the advertising networks right up there with the sign at the bank entrance that says "No firearms.".

  • Do not track info scrambling.

    Honestly they can give the user easy tools to scramble the browser response string, scramble the javascript info like fonts available and only report the standard list that comes with a clean XP install. etc.... Report random "referrer" responses/ etc....

    The do not track flag is useless as most of the scumbag sites that track will ignore it or use it as a further flag on you. making your info random or looking like a standard that everyone else has will hide it better.

  • by ugen (93902) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @09:33AM (#35067302)

    On the one hand, Mozilla/Firefox has been taking control of cookies away from "regular users" - yes, it's all still there, but it is no longer obviously exposed, and instead most users would never even know what hides behind "Firefox will remember history" one-liner in a drop box.

    So now, after cannibalizing the real control of privacy - one that rests with a user, they are trying to come up with an *http header* that is no more than a plea on part of a client to the server - "please don't track me". What are the chances anyone would give a damn (unless this is written into a *world wide* law with severe penalties?).

    Sorry, this misses the mark completely. If you want to make sure users are not being tracked, restore control of information sites can store, make it *easier* and *more obvious* to users when they are being tracked, cooperate with or build into your browser functionality of "cookie jar", "ghostery", "adblock" and other click/cookie/link/image tracking control plugins. In short - do real work, rather than sticking a feel-good, do-nothing header which will achieve nothing.

    • What they should be doing..

      "Do not track me or else the war will begin"

      And with the Exhaustion of IPv4 address space.. everyone will be behind a NAT for a number of years and it will be easier than ever to make everyone look the same on the internet...

      All they need to do stop sending info to the servers because they cannot be trusted. This has been needed for a Long time.. Servers on the internet cannot be trusted and should not be.. the whole trust relationships have been made with the client trusting the

    • What I am really waiting for is for browsers to implement a mechanism that will allow websites to become "trusted" by the user, in a simple way.

      Right now, if a website wants to obtain a level of trust, it should ask the user "pull down this menu, then click here and there, then type website name, etc. etc.". Much too complicated, and different per browser. And not even adequate in most cases.

      With such a simple and user-friendly system in place, websites could be "untrusted" by default.

  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @10:02AM (#35067668) Journal
    Okay, my screen just turned black. Every v4 pre since like b2 has been corrupting its own memory, slowly dying, then outright crashing. The crash reporter has submitted 4 or 5 reports after crashes; it usually fails.
    • by kbrosnan (880121)
      If Firefox 4 starts, assuming you are on Windows, would you try disabling hardware acceleration in tools > options > advanced > general > browsing. If that helps your system has video card drivers that are incompatible with Firefox. Updating the drivers should help. If you have any crash report IDs http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/Mozilla+Crash+Reporter [mozilla.com] explains how to retrieve them. They would be very helpful in diagnosing the problem.
  • Switching between FF 3 and 4 trashes all of my persistent sessions with "keep me logged in" sites, including Slashdot. Both directions (3 to 4 and 4 to 3). And FF 4 launches automatically if it's not up and I click on a hotlink, presumably because the OS wants to launch the latest and greatest. That means I have to keep FF 3 going all the time, in case, I want to click on a hotlink. Either that or default to FF 4 with all of its hounding for feedback. Stop punishing me for helping you test version 4's HTML5
  • If this were going to work, it would need to offer the remote site the opportunity to ping back "Tracking is required to obtain access to the content/services I am providing. Approve/Deny". I know most of us here don't like tracking but it's a two way street and if you make it all one sided, the other side is simply going to ignore your "Please don't track me" flag.

  • Would I need a feature that allows me to give control to a third party when I can have the control myself. NoScript Adblock flashblock BetterPrivacy and other plugin tools allow me to get the service I want. I choose to support them.
  • I am reminded once again of the "evil bit".

Life would be so much easier if we could just look at the source code. -- Dave Olson

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