Mozilla to Require Rust (and Dependencies) for Firefox

Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2017 - 02:47 AM |
Tagged: mozilla, firefox, web browser, Rust, llvm

Firefox 52 will be the company’s next Extended Support Release (ESR) branch of their popular web browser. After this release, Mozilla is planning a few changes that will break compatibility, especially if you’re building the browser from source. If you’re an end-user, the major one to look out for is Mozilla disabling NPAPI-based plugins (except Flash) unless you are using Firefox 52 ESR. This change will land in the consumer version of Firefox 52, though. It’s not really clear why they didn’t just wait until Firefox 53, rather than add a soft-kill in Firefox 52 and hard-code it the next version, but that’s their decision. It really does not affect me in the slightest.

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The more interesting change, however, is that Mozilla will begin requiring Rust (and LLVM) in an upcoming version. I’ve seen multiple sources claim Firefox 53, Firefox 54, and Firefox 55 as possible targets for this, but, at some point around those versions, critical components of the browser will be written in Rust. As more of the browser is migrated to this language, it should be progressively faster and more secure, as this language is designed to enforce memory safety and task concurrency.

Firefox 52 is expected in March.

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February 7, 2017 | 04:36 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This is very niche news, unless way more people than I think compile Firefox from source.

February 7, 2017 | 07:27 AM - Posted by Mike S. (not verified)

The mainstream person might be using Firefox with NPAPI plugins other than Flash. So that part is relevant.

At work I run Linux on my laptop and the Java plugin through Firefox to connect to our VPN. My Linux laptop is being replaced by a Windows laptop some time in the next few months - yuck... but as long as they keep paying me ;). It will be a race to see whether I get the new laptop before Firefox 53 is released. If not, I get to open a support ticket. "Hey guys, my laptop was updated to Firefox 53 and I can't connect to the VPN. Do you want to expedite sending me a new laptop, or do I get paid to twiddle my thumbs for a few weeks?"

February 7, 2017 | 09:46 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If that VPN is used for mission critical applications then your employer's IT department should know what version of web browser to support and only be using a web browser that has an LTS version that supports your NPAPI plugins and why does your employer need to switch to windows just because your new laptop comes with windows, is your company switching to a windows OS/API based ecosystem. Why not have your IT department provide you with a Linux build for the new laptop as it looks like all your work is done in a java app/web app environment over a VPN to some internal web based business application ecosystem. Most businesses do not run the latest browser versions they run the browser versions that work with their chosen software ecosystem, and yours appears to be some form of internal VPN login to your company's internal cloud services based software ecosystem.

February 7, 2017 | 04:19 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

It affects some larger organizations, and we probably get a fair amount of IT readership. Also, it can seriously impact non-x86/ARM platforms, like PowerPC.

February 8, 2017 | 12:05 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have dumped the Firefox browser. Instead I am using Pale Moon browser.

Now my favorite browser is Google-Chrome 56 running on Arch Linux based distro called OB Revenge. The browsing experience is incredible. That is why Google-Chrome is #1 browser.

February 9, 2017 | 01:15 AM - Posted by Goofus Maximus (not verified)

You know they're scraping the bottom of the barrel, when the only name they could come up with for the new programming language is... Rust...

February 10, 2017 | 02:37 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

The name came from "Rusty" the red panda (also known as a firefox) at the National Zoo.

May 31, 2018 | 08:08 AM - Posted by Internet10 (not verified)

The Internet is the very important thing for all of us.Without internet people, they don't go one step. For internet, you depend on the Firefox browser. Here you told a problem to solve the problem you will stop and visit the site which I prefer.

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