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Pale Moon browser review

Today I will share my opinion about a niche browser called Pale Moon. Ever heard of it? Probably no, unless you're enthusiastic about keeping access to Adobe Flash Player plugin or you know about XUL/WebExtension thing. But, for me the reason I found Pale Moon is because I want to bring back my childhood browser UI, which is Firefox pre v32 Australis theme. I remember there was so much stuff going on in my browser, it's a maximalist configuration.

Firefox now has removed many element that makes it unique, such as the status bar, the orange 'Firefox menu' button on the top-left title bar, and many more thing. It's more like a Chrome copycat now, although the Web Developer Tools in Firefox is still better than the Chromium counterpart.

Enough babbling about 'old Firefox' and let's start to the review. Pale Moon is a browser based on Goanna engine (a fork of Gecko engine pre-Quantum/v57) designed for customization. We'll see if the slogan fits the reality.

The project website & Installation process

The official project homepage has enough information to tells you what Pale Moon browser really are. Straightforward, no ads about keeping privacy safe with VPN or VR thing (looking at you Mozilla). It supports Windows & Linux, and the download is available from a few mirrors. From Indonesia, there is no mirrors that available near me so downloading this browser takes about 15 minutes for a small 35 megs installer.

Installation process are pretty straightforward like Mozilla Thunderbird & other Gecko-based program except Firefox. I still don't know why people moved to a different kind of installer, because this (PM setup) flow is perfect for most of us. Maybe it has to do with making things more modern.

General interface

pale moon browser with the first page after installation
Pale Moon browser

This is the browser main interface after it has been installed. First experience were not great with my low-end Celeron processor, because it's struggling to open the start.me homepage. For most people that lag would probably make them think that PM is slow. I still have faith on this browser though.

Next thing to look at is the general interface. As I already said before it resembles old Firefox perfectly --well because it is old Firefox. Pale Moon is based on old Firefox, but because it is patched with security fixes & new features every month, don't worry about the browser not being safe. This may contradict to some folks at Firefox subreddit, so be careful getting information from that place.

Familiarity comes with the cost of some features. Most addons that developed today are created in WebExtension format, and that's not compatible with Pale Moon. Instead, Pale Moon use a format called XUL, an XML-markup language that builds Firefox pre-v57 interface. Pale Moon devs said in their forum that they will never ever support WebExt, because it is inferior to XUL format & it's mainly controlled by Google. So, from the user perspective, you will be limited to some niche extension that are available on Pale Moon Add-Ons site. Of course, you can install old Firefox extension on it, but beware of the security hole it may opened.

Usability

General usage

This section will talk about the usability of this browser. Their forum claims that Pale Moon supports modern features, except for a component called WebComponents. Unfortunately, that one component is being more & more used in the internet, thanks to Google influence. And that's a problem, because PM not supports them properly, it will hang & throw error.

I find that the browser occasionally lags on heavy sites like Youtube and news vendor. Lately the browser also chugging up on even a normal WordPress site, so that's a red flag to consider if you want to use this browser daily. Maybe it's because the browser does not use multi-core processing like Firefox & Chromium does. The devs refused to make PM multi-core & blaming websites developer because their code is 'utterly garbage'.

No support for WebRTC is a thing here in Pale Moon, so you can't use this browser to do a meeting on Zoom. Of course there are no DRM support built in. The devs dislike the concept because it is controlling users freedom. You can circumcise it by installing NPAPI plugin like Silverlight, but who makes that anymore?

Sync

This browser has sync feature, meaning that you can sync bookmarks, history, and open tabs to Pale Moon that is installed on another computer. Setting up sync is simple, just type your email & make a password to make new account, and get the 'sync code'. Now open Pale Moon on another computer where you wnat to sync the data to, open the sync settings & put the 'sync code' there. It will start to sync data directly. The privac y policy said that the 'sync code' is stored on my computer locally, not being cloud-based.

The downside of Pale Moon sync is it doesn't have mobile browser counterparts, so you can't access your browsing data on mobile. Looking from Wikipedia, there was some sort of PM for Android, but it was discontinued due to lack of interest.

Conclusion

I personally like this browser, even though it struggles to browse modern web. It makes me looks for alternative (such as Invidious as Youtube frontend) that are lightweight enough to run on this browser. Besides that, I can play my old flash games in my browser & run a game because this browser resources usage are small (unless a memory leak happened y'know)

#review #apps #browser

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