Question on Mozilla support for self-hosting

Mark Hammond mhammond at mozilla.com
Tue Apr 3 00:20:30 UTC 2018


Hi James, thanks for getting back to us.

The main take-away I get from your note below is "Sync 1.1 was good, 
Sync 1.5 sucks". While I'm sure that is true from your perspective, Sync 
1.1 isn't going to come back.

What we can improve is the documentation for what is needed to run Sync 
1.5, but we really need feedback on what specifically is lacking here - 
we do know many people have successfully used the documentation to 
self-host Sync 1.5, so where the docs are lacking isn't immediately 
obvious to us.

If you have any other actionable ideas for how we can improve the 
situation for Sync self-hosters, please feel free to share them too.

Cheers,

Mark

On 3/04/2018 8:47 am, James Sundquist wrote:
> Hi Mark,
> 
> Just want to follow up with you.  I would love to see better support 
> from Mozilla for selfhosters.  I am genuinely interested in Mozilla as a 
> pioneer for freedom and privacy, even from their own services.  I know 
> your time is valuable, and I’m continuing to ask others for their 
> opinions.  This is what I’ve understood.
> 
> - Those who want an easy to install, well documented solution do not 
> rely on Sync 1.5
> - [Sync 1.1 was absolutely one of the most popular selfhosted, easy to 
> install apps used in Owncloud for years, requiring users simply install 
> a package from the Owncloud app store with a single 
> click.](https://github.com/owncloudarchive/mozilla_sync)
> - Selfhosted users on Nextcloud and Owncloud still use Sync 1.1 with the 
> Palemoon firefox fork to maintain this simple experience, despite no 
> support from Mozilla.
> - Sync 1.5 documentation is terrible or non-existent
> - Sync 1.5 is too difficult to install, with some snap packages 
> available, but others not packaged at all.
> - Sync 1.5 is too resource intensive for some to want to install on 
> their servers.
> - [Sync 1.5 breaks authentication in Nextcloud Floccus bookmarks 
> extension, probably the most popular selfhosted Bookmarks solution in 
> 2018, and is no longer encouraged at all by Nextcloud Bookmark devs as 
> of March 2018(https://github.com/marcelklehr/floccus/issues/47)
> To quote the Floccus readme on github:
>  > Historically this was once possible using the mozilla sync app 
> <https://github.com/owncloudarchive/mozilla_sync>. However, it's not 
> very easy anymore 
> <https://github.com/owncloudarchive/mozilla_sync/issues/33> to run your 
> own sync server and it still would only work with firefox.
> - Nextcloud Bookmarks would love API support for tags when syncing data 
> from the Firefox browser.
> 
> There is a lot of FUD, but it makes sense that Mozilla would care about 
> such things more than any browser in existence.
> On Wed, Mar 21, 2018 at 4:15 PM Mark Hammond <mhammond at mozilla.com 
> <mailto:mhammond at mozilla.com>> wrote:
> 
>     On 22/03/2018 6:13 am, James Sundquist wrote:
>      > Hi,
>      >
>      > I asked for input from a Nextcloud Bookmarks dev in this thread. 
>     Hope
>      > it is helpful.
>      > https://help.nextcloud.com/t/bring-firefox-sync-back/103
> 
>     There is a huge amount of misinformation in that thread. We'd welcome
>     the Nextcloud devs talking to us here to get actual facts instead of the
>     FUD that seems to dominate now.
> 
>      > I think, as was pointed out before and has lead me to creating
>     floccus,
>      > that, while hosting your own firefox sync server is nice and a
>     nextcloud
>      > app that does that would be useful to many, we would be, once
>     again, at
>      > the mercy of mozilla since we basically replicate infrastructure that
>      > they probably perceive not as an API or standard that needs to be
>      > maintained, but as a private service that they can change
>     whenever they
>      > like.
> 
>     To be frank, the fact you want to integrate with Firefox at all does put
>     you at the mercy of Mozilla to some degree.
> 
>     Also, it would be largely impossible to write an effective sync client
>     today using only webextension APIs and I doubt that will ever be
>     possible in the future either - for example, our current bookmark
>     syncing has custom SQL tables that join to existing SQL tables and
>     execute SQL directly - web extensions are simply never going to offer
>     that capability (and you simply can't make a reliable bookmark sync
>     engine without that capability.)
> 
>     The differences between Sync 1.1 and 1.5 are almost all related to
>     authentication, and it *is* possible to self-host all parts of the new
>     stack. I'd recommend you encourage the Nextcloud devs to talk with us
>     directly about how they might move their 1.1 implementation to 1.5.
> 
>     Hope this helps,
> 
>     Mark
> 
> 
>        (I know this might be changing, as more people implement sync
>      > clients, but I don’t think many will do so.) However, I’m happy they
>      > have adopted the WebExtension quasi-standard, as I expect this to be
>      > much more stable – even more so, since a lot of extensions depend
>     on it
>      > rather than just a few people running their own sync infrastructure.
>      >
>      > That being said, the landscape for WebExtension support in
>     Firefox still
>      > leaves some things to be desired, from my perspective as the
>     developer
>      > of floccus: It’s currently impossible to access bookmarks’ tags
>     with a
>      > webextension, and Firefox for Android doesn’t offer access to
>     bookmarks
>      > at all, which is a major drawback for me. Still, I feel things are
>      > improving and we’re getting closer :slight_smile:
>      >
>      >
>     https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Mozilla/Add-ons/WebExtensions/Browser_support_for_JavaScript_APIs
>      >
>      >
>      > On Thu, Mar 1, 2018 at 7:23 PM Mark Hammond <mhammond at mozilla.com
>     <mailto:mhammond at mozilla.com>
>      > <mailto:mhammond at mozilla.com <mailto:mhammond at mozilla.com>>> wrote:
>      >
>      >     On 2/03/2018 1:26 pm, James Sundquist wrote:
>      >      > Hi,
>      >      >
>      >      > I’m interested in improving Mozilla Firefox support for
>     open source,
>      >      > self-hosted solutions that do not require Firefox Sync
>     servers for
>      >      > bookmarks, tags, history, and passwords.  Here is my
>     question on the
>      >      > status of Firefox support for self hosting + how the
>     current 1.5 Sync
>      >      > implementation could be improved for the greater
>     community.  I’m
>      >     excited
>      >      > to hear your thoughts!
>      >      >
>      >      > https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/1207473
>      >
>      >     That thread has a link to our docs for self-hosting a sync
>     server, which
>      >     seems to be what you are asking for.
>      >
>      >     You also say in that thread that "I know the self-hosted
>     community is
>      >     not satisfied with the current implementation of Sync 1.5
>     Afaik.", but
>      >     that's not our experience - we can certainly do a better job on
>      >     documentation, but we really need feedback on the areas that
>     need help
>      >     and try to be responsive when we notice things that can be
>     improved. We
>      >     also try to act on bug reports and pull requests in a timely
>     manner.
>      >
>      >     In that vein, we are happy discuss how things could be
>     improved for the
>      >     greater community - what did you have in mind?
>      >
>      >     Cheers,
>      >
>      >     Mark
>      >
> 



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