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Pale Moon
Pale Moon browser icon.png
Pale Moon 29.4.6 on Windows 7.png
Developer(s)M.C. Straver[1]
Moonchild Productions[2]
Initial release4 October 2009; 12 years ago (2009-10-04)
Stable release
31.0.0[3] Edit this on Wikidata / 10 May 2022; 15 days ago (10 May 2022)
Repositoryhttps://repo.palemoon.org/MoonchildProductions/Pale-Moon
Written inC, C++, JavaScript
EnginesGoanna, SpiderMonkey
Operating systemWindows 7 or later, Linux (contributed builds for various platforms[4])
PlatformIA-32, x86-64[5]
Available in37 languages[6]
List of languages
Arabic (ar), Bulgarian (bg), Traditional Chinese (zh-TW), Simplified Chinese (zh-CN), Croatian (hr), Czech (cs), Danish (da), Dutch (nl), American English (en-US), British English (en-GB), Filipino (tl), Finnish (fi), French (fr), Galician (gl), Greek (el), Hungarian (hu), Indonesian (id), Italian (it), Icelandic (is), Japanese (ja), Korean (ko), Polish (pl), Brazilian Portuguese (pt-BR), European Portuguese (pt-PT), Romanian (ro), Russian (ru) Argentine Spanish (es-AR), Mexican Spanish (es-M), Serbian [cyrillic] (sr), Castilian Spanish (es-ES), Slovak (sk), Slovenian (sl), Swedish (sv-SE), Thai (th), Turkish (tr), Ukrainian (uk)
TypeWeb browser
News aggregator
License
Websitewww.palemoon.org Edit this on Wikidata

Pale Moon is an open-source web browser with an emphasis on customization; its motto is "Your browser, Your way".[8] There are official releases for Microsoft Windows and Linux,[8] as well as contributed builds for various platforms.[4]

Pale Moon originated as a fork of Firefox, but has subsequently diverged. The main differences are the user interface, add-on support, and running in single-process mode. Pale Moon retains the highly customizable user interface of the Firefox version 4–28 era.[9] It also continues to support some types of add-ons and plugins that are no longer supported by Firefox,[10][11] including NPAPI plugins such as Adobe Flash Player,[12][13] as well as legacy Firefox extensions.[14]

Overview

With Tabs on Top enabled, Pale Moon most closely resembles the "Strata" UI from Firefox 4-28.
With Tabs on Top enabled, Pale Moon most closely resembles the "Strata" UI from Firefox 4-28.

Pale Moon has diverged from Firefox in a number of ways:

Unified XUL Platform (UXP)

Pale Moon is built upon the Unified XUL Platform (UXP), a cross-platform, multimedia application base with ancestry in Mozilla code. It includes the Goanna[24] layout and rendering engine, a fork of Mozilla's Gecko engine. Moonchild Productions develops UXP alongside Pale Moon.[25]

UXP is a fork of the Firefox 52 ESR platform,[26] created in 2017 to address the imminent death of XUL/XPCOM technology in the Firefox codebase.[27][11]

License

Unbranded logo
Unbranded logo

Pale Moon's source code is released under the Mozilla Public License 2.0 except for parts relating to branding. To ensure quality, redistribution of officially branded Pale Moon binaries is only permissible under specific circumstances.[7] The name and logo are trademarked by the project founder and cannot be used without his prior permission.[28]

Platforms

Moonchild Productions offers Pale Moon for modern iterations of the Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. An SSE2-capable processor is required to run the official Pale Moon releases, regardless of operating system choice.[5] For Windows, the only requirement is Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 or newer.[29] On Linux, specific versions of GTK 2 or 3, GLib, Pango, and libstdc++ are required.[30] Moonchild Productions also provides a portable version of Pale Moon for Windows.[31]

Additional "contributed" builds of Pale Moon are produced by community members and may or may not carry the official Pale Moon branding, depending on their level of association and collaboration with Moonchild Productions. These third-party builds range from simple compiler optimizations to support for additional operating systems.[32]

Platforms no longer supported

Official support for Windows XP ended with Pale Moon 25.0.0.[39] Two speciality builds continued to support XP for some time: PM4XP, which was discontinued after release 25.7.0,[40][41] and a special build intended for devices with Intel Atom processors, which was discontinued with the release of Pale Moon 27.0.0.[42][43]

Pale Moon 27.9.4 was the last release to officially support Windows Vista[44][45] as well as the final community-contributed release for Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.[46]

Pale Moon for Android was a distinct development effort that is no longer maintained.[47] First released in 2014,[48] it was announced the following year that this Pale Moon variant would likely be abandoned due to lack of community involvement.[49] The final release was 25.9.6.[50]

History

Origins

Pale Moon 8 running on Windows XP (no longer supported), circa 2011.
Pale Moon 8 running on Windows XP (no longer supported), circa 2011.

M.C. Straver is the project founder and lead developer.[1] Straver's first official release of Pale Moon, in 2009, was a rebuild of Firefox 3.5.2 with minor tweaks. Eventually the scope of the project grew, and version 24 became a true fork of Firefox 24 ESR.[27] Starting with version 25, Pale Moon began using its own versioning scheme.[51]

Diverging from Firefox

Pale Moon 27 (codenamed "Tycho") was a major re-fork of the core browser code to Firefox 38 Extended Support Release, which added HTTP/2, DirectX 11, MSE/DASH, and JavaScript ES6 capabilities.[52] Add-on support remained almost entirely unchanged, with a slight reduction of Jetpack compatibility.[9][53]

In 2017, the Pale Moon team began the Unified XUL Platform project, seeking to fork Firefox's platform code one final time, before Mozilla fully removed the XUL/XPCOM technology. A new browser, Basilisk, was created as a "reference application" for developing UXP.[54][55] Like Pale Moon, Basilisk is a fork of Firefox with substantial divergence from Mozilla's browser.[56] The first incarnation of UXP (codenamed "Möbius") was based on Firefox 53-55, but complications arose with building non-Firefox-based applications on the new platform, such as Thunderbird and SeaMonkey. In early 2018, UXP development was restarted with Firefox 52 ESR as the new basis, ultimately resulting in Pale Moon 28 later that year.[27]

Data breach incident

On 10 July 2019, a data breach was reported involving the Pale Moon archive server. This breach was discovered on the previous day, though it is unknown when it actually occurred. It is estimated to have occurred somewhere between April and June 2019. The archived releases of Pale Moon 27.6.2 and older were infected with malware. Basilisk and then-current Pale Moon releases were not affected. Straver expressed his distrust in the archive server host to provide adequate security and quickly switched to a new host.[57]

New era

On 10 March 2021, it was announced that macOS support would be discontinued, owing to a lack of consistency from community developers for the Mac platform.[58] An effort was made to clean the Pale Moon and UXP codebases of all macOS-specific code.[59][60]

In April of 2021, Straver announced that the next release of Pale Moon, version 29.2.0, would no longer allow the installation of extensions intended for Firefox.[61] The decision was a significant departure from Pale Moon's previous, decade-long support for Firefox addons. In the preceding years, Moonchild Productions and collaborators had made efforts to raise and cultivate a unique ecosystem of addons for Pale Moon, ultimately desiring to break away from Firefox addons altogether.[62] Pale Moon 29.2.0, serving as the culmination of this goal, was released on 27 April 2022, amid long-standing misgivings from developers and users alike.

In September of 2021, after controversy over third-party forks of Pale Moon and UXP,[63] the publishing of Pale Moon and UXP source code was changed to a cathedral-style of tarballs upon release of binaries, instead of a publicly-available repository.[64] Additionally, preview (unstable) releases were no longer distributed.[65]

On 17 March 2022, Pale Moon 30 was released alongside the new Goanna Runtime Environment (GRE), and the source code to both Pale Moon and its platform was made readily available once again.[66] Two days later, a core developer unexpectedly departed from the Pale Moon project, sabotaging the Pale Moon website and certain browser services in the process.[67][68] Pale Moon 30, which depended upon the damaged project infrastructure, was recalled on 21 March 2022,[69] and extra updates to Pale Moon 29.4 were released while damage control was underway.[70][71] Future development of the GRE and Pale Moon 30 was deemed unviable, owing to the proprietary nature of the Goanna Runtime Environment's accompanying infrastructure, which remained under ownership of the departing core developer, as well as breaking platform code changes committed by this developer. On 28 March 2022, Straver decided to return to UXP as a platform base, abandoning both the GRE and Pale Moon 30 in favor of a new Pale Moon 31 milestone.[72]

In April of 2022, macOS support was restored as part of an effort to return to certain aspects of the pre-Pale Moon 30 status quo.[38]

On 10 May 2022, Pale Moon 31 was released, featuring restored support for traditional Firefox addons.[14] After the ill-fated Pale Moon 30 milestone, Straver described Pale Moon 31 as "putting us back on course after various deviations."[73]

Basilisk

The final release of Basilisk, version 2022.01.27.
The final release of Basilisk, version 2022.01.27.

The Basilisk web browser is Pale Moon's discontinued sibling. First released in 2017, it was intended as a development vessel for the then-new UXP platform.[74] Basilisk includes additional features not found in Pale Moon and carries the Firefox 29-56 era interface ("Australis").

Releases are available for Microsoft Windows and Linux, with similar system requirements as Pale Moon. Basilisk is strictly 64-bit software, however, and requires additional libraries on Linux.[75] An unofficial version for macOS was maintained up to 11 June 2020, but was eventually discontinued on 10 March 2021.[76]

Basilisk's support for add-ons and NPAPI plugins is largely similar to that of Pale Moon's, though notable differences exist. Basilisk's user interface and version number closely resembles Firefox 52 ESR, which can improve compatibility when attempting to install add-ons intended for Firefox. For some time, Basilisk included experimental support for Firefox WebExtensions, which Pale Moon has never supported, but this was removed in February 2019.[77] Additionally, unlike Pale Moon, Basilisk has technological support for Widevine DRM[78][79] and WebRTC.[80] Both are currently non-functional, however, due to a lack of licensing from Google-controlled parties.[81]

In December of 2021, Basilisk was discontinued, and an open offer was made by Moonchild Productions to transfer ownership of the project to any legitimate and reasonable developer who would be able to maintain it.[82] On 16 May 2022, the offer was retracted, after several false bids to acquire Basilisk.[83] The final official Basilisk release was 2022.01.27.[84]

Benchmarks

In 2013, Pale Moon was a bit slower than Firefox in the ClubCompy Real-World Benchmark, with the browsers respectively scoring 8,168 and 9,344 points out of a possible 50,000.[85] In a 2016 browser comparison test by Ghacks, Pale Moon version 25 had the smallest memory footprint after opening 10 different websites in separate tabs.[86] However, in the same report Pale Moon scored bottom in the Mozilla Kraken, Google Octane, 32-bit RoboHornet tests and second-to-last in the 64-bit RoboHornet benchmarks. Whilst other browsers hung during some tests, Pale Moon only hung during the JetStream JavaScript benchmark.[86]

Current (UXP) versions[which?] of Pale Moon score comparatively to other browsers in benchmarks, showing, for example, no significant difference on the Sunspider benchmark compared to Firefox Quantum.[citation needed]

Straver has remarked that the role of benchmark tests is questionable, stating that they "can't be used to draw hard (or regularly even any) conclusions. Plain and simple: they are an indication, nothing more. They serve well if you compare closely related siblings (e.g. Firefox and Iceweasel) or different builds of the exact same browser, to get a relative performance difference between the two on the limited subset of what is actually tested, but that's about as far as it goes."[87]

The questionable role of benchmarking has been corroborated by major technology companies[88][89] when, for example, Google announced it was retiring its Octane benchmark in 2017,[90] and Mozilla indicating that they "believe these benchmarks are not representative of modern JS code" when introducing WarpBuilder in November 2020, admitting that their new technology "is currently slower than Ion on certain synthetic JS benchmarks such as Octane and Kraken".[91]

Notable forks

Pale Moon has inspired a multitude of contributed and third-party forks, many of which seek to provide Pale Moon on platforms not officially supported or simply rejected by Moonchild Productions.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b M.C. Straver. "About Moonchild Productions". Archived from the original on 13 March 2017. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  2. ^ M.C. Straver. "About Moonchild Productions". Archived from the original on 9 April 2020. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  3. ^ http://www.palemoon.org/releasenotes.shtml.
  4. ^ a b "Contributed builds of Pale Moon". Pale Moon. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Pale Moon - Technical Details". www.palemoon.org.
  6. ^ "Pale Moon language packs". Moonchild Productions. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Pale Moon redistribution", Official website, retrieved 10 February 2017
  8. ^ a b "The Pale Moon Project homepage". Pale Moon. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d "Pale Moon future roadmap". Pale Moon. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  10. ^ Needham, Kev (21 August 2015). "The Future of Developing Firefox Add-ons". Mozilla Add-ons Blog. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  11. ^ a b c d Villalobos, Jorge (16 February 2017). "The Road to Firefox 57 – Compatibility Milestones". Mozilla Add-ons Blog. Archived from the original on 17 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  12. ^ Straver (Moonchild), Mark (30 October 2019). "Re: Will Flash player be supported after 2020?". Pale Moon. Retrieved 18 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Pale Moon future roadmap". Pale Moon. Retrieved 18 July 2020. Pale Moon supports NPAPI plug-ins. Unlike Firefox, we will not be deprecating or removing support for these kinds of plug-ins. This means that you will be able to continue using your media, authentication, gaming, and other plug-ins in Pale Moon like Flash, Silverlight, bank-authenticators or networking plug-ins for specific purposes.
  14. ^ a b "Pale Moon - Release Notes". Archived from the original on 11 May 2022. Retrieved 17 May 2022. v31.0.0 (2022-05-10) ... We're once again accepting the installation of legacy Firefox extensions alongside our own Pale Moon exclusive extensions.
  15. ^ a b Proven, Liam (4 November 2021). "Waterfox: A Firefox fork that could teach Mozilla a lesson". The Register.
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  20. ^ "Multiprocess Firefox". Mozilla. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
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  31. ^ "Portable versions". Retrieved 6 May 2022.
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  34. ^ "Pale Moon for Linux". Retrieved 6 May 2022. ...these fully-endorsed third-party builds of Pale Moon for Linux: Pale Moon repositories for Debian and Ubuntu -- maintained by Steve Pusser
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  68. ^ "[TOBIN] I'm done". Archived from the original on 20 March 2022.
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  71. ^ "Pale Moon updated to 29.4.5.1". 29 March 2022. Archived from the original on 29 March 2022.
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  74. ^ "Basilisk EoL/potential takeover announcement". 24 December 2021. Archived from the original on 15 February 2022. Basilisk was, first and foremost, released as development software to facilitate development of the (then in its early stages) platform code we build our applications on.
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  84. ^ "Basilisk updated to the definitive version 2022.01.27". 27 January 2022. Archived from the original on 30 March 2022.
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  97. ^ "History of the Pale Moon project". Archived from the original on 20 March 2022. Retrieved 20 March 2022. The hard decision was made to stop publishing source code repositories and having public and transparent development progress, and return to a much earlier state of releasing the browser alongside source code snapshots in release state only.
  98. ^ "Feodor2/Mypal68". 7 April 2022.
  99. ^ "UXP Browser Bundle". Retrieved 6 May 2022.