The Gecko monoculture

March 7, 2016 § 8 Comments

I remember a time, not so very long ago, when Gecko powered 4 or 5 non-Mozilla browsers, some of them on exotic platforms, as well as GPS devices, wysiwyg editors, geographic platforms, email clients, image editors, eBook readers, documentation browsers, the UX of virus scanners, etc, as well as a host of innovative and exotic add-ons. In these days, Gecko was considered, among other things, one of the best cross-platform development toolkits available.

The year is now 2016 and, if you look around, you’ll be hard-pressed to find Gecko used outside of Firefoxen (alright, and Thunderbird and Bluegriffon). Did Google or Apple or Microsoft do that? Not at all. I don’t know how many in the Mozilla community remember this, but this was part of a Mozilla strategy. In this post, I’d like to discuss this strategy, its rationale, and the lessons that we may draw from it.

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Student projects update

February 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

As mentioned previously on this page, the Mozilla Community is very interested in collaborating with universities around student projects. I am personally mentoring or co-mentoring a few of these projects and I will try to blog about their progress regularly.

Note to the students I can only blog if you tell me your current status!

Note to other students Do you want to take part in an open-source / open web project? Then feel free to contact me, I will be glad to help you or to introduce you to someone who might. You can find me on Tweeter (ImYoric), by e-mail, on mozilla.com (dteller), or by IRC, on irc.mozilla.org, channel #introduction (Yoric).

Save as .epub (Firefox add-on)

(Kevin CORRE, Benjamin ROCHER, Elie AHUMA, Sylvestre ANTOINE – Université d’Orléans, MIAGE 2)

Objective Add the following feature to Firefox, as an add-on: Save a page and its resources as one file, using open standard .epub. This open-standard file can then be transferred to just about any device, edited with LibreOffice, etc.

Current status Early stage of coding. The first items of the user interface are in place, as well as some experiments regarding how to create an .epub file.

Follow this project This project lives on github.

Detect use of the wrong account (Thunderbird add-on)

(Baptiste MEYNIER, Johan JANS, Maxime DENOYER, Mustapha OUCHEIKH – Université d’Orléans, MIAGE 2)

Objective Add the following feature to Thunderbird, as an add-on: Detect that a message is being sent to a correspondant using the wrong account (e.g. using a professional account for a personal message or a personal account for a professional message).

Current status Early stage of coding. The first items of the user interface are in place, as well as some experiments regarding how to react to the user clicking on “send”.

Follow this project This project lives on github.

Simplify the addition of several alarms for the same event in Lightning (Thunderbird add-on)

(Loïc LE MÉRO aka Morkai – Université d’Évry, MIAGE 2)

Objective Lightning offers the ability to add several alarms for the same event (e.g. 1 day before then 15 minutes before). Improve the user interface to make this more discoverable.

Current status (unknown, waiting for Loïc to tell me).

Follow this project This project lives on Bugzilla.

Extend Lightning alarms (Thunderbird add-on)

           (Anto DOMINIC PAUL – Université d’Évry, MIAGE 2)

Objective Lightning offers the ability to attach alarms to an event. Extend this feature to make it possible to play a music or execute a script when the alarm is triggered.

Current status (unknown, waiting for Arno to tell me).

Follow this project This project lives on Bugzilla.

Handle resources in Lightning events (Thunderbird add-on)

(Julien LACROIX – Université d’Évry, MIAGE 2)

Objective Add the ability to attach resource requirements to events: a picnic requires food (one resource), drinks (one resource), cutlery (one resource), etc… Who will bring them? Also, add the ability to attach a geolocation to events, to help finding the way. Who brings the beer?

Current status Early stages of coding. First prototype of geolocation implemented, and work on requirements added.

Follow this project This project lives on github.

Remind me that I need to reply within 24h/remind me that I expect a reply within 24h (Thunderbird add-on)

(Vincent LEGUEVEL, Mickael MAINGE – Université d’Évry, MIAGE 2)

Objective Add the ability to mark a message as “I need to answer within …” / “I expect an answer within …”. Nag the user as long as she hasn’t sent or received the reply.

Current status (unknown, waiting for Vincent or Mickael to tell me more)

Follow this project This project lives on two Bugzilla bugs: need to send / expect to receive.

Security Extensions for Firefox, the final word (for this year) is :(

May 30, 2008 § 4 Comments

As I mentioned a few months ago, two master students of mine have been working for the best part of one year on improving the security of extensions in Firefox and Thunderbird. To sum up the current situation in Firefox, extensions have no protection mechanism from each other, nor is the core of Firefox protected in any way from extensions. The objective of this work was to design and implement a mechanism allowing system administrators to define fine-grained policies for accepting or rejecting interactions between extensions or between extensions and the core of Firefox.

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MLS for Thunderbird, final word (for now)

May 29, 2008 § Leave a comment

As mentioned a few times, I have (had) two students working on a Thunderbird extension to support confidentiality and help avoid involuntary leaks of critical information by e-mail. Yesterday, these students officially turned this project in, which gave me and my colleagues the opportunity of reviewing the code and documentation.

So, what works ?

  • The Thunderbird extension can detect that you’re trying to send e-mail to someone with a lower level of accreditation — although, for the moment, it gets confused easily. For this purpose, it may use either SELinux or a text database of recipients.
  • The Thunderbird extension can warn you that you need to sanitize and decrease confidentiality of the information and can mark the outgoing e-mail as sanitized for a given level — the UI needs a bit polish, but that works.
  • The Sendmail extension can detect that you’re trying to send e-mail to someone with a lower level of accreditation — although, for the moment, it gets confused just as easily and is subject to a number of security holes.
  • The Sendmail extension can reject unsanitized e-mail going to unaccredited targets — logging needs a bit of polish, but that works.
  • That’s it.

All in all, that’s about 150 lines of code in JavaScript, XUL, C and C++. Not quite ready for prime-time but a good 0.1 release. I expect either the students or I will upload it somewhere for public release in the near future.

MLS for Thunderbird, updated

May 14, 2008 § Leave a comment

A few months ago, I introduced “MLS for Thunderbird“, an on-going effort to add support for confidentiality in Thunderbird. After long months of silence, it seems that this student project, undertaken by Vincent Tarbouriech and Roland Thaisong, two Master Students in ENSI Bourges, is finally getting somewhere.

This extension interfaces with the underlying operating system (SELinux for now) to determine your security level and, if possible, that of your correspondants. If you attempt to send an e-mail to some recipient whose security level is inferior to yours, Thunderbird will warn you that a declassification is going to happen. « Read the rest of this entry »

Makefile for Firefox extensions

December 19, 2007 § Leave a comment

I have just released a script to automate some of the tedious tasks related to Firefox extension development. This script was used in OpenBerg when OpenBerg was written in C++. You may grab it here.
Je viens de publier un script pour automatiser certaines des tâches liées au développement d’extensions pour Firefox. Ce script était utilisé par OpenBerg lorsque OpenBerg était écrit en C++. Vous pouvez le trouver ici.

MLS for Thunderbird or “O gosh, perhaps I shouldn’t have sent confidential info to a public mailing-list”

November 1, 2007 § 4 Comments

This entry is a brief presentation of an on-going work in progress by a group of my students in ENSI de Bourges, Vincent Tarbouriech and Roland Thaisong.

The problem

If your daily work is to deal with sensitive subjects, whether in a laboratory, in the industry, in an administration or in a newspaper, chances are that your computer will host a number of confidential informations. By definition, if someone who doesn’t have the necessary credentials gets their hands on this information, you’re in trouble.

As long as the information remains on your computer and your computer uses a reasonably safe operating system and you’re behind a reasonably safe firewall and you don’t need to communicate any information to anyone, you should be reasonably safe from malicious third-parties. However, if e-mail happens to be one of your work tools and if you may need some of that information to some people but not to others, accidental leaks become a definite possibility.

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