Two days away from Firefox: A Vivaldi experience

A screenshot of Vivaldi browser, showing its settings menu, with the theme configuration currently active.

I love Firefox, and I adore Mozilla as a company doing the right things for the health and longevity of an open web — even when no one else seems to care.

However, I have long complained of its performance on desktop (to myself, or publicly) for a number of times now. Pages render so slowly, and the whole affair seems janky at the least. It’s probably the Gecko engine at play here, and WebRender should help matters.

At the moment however, I can say Blink feels really, really fast. I’m forced to prioritize my productivity for once.

Well, is two days enough for a judgement? Probably. I spend a lot of time on the web, so evaluating a browser in such a time-frame is acceptable to me.

Likes

  • After importing my bookmarks from Firefox, I was simply able to hit a Get thumbnails button to fetch thumbnails for all the bookmarks. Why isn’t this a thing in every browser?
  • The web felt fast again. It’s nice knowing I can just quickly open a page and close it and be on my way. With Firefox, I usually open a link, wait, wait… lose context (and patience), and then connect with the lost context again. Not fun.
  • Customization. I really enjoyed having a proper menu bar at the top. I wish Firefox had this option.
  • Absolutely adorable was the browser changing its accent based on the tab open. It made the web feel a little more fun and personal. πŸ˜€
  • The way the visibility of hidden add-ons is handled! Click a toggle, and they pop up amongst the other permanently visible add-ons. No context loss. No searching in another menu.
Browser accent
Browser accent

Dislikes

  • I had to spend 5 minutes disabling a lot of fluff: the speed dial, Vivaldi icon as the menu button with a vertical dropdown menu (instead opting for a hamburger icon with a horizontal menu), a clock at the bottom right of the browser in the status bar, and so on. Nothing too bad. Vivaldi does offer a lot of toggles so thankfully I was not tied in to the default experience.
  • Browser is unable to infer its theme from the system dark mode. A known bug in the Chromium project, but no telling how long this takes. Consequently, even websites which have added extra CSS for prefers-color-scheme(dark) do not work on Vivaldi. Linux users – stick with Firefox if dark mode is important to you.
  • No DNS over HTTPS, and a very confusing and high-horse response from the community. Unfortunately, not everyone can or do trust their ISP for their DNS queries. The barrier to suggested alternatives is high enough for me to instead just use a VPN. I would expect an easy toggle – both Chrome and Firefox offer this.
  • BitWarden’s auto-fill keyboard shortcut is broken. Even worse, BitWarden doesn’t work on Vivaldi for Android, which is a huge no-go. Copying passwords to paste them in defeats the point of using a password manager. With so much clipboard “bugs” coming out in the open, this feels unsafe.
  • The page zoom can be set per tab, but not per domain.

Will I stick with Vivaldi?

Unfortunately, no. Non-existent dark mode support and BitWarden’s auto-fill keyboard shortcut not working are clear deal breakers.

I’ve moved on to Brave, something I had disqualified on account of their shenanigans in the recent past. While I dearly miss the dynamic accent color, I’m going to have to live without it. 😭


Update (2020/08/14): Vivaldi is currently my primary browser. BitWarden’s shortcut not working has a workaround and you can configure page zoom per site. I still use Firefox on mobile, so I’ve set up a self-hosted bookmark service, linkding. Native dark mode support is still a big miss, but I get by with Dark Reader.

Update (2021/02/19): Update link to my uses page.