The slow and painful act of ungoogling yourself, part 6: Browsers and syncing

There is something that is so basic and common to using the Internet that I perhaps overlooked it in my earlier articles: the web browser.

Google Chrome has been gaining market share at an alarming rate over the last few years. Whatever Google’s marketing is doing, it’s working, as even people who don’t know how to install a program have installed Google Chrome and are using it as their default browser. Yes, this is anecdotal evidence, but I know several people who aren’t really good around technology, who were using Internet Explorer before (!) and are now Chrome users. With no help from anyone.

Chrome is pretty fast, that’s true, but you can easily replace it with another very fast and extensible browser: Mozilla Firefox. The Mozilla Foundation especially likes to make a point of how Mozilla’s products put you, the user, in the center of everything they do, and how they value your privacy. So far, this has been true and this can’t be said about Google.

This privacy- and user-friendliness goes so far that they encrypt the things you sync to them. And if you don’t trust that, you can run your own sync server, it’s explained in great detail here:

With the whole source code to the sync server and the server machine itself under your control, any privacy issues you might have are created by you, not by Mozilla. The sync server runs perfectly behind mod_wsgi on Apache, but for people who don’t know what mod_wsgi is (or Apache, for that matter), this is impossible to set up.

If you are one of those people, maybe you have a nerd friend whose server you trust, who you could poke to set up a Mozilla Sync server for you to sync to?

I’m still running into a few configuration issues with the server and while the docs are quite okay, I think that Mozilla Firefox itself might be to blame in this case as it doesn’t seem to be able to register new users on my sync server. But other than that, it’s nice to take your synced data into your own hands.

Update: The issue was just that I was running the sync server via WSGI behind Apache, and changing the setting to allow new user registrations didn’t get through to the already spawned WSGI applications. If you run into this issue, just reload or restart Apache, it’ll magically work after that 🙂


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