Despite all the magic that web apps and web browsers are able to do these days, much of the Web and the Internet in general still operates on top of decades-old technologies. This isn’t just about applications like e-mail or IRC (yes, those still exist) but also technologies like TCP/IP, HTTP (without the S), and FTP. Those won’t be going away anytime soon, at least without breaking the Internet, but some, such as FTP, are becoming more obscure to the point that Mozilla has decided to start its retirement from the Firefox web browser.
FTP, short for File Transfer Protocol, has long been available as the standard protocol to transfer files from one computer to another over a network. It’s one of those parts of the greater Internet that predated the Web and wasn’t exactly designed for the needs and, more importantly, the dangers of the present day. Not only has the technology stagnated, it has also become a liability as far as Firefox is concerned.
Last year, Mozilla announced its decision to eventually remove its built-in support for FTP. This followed Google’s lead in also removing the same functionality from Chrome as of version 82 last April. Mozilla is starting that journey with the release of Firefox 88 but won’t completely remove FTP functionality until version 90.
What this practically means is that users won’t be able to browse FTP directories like they were able to do years before. Some add-ons might also break, especially when FTP is completely removed from the browser. You will need to use a dedicated FTP client for that purpose but, as was recently reported, some of those have made some questionable changes.
Firefox 88 has apparently released a few days earlier than scheduled on Android. The update has a few bug fixes for the mobile version of the browser but, as Android Police noted, doesn’t bring any new add-ons to the heavily criticized and extremely short list of extensions based on Mozilla’s new rendering engine.