LibreWolf vs Firefox: Comparing Open Source Browser Privacy Heroes

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Firefox is one of the best cross-platform open source web browsers.

Not to mention it’s the only viable chromium-based replacement. Where is it?

LibreWolf is yet another great option, which is basically a Firefox fork that attempts to do better than Firefox in improving privacy/security right out of the box.

But is it really worth choosing LibreWolf over Firefox? What are the differences? Let’s take a look.

The user interface

Since LibreWolf is a fork of Firefox, the user interface is the same with some subtle changes.

Firefox UI

For example, it does not include the Firefox website link in the bookmarks menu and removes the “Add to pocket” button.

Instead, you can find an extension’s icon and download manager to the right of the address bar.

librewolf ui 1
LibreWolf UI

Yes, you no longer need to head to the menu to access downloads.

If you consider Firefox extras to be an annoyance, LibreWolf should be a clean experience.

Research Providers

By default, Firefox uses Google as the search engine, considering that they are official partners, i.e. Google pays to be the default search engine.

search google firefox

Although you can easily change the default search engine to DuckDuckGo, Startpage or something else, the default is still a big deal for most users.

As for LibreWolf, the default search engine is DuckDuckGo. It is known to be one of the best privacy-friendly search engines.

librewolf duckduckgo

It should be noted that privacy-focused search engines may not be as good as Google for certain use cases. So if you don’t mind the choice of search engine, Firefox may be just fine.

However, if you want to keep your search history private, LibreWolf’s default search engine might be a better option.

Enhanced confidentiality

Mozilla Firefox is incredibly customizable. If you want to put in the effort, you can improve digital privacy on Firefox.

However, if you want to avoid investing a lot of time tweaking the Firefox experience, LibreWolf can be a good choice.

LibreWolf offers some of the best settings out of the box to ensure you get rid of online trackers and have a safe online experience.

For example, it features the default UBlock content blocker to eliminate trackers/scripts that track your online activities. The default search engine like DuckDuckGo also helps to some extent.

origin librewolf ublock

Additionally, LibreWolf enables Strict mode of Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection. In other words, it blocks trackers aggressively, which can prevent certain web pages from working as expected.

librewolf privacy settings

Although LibreWolf recommends that you do not change these settings, you may choose to use Firefox if you notice web pages that violate the settings.

Firefox uses basic protection enabled to get rid of common trackers without interrupting the user experience on web pages.

In addition to these settings, LibreWolf also deletes cookies and site data on exit by default. This can be inconvenient if you want to stay logged in to websites and quickly resume your browsing session.

As for Firefox, it offers the same option, but it remains disabled by default. So, if you want to avoid changing the built-in settings for a convenient experience, you should choose Firefox.

firefox privacy settings

No wonder Firefox is still one of the best browsers available for Linux. Most users prefer the convenience to improve privacy while being able to use the cross-platform browser.

Google Safe Browsing

Google Safe Browsing is a useful service that warns/flags suspicious websites for malicious activity.

Most browsers use it to enable a secure user experience. You don’t need to be an expert to spot phishing/malware sites, Google Safe Browsing helps you detect them.

Mozilla Firefox uses it with a different name”Phishing Protection“, which is enabled by default.

However, with LibreWolf, the Google Safe Browsing service is disabled by default to avoid logging into Google services. You can enable it, but it’s not something users look for when setting up their browser.

librewolf security

So if you want some extra help avoiding malicious sites, Firefox should be a good solution out of the box. And, if you know what you’re doing, you can use LibreWolf and enable the setting when/if needed.

Supplements

LibreWolf gets rid of any additional offers on Firefox.

For example, LibreWolf has no connection to the Mozilla server by default. This also means that LibreWolf gets rid of telemetry.

Some of the changes it reflects include:

  • You don’t get sync/connect functionality with LibreWolf.
  • No Add to Pocket button
  • You are not loading Mozilla add-ons/themes on the extensions page.
firefox extras

If you want to use Mozilla account to sync your history/bookmarks and browser data, Firefox is the best bet. There’s also Firefox VPN, if you prefer to use that.

firefox login

However, if you don’t trust any of the Mozilla services and prefer to disconnect all connection with them on your browser, LibreWolf is your friend.

Cross-platform support

Firefox is available for Android and iOS and works well with a wide range of screen sizes and devices.

Unfortunately, LibreWolf is limited to desktop platforms such as macOS, Windows, OpenBSD, and Linux.

Community Based vs Organization Supported

LibreWolf is a community project maintained by a few passionate contributors to promote user privacy, security and freedom.

If you prefer what LibreWolf has to offer, it shouldn’t be a problem to go there. Even with a small team, they keep up with the latest versions of Firefox and push an update as soon as possible.

In contrast, the Mozilla Foundation is a much larger organization and has set extraordinary examples in promoting personalization, privacy, and security.

You’ll receive updates faster than LibreWolf, which is important if you’re worried about your browser’s security.

There are no critical downsides to Firefox being part of something bigger, but there may be future decisions (or changes) that you might not like, offered by Mozilla at its users.

But, LibreWolf as a community project will keep user preferences as a priority.

final verdict

If convenience is your thing when you need sync/login account features, Mozilla-specific offerings, and essential privacy protections, Mozilla Firefox should be a better fit for you.

If you don’t want cloud sync features, extras, and privacy-focused settings, LibreWolf will be the perfect solution.

In terms of performance, both should offer similar experiences. The benchmark test (Basemark 3.0, Speedometer 2.0) didn’t work with LibreWolf for some reason, so I didn’t include any performance comparison chart.

I prefer using Firefox because I need the convenience of account-based sync without aggressive blocking capability. However, LibreWolf is a solid alternative for those who want to move away from Firefox or just want to try something that’s all about user freedom and privacy.

What will it be for you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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