What happened to Firefox Sync?

hosting

#1

Hi,

I seem to remember some time back, there was a nifty little extra application called Firefox Sync, which enabled Firefox users to centralize their bookmarks. Anybody knows what happened to this addon?

Cheers,

Niki


#2

If I am not mistaken the service was discontinued by Mozilla :frowning: The new sync service is now using a Mozilla based server.


#3

Yes, you are right. Sync 1.0 was discontinued by Mozilla. The Owncloud app does not work any more with up-to-date Firefox versions. You can run you own Syncserver for Firefox Sync 1.5 besides Owncloud. All needed components are open source.
https://blog.mozilla.org/services/2014/05/08/firefox-accounts-sync-1-5-and-self-hosting/
https://mozilla-services.readthedocs.io/en/latest/howtos/run-sync-1.5.html


#4

The old Mozilla Sync for Owncloud is still available, although it hasn't been updated since Feb 2014. I'm actually running it now under Nextcloud 12.0.3, and it's still working perfectly.

Unfortunately it won't work with modern Firefox anymore.

The old style sync (version 1.1) was pretty simple - your encryption key never left your devices and your bookmarks and other data were encrypted before they were sent to Mozilla. Even if Mozilla's servers were cracked and your data stolen, everything was strongly encrypted.

Unfortunately Mozilla decided to "improve" sync by having it as part of a Firefox Account. This new style sync (version 1.5) requires that Mozilla keep a copy of your encryption key on their servers. They encrypt your key, but the encryption is based on your Firefox Account password, so it's vulnerable to rainbow tables and other attacks that the key itself is not.

The new style sync (1.5) also requires more moving parts. Whereas the old style (1.1) sync had a sync server and that all, the new style has three interconnected parts - the account server, the auth server, and finally the sync server.

The whole design is more complex (which is why nobody has made a single Owncloud app to replace the old one) and less secure, but it allows Mozilla to tie independent services together into a single login. So far though, there hasn't been any other services except sync, so the extra complexity and drop in security has been for nothing.

Thankfully, when Pale Moon forked from Firefox years ago, they wisely decided to keep sync 1.1. All my machines run Pale Moon so the old Mozilla Sync Owncloud app is still very handy!

So unfortunately, if you want to sync Firefox you'll have to build the server yourself outside of Owncloud. It's messy and fragile, but it can be done. Good luck!


#5

Thanks for the detailed explanation. I spent the best part of the day fiddling with syncserver (Firefox Sync 1.5) on a public CentOS 7 sandbox server. I had a partial success, but after a while I hit a showstopper, which was mainly due to laconic documentation. After a whole day of frustrating fiddling, I decided to give up on it. The worst documentation is like cooking recipes where half of the ingredients and the cooking steps are missing.


#6

Totally!! I'm on FreeBSD, so the documentation isn't only shite, but it's non-applicable shite!

I've tried setting it up several times, and given up myself. I hate the idea that Mozilla have intentionally provided bad or incomplete tools, as well as incomplete and deceptive documentation, but it's been years now. There is simply no excuse for this level of lack of support.


#7

In one of my earlier Oct 2017 posts, I gave a link to the working Mozilla Sync 1.1 for ownCloud. However, the link is now broken, and redirects to the new ownCloud Marketplace. (I don't know how to edit my posts!)

The ownCloud app can still be found in the Github archive, though. Just download it and extract it in the owncloud/apps directory, then enable. Done!

ownCloud Mozilla Sync Server 1.1 at Github. This app is currently working fine in my Nextcloud 13 server. I assume it still works in ownCloud :slight_smile:


#8

Which version of firefox are you using?

I'm on v54.0, and there seems to be no way without a mozilla account.


#9

I'm not!

If you'd read the earlier post I referenced, I use Pale Moon. Pale Moon still uses the superior Sync 1.1 as opposed to the inferior Sync 1.5 that Firefox moved to.

That's an odd version to be on. I'm have the ESR 52 version installed as a tertiary browser (Extended Service Release so I still get security updates). 54 is probably not very secure at this point.

Again, if you'd read my earlier post, I said you need to build the 1.5 sync outside of ownCloud. It's messy and fragile, but it's your only option if you want to use Firefox.

Now, go back and read my earlier post - it explains why you can't use the 1.1 sync, and why the 1.5 sync sucks and doesn't have an ownCloud app.

I posted tonight because I couldn't edit my old post, and my original link to the 1.1 app no longer worked. I had to make a new post to give a working link.

But that new link works! And so does the Mozilla Sync app! (For browsers that use Sync 1.1!)


#10

Thanks so much for clarifying this. I read the whole thread through again and saw, that its no longer supported.

And also thanks for the hint with ESR 52, I'll give it a try.