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R.I.P. µMatrix
2020-09-21
Tags: English Blog Internet Privacy Firefox

Today heise.de reported that the µMatrix repository on Github had been archived. Immediately outcries and conspiracy theories arose in the forum:

  • He can’t do this because we, the users, are entitled to free quality software developed by single enthusiasts in their spare time. (Answer: No, we are not. If you insist in it, just get your ass the fuck up, fork the project and do it yourself.)
  • Google/NSA/Freemasons/Reptiloids threatened to kill his cat to get him stop developing such software overthrowing the advertisers’ secret world government. (Answer: This is rubbish, if T.H.E.Y. wan’t to stop Ad Blockers, they simply change APIs.)

In my opinion, Raymond “Gorhill” Hill’s reason to stop the project is much more mundane: available time. Gorhill is the developer of two addons: µMatrix and µBlock.

Principal considerations:

  • Both are addons with a certain complexity. Keeping both in development would result in each receiving only half the development effort.
  • The functionality overlaps: µMatrix allows a finer control over web requests while not providing static filters like µBlock. On the other hand, µBlocks dynamic rules mirror a large part of the µMatrix functionality.
  • Usage is strongly asymmetrical. It is not only the usual pareto split of 80-20 but an “occupy wallstreet” split of 99-1:

Additional considerations:

  • µMatrix development for Chromium based browsers is much more difficult now as Google killed the old Webrequest API.
  • Mozilla flags only µBlock Origin as recommended addon (see above).
  • The mobile version of FF 80 has only a handful of compatible addons, among them is µBlock but not µMatrix.
  • Last releases

      pre-release stable
    µMatrix 24 Feb 2020 05 Sep 2019
    µBlock 21 Sep 2020 09 Aug 2020

Further development of µMatrix would divert about fifty percent of Gorhills capacity to satisfy one percent of the userbase. Any serious manager in such a situation would happily shut down the minor product.