Firefox versus AdSubtract: How Not to Compete with Open Source

by Marc Hedlund

Recently I sat down at one of my old desktop machines, on which I'd been running Internet Explorer with Windows 2000 (for no good reason other than inertia and infrequent use). The browser was set up to use AdSubtract, a cookie manager and ad and pop-up blocker I had used for many years on Windows. AdSubtract was a great little product, and it always took a while to readjust to the web without it when I was using Safari or another browser.

On this day, I fired up Internet Explorer and immediately saw a pop-up ad. "Huh? What happened to AdSubtract?" I thought. Then I looked at the ad, and realized that it was from AdSubtract -- the product had used its upgrade notification function to place an ad on my machine. "Wait -- didn't I buy this thing to block ads?" I thought.

I fired off an email to the AdSubtract support team, asking why they had gone against the purpose of the product so egregiously. To their credit, they responded very quickly; unfortunately, the message wasn't good:

That is correct from time to come [sic] we will send you a message to let you know about great upgrade discounts.

Okay then, I thought. Time to stop using AdSubtract.

So I downloaded Firefox and installed it. Should have done that a long time ago. Then I installed the Adblock extension. Great. Did I mention that Firefox and Adblock are both free, while AdSubtract costs $30 -- and that AdSubtract doesn't support Firefox and only runs on Windows?

Firefox and Adblock aren't complete replacements for AdSubtract -- particularly, the cookie management features in AdSubtract are much better than those provided by Firefox. That said, the pop-up blocker in Firefox is easier to use than the one provided by AdSubtract, and Adblock has some nice features AdSubtract doesn't yet match. And that free thing sure is nice.

Firefox is an open platform with a large and growing body of extensions that make it useful and customizable far beyond what Internet Exporer has ever provided. AdSubtract was once a useful way to improve IE, but in a world where Firefox exists, it doesn't have much of a future. And no pop-up ad is going to change that.

What's your favorite Firefox extension?


2005-01-28 02:32:19
Look for extension....

There is a "View Cookies" extension, which will improve firefox' cookie handling. It adds a pane in the page info dialog from which you can view and remove cookies for the site you are on.

Since I have no windows, I am unable to evaluate AdSubtract, so I have no idea what your ideal cookie handling would look like...

2005-01-28 09:28:19
Look for extension....
Yes, that one's pretty good. I think AdSubtract has some nice features missing from Firefox and "View Cookies" -- particularly, "Remove all cookies except for the ones I've marked as 'trusted'." I do think that a Firefox cookies extension that uses the Adblock models of wildcarding and integrated UI would be great, and would surpass what AdSubtract currently offers.
2005-01-28 14:08:38
Adblock rocks. Hands down. Have 2 sites to point you to. First is my Firefox tips site: and the other is a site to install all the necessary regualar expressions into adblock to make it use all of it's greatness:
2005-01-28 14:13:46
Awesome, thanks for the links.
2005-01-30 18:23:35
An extension you might want to look at is

It places a button on your toolbar that allows
you to remove all cookies, protect some, etc.

2005-01-30 18:41:08
Look for extension....
The use of Exception in Privacy allow for both allowing and blocking certain sites like if you wanted to block but also keep you just add to block and to block and it works. But if you want to block both and you just have in the block section.
2005-01-31 10:12:34
That does a great job. CookieCuller plus the downloadable list of AdBlock regexps suggested below covers all of the missing features I wanted.


2005-02-06 23:06:33
Firefox and Adsubtract
I am using Firefox 1.0 with Adsubtract Pro 2.55 quite successfully. I have the Adblock extension installed but Adsubtract provides better per site control over Java applets and script. The Switchproxy extension makes it very convenient to change it on the fly.

Just installed the Easygesture extension, that would be my favorite so far.

2005-02-26 16:09:59
Firefox and Adsubtract
Try Prefbar with Firefox. You can turn on or off Java, Popups, Images, Proxies etc. with a click of the mouse on your toolbar.
2005-02-26 16:12:26
Firefox and Adsubtract
2005-03-04 00:40:42
There are some other extensions you might like to consider.

For adblocking:

For cookie management/hacking:

extreme cookie blocking:

If you're not already a RegExp whiz then consider using Filterset G for AdBlock:

Additionally there are CSS based adblocking solutions:

hope this helps! God bless.