Using obsolete Firefox without replacing current one
December 10, 2008 5:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm using Firefox version 3.0.4, but a website I need to use says it can only accommodate Firefox version 2.0. Is there a simple way to do this? Can I just click a button somewhere to temporarily use an earlier version? I'm not going to replace my current version with an outdated version, and I will need to use this website into the foreseeable future.
posted by fucker to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
User agent switcher can fool the website. Just change the user agent to read the old version.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:32 PM on December 10, 2008

user agent switcher will trick the site into thinking you're using firefox 2:
posted by TimeDoctor at 5:32 PM on December 10, 2008

You can also just use IE Tab. Runs the IE engine from within Firefox. Websites don't know the difference, i.e. you can actually run Windows Update if you do it right.
posted by valkyryn at 5:33 PM on December 10, 2008

sidebar: because IE Tab IS IE. It just runs the engine inside a tab in Firefox.
posted by TomMelee at 5:41 PM on December 10, 2008

Response by poster: I don't understand the agent switcher, so I don't want to download it. It looks like it just toggles through other browsers within firefox. I don't have Firefox 2.0, and I'm not sure how to put it on my computer without replacing the current version.

Now I'm trying to use Safari instead, but I've never been able to use Safari. It keeps stopping and asking me to "enter my keychain password" every 5 seconds. I can cancel it or enter the password and it results in the same thing: 5 seconds later it asks me to enter my keychain password again.

I don't know how to get rid of this.
posted by fucker at 6:33 PM on December 10, 2008

Stating the obvious perhaps but ...if they're saying you need FF 3 I would think thats either because : they've implemented something that only FF 3 can handle or; they're witless.

If it's the former then the ua switcher based solutions aren't going to help.

Not sure if it's possible to install both FF2 and FF3 on the same machine ? What OS are you on ?
posted by southof40 at 6:39 PM on December 10, 2008

Thought about downloading FF Portable? It's not an install, it's just a portable app that will run standalone. You can get a legacy version here and learn more about the actual portable side of the app here. It doesn't seem like there's any other way around it.
posted by aloneinvietnam at 6:52 PM on December 10, 2008

"I don't understand the agent switcher, so I don't want to download it. It looks like it just toggles through other browsers within firefox."

The way the User-Agent Switcher works is basically by just telling the browser that it is FF2, even though it is actually FF3. Each time your browser requests a page (or any part of a page) from a website, your browser sends along some information saying "hey, this request is coming from X type of browser on Y type of system" (the User Agent). Some websites foolishly rely on what these User Agent strings say to make decisions about whether the browser will be able to render or run some portion of the website's code, even though tools like the Switcher allow any browser to pretend to be any other browser.

Apologies for the really crappy explanation, but basically: the UA Switcher addon should be the perfect tool for your situation, as there is nothing that FF2 can do that FF3 cannot also do (but the reverse is not true, obv.)
posted by misterbrandt at 6:55 PM on December 10, 2008

a website I need to use says it can only accommodate Firefox version 2.0

I think your stumbling block is that you are assuming the website knows what it's talking about. There may be exceptions, there are always exceptions, but it is far more likely that this website is just using broken logic to ensure that you have at least FF 2.0.

I used UA switcher a lot in the early days of Firefox because there were oodles of sites that rejected anything that didn't answer to "IE 4.0 or greater" or whatever it was at the time. Firefox would sometimes have a minor rendering glitch (many times this was actually because of IE deviations from web standards, which FF implemented more rigorously), but otherwise work indistinguishably. You could write to such sites and ask them to update their browser testing code, but generally that was a worthless exercise.

UA switcher is exactly the tool you need. It will not break your computer to test it. You do not need to have installed the browser software to make FF 3 claim to be that browser.
posted by dhartung at 11:17 PM on December 10, 2008

Ms. flabdablet has been required to use a university's online courseware website that behaves just like the one you describe: it checks to see what browser the student is using, and throws a hissy fit if an "unsupported" browser is detected.

This became an issue as soon as I installed Firefox 2 on her computer, since Firefox 1 and Firefox 1.5 were the only Firefox versions in the site's list of supported browsers.

My instant response to her wail of complaint was to swear at the website designer, then use User Agent Switcher to make Firefox 2 identify itself to the website as Firefox The site then worked perfectly, as I'd fully expected it to.

Here's a pretty straightforward explanation of how to install and customize User Agent Switcher.
posted by flabdablet at 12:58 AM on December 11, 2008

If you are at all web-savvy you might take a look at the code that does the browser detection. Really, anyone using specific browser version detection rather than detecting browser capability is an idiot, as far as I can tell - by specifying version the coder has taken it upon him or herself to forever maintain an updated list of what works and what doesn't. At any rate, if you can see what they check for in the code, you can often figure out what would have happened if your browser had matched, and figure out a workaround.

But yeah, in this case, use the UA switcher (the extension is written by a guy I trust, based on the usefulness of his other work) and definitely find a "contact us" link and use it to raise holy hell.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:18 AM on December 11, 2008

dhartung, there are some websites that won't work propertly with FFX3. I have to use IE Tab when I use FedExKinko's Print Online, which previously worked with FFX2. Of course now that I have heard about this nifty UA switcher, I will have to check into that!
posted by radioamy at 9:12 AM on December 11, 2008

The only time I've ever seen User Agent Switcher fail to get the job done is when I'm trying to use sites, such as this otherwise excellent literacy resource, that really do rely on proprietary Internet Explorer features. Any site that tells you it needs at least IE version X or Netscape version Y is almost certain to contain code that will run in Firefox 3, even if you need to lie to the site with UAS to persuade it to try.
posted by flabdablet at 3:26 PM on December 11, 2008

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