Outfoxed by FireFox
January 14, 2013 1:09 PM   Subscribe

I have a blog I have had for some ten years. Now, using FireFox for some time--I prefer this browser--I find that add ons often do not work when FF upgrades to the latest version. I have FF 18.0 now, and seem to using some version of FF that automatically upgrades with each new Beta, and when it does this, addons I use do not work for some time (often fixed later). Example: at present I am no longer able to use Tidyread. How can I get a version of FF that does not automatically upgrade without my asking? Can I revert to an earlier FF that will allow my addons to function?
posted by Postroad to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Go to Options, click the Advanced tab, then the Updates tab, and select "Never check for updates". That will stop Firefox automatically updating.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:24 PM on January 14, 2013

posted by missmagenta at 1:25 PM on January 14, 2013

old browser versions are at oldapps.com
posted by elizardbits at 1:26 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your Firefox is on the Beta update channel. You need to get back on the Release update channel. You should be able to get things back to normal by downloading the latest release, uninstalling Firefox, then installing the release you just downloaded. This should put things right, and the uninstallation shouldn't wipe out your settings.

If you're on the Release channel, you shouldn't have many issues with extensions being out of date. But if you are, you can use the slower-moving Extended Support Release version that only updates yearly but still gets security updates.

I wouldn't recommend turning off updates entirely.
posted by zsazsa at 1:30 PM on January 14, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you're feeling adventurous you may also investigate using the add-on compatability reporter.
posted by radwolf76 at 1:40 PM on January 14, 2013

Don't turn off updates - which can result in you using a browser with substantial security holes down the road - like zsazsa said, download and install the Extended Support Release from the Extended Support Release download page, which will limit updates to security fixes and major platform updates, and which will ultimately result in a more stable browser and add-ons breaking less often. (You're not on the beta channel, which would have already pushed Firefox 19 to you.)

The release cycles of Firefox have become completely absurd, with frequent breakage but long lags in implementing necessary new features, the worst of both worlds. It's a pity that Mozilla feels the need to hide the manageable and completely sane Extended Support Release behind all of that verbiage in zsazsa's link, verbiage that strongly implies that personal users should subject themselves to the chaos of the standard release. That's not the case. The ESR release should *be* the standard release.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 1:49 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can also, if you feel hacky, turn off compatibility checking for Firefox which is my solution to this problem since I have a theme that I want to use that is no longer updated. This could possibly backfire, so only do it if you are feeling creative, but here is my short explanation

1. go into the browser address bar and type about:config (just like that) and hit return. Click through the warning you get from Firefox
2. right click somewhere in that long list of crazy tools and select "New > Boolean" from the menu that pops up.
3. Type in the preference name "extension.checkCompatibility.18.0" without quotes
4. When it asks you whether you want to set it to true or false, select false
5. restart Firefox. You will now have the option to enable your add-ons that are not officially compatible with your version of Firefox. You can change the number from 18.0 to 19.0 when FF tries this again.

This will give you slightly more information on this whole process. The two important notes on that page are

1. Installing an extension marked as incompatible with your application may cause your application to malfunction or crash.
2. Disabling extension compatibility checking may cause your application to malfunction or crash after a future upgrade.

I have not had these problems, but it's worth being mindful of.
posted by jessamyn at 3:00 PM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Firefox standard has moved to a 6 week (ish) release cycle; the new 'stable' release that's just come out is 18. The beta version is now on 19, and in six weeks, 19 will become the new stable and 20 the new beta. There's also further releases up the chain - 20 and 21 are under construction in the development side of things.

As you've noticed, firefox auto updates when a new release comes out for your channel (You can see which channel you're on in About Firefox) You can manually check for updates in the addons section of settings, but that doesn't help you much if they're broken and no update is yet out. It is possible to kill off the auto-version check for addons, and see if your 'incompatible' addons will actually work anyway, and its just a version flag thing. Generally, I've found they work just fine.

Failing that, you can just go with the ESR version linked above, which is on 17 at the moment and will stay there for 6 months, until it jumps to version 24. In effect, you're trading one or two extensions breaking every month and a half, or a lot of them breaking in one go when you make the 'big' leap to the next ESR; and only getting security features in the meantime, and not performance features such as the new javascript engine speed enhancement in 18. Pays yer moneys, takes yer choice, alas.

Personally, I'm on ESR at work and beta channel at home, and have just trimmed my addons down to ones that get updated promptly, i.e. are under active development. It's not ideal by any stretch, but it works.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:12 PM on January 14, 2013

Just fyi I am on version 3.6.28 and everything works the way I want it to, every single time.
posted by elizardbits at 4:11 PM on January 14, 2013

Jessamyn saved me. Her suggestions were the only ones I found that worked.
posted by andreap at 1:52 PM on January 19, 2013

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