Firefox forcibly updates itself after disabling auto-updates

Somewhere in the last couple of months Firefox on Linux has picked up a “feature” that is somewhere between extremely grating and unacceptable, at least in its current form: forced auto-updating.

The problem with it is that it auto-updates in the most ham-fisted way possible: while I’m using the damn browser, in the middle of my work, it’ll just randomly auto-update.

What makes this worse is that I cannot count on Firefox’s data integrity, I’ve had more occasions of data loss due to a Firefox update than I care to remember. The main reason I don’t file a bug report for that is that if I do, the bug report will just gather dust and die rather than being picked up i.e. it’d be wasted effort on my part.

Now, I’ve read about the app.update.autosetting in about:config. I set that to false, and for a while all seemed well. Except I had a system update for Firefox (new major version that I explicitly chose not to install yet), Firefox just “randomly” crashed, and when I reopened it, the system update was gone and Firefox still updated itself.

This last part is not only undesirable but 100% unacceptable. If I say I don’t want to install an update, behaving like Microsoft and shoving it down my throat anyway is a surefire way to lose users. Right now I’m at the edge, a browser that doesn’t serve me is a browser I don’t need. That’s why I dumped IE and Chrome, after all.

And normally I’d chalk this up to just a bug, but Mozilla has been moving in a dubious direction lately, it’s noticeable in Firefox, and not in a good way either.

Hi Joey, do you install Firefox directly from Mozilla or through your distro’s package manager?

There seems to be a lack of communication between Firefox’s internal updater and some package manager updaters that leads to unpredictable updates. Or should I say, package managers used to effectively disable Firefox’s built-in updating and recently it has stopped working in some distros.

I do not follow the details on that. If you want to keep using your distro’s build of Firefox, please check with them on whether this is a known issue and has a solution.

For the build directly from Mozilla, use the Preferences page to change update behavior. The about:config setting is obsolete on Windows and may be obsolete on other platforms.

It’s installed by Ubuntu’s package manager, so now I’m thinking Canonical are the ones that integrated FF in a sub-par manner. I guess I’ll try installing FF from the website and work with that if it isn’t too visually jarring - the part Canonical got right in their integration is the GUI theming as the default gnome theme is beyond hideous.