Not upgrading to FF 57: pros, cons, instructions


(Larry K) #1

I just upgraded to FF 57, and it turns out that six of my eight extensions aren’t supported. Some of them I wouldn’t mind parting with, but three of them are essential to my regular use of Firefox.*

My plan is to roll back to a previous version, and monitor the situation. If my favorite extensions are ported to WebExtensions, then I will upgrade to FF57. Otherwise, I’ll probably stick with the older version as long as it’s supported, and then seek greener pastures.

Some questions, if any of you would be kind enough to answer:

  1. Are there any downsides to not upgrading to FF 57 (aside from missing out on the amazing new features that I haven’t desired for ten years)?

  2. What’s the best way to roll back? Fortunately, I backed up my entire profile before the upgrade. Should I delete my installation entirely and then install a fresh copy of an old version? If so, which version? I was using 56.0.1 before the upgrade, but allegedly security updates will be targeted for FF 52 – true?

Larry K.
(Twenty year Mozilla/Firefox veteran, who sticks with it more out of loyalty than happiness)

* These three extensions – and my extensive gallery of bookmarks – are the only reason I haven’t abandoned Firefox entirely in the past few years.


(Baptiste Thémine) #2

The main downside to not upgrading to FF57 is for performance and security purpose. You will no longer have security updates and you will navigate on internet at your own risks. Therefore, you have only two choices :

  1. You upgrade to FF57 and loose you loved browser interface and all your favorite addons, with the benefit of gaining some milliseconds on web page loading.
  2. You could switch to Waterfox which conserves both FF56 interface, legacy addon compatibility and security updates.

But you still have time to decide and maybe your addons will ported to WebExtensions or will have their alternatives in coming months. I am in the same situation as you and I didn’t upgrade to FF57.


#3

Would you mind sharing what these three add-ons are?


(Larry K) #4

Croydon: The three extnesions I don’t want to give up are are Brief (which currently holds detailed records of my RSS feeds – which posts have been read, unread, deleted), Old Add Bookmark Behavior (which allows me to put bookmarks in multiple folders – I just posted a separate query about this), and Cookie Controller (which allows me to decide which sites can store cookies).


(Larry K) #5

Baptistou: If I were to install Waterfox, and then copied my entire Firefox profile directory over the Waterfox profile directory, would it understand the entire contents including my add-ons?

If I did this, would Waterfox devs come up with ingenious new changes in a few months that rendered all of this moot?

I know that Firefox devs get sick of us old-timers complaining every time they change things. I used to work in software, and I know how exciting it is to force millions of customers to change their software. But right now I am spending hours of time – against my will – to again deal with a Firefox change. If there were a browser that promised me no upgrades, ever, except for security fixes, I would PAY MONEY to switch to it. But no such browser seems to exist.

I have been using an ASDF keyboard all my life. There might be a more efficient way to arrange the letters on a keyboard. But if someone rearranged the letters on my keyboard every few months, it would not make my life better.


(Baptiste Thémine) #6

I don’t know, I never tried. Maybe you will need to reinstall your addons.


(Makyen) #7

The Mozilla “approved” method of maintaining the use of legacy add-ons while still getting security updates (through 2018-06-26) is to downgrade to Firefox 52 ESR. However, there are some potential issues with doing so.


(Larry K) #8

Makyen, thanks for the link. I see that Firefox is making 52 ESR available for download. Do they also have a download link for version 56.0.1? I worry that if I purge my current FF 57 and install 52 ESR, and then copy my last known good profile (which was associated with 56.0.1) there might be problems (as your second link indicates).

Related question: Until recently, Firefox didn’t seem to give me the option of whether to upgrade: upgrades were automatic. But when I was using 56.0.1, it asked me if I wanted to upgrade to 57. Is that a permanent new feature? In other words, if I am running 52 ESR or 56.0.1, will I be able to refuse upgrades to 57 indefinitely?


(Makyen) #9

All Firefox releases (i.e. not nightly builds) can be obtained from the Firefox release repository.

The various options for telling Firefox what to do with respect to updates are available from about:preferences. Exactly where in the options these settings are available depends on the version of Firefox you’re using. In some versions of Firefox you are not permitted to make changes to these settings, or which changes you can make are restricted. If so, you may need to make changes to values in about:config.

If you can’t make the changes from about:preferences, in about:config, you can check/change any of the following, depending on what you desire: app.update.auto, app.update.enabled, app.update.service.enabled, and app.update.silent. If you can make the change from about:preferences, it’s recommended that you make any change there. If you can’t, then iteratively change the above about:config settings and see what the new settings show in about:preferences (so you know what the equivalent is of the new values). You can restore defaults to values in about:config by using the “reset” selection from the options context menu (right-click).


[Support] Brief
(Firefox) #10

A couple of notes that may be of interest:

  • You can run Firefox 52 ESR (linked to by Makyen, above) along side Firefox 57. They’re two separate programs (at least in Linux). This profile shifting and checking the two side by side easier.

  • Thanks for the link to Waterfox, Baptistou. A quick check suggests you can copy your Firefox profile over and it seems to work fine. One thing I noted: it seems the plugins marked “legacy” by FF57 are still marked “legacy”, but reinstalling them is straightforward.


(Baptiste Thémine) #11

On Windows, you will need to create a new profile manually in order to run two Firefox side by side. See instructions on https://superuser.com/questions/679797/how-to-run-firefox-nightly-alongside-firefox-at-the-same-time/680160.
You also need to modify registry keys if you want to use the two browsers on command line. In my case, I have Firefox and Nightly side by side :


:Firefox
REG ADD "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\firefox.exe" /D "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe
REG ADD "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\firefox.exe" /V Path /D "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox

:Nightly
REG ADD "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\nightly.exe" /D "C:\Program Files\Nightly\firefox.exe
REG ADD "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\nightly.exe" /V Path /D "C:\Program Files\Nightly

(Makyen) #12

On Windows, there’s no need to manually change the Registry in order to run multiple versions of Firefox. The 17 different versions of Firefox which are installed in this machine work just fine, with multiple versions executing at the same time without having manually modified the registry. This includes Release, 52 ESR, Beta, Developer Edition, Nightly, and various other older versions used for testing at different points (many of all of the above have both 64 bit and 32 bit versions). Any/all of which run concurrently. [Yeah, 17 different versions is a bit excessive. Many of them are specific versions which were installed for add-on compatibility testing.]

It does make it more convenient if you create a shortcut for the version which either runs a specific profile, or has the Profile Manager appear first to allow you to select the profile to use, or create a new one. You can do that by adding the command line options (just add them to the shortcut’s “Target”): -no-remote -ProfileManager


[Support] Brief
(Baptiste Thémine) #13

When I installed Firefox and then Nightly on my PC, I couldn’t start firefox anymore on command line. Because the executable of Nightly has the same name as Firefox one, Nightly has overridden firefox.exe command. I have a batch script which opens an URL with all browsers such as below so I needed to edit registry key :


start chrome "www.example.com"
start firefox "www.example.com"
start nightly "www.example.com"
start iexplore "www.example.com"
start opera "www.example.com"

(Makyen) #14

Your statement is inaccurate. What would be accurate is something like “I couldn’t start Firefox without specifying the actual executable I desired.” Windows keeps a record of what executable to use when you specify an alias. In your case, specifying just “firefox” from the command line.

If you specify the actual executable, using normal methods of specifying an exact file, then this is not an issue. What you desired was to be able to use an alias/shortcut from the command line instead of specifying the actual executable and being sure you’re executing it from within the appropriate directory.

While it’s reasonable/beneficial to set up aliases/shortcuts, and other people probably will desire to do so, it’s inaccurate to state that you “need” to modify the Registry in order to execute more than one Firefox browser from the command line. What you need to do is accurately specify the executable which you desire to run (which is necessary on any computer, everywhere, for anything). There are lots of ways that exist that make it easier to specify the exact executable. What you’ve shown is one way to do so.

Part of what you experienced was probably Firefox setting the “firefox” alias/shortcut during the installation process. This would result in the alias/shortcut pointing to the version which was most recently installed. Thus, a corollary is that you should install last the version you wish to be the default, even if that means you reinstall a currently installed version.


(Baptiste Thémine) #15

Oh, you’re right. Sorry, I’m not a native English speaker, I didn’t use the correct words. This is not a “need” but it is better to use an alias if you have scripts on different computers. Because firefox can be installed in different directories, if you use the exact path of the executable, you will need to modify your script for each computer.


(rugk) #16

I agree that Firefox ESR would be the best workaround, for some time, but only for some time. So at one point you’d better of migrating to Firefox 57.

So let’s instead tackle the actual issue: Find replacements for your addons.

I think there are already many RSS addons: https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/search/?q=rss
Also maybe the integrated pocket can suit your need, as it can also save articles. (and websites do not need RSS feeds for that)
Or setup a NextCloud instance (or use one available), there is an addon “News”, which downloads and loads feeds. Of course there are more ways: use a native application or any other webservice or so…

It seems you solves the issue in your other thread.

I’d suggest:
https://addons.mozilla.org/de/firefox/addon/cookie-autodelete/

So everything solves, is not it? You can then update to Firefox 57 and enjoy the speed and security benefits of the new release!


(Larry K) #17

Rugkx, thanks for the suggestions! In the long run, updating to FF 57 (or whatever number it will be at then) might be a good plan. As you point out, Cookie Controller is replaceable. Old Add Bookmark Behavior isn’t working anymore anyway. And there are several newsfeed options; Brief itself has been ported to WE, but my feed history was lost in the transition, so for now I have rolled back (and am discussing the issue with the Brief dev in another thread).