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Firefox 52.8.1 ESR IS Timebombed!

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Last seen: 5 months 1 week ago
Joined: 2013-11-18 15:58
Firefox 52.8.1 ESR IS Timebombed!

My current installed version of Firefox Portable 52.8.1 ESR loads up and reports as Firefox Portable 60.0.10 ESR.

Somehow Firefox Portable ESR is automatically updating itself. I have had this happen to me twice now. I think the "timebomb" kicks off every 30 to 60 days. At least that's what I seem to remember from when it last bombed out; the main FF 52.8.1 ESR folder timestamp is about 40 days old right now.

When Firefox Portable 52.8.1 does finish it's updating it crashes, forcing a restart of the app and loss of all of my work; I just lost GIGABYTES of queued (using DownThemAll, but without saving the filenames in the queue) file downloads thanks to this unwanted, unexpected, and "timebombed" update behavior. Firefox Portable 52.8.1 ESR will periodically crash until the background updating is completed.

I thought the Portable Apps developers disabled all automatic updating features of the Portable Apps that they package simply because updated binaries from the original developers would/could conflict or crash the skillful packaging work done by the Portable Apps developers.

Why do I stay on Firefox Portable 52.8.1 ESR? I have some "legacy" addons that I need to use to see the screen that have not yet been updated to Mozilla's new addon standards. If I can't see the screen clearly I cannot use Firefox. It's as simple as that.

Is there any hope that the Portable App developers can answer why their packaging is trying to and eventually updates itself from Mozilla?

Knock knock! John T. Haller are you there?

At least I keep a backup copy of my original Firefox Portable 52.8.1 ESR installation. That's one of the biggest positives to using Portable Apps.

Update: I have checked my backup Firefox Portable 52.8.1 ESR install, the "source" of my "working" FF Portable 52.8.1 ESR setup. I can clearly see that "Options->Advanced->Update" then the "Firefox updates" section on that page is flagged as "Never check".

Perhaps this "update timebomb" is buried in the Mozilla source code or controlled by something in "about:config" that simply ignores what is set on the "Options->Advanced->Updates" page.

Further update: I have dug around in "about:config" and found various references to updating the app that were enabled, so I disabled them. I even took the drastic step of removing the app update URLs that are buried in "about:config". I even noticed entries, and one entry might have been a timer, that track when Firefox was last updated, so I suspect they have to do with Firefox's built-in update mechanisms that are buried in Mozilla's source code.

Honestly, I find these undisclosed, hidden updating processes that appear to be "outside" of user control to simply be insidious and wrong. Shame on Mozilla.

John T. Haller
John T. Haller's picture
Last seen: 20 min 29 sec ago
Joined: 2005-11-28 22:21

Firefox Portable is configured so that it is supposed to notify the user of an update but that update is not done automatically by default. That has been our policy and is permitted by our licensing agreement with Mozilla. We can't disable auto-updates, though. As you noted, it is set appropriately in the UI but it looks like something changed in how that's handled. set to false is not supposed to update automatically. This isn't something in our control at present, especially for the now-discontinued and unsupported 52.x branch.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Last seen: 5 months 1 week ago
Joined: 2013-11-18 15:58
I Checked That Variable

I have checked the "about:config" variable "" and it is set to "false"

I suspect the "timebomb" is buried in the code since it just tried to start the upgrade process again but failed.

When the exact same set of apps is running on the same PC with no hardware and no software changes, other than MS Updates, AND Firefox tabs start to randomly crash, then I have concluded that is a symptom of Firefox attempting it's "hidden" update process. I base my conclusions on 4 months of observations of the operations of the PC in question; I use it EVERY DAY at my desktop.

Last seen: 5 months 1 week ago
Joined: 2013-11-18 15:58
Portable Apps Ships Mozilla's "timebomb"

Mozilla has a known "silent update service". here's the URL for some info:

The binaries can be found in: [drive letter]\<portableappfolder>\App\firefox64 and [drive letter]\<portableappfolder>\App\firefox

Look for "maintenanceservice.exe" and "maintenance_installer.exe"

The "service" is not installed on my computer according to the command: "sc query MozillaMaintenance"

I still think these binaries need to be tossed in the "bit bucket" just to be safe. I will check my addons from time to time to see if they still update.

I have no way of knowing what might be buried intot the actual Mozilla sourcecode and I probably would not know what to look for anyway.

You may also want to remove (tos in the "bit bucket") "update-settings.ini" and "updater.exe" from the folders I have mentioned above.

As always, make a backup or 3 before doing anything destructive!

Last seen: 5 days 7 hours ago
Joined: 2006-09-21 10:28
stopping those timebombs

NotMine, have the same problem as of yesterday with '' Portable Ed Legacy 52.9.0 ''.

starting 16nov, it 'timebombs' about every two hours (after updating with backups
again and again. and again). and similar to you, i have a good reason to have that
older version on hand.

am sure i am not the only one, so if you procedures and changes did achieve the
needed result, let us know, please.

.. >> keeping a backup copy ... one of the biggest positives
.. >> to using Portable Apps

100% agree - a big THANK YOU to john once more.

greetings - heinz -

Last seen: 5 months 1 week ago
Joined: 2013-11-18 15:58

Heinz, are you seeing tabs randomly crash that did not crash before? I see that when Firefox' "hidden" update process tries to run.

Backups I make in a "safe folder":

- the entire Firefox Portable installation folder
- a separate backup of my bookmarks

Last seen: 5 days 7 hours ago
Joined: 2006-09-21 10:28
still legacy

notmine, tks for yr reply. i hope we not only help each other, but also many others with same problem.

.. >> are you seeing tabs randomly crash that did not crash before?

no, none at all.

.. >> when Firefox' "hidden" update process tries to run

did not (yet) try to hide it, but it makes sense to crash, unfortunately. i am basically still waiting to find a better solution.

.. >> Backups I make in a "safe folder"

yep, same here, entire folder. when it updates, entire old folder erased, new one copied over, and silence for a few hours.

problem is time difference between the two, some passwords and login data has to be set up anew, every time.

thought of script that makes this backup every 30 minutes, but then, if i dont watch out, it makes a backup of the already updated v60. or whatever is next and has updated in the background.

still thinking ...

greetings - heinz-

Last seen: 2 hours 26 min ago
Joined: 2007-10-11 17:48
also off line

not only portable, I can say that I did clean install of this on a machine with no internet connection. On first run all was ok. On next use also. On third use all appeared as version 60

For me this would mean, the version 60 is inside and it will just change to it at some random time without any user interaction.

Otto Sykora
Basel, Switzerland

Last seen: 5 days 7 hours ago
Joined: 2006-09-21 10:28
really weird

.. >> with no internet connection ... the version 60 is inside

now that, otto, would about be the weirdest thing i have heard for a long time.

greets - heinz

Last seen: 5 years 1 month ago
Joined: 2014-12-15 19:34
Firefox 52.9.0 ESR

You can get Firefox 52.9.0 ESR here. Hope that helps. Hasn't self updated for me in the past 2 years or so I've been using it.

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