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[Fixed] Firefox Portable 118.0.2 not supporting secondary launches with multiple instances

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Stitcher
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[Fixed] Firefox Portable 118.0.2 not supporting secondary launches with multiple instances

I just updated from FF Portable 117 to 118.0.2 (64-bit), and I'm seeing the following problem.

I have FF Portable set as my default app for URLs. Usually it is already running (I start it right after rebooting my PC). In 117 and earlier, when I click a link in Thunderbird, a new tab is opened in Firefox Portable. With 118, I get the dialog that says: "Firefox is already running, but is not responding. The old Firefox process must be closed to open a new window."

That sounds like it wants to start a new instance, which I don't want, but it should be able to do so anyway, because I have AllowMultipleInstances set to true.

This is on Windows 10 22H2.

Thanks!

John T. Haller
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Turn Off AllowMultiple

First, ensure you've done a full update of the app, not just having Firefox update itself. If you just have Firefox update itself, you won't get fixes in the FirefoxPortable.exe launcher which are required as Firefox itself changes over time: https://portableapps.com/support/portable_app#upgrading

Second, AllowMultipleInstances is for when you want to run multiple versions of Firefox at the same time (stable and beta, for instance). If you are not doing that, you should turn that feature off. It'll often break the ability to open associated documents.

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Stitcher
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re: AllowMultiple

Thanks. I updated by running the FF Portable 118 .exe against my existing FF Portable 117 directory.

I am running another instance of FF Portable, so I've had AllowMultipleInstances set to true for years. And as I said, it was all fine until 118. Before posting, I retested in 117, and it still works there.

That being said, I tried disabling AllowMultipleInstances in 118 and clicked a link in Thunderbird. Still didn't work, but I got a different dialog and message: "Another instance of Firefox is already running. Please close other instances of Firefox before launching Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition."

John T. Haller
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Another Profile Change

Looks like Mozilla made yet another profile change in 118.0. I need to track the profile bits to figure out which profile is in use to ensure only the initial firefox.exe run used by the second instance is passed "-new-instance". None of the old documented ways work. So, I have to update it every time it changes. I'll need to figure out another one.

The reason you're getting that message is because another instances of Firefox is running. That's what's supposed to happen with another instance running and AllowMultipleInstances turned off.

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John T. Haller
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Fixed in 119.0

This is fixed in Firefox Portable 119.0.

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Stitcher
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re: Firefox 119.0

Hi, John,

I just tested 119 and I am still seeing the same problem. I tested a vanilla 119 and also an update from my 118.0.2 version.

John T. Haller
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Working Here

That's odd as it's working here. I do only have my second instance set to AllowMultiple, though, my primary is my local install. I'm going to have to come up with a per instance check of some sort. Likely only setting it to work with the built in profile and not supporting custom profile locations. Did you try it on second launch? I know on first launch some files haven't settled out yet.

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Stitcher
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More details

Yes, I tried multiple times in both configurations (vanilla and upgrade).

In case this matters, I'll describe my setup. I have FF portable 113 running as my first instance, and 118/119 as the second instance. Both have AllowMultiple set to true. Both installs are located in my user folder on Windows 10.

buko
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Multiple Instances Problem

problem here since 119.0.

My English is not good, but I try.

I start FirefoxPortable1 (example: X:\FFP1).
Now I start FirefoxPortable2 (X:\FFP2)
But only a new window of "FFP1" opens.
---
Now I have tested with new clean installations:

1. install FFP1 + set AllowMultipleInstances=true
2. install FFP2 + set AllowMultipleInstances=true
3. open FFP1
4. open FFP2. It works, I see a new instance in the task manager.
5. close all Firefox windows.
6. open FFP1.
7. open FFP2, only a new window of FFP1 opens.

John T. Haller
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Older Launcher

The 119.0 Launcher introduces an issue that can prevent multiple instances from working at all. I've put together a quick download to revert to the older Firefox Portable launcher so multiple instances will work again even though you won't be able to then pass files in after they're already running: https://portableapps.com/downloads/temp/FirefoxPortableOldLauncher.zip

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Bardenseer
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Hello,

Hello,

I was just about to come here and report that this bug, which we talked about and you fixed with v118.0.1, has returned with v119. But not only somebody did that you also already provided a fix again. And while I don't know what you mean by "you won't be able to then pass files in after they're already running" I can confirm that your fix works fine. Thank you very much once again.

I really hope this feature does not continue to cause problems in the future cause it's crucial to me (and others obviously).

Stitcher
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Works for me

Just confirming that this fixes my issue! Thanks, John!

John T. Haller
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Old or New

Does it fix the new issue of it not allowing multiple at all? Or your original issue in your post? This is the version of the launcher you were using with 118.0.2 when you originally posted.

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Stitcher
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Doesn't work for me

Sorry, you are right. I must have made a mistake when I tested. This fix doesn't address my original problem.

buko
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Thanks

Works for me!
Thanks!

sima@signotrust.com
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Hi John,

Hi John,
I experienced the same issue and luckily found this post which resolved it. Will this now be resolved for any future releases?
Thanks!
Sima

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Basic, Yes

Basic secondary launches will, yes. I'm still working on secondary launches accepting passed-in files which requires a bit of a rewrite due to Firefox profile changes.

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ceexice
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Thank! It's Worked for me on

Thank! It's Worked for me on v120.0.1

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John, I previously created

John, I previously created another topic about my multiple instances problem and you told me to monitor here for updates. I have tested the fix you posted and can confirm it resolves my issue. Thank you!

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Fixed in 119.0.1

This should be fixed in Firefox Portable 119.0.1. The launcher now checks a couple profile files to determine if it's in use. The is a couple caveat. If you launch two secondary launches of the second instance in rapid succession, the second may think it's not running yet and show the error mentioned in the original post. Also worth noting that Firefox secondary launches in this mode will always open the last-opened instance regardless of which instance you pass a file or URL to. That's a Firefox thing.

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Stitcher
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Works differently

I just tested 119.0.1, and secondary launching works for me now. However, my specific scenario no longer seems to be possible.

Normally, I start an instance of FF Portable 113, and then I start whatever is the latest FF Portable. (This is because of a profile corruption issue I am seeing in my 113 install, which prevents me from updating 113 without losing data.) In 117 and earlier, secondary launches would occur in the last-opened instance, as you describe, which was the latest FF, and all was well.

In 119.0.1, I cannot open instances of two separate version of FF anymore. If I open 113 first, and then attempt to open 119, a new tab is opened in 113.

John T. Haller
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Two Current

Please use two copies of 119.0.1 for testing. The old 113 launcher isn't supported and may not work with FF 119 in a dual instance setup. I could be mistaken and it's the first copy of FF that gets launched. Either way, the behavior you're seeing is just down to FF itself choosing where to send a file.

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Stitcher
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Test with 119.0.1 only

I tested with 2 copies of 119.0.1. I tweaked the color of the application button using CSS in one copy in order to tell them apart.

When I try to start the second copy, a new instance of the first copy is launched. There seems not to be a way to launch two different copies of Firefox at this point.

John T. Haller
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Fresh or Changes?

I tried it with two fresh copies both running on my Windows 10 machine. I let them run for a minute to let the profiles 'settle' (download the safe browsing list, the widevine CRM, the components for video play, etc), then I tested.

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Stitcher
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More testing

My previous testing was on copies upgraded from 118.0.2.

New tests:

I created two fresh copies of 119.0.1, and tweaked the application button as before. With those, I can open the two separate copies.

Then I went back to my updated copies. I started the first one in safe mode, and then started the second one normally. I still couldn't open two separate copies.

John T. Haller
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Check Profile FIles While Running

Please check your FirefoxPortable\Data\profile directory and see if these two files exist: .startup-incomplete and sessionstore.jsonlz4. In theory, if .startup-incomplete doesn't exist and sessionstore.jsonlz4 does exist, that profile should not be in use. If .startup-incomplete exists, then the profile is starting up and sessionstore.jsonlz4 might still exist. Once it's done starting .startup-incomplete and sessionstore.jsonlz4 should disappear.

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Stitcher
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Profile files

I saw .startup-incomplete appear and disappear. I never saw sessionstore.jsonlz4 at all.

(By the way, my fresh profiles (not currently running) both still have sessionstore.jsonlz4.)

John T. Haller
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Turn off sessions?

Did you turn off session saving?

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Stitcher
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Session saving?

Do you mean the Firefox feature? Yes, tabs are not saved, and I have Firefox set to delete history and cookies on exit.

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That's Why

That's why, then. The launcher currently monitors those files to determine if a profile is in use. If you disable session saving, that sessionstore file is never created. Unfortunately, that pair of files is the only thing I've found that can uniquely determine if a profile is in use or not at present as Firefox has deprecated everything else.

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Stitcher
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Tab Saving

So it would work if I enabled tab saving? I might be able to live with that.

Edited to add: I tested some setting changes. Enabling tab saving does not result in the creation of sessionstore.jsonlz4. Disabling "clear history when Firefox closes" does, but I really don't want to do that...

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Options

Currently, this is the way it works. The other options are either to disable secondary launches of secondary instances. Or to rewrite the way it handles processes which I don't have time for at present.

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Stitcher
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Thanks

OK. Thanks for your work on this!

Stitcher
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Workaround

In case this is helpful to anyone following the thread, I believe I have a workaround for this last issue.

Originally, in Firefox settings, I had "Use custom history settings" selected and "clear history when Firefox closes" checked. In the Settings dialog for the second one, I had all of the checkboxes checked except for "Site settings". With this configuration, sessionstore.jsonlz4 is not created on exit.

For the workaround, in "Site settings", I unchecked "Browsing & download history". That allows sessionstore.jsonlz4 to be created on exit. Then I installed an addon that clears history on startup. (There are several, I chose History Cleaner. I could also have just cleared history manually on every startup.) I tested with my upgraded FF 119.0.1 instances, and it seems to work as desired: I can launch two separate instances of FF from two separate directories.

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Thanks, this is exactly the

Thanks, this is exactly the problem I have been facing.

I have conducted my own workaround so I can continue to use these settings in place, by using default in-built flags in Firefox.

I have remember browsing history turned on but it is set to clear history upon exit meaning it is only retained during that session. I was going to upload a copy of it to google drive for troubleshooting, but I ended up just giving up on it altogether as I found another fix.

Junipez
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I am using both copies of the

I am using both copies of the latest 119.0.1 and it is broken.

Oddly enough 119.0.0 did not give me any problems.

.ini file has this inside it.

[FirefoxPortable]
FirefoxDirectory=App\firefox
ProfileDirectory=Data\profile
SettingsDirectory=Data\settings
PluginsDirectory=Data\plugins
FirefoxExecutable=firefox.exe
AdditionalParameters=
LocalHomepage=
DisableSplashScreen=true
AllowMultipleInstances=true
DisableIntelligentStart=false
SkipCompregFix=false
RunLocally=false

# The above options are explained in the included readme.txt
# This INI file is an example only and is not used unless it is placed as described in the included readme.txt

An Unused Username
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Was this not permanently

Was this not permanently solved... are we going to have to apply the old launcher fix after every update? Because after updating to 120.0.1 this problem is happening yet again.

John T. Haller
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Firefox Changes

If you haven't made incompatible changes to the profile you're trying to launch files with (like not storing sessions), then it would still be working unless Firefox made profile changes yet again. It's likely that and it'll continue to be a moving target. If that's the case this time, I'll disable secondary launches with file support. So secondary launches will work but you won't be able to pass files to either running instance.

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totalz
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Thanks John,

Thanks John,

I can confirm that the attached FirefoxPortable.exe (v2.7.1.0) works with v120.0.1.

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I haven't made any profile

I haven't made any profile changes. After using the previously attached launcher, I thought it resolved the problem again. And it did but, only partially. For example, right now I am writing this in Firefox portable instance #1. Instance #2 (which is another Firefox portable folder) is also open and it launched correctly. I normally never have more than 2 open simultaneously but today I needed my 3rd Firefox portable folder to also be open while 1 and 2 were already running. However, even though its launcher was also replaced with the previously attached launcher (just like the other 2 instances) when I tried to launch the #3 it instead launched another window of #2 several times in a row before it finally launced #3 like it should. Note: The launch of #3 was not made quickly after #2... it was over an hour later. So, this isn't a launches in quick succession problem.

This whole situation is strange! It's just really frustrating that different Firefox folders/executables/etc can't manage to keep themselves isolated. BTW: I never send URLs or files to Firefox. If that fact can therefore somehow allow me to change or disable anything within my Firefox portables to help alleviate this problem, please let me know. Thanks!

idetsyle
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Similar problems

Hi
I followed this topic because I myself have a similar but perhaps different problem.

I use a firefox P version 111 on a windows session "A" I launch this firefox.
I lock session "B".
I connect to session "B" and launch this same firefox P (same location as session "a") it tells me "firefox is already running but not responding. The old firefox process must be stopped in order to open a new window."
I assume I have allowmultipleinstances=true

Do you have any idea how to solve this problem?

PS I tested with the latest FF portable, same problem.

DG

John T. Haller
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Fixed in 121.0, Removed Ability to Launch Second Instance Again

This is fixed in Firefox Portable 121.0. I've removed the ability to launch a second instanced again (like by passing files) due to the constant moving target of how the profile works and due to it breaking the ability to use multiple instances, which is used by far more users. The same change will roll out to all channels today/tomorrow.

I'm going to do a rewrite of a section of the launcher to handle tracking instances in a custom way without relying on the profile at some point in the future.

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fred7913
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Hi,

Hi,

It looks like it's broken again since Firefox 121.0.1: trying to open a second instance (same version) displays the following error : "Firefox is already running, but is not responding. The old Firefox process must be closed to open a new window".

A few weeks ago I had fixed this issue by disabling the "Clear history when Firefox closes" option, it was working fine.
This option is still unchecked in my settings.

Anyone also concerned with this update?

John T. Haller
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Full Upgrade?

Did you do a full upgrade of all your instances or let Firefox update itself? The current launcher removes the ability to relaunch secondary instances with URLs or files passed, which is what was causing the issue. You can only open each instance a single time by design.

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fred7913
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I did a full upgrade from the

I did a full upgrade from the Portableapps file (FirefoxPortable_121.0.1_English.paf.exe) for all instances.

I can open 2 Firefox (same version, but 1 with a VPN, the other one without) separately with no problem (I have the AllowMultipleInstances=true param in the FirefoxPortable.ini)

The thing I cannot do is opening a new window by clicking on the same FF portable shortcut (even if only 1 instance is running), the only way is to do it from Menu File > New Window

Is it the expected behavior? I would say before the 121.0.1 upgrade it was working fine (I just had to disable the "Clear data" setting for this)

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Expected Behavior

This is expected behavior. You can not cause the already running process to open a URL, HTML file, new window, etc externally any longer. All of those abilities were tied together and were breaking the ability to run multiple instances entirely for many users. I will likely eventually work on this, but it will require a bit of a custom rework of the launcher.

Side note: Clicking CTRL-N for a new window will be faster than the menu or the shortcut.

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

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