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Saturday, 20 October 2007 07:16

Beware: Major problems with add-ons caused by Firefox update

For the past few years, I have found the Firefox browser update process to work pretty much flawlessly. But not with today's automatic update to version (20 October 2007). Not a single one of the installed extensions that I have come to rely on are working, and I'm very annoyed. And it seems that I'm not the only one affected.

I've been using Firefox since it's earliest releases (along with IE and various others like Avant Browser). In the early days, extensions tended to be rather "flaky" and the Firefox installers not all that reliable either. For the past year or two, however, the quality of the add-ons (previously called extensions) as well as the ever-increasing range of them have improved out of sight.

The Firefox installation and automatic upgrade process has worked like a charm for me, too -- until today that is. Late last night I got a dialog box indicating that Firefox had automatically installed version and I should restart the browser for the updates to come into effect. Well, I chose instead to close the browser and read the newspapers before heading for the cot.

What a surprise I was in for when I opened Firefox this morning. I discovered that the tabs had been moved from where I like them at the bottom of the window to the top. From several years of experience I automatically looked for the Tab Mix Plus extension's options panel so that I could move the tabs down to the bottom again, but was flummoxed when I couldn't even find the options panel.

Then I discovered that not just Tab Mix Plus but all of the extensions had been deactivated, with the  Add-ons manager stating for each of them either "This add-on will be upgraded when Firefox is restarted" or more puzzlingly (since they already were installed) "This add-on will be installed when Firefox is restarted."


To my dismay, restarting the Firefox does not fix the problem. I have enough other IT skills to be concerned with that I definitely don't want to have to learn the inner workings of Firefox too. It's a nice product, and like most users I just want to install and forget without being involved with any of its technical intricacies.

Having been burnt before, I decided to at least skim through the Firefox forums to see if I was alone in having this problem and hopefully find a quick fix for it. Well, it seems that I'm not alone and there's something fairly seriously wrong with the automatic update. Add-ons that were all working perfectly well under version suddenly are entirely non-functional under today's update.

I hope that the Mozilla developers do something about it quickly, and please, please, please don't come back and say "Reinstall Firefox and all of the add-ons" or anything approaching that!

For reference, see mozillaZine - Firefox Bugs at

T prove that I'm not the only sufferer, in the Firefox forum already there are several related posts, such as Unable to install themes or extensions - Firefox at as well as Firefox updated to v2.0.0.8 without permission at and also FF forgets open tabs and toolbars are messed up at

Unfortunately, I couldn't find any quick fix, or even a complicated fix, so despite their best efforts the Firefox team seem to have fumbled something this time around. As I still spend a fair bit of my time designing and developing software, I know how that feels! ... Ideas, anybody?

UPDATE - 23 October 2007:

It seems lots of people are having this problem, with so-called "corrupt extensions" ... So I've decided to swithc off automatic installation of updates, and you might consider doing the same. Look under Tools > Options > Advanced, as in the second image.

Request to be notified that a Firefox update is available (rather than automatic installation)

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Tony Austin

Worked at IBM from 1970, for a quarter century, then founded Asia/Pacific Computer Services to provide IT consulting and software development services (closed company at end of 2013). These says am still involved with IT as an observer and commentator, as well as attempting to understand cosmology, quantum mechanics and whatever else will keep my mind active and fend off deterioration of my grey matter.

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