Firefox 15: updates are now more silent

Firefox 15 is released on August 28th.  Among many new features implemented in this release is background updates.  This feature allows Firefox to download the update in the background, apply it alongside with the existing installation, and keep the updated version around so that it can quickly switch to it the next time that the browser starts up.  This effectively eliminates the update progress dialog that appears when you start Firefox after it has downloaded an update:

I previously wrote about this project.  You can see that post for more technical details.  This feature landed a while ago on the Nightly channel, and we soon discovered a few issues which we addressed in time for this to get uplifted and enabled on the Aurora channel.  Luckily no new issues were discovered with this feature as it rode the train to get on the Beta channel, and will get in the hands of all of Firefox users on Windows, Mac and Linux as part of the Firefox 15 release.

This was one of the scariest projects that I’ve ever worked on, since messing something up in the updater component could have catastrophic consequences in case it prevents users from being able to update to newer Firefox revisions.  I’m happy that the results of this project will soon get in the hands of millions of Firefox users, and I would like to thank Robert Strong, Brian Bondy, and the wonderful members of our Release Engineering (in particular, Ben Hearsum and Chris AtLee) and QA teams (in particular, Vlad Ghetiu) who helped me a lot along the way.  You guys rock, for being extremely helpful, and for making this large project possible!

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33 comments on “Firefox 15: updates are now more silent
  1. john says:

    Can this be disabled?

    I run a remote desktop service environment and I have enough problems with users trying to violate our policies without a software company allowing them to do it automatically.

    Next image deployment will not include firefox.

  2. Ehsan Akhgari says:

    You can disable automatic updates the same way as in previous versions of Firefox. Go to the options dialog, Advanced, Update, and then adjust the settings as desired.

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  8. Visitor says:

    Does this mean that now if I am running FF15 as a limited user account in win7, it will update to the next version automatically in the background without having any issues?

    I’ve had some problems with doing that in the past…

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  10. Ehsan Akhgari says:

    No, because doing that would require us to pop up a UAC dialog as the user is using the browser, which is not really ideal.

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  13. publicize says:

    Ηі therе! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguarԁ against
    haсkers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve wоrked hаrd on.
    Any tіps?

  14. rpesq says:

    Until FF automatically updates while running under a Limited User account, the “update” process is still a complete joke. Google Chrome figured out seemless limited-user-account updates 4 yrs ago….

    In fact, there is no valid reason to require FF to install as an administrator. Chrome doesn’t install that way.

  15. KWierso says:

    Chrome also installs to your user directory, last I checked.

  16. rpesq says:

    Installing to user directory is a fine option. No access to system files, etc. FF should get a clue. This isn’t Win95 days. This is a web browser, nothing more. No reason whatsoever to need admin rights to install or update.

  17. I’ve been excited to see this land on the release channel. Awesome work!

  18. Christian Gerefalk says:

    Has it been fixed for x86-64 Windows? nightly still doesn’t seem to want to do silent updates on x64 Win7, permission issues with the updating service from what I’ve heard.

  19. KWierso says:

    I was under the impression that we just don’t do the same signing of the Win64 builds for the silent updater to be used.

  20. Ehsan Akhgari says:

    The x86-64 builds of Firefox on Windows do not support the maintenance service yet, and we don’t want to show a UAC prompt as Firefox is running when we stage the update in the background. As a result, if you have installed Firefox on a location where you have write access to, we can stage updates in the background. Otherwise, we won’t do that.

    That said, those builds are not supported by Mozilla yet, and they may have various problems, so I don’t really recommend using them yet.

  21. Christian Gerefalk says:

    Ah yeah that rings a bell, still, isn’t it time to fix that? not all of us want to run 32bit FF…

  22. KWierso says:

    64-bit builds still aren’t officially supported, so I’m not sure the extra processing time going into the builds to sign them is a decent use of resources.

  23. Joe says:

    Not only are 64-bit builds not supported, they are known to be buggy, significantly worse than 32-bit. That’s why we removed it from http://nightly.mozilla.org.

  24. Finally! So why did it take Mozilla about 10 versions to make it right at last? One more reason why I stick with Chrome.

  25. KWierso says:

    It’s almost like software is hard or something.

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