back to article Old Firefox add-ons get 'dead man walking' call

The end of legacy Firefox plugins is drawing closer, with Mozilla's Jorge Villalobos saying they'll be disabled in an upcoming nightly build of the browser's 57th edition. While he didn't specify just how soon the dread date will arrive, Villalobos writes: “There should be no expectation of legacy add-on support on this or …

  1. Joe Werner Silver badge

    The other way round#

    “That can make it difficult for users of older versions of Firefox to find a compatible version."

    That should rather be:

    "That will make it difficult for users of newer Firefox versions to have a usable browser without the plugins they rely on."

    Thanks oh so bloody much.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The other way round#

      I'm quite happy with v40.0.3.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: The other way round#

        "I'm quite happy with v40.0.3."

        ACK, I installed 53 from ports in FreeBSD recently, and I really do NOT believe that "bleeding edge" wiill EVAR be tracked for operating systems _LIKE_ FreeBSD. Or Debian, for that matter.

        "bleeding edge" is HIGHLY overrated. After all, they may SURPRISE us (unpleasantly) by looking/actnig even MORE like Chrome. 'Australis' anyone? (yeah, YUCHHH)

        MOZILLA: don't you *DARE* break the add-ons that give me a CLASSIC interface!!!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The other way round#

          "MOZILLA: don't you *DARE* break the add-ons that give me a CLASSIC interface!!!"

          My impression was that these are exactly the type of plugins being targetted.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Pirate

            Re: The other way round#

            "My impression was that these are exactly the type of plugins being targetted."

            maybe we should go to their github site and add some issues in places where you can.

            This has no publically editable issues:

            https://github.com/mozilla/gecko-dev

            but it does have instructions for contributing. There other repos that I found, one dealing with firefox themes, that may be good places to ask niicely (with firmness) for the features we might lose if we can't continue using things LIKE "Classic UI Restorer" etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The other way round#

      I think this highlights a major problem that, sadly, occurs all too often with developer-driven software; it ends up being developed to satisfy the wishes and whims of the developers instead of the users.

      Without users, of course, any software, no matter how 'good' it may be, is worthless.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Oh Homer
      Alien

      Constantly breaking the API

      I get why the actual software itself is constantly updated, but is there some particular reason why they feel the need to keep faffing around with the API?

      Essentially this means that they're not really releasing a new version of the browser each release, they're actually releasing an entirely different and incompatible browser.

      Why?

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: Constantly breaking the API

        is there some particular reason why they feel the need to keep faffing around with the API?

        Supposedly the old API was incompatible with the sandboxing measures they're implementing to improve security. That may be true if it was allowed to muck around unhindered in all the browser internals.

    4. hellwig Silver badge

      Re: The other way round#

      "That will make it difficult for users of newer Firefox versions to have a usable browser without the plugins they rely on."

      Agreed. All I know is, every time Firefox updates, more of my plugins get turned off as being incompatible. How are people still running these ancient add-ons in the first place?

  2. DougS Silver badge

    Any way to tell?

    Sure would be nice if the "about:addons" screen would flag ones that are going to be axed so we can look for alternatives. This isn't being handled very well if the user has no warning until the new version just disables them.

    1. richardcox13

      Re: Any way to tell?

      On one system that is running FireFox v55 there is a whole set of "Legacy" labels on extensions.

      All of them: are there any Web Extensions for FF out there at all?

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Any way to tell?

      Use the Add-on Compatibility Reporter add-on to check add-ons compatibility status.

      Use about:config > plugin.load_flash_only = false to turn all NPAPI plugins back on.

      When you update to Firefox 56, switch to manual updates only. When Firefox 57 comes out, install Firefox ESR.

      Finally, when Firefox ESR is obliged to throw out old-style add-ons...

      - If you can live with your reduced selection of add-ons, continue with Firefox ESR or go back to Firefox.

      - If not, look for another browser (completely different add-ons) or continue surfing unprotected against the newest CVEs.

      Oddly enough Flash support in Firefox will continue until 2019, which is fucked up.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Any way to tell?

        Not really because there are still too many critical things (like expensive enterprise stuff) that can ONLY be controlled by Flash.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Any way to tell?

          If they've made that choice it's probably in spite of enterprise, not because of it. If Mozilla were bothered about enterprise they'd have left a lot of things alone and made other changes instead (separate about:config pref to enable Java plugin, allow older/weaker certificates on the LAN, official MSI support...).

      2. roselan

        Re: Any way to tell?

        fun fact, the compatibility reporter add-on is not compatible with 57.

      3. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Switch to ESR about a month ago

        If you switch to ESR 52 after 54, then your profile is incompatible and won't work.

        It should theoretically be possible to export your profile then import it, but...

        Essentially it seems that Mozilla have decided that it's too much hassle to continue existence and would like to quietly die.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: Switch to ESR about a month ago

          Firefox 55 is being pushed out now so if you're reading this, disable updates and install Firefox ESR.

          Here's a roadmap of the crash to come: Legacy add-ons like CTR will stop working when Mozillas XUL/XPCOM support ends with Firefox 57 release #299. The mock-ups of future versions will probably convince you to change.

          1. Lee D Silver badge

            Re: Switch to ESR about a month ago

            Personally, I want to see ESR die.

            Because then I'd like my workplace's bank to explain how handling millions of pounds can only be done via IE, which is an unsupported browser by its own manufacturer.

            Seriously, as soon as smartcards or "Gemalto" is involved, it's Firefox ESR or IE only.

            Edge, Chrome, Safari or anything else just don't work or aren't supported.

            They've been dragging their feet for years, and I want it to catch up with them but I know what they'll do. They'll insist you have to use IE. And then I want to file a complaint with them about how compatible that is with PCI DSS and other requirements.

            Or they could just, you know, actually get out of the 90's with respect to their online banking signatory process and/or supply an application (you just know it would be 32-bit Windows only), or an independent 2FA device that doesn't need browser support at all in order to work.

            P.S. Yes. Major UK high-street bank.

      4. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Any way to tell?

        I will be sticking with Waterfox and/or Pale Moon. The dev of Waterfox has only committed to supporting the older addons "as long as possible," so it suggests that eventually it will be Pale Moon or nothing.

        Pale Moon is better than FF in some ways; for example, it retains the classic, non-Australis UI. On the other hand, it has no E10s support, and it probably never will. The lack of smoothness and stuttering that causes will remain a part of PM as they have been part of FF for ages. It's still far better than accepting a neutered FF that looks like Chrome and won't accept addons to change it by a mile, but as long as I can have e10s AND my addons, that is the better solution right now, as I see it.

        For the immediate future, Waterfox will be closer to what I am used to, but the question is for how long. "As long as possible" is vague and ambiguous; it could be "possible" by his estimation for a decade, or maybe only for six months. It also suggests a question of where these addons will be hosted after Mozilla's suicide bid; certainly, they're not going to keep hosting addons that no longer work with their "it's basically a skin for Chrome" version of Firefox.

        I know one thing, though: Given a choice of using a FF derivative that cuts off most of my addons or an out of date, old version of FF/WF that still allows the addons (even if the addons themselves get dropped by their devs because of Mozilla's actions), I would take the latter. FF 57, like Windows 10, does not and will not exist, as far as I am concerned. It's not an option; the options consist of competing products or using older versions regardless of the security implications. It's not a place I wanted to be, but the choice was made for me.

        You know, this always happens with software. I've come to realize that all software devs eventually will move to sabotage their own product in a fit of development suicide. Microsoft is doing that with Windows now just as much as Mozilla is doing it with Firefox. It already happened to Opera, and the wayside is littered with corpses of other once-relevant products that are no more.

    3. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Re: Any way to tell?

      Last Firefox update removed my adblock, b@st@rds! I got it installed again, but all my settings were gone ... so, back at square one, whitelist this and that ...

      I want ads on my favorite sites, when they are from a brand I do not like, I click the ads in support of my favorite sites ;-). It is a sort of "crowd-funding" ;-)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boy they are making my upgrades pretty difficult. First they made Windows 7 my last Windows version, then they made Intel 6th Generation the last generation if I was to stick with Windows 7. Now they're making Firefox 56 my last Firefox version. My Photoshop upgrades already stopped on CS6...

    What is it with these companies and their hate for choice?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Stop

      You might like to come out from under your rock a bit more often. While the Firefox developers have been guilty of chasing unicorns from time to time, the discussion about plugin architecture wasn't one of the rainbows. It's hardly surprising that an architecture designed rather hastily in the 1990s should later to be shown to be insecure. Still it's a testament to developers of the time that it "worked" as a well as it did for as long as it did. But the combination of NPAPI and the power given to the runtimes (essentially black boxes) through it, that made it such a powerful attack vector.

      Google did a lot of research on NPAPI before proposing a replacement which was generally welcomed by other developers. And the whole browser developer community has put a lot of effort into developing standards so that fewer plugins are required for things like video conferencing.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Are you under the impression that NPAPI on Firefox doesn't have a sandbox?

        Google proposed something different to NPAPI because NPAPI was NIH.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Are you under the impression that NPAPI on Firefox doesn't have a sandbox?

          No, but because it's in the same process, if it crashes it can bring the browser down with it. Also, as any fule noes: sandboxes are not infallible.

          Anyway, this really is old news. Mozilla announced years ago it was going to make the switch and also explained why. Wish they'd done more with some of the stupid UI changes they made and it's nice to see that they're finally getting round to supporting WebP.

        2. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

          Nah, every browser maker is dropping NPAPI because it's an in-process binary specification and they want to go with a HTML-Javascript implementation that's easier to sandbox and integrate with their browsers. Everything being Javascript (or HTML5 as hipsters like to call the new ECMAScript versions) is much simpler for browser makers and web developers. This is helpful, particularly for security. NPAPI leaves security in the hands of 3rd party plugin developers and there have been many instances of those developers dropping the ball, particularly Adobe with Flash and Reader plugins.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Even when they're not insecure, the binary interface leads to nasty glitches. I can't count how many times I've found my computer running hot, and discovered one core is maxed out on a Flash process for a window I closed five minutes ago.

      2. Richard 12 Silver badge

        The plugin API change isn't the problem

        The problem is that the new WebExtensions API intentionally lacks most of the features required for tha majority of popular Firefox plugins to work.

        Mozilla were asked to add these missing APIs before they made the switch, but instead of doing that they said "No, we have no intention of ever implementing these things".

        It is a shame, but it seems very likely that this hubris is about to kill Mozilla.

  4. Mage Silver badge
    Flame

    Bonkers

    This will kill Classic Theme Restorer and who knows what else.

    Of course I shouldn't need CTR.

    I installed Firefox 52 ESR while I figure out what the replacement for firefox should be. I don't use Flash. There is some issue with settings trying to go from 55 or 56 to 52.

    1. Tac Eht Xilef

      Re: Bonkers

      "I installed Firefox 52 ESR while I figure out what the replacement for firefox should be."

      Me too; and that was only recently, after hanging back on 40-something became untenable (layout/functionality breakage became too much on multiple sites I frequent).

      On OSX I've been using Safari more and more since uBlock Origin started supporting it. I'm told Palemoon now builds cleanly on OSX from source, but I'm not going to pissfart around setting up a build environment & waiting hours for compilation just to find out if that's true or not...

      1. src
        Pint

        Re: Bonkers

        You don't have to wait. Start the build then go to the pub.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bonkers

      Luddite stick-in-the-muds hung up on ten year old UI changes are a cancer that Mozilla needs to cut out of its user base, and if these forthcoming changes achieve that, then Mozilla will have done themselves a solid, even if it leaves that already-decimated group even smaller. Any chance they have of finding a new direction and re-establishing some relevance depends on moving forward, not backwards. I'm not saying the chances of them successfully re-establishing Firefox as a major player are high, but they're not zero either.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Bonkers

        XUL is fully themable. Mozilla didn't need to drop the old theme to make way for the new one, they just needed to keep Classic when they introduced Australis.

      2. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Bonkers

        Luddite stick-in-the-muds hung up on ten year old UI changes are a cancer that Mozilla needs to cut out of its user base

        What is so wrong with giving users a choice? Not everyone likes same UI. If I wanted something that looked like Chrome I'd install the cancer that is Chrome. I don't.

        Don't assume everyone likes same thing as you.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          Re: Bonkers

          What is so wrong with giving users a choice?

          I think Joel's old post about options dialogues covers it pretty well:

          https://www.joelonsoftware.com/2000/04/12/choices/

          In addition, each choice is something you have to update every time APIs change, write unit tests for, and generally maintain -- energy you could be using to work on other aspects of the software, like security or performance.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Who are your users?

            If you simply copy your competitor, then you lose.

            Why should I use Firefox when I can get Chrome for the same price - since Australis, they now look almost identical and Chrome is faster.

            Firefox' USP was the customisation. I could install many extensions/addons that customised the way it looked and worked.

            Not just colours and textures, but layout and some UI behaviour.

            Yes, that all came at a cost but the cost was shared between Mozilla and the extension authors.

            Take that away, and what is left to recommend Firefox over Chrome, Edge, Opera or Safari?

            If they all look and behave the same, then I should pick the cheapest or the fastest. Firefox isn't either of those.

      3. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Bonkers

        "Luddite stick-in-the-muds hung up on ten year old UI changes are a cancer that Mozilla needs to cut out of its user base,"

        No, they ARE its user base. Rather than cater to those who have always supported and used Firefox, they've chosen to go after the market that Chrome is specifically designed for, and that is already quite happy with Chrome.

    3. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

      Re: Bonkers

      If you don't like it, switch browsers. Outdated browsers aren't really an option with the pace the web moves at now, you'll quickly find the gates start coming down on you once you're a year or so behind.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Bonkers

      "This will kill Classic Theme Restorer"

      killing THAT may motivate me to FORK FIREFOX into something that ALWAYS looks like 'Classic Theme Restorer' is installed. You know, eliminate that CRAPPY "Australis" CRAP-CRAP-CRAP chrome-clone CRAP CRAP 2D FLATSO CRAP HAMBURGER-MENU CRAP TOUCHY-FEELY CRAP.

      (keeping it moderately safe for work, though I wanted to use STRONGER and more offensive profanities)

      [chrome is the way it is because of phones and slabs. THAT SHOULD NEVER BE ON THE DAMN DESKTOP!]

      1. Updraft102 Silver badge

        Re: Bonkers

        ""This will kill Classic Theme Restorer"

        killing THAT may motivate me to FORK FIREFOX into something that ALWAYS looks like 'Classic Theme Restorer' is installed. You know, eliminate that CRAPPY "Australis" CRAP-CRAP-CRAP chrome-clone CRAP CRAP 2D FLATSO CRAP HAMBURGER-MENU CRAP TOUCHY-FEELY CRAP."

        That's Pale Moon.

        Waterfox is what I am using now since it supports e10s as well as my non-optional addons like CTR, but its dev has signaled that this probably won't last forever. Pale Moon doesn't need CTR, since it never went Australis in the first place.

      2. Daniel von Asmuth
        Mushroom

        Villalobos says the changes will land in the “coming weeks”

        Unless of course Kim's nukes land before Firefox 57 does.

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Villalobos says the changes will land in the “coming weeks”

          Unless of course Kim's nukes land before Firefox 57 does.

          Which one would cause more damage?

  5. Dave Bell

    Does any browser team manage to communicate with actual users?

    Firefox is only the most obvious. They all come up with changes that are poorly explained to the end user. I use Opera a lot. I set it to open maximised. And suddenly it didn't. There's a long-running series of bug reports, obsolete third-party fixes, and eventually I found something which worked. Except when it doesn't.

    It is as if programmers can talk to computers, but struggle to communicate with human beings. Even when there is documentation, it can be confusing and out-of-date. I have seen a technical label change, and if there is a link between old and new, it's one-way.

    It's not so terribly hard to see that Damore chap at Google as part of the same problem. Management, the control of programmers, is a part of the general human communication problem, and he didn't seem to think that mattered to a programming company.

    I know good programmers who don't have that problem, but C. P. Snow's problem of The Two Cultures hasn't gone away. Though perhaps Flanders and Swann did manage to help with the Second Law of Thermodynamics

    Are today's Two Cultures the programmers and the users?

    (Use one side of the screen only)

    1. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

      Re: Does any browser team manage to communicate with actual users?

      I think you've missed the point of Mozilla entirely. They're an open-source project that doesn't get any funding from users. So therefore, they don't care what users think. They do what they want, similar to many other open source projects. GIMP comes to mind particularly, because it's had a terrible user interface for years, but instead of fixing it the team just constantly talks about how they think it's better than any other option, years and years after everyone else ditched floating palettes, they're still there in GIMP.

      To distill this down, Mozilla doesn't care what you think. If you don't like it switch browsers.

      1. Tac Eht Xilef

        Re: Does any browser team manage to communicate with actual users?

        "I think you've missed the point of Mozilla entirely. They're an open-source project that doesn't get any funding from users. So therefore, they don't care what users think."

        True. I'd recommend not looking too closely at the Mozilla Foundation's financial statements - if you do, it starts to look very much like a half-billion dollar fun club supporting the pet projects of a few hundred people...

  6. Carl D

    Really?

    "they made Intel 6th Generation the last generation if I was to stick with Windows 7"

    -Anonymous Coward.

    Not for me they haven't.

    Running Windows 7 on a 7th Generation Kaby Lake i5 processor with all drivers installed (despite the Gigabyte motherboard driver disc claiming that the drivers were only for 6th but not 7th Generation).

    Been running fine for a month and a half now. And, I have all of the Windows 7 security updates installed as well despite MS's attempt to block updates for 7th Generation back in April (lucky I didn't hold my breath waiting for the lawsuits regarding that... same as lawsuits about the GWX fiasco. Doesn't look like anyone on the entire planet has the balls to take MS to court apart from the lady who got $10,000 last year).

    Oh, and it looks like Firefox 55 will be the last version I'll ever use if things like NoScript, Self Destructing Cookies and uBlock Origin won't work from version 57 onwards.

    1. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

      Re: Really?

      It works, they just don't want to support it. Those are different things. You can install Windows 98 on an Intel 7th generation Core processor as well. Doesn't mean it support all the new features of that processor.

  7. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
    Facepalm

    I'd like to know how to revert "coloured bookmark folders" in FF 55.0.1...

    Black text on a black bar is NOT good UI design!

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: I'd like to know how to revert "coloured bookmark folders" in FF 55.0.1...

      change it

    2. WonkoTheSane Silver badge

      Re: I'd like to know how to revert "coloured bookmark folders" in FF 55.0.1...

      It turns out a simple browser restart fixed it.

  8. dmartin

    unfortunate

    I've got 15+ extensions and only ONE does not say "Legacy". And I use 9 of those regularly. OK, the developers of some have probably long lost the will. Even so, I have contributed to some - shame. Nevertheless Firefox devs are heading to antagonise a big % of their customer base, when it is already on a steady downhill trajectory. Chrome is looking very enticing.

    1. volsano

      Re: unfortunate

      Definitely worrying that uBlock Origin and NoScript are showing as Legacy. I could live without my other half-dozen customisations, but without those, Firefox is a damp squib.

      1. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

        Re: unfortunate

        Can't you install the Chrome version of uBlock Origin? Wasn't that the point of web extensions?

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: unfortunate

        uBlock has a Chrome version, so it's definitely WebEx-ready. As for NoScript, blog entries show it's a work in progress. It's probably still showing "Legacy" because it has to maintain ESR support due to Tor Browser.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: unfortunate

      "Chrome is looking very enticing."

      Not really enticed by the prospect of Google slurping all my data.

    3. Josh 14

      Re: unfortunate

      You're not the only one looking at a sea of "legacy" tags.

      I just checked my Add-ons list, and all but one add-on was tagged!

      Like others here have said, things like no-script, ad-block, and even session manager are daily use add-ons. I regularly also use image manipulation add-ons like SEVI, and have yet to find any of the niche add-ons being updated to the new standard.

      The ONLY add-on that I have in use un-tagged is privacy badger, and while I appreciate and use it, it stops short of the direct visible effect on the browsing experience that Ad-Block or uBlock Origin provide, in reduction of the clutter and harassment of the "modern" advertisers efforts.

      Sadly, I honestly expect that the available pool add-ons is going to suffer, and likely many of the developers will just wash their hands of Mozilla with this change in standards.

      No longer are they updating or patching the tools that they have offered for the users out here, but will have to go back to the drawing board to reinvent the wheel.

      When most are not making a dime from the projects, what's there to prompt any willingness to put in the effort after years of maintenance to keep up with Mozilla's little changes breaking compatibility?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. iron Silver badge

    Poor Terminology

    Add-Ons... do they mean Extensions or Plugins? Would be helpful if Mozilla themselves could use the correct terminology.

    Also how does this affect the Flash plugin that I need to watch live sports on two sites I pay for?

    These changes are clear as mud Mozilla.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Poor Terminology

      Add-ons are either extensions or plugins. This affects extensions. Mozilla want to drop XUL extensions in FF57, depreciate Jetpack extensions, and keep WebExtensions.

      Flash will be supported till 2019 (2020 for Firefox ESR).

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Poor Terminology

      "Also how does this affect the Flash plugin that I need to watch live sports on two sites I pay for?"

      Wouldn't it have been more appropriate to ask this question in the comments on the story about Adobe ceasing Flash development?

      Of course, the solution is to contact the site maintainers and ask them if they're planning to move to non-Flash based video at any time soon, or if you should just cancel your subscription (threatening to stop giving them money will get their attention).

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Poor Terminology

        Only if ENOUGH people threaten to walk out. PLUS if they hold the exclusive contract for the desired sports content, meaning they have a Captive Market, they could just turn around and reply, "Have fun walking on the Sun."

        1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Poor Terminology

          Only if ENOUGH people threaten to walk out. PLUS if they hold the exclusive contract for the desired sports content, meaning they have a Captive Market, they could just turn around and reply, "Have fun walking on the Sun."

          Oh gosh, I might miss out on some sports content.... YAWN......

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Poor Terminology

            That's you, but you'd be amazed how desperate some fans can be for their favorite sports. Why do you think sports networks can command such high fees and so on?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can understand that architectural changes are needed that does break backward compatibility but I think Mozilla are making a huge mistake in not making FF56 the next ESR and are plumping for FF59 instead.

  11. PapaD

    Regarding 'legacy' apps

    Just to stop some of the fearmongering:

    https://blog.mozilla.org/addons/2017/08/01/noscripts-migration-to-webextensions-apis/

    (Noscript are going to still be around)

    https://www.ghacks.net/2017/07/20/ublock-origin-webextension-firefox-amo/

    (as is ublock origin)

    The down side - classic theme restorer definitely seems to be going - and likely a few others.

    Hopefully something will come to replace them soon - but to start with, Noscript, ublock and blur will all still be working.

    1. AntiSol

      Re: Regarding 'legacy' apps

      > The down side - classic theme restorer definitely seems to be going

      Dealbreaker. Not having classic theme restorer means I won't be using firefox anymore. And since I'll be locking it at v56 I won't be able to test websites I develop for it anymore. In other words, firefox will become a "fringe browser" and will be unsupported on websites I maintain.

      > Hopefully something will come to replace them soon

      Nope. The new API isn't powerful enough for something like classic theme restorer to be possible. That's the real problem - it's not that they're dropping the existing API, but that theyy're replacing it with something less powerful.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Regarding 'legacy' apps

      So long as Noscript and uBlock Origin are supported, I'm fine. There are a couple other extensions I use, but nothing I couldn't live without. Thanks for letting us know, I think those two are the 'dealbreakers' for most of us, so knowing they will be around makes me no longer worry about Firefox 57.

      Hopefully MenuWizard or something with similar functionality that lets me remove a bunch of the useless clutter from some of the menus is still there, but I can deal if the new API isn't powerful enough for something like that.

  12. gal5

    When a user changes a browser, it is tough to bring the user back. Jorge sounds very determined to disrupt users as much as possible, as explained by others here.

    Mozilla hired their executioner? time will tell.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But here's the thing. What would you jump to? Most of the other browsers out there have their foibles. PaleMoon is based on old tech, Chrome is basically spyware, so's Edge, Opera can't be trusted anymore, and Vivaldi's still rather an unknown quantity and is closed as well.

  13. PeeKay

    Indeed - at least uBlock has a fix - https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock/releases - Gorhill has also included a hybrid which allows you to migrate your whitelist etc.

    Would have liked NoScript also, and it appears that there is work underway to ensure that happens - https://forums.informaction.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=23173

    Personally, I'll miss Enpass (unless the Chrome ext ports across easy enough) and that's about it - cannot find any update about their Firefox extension being updated...

  14. Anonymous Cowerd
    Unhappy

    Time to disable updates

    I'd rather keep my Classic Theme Restorer.

    1. Prosthetic Conscience

      Re: Time to disable updates

      Yeah for Windows the ripped off Chrome design it's somehow considerably uglier (I use FF on a mac as well but I guess I'm desensitized into liking slate gray monotonous a-functional design on the apples hence not resorting to the theme restorer..)

      I'm sure they'll update the extensions to this new format... eventually? I 'member when they switched to the new versioning we could just change some string in the extension code to make it 'compatible' again.. I doubt this will be that simple though

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Time to disable updates

        Mozilla asked the extension/addon developers to comment on the WebExtension API.

        They did, each describing the features fundamentally required to port their extension over to the new technology.

        Mozilla closed them all as WONTFIX.

        When 57 releases, there are going to be a lot of very surprised and very angry users, who will rapidly become ex-users.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Time to disable updates

          What will they use instead, then? Like I said, most of the forks have their problems, like Pale Moon being based on a very old fork so it doesn't support things like multithreading (plus it seems to have a problem with losing focus).

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: Time to disable updates

            If nothing gives you the style of UI or the features you want, you choose the cheapest or the fastest and live with the limitations until something cones along that does.

            Firefox is neither of those - Edge/Safari are preinstalled on Windows/Mac (cheapest), and I believe Chrome is currently the fastest.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Time to disable updates

              Unless there are strings attached. Chrome is considered spyware by many. It's just that it tends to get used by the unenlightened.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Time to disable updates

      I have to disable updates anyway. FreeBSD. In a way, I'm glad. It's easier to STAY! ON! SOMETHING! THAT! I! WANT! instead of being _FORCED_ into SOMETHING THEY WANT TO FORCE UP MY ASS DOWN MY THROAT.

      I've been shutting off 'automatic updates' in windows since before GWX. I practice "safe surfing" instead. And 'NoScript' helps with that.

      As long as Firefox remains open source, the possibility of MAKING A SPECIAL PATCH still exists, to get the PROPER UI back. Assuming that Mozilla doesn't GROW A CLUE+BRAIN and MAKE IT AN ACTUAL OPTION.

      MOZILLA: Take a look at the 'Classic' plugins. Add that capability to Firefox, NATIVELY. And MAKE SURE that I can DISABLE that @#$%%^*)(@*#$* HAMBURGER!

  15. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Version 57? Last time I bothered actually looking I'm sure my Firefox was 12-something. It now claims to be 52-something, and I'm sure something recent has stopped iMacros from working properly. How do these people using 40-something stop it from automatically updating itself?

    1. AntiSol

      on debian-based systems: sudo apt-mark hold firefox

    2. Tac Eht Xilef

      Preferences -> Advanced -> Update -> "Never check ..."

  16. bobbear

    Grrr - all my cctv plugins stopped working in Firefox

    1) Firefox uninstalled

    2) Pale Moon installed

    Result happiness..

    Bye bye Firefox - it's been nice knowing you..

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Tried it. Hiccups a lot. Only keep it for using Freenet now.

      1. Trilkhai

        Pale Moon works fine without hiccups on my system, and I've got a relatively old Core2Duo laptop...

  17. King Jack
    Trollface

    Waterfox is all you need

    Just install Waterfox. All the old stuff will continue to work. The only difference I've noticed is the browser no longer crashes. Firefox is history, bin it now.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Waterfox is all you need

      That'll only work until v57 is released. Then it'll all depend on whether or not Waterfox can get the funding it needs to fork its RR version.

  18. Just Enough

    Just what we don't want

    This is going to be an all mighty cock up, isn't it?

    I've no idea which of my addons are compatible, and which aren't, but it looks like I'm going to find out in the nastiest way possible.

  19. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Childcatcher

    The Ghost of Jacob Marley?

    ......displaying the 'ponderous chain' he forged in life. Rattle it again for us Mozilla. You've convinced me I have to change......my browser.

  20. Bucky 2

    Luddites, all of you

    You all realize there's a difference between a "plug-in" and an "extension," right?

    The only "plug-in" anybody has ever used in real life is flash. Everything else is an "extension." Anything you've ever downloaded from https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/extensions/ is an extension.

    So before you start jumping up and down screaming "Change! Horror! Never change anything!" Please actually look at what's changing and think about it rationally.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Luddites, all of you

      The only "plug-in" anybody has ever used in real life is flash. Everything else is an "extension."

      Do tell us more. Have a spade while you're at it.

    2. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Luddites, all of you

      I'll spell this out slowly. In words of as few syllables as possible

      They are going to force chrome's non functioning, shitty, plug ugly UI on every user by disabling classic theme restorer. We are thinking about it rationally. They're trying to commit browser suicide.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Luddites, all of you

        I frankly don't see what all the fuss is about with the Chrome-based UI. Seems QUITE useful enough, if you ask me, and the menus are just a flick of the Alt key away. Refresh? I use the keyboard for that anyway (usually F5).

  21. MJI Silver badge

    My dealbreaker is

    The GUI, so if it has those silly rounded tabs and cannot be replaced, I will replace the browser instead and goodbye FF.

    1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: My dealbreaker is

      if it has those silly rounded tabs and cannot be replaced, I will replace the browser instead and goodbye FF

      True confession: I've never understood all of the wailing and gnashing of teeth over Australis. I just don't care that much about the appearance of the top inch (2.5cm) of my browser window. Rounded tabs, hamburger menus, whatever; it's just some shit that I click on to get to something else.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: My dealbreaker is

        Same here. I really didn't see what all the fuss was about. Bookmarks here, menu there, and if you REALLY need History or whatnot, it's just a flick of the Alt key away. I don't seem to have lost anything. What does Australis keep everyone from doing, anyway?

  22. IGnatius T Foobar
    FAIL

    That one machine

    Every IT shop has "that one machine" somewhere that's got just the right version of OS, Browser, and Java to run so-and-so legacy app that needs a Java applet to run. Better snapshot that machine while it's still working, folks...

  23. kb
    Happy

    I switched to Pale Moon

    When it was obvious that FF had zero f*cks to give when it comes to what users think and I have to say I've never been happier. My extensions all worked, it looks and behaves like classic FF did, all in all I highly recommend!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No opinion on the merits, but some practical tips

    First, if you want to have the option of going back to Firefox 54.x or Firefox ESR (which I think is currently at 52.x), make sure to keep a renamed copy of your Firefox profile that you never load into Firefox 55+. Once you load a pre-55 profile into 55+, it's only good for 55+. If you subsequently load it into pre-55 Firefox, it will get borked for both pre-55 and 55+. (Don't ask me how I know this. Let's just say I had backups of my profiles on hand.)

    I installed both Firefox 55 x64 and Firefox ESR (52.x?) x86 (to replace Firefox 54.x x86), edited Firefox's profiles.ini file to include my pre-55 and 55+ profiles, and then changed the properties of each version's shortcuts to make sure they target the correct respective profile. That way if I end up hating 55+ (and especially 57+), I can keep on using the "old Firefox" in the form of Firefox ESR for an extra -- six months? nine months? -- without having to build a profile for it from scratch.

    Actually, Pale Moon x64 is my default browser. The great majority of my favorite extensions still work fine -- many of them stock Firefox extensions (some of them older versions), some of them forks, some of them workalikes, and maybe a couple of them Pale Moon originals -- and most of them will probably keep working long past the point when Mozilla kills them in Firefox. All the multi-process and sandboxing stuff Mozilla is doing in Firefox is interesting and exciting, and Firefox does seem to keep up with all of the new Web standards the 800-pound gorillas of the Net keep concocting faster than Pale Moon can manage, but Pale Moon has been dramatically more stable than Firefox for me and everyone else I've installed it for since day one. Additionally, it was historically faster. Maybe that will change with electrolysis and sandboxing, but for me and my friends, Firefox is still pretty crash-prone and Pale Moon is still rock-solid. Oops. I guess that was an opinion of sorts...

  25. Ne body
    Facepalm

    Loved the comment about stick in the muds :)

    I started using Mosaic (circa 1994), then moved on to Netscape Navigator before arriving at Netscape Communicator which I still use today for web, email and RSS feeds - my email archive goes back to 1996. Netscape Communicator morphed into Mozilla Suite before morphing into today's SeaMonkey.

    Over that time I've moved OS from Windows NT -> Windows 2000 -> FreeBSD.

    I hate to imagine what I'll do if/when SeaMonkey bites the dust.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tools.. Options.. Advanced.. Updates... never check

    That'll have to do until some kind of sane interface option comes along.

  27. PeterM42
    Pirate

    Oh well.....

    ......I guess it is the foretaste of the death of Firefox.

    Started using Chrome.

  28. Old Handle

    Make sure you turn off updates before that happens.

  29. CFWhitman

    I see that color management for Chrome finally seems to work more or less correctly. Apparently they started implementing it in 2015, and it's improved since then to behave as it should now. However, I still get vertical tearing when I scroll quickly (this is on Ubuntu Studio 16.04 with an older AMD FirePro card with Compton for compositing in Xfce). In Firefox, there is no tearing. Interestingly, I don't get tearing with Chromium either.

    I believe that the reason that Mozilla is dropping the support for old add-ons is that the legacy add-on support is impeding both speed and security improvements. Of course, there being a new way to do all the old things would be nice.

    I think being a Linux user gives me a bit different perspective than Windows users. I've been using Firefox the whole time and have been fairly satisfied with it. I almost never touch Chrome. I use Chromium and Qupzilla a little. Will the performance improvements in Firefox 57 be enough to give Firefox more credibility with Windows users again? I don't know. I know that a lot of the people who have continued to use Firefox in Windows have done so for the add-ons. The add-ons changing to be hardly any different from those for Chrome seems like it would remove their incentive to use Firefox. It's hard to see what effect this will have overall.

    1. Trilkhai

      From what I can tell, Mozilla is suffering from the same "bugfixing is boring, let's make something new" syndrome as the KDE & GNOME developers have for the past several years. Requests from traditional extension developers to include the elements they'd need to make their extensions work on the new versions were met with a big "wontfix" — not can't, won't... Other non-Chrome browsers (e.g. Pale Moon) manage to install security updates rapidly without having to rip their UI to shreds, and often those browsers are also quite a bit faster than recent FF builds.

      I'm a Linux user as well — I used Mosaic followed by Netscape, Mozilla Suite, and Firefox until Australis showed up. By that time it was clear that Mozilla didn't give a whit about their userbase, so I jumped ship to Pale Moon, which continues to let me use my old extensions without a hassle.

      1. MatsSvensson

        Exactly!

        Horrible things starts to happen as soon as you have a bunch of people working on a thing that kinda works.

        They get bored and start to fuck with it until it breaks.

        And because the broken part is something they "created" they will defend it to the bone instead of fixing it.

        Everything peaks.

        Enjoy it while it lasts.

  30. MatsSvensson

    New Coke Firefox get 'dead man walking' call

    I use Firefox for its adons.

    Period.

    Every single addon I have is marked "Legacy" with zero info about what that means.

    I'm not changing to a browser that doesn't run those addons.

    I don't care if its name is IE or Chrome or Firefox.

    If you saw of your head to cure your headache, you are dead to me.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: New Coke Firefox get 'dead man walking' call

      And if sawing off your head is the ONLY way to cure the headache (which is actually a zombie plague), you're basically SOL and so is the rest of humanity?

  31. Yoru

    Mad man in charge of Firefox

    A similar period of madness happened to the Opera browser over 10 years ago, resulting in mayhem for users, which led to an exodus, from which Opera has never really recovered.

    Firefox has been built on the basis that add-ons turn the user interfaces and basic browser into a fully functional modern extendable browser. The extent of this even covers the ability to produce bookmarks easily and quickly via Add Bookmark Here 2, and the essential Duplicate This Tab, both of which are now inoperative. Which exposes just how primitive and unusable the basic bare Firefox browser is.

    Even Speed Dial [FVD], Adblock Plus, Self-Destructing Cookies, Cache Status, YesScript, and possibly Connect, although only when 57 comes out will we know for certain if compatible updates have arrived by the 14th Oct deadline, when 57 will be issued.

    Much of the above make the basic Firefox browser usable, and without them, I have no doubt that a new browser exodus will occur, just as it did with Opera, and people will waste no time looking out for alternatives, that include the required support, including facilities for transferring bookmarks, speed dials etc.

  32. zwateher

    the end of firefox

    ok, so the main reason most people use firefox is it's customization and appearance

    now they are changing ALL of that to be basically a chinese knockoff of google chrome.

    why even use it? you can get the same ugly look and slightly better crappy functionality by just using chrome. a lot of useful addons was literally the only thing firefox had over every other browser on the market

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the end of firefox

      What about the lack of telemetry?

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