Configure Firefox to only install minor updates

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If you are a Firefox user you probably know that you can enable or disable the browser's automatic update feature.

Automatic updates are enabled by default, which means that Firefox will check for new updates periodically to download and install them if available.

Updates can be configured in two different ways. First, you can disable automatic updates completely. Firefox won't check for updates anymore which also means that new versions won't be downloaded and installed automatically.

The consequence here is that it is up to you to download and install those updates manually.

The third option is to keep the checking for new updates enabled. Firefox will download updates when they become available, but won't install them automatically anymore.

Install minor updates only

Only Minor Update is a new extension for the Firefox web browser that adds a fourth option. The extension makes a distinction between major and minor updates, and will only install minor ones in the browser.

firefox esr version

Here is what that means: a minor update is any update that does not increase the main version of Firefox. An update from Firefox 27.0 to Firefox 27.0.1 is a minor update, as is an update from Firefox 24.3.0 ESR to Firefox 24.4.0 ESR.

Major updates on the other hand increase the main version of the browser. An update from Firefox 27.0.1 to Firefox 28 is a major update, as is an update from Firefox 24.7.0 ESR to Firefox 31.0 ESR.

The extension has been created especially for Extended Support Release users. So called ESR releases are special versions of Firefox that have been designed for organizations who don't want to keep up with Firefox's rapid release schedule.

ESR versions are updated just as Firefox, but new features do not get added to them directly when that happens unless it is a major version switch.

When you install Only Minor Update, all minor updates will get installed automatically just like before. Major version updates on the other hand do not get installed automatically anymore.

The main idea here is to block updates that modify the browser in major ways without interfering with minor updates that only improve stability or patch security issues.

Closing Words

The browser extension can be useful if you want to keep automatic updates enabled for minor updates but disabled for all major version jumps.

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Responses to Configure Firefox to only install minor updates

  1. Sören Hentzschel February 25, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    There are no unimportant Firefox updates, *every* update of Firefox is a security update [1]. In other words: This add-on seems to be a very high security risk. And for ESR releases no add-on is necessary, ESR gets only minor updates. At least fore one year. But for organizations security is no "nice-to-have"-, it's a "must-have", so they have to upgrade after a year. So I don't understand the right to exist of this add-on. Can you explain why ESR users should install this add-on? For users of the regular version of Firefox it's definitively a bad, bad, bad idea (because one "bad" is not enough). Thanks.

    [1] http://www.mozilla.org/security/known-vulnerabilities/firefox.html

    • Martin Brinkmann February 25, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

      Sören, I don't think the intention is to never update to the next major version. Instead, the idea is to block the automatic update so that you can install it when you find the time to do so.

    • Grantwhy February 26, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

      From my limited experience (used ESR 17.x.x for a while), there is an overlap with ESR versions.

      I believe ESR 17 was continuing to get (security) updates even after ESR 24 had been released.

      "The extension has been created especially for Extended Support Release users. "

      This extension would allow your current ESR to keep getting security updates but stop you being automatically updated to the next ESR release.

      Hopefully, once the security updates stop for their current ESR the extension will warn their users?

      • Sören Hentzschel February 26, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

        "From my limited experience (used ESR 17.x.x for a while), there is an overlap with ESR versions.
        I believe ESR 17 was continuing to get (security) updates even after ESR 24 had been released."

        Yes, there are two versions overlap and ESR users get the update after the end of the overlap period.

        Examples:

        Mozilla released ESR 24, ESR 17 users got the update to ESR 24.2 at the same time as the release of Firefox 26.
        Mozilla will release ESR 31 in July, ESR 24 users will get the update to ESR 31.2 at the same time as the release of Firefox 33.

        So Mozilla distributes via AUS (Application Update Service) minor updates to ESR users as long as possible.

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