Mozilla details new Firefox Update types it is going to implement

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 26, 2015

Firefox updates work like most other software update systems out there currently. The browser communicates with a server to find out if an update is available, and if it is, starts to download and install it based on the user's preferences (some prefer to only be notified, others only to download, while the majority probably has updates downloaded and installed for them automatically).

Mozilla had some options besides that already, for instance by pushing out hotfixes or experiments to user systems.

Mozilla plans to improve the process in the future by introducing new update types to the system as part of the organizations Go Faster initiative to make Firefox snappier and faster.

Mozilla engineers want to implement three new update types in Firefox as part of the Go Faster initiative.

  1. System Add-ons are core parts of Firefox that Mozilla plans to deliver as add-ons (as opposed to the browser core).
  2. Security Policy to update Firefox's built-in security policies which change frequently according to Mozilla.
  3. Optional Features which only part of Firefox's user base may find useful.

Lets take a look at these three update types in detail

firefox new update types

System Add-ons are core pieces of Firefox that the browser cannot work without. The main idea behind the new approach is to give Mozilla more flexibility when it comes to updating these components as the add-on needs to be updated to update an essential component of Firefox as opposed to pushing out a new version of Firefox to update it as it is currently.

This reduces the time it takes to deliver an update to all Firefox users to mere minutes instead of 24 hours.

These system add-ons should not be confused with user installed add-ons even though they share some features. While it has not been mentioned explicitly, it is very likely that they won't be displayed under add-ons in the Addon Manager and won't be removable by Firefox users either.

Security Policy is without doubt the most straightforward update type. Firefox polls an update server regularly for Security Policy updates and will download and install them if they are newer than the installed version. Additional information about the whole process are available here.

Optional Features finally give back control to users. These features may be useful to a subset of Firefox users only. While Mozilla makes no mention of components or features that would fall under the category, it is things like Pocket, Developer Tools or Dictionaries that would make sense in this regard.

So, instead of pushing something like Pocket or Firefox Hello to all users of the browser, it would be an optional component that interested users could install (or keep installed) while all other users could opt out off.

Closing Words

Mozilla is still sorting things out, for instance the schedule for implementing these changes in Firefox. The new system should improve Firefox updates significantly by making them faster and less annoying to users.

I have hopes that Mozilla will move some of the components it shipped Firefox with recently, Pocket for instance, to the optional features category instead. (via)

Now You: Which components of Firefox would you like to see become optional?

Mozilla details new Firefox Update types it is going to implement
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Mozilla details new Firefox Update types it is going to implement
Mozilla revealed how it plans to make Firefox updates faster and better in the near future.

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  1. Mefimabit said on November 10, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Firefox.. is like ea battlefield.. Bad company 2 had a bug, that was NEVER repaired.. countless updates later, and three new games using SAME engine, has SAME bug’s, but glossed over with pretty animated gore.. quite simply, firefox is the most bloated peice of shit browser that deserves ie’s top position as the worst browser in the world. I work as an electronics engineer, and have tested firefox in ways most cant.. quite simply, it no longer loads, on a fresh install with no add on’s, instant freeze while it tries desperatly to find the biggest hd advert image it can to eat your data caps.. before it ever shows you the page you actually want.. 9 out of 10 times, of course, your expected to reboot your pc.. no buttons do what they claim, or if they do, when they want, search bar is non-functional, and why would I want to search from the address bar? I want to type an address and go to it, and not have it reset my typing to what it is wants, not be forced to load shitty ajax script’s (thought they banned java?) that do absolutly nothing but guarantee you need at least 150 megs just to load an empty start page.. firefox, I hope you rot in the hell you created.. open scource? If it was open scource, why do these bugs still prevail? Because you as programmers suck, know nothing, and quite simply, dont care.. your dumped.

  2. FireFlocking said on September 27, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    I have 8 cores and 16 G of ram. The problem is NOT speed.
    It IS the spying crap
    It IS the constant breaking of the browser. All I fuckin want is the browser to work from day to day, your constant improvements to the browser is more like a VIRUS to my system, spreading fucking mayhem that I have to research and debug and fix when all I want to do is my daily business

    next step is to say F the internet completely. (see ya AT&T, DOMAINS, HOSTING no moar $$$ 4 U )
    Every time I turn around another fascist software knife in my back… from Adobe to Zoner!

    I just found the IPV6 device microsoft added so I could download windows 10. (have you removed your IPV6 tunneling devices yet? and since I noticed you answered no, I further ask why are they already Pinging and doing evul!?)

    Device Manager | show hidden | LOOK in NEtwork card | &U see the TUNNELING ones! Three of em I had!

    found these rogue (IPV6 devices) cause only IPV4 here!!! Process Hacker was showing a connection for me out of explorer.exe and so I killed off the connections to US SIGNAL. (bye no moar packets 4 u)

    God bless, and stay aware

    1. Tom Hawack said on September 27, 2015 at 6:55 pm

      Even those of us who try to be aware are seldom aware enough so just imagine the vast majority of those who don’t even conceive the pertinence of being aware with a computer and its connections …

      I understand your anger, I feel it often myself and sometimes feel like throwing away the whole goddamn thing. More you try to be aware, more you investigate on new files, registry settings, more you realize how deep the troubled waters are. Internet business has become a snake pit, a rat hole, it smells bad when you start digging.

      Still, looks like we need this universe if we intend to live in our modern world. I dream sometimes of changing my life totally, moving to some nice simple place in the Caribbean area, no radio, no tv, no Internet, just an old record player to listen to good old vinyls when the sun sets and the evening wind starts caressing the palm trees. And books, including what I’ve missed to read since an eternity.

      Life, duties & obligations, pleasures here and there, but happiness? Elsewhere, I guess.

      God bless FireFlocking, you and all of us. And, yes : let us stay aware.

  3. wybo said on September 27, 2015 at 11:09 am

    I suppose that is some moderately good news. But then, as I have said before, I have slightly above basic knowledge of FF.

    I only use FF and I am still pretty happy with it.

  4. dan said on September 26, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Tom: I go back and forth between Pale Moon and Cyberfox. Trouble with Pale Moon is that it forked before some pretty big security changes… of course it also forked before Australis, Pocket, Hello and a host of other undesirable things. I hate that some helpful add-ons such as SSleuth and Random Agent Spoofer won’t run on Pale Moon.

    1. Tom Hawack said on September 26, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      I’m aware of what you explain, my approach is similar to yours. But as always in the balance the pros and cons. And should Firefox’s new features weigh excessively the cons could defeat the pros. I’d only have to forget a few add-ons (I have 65-70 running) and find PM alternatives for several others. I’m thinking about it. If I dare this comparison, there’s not only sex in life, but love also :)

      I’ve been running Cyberfox as you know for some time but had to return to Firefox starting Cyberfox 41 and even 41.0.1 : too many problems, which seem related to Firefox 41 when applied on a fork … and even otherwise for some users/situations if I believe posts read here & there, go understand that.

  5. Tom Hawack said on September 26, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    None. No automatic updates, Firefox like any other application. No in-between updates before the final releases.

    Behind these complicated schemes is the fact that the developer, Mozilla in this case, continuously scans the user’s installation, for his good of course. Like Windows 10 in a way. This is the big new trend : have a continuous/permanent contact with the user. Again the bodyguard scheme where the user is accompanied wherever he goes.

    What the heck is this? Let Mozilla make a finished final release and release it then, with “specialties” as an option with opt-in, period. I know they’d love to consider each and every user as a lifelong beta tester, with stats pouring 24/7/365, but they’ll have to manage that without me.

    When you discover ALL the settings which need to be modified in Firefox to start imagining privacy as possible you remain stunned. Firefox is just like any other application nowadays. Perhaps does Firefox make it easier than others to access the settings, but the default values remain an open door to intrusion and consequently I consider Mozilla with the same awareness as any other development company. Nowadays to find core/built-in/authentic honesty one has to search hard. I guess Pale Moon is truly honest, one of the very few. I may return to the satellite if I get too deeply fed up.

    1. Doc said on September 27, 2015 at 11:29 pm

      So I suppose you haven’t updated Windows since the original release, and only update when there are “service packs” available? Personally, I’d like to kick anyone who completely disables Windows Update in the shins…it’s these idiots who leave their computers vulnerable to botnets, becoming part of spam networks and joining DDOS attacks.
      Let Mozilla update anything it wants if it fixes things or improves usability. This will get features to us sooner, and not have to wait 6 weeks and download ~40MB of files to just tweak one or two that belong to a “system addon.”

      1. All Things Firefox said on October 2, 2015 at 5:52 am

        “Personally, I’d like to kick anyone who completely disables Windows Update in the shins” How do you disable Windows Update in the shins? I knew there was an Raspberry Pi version of Windows 10, but I didn’t know there was one for implanted bio-computers.
        Sorry, I know this comment is unrelated.

      2. Tom Hawack said on September 28, 2015 at 9:27 am

        @Doc, if your comment is an answer to mine, above, then you are mistaking. I do update Windows on every Patch Tuesday, I always have and until Microsoft decided to join to its updates those unnecessary incentives regarding Windows 10, I did blindly. From there on I am simply cautious with their updates and I investigate them before installing. If I learn that an out of schedule update (critical most of the time since in between Patch Tuesdays) I remain as well aware and cautious. I should have mentioned that updates concerning the system were apart of my dislike for a trend to ‘live’ updates which keep an application in full contact with a server out of the final releases. I do not want to participate, hence to facilitate the policy of a company aiming to deliver half finished enhancements on the ground that a permanent relation to the user’s application allows a beta testing attitude : they finish the job then they propose it with the final release. Beta and night builds already exist and good if some participate, but let not that become a general attitude which would allow here and there a test on this or that.

        When the update is finished, packed, released on schedule (every 6 weeks with Firefox) then they can count me in, of course, but not before.

    2. george kinbote said on September 26, 2015 at 5:11 pm

      the worst of all worlds
      crazed nerds teamed up with out-of-control marketeers
      we’ll have to waste three times as much time downloading, installing and keeping on the alert for hidden crap-ware

      1. Tom Hawack said on September 26, 2015 at 5:25 pm

        Will we have to? If yes that would be the final straw as far as I’m concerned. I guess, I hope this new update scheme will remain an option as well, otherwise bye-bye Firefox, ‘I’m tellin’ ya!”

  6. Dave said on September 26, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    This is great news!

    First things to go need to be Pocket and Hello.
    Then Sync and Apps.
    Then Tracking Protection and non-free modules (EME CDM).

  7. Peter said on September 26, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    This sounds like a step in the right direction.. looking forward to see this develop

  8. dan said on September 26, 2015 at 11:34 am

    We can only hope they consider Pocket and Hello as “optional features” and not system addons.

  9. Joker said on September 26, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Yay, more bikeshedding.

  10. Earl said on September 26, 2015 at 10:48 am

    “System Addons” …interesting terminology for Mozilla to use–an “add-on” (addon? [does the hyphen make it different?]) that you have no choice as to whether you “add” it or not. Mozilla modular extension? Well, maybe Mozilla could come up with some better and more weird name for ’em.

    1. Oxa said on September 26, 2015 at 6:31 pm

      Grammatically speaking, “addon” is the noun form and “add-on” the adjective form. What Mozilla chooses to do may be something else.

      1. Tom Hawack said on September 26, 2015 at 9:54 pm

        English not being my mother-tongue I rely more than ever on the browser’s built-in dictionary, and Firefox here refuses “addon” and proposes “add-on”. But I read very often “addon” and built-in dictionaries are not exactly an academic reference. So we here confirm that the right spelling is “add-on”. Good to know. “Superman” and not “Super-man” nevertheless :)

      2. GB said on September 26, 2015 at 9:13 pm

        Correctly-speaking, “grammatically speaking” [sic] needs to be hyphenated, and “addon” is not a noun form, or any other part-of-speech form, because “addon” is not a word.

    2. What? said on September 26, 2015 at 2:49 pm

      They’ve always used a hyphen. It’s always been Add-ons since they started using the term.

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