Upcoming changes to Pale Moon's Add-on System

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 15, 2018
Internet, Pale Moon

The Pale Moon team plans to remove support for Mozilla AMO (Add-ons Mozilla Org) from the web browser on May 8th, 2018.

Pale Moon is largely based on Firefox code, but compatibility took a hit recently when Mozilla switched the add-on system of Firefox to support WebExtensions exclusively while Pale Moon stayed with the what Mozilla calls legacy add-on system.

Only Firefox 52 ESR supports the legacy add-on system right now, and that support is removed with the release of Firefox 60 ESR. Starting with Firefox 60 ESR, no official version of the Firefox web browser will support legacy add-ons.

Mozilla announced plans to remove legacy add-ons from the official Firefox add-on repository after the launch of Firefox 60 ESR.

This decision impacts the Pale Moon browser in several ways as Mozilla AMO is integrated into current browser versions.

pale moon add-ons

Pale Moon users can run searches on the browser's about:addons website and install add-ons directly from the interface. Add-ons installed from Mozilla AMO use Mozilla's automatic update service to check for add-on updates and install any that are found.

External add-on listings on the official Pale Moon add-ons repository, addons.palemoon.org, may point to Mozilla AMO as well.

The functionality breaks if Mozilla removes legacy add-ons from AMO. Pale Moon does not support the WebExtensions format. The development team of Pale Moon decided to remove support for Mozilla AMO from Pale Moon as a consequence.

What it means for Pale Moon users

pale moon addons site

First the good news. While Pale Moon won't support searching about:addons for add-ons hosted on Mozilla AMO anymore, users of the browser may still install legacy add-ons from AMO directly.

Installing add-ons hosted on AMO works only for as long as classic add-ons remain hosted on Mozilla's website. One downside is that add-ons won't update automatically anymore because of the removal of the automatic update service that takes care of Mozilla hosted add-ons.

The removal means that Pale Moon users will have to visit the add-on pages manually to find out about updates and install them if that is the case.

Add-ons from AMO installed in Pale Moon already will be affected in the same way. They continue to function normally, but they won't be updated automatically anymore.

Tip: Check whether the add-on is hosted at the Pale Moon add-on repository. If it is, install it from there instead. Add-ons installed from the official repository use Pale Moon's automatic update service. You may also want to consider downloading any add-on from Mozilla AMO before Mozilla starts the removal of legacy add-ons.

Developers may upload their add-ons to Pale Moon's add-on repository to keep it available online. There is also the possibility that add-ons may get forked before they are pulled from Mozilla AMO.

There is also an effort underway to archive all classic add-ons of the Firefox web browser.

Closing Words

Mozilla will pull classic add-ons from the Firefox add-ons site eventually at which point several built-in features of Pale Moon will stop functioning correctly that rely on it. The removal of these features is the only logical consequence. While users may not be thrilled about that, there is no doubt that this is the only option available.

Pale Moon users can install classic add-ons from AMO afterward until the add-ons get removed by Mozilla. It seems unlikely that many add-on developers will support legacy add-ons after the release of Firefox 60 ESR anyway.

Now You: are you affected by the change?

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Upcoming changes to Pale Moon's Add-on System
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Upcoming changes to Pale Moon's Add-on System
The Pale Moon team plans to remove support for Mozilla AMO (Add-ons Mozilla Org) from the web browser on May 8th, 2018.
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  1. A different Martin said on February 7, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    It sounds like someone needs to remind the Pale Moon team that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. (It turns out you actually don’t — flies apparently *love* apple-cider vinegar — but you do catch more humans.) This was a needlessly and depressingly curt and confrontational exchange. Less coffee and more time with puppies and kittens is my advice.

    1. Jody Thornton said on February 10, 2018 at 4:52 pm

      @Martin (a different one :) )

      I have to agree with you. It appears that Moon-Matt are correct in their arguments, but they are just so rigid on their stance with things, that they push away other parties interested in working with them.

    2. Jody Thornton said on February 9, 2018 at 2:09 am

      Gotta Love the Drama! Any time that someone else sees those two for the jerks they are – that’s a great day in my book.

  2. Monserdom said on February 7, 2018 at 9:17 am
    1. Kossan Nyx said on February 24, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      I rather would use Pale Moon before i would use a browser from a clear f*ascist anti free speech and anti freedom developer called Mozilla.


      And there are clearly people who still claim Mozilla is not leftist only. Christians and Conservatives hating b*stards!

      A big F*ck you Mozilla!

      1. Jody Thornton said on February 27, 2018 at 2:31 am

        @Kossan Nyx:

        OK you’re really REALLY reaching bringing fascism, freedom of speech and leftist politics in to this debate. It really looks like your just looking for a cause to fight for, and get all out of whack about.

        May I suggest you take a valium and then take a nap.

  3. wybo said on January 20, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    I read on the WaterFox forum (on reddit) that they will also start with their own library of legacy addons. Hopefully that will give an incentive to developers to update their extensions again or even develop ne ones witch are compatible with non quantum browsers.

  4. daveb said on January 17, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    Ill take the last versions of palemoon and my preferred extensions and likely be happy for about 5 more years after the fact. I don’t worship at the upgrade altar that keeps me coming back desperately to the fountain of extensions every month. Its very freeing.

    …spare me the security blah.. Im very well aware, and take responsibility for my computer security onto myself instead of random developers who may or may not have my individual security on their mind while developing their own project.

    By the time Ive sucked out all use from that last version then the new setup should be mature enough to consider. For now, its compromise without any benefit that makes it worthwhile for me to sacrifice the functionality that I currently enjoy.

  5. A different Martin said on January 16, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    I think it’s too early to jump to conclusions about the impact of this change. Maybe by 8 May 2018 an alternative repository of classic XUL/XPCOM extensions will be up and running and Pale Moon will tap into that. Maybe Pale Moon’s own repository of extensions will continue to expand. Maybe developers like riis will continue to fork some of the better classic extensions that have become incompatible. Maybe Basilisk will turn out to be the new Pale Moon to Mozilla’s new Firefox Quantum.

    In the meantime, Pale Moon is still my favorite browser by a long shot because it respects my privacy, it lets me customize the UI to my liking, and (especially) because of how useful and powerful its XUL/XPCOM extensions are. I currently run 70 extensions; 34 are from Pale Moon’s repository and 36 are from Mozilla’s. Of the extensions I consider essential or important, 9 are from Pale Moon and 12 are from Mozilla. (Over time, the Pale Moon/Mozilla split has gone from 0%/100% to closer to 50%/50%.) I run into a small number of sites that don’t work in Pale Moon and that I have to open in another browser, but it’s not enough to make me change my default browser. Different strokes for different folks. I have a friend who likes Firefox Quantum because it’s faster than Firefox ESR (possibly in part because it supports far fewer extensions) and it doesn’t crash like Firefox ESR (ditto), but I just can’t do without the functionality offered by extensions like Session Manager, Tab Mix Plus, and Downloads Statusbar, fka Download Status Bar (Moon Edition).

    1. Max said on January 16, 2018 at 6:01 pm

      Very similar here – now running with 33 Pale Moon extensions & 48 Firefox extensions, and converting more every few months. Pale Moon’s a great browser.

  6. Anonymous said on January 16, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    I can tell you that Ghacks will Pale Moon & FTDeepdark + the Richard Allen dark blue’s userstyle is a must.

  7. Anonymous said on January 16, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    I will continue to update my prefered browser until FTDeepdark coupled with Stylish 2.07 will stop working. I tried the ugly Firefox with the Pants’ user.js, same behavior than Chrome with Stylus installed, at each start the round circle saying “please wait” until I finish to work on the background.. Pale Moon is in my heart, it will never die.

    1. Tom Hawack said on January 16, 2018 at 12:58 pm

      In the same way I disagree with ‘Pale Moon’ condemnation when not bashing, in the same way I disagree with users who condemn Firefox (57+, Quantum that is) on the ground that it doesn’t run correctly. Firefox 57+ runs fine if you take the time of handling it correctly, its issues don’t concern its ability to run smoothly but concern rather a mixup between rights granted to extensions and those granted to Websites, essentially.

      What I notice is that worshiping one’s favorite browser is not an exclusivity of a given browser’s users but applies to whoever believes that smashing another browser will develop, improve the image of their choice. From there on eternal battles take place, in a very similar way to what we know of chaotic social sites as well as in everyday life. Some people still believe that truth is that of who wins a battle, be it with words. I have the feeling this attitude is prehistoric.

      1. Anonymous said on January 16, 2018 at 1:46 pm

        What a chance to always have your opinion on all. “Prehistoric” > I did not see any drawings of your calarades appster and johnny in the “Grotte of Lascaux”. But who knows..

      2. Tom Hawack said on January 16, 2018 at 2:12 pm

        What a pity to not have yours more often.

      3. Anonymous said on January 16, 2018 at 4:53 pm

        Its just because I prefer to avoid that Martin could get a blame from Mozilla Corporation like Moonchild received due to some interesting posts on his forum about Firefox. A delicate company MozCo.

  8. anony445 said on January 16, 2018 at 10:55 am

    i knew this was gonna happen to PM users, cant say im sorry. looks like you have no choice but to use firefox

    1. John Fenderson said on January 16, 2018 at 6:02 pm

      “looks like you have no choice but to use firefox”

      There is a pretty wide variety of browsers available. If PM stops meeting the needs of its users, that doesn’t mean the only other option if Firefox.

    2. Tom Hawack said on January 16, 2018 at 11:35 am

      I think it depends of the user’s expectations. Some still run XP, some still use older versions of Firefox, some stick on to ESR, others prefer Pale Moon regardless of its pertinence to latest extensions when the few add-ons they run is all they need… I’d say the only true value to respect is security. Pale Moon is up to date with security, the remaining is a user’s choice.

      I’ve run Pale Moon in the past, Cyberfox, Google Chrome, Opera (“in the past”, years that is). In terms of privacy not one browser surpasses Pale Moon. If I decided to return to Firefox, and further on to adopt Firefox Quantum it is essentially for curiosity because, basically, Pale Moon provides all I *really* need. Curiosity but perhaps a latent pessimism when it comes to Pale Moon’s future, a new chapter if not a new book once the AMO add-ons repository will have closed. I believe that it is in this perspective that the Pale Moon developers are initiating their new Basilisk web browser. Curiosity again, Basilisk is likely to become my next target. Why not yet? Because I’m still excessively focusing on Firefox 57 and excited on coming 58, I want to see how Quantum fixes the true issues of 57, I linger to discover its deployment… and I seldom deeply focus on more than one thing at a time (this is personal as one’s psychology).

      Whatever, ‘Pale Moon’ is certainly not over nor on its EOL path. Let users who are happy with it use it independently of our vindicte, should it be for the sole reason that security is not involved, that privacy is its policy, that add-ons/extensions are not the only parameter guiding a user’s choice.

      That’s how I see it.

  9. Mystique said on January 16, 2018 at 10:53 am

    Btw not liking the new ghacks comments section and minimalism in general but I digress.

    To the matter at hand, Pale Moon, its extensions and the future of it.

    I think the way in which we should approach this subject and browser is to look at it as a departure as well as a new beginning.

    Just as many previous browser have done before Pale Moon must provide a platform capable and enticing enough for both developers and users to support and use therefore we can see the browser reach its full potential. Yes, Pale Moon has been around for quite some time but until now/recently it hasn’t had to stand on its own merits as it is now essentially its own browser given that Mozilla has parted ways with a great many things in which Pale Moon holds close to its heart.

    Yes, it has been frustrating to see new addons being developed only for the new webextensions system but what can be done about that?
    Until Forefox becomes a browser I can trust once again then I guess there is not a great deal I can do.

    The very least the community and staff holding Pale Moon can do is to build a viable repository for both developers and the community similar or better than that of the one Mozilla had in place.
    Beyond that Pale Moon must fill in the holes in which Mozilla inevitably will create in projects such as Pale Moon by depreciating many aspects of its past.

    Only time and effort will tell if this is the end of the road for Pale Moon but for the meantime use what browser you feel serves you best.

  10. Curtis K said on January 16, 2018 at 10:40 am

    I’m staying on Nightly 56 (64-bit) will not update. I have the update settings off/disabled.

  11. birmingham said on January 16, 2018 at 7:37 am

    I only use a small but fine selection of add-ons in Pale Moon which are really useful for me. From the point I read about Mozillas switch to WebExtensions, I replaced most of my AMO add-ons with those offered on Pale Moons own extensions site (which has been growing in the meantime).

    Of course checking for AMO add-on updates from within the browser was a nice feature, but I have only 4 or 5 ones left from AMO, which weren’t updated so often anyway.
    As I always saved my add-ons for potential future use – and there will be likely no updates for Firefox anymore – I don’t see a reason to panic.

  12. basicuser said on January 16, 2018 at 12:01 am

    My three Windows boxes all run Pale Moon because I like the way it looks and works with the add-ons I need. So I guess I’ll just ride the Pale Moon horse till it drops, which I hope is a long way off.

    It’s not always necessary to have constant updates, features, bells and whistles for something to function. I’m still running the old PC Tools Firewall Plus on this ancient Gateway lappy with Vista. Does all I need.

    As for the discussion on the pros and cons of Pale Moon, to quote my old Grandma when she kissed the cow: Everybody To Their Own Taste. :)


    1. Tom Hawack said on January 16, 2018 at 12:31 am

      Your grandma was damn right, basicuser.
      When the very topic is a comparison then let us compare, and still: calmly. I’m always surprised the degree of passion some users stick to their arguments, arguments which may very well be consistent, not to mention a will to destroy the interest of others on the basis they’d be wrong. What the heck? We don’t progress this way when we do with calm and objective exchanges. This is mainly a fan attitude, that not only to worship a star but as well to devalue other fans who wordship other stars, in a sectarian way so to say. The Beatles and the Stones were pals in life when only excited fans would oppose them. Same with the devs quite often : they think, compare, they don’t become hysterical about their products. Why basic users, consumers do is beyond my understanding. If you’re happy with a product why must some come and break your pleasure? No idea, we haven’t asked them, have we?

  13. Mr Wilson said on January 15, 2018 at 8:47 pm

    My go to browsers are Pale Moon and Chromium. For several years. Don’t like the changes in the latest Firefox and I won’t use “Google” Chrome. “Alas, poor Pale Moon, I knew ye well”

  14. AnorKnee Merce said on January 15, 2018 at 8:23 pm
  15. Appster said on January 15, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    RIP Pale Moon. Let’s be realistic here… Only very few add-on developers support Pale Moon today and how long has it been around…???

    1. Lexxxian said on January 18, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      I do not use add-ons and only care about a browser which UI can be customized, so PM is the perfect choice for me.

      And many people using Pale Moon are doing this for that reason. Who wants tons of add-ons will be not happy with PM.

      Anyway, a browser is no multifunctional swiss knife. Who wants a toybox should get themselves some toys.

      Also, Webextensions do suck. Pathetic excuse for an add-on technology.

      PM is not doomed because it has few add-ons. Not at all.

    2. Tom Hawack said on January 15, 2018 at 10:57 pm

      @Appster, I’m not sure this is the best moment to evoke Pale Moon in the terms you use. Right now you have Pale Moon users who get a slap or even a fist in the stomach when reading this article.
      You know what I mean, right?

      1. Appster said on January 15, 2018 at 11:16 pm

        @Tom Hawack: The voice of reason. I know exactly what you mean, of course. However, I don’t get frightened just because the Pale Moon fanboy club is around. I am just stating the obvious, namely that the number of add-ons listed on the Pale Moon add-ons page is ridiculously low. They can either deal with that objective truth or prove how deluded they are.

        Objectively, only few add-on developers are willing to support a browser with 0.04% market share when the add-ons were originally written for a browser with 10% market share. It’s just not worth the effort. Even developers who DO support Pale Moon stated that it was “not a priority” (Tab Mix Plus developer) or that continued support was “uncertain” (uBlock Origin developer).

      2. Peterc said on November 17, 2020 at 10:04 pm


        It’s nearly three years later. The number of original Pale Moon extensions has grown. The number of “important” legacy-Firefox extensions that have been forked for Pale Moon has grown. Session Manager, for example, has been forked. uMatrix has been forked (and the fork is still actively developed while development of the original uMatrix for other platforms has been, in the most optimistic scenario, “suspended”). Tab Mix Plus for Pale Moon, which you mentioned above, is still supported. (I reported an issue with Tab Mix Plus maybe six weeks ago on Github. Within less than a week, the developer provided a trial build that fixed the problem.) uBlock Origin is still supported. A somewhat older legacy-Firefox version of DownThemAll still works perfectly (though I *am* anxious to see it get forked to ensure that it continues to work in the future).

        Of course, while this is encouraging, it doesn’t guarantee the future viability of Pale Moon and its extension ecosystem. From what I’ve read, a working group of Web giants headed by Google/Alphabet has essentially usurped the role of the World Wide Web Consortium in setting Web standards and protocols, and (surprise!) new standards and protocols work first and best in Google Chrome. In the absence of any scrutiny or pressure from antitrust regulators, “realistic” Web developers design their sites and tools primarily or exclusively for Google Chrome. Other browser developers are left playing what’s obviously intended to be a losing game of catch-up. And that’s how the free, open, competitive, innovative, user-centric, privacy-compatible Web dies — it gets handed over to Google/Alphabet by “realistic” developers and users.

      3. John Fenderson said on January 16, 2018 at 11:44 pm

        “the number of add-ons listed on the Pale Moon add-ons page is ridiculously low”

        Not sure that’s terribly relevant to Pale Moon users, for a few reasons — including that the Pale Moon page is not, nor will it ever be, the only place you can get add-ons.

        “only few add-on developers are willing to support a browser with 0.04% market”

        True, but add-on developers wouldn’t be developing add-ons just for Pale Moon. They’d be developing add-ons for all FF forks that support XUL. Still a relatively small number, but a much larger number than just counting PM.

        Also, my speculation is that people who are using PM and other XUL forks already have the add-ons they need. They may not get new shiny add-ons, but I doubt that is a huge problem.

      4. Tom Hawack said on January 15, 2018 at 11:33 pm

        You would have said your word as in your answer here to me it would have been different, less passionate, more reasonable than a “RIP” when some users are already — not hurt, no big words — let’s say affected by the article’s content. I know you don’t mean it bad, I just remembered how I happened to get bothered, affected with computer/browser news. It’s just the point of finding the right words in certain situations. “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”. It’s also when you say it, or not.

      5. Kubrick said on January 15, 2018 at 11:33 pm

        I find your use of the term “objectivity” rather puzzling.
        As if usage was of any relevance,Your objectivity could be applied to anything from planes,trains and automobiles.
        For instance,
        If most people in the world drive a ford motor car then according to your objective logic other car brands should not get a look in,its getting absurd.

        Indeed the palemoon add-on site may be low and does not have the hundreds of extensions that firefox or chrome have but do users seriously wade through those extensions in their entirety.?
        palemoon has useful extensions and at least they dont contain ads or spamware like the chrome store does.Just look at some of very articles here at ghacks surrounding the chrome store debacles of malware and bitcoin datamining extensions and it should be fairly self explanatory.How many articles do you read here about compromised palemoon extensions.
        Need i go on?

      6. Appster said on January 15, 2018 at 11:54 pm

        @Kubrick: Nah, that’s not a good comparison. Ford can build cars as long as enough people buy them. They do not strictly depend on other companies “creating essential third-party hardware/software” for their cars.

        A more appropriate comparison would be between browsers and game consoles, as game consoles are dependent on developers creating games for them. How many games do you think would be developed for a console that is not a Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft product? Yeah, I thought so. The same applies to Pale Moon: It’s not really worth the effort to develop for Pale Moon, because of market share.

        Many add-ons are non-commercial and hobby projects, true, but this doesn’t mean that the author is still willing to maintain a version for much fewer users than he/she originally had. That’s demotivating to the point where any effort in this direction would be stalled.

        You should accept that the number of Pale Moon add-ons is ridiculously low, not even essential ones are listed there, and even if so, mostly direct to AMO. I am not making any direct comparison with the Chrome Store, nor do I want to debate the usefulness of every single add-on there is. If the essentials (in terms of popularity) are not around and supported, something is wrong.

        @Tom Hawack: Alright, I could say it far nicer, but what would be the point of it? Pale Moon is essentially add-on-less once they can no longer depend on AMO. I doubt that most add-on developers will support them, and I doubt that they have the manpower to fork any and all add-ons. So it’s RIP Pale Moon (in terms of add-ons, which has an immediate effect on the attractiveness of the browser), whether the fanboys like it or not. Now they can “behead the messenger” for all I care.

      7. Klaas Vaak said on January 16, 2018 at 6:22 am

        @Appster: FWIW, I find you have described the situation well, in the right words, with objectivity. Those who attack you for it, not to say revile you, are short of the right words to have a civilised debate, incl. those who believe they can come up with a better comparison than your analogy but theirs is like comparing apples to horses.

    3. Anonymous said on January 15, 2018 at 9:02 pm

      “Let’s be realistic” with 3 “???” is the best definition of what a troll is.

      1. Appster said on January 15, 2018 at 10:06 pm

        @Anonymous: “Anonymous” is the best definition of what a coward is. On a more serious note, ad hominem stuff will lead you nowhere. Prove me wrong with actual facts.

      2. Anonymous said on January 15, 2018 at 11:04 pm

        @appster: Nothing to prove. Right now you just prove that trolls never dies, and it’s not potential “New Years’ resolutions” that could change that.

    4. Firefox said on January 15, 2018 at 8:45 pm

      I completely agree with you. Palemoon deserves praise, but I don’t see how the browser will evolve if add-on dev don’t bother to maintain legacy add-on and backport code from webextension.

      1. John Fenderson said on January 16, 2018 at 6:07 pm

        “I don’t see how the browser will evolve”

        I’m not sure that it’s terribly critical that it “evolves”, whatever that means. People who use Pale Moon, or Waterfox, or other FF forks are doing so precisely because they want to avoid the “evolution” that FF has undergone.

        In the end it’s about meeting user’s need. The new FF no longer meets my needs, so I use a different browser (in my case, Waterfox, but it could have been Pale Moon). If that browser stops meeting my needs, I’ll switch to one that does. No biggie.

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