Firefox will use BITS on Windows for updates going forward
Mozilla plans to change the updating technology that the organization's Firefox web browser uses on the Windows platform.
The organization plans to use BITS, the Background Intelligent Transfer Service, on Windows to handle Firefox updates. BITS is a Windows file transfer service that supports downloading files and resuming interrupted file transfers while being "mindful" of the responsiveness of other network applications and network costs.
Current versions of Firefox use a task called Mozilla Maintenance Service and a background update component to push updates to Firefox installations. The functionality was launched in 2012 to improve the updating experience especially on Windows.
Firefox 68 could be the first stable version of Firefox to use BITS on Windows devices according to Mozilla's plans. The functionality is still in active development and it is possible that things may get delayed.
The use of BITS is just the first step in Mozilla's plan, however. The organization wants to roll out another new component to handle background updates better. The component is called Background Update Agent and it is designed to download and apply updates to Firefox. The background process may download and install updates even if the Firefox web browser is not running on the system.
Mozilla hopes that the new updating mechanism will be beneficial to Firefox users with slow Internet connections. The organization noticed that updates would often be terminated prematurely when users exited the browser on slow Internet connections.
Mozilla engineer Matt Howell created the bug 2 years ago on Mozilla's bug tracking website.
The Update Agent is being planned as a background process which will remain running after the browser is closed to download and apply updates. This should make updating more convenient for everyone and reduce the time to get new updates for users who aren't well supported by the current update process because they don't run Firefox very much and/or they have slow Internet connections.
Note that BITS functionality is still in development at the time of writing and that some things may not work correctly right now.
Firefox 68 will support two BITS related preferences; one determines whether BITS is enabled and in use, the other whether the Firefox version is part of a trial group.
- Load about:config in the Firefox address bar and hit enter.
- Confirm that you will be careful.
- Search for bits
- The preference app.update.BITS.enabled determines whether the new update functionality is enabled.
- True means BITS is used and enabled.
- False means BITS is not used and not enabled.
- The preference app.update.BITS.inTrialGroup is a temporary preference used during tests.
- Restart Firefox.
Mozilla plans to add a preference to Firefox's options that gives users control over the background updating process. Firefox users may disable background updating using the preference so that the process won't download and install updates while Firefox is not running.
The use of BITS should improve Firefox's update process, especially for users on slow connections. Mozilla hopes that the new functionality will leave less Firefox installations behind version-wise. Users who don't want it will be able to disable the background updating in the options. (via Techdows)Advertisement