Firefox 68 ESR: what administrators need to know
Mozilla Firefox will be upgraded to version 68.0 next Tuesday. The new version is the base for the next Extended Support Release (ESR) version of the Firefox web browser. Organizations and home users who run Firefox ESR have until October 22, 2019 to upgrade to the new ESR versions.
Mozilla will release two additional updates for the soon-to-be-replaced version of Firefox ESR to give organizations enough time to test the new release and perform the upgrade.
Firefox 68.0 and Firefox ESR 68 share most features; there are, however, some differences between the two versions of the Firefox web browser.
Here is what is different and what has changed:
- No WebRender support. WebRender is still in development. Mozilla added WebRender support in Firefox 67 but enabled it only for a small number of Firefox users.
- System Certificates. Firefox uses its own certification store by default. Firefox ESR 68 uses the certificate store of the operating system by default, and not the Firefox certification store. Organizations who want to change that need to set the preference security.enterprise_roots.enabled to false on about:config or through other means.
- Man-in-the-Middle detection deactivated. Firefox 68 detects connection issues caused by man-in-the-middle interference; this detection is deactivated in Firefox ESR 68.0 because of the use of system certificates. Organizations need to set the preference security.certerrors.mitm.auto_enable_enterprise_roots to true to enable it.
- Service Workers disabled. Firefox ESR does not support Service Workers by default. The feature can be enabled if it is required. Admins need to set the preference dom.serviceWorkers.enabled to true to enable it.
- Push Notifications disabled. Similarly, push notifications are not enabled by default in Firefox ESR. Admins need to set the preference dom.push.enabled to true to enable the feature in Firefox ESR.
- Disable add-on signing requirement. Firefox ESR is the only release version of the Firefox web browser that supports the deactivation of the browser's add-on signing requirement. The feature is enabled by default. Admins may disable it by setting the preference xpinstall.signatures.required to false.
- SearchEngines Policy is ESR exclusive. Allows admins to set the default search engine.
- All other policies that were ESR exclusive in Firefox 60 ESR are not exclusive anymore.
- Legacy Profiles. Firefox ESR 68 supports the new one-profile per installation dedicated profiles directive of the Firefox web browser. Admins may set the variable MOZ_LEGACY_PROFILES to disable the feature.
- Downgrade protection. Firefox 67 and newer support downgrade protections to prevent issues caused by running downgraded versions of Firefox. Admins may set the variable MOZ_ALLOW_DOWNGRADE or run Firefox with --allow-downgrade to disable the functionality.
Firefox users who don't run the ESR version of the browser can set several of the options as well, e.g. to disable push notifications in Firefox or disable Service Workers.
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