Tuesday, September 01, 2015

This week in browser bits: roll-backs, upgrades, and changes

Ever since Mozilla released an upgrade of Firefox to version 40.x I seem to been seeing frequent and persistent crashing of my Firefox browser.

As of the time of this post, I am running version 40.0.3.

The issue seems to occur most when I grab an open tab handle and drag/drop the tab into my bookmark side-bar to “save” a bookmark of that page.

It got so bad that I began to look at rolling back (downgrading) my Firefox version to an older version, say the last 39 release version, to see if that would help.

Making a bookmark the “long way” by clicking the “star” icon or using the Ctrl+D key-combo worked fine but was a lot of work due to my deep folder structure in the bookmarks.

Fortunately, I found that by grabbing the small icon on the far left of the address bar, I could drag and drop that to also create a bookmark at will without the crash I get from using the same technique but with the page-tab item.

I’ve not yet filed a bug report, but will shortly.

Firefox Version Roll-Back

The process to roll back to an older version of Firefox is fairly simple, as long as you know where to get the bits. In my case it is a touch more complicated as I use Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition via Portable Apps. For installed versions of Firefox, head over to Index of /pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases and download the version you want and reinstall. Sure, you should first back up your profile, etc. before doing it, just in case. For portable apps versions, head over to Mozilla Firefox, Portable Ed. at SourceForge.net project page, and find the earlier version, download, and over-install.

Here are some more guides on the process to roll-back Firefox:

My recent and growing frustrations with Mozilla/Firefox have led me to invest even more heavily that normal (and that’s saying something) in spending considerable more time using and testing alternative web-browsers; specifically Vivaldi (based on Chromium) and Pale Moon (based on Mozilla).

Add-On Support for Pale Moon and Firefox

Pale Moon (portable) has been very stable and runs very well on my systems in the testing work I’ve been doing more and more.

I don’t have a lot of Firefox Extensions/Add-ons and found that almost all of them were compatible in Pale Moon. Listed below are my current Firefox Add-ons and I’ve noted the ones that ARE NOT Pale Moon compatible -- at least directly installable via the Mozilla Add-ons store.

- about:addons-memory 10.1-signed  (not offered for Pale Moon / Firefox 24.9)
- Adblock Plus 2.6.10 (didn’t bother to try as I like/prefer uBlock Origin)
- CoLT 2.6.5
- Copy as HTML Link 3.2.1-signed
- Download Status Bar

- Extension List Dumper 2 1.0
- FiddlerHook (installed on system by Fiddler, but doesn’t seem to pick up in Pale Moon / Firefox 24.9)
- Firebug 2.0.11 (not offered for Pale Moon / Firefox 24.9)
- Greasemonkey 3.3  (I didn’t bother to try to install yet in Pale Moon)

- HttpFox

- Linky

- NoScript

- Search By Image (by Google)

- Tab Memory Usage 0.1.8 (Disabled)

- TinEye Reverse Image Search 1.2.1

- uBlock Origin

Pale Moon project provides a list of known incompatible Add-ons you may wish to consult.

The FiddlerHook item is not a real deal-breaker as I have lots of network sniffers/tracers to use, and isn’t “required” as you can just run Fiddler, then manually/temporarily set Pale Moon to use the system proxy.

Having said that, this extension isn't really needed in modern versions of Firefox. Instead, simply set Tools > Options > Advanced > Network > Proxy Connection to "Use System Proxy."

Likewise Firebug is a very powerful tool to inspect web page elements and code. However the “F12” web developer tools natively provided in Pale Moon are a sufficient alternative.

More Firefox Gripes News and the “Contextual Identity” Project

That last one really has me conflicted.

For full details see this Security/Contextual Identity Project/Containers - MozillaWiki feature draft page that Martin Brinkmann alluded to in his article.

Also, take a look at the Security/Contextual Identity Project mainpage for full context.

As a browser user, I can see the draw and benefit of having a feature allowing for concurrent “persona” sandboxing while browsing at work; that way I can browse all the cat sites I want at work under one “persona” while concurrently monitoring all my embedded network appliance and nodal dashboards in the same browser under my other “persona”, while doing all my personal secure on-line banking transactions in a third “persona”.  See how handy that will be? I can separate all those browsing activities while doing them at the same time in my browser -- at work -- and never will they need to inter-mingle.

Oh. Wait.  Why am I doing personal web-browsing at work on my work-provided systems?


I guess it comes down to the workplace internet usage policy, but I just don’t see it a good idea to mix personal web browsing on work-provided equipment and networks; even if permissively allowed by the employer policy. That activity is fraught with security and privacy issues.

But then again, I’m an old security curmudgeon.

Like I say, read the feature draft page for full details. I’m confident many “modern” browser users will totes love this feature if it gets folded in. I get it and it does look like it will be slickly delivered. However as a sysadmin I think that while the feature looks good it may provide a false-sense of security and provides less benefit from a network administrator/security perspective for the organization’s benefit.

Oh well, I probably don’t have to worry because as we all know, only Internet Explorer is approved for use in the workplaces right?

Vivaldi Developments and Tab Tiling!

The Vivaldi team remains focused on regular snapshot updates to their project. It’s still at “technical preview” release level so not yet ready for prime-time use. But the fixes and features keep coming strong.

Snapshot was pretty cool for me as it brought in tab-tiling.

Basically, you select more than one tab that is opened, hit a little tab-tiling option icon in the bottom right corner and select the layout, then the browser opens (tiles) them in a single window for concurrent viewing of all the tab pages side-by side!

In the example below, I’ve got the Phil Are Go!, Google Art Project. and Vivaldi Team Blog tabs all opened (tiled) in a single page window in Vivaldi. Cool!


For data-hungry sysadmins monitoring multiple web-pages on a super-screen sized monitor this could be handy.

And no, it’s not the same think as the “contextual identities” feature as Mozilla is discussing, thank you very much.

IE 11/ Edge browser

Just had to toss this one out there to make up for my cheeky comment about IE browser in the workplace.


Claus Valca

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