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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Set Firefox To Update Less Frequently

By default, FireFox will look for updates to itself, and to add-ons, once a day. I find this to be annoying because it means that pretty much 100% of the times I launch the browser, instead of getting the empty browser screen I desire, I am interrupted by demands to download and install yet another inconsequential update to some barely used add-on, or an infinitesimal point-version upgrade to the browser.

I'm happy to keep my software up-to-date, but FireFox has never fixed the bug which requires it to restart every time an add-on is installed. That behavior is preposterous and unnecessary, as demonstrated by Chrome, which does not exhibit that bug: in Chrome, you can update an add-on without restarting the browser.

Furthermore, Firefox has a second bug where if I click a link from somewhere outside the browser, and my OS opens Firefox to display the link, and Firefox wants to install an add-on, if I agree to install the add-on, Firefox forgets about the link I was trying to open. This all adds up to an unsatisfactory user experience.

Luckily, and not surprisingly, this is easy to fix:
  1. type about:config in the location bar
  2. look for "app.update.interval"; the default is probably 86400, which is the number of seconds in one day
  3. change the value to something reasonable, such as 2678400, which is the number of seconds in a month
  4. look for "extensions.update.interval" and do the same
Firefox certainly has its share of annoying default settings, but unlike some software, it can be configured in most cases. Thank you, Firefox, for having this workaround; I hope eventually the Firefox team gets around to fixing the bugs I mentioned.

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