Tuesday, February 2, 2010

How to selectively update old extensions and make it work with a new Firefox build


firefox-extension2 Whenever a new Firefox version is released, almost always a handful of extension goes down because most extension developers aren’t able to keep up with Firefox’s update schedule. An old, tried and tested workaround to this problem is to force Firefox to accept all extensions by disabling the compatibly check it performs before each install. However, by doing so you will be letting all extensions pass through unhindered and this can cause stability issues when some extensions are really incompatible.

There is another method, discovered by SitePoint, to make your old installed extensions work with a new Firefox build without turning of the compatibility check. This needs some work though.

The first time you run a new build it disables any unsupported extensions, but still leaves them installed. If that’s the case for the extension you want to update, here’s what you have to do:

Step 1. Locate your extensions folder, which is directly inside your profile folder.

Step 2. Identify the specific extension’s folder. The folder will be named after the extension’s unique ID, and if you’re lucky it will have an intuitive name (for example, Firebug’s folder is called “firebug@software.joehewitt.com”). However the name might be a GUID (such as “{3c6e1eed-a07e-4c80-9cf3-66ea0bf40b37}”) and in this case you’ll have to look inside the folder itself to identify the correct extension. Inside each folder will be a file called “install.rdf”, and this contains the extension’s core meta-data, including its name and description, from which you can identify the extension you want.

Step 3. Copy this folder to a temporary location and then uninstall the extension from Firefox and restart to complete the uninstall.

Step 4. In the copied folder, open the “install.rdf” file and look for a group of elements like this:


In most cases there will only be one group of elements like that, but if the extension supports more than one device (such as Flock as well as Firefox) then there will be more than one group — one for each device. You need to locate the group of elements that corresponds with Firefox, which you can do either by identifying <em:id> as having the exact value "{ec8030f7-c20a-464f-9b0e-13a3a9e97384}", or by recognizing <em:maxVersion> as being the last version of Firefox that the extension supported. So for example, if you’ve just updated from 3.5 to 3.6, then the <em:maxVersion> element will most likely have the value "3.5.*", indicating that its maximum support is any build in the 3.5 branch. So then, you’re going to want to change the max-version to match the Firefox update you just installed — so for Firefox 3.6 you would change it to "3.6.*".

Step 5. Once you’ve made this change, save and close the file, then move the folder back to its original location in your profile extensions directory.

Step 6. Restart Firefox once again to re-install the extension, and it will now accept what you specified as the latest supported build.

You can now continue using the extension until a proper update is available.


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