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Firefox 12 Released — Introduces Silent, Chrome-like Updater 411

MrSeb writes "Firefox 12 has been officially released, with only one major new feature: A silent, background updater. Now you will have to approve the Firefox Software Updater when you first install Firefox, but after that the browser will update silently — just like Chrome. In other news, the Find feature now reliably centers the page on any matches — hooray!" Here are the release notes, the list of bug fixes, and the download page.
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Firefox 12 Released — Introduces Silent, Chrome-like Updater

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  • What's best (Score:4, Insightful)

    by black6host ( 469985 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @02:43PM (#39785523)

    I suppose if you believe Mozilla knows what's best for us then this is a good thing. If you don't........

    • Re:What's best (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:02PM (#39785855)

      Yes, lets get Firefox to work and look just like chrome. I mean it isn't like chrome is freely available for many different platforms, and running of an open compliant based engine.

      The reason why I don't care for Firefox lately, and IE. Is because they are just copying what chrome is doing. If that is the case they are just copying chrome, I might as well use chrome, and that is what I do.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Chrome, as far as I've been aware, doesn't have a flash video downloader app. It's pretty much the single most used extension I use in Firefox. I find it odd because Chrome has every other extension I use, and Firefox has a good half-dozen flash downloaders.

        Even with it, I wouldn't change over just because it's the thing to do. Firefox would have to change considerably for the worse, or Chrome would have to become das uber-browser.

        • Re:What's best (Score:5, Informative)

          by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @04:14PM (#39787037) Journal

          There is a MUCH better tool out there than those downloader apps for FF, it isn't free but it works on just about every site, even those that the FF plugins choke or refuse to see. its called Jaksta Streaming Video Capture [] and the nice thing is it isn't tied to ANY browser, so it only runs when YOU are wanting to capture instead of adding bloat to the browser. its quite nice.

          But as other have said FF has become a pale Chrome imitation and if I wanted Chrome I'd fricking run Chrome! I personally gave up around version 7 for Comodo Dragon [] which is Chrome without the phone home, because while i still have FF installed and try it with each release frankly it runs like shit on both my nettop and my netbook. Hell even on my hexacore it will have what I call "senior moments" where the UI will just freeze for a few seconds, not enough to make me kill the program but just enough to piss me off. With the Dragon even on a 2004 Sempron its responsive and snappy and when I close tabs I get the memory back which FF has yet to master.

          So while I keep hanging onto this vain hope that Firefox will come back, I have a feeling the glory days of FF are behind it. You can't be #1 just by badly aping someone else and that is what IE and FF have been doing, playing follow the leader with Chrome. Frankly I don't know what they did between 3.6 and 5 but whatever they did was a doozy as I can't run it on low power devices like my netbook without it bitchslapping the cores and sucking down the battery like a drunk at a free minibar. If you are gonna rip off Chrome FF devs, how about ripping off its lack of CPU slamming and nice use of resources huh?

      • by Errtu76 ( 776778 )

        Yeah, I get what you mean. And the only reason why I haven't switched over to Chrome is because I kind of like vimperator, which doesn't exist for Chrome. Or at least, not in the way vimperator for Firefox operates.

      • Re:What's best (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Kierthos ( 225954 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @04:01PM (#39786823) Homepage

        What's ironic, is that I don't use Chrome simply because it won't let me put the different tabs below the address bar WHERE THEY BLOODY WELL BELONG. (You know, like practically every other browser does.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Malc ( 1751 )

        Yes it would be great if the Mozilla team would copy one of the useful features of Chrome: multi-process browsing. I'm sick and tired of the monolithic Firefox process consuming vast gobs of memory and excessive CPU that means my laptop's fan is constantly kicking (and probably shortening it's life through overheating), and giving me no way to manage it other than constantly closing the browser. I've seen it behaving poorly on several computers, so I doubt it's anything to do with an individual installati

        • Just a note: w3schools is a terrible site and furthermore, it's statistics are not from the web at larger but only from their site, which is obviously very biased towards webdevs. More reasonable samples like those from StatCounter show that IE is still the most used browser [], although extrapolating the switch seems near.

      • Re:What's best (Score:4, Interesting)

        by kangsterizer ( 1698322 ) on Wednesday April 25, 2012 @01:14AM (#39791543)

        A: Firefox doesnt do silent updates, IT SUX I SWITCH TO CHROME I hate dialogs!

        Weeks later:

        B: OMG Firefox does silent updates like Chrome PFF WHY NOT USE CHROME THEN!

        Well, sounds rather dumb.

      • by Eraesr ( 1629799 )
        As long as Chrome doesn't allow me to disable local cache like I can in FireFox, it's useless to me. I hate having to do 5 clicks to clear the cache every time I've made some changes to a stylesheet or JavaScript file.
    • Re:What's best (Score:4, Insightful)

      by EyelessFade ( 618151 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:22PM (#39786225) Homepage
      You don't allow them to update? I'm sorry but I really can't find anything to be upset about here.
    • Re:What's best (Score:5, Insightful)

      by characterZer0 ( 138196 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:47PM (#39786615)

      If the user you run your browser as has write access to the browser installation, Mozilla probably does know better than you.

  • Now I won't have to go 10 rounds with the wife to keep the ff on her mac up to date.

    • by arcite ( 661011 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @02:58PM (#39785801)
      I could do a few rounds with her for you.
    • Re:Finally (Score:4, Interesting)

      by uigrad_2000 ( 398500 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:05PM (#39785917) Homepage Journal

      Updates... overrated. When the update gives you nothing that you desired, and breaks all your addons, it's extremely annoying.

      When v4 came out, I didn't see anything worthwhile in the update list, and decided to not update again until there was. Of course, I would never do this if I didn't also run noscript.

      I updated from v3.5 to v11 just 2 weeks ago, so that I could get SPDY support. I don't anticipate updating again until v20+.

      • Re:Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

        by medlefsen ( 995255 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:15PM (#39786089)

        I don't give a crap about new features and I haven't had plugin issues in a very very long time. I just want bug/security fixes and the latest standards support. Speed improvements are certainly welcome though.

        For something as important as a web browser the updates have to be automatic and in the background. Most users are so afraid of doing anything to their computer they never install updates and then we end up with a bunch of vulnerable web users (who are also holding back newer web features).

        Yes, it does require a bit more care on the part of the vendor to make sure they don't automatically break everyone's computer but that is a necessary risk.

        • Re:Finally (Score:4, Insightful)

          by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:28PM (#39786309)

          >>>Yes, it does require a bit more care on the part of the vendor to make sure they don't automatically break everyone's computer but that is a necessary risk.

          So instead of worrying a virus might sneak-in and break my machine (that's happened like twice in 10 years), instead I have to worry that the developer will do it for me (which seems to happen a lot). No. Thanks.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by medlefsen ( 995255 )

            I mean, you can do what you want obviously but your logic is terrible. Firefox updates don't actually break computers (at worst they could break the browser causing you to... use a different one for the few hours before the fix comes out) and people really do get viruses which really do break their computers or, in the more likely case, turn their computers into bots and steal their financial information.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by hairyfeet ( 841228 )

              Define "break computers" because if you mean "makes the computer unusable" then yes it does, which is why I switched to Comodo Dragon. You see what I found is that starting with FF V5 the CPU spikes would literally make the entire PC unresponsive, at least with some of the low power machines i have to support. Its a browser guys, a minute plus 100% CPU spikes is simply unacceptable, maybe they did something that makes the compiler not like AMD, as I don't seem to notice this problem being QUITE as bad on P4

        • Re:Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:53PM (#39786721)

          Yes, it does require a bit more care on the part of the vendor to make sure they don't automatically break everyone's computer but that is a necessary risk.

          Which means there is absolutely no way Mozilla should be doing this. They've proven reliably that they can not be trusted to release an update that doesn't break massive amounts of stuff people care about because of their own ignorant engineering and 'I'm right your wrong' management morons. Yes, I'm talking to you Asa. They are doing exactly what drove them bankrupt the last 2 times they've failed.

          No intelligent person wants a Mozilla auto-update so they can wake up tomorrow with a browser that looks different just because one fuck inside Mozilla thinks X group of users don't matter ... ignoring the fact that he just said the majority of his user base doesn't matter.

          If you haven't had plugin issues in a very long time then you don't use plugins or your definition of 'long time' is done on swatch time or something stupid as the rest of the world regularly complains about Mozilla stupidity with plugins, yes, even after all the crap they did to auto-patch plugins.

          Its mind blowing that you think Mozilla is in any way qualified to do auto updates for anything, thats a really dumb thing to allow them to do.

          • Re:Finally (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @05:52PM (#39788207)

            No intelligent person wants a Mozilla auto-update so they can wake up tomorrow with a browser that looks different just because one fuck inside Mozilla thinks X group of users don't matter ... ignoring the fact that he just said the majority of his user base doesn't matter.

            It's not just Mozilla doing this these days, it's lots of software projects. Linux users have been complaining about Unity and Gnome3 for quite some time now, and Google is now forcing a crappy new UI on its Gmail users. For a long time, Gmail users could opt out and stick with the old UI, but I got switched about a week ago with no way to switch back. There is a Chrome extension that looks like it might fix it, but it doesn't work on Chromium/Linux at the moment.

            Basically, it seems like a lot of software developers (or their managers) are trying to justify their existence by constantly coming up with unnecessary and downright bad user-interface changes, and forcing it on their users in the name of "progress", even though there's no actual evidence that their new UIs are better, and instead lots of users complain, with great specificity, about how much worse they are.

        • Re:Finally (Score:5, Informative)

          by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @04:25PM (#39787173) Journal
          Then what you want is Firefox Extended Support Release [] or ESR which is just that, bug fixes and security updates. It will be supported until FF 17 which at the rate they are going will be about a year, maybe a year and a half.
      • I've been using the same addons since Firefox 3.x and they all still work in Firefox 11. Which addons are you using that break with every new release?

        • Re:Finally (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Loether ( 769074 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @04:27PM (#39787185) Homepage

          As someone with a very basic understanding of plugins (we have a custom toolbar we roll out with internal apps and links) I can tell you it is an issue. As an add-on developer you have to build into the toolbar "this add-on is good for FF versions x through y" that is in an xml file required for the toolbar to run. So you as a developer have 2 options you can say that your toolbar will work with version 1 through 999999 and just hope that a firefox update really doesn't ever break your add-on OR you can update it with every release ensuring that it works with the new version and require your users / (admins in corp environment) to update the add-on every time. Both of the above options have there drawbacks.

          My major issue with the firefox team is that they changed the rules in the middle of the game. It used to be that if I put this add-on will work with this new version it would be good for about a year. Now I need to add in 6 weeks per version so if i want it to be good for a year I divide 52 weeks by 6 week major upgrade cycle and add 8.6~9 to the version number for it to work for about a year. All of this is assuming Mozilla doesn't change there major release version system again. If they decide to go back to the old way then my add-on will last for 9 years and will almost certainly be broken by a release at some point along the way.

      • Re:Finally (Score:5, Funny)

        by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:52PM (#39786703)

        I updated from v3.5 to v11 just 2 weeks ago, so that I could get SPDY support. I don't anticipate updating again until v20+.

        See you in November!

    • Re:Finally (Score:5, Informative)

      by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:15PM (#39786083)

      Now I won't have to go 10 rounds with the wife to keep the ff on her mac up to date.

      Alternatively, you could just move her to Firefox Extended Support Release [], which is what I did at home as soon as it was available. She'll still get the security patches, but won't get overloaded by all the pointless monthly "updates for the sake of updating".

  • Find (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @02:46PM (#39785565)

    I'm very happy to hear about the find feature properly centring. It irks me when I search for something and then have to look over an entire page of text trying to figure out were on the page the key word is. This will save me a lot of time in the long run.

  • Gahhh!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @02:47PM (#39785585)

    We already can't use chrome where I work due to the difficulty of wrangling then push updates. Bussinesses can't tolerate the lack of control of external root access to their computers. Even without root access pushed updates are a bussiness intelligence leak vector. while one can cabble work arounds to this, assuring thaey are intact on every computer is a hassle.

    There is of course a raging debate if it's better to be up to date by default or to manage the bussiness approved updates. One can see benefits from both.

    What would really help here is some third party paid seal of approval that bussinesses could contract to be the gate keeper on vetting third party updates.

  • User control (Score:5, Insightful)

    by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @02:48PM (#39785613) Homepage

    As long as I can opt-out of the silent updates, I see no problem with this. The quicker we can get users to update, the better. Developers, on the other hand, need stability and control.

    • Re:User control (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SpaceWiz ( 54904 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @02:58PM (#39785789)

      As long as I can opt-out of the silent updates, I see no problem with this. The quicker we can get users to update, the better. Developers, on the other hand, need stability and control.

      So your end users are running a version or three ahead of you? Typically the developers are ahead of the end users not the other way around...

  • i use root (superuser) in an xterm to install it, then how is firefox going to update itself without my root password?
    it can not do it, thats fine with me because i dont want firefox or any other application or part of my OS updating itself without my knowledge
    • by lindi ( 634828 )
      It can just inject characters to that xterm? :-)
    • by Idbar ( 1034346 )
      Al least on my upgrade information it says this is a Windows feature. Do you use xterm and root accounts on your Windows system?
    • Oh thats ok, it will just install those files and do a chmod 666/777 on the files that needs to be updated, during the install process. You are perfectly safe, it will be able to update itself without the root password just fine.
      The other option is when you install it, it runs daemon process as root that will check for updates and install itself.

      Oh by the way because you installed it as root, any security flaw in the daemon process could effect you computer... Good for you.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        He said INSTALL as root, not RUN as root. It can do none of the things you claimed if it is INSTALLED as root but RUN as an unprivileged user. Note, installing means untaring the tarball somewhere.

        The result is binaries owned by root that cannot be overwritten as a non-root user unless root chooses to change the permissions.

    • by Jonner ( 189691 )

      The silent, automatic updates only work on systems lacking decent package management (Windows and OSX), just like Chrome.

  • Good, two birds with one stone...
    1. People 'forgetting' to install updates and leaving themselves open to vulnerabilities.
    2. People complaining about the version numbers, as the version number is now something you should only encounter when you go looking for it.

    I do wonder what security issues will pop up with this background service that has some privileges to deal with the installation, rather than Chrome's method of s/appdata/programfiles/, though.

    However, the 'search result gets displayed in center' is

  • by USA-Libertarian ( 1290208 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @02:57PM (#39785779)
    Firefox was unique because it gave control to the user with their add-ons. It's my computer. I won't tolerate software that changes without my permission.
    • Ok cool, so you've unchecked the "Automatically install updates" option and everyone's happy again?

    • I thought they lost their focus when Firefox started being as big-and-bulky as the original Netscape Communicator. It was originally split-off to be a basic browser that didn't eat-up a lot of RAM or CPU time. At least Netscape Communicator (renamed Mozilla seaMonkey) included an email client, usenet reader, HTML editor, and other functions. Ditto Opera. But firefox takes-up the same bulk but with none of the extras.

    • by tibman ( 623933 )

      You should change the setting to prompt on update then?

  • by Necroman ( 61604 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @02:59PM (#39785815)

    Accord to their feature site [], the auto-update is windows only?

    Windows: Firefox is now easier to update with one less prompt (User Account Control)

    So it's not really auto-update, just makes it a little nicer/easier for windows users.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      No, that just makes it an exploit target now. What idiot possibly thought that a program running with service-level permissions that bypasses UAC was a good idea?

  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @02:59PM (#39785817)

    but after that the browser will update silently - just like Chrome.

    Chrome installs the browser into the user's folder in order to silence the UAC controls.

    Firefox is continuing to install in the protected system area, without the benefit of the UAC warnings, bypassing any Windows security.

    Will Firefox now become a new attack vector for exploits?

    The developers said this move was in response to the complaints about the flurry of versions being released. But I have to say, I'd rather have fewer versions released than to have a new security exploit vector installed.

    • Wow that is stupid; it's the windows-equivalent of giving Mozilla corporation root access. Who's in charge of this project? The new firefox Lead should be fired and bring back the old one.

    • by Dogers ( 446369 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @04:05PM (#39786877)

      Actually, Chrome also installs a service which runs as LOCAL SYSTEM, just like Firefox now has. Local system is higher than administrator, it's kernel level, for all intents and purposes.

      If someone breaks the Chrome service, then it's just as bad as breaking the Firefox service..

    • by jlebar ( 1904578 )

      Firefox is continuing to install in the protected system area, without the benefit of the UAC warnings, bypassing any Windows security.

      On the other hand, we could install into the user's home directory, and then any unprivileged program could modify the Firefox binary, bypassing any Windows security.

  • by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:02PM (#39785853)

    Firefox simplifies the update process for Windows users by removing the user account control dialog (UAC) pop-up while maintaining the security of your system. Once a user gives explicit permission to Firefox on their first installation, they will not be prompted again for subsequent releases.

    yeah, nothing could possibly go wrong with having a service running that never prompts the user when it is doing something. Lazy devs strike again.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:27PM (#39786303)

      Speaking of lazy devs, from the linked release notes []:

      Known Issues

      Windows: The use of Microsoft's System Restore functionality shortly after updating Firefox may prevent future updates (see 730285 [])

      Apparently not only does something already go wrong, it can prevent your from ever being able to update Firefox again! (Without deleting your current profile, reinstalling won't work!)

      But who cares, according to the calendar, it's release time NOW!

    • by Tom ( 822 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @03:38PM (#39786481) Homepage Journal

      The problem is not the possible compromise - that is just as true for the current way of updates.

      The problem is the automation and speed. Right now, if someone were to compromise the updater and install some malware, some people would update quickly, some not so quickly, some would wait or don't use their browser/computer every day, etc.

      A compromise would probably be found, the update pulled and the problem fixed before the majority of users did the update.

      Not so with a push service. Compromise that and boom, instant botnet. By the time the issue is discovered, you'd already have millions of compromised machines.

  • Borken Plugins (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Great, now our plugins will break and we won't know what to blame.

  • by jlebar ( 1904578 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @04:08PM (#39786935) Homepage

    You can disable auto-updates, regardless of whether or not you're running the extended support version.

    Preferences -> Advanced -> Update.

    You can also download every version of Firefox we've ever released here []. We have no interest in forcing users to run the latest version.

  • I use FF on Mac OS X. It's been steadily becoming one of the worst browsers for the platform, performance-wise, but certain plugins still cause me to use it as my primary browser.

    FF has always been shaky about remembering which monitor it should be on, but if I kept it there once I got it to open on the right monitor, it would at least always open where I left it. Well, in FF12, they have added this fantastic feature where all new windows open up on the primary monitor. Hooray! This should really increase my productivity. It might seem minor, but it's not minor to me.

    Alright, that's annoying, but I decided to upgrade on day 0 of the release. My mistake assuming that they would stick with random interface changes, and not break lower-level functionality. I'll just roll back the browser. Fired up Time Machine, and I rolled back to the previous installation. Now, FF randomly hangs on various pages for up to a minute. Maybe the profile is hosed? Rolled that back, too. No, still hangs. Also tried starting in "safe" mode - it still hangs.

    So, this isn't necessarily FF fault, maybe the rollback was corrupted. I'll just download FF11 and reinstall it. Except, since it's no longer the latest-and-greatest, it's not available. I couldn't find it without manually editing the FF12 link to point to 11.0.

    Firefox, I don't know how much longer I can bother dragging your sorry carcass around with me. Your 3D transforms are so slow they are often unusable and the rapid update cycle is starting to cause real issues. Of course, I can't forget the random interface changes like removing favicons from the URL bar [], because the interface is so terrible you can't tell the favicon from a security marker. I've now got almost as many interface hacks (via Stylish and plugins) as I do normal plugins.

    I don't know what the solution is for FF, but I keep getting my hopes up, and keep getting more frustrated.

    Note: I know that this might be only my computer. I don't have a lot of time or energy to set up another multi-monitor system, upgrade FF to FF12, and try it out. Since FF is one of the only applications I use that has multimon issues (besides a few random utilities), I have to assume it's something wrong with FF.

  • by oDDmON oUT ( 231200 ) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @04:54PM (#39787585)

    As of today 3.6 will no longer receive any security updates. So all of you netbook/low power users need to find an alternative, or bite the bullet.

"Everyone's head is a cheap movie show." -- Jeff G. Bone