Software Update

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* Updates from builds dated 20051003 to 20051005 were broken ([ Bug 311099]). Download and install the latest nightly from here: [ Firefox pre 1.5 builds], [ Firefox trunk], [ Thunderbird pre 1.5 builds], [ Thunderbird trunk]. Reset the Updater by deleting <tt><install dir>/active-update.xml</tt> and <tt><install dir>/updates/</tt>. * Updates from builds dated 20051003 to 20051005 were broken ([ Bug 311099]). Download and install the latest nightly from here: [ Firefox pre 1.5 builds], [ Firefox trunk], [ Thunderbird pre 1.5 builds], [ Thunderbird trunk]. Reset the Updater by deleting <tt><install dir>/active-update.xml</tt> and <tt><install dir>/updates/</tt>.

Revision as of 22:46, 22 October 2005

Since the Deer Park Alpha 2 releases, Firefox and Thunderbird have had a new software update mechanism which can generally update between different versions of the application just by downloading a few hundred kilobytes of data rather than the 5MB that the installer requires.


Performing an update

After an update has been detected, or if you choose "Check for Updates..." from the Help menu, follow the on-screen instructions to download the update if necessary. Although the application will need to restart to apply the update, you don't have to restart immediately. (If you do, be warned that unless you have the SessionSaver extension or something similar installed then you will lose all your open tabs.) On restart, the update will be applied with a progress bar showing progress, and then the application will start with the new version.

There is currently a bug (feature?) where the products cannot download and install multiple updates. If you are receiving updates to every nightly (see update channels below) and you miss a couple of days, you may find you need to update a number of times until you reach the current version (Bug 306864).

Configuring Software Update

Software update is configured by via Tools -> Options -> Advanced -> Update for Windows applications. See Menu_differences_in_Windows,_Linux,_and_Mac for other platforms.

Advanced Configuration

Update URLs

Early in the testing cycle of the new software update, testers were required to enter a special update url into the preference app.update.url. This is no longer the case and in fact now that preference is almost ignored. Only the setting from the file firefox.js (or thunderbird.js) in the installation directory is used. This is so the application always uses the same updates regardless of what user profile you are running with.

Update Channels

Updates can be retrieved from a number of different update channels. This determines what kind of updates you will receive. Currently there are only a few update channels:

  • nightly: The nightly channel allows you to update to every nightly that is released. There are nightly channels for the trunk, and the Mozilla1.8 branch (leading to 1.5).
  • beta: The beta channel lets you receive every beta/release candidate/release version of the product (e.g. Firefox 1.5 beta 1, Firefox 1.5 RC 1, Firefox 1.5, etc.).
  • release: This release channel will provide stable release versions, including security updates (e.g. Firefox 1.5, 1.5.1 etc.). Not in use until 1.5 is released.
  • default: This channel is used when there is no channel information, for example if you build Firefox or Thunderbird yourself. There are no updates on this channel.

The installer/zip/tar file that you last used to install Firefox or Thunderbird determines what update channel you start on. It does this by installing the file channel-prefs.js into <install folder>\defaults\pref. To check which channel you are on, look in about:config at Note that to change channel you cannot simply change the preference in about:config. Instead, you can use the Update Channel Changer extension (go to Help -> Check for Updates -> Change Update Channel). Alternatively, you can edit the channel-prefs.js file.

Common Problems

All channels

  • The updater may offer a version of 1.4.x when you are expecting 1.5. This is because the application uses a different version internally for extensions and themes. For example, Firefox 1.5b1 is 1.4 for extensions, while 1.5b2 is 1.4.1. The full release of 1.5 will be also be 1.5 for extensions.
  • If you tried to change channel by editing channel-prefs.js and there is no pref in about:config, or it has not changed, then channel-prefs.js needs fixing. Either install the Update Channel Changer, or open <install dir>\defaults\pref\channel-prefs.js in a text editor like Notepad, making sure that it has this two lines like this (for the nightly channel):
//@line 2 "/cygdrive/c/builds/tinderbox/Fx-Mozilla1.8/WINNT_5.2_Depend/mozilla/browser/app/profile/channel-prefs.js"
pref("", "nightly");
Only the // on the first line is important because it is a comment. If the value in about:config has still not changed, then right click and reset the preference - this removes the profile value that is masking the application one.

Beta channel

  • Firefox 1.5b2 was not offered by the beta channel at the same time as the initial announcements, only the usual installers were available from the FTP & web servers. The update is now available.
  • Automatic checking for updates was broken in 1.5b1, use Help -> Check for updates to check manually (Bug 309784).
  • A bug in the Linux installer means that updates from 1.5b1 to 1.5b2 will be complete 8 MB updates rather than incremental ones (Bug 308575). This issue does not affect the simple archives.

Nightly channel

General problems:

  • Nightly updates only advance the application by one day, instead of jumping to the latest nightly. Partly this is a bug (306864), but incremental updates from all available builds to the latest would be prohibitively complicated for the update server. If you are behind, then use Help -> Check for Updates repeatedly, or get the latest nightly from the links below.
  • You may be offered an update to version 1.0+ due to incorrect labelling of the update (Bug 305261). This problem occurs when:
    • you are updating a nightly build too soon after the next nightly is available - it takes some time to generate the partial update (and fix the version), so click the Later button when offered 1.0+ if you have a slow internet connection,
    • you are updating an hourly build - only a complete update will be provided so continue with the download.
  • If you install a nightly but never find an update then you may be on the beta channel. Nightly builds from 20051004 to 20051018 were set to the beta channel for 1.5b2, and will soon revert to that for the 1.5 Release Candidate (RC) due on 20051028. To get nightly updates you will need to change to the nightly channel as described above.

Problems with specific builds:

  • Automatic checking for updates was broken in nightly builds before 20051005. Use Help -> Check for updates (Bug 309784).
  • The updater didn't reliably keep a log of the most recent update until 20051007 for trunk nightly builds and 20051011 for pre-1.5 nightlies (Bug 311531). The log can be found at <install dir>/updates/last-update.log