Why does Firefox still not have true ‘silent update’ capability? [Rant]

2013-01-19_215249

When you think of ‘silent update’ for a program, what do you imagine? For me, a silent update is an update that happens behind-the-scenes with no acknowledgement from the user; an update that happens on its own and the user either never finds out or only finds out after the update has already been applied. You know, something like what Chrome has.

You see Google Chrome has true silent updating capabilities. As new versions of Chrome are pushed out, Chrome automatically updates in the background and the user rarely ever knows Chrome has been updated. Indeed, I don’t remember that last time I ever visually saw Chrome display any sort of update message or a ‘this program has been updated’ message. Heck, I don’t even know what version of Chrome I’m on because I never see it update — it just does it on its own.

Since Mozilla started rapid releases for Firefox, it realized it needed silent updating capabilities least it annoy the crap out of its fan base with “update Firefox now” messages every six weeks. So Mozilla has been touting silent updates in Firefox since Firefox 15, claiming to have added the capability. Unfortunately, however, Mozilla hasn’t really added silent update functionality.

True, Firefox now does automatically update itself and automatically install the updates (unless you explicitly disable that functionality). However, the updates aren’t really truly silent. If you are keen, you will notice every once in a while you get some sort of ‘Firefox Update’ message telling you Firefox is being updated, forcing you to wait until the update is applied. In other words, not silent!

Interestingly enough, I noticed this doesn’t necessarily happen on every Firefox update — just some.

I don’t know what is wrong with Mozilla. Seriously Mozilla, get on your game. I know one of the reasons Chrome is able to do silent updates is because of Google Updater. Why in the world can Mozilla not implement something like Google Updater, and then give users an option to opt-out if they don’t want some sort of Mozilla Updater running in the background?

At the very least, if you cannot implement silent updates because you don’t know how, then don’t bloody claim you have added silent updates. Argggggggggggghhhhhhhhh!

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13 comments

  1. Rob (Down Under)

    Ashraf, Are you noticing that some of us are control freaks, and we like to control what is running, and when it is to run.
    And now you have written this article, and poked the sleeping bear (or woke up the sleeping dog).
    FF has read your plea, and wrote to me today to say the next release will have silent update.

  2. Hal

    I also hate silent updates, 99% of my programs I have it shut off and those that does not allow that my ZoneAlarm takes care of. Not only do I like knowing what is updating, but a lot of the newer improved programs are junk. Last thing I ever let do that was AVG and then could not revert (at the time) so now I no longer use AVG.
    SO I am very happy with having to click yes to ANY update, and like Firefox I do custom installs and uncheck the maintenance thingy. just like in adobe flash and java installers.
    like some of my friends am not too lazy to click yes or no…myself, plus do not have 10 things all fighting at once.

  3. Eric989

    I personally hate silent updates. As a slow dialup user there is nothing silent about having your internet connection speed halved(or worse) for hours while the update is downloading in the background.
    I also hate stuff like google updater. I can’t wait for the day that I have 100 silent update processes constantly running in the background phoning home to see if there is a new update every five seconds.

  4. Mike

    A downside of the auto Chrome update: a recent update deleted all of my Chrome plugins, without any notice. Had to reinstall what I was able to recall. Troubling when a program changes your system, without notice . . . flashes of computers taking over the world.

  5. Rob (Down Under)

    Regarding Chrome and it’s silent update.
    A while back my system got really slow, and the mouse pointer was freezing/stuttering.
    I eventually found some exe was running, and I deleted it.
    Last week when downloading the adobe programs I got a nearly frozen system. I suspected a virus, and had to kill my system (pull power plug). Upon restarting attempt my monitor (video output) was scrambled, and took a few attempts to get into safe mode (catch 22 when you cannot decipher the choices on the screen). To cut a long story short, it took me over 6 hours to get it running enough for me to image the drive. Next morning it got sluggish again and I went looking for the exe. This time I dug deeper to see what it was. It was F’in Google update. I killed it, and uninstalled anything that had Google in the name. That cured the freezing for a while.
    My free Avast has been nagging for a program update, and for 12 the monthly renewal. So I did both.
    Got a bit sluggish not long after, and I found Google update was running again.
    There were about 3 Google programs / plugins that obviously had been silently installed, so I uninstalled them.
    Don’t know why everyone loves Chrome so much. Is it because all those nasty menus are buried down a mineshaft, out of sight, and have to be dug for, when you need them ?

  6. Johnny G

    I for one am happy that the updates aren’t silent. When I allowed FF to update to 18.0 last week, FF started repeatedly crashing every 30 – 40 seconds. I looked online for a solution, but the only solution that finally worked was to find a copy of version 17.02 and downgrade. Had it upgraded silently to 18.0, I might not have discovered what the problem was for a while. PS: now I’m afraid to upgrade to 18.01 that FF is offering me. I’ll wait a while and see what folks on the Internet have to say.

  7. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Alan: Meh. I keep it enabled because I like the latest and greatest.
    @James: As far as I know, Chrome updates when you are not using it. That is what Google Updater is for. I may be wrong, though. All I know is I have *never* seen an update notification for Chrome.

  8. James

    “…forcing you to wait until the update is applied…” I don’t understand this part of your rant. Can you actually use Chrome WHILE it is being updated? And the only time I’ve noticed this is when I’m first opening Firefox. While it’s updating and then loading, I can do other stuff on my computer no problem.

    Personally, I like being told that it is applying an update, as I like to see that it is checking my many add-ons to make sure they work with the newly updated version. This way, if I’m doing my thing and an add-on isn’t working right, I have some heads-up that maybe it’s because it needs to be updated to fit the latest FF version.

  9. Alan

    To be fair, I’ve long since disabled automatic updates for Firefox (I’m still on version 12), because whenever a new version comes out claiming to have fixed some of the old problems, it simply introduces a host of new ones that are ‘unresolved’. So, no automatic updating for me.

    However, despite my preferences, Firefox does give me a couple of pop-ups out of nowhere each day saying ‘We recommend you update Firefox ASAP’. No. Thank you. No. Means. No.

    Great browser otherwise, but nowadays, almost as bad as nagware.