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How can I prevent the about:privatebrowsing page at startup?

  • 13 replies
  • 1 has this problem
  • Last reply by cor-el

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I am having a difficult time with this web site, and have already tried to submit this question. But I was told it was rejected. So I will try one more time.

I am running Firefox 65.0.1 in Linux Mint 19.1 on a Dell Optiplex desktop PC.

I have Firefox configured to always open in private mode: browser.privatebrowsing.autostart=true

I also have it configured to show my homepage at startup:

However, when I launch Firefox, I am presented with the "about:privatebrowsing" page, and my homepage is nowhere to be found.

Is there someway I can keep Firefox from showing the "about:privatebrowsing" page, and instead show me my homepage?

Thanks for any guidance you can provide!

All Replies (13)

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That internal page is standard now when Firefox is opened into permanent private browsing mode (PB). That was instituted when the "Mask" for PB was removed for permanent PB mode; IOW, the user has selected that PB mode be on all the time.

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Thanks very much for taking time to help me.

Yes, I am aware that the about:privatebrowsing page is launched because I have configured FF to always open in private mode. As I said earlier, I purposely use browser.privatebrowsing.autostart=true because I do want to always browse privately. Also, I use so that I can immediately get my home seach page at each startup.

Unfortunately, FF now launches with the about:privatebrowsing page instead of the homepage I requested.

Now, that would be fine if I could tell it to stop doing so. After all, I KNOW I have configured FF to ALWAYS launch in private mode. So my question remains: Is there any way to make FF stop showing the about:privatebrowsing page at startup? Perhaps there is some sort of script I can use/create?

I realize this is a minor annoyance, but it is one that occurs many times per day, and would therefore be nice to eliminate if possible.

By way of feedback: I liked the mask much better. It was always there to check, if I wanted to make sure I was private browsing; yet it was out of the way, and it did not interfere with my choice of startup page.

Thanks, again for you support. Please let me know if there is any way (however complicated) to make FF stop showing the about:privatebrowsing page instead of my chosen startup page.

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No I don't have any suggestions, but why are you using Private Browsing all the time. What is your perceived advantage to always using Firefox in PB mode?

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I have a very small SSD for my system drive, and lots of applications installed. Therefore, I have a rather modest amount of overprovisioning.

Running my browsers in private mode eliminates most of the writing they do to the SSD. For example, cache is written to memory, of which I have plenty. There is nothing I need from the browser that I cannot get in private mode. Therefore, it is an easy decision to run in private mode.

Firefox makes this especially convenient by offering the browser.privatebrowsing.autostart setting. Unfortunately, that now causes FF to ignore my choice of startup page (my home page), and presents me with the about:privatebrowsing page, which I have no use for.

I love the granular nature of the settings in FF. That's what makes it my favorite browser, by far. So it's a bit ironic that there is no way to suppress this about:privatebrowsing page. Normally, when a browser presents that type of generic page, there is a check box that says "Don't show this page anymore at startup." But, alas, no such luck this time.

Once again, thanks for your input. If you don't think there is a workaround, I can save myself the time and effort of looking for one.

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Private mode will not improve performance with SSD. And running private mode will have sites blocking access if the cookie aren't accepted. So PB is only for limited purpose and not for everyday usage. I have a small NVMe drive and have no issue with firefox and even before I had small HDD and SSD in past and have no issue with firefox. There is no work around what you trying to do isn't going to change. I think there is more to the problem here were not hearing but then again failure to follow good computer browser usage is a user problem.

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You can relocate the profile folder to another drive to prevent Firefox from writing to the SSD drive.

Use the Profile Manager to create a new profile and use the "Choose Folder" button to browse to a folder that is to be used as the profile folder. You need to create a new dedicated folder to be used for the profile folder onbeforehand. You should never select a folder that already stores other files.

See this article about how to copy your personal data to this new profile.

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Thank you, WestEnd, for your advice. I am always grateful when people take time to help me in optimizing my computer systems. I am a professional researcher in physics and materials science, and gathering information via the internet is something I do on a daily basis, sometimes for hours at a sitting. I have therefore carefully tested various browsers, their configurations, and all manner of security and efficiency metrics. I have found that running Firefox in private mode, with predictive and most other extra services turned off, and with HTTPSEverywhere and uMatrix extensions, I have excellent performance and granular control over security on a site-by-site basis. I have been running in private mode for at least five years, and have had no problems with cookies or any other web-page feature. I rely on uMatrix for my content filtering, as it provides both blacklisting and dynamic content blocking. If a page does get broken, I can decide whether or not to relax any of the filtering rules in uMatrix.

I agree wholeheartedly that Firefox, per se, is not going to harm my SSD. I hope I did not imply that I was worried about that. I am merely aware that there is no point in making lots of small writes to the SSD, when I know I am never going to use the data in those small writes. That would be like running my car up and down the driveway for 15 minutes everyday. It wouldn't ruin the car, just add a little bit more wear without any benefit to me. So why do it?

I also agree with you that "failure to follow good computer browser usage is a user problem." And I appreciate your words of caution. The practice I have been following for many years has served me very well, and I make a point of looking for improvements every now and then. Thanks, again, for taking time to offer your perspective and advice. It will help keep me looking for ways to improve my practices.

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Thank you, cor-el, for your kind advice. I have actually considered whether I should move my profile to my internal HDD. I periodically run various Linux system tools to track I/O usage, and have found that I am writing rather little to my Firefox profile. I suppose this is because I am not using session store. It appears that only an occasional bookmark is getting sent to the profile. So I haven't bothered moving the profile to this point. There is much more concern about caching, which I have redirected to memory.

But hey, things change! Perhaps something new will arise with the way I do my work, or with the way Firefox operates. So I will continue to periodically monitor disk I/O. If I see some incentive arise for moving the profile, I will be able to follow your kind suggestions, as I have cut them from your posting and pasted them into my CherryTree notebook.

Thanks, again, for taking time to offer the friendly advice. I hope I can reciprocate sometime.

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If you use Private Browsing mode then the disk cache is disabled. If you would use regular mode then you will notice a lot of writes to the cache folder that is in another location. If you would move the profile then the secondary location used for temporary files is moved to the main profile folder (i.e. only one location is used).

Location used for the main profile that keeps your personal data in "AppData\Roaming" (Root Directory on about:profiles).

  • C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<profile>\
  • ~/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/<profile>/

Location used for the disk cache and other temporary files in "AppData\Local" (Local Directory on about:profiles).

  • C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Local\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<profile>\
  • ~/Library/Caches/Firefox/Profiles/
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Yes, I have read that particular description of Private Browsing, along with a number of more-technical articles on the subject. I have also experimented extensively with private browsing, not only in Firefox, but also with Chromium-based browsers. I have paid particular attention to what is stored in memory, what is written to disk, where exactly it is written to the file system, cpu usage, and so on. I have a variety of handy Linux I/O tools that are very helpful with this.

Frankly, the only persistent storage I want includes my preferences, my bookmarks, and my downloads. If I want to save a session, I store it as a bookmark.

Everything has been running very smoothly for me for years, so I do not seem to have broken anything.

The only difficulty I am having at the moment is a minor annoyance, which is the fact FF will not launch my chosen startup page. Instead, I get the about:privatebrowsing page. Apparently there is no way to disable that. This is not a huge deal. I think I will simply change


to false, and rely on my desktop launcher to start FF in private mode when I need to manually open an instance.

This takes me back, though, to the problem that FF will launch in normal mode if I click on an http(s) link or an html file. I'm going to see if I can write a small routine to circumvent that inconvenience.

For what it's worth, I think the little mask icon was a lot better way to remind the user he is in private mode. It doesn't interfere with anything else, and is always there if you want to check.

Again, thanks for taking time to help and advise. Although I have put a good deal of time into configuring and running FF to best suit my work, I'm sure there is room for improvement, especially as conditions change. So your support is gratefully acknowledged.

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Thanks, again, to cor-el for the additional suggestions. Your ideas follow along with my own, so that adds to my confidence.

As noted earlier, I have configured FF to write very little to persistent storage, saving only those few items I will actually USE, such as bookmarks, FF settings, extension settings, and downloads. My monitoring shows that these don't write enough (even in terms of the dreaded small, frequent writes) to justify moving the profile to the HDD.

As you noted, private browsing blocks disk caching, which is what I prefer. I also have configured to block disk caching regardless of browsing mode. I let the cache(s) go to memory.

I like the ideas you suggested, and I will add them to my notebook. If conditions change, I just may need them sometime soon. Thanks, again!

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Persistent local storage doesn't work as well and some websites might complain about this and refuse to work.