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Suggestion to make debugging add-on problems easier
I would like to formally suggest that Firefox keep a log on the user's computer summarizing the installs, updates, disables and deletes of add-ons and Firefox updates. This log would be accessible from the FF Help pull-down menu.
I had a problem today where Superfish WindowShopper suddenly began appearing when I surfed shopping sites.
I hadn't installed it. I couldn't find it in the add-on manager. I suspected it might have been added by one of the download accelerators I was trying out the day before, so I tried disabling them.
None of that worked.
What had happened was IE Tab Plus had updated itself and I had not made a note of that. It was IE Tab Plus that now includes WindowShopper. Uninstalling IE Tab Plus cured today's sub-problem, but not the root cause of that problem, faulty human memories.
If FF kept a log of changes to it and its add-ons that I could have looked at, I could have gone to the source of my problem much more quickly (and saved 3 hours).
It would have also saved Superfish from the bad PR of a bunch of postings in various forums asking how to remove what I mistaken thought was malware.
Please tell me where I go to formally make such a suggestion to the development team.
Modified by Keith2468
All Replies (12)
If an extensions installs another extension as a separate component then there is not much to do about. Logging won't help in such a case. If that extension would install as a separate extension in it's folder then it will appear as such in the Add-on Manager. It looks that you have to be careful with updating certain (popular) extensions.
See the Reviews of that extension: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/10909/
Modified by cor-el
Not helpful. I'm an IT professional, I know to be careful.
Don't install add-ons wouldn't be helpful either, because add-ons are one of FF's selling points.
But I think maybe you are missing how useful logs are. The log doesn't have to show the actual addition of the hidden add-on. It just has to show recent changes in the sequence they occurred.
The issue is, what can we do with the code that eliminates human error and that makes debugging easy enough a lay person can do it on their own.
Normally what you'd do as a conscientious professional with lots of time to do a proper job the proper way is keep a log manually on paper, so when someone asks, "What did you change in the system recently?" you'd be able to give a complete. Amateurs, kids and professionals in a rush seldom keep such logs.
And even conscientious professionals with lots of time can get lazy and not bother writing down that some version update automatically occurred.
An automatically generated log would help both the amateur who doesn't know to keep a log and the professional who forgets to note a seemingly minor change.
If there'd been an automatic log, I could have seen what changed recently, and gone back and disabled or undone the add-ons associated with those changes one at a time from the most recent going back.
It doesn't matter that one line of the log represents a 2-in-1 add-on. I have that one line to investigate, to tell me what is the next most recent add-on to try disabling during diagnosis.
Instead I, and people like me, have to go through half of the 30 add-ons I've got installed. All to save add a few lines of code to the add-on manager.
And this is only going to become a bigger issue with add-on developers coupling add-ons to generate advertising revenue for themselves.
Modified by Keith2468
Because the malware install occurred during an automatic update of an already installed add-on we wouldn't see each others warnings.
You see 3 people who took the time to post warnings and were caught by the same hidden adware install I was on the same day. We can only warn new people of the danger of adware laden IE Tab Plus.
Yesterday I put my warning in a Superfish WindowShopper review, so people who mysteriously found Superfish appearing would maybe see it.
3 people put out warnings. Everyone who had IE Tab Plus installed was probably affected.
Such practices will eventually give all of FF and all FF add-ons a bad name.
>If there'd been an automatic log, I could have seen what changed recently, and >gone back and disabled or undone the add-ons associated with those changes >one at a time from the most recent going back.
I know its not the complete logging you suggested, Keith, but the MR Tech Toolkit extension provides a way to sort the extensions by most recently updated. Just click the little 1/12 button in the bottom-right corner of the Extensions Manager. It's made troubleshooting easier for me. Hope this helps you until Mozilla makes the changes you want. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/421/
Sorry, I missed that you want to see a log of installed extensions and dates and version numbers of updates. Such a log exists for updates of Firefox (updates.xml) and it will indeed be easier to keep track of what has happened if such a log is also be available for installed extensions.
Firefox 4.0 will use a SQLite database file (extensions.sqlite) that also stores the installation data (installDate) and the update date (updateDate), so it should be easier to keep track of that data.
Thanks Alan, thanks Cor-el, you've both been helpful.
So the log is there, and now I know what to use to view it.
So my suggestion would involve adding a log viewer to FF that displayed the required view of extensions.sqlite, the viewer to be accessed by the FF Help pull-down menu.
That doesn't *sound* difficult, although of course once added to FF it becomes another piece that has to be maintained and tested from version to version. I think it would be worth it for the time savings for users and admins.
THANK YOU for this thread! This annoying (to state it kindly) WindowShopper was even showing up on E-Bay!
Hi I had the Superfish problem that I only became aware of only recently when I noticed that Firefox , during start up, was showing" connected to superfish " and "transferring data from superfish" and also " ajax.googlapis.com" I had no idea of how long this had been happening or how it got there , but didn't like it. so tried to track down how to get rid of it,without much success. It showed up nowhere in add ons, in the registry etc, so , in desperation , I tried the old disable Add ons trick - Bingo!!!!!!!!!!Firefox Lingo was the culprit. I can only assume that an update to this has been how it snuck in , as a hitchhiker on what could reasonably be assumed as safe. anyway, since Firefox lingo has been disabled,things seem to be back to normal. Guess which add on is going to be uninstalled?
For everybody's information: I had the Superfish price-comparison gimmick problem too -- culprit in my case was a preference check-mark in Converter 1.0.0.
Surely this Superfish thing IS malware? As far as I'm concerned, any add-on that sneaks something else in without my explicitly choosing it has no place in the Firefox world...