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updates turned off, but it still checks, and pops an unwanted dialog


I am running an automated task to visit known (friendly) websites on a cron job (in Linux). It is absolutely essential that firefox NOT pop ANY unwanted dialogs, as this brings the whole thing to a grinding halt.

I have switched off ALL updates using the edit/preferences dialog, and additionally switched off a number other such obnoxious-looking things using about:config.

Yet it still insists on popping a window that says "Select Your Add-ons." I don't know why, since I have never seen it before. I have a screen shot of the unwanted dialog, but don't see any way to upload it as part of this question.

To standard out, it sends this:

      • LOG addons.manager: Application has been upgraded
      • LOG addons.xpi: startup
      • LOG addons.xpi: checkForChanges
      • LOG addons.xpi-utils: Opening database
      • LOG addons.xpi-utils: Migrating data from schema 12
      • LOG addons.xpi-utils: Opening database
      • LOG addons.xpi-utils: Creating database schema

. . . and so on.

I search for some of these things (e.g. addons.manager) in about:config, but in vain.

How did it decide the "Application" has been upgraded? I have ALL UPDATES TURNED OFF!!!

How can I get it to stop, and never EVER try to update or pop any unwanted dialogs?


 -= miles =-

Additional System Details

Installed Plug-ins

  • Mime Type x-skype for Skype Buttons
  • Shockwave Flash 11.0 r1
  • Gecko Media Player 1.0.4Video Player Plug-in for QuickTime, RealPlayer and Windows Media Player streams using MPlayer
  • The next generation Java plug-in for Mozilla browsers.


  • User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:13.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/13.0.1

More Information

Question owner

here is the unwanted dialog.

Question owner

And another unwanted dialog. Guys, I REALLY don't want all this help. It creates a nasty problem for me.

Give me a way to just let the bloody browser start.

finitarry 157 solutions 2178 answers

You can disable automatic updates. I did that for the application itself, for the search plugins, and for add-ons. The settings are in the about:config window.

app.update.auto = false
app.update.enabled = false
app.update.silent = false
browser.search.update = false
extensions.update.autoUpdateDefault = false
extensions.update.autoUpdateEnabled = false

I also disabled microsummary updates.

browser.microsummary.updateGenerators = false

Question owner

The upper ones were already switched to false. I don't seem to have the browser.microsummary one.

I am not sure what app.update.silent means, but by default it's false. That leads me to believe that switching it to true could make the browser "more silent" by getting rid of a notification. Are these options documented anywhere?

So no, this doesn't fix it.


 -= miles =-

Question owner

I think turning browser.safebrowsing.enabled to false helped get rid of the second obnoxious dialog.

Question owner

I'm guessing that part of the problem is that it's running as a cron tab, so firefox must be checking some environment variable that tells it to run whatever it's doing to pop the obstructive dialog. I have no idea what it might be checking, though.

  • Top 10 Contributor
  • Moderator
10760 solutions 96842 answers

The first screenshot seems to be related to extensions that are no longer considered installed.
This can be caused by using the profile with another Firefox version (compatibility.ini) or extensions.ini or prefs.js not getting saved properly.

See also:

Are you forcing Firefox to close as the second screenshot may be about Firefox thins that it had crashed?

Question owner

Yes, if firefox misbehaves (i.e. doesn't close within a timeout period), the application that called it forces firefox to close. (When I invoke firefox, I am giving command line args that tell it to run a plugin, after which it should close.)

I had browser.sessionstore.resume_from_crash set to false when I got this window. Notice that it is not trying to RESTORE my session, but to start up in safe mode.

I'll take a look at the add-on-scope page. I think that's the problem causing the first window, since with the bizarre environment cron is running it in, it probably gets confused. However, it does correctly identify the default profile and thus it should know where the add-on directory is, and realize that the add-ons have been installed.

Question owner

Another clue: this worked fine when I was using FF 3.0.13 (from 2009), but broke when I upgraded to 13.0.1.

I would upgrade more often, but keeping up to date with undocumented changes to the mozilla API is difficult and time-consuming.

So somewhere between 3.0.13 and 13.0.1 something was added to make it do this unwanted add-on check. I have looked at the mike kaply page, but I find it very confusing. For one thing, he doesn't seem to explain exactly what the numbers signify (5,10,15) except in those specific cases.

I wish I could just make it turn off that check and go back to the way it was in 3.0.13.

  • Top 10 Contributor
  • Moderator
10760 solutions 96842 answers

You can't disable installing extensions from the default profile, so best is to use a profile without any extensions installed in it for this purpose.

Question owner

Um, the point is that I need the extension. So I can't use a profile without any extensions in it. I may have confused you when I said 'plugin' earlier, but I meant 'extension.' I find the distinction between these two terms confusing, and yes I do know the difference.

So here is what I notice:

if I put the line:

0 * * * * <command>

in the crontab, it fails. However, if I put:

0 * * * * bash -l -c <command>

in the crontab, it works. The -l tells bash to run it as a login shell, hence to set all the environment variables that would ordinarily get set. In an ordinary cron environment, only very few get set. (listed below)

My conclusion is that firefox is relying on some environment variable that only gets set in the login shell, but doesn't get set if you run it straight from cron.

Here are the variables that get set from cron. This set is probably missing whatever firefox is relying on to think that it shouldn't pop the annoying dialog:

  • HOME='/home/username'
  • IFS='
  • LANG='en_US.UTF-8'
  • LOGNAME='username'
  • OPTIND='1'
  • PATH='/usr/bin:/bin'
  • PPID='2558'
  • PS1='$ '
  • PS2='> '
  • PS4='+ '
  • PWD='/home/username'
  • SHELL='/bin/sh'

I would list all of the variables that DO get set when you say -l, but it's very long. Too long to go through one by one to try to figure out what is the key. Or maybe there is something else about the login shell that firefox is depending on?

So I've got it working for now, but who knows what will happen if I upgrade? How many more hours will I have to waste chasing down a way to turn off some "helpful" behavior?


 -= miles =-

Modified by mlzarathustra