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firefox plug-in check kills starstable plug-in. Why?

  • 18 replies
  • 7 have this problem
  • Last reply by oldrobcat

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I have 4 similar PCs running Win XP Home SP3 and firefox. On one the StarStableOnline plug-in never seemed to run properly, it always re-installed the whole game at every log-in. Runs fine then, after waiting 35 minutes to start, though. One other PC started the same mis-behaviour after a few days, and one ran OK for 2-3 weeks but stopped last Monday 17th Feb. The 4th and last one has run OK since 20th November, so far anyway.

The SSO coding team can't explain this problem, it's very rare, they say, but I have it 3 times now on 3 PCs. The plug-ins are the same version,, just different download/install dates, and I've cross-copied plug-in files and re-installed from scratch twice, all with no effect.

On 16th Feb Firefox, at start-up, did an automatic plug-in check on the latest failed PC. That seemed to cause the problem. Nothing else on that PC had changed, no new S/W and no apps run for first time. The plug-in wasn't disabled or updated, as far as I can tell.

Is there any known problem with Firefox auto-update or Mozilla Maintenance Service and Win XP ?

I have found some firefox/crash reports/pending .. files dated the 17th Feb. These might explain more. But why are they pending? and where should I send them?

Chosen solution

Final thoughts on this. Bug remains after WinXP re-installed, so it must be copied from the previous settings when the XP install creates the new user accounts. It's probably a %default% string in "documents and setings" that gets overwritten and then doesn't parse properly in SSO although other parsers manage it OK. Maybe a space too few or too many? Just a guess.

Now using Chrome, no further problems two months on.

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All Replies (18)

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I think to submit pending crash reports, you can click the crash IDs.

I'm not sure I understand the significance of reinstalling the game. Is it supposed to be stored locally? Is it saved as a Flash LSO?

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Hi jsher.

The game is installed locally, 443MB of game object in one folder. I've been talking to the plug-in coder who tells me that the plug-in downloads as follows:

Patching sequence: 1. Downloading latest file dictionary. 2. Validate files against dictionary. 3. Download invalid or missing files.

Plug-in uses standard windows get file date/size function.

This all runs fine, but after the updates are downloaded 100% the plug-in seems to get a further report that no files exist or this is a first install so it continues to download the whole 433 MB again, takes 35 mins to log in before you can play.

The plug-in coder has no idea why, says it's a very rare bug. Yet I have 3 out of 4 similar PCs with it. Seems to be peculiar to the WinXP Home SP3 and Firefox combination only.

Been chasing this bug for months. Have re-installed both game and Firefox without removing it. Only a full partition delete and re-install of system gets it going again.

The PCs run the game for a few days or weeks before the plug-in fails. Last failure was on 17th Feb, which coincided with a Firefox crash. I remember a pop-up that day saying Firefox was checking for outdated plug-ins, so that's the current suspect for culprit. The plug-in was unchanged, but I downloaded it again just in case. No effect.

Firefox latest 27.0.1 was successfully installed on 15th Feb, and game ran OK on 16th.

Seems like Firefox checks the plug-in, doesn't flag it bad, but denies access in some way to XP functions, causing the plug-in to mis-behave.

Any ideas?

And the pending crash reports (3 files:- .dmp, browser.dmp and .extra) do nothing with either mouse click. How do I submit them?

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After the plug-in gets checked by Firefox, the game has the same fail behaviour in both IE8 and Chrome, so it's an XP or registry problem, probably caused by Mozilla Maintenance or Firefox.

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For Firefox crash reports, try using the links on the about:crashes page. More info in this support article: "Troubleshoot Firefox crashes (closing or quitting unexpectedly)" (especially the last section).

IE8 uses a different plugin technology (ActiveX) than Firefox (NSAPI). However, if all of your browsers share the same installation on disk, perhaps the installation is getting corrupted by the updating. Is there any way to avoid running the update, or do all 3 browsers already have a problem at the time Firefox says you need to update?

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Hello again.

Tried to follow the crash reporting as given in the support article, but the right-click link to crash-stats.mozilla gets a "page not found" response. Doesn't work as described in the article.

As all 3 browsers have different plug-in structures, and after Firefox has killed the game it works in none of the browsers, even after fresh downloads and full re-installs for each browser, the problem must lie with WinXP and the permissions or keys the game needs.

I suspect the plug-in check does something to XP so the game can never run properly again. The game doesn't need the registry, so it has to be a security issue where XP is denying the game a response to a DLL call or key check.

If Firefox doesn't recognize a plug-in, but still allows it to run, what security measures does it take?

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The crash report seems to have never reached Mozilla, I did a search for that day using the report code "" with no result.

Maybe that was why it was in the "/crash reports/pending" folder? Although "about:crashes" shows it as submitted, not pending therefore.

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I should distinguish between updates to Plugins and updates to Extensions. When you install a program update, Firefox checks the extensions for compatibility and may automatically update them (or suggest that you check for updates).

The plugin check page, on the other hand, is just an ordinary web page that examines the information your browser provides about plugins, compares it to a list of known plugins and available updates, and displays the results. No changes occur on your system unless/until you initiate them by downloading an update from its source.

It seems you have both an extension and a plugin related to this game, so perhaps updating the extension also updated the plugin?? I'm not sure how it's designed to work.

If the extension is purely an installer for the plugin, you might want to disable the extension to prevent auto-updating through Firefox. You could do that on the Add-ons page. Either:

  • Ctrl+Shift+a
  • orange Firefox button (or Tools menu) > Add-ons

In the left column, click Extensions. Then you should be able to find the Disable button.

Leave the plugin set to "Always Activate" or "Ask to Activate" (as you prefer) since that is required for using the site.

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Have SSO showing as both extn and plug-in. Disabled the extn, but the plug-in then disappeared. Game wanted to re-install from scratch.

Re-enabled the extn, plug-in reappeared. Turned off extn auto-updates. The "check for updates" link appeared but was a void. Turned on auto-updates, reloaded the plug-in (todays date, but same version as always). Reloaded the whole game again. Start game and it runs, log off then log in again, game reloads recent updates again (which is normal), then reloads whole object library (which is not normal).

The trigger for failure isn't the plug-in check page, it was a flash screen on Firefox start-up the day the game failed and Firefox crashed. I presume it was a scheduled check by Mozilla Maintenance Service. How it relates to the crash and the game abnormality and whether all 3 events are connected is the problem to solve first. Nothing else uncommon occurred that day on the PC

I've compared all files between a working and a failing PC, no errors. The 3 failed ones never recover, even with game and Firefox removed and re-installed. The only remedy that works is full re-install of Windows - again! And then it only runs for a week or two before Mozilla Maintenance wrecks it all again, so it seems.

What does the Maintenance Service do?

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The maintenance service runs at a different privilege level so that when you update Firefox, you do not have to interact with the UAC dialog. The updates themselves are the same. Feel free to turn it off.

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Happily turn MMS off. Doesn't solve my problem though, too late. It did a plug-in check on the 17th, found a VLC plug-in which it disabled as vulnerable, left the SSO plug-in seemingly untouched. I've updated the VLC one. But since then the SSO game behaves strangely.

MMS must have interfered with the operating system in some way. Any ideas as to how?

If I can't solve this it means a wipe disk and full re-build, takes days. I'll never touch Mozilla again, though.

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When MMS disabled the vulnerable VLC plug-in, what did it do? maybe the reason I still have one PC working OK is that it hasn't ever had a plug-in disabled. Can't be sure about that, but the MMS is still alive on that PC so either it has never run or it has never disabled anything.

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MMS has nothing to do with plugins. As noted above, it is used for program updates.

Firefox regularly downloads a block list and uses that list to disable vulnerable or malicious plugins. If the SSO plugin was on the block list, you would know, and they would know, so I don't think that is related to the problem, either.

Have you considered a possible firewall issue? Some firewalls control which programs can access the internet, and updates can cause them not to be recognized (or to be blocked on the theory that they have become corrupted by malware).

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don't use a firewall or virus protection on this computer, so can't be that. Use a dedicated PC for sensitive stuff.

As the 3 browsers use different plug-in types, problem can't be the plug-in. It's the game that's crippled. Yet it runs on 250,000 other PCs OK. By elimination between my 4 PCs the suspect is the Firefox "block" system. Is there any way it could accidentally block other apps when blocking an outdated plug-in? Does it use the registry?

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Firefox's block list only affects the plugin's status in Firefox. That status can be changed from "Always Activate" to "Ask to Activate" (soft block) or "Never Activate" (hard block). You can see this change on the Add-ons page. Other browsers would not be affected at all.

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complete mystery then. Looks like I'll have to re-install Windows.

Anyone else got any ideas?

Is there any way of checking the history of what happened on the 17th Feb, apart from the plug-in check?

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Is there a way to cleanly uninstall the game including all files and registry entries and then reinstall it in another way, i.e., not through Firefox?

Were you able to get any of the links on the about:crashes page to work?

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about:crashes didn't work, couldn't submit pending reports. Search of submitted reports didn't show anything relevant for that day.

Clean install: Removed all trace of the game and firefox and mozilla, did a system restore to 14th Feb (game worked then). Downloaded Chrome, re-installed game. STILL didn't work. In fact after install I ran the game, logged out, logged in again and it re-installed the whole object library TWICE.

I give up. It's probably not a firefox problem, but nothing else unusual happened that day.

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Chosen Solution

Final thoughts on this. Bug remains after WinXP re-installed, so it must be copied from the previous settings when the XP install creates the new user accounts. It's probably a %default% string in "documents and setings" that gets overwritten and then doesn't parse properly in SSO although other parsers manage it OK. Maybe a space too few or too many? Just a guess.

Now using Chrome, no further problems two months on.