Search Support

Avoid support scams. We will never ask you to call or text a phone number or share personal information. Please report suspicious activity using the “Report Abuse” option.

Learn More

Will there be better options to use unsigned addons on a stable branch aside from ESR and third-party forks?

  • 10 replies
  • 3 have this problem
  • 20 views
  • Last reply by nclw

more options

Edit: Unbranded Firefox installers still exist. See my final reply to find out how to access them.

With unbranded builds (https://wiki.mozilla.org/Add-ons/Extension_Signing#Unbranded_Builds) now lacking a proper installer, making it increasingly difficult to maintain, I would like to know if there are or will be better ways to continue using unsigned addons on a stable Firefox browser.

I work on a few addons that I use daily and keep installed while I fine-tune them (sometimes over a dozen times throughout a day). Installing unsigned addons is also convenient when I want to install modified versions of official ones.

While updates are infrequent, it is still becoming more and more of a hassle. Auto-update does not seem to work and the last time I used it, my installation updated to a normal branded Mozilla Firefox. With Developer Edition and Nightly, it irritates me when features I depend on break -- forcing me to reinstall old builds and disable updates while monitoring for a fix. I am also reluctant to revert to ESR (remaking my profile) or switch to a third-party fork because I am currently content with the speed at which Firefox is improving.

Edit: Unbranded Firefox installers still exist. See my final reply to find out how to access them. With unbranded builds (https://wiki.mozilla.org/Add-ons/Extension_Signing#Unbranded_Builds) now lacking a proper installer, making it increasingly difficult to maintain, I would like to know if there are or will be better ways to continue using unsigned addons on a stable Firefox browser. I work on a few addons that I use daily and keep installed while I fine-tune them (sometimes over a dozen times throughout a day). Installing unsigned addons is also convenient when I want to install modified versions of official ones. While updates are infrequent, it is still becoming more and more of a hassle. Auto-update does not seem to work and the last time I used it, my installation updated to a normal branded Mozilla Firefox. With Developer Edition and Nightly, it irritates me when features I depend on break -- forcing me to reinstall old builds and disable updates while monitoring for a fix. I am also reluctant to revert to ESR (remaking my profile) or switch to a third-party fork because I am currently content with the speed at which Firefox is improving.

Modified by nclw

Chosen solution

"Will there be better options to use unsigned addons on a stable branch aside from ESR and third-party forks?"

No, uusigned add-ons will never be allowed on the Release channel.

The ESR channel won't allow unsigned add-ons as of Firefox 59.0 ESR which is slated for release on 03-06-2018;, and as of Firefox 59.3 0n 06-26 the ESR 52.8 users will be automatically updated.

Beyond that, the unbranded build is the only version from Mozilla, besides the Nightly channel that will allow unsigned extensions.

Are you aware that Mozilla will "sign" private extensions and send them back to you signed; no need to post them to the AMO website for other people to use.

Read this answer in context 👍 1

All Replies (10)

more options

Check this out https://www.waterfoxproject.org/ Waterfox - Official Site

more options

FredMcD said

Check this out https://www.waterfoxproject.org/ Waterfox - Official Site

Indeed, Waterfox is one of the more promising alternatives.

I gave it a try a few weeks ago but from what I can gather, the fork is set to deviate from mainstream Firefox by a fair bit because it intends to maintain legacy extension support -- something I do not care about because I have already painstakingly rewritten all of mine. The project founder described this future version as a "'new' browser."

This is not set in stone yet but it does not sound like what I want moving forward starting with 57 (Quantum).

more options

Chosen Solution

"Will there be better options to use unsigned addons on a stable branch aside from ESR and third-party forks?"

No, uusigned add-ons will never be allowed on the Release channel.

The ESR channel won't allow unsigned add-ons as of Firefox 59.0 ESR which is slated for release on 03-06-2018;, and as of Firefox 59.3 0n 06-26 the ESR 52.8 users will be automatically updated.

Beyond that, the unbranded build is the only version from Mozilla, besides the Nightly channel that will allow unsigned extensions.

Are you aware that Mozilla will "sign" private extensions and send them back to you signed; no need to post them to the AMO website for other people to use.

more options

If you have rewritten your extensions using the WebExtensions API, you can get them signed as unlisted extensions and run them in regular releases.

https://developer.mozilla.org/Add-ons/Distribution#Self-distributed_(unlisted)_versions

more options

Also, during debugging, you can do a temporary load in the Developer Edition. Extensions loaded this way are not reloaded at the next startup, so it's not a replacement for either getting them signed or using a workaround.

https://developer.mozilla.org/docs/Tools/about:debugging#Loading_a_temporary_add-on

It might be cleanest to create a separate profile for debugging to avoid an add-on ID conflict.

more options

Note that you can load temporary extensions (WebExtension) for the current session via the about:debugging page.

more options

Thanks for all the responses. I was not aware that ESR will eventually drop the ability to use unsigned addons so that option is now ruled out. I have experimented with loading temporary addons through the debugging interface as well as submitting unlisted addons in the past.

The source of my problem is that I am using these addons in production (with the need to preserve settings/storage) while I continue to develop them on and off. I do not want to keep a separate profile/installation. If I switch over to mainstream Firefox, there will be some overhead to submit for signing for every modification I make. This whole thing is about convenience and stability.

If there will not be something akin to a stable Developer Edition, I am leaning towards adopting the npm web-ext module for its sign command or automating the signing process myself.

more options

Hmm, you may want to consult other extension developers for workflow suggestions. There's a forum for that over here:

https://discourse.mozilla.org/c/add-ons/development

more options

jscher2000 said

Hmm, you may want to consult other extension developers for workflow suggestions. There's a forum for that over here: https://discourse.mozilla.org/c/add-ons/development

Thanks, I will look into that forum.

jscher2000 said

It might be cleanest to create a separate profile for debugging to avoid an add-on ID conflict.

I already sandbox my entire browser with Sandboxie when I develop so I can install over old builds and test for breakage.

more options

An update for those who may wish to continue using unbranded builds...

While lurking on bugzilla, I came across a developer's comment that hinted there are still Windows installers with builds managed on taskcluster. To access them, take the link to each zip from https://wiki.mozilla.org/Add-ons/Extension_Signing#Unbranded_Builds and change the end of the path from /build/target.zip to /build/install/sea/target.installer.exe.

I am not sure why they are not exposing them.