Firefox 3.0.1 Update Broke My Add-Ons
I received the notice this morning that Firefox 3.0.1 was available for download, so I went ahead and installed the update, knowing that it had some security fixes in it. What I did not realize was that it would break all of my add-ons in the process of updating so that I was left with a vanilla 3.0.1 browser, no add-ons, no themes, nothing else when I restarted.
I quickly hit Basil’s Blog looking for answers, but could not quite believe what he was saying. He was telling me that the reason ALL of my add-ons and themes were not working was because of authors not declaring their compatibility range correctly? I was not buying that, as I use quite a few add-ons for web development and other aesthetics, and I could not fathom how every single one of them would have incorrectly stated their compatibility range “2.0 to 3.0” instead of “2.0 to 3.0.*”.
There was, of course, a quick way of confirming whether or not this was indeed the problem with my add-ons – disabling the add-on compatibility check. For those of you who are not familiar with this trick, type “about:config” in Firefox’s address bar, and hit enter. Accept the warning that will appear by clicking on the “I’ll be careful, I promise!” button, and a page will display with all of Firefox’s configuration settings. Right-click anywhere on this page, and go to New –> Boolean; a “New boolean value” window will pop-up requesting a preference name. Type “extensions.checkCompatibility” and click “OK”. The box will then display the option to set this to false or true, click false and then click “OK”. A new entry should be visible in the long list of names for your new value, but this will not take effect until you restart Firefox.
Having done this, I quickly confirmed that the problem with my add-ons had nothing to do with incorrect compatibility ranges, as none of my add-ons loaded, and I still had no themes. Thinking I had a problem with my profile, I browsed to the profile directory to check things out. It did not take me long to discover I did have a problem. The extensions.ini file in my profile directory was empty (0KB in size)! It was starting to look like this was the culprit of my problem. For thoroughness, I backed up all of my extensions files and then deleted them (extensions.cache, extensions.ini, and extensions.rdf). Then I restarted Firefox again.
When Firefox loaded up this time, my theme was back and so were all of my add-ons! A quick look in the profile directory verified that all of the extensions files had been recreated. Somehow, the Firefox 3.0.1 update had messed up the extensions files in my profile, but it turns out that it is easy to remedy once you know what the problem is – delete your extensions files and restart the browser.