Bill P. Godfrey et al


Sunday, April 23, 2006

(Not) Updating Firefox

If anyone who knows me personally is running Windows XP and had been taking my advice, they would have...
  1. Created two user accounts, an admin user and a limited user.
  2. Be using the limited user account day to day, only using the admin account when needed.
  3. Be using an up-to-date version of Firefox, or maybe Opera, instead of Internet Explorer.
I recommend using limited accounts day-to-day because if you got hit with a virus or something, the damage would be limited to just that user account. You could go back in as admin, save any data files and finally nuke the old account from orbit.

Being up-to-date is also important. As I write this, the latest version of Firefox is version 1.5.0.2, released on the 13th of April. This is because version 1.5.0.1 has bugs.

That was 10 days ago, and I've only just updated it. Yes, Mr Paranoid Security man left his browser un-updated for ten days! Only three more signs of the apocalypse to go.

Firefox has an auto-update facility, so when a new version comes out, users are informed and invited to download and install the new version. You can even use the Check for Updates option under the Help menu. (Help? I'd have gone for the Tools menu. Never mind.)

So what went wrong?

Time was that when Firefox detected an update, it would offer to download it and run it. If you'd be running as limited user, the installer would complain saying that it has to be run as an administrator. So you'd then log in as adminstrator and download it all again.

To fix the problem, the update facility is disabled when used as a limited user.



Since I rarely use the Admin user, I didn't spot the update until I was reminded to check when I read a news article on the topic.

Fortunately, the Mozilla people who produce Firefox know about the problem. In the meantime, if you use Firefox, this would be a good opportunity to check which version you are running. Select About Mozilla Firefox under the Help menu.

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