Bad Firefox Bug

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Posted on August 04, 2006 9:30 AM in Browsers
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

Wow. It's been quite a while since I remember seeing a really bad Firefox bug. In fact, I'm sure the last time I did, the browser wasn't named Firefox. Today, though, I stumbled upon a doozie.

I clicked on a link to a video, which happened to be a QuickTime video, and Firefox crashed. Okay, no big deal. This is bad, but not unexpected as I've seen this happen in previous iterations when trying to view Windows Media videos. In fact, the latest version of Firefox (at the time of writing), version 1.5.0.6, is actually the result of such a bug.

So what was so bad about it then? Well, when I tried to launch Firefox again, this is what I saw:

Screenshot of Firefox dialog box that says 'Firefox is already running, but is not responding.  To open a new window, you must first close the existing Firefox process, or restart your system.'

This bug is bad. Why? Because your average user has no clue how to kill a running process. Being slightly technically inclined, I knew I could hit CTRL-SHIFT-ESC, find firefox.exe in the list and click the End Process button. However, typical users will have no clue and therefore will be forced to restart their computer in order to launch Firefox again.

Wow.

Hopefully enough people have run into this (or will in the coming days/weeks) that we'll be seeing Firefox 1.5.0.7 very soon.

Comments

Tom Simpson on August 04, 2006 at 3:53 PM:

I agree that typical users might not know how easy it is to end a running process, but I just wanted to add that this is probably not something that is specific to the latest version.

In fact, since I've upgraded to 1.5.0.6, I haven't had this happen, when it "did" happen on previous versions, from time to time.

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Bernie Zimmermann on August 04, 2006 at 10:12 PM:

Actually, Tom, just to clarify, I am seeing this issue in the latest version of Firefox, version 1.5.0.6:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.8.0.6) Gecko/20060728 Firefox/1.5.0.6

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Stanford Rosenthal on August 06, 2006 at 8:31 PM:

Bernie,

I also get this on the latest version of firefox. I agree that most people would not know how to fix this problem, but I have not heard of any of my non-technical friends getting this. Maybe it is due to an extension.

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Chris on August 07, 2006 at 8:36 PM:

I use FF portable, and well it is not that stable (could be my set up).
But i have seen this happen a lot.
FF start using all the processor it can, and when u try to reload it, it errors.

The thing is, if firefox was working properly it would just open a new window, so "it" knows something is wrong. A better message would be, FF is not responding, Want to close it or wait?

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Sean on August 09, 2006 at 8:13 PM:

Seems like Mozilla could make an error like that more user friendly, by providing a second button to kill the other process.

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HeroreV on August 16, 2006 at 1:57 PM:

I've been getting this error message for ages. It's quite common when you start piling on too many extensions.

If you hide your profile folder with Hide Folders XP (Windows obviously) you'll get another crazy error message that isn't even remotely true, but that case is probably much rarer.

An irritating bug I've been getting often lately is that Firefox will not open a window when started. The process will just immediately hang. And when trying to open Firefox again new processes are created that also immediately hang.

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