Current software requires current software

A few years ago I got rambling obscenity laden hate mail because Flagfox didn’t support a version of Firefox that ran on Windows 98SE anymore. There is a select group of people out there that don’t grasp that software running in software running in software would depend on other updates in its updates. No, sorry, I cannot support an operating system older than people capable of hacking it.

In order to get Flagfox updating without Firefox restarts (as well as fix some other issues) I need to support a minimum of Firefox 17. This is two Mozilla Extended Support Releases back; the current ESR is Firefox 24.

Around 2013, Mozilla stopped supporting Windows 2000 and Mac OS X 10.5. (see here for OS support table) At some point the line has to be drawn, and that’s where it ended up. Firefox 17+ just isn’t going to run on OSes that old. Honestly, supporting an operating system for 13 years is kind of astonishing if you think about it. They really do give massive leeway here, but it can’t be forever.

Mozilla also dropped support for old versions of Windows XP around the same time, however these users can simply update to Windows XP SP3 which is likely to be supported for quite some time. Windows 2003 is in a similar situation; update to at least SP1. You should be able to use the normal Windows Update system to do this.

What to do with old computers?

First, the lecture: If you are running an operating system that is no longer supported with security updates you are a danger to yourself and others. If this is your fault, you will not get sympathy from me. Yes, you might be forced to buy a new computer or upgrade your OS yourself, but that’s better than adding to the population of hacked machines used for criminal activities. If it’s not your fault because the computer in question is a company computer, it’s time to gather your coworkers to petition your employer about unsafe working conditions. (computer/network maintenance negligence is not a joke)

If you do have control over the computer in question it’s probably time to upgrade. You generally have the option of installing a newer version of Windows / Mac OS X, installing Linux (e.g. Ubuntu), or buying a new computer. This is just a generic tech support recommendation, however. Do not email me asking for help updating your computer.

If you are running Mac OS X 10.5 on PowerPC hardware, you unfortunately have fewer options. There is a fork of Firefox ESR for PPC called TenFourFox that might be an option for you. (I cannot stress how much emphasis I put on the word “might” here) If you get this working, please contact me as I would really like to know how well this works for you. Updating your OS is not an option as Apple abandoned this old CPU architecture shortly after your hardware was made and they don’t provide new OS versions for it anymore. Linux also might be an option for you. Sadly, with Apple, they really just want you to buy a new computer.

Please don’t send me angry emails about how horrible it is that your old box doesn’t work with anything new anymore. We live in an era of rapid technological advancement and you’re just going to have to deal with the simple fact that new stuff will depend on new stuff in order to work.

To answer the obvious question, no, I will not be putting out branch updates for the old 4.2.x version either. I’m not entirely against this concept, however the Mozilla Add-ons site/system doesn’t really support this in any practical way.

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