Flagfox 6.1.6 update released

Flagfox 6.1.6 for Firefox 60+ has been released and is available for update and download from AMO.

Flagfox 6.1.6 changelog:

  • IPv4 & IPv6 address location database updates for October 2018
  • Fixed error page and offline mode icons not showing correctly
  • More cleanups and optimizations

Mozilla ended support for Firefox 52 ESR a month ago and my extended support for Flagfox 5.2.x ended with it. (previous post) That said, Flagfox 5.2.11 won’t start complaining about its database being stale until near the end of the year, so for now we’re in this weird terminology grey area between end-of-support and end-of-life (which doesn’t exist for stuff which has to deal with constant security issues, namely browsers). So, if for some screwy reason you still have to use an old version of Firefox, you can still install a recent version of Flagfox that will work in it, but you really should be migrating to something not out-of-date ASAP.

A note about Geotool use via Flagfox: The way we have Geotool (the default action loaded upon clicking the Flagfox icon) currently set up, normal versions of Flagfox have normal unthrottled use allowed for a month, after which Geotool throttles use with a CAPTCHA (and asks you to update). The last Flagfox 5.2.x ESR version, 5.2.11, has been pinned for now to be allowed through without a CAPTCHA, and will most likely stay there until the end of the year. That said, nothing is set in stone, and if the server is killed via another flood of abuse, there are no promises here. Fortunately, things have been largely fine as of late.

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Flagfox 6.0.6 and 5.2.7 updates released

Flagfox 6.0.6 for Firefox 57+ has been released and is available for update and download from AMO. Flagfox 5.2.7 has also been released for Firefox 52 ESR, SeaMonkey, and Firefox forks based on older Gecko versions (or at least anything newer than Firefox 24). You can download it here.

Flagfox 6.0.6 changelog:

  • IPv4 & IPv6 address location database updates for May 2018
  • Updated Flagfox-Geotool CAPTCHA pass mechanism

Flagfox 5.2.7 changelog:

  • IPv4 & IPv6 address location database updates for May 2018
  • Updated Flagfox-Geotool CAPTCHA pass mechanism

(Same IPDB files as 6.0.x from same the build system, now updated. All other updates are exclusive to newer versions.)

The updated Flagfox-Geotool CAPTCHA pass mechanism is just a change from validating Flagfox versions to Geotool via a hash to an HMAC (a fancier hash) of the rest of the cookie. (still no user/client identifying information; no privacy policy change needed) Nobody should notice any change from this; it should just simplify maintenance of the system in the future. CAPTCHA policy is the same as it was before: the current and previous month’s Flagfox versions can use Geotool CAPTCHA-free and older versions don’t (with the current temporary exception of 5.2.3, the last 5.2.x version on AMO). Other abuse prevention mechanisms are also in place. We haven’t had too many issues as of late, so we’re hoping that people who would consider mass scraping Geotool results have just noticed it’s simpler to do it the right way and use an IP location database directly, instead of murdering Richard’s poor innocent server.

Flagfox 6.1 is still a work in progress. I’d have released a beta by now if Mozilla didn’t get rid of the beta channel on AMO. It still needs a little bit of work and testing; hopefully will be done soon. Just a reminder: Flagfox 6.1 requires Firefox 60+ (ESR).

Flagfox 5.1 released

Flagfox 5.1 is now released and available for download and update. Major changes include a switch to HTTPS for the main default actions (most others were already HTTPS), a greatly reduced installer/update size, and support for Firefox Reader Mode.

Mozilla is now signing all addons hosted on their site, but the code signer unfortunately has horrible ZIP compression for its XPI repacker, so it bloated up the prior versions’ file sizes by around 20%. The optimizations in this update compensate for that, though Mozilla has said that they would like to fix their general issue eventually as well.

Full changelog for this update:

  • IPv4 & IPv6 address location database updates for June 2015
  • IPDB files now encoded in a new compressed format, saving space & some memory
  • Locale files now JARed for better compression & simpler code sign verification
  • Updated Geotool and Whois actions to HTTPS (default flag click & middle-click)
  • Added support for Firefox 38+ Reader Mode
  • Minor flag icon set updates
  • Switched to newer “drop” event naming to maintain compatibility
  • Dropped support for Gecko 17-23 based browsers
    -> This Flagfox version supports Firefox 24+ and SeaMonkey 2.21+
    -> Recommended minimum version is Firefox 38+

Flagfox now requires a minimum of Firefox 24, however Firefox 38 or later is highly recommended. (download current Firefox here or ESR here) Current development versions are also supported.

Flag selection & update policy

With the new flag set in Flagfox 5.0, many countries/territories got updates for their flags that were long overdue. Previously, there were quite a few small regions using the flag of a colonial power because neither old icon set had a flag for them. This new set is based on the flags Wikipedia uses, so it is now as complete as can be. This also makes my response to change requests a lot simpler.

My policy has always been that I will not wade into political disputes. The flag I will show for your country/territory is the one Wikipedia uses.

I am not qualified to pick a side in the dispute over what flag should be shown for an island on the opposite side of the planet that I’ve never heard of. I thus defer to more informed experts on the matter. Win over the curators of the Wikipedia article and I will go along with what they use. If they have everything properly set up I may even be able to include updates automatically.

Note that specifically I’m referring to the main English article, not any localized versions. Also note that I will not “localize” a flag to appease different locales’ view of the world, nor will I override their decision because you don’t accept a flag as “official” but they do. Additionally, just to state what should be obvious, each country/territory gets one flag, no matter how many flags are declared/accepted for it.

No matter how passionate you are that the flag you want is the “correct” one, there are also going to be other people who want another one instead. Please understand that we do not all live in the same world. Your dispute is as alien to me as a political issue local to me is to you. I’m not going to change flags just because someone sent me an angry email written in a language I don’t read, because the response to doing so will probably be an equally angry email written in a different language I don’t read. I’m not going to pick sides in issues I’ve never even heard of.

Flagfox & Geotool: The Who and Where

Flagfox is written and maintained by Dave Garrett.

Geotool is written and maintained by Richard van der Leeden.

Flagfox has well over a million users so I guess people can be forgiven for frequently thinking that it’s a bigger project than two guys doing this all in their spare time as a hobby. I do Flagfox and Richard does Geotool, the default action you get when clicking the Flagfox icon. Richard hosts the support forums and I do the bulk of the support work on the forums and via email. We have a great working relationship but sometimes not enough working time. 😉

We also have around 40 volunteer translators via BabelZilla translating Flagfox and Geotool into over 30 languages, some of whom are wonderful people who will post updates before you can even ask and others are one-time volunteers who vanish without a trace and are replaced as needed. I manage the translation side of things, which is often like herding cats…

Flagfox and Geotool are directly connected as Geotool is Flagfox’s default action on icon click, and they are both translated together on BabelZilla, but the projects themselves are largely separate. You can use just Flagfox or just Geotool or both together.

Both Flagfox and Geotool use IP geolocation data provided for free to anyone by Maxmind. We have no direct relationship with Maxmind and do not maintain their databases.

This is all geolocation related, so as such, here’s where everything is:

  • I’m in the Philadelphia area in the United States
  • Richard is in the London area in the United Kingdom
  • Flagfox is downloaded and updated from Mozilla’s server in California (US)
  • The Geotool server is in Utah (US)
  • This blog server is in Texas (US)
  • The forums server is in England with Richard
  • Maxmind is in Massachusetts (US) and their server is in Texas (US)
  • The BabelZilla server is in Germany
  • The translators are scattered across the whole surface of the Earth

As you see, this is a bit of a global project, but whilst there’s a lot involved it all boils down to me writing a Firefox extension and a guy on the other side of the Atlantic writing a website. Sure, it’s an extension and a website with many users, but this is nonetheless still a hobby project that has gotten quite large. We’ll try our best to keep it up and free to all, but please remember that it’s all done by a couple of people in their free time when something inevitably breaks…