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Firefox disables Add-ons (extensions) if system clock is off

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c627627

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Post Posted March 13th, 2018, 10:57 pm

In their wisdom, the creators of Toshiba Laptop Satellite C55 have the system clock get its power from the laptop battery ONLY [there is no CMOS battery inside], which means the clock resets every time your laptop runs out of battery power or if you remove the battery.

If your system clock is significantly out of date, the very latest version of Firefox ESR (and possibly Firefox non-ESR itself) spits out an error message about how some of the Add-ons "cannot be verified" and are therefore now disabled.

Since I have a backup of my profile I tried this a few times with same results.
I then fixed the clock and deleted the profile and restored a backed up version of it once again, only this time the error did not come back and extensions were not disabled - conclusively proving that for some reason, the system clock affects whether your extensions get disabled.

The only other unusual thing about this is that I reimaged the entire system with an image from two months ago onto a new SSD drive. So starting Firefox for the first time caused all this to happen.


Have you heard of any connection between correct system time and Firefox disabling extensions?
This happened on Fx ESR 52.6.0 and then I updated to 52.7.0 with the same problem, then I fixed the clock, and the problem could not be repeated any more. Nothing else was done, just the system clock was way off, and then fixed.
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James
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Post Posted March 13th, 2018, 11:32 pm

Not sure if related. There are some extensions that do have date bombs put in by the author that will disable the extension at a certain set date. This can happen if the extensions does not get a update either user not keeping the extension updated or the author not providing a new update before the date. The Theme Font & Size Changer extension has or had this as people got the extension disabled back on January 5th due to the date bomb.

c627627

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Post Posted March 13th, 2018, 11:38 pm

Hm. That makes sense, thanks. So rather than "Firefox" disabling them, it is extensions themselves that have a time related deactivation mechanism?
In this case the system clock was reset to be way in the past, but nevertheless, I could see how a big time discrepancy can trigger this because of extension developers.

So out of curiosity, if I did not have my profile backed up, would those extensions have stayed disabled permanently after being deactivated?
Open the pod bay doors, Cortana.

morat
 
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Post Posted March 14th, 2018, 7:31 am

You could try renaming a profile file so Firefox starts a new one before deleting the profile.

I'm not sure which file causes the problem.

e.g. addons.json, addonStartup.json.lz4, extensions.json

More info (see chosen solution on how to rename a profile file)
http://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/1040604

Files in profile folder
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Profile_folde ... efox#Files

Brummelchen
 
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Post Posted March 14th, 2018, 7:49 am

firefox check each startup (min once a day) the integrity of extension where the has is bound to a certificate and certs are bound to time. if you start up firefox before the clock has been set right - bad luck, try again :P
(on the other hand you have firefox auto-started or you dont care as a maintenance service which is awful for your reputation...) :roll:

c627627

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Post Posted March 14th, 2018, 8:30 am

4 or 5 extensions were disabled. My questions are about how things work, I no longer have this problem because I of course had a Profile backup.
Simply deleting the Profile and replacing it with a backup (after updating the system clock) is the solution.


But my question to you is this: If you did not have a Profile backup, would those extensions be disabled permanently just because you opened Firefox with system clock not being set?
Open the pod bay doors, Cortana.

dickvl

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Post Posted March 14th, 2018, 10:42 am

If it is the clock then it should be sufficient to delete extensions.json after you have corrected the time.
You may have to delete compatibility.ini as well.
I don't know if there are prefs in prefs.js that might have a wrong time stamp and cause issues.

c627627

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Post Posted March 14th, 2018, 11:43 am

I tried to replicate the problem on my desktop Windows 8, just to experiment with this.
Windows allowed me to go back to 1980 but not before that.
Setting it to 1980 immediately prevented ANY web page from loading in any browser. But extensions were not affected.

When I set the clock correct, I still had problems and it actually took me a full computer reboot / router reset to get reconnected, so system clock being way off appears to be a serious thing with browsers.


If I ever see extensions disabled due to a complete motherboard clock reset, I will save that profile just to experiment, thanks for suggestions.
Open the pod bay doors, Cortana.

dickvl

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Post Posted March 14th, 2018, 5:00 pm

A secure connection relies on the clock being correct to make sure that certificates are valid (valid from and valid until dates) and not revoked.
If your clock is off that much then you can be certain that the certificates aren't valid.

Brummelchen
 
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Post Posted March 15th, 2018, 9:54 am

I don't know if there are prefs in prefs.js that might have a wrong time stamp and cause issues.

there are and some are critical.

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