26 May 2011

Geek Tip: Making ElasticFox Work in Firefox 4.0.x

Like many other programming geeks out there, I sometimes have an Amazon EC2 instance running and like to use the ElasticFox add-on for Firefox to manage my EC2 instance. Unfortunately, the recent update to Firefox 4.0.1 marked the add-on incompatible, so I did not update it for about a week, hoping an update would come through for it. Unfortunately, no update for it ever did surface, so I was forced to look for a way to override Firefox and allow it to load the add-on.
There are multiple ways to forcing Firefox to load add-ons that were not designed for newer versions, one of the ways I found was the ability to turn of compatibility checking in Firefox altogether. I do not recommend this method, as automatic updates for Firefox may change something, and without proper compatibility checking, may render Firefox unusable. I personally haven't used as I prefer the alternate method addressed below, but for those who want to through caution to the wind, here is what you do to disable all compatibility checking:
  1. Open a new tab and type "about:config" (without quotes).
  2. After confirming that you won't muck about, in the Filter field at the top, enter "extensions.checkCompatibility" (without quotes). If there isn't an entry for it, right-click and select New > Boolean with the same name and set its value to "false". If it does exist, make sure its value is "false", using the right-click > Toggle item to change its state.
  3. Right-click in the list and select New > Boolean and give it the name "extensions.checkCompatibility.4.0" (without quotes) and set its value to "false" as well. If the value already exists, make sure you set its value to "false".
  4. Restart Firefox.
Now, the other way I found and recommend was to force a specific plugin to function is to modify the meta information for the add-on itself so that it appears to be compatible to Firefox. First, make sure Firefox is closed. Then, on Windows, open Start > Run (or on Windows Vista/7, just type this into the Start menu search bar): "%APPDATA%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles". A new Explorer window should appear with a single folder named something like ".default". Open this folder, then go to the "Extensions" folder. Now, here we need to search for the add-on we need to modify. To save time, we'll stick with ElasticFox and go to the folder named "{2204c510-88f3-11db-b606-0800200c9a66}". Open the "install.rdf" file using Notepad. Using the search function, find "maxVersion". Change the value from "4.0" to "4.0.*" (without quotes). Save and close the file, then restart Firefox. The add-on should now work in every update for Firefox 4.0.
Please be aware that these do not guarantee that an older add-on will work with newer versions of Firefox. But I hope this helps someone else besides myself as I know its been a little painful being asked to update every time I start Firefox but not doing the upgrade because of seemingly incompatible plugins.

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