[Go Faster] Do we want system add-ons to update without restarting?

Kev Needham kneedham at mozilla.com
Fri Sep 25 22:37:03 UTC 2015

Is there any reasonable way for us to make a call on what addons can be 
installed without a restart? If there are "safe" updates, it'd be good 
to know if they can be marked as such and applied at download. I don't 
want to add complexidy, and lean towards option 1., because of the 
minimal amount of user friction and cleanliness of it. I'm also 
wondering how good we are at idle detection, although I suspect that's 
gloriously difficult given how many sites maintain connections without 
user intervention.


On 2015-09-25 5:55 PM, Dave Townsend wrote:
> Support for updating system add-ons has landed in nightly (it isn't
> turned on yet but that is just a pref flip) but for the moment it still
> requires a restart to activate the new add-ons.
> We need to think about whether activating new versions without a runtime
> is something we want and if so whether we need some UI to allow the user
> to control when it happens. The problem is that at the moment the update
> process happens randomly during runtime. Imagine for a second that
> Firefox Hello is a system add-on and you're in the middle of a call to a
> friend when the update check finds an updated Firefox Hello. What
> happens next?
> For regular Firefox add-ons we just deactivate the old and activate the
> new. Presumably this would make the Firefox Hello call end abruptly,
> that's assuming it has been written well enough to do that when deactivated.
> Other choices include:
> 1. Leaving updates till after a restart, basically what a user is used
> to anyway.
> 2. Giving the user the choice of when to apply the updates, perhaps with
> some UI explaining what features might be interrupted. I'm not sure
> there are a lot of benefits to this above a restart.
> 3. Giving the add-on an API to delay updating. This makes the update
> code quite complicated and in a bad case might stop updates entirely.
> I'm leaning towards requiring a restart for now, it is the safest option
> and means we would need less QA around releasing new system add-ons
> since you wouldn't need to test updating with Firefox in various
> different states.
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