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Tuning Firefox Quantum

Firefox Quantum (aka the current Firefox as of 2018) is a good browser but it has also a dark side. It is pre-fetching content, it's contacting all kinds of servers on the internet and it can easily overwhelm older computers or low bandwidth internet connections.

I love older Thinkpads because of the ergonomics. The trackpoint and the keyboards of those machines are second to none. To get firefox to work well on those machines I change the following. The settings apply to Firefox version 60 and up. In future some of those features in Firefox might change and I do not plan to update this article but it will give you some ideas even in a few years down the road as to where to look.

All of my settings are done in "about:config". Yes, it is OK to accept that waring:
about config

Firefox on modern high dpi displays, tiny font, strange look

Must have addons for Firefox

It is increasingly important to defend yourself against blinking advertisement and other annoying things when you read an otherwise interesting document. Add blockers are too heavy weight and they need to update and download blocklists all the time. Here are two addons that to a pretty good job on most pages and they are generic.

Firefox, plugin disabled, May 2019 bug

There is a rather embarrassing bug related to the expiry date of the certificate used by mozilla to sign plugins. A lot of plugins got disabled in May 2019 because somebody at mozilla was asleep at the wheel.

You can read about it here: https://blog.mozilla.org/addons/2019/05/04/update-regarding-add-ons-in-firefox/ and here: https://hacks.mozilla.org/2019/05/technical-details-on-the-recent-firefox-add-on-outage/.

A simple fix that works for a number of firefox versions is to set the parameter xpinstall.signatures.required to false.

Update 2020-07-12: Firefox, disable checks for updates

As of firefox 7x you will need to create a policies.json file in the install directory of firefox within a subdirectory called distribution. This file must contain:
"policies": {
"DisableAppUpdate": true 

You installed firefox in the directory /opt/firefox-76.0.1 (the firefox binary is then /opt/firefox-76.0.1/firefox-bin ).
  1. create a directory called distribution: mkdir /opt/firefox-76.0.1/distribution
  2. go to that directory and create the file policies.json with the above content:
    cd /opt/firefox-76.0.1/distribution
    vi policies.json
  3. restart the browser

You can check if your browser understood the policy by typing about:policies in the URL bar.

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