1.) The end is near for modern browsers on XP and Vista
Mozilla Firefox will cease to support Windows XP, Windows XP x64 Edition and all editions of Windows Vista starting with version 53. If you’re still on 51.0.1, you’ll be provided with not just one, but two consecutive updates:
The reason for this is, that the first update just switches your update channel from “Release” to “ESR” (Extended Support Release). ESR versions are also typically present on Enterprise Linux systems like for instance RedHat Enterprise Linux 5 and 6, etc. After a quick restart, the browser will offer the real, final version for XP: Firefox 52.0 ESR.
After the update, the first thing you get to see is the notification of support ending for Windows XP and Windows Vista:
A quick check confirms it: This is now Firefox 52.0 ESR:
According to the [Mozilla foundation], security updates will be provided for XP/Vista up until September 2017, and the actual, exact EOL date will be fixed mid-2017.
After that, there will no longer be any modern browser support for XP (NT 5.1), XP x64 & Server 2003 (NT 5.2) as well as Vista and the first edition of Server 2008 (NT 6.0). That is, unless somebody provides patched builds, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen…
2.) Electrolysis / e10s
On top of that, I have reevaluated the functionality of Mozillas’ multiprocessing technology on Windows XP x64 Edition. I tried that before with some 50.x version and failed to have Firefox spawn multiple processes for multiple tabs. This is a feature that makes Firefox more crash-proof and faster as well. I’m happy to announce that it does work with Firefox 52.0 ESR though!
Of course, this is not officially supported, not on XP / XP x64, nor on Vista. So force-enabling Electrolysis can only happen at your own risk! To enable the feature, open
about:config, confirm the prompt, and then change the following properties as shown, create them manually if they don’t exist yet:
browser.tabs.remote.autostart [boolean] true browser.tabs.remote.force-enable [boolean] true extensions.e10sBlockedByAddons [boolean] false extensions.e10sBlocksEnabling [boolean] false dom.ipc.processCount [integer] 16
You need to be a bit careful with
dom.ipc.processCount however; Each Firefox process might consume hundreds of megabytes, and with that property set to
16, Firefox can spawn a total of 17 processes, 1 master process and 16 child processes (=tabs). So tune that value to something your machine can take! If you spawn to many processes on a machine with just 2GB or 4GB of memory, you might run into swapping rather quickly!
Also, you need to test this with your plugins and extensions! Not every plugin / extension will play nicely with e10s! In some cases the browser may even crash completely, or have individual tabs crash. You have been warned!
To test this, open
about:support and look for
Multiprocess Windows. Depending on how many browsers you have launched, it should show something like
1/1 (Enabled by user) or
2/2 (Enabled by user). Or, just open multiple tabs, load web sites in them (yes, you have to) and watch Firefox spawn additional processes in Task Manager:
And that’s it! Enjoy your security updates for a while longer, and then welcome Firefox into the mausoleum that is Windows XP! It might be the last browser you’ll ever use on that platform…