Bug #17114

Feature #16356: Upgrade to Tor Browser 9.0 (based on Firefox 68)

Adjust Tor Browser updates settings for 9.0

Added by intrigeri 5 months ago. Updated 5 months ago.

Target version:
Start date:
Due date:
% Done:


Feature Branch:
Type of work:
Affected tool:


See attached screenshot → I'm wondering what will happen when one starts an older Tails, before upgrading, and a new Tor Browser is available. I bet the user will be told that their Tor Browser is outdated. An update could even be attempted and fail due to AppArmor + DAC permissions. All this could make UX pretty painful around the time when we release 4.1.

I've read on that prefs to disable updates were removed from Firefox (and Thunderbird) 68.

Apparently the new way to handle this is to add a file named policies.json in the distribution folder, with content like:

   "policies": {
     "DisableAppUpdate": true

For details, see:

I expect Debian's firefox and thunderbird 68 package has done this already so we can probably steal the solution from there.

updates.png View (35.2 KB) intrigeri, 10/02/2019 09:11 AM

Related issues

Related to Tails - Bug #17159: Tor Browser displays an "Update Failed" pop-up Confirmed
Blocks Tails - Feature #16209: Core work: Foundations Team Confirmed

Associated revisions

Revision e43247dd (diff)
Added by intrigeri 5 months ago

Disable/break Tor Browser self-updates (Closes: #17114)

app.update.enabled is not supported anymore:

So for example, without this commit, an image built with Tor Browser 9.0a6
would complain that it's outdated.

Debian's Firefox passes --disable-updater to the build system,
but we can't do this as we use upstream Tor Browser builds.

So instead, let's do this:

- Point app.update.url to a non-existent place, so that new updates
cannot be found, even if Tor Browser tries to check for updates
despite our other attempts to disable that.
- Enable app.update.disabledForTesting, which is what Mozilla replaced
app.update.enabled with in their test suite.
- Disable app.update.doorhanger, so any update found despite everything else
won't be advertised in the UI.
- Disable, so that Tor Browser does not install automatically
any update it may find despite everything else.

Among those, any of the 2 first prefs should be enough, but let's play it safe.

The alternative would be to use policies.json:

… but let's try to adding another moving piece to our Tor Browser puzzle, if we
can avoid it. Besides, it's already been broken in Tor Browser:

… and I'm warry it could be broken again without anyone noticing
early enough.


#1 Updated by intrigeri 5 months ago

#2 Updated by hefee 5 months ago

  • Assignee set to hefee

#3 Updated by intrigeri 5 months ago

  • Assignee changed from hefee to intrigeri

#4 Updated by intrigeri 5 months ago

  • Status changed from Confirmed to In Progress



#5 Updated by segfault 5 months ago

On a build which has Tor Browser 9.0a6, I changed these settings in /usr/local/lib/tor-browser/browser/omni.ja:

-pref("app.update.enabled", false);
+pref("", false);
+pref("app.update.disabledForTesting", true);
+pref("app.update.doorhanger", false);
+pref("app.update.url", "");

After deleting ~/.tor-browser, Tor Browser does not display an update notification anymore and "About Tor Browser" says "Tor Browser is up to date".

#6 Updated by intrigeri 5 months ago

  • Status changed from In Progress to Resolved
  • % Done changed from 0 to 100

#7 Updated by intrigeri 5 months ago

  • Assignee deleted (intrigeri)

#8 Updated by intrigeri 4 months ago

  • Related to Bug #17159: Tor Browser displays an "Update Failed" pop-up added

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