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Saturday, 06 September 2008 14:35

Firefox and Norton: FIGHT!

Firefox 3.0.1 has been around for months, Norton 360 2.0 and Internet Security 2008 ditto. For many users, however, it would appear that the two cannot live happily together. So just what is the problem?

Google Chrome might be getting all the headlines, but Firefox remains the alternative browser client powerhouse by market share if not media attention now that the Download Day nonsense is long forgotten.

Which is probably why there has not been much media focus on a growing problem between Firefox and Norton. Specifically, between Firefox 3.0.1 and Symantec security products in the Norton family which incorporate the Identity Safe feature.

Firefox and Norton have always co-existed happily enough, but the relationship started showing signs of strain almost as soon as Firefox 3.0.1 was released way back in June.

Messages in support forums at both Mozilla and Symantec quickly started to appear.

"My Identity Safe disappeared. Even quick launch does not work. I have to open "manage identity safe profile" off line, write down my log on and password, then go back to the internet. If this version of Firefox has any benefits, I have not found them" says 'Margie' writing in the Firefox support forum.

Interestingly, she concludes that "Firefox should fix this, not Norton."

Identity Safe, for those of you who approach Norton products with barge pole firmly gripped, is a Symantec password manager that is included along with Norton 360 and Norton Internet Security.

It has worked with Firefox fine until the 3.0.1 release, hence the feeling amongst users that it is a Mozilla problem rather than a Symantec one.

The mood has not been helped by the fact that Mozilla has very recently flicked the switch that turns on automatic updating to Firefox 3.0.1 for users of Firefox 2.

That explains the anger being expressed in the support forum. One user called 'Janice' summed up the sentiment by saying "I'm NOT HAPPY that my Firefox automatically updated itself...particularly because my Norton is incompatible!!! Awfully presumptuous of Firefox."

So what is Mozilla doing about it, and where do Symantec stand on the issue? Can it be fixed? Find out on page 2...


The director of user experience for Firefox at Mozilla, Mike Beltzner, has tried to keep the peace and admits that there are problems with Firefox 3.0.1 and Norton Identity Safe.

Although some of the advice does sound, at least at first, a little bizarre. Take this response in a Google Groups support forum to a user complaining that he or she has lost their Identity Safe logins and passwords, as well as their bookmarks, when upgrading from Firefox 3.0

"Please make sure that you don't have any antivirus or firewall software running" says Mike. Which is odd when you consider it is a feature of a security product that is being talked about.

Fans of Brit sitcom The IT Crowd will love the next bit as he also suggested "try giving your computer a reboot."

Mike and Mozilla are only too aware of the problems, and the problems in finding a solution as it would seem recreating it the QA labs has been impossible so far.

It appears likely that the fault lies with older Norton installations that have not been updated properly, preventing Firefox from terminating entirely when closed, and so causing problems finding certain files after an upgrade.

Hence the 'have you tried turning it off and on again' approach which apparently has worked in some case. Not so daft after all then. But Symantec, it seems, might have had the final say on this one.

Tony Weiss, the Norton Forums Administrator at Symantec, has told users that a Norton Internet Security patch is available. NIS 2008 users have to first update to v15.5 in order to use this though.

A similar patch is available for Norton 360 users, both accessible via the Symantec Live Update system.

So maybe the problem is now solved after all, and Mozilla and Symantec can happily live together again.

However, as 'roosterfish' points out in the Norton support forum "Some notification on the issue from both Norton to its paying subscribers, and Firefox at the prompt to update to version 3, might have been nice.............."

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