Fedora, Firefox 52, and NPAPI Plug-Ins

Quick Fix Up Front:

  1. Open up Firefox 52, navigate to about:config.
  2. Right click and add a boolean configuration variable named “plugin.load_flash_only” and set it to False.
  3. Restart Firefox 52

A Brief Write-Up:

So, Firefox 52 was just pushed to Fedora 25 and it immediately broke my F5 extension which I use to access my place of employment’s VPN on my Fedora 25 systems.

Ever so nicely, the update to Firefox doesn’t come with any useful information informing you why you are now being continually prompted for reinstallations of your NPAPI extensions.  If you look in your “Add-Ons” menu in Firefox, it appears the extension is properly installed and in good shape.  However, any attempt to use a site which requires it will cause the site to prompt you for reinstallation.

As it turns out, this is because Firefox 52 is attempting to remove all support for NPAPI extensions.  This is theoretically a good thing due to the security risks of the NPAPI framework, but of course not every vendor out there will necessarily update their code accordingly (at least quickly enough to be helpful), and if you’re like me and relying on one of these extensions, you’ll need a work-around.

Very lamely, Firefox is still allowing the Adobe Flash NPAPI extension, but only that one (since they know removing support for it would kill their browser usage).  So, that explains the name of the hidden configuration parameter you have to manually add into your about:config page to get this to work.

The proper solution here is, of course, for Firefox to permit explicitly-designated NPAPI extensions to be used for a good while.  I understand that they’re trying to increase security with some tough love here, but it really just adversely impacts Linux-based end users rather than coerce organizations with little incentive to provide Linux distribution support in the first place.

I don’t know how this will pan out; hopefully F5 will up their game, but if they don’t, I guess I’ll have to have a back-versioned Firefox browser on my system just for my VPN..

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