There's a lot to be said for this model, but aside from security (the need to download extensions of questionable parentage from unfamiliar sites) there's another significant down side: every time you upgrade your browser, all your extensions become disabled, and it may be months before they're updated to support the new Firefox version (if indeed they're ever updated).
When you need extensions for basic functionality, like controlling cookies, or basic sanity, like blocking flash, the intervening months of partial functionality can be painful, especially when there's no reason for it (the plug-in API usually hasn't changed, merely the version string).
It turns out it's very easy to tweak your installed plug-ins to run under your current Firefox version.
- Locate your profile directory (e.g. $HOME/firefox/blah.blah for Firefox on Linux).
- Edit profiledirectory/extensions/*/install.rdf
- Search for maxVersion.
- Update it to your current version (as shown in the Tools->Extensions dialog).
- Restart the browser.
Disclaimer: Obviously, if the Firefox API really has changed in a way that makes it incompatible with your installed extensions, this won't be enough. Your extensions may fail to work, crash your browser, delete all your files, or cause a massive meteorite to strike the earth causing global extinction. Consider this a temporary solution; do check periodically to see if there's a real extension update available.
More information on extension versioning (may be out of date).
[ 19:47 Oct 04, 2005 More tech/web | permalink to this entry | ]