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LO installer requires Firefox close or PC restart - why? how disable?

asked 2019-02-10 12:34:44 +0100

Upstairs_Homework2 gravatar image

updated 2019-02-10 12:37:49 +0100

The LibreOffice installer in Windows shows a popup saying that Firefox first has to be closed or else the PC needs to be restarted. This happens at LibreOffice 6.2 installation. But it has been there for many years.

Questions:

  • Why? What is LibreOffice doing with Firefox?

  • Why cannot LibreOffice do whatever it does without closing Firefox?

  • Is there any way to disable/remove this behaviour from the installer?

Someone at reddit suggested this had to do with something called "Firefox themes" in LO. Is that true? If so, why isn't such a peripheral feature opt in? I've never used themes and I bet many other LO users haven't either. It makes no sense to complicate the installation process based on such a non-essential feature.

The popup window is not only annoying and confusing, it also seems to be false. Because if I choose to not close Firefox the installer proceeds and then at the ends shows a new popup asking me to restart the PC. But if I decline that too then both LibreOffice and Firefox appears to work just fine, no PC restart needed.

Links to previous discussions of this issue

https://www.reddit.com/r/libreoffice/...

https://www.reddit.com/r/libreoffice/...

https://www.reddit.com/r/libreoffice/...

https://www.reddit.com/r/libreoffice/...

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answered 2019-02-10 18:22:00 +0100

updated 2019-02-10 18:22:41 +0100

LibreOffice installer for Windows is just a simple MSI (Windows Installer) database that tells system service which files and registry entries to put where. Windows Installer service (Windows component) takes this database, asks user which features to install, and creates resulting list of these files and registry settings. Then the service checks if the files are already present, what are their existing versions, and if they are in use by some process. This is just a magic performed internally by system service, not something LibreOffice does.

Actually, LibreOffice includes only a small number of components that may become used by other processes: they are fonts, shell extension used for displaying ODF information in Explorer, ... and that's basically all. Note that FF themes support used in LO is totally independent from any external application (e.g. FF) that could be present on the system - LibreOffice installs all required libraries to its own directory, and uses them (does not depend on FF).

The notable component to discuss here is the shell extension. It is the component that may display ODF information (like author or other statistics) in Windows Explorer's information panels when such file gets selected. This is a DLL that gets loaded into a process on-demand; and the demand may come from any process that e.g. displays system File Open/File Save dialogs - they use the same Explorer infrastructure, and load relevant DLLs into any process. Firefox could happen to be that process that got that DLL loaded - and so it got detected by Windows. It could be any other process; just the more often an application displays File dialogs, the more chances are that that will happen.

Is that detection a false positive just because both LO and FF work OK after the rejected reboot prompt? No. Since the old DLL is still there (it will be only replaced on reboot), FF would not crash. The old DLL would most probably be compatible with new LO - we rarely change its behavior. LibreOffice itself doesn't need the DLL for its work... so the detection was right; but ignoring it is also OK.

And there's nothing to be done here. This is a built-in behavior of MSI technology; and this is not a big deal.

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The notable component to discuss here is the shell extension.

Thank you for explaining. I've never heard of the ODF information feature in LO before. I there any way to disable it with some custom installer setting and thereby bypass these popups?

so the detection was right; but ignoring it is also OK.

Isn't it a bug then that this isn't explained to the user in the popup windows?

And there's nothing to be done here. This is a built-in behavior of MSI technology; and this is not a big deal.

I disagree. It is nowadays unusual for installers in Windows to require closing other applications and/or rebooting. If other installers can manage that then why not LO? An installer that is confusing and a hassle is a big deal. Imagine recommending LibreOffice to a friend who've been using only MS Office for years ...(more)

Upstairs_Homework2 gravatar imageUpstairs_Homework2 ( 2019-02-11 16:41:27 +0100 )edit

I there any way to disable it with some custom installer setting and thereby bypass these popups?

Yes, disable it in installer.

Isn't it a bug then that this isn't explained to the user in the popup windows?

No. We don't know what is detected and shown by Windows. In your case, it was FF. In another's case, it might happen to be LibreOffice itself, that user forgot to close, or hung in the background. In one case, it might be OK to ignore, in others not.

I disagree. It is nowadays unusual for installers in Windows to require closing other applications and/or rebooting. If other installers can manage that then why not LO?

Which specific installer you refer to? This statement is nonsense. There are hundreds of programs that don't have shell extensions; and even when you update an application with such components ...(more)

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2019-02-11 17:25:15 +0100 )edit

An installer that is confusing and a hassle is a big deal. Imagine recommending LibreOffice to a friend who've been using only MS Office for years. Confusing popups about restarting browsers/rebooting is not a good first impression to give to people considering switching to LO

Absolutely minor thing.

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2019-02-11 17:25:59 +0100 )edit

disable it in installer

How exactly? I see only one item relating to Explorer in the custom installation options. Even if I disable that the installer still shows a popup about closing Firefox.

BTW I've seen that popup for years every time I update LO and it is always and only Firefox that the installer wants to close. I also use Chrome and other programs with File Open/Save dialogs. So there seems to be something special to the combination of Firefox and LibreOffice.

In one case, it might be OK to ignore, in others not.

The popup should then say that. Perhaps something like "Might in some cases be necessary" to close Firefox (or whatever process) and/or restart the PC. Rather than "required" period.

Upstairs_Homework2 gravatar imageUpstairs_Homework2 ( 2019-02-11 19:00:20 +0100 )edit

Which specific installer you refer to? This statement is nonsense.

I test and use a lot of software in Windows, in many cases with shell extensions. My impression is that it is very unusual today for software installers to demand a reboot or closing other applications. That was much more usual 5-10 years ago. Seems to me like the LO installer is stuck in those bad old days while other software installers has progressed.

Absolutely minor thing

Minor for an expert perhaps, but a hassle for non-expert end users considering switching from Microsoft Office to LO.

Compare also the steps of updating for example Google Chrome (it updates itself silently in the background, the user doesn't have to do anything) and LO (go to website, compare versions, choose a download, get confusing download page with walls of text, wait for large download, run it, consider options, see confusing popup ...(more)

Upstairs_Homework2 gravatar imageUpstairs_Homework2 ( 2019-02-11 19:04:05 +0100 )edit

No. The messages must be on the safe side. Being so much afraid of closing applications or rebooting is not a normal case; installing a software might ask for such things from time to time. If sometimes it could happen to be safe not to, is just am exception. I disagree that for a user (especially novice), some messages that bring uncertainty ("may be in come times possible not to ....") is better than clear and robust guidance, even if sometimes it might happen to be avoidable.

The primary goal of installer is not to avoid user interactions and interruptions at all costs. The primary goal is to reliably install application, and leave system in a predictable and safe state. All other things are secondary. If possible, it could try to minimize interaction (yes, that's good, but secondary!). And being not the primary function of the installed application, the possible ...(more)

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2019-02-11 19:10:58 +0100 )edit

What you wrote earlier wrote

The old DLL would most probably be compatible with new LO - we rarely change its behavior. LibreOffice itself doesn't need the DLL for its work... so the detection was right; but ignoring it is also OK.

doesn't fit together with what you now write

If sometimes it could happen to be safe not to, is just am exception.

Anyway, I will stop talking about the wording in the popups now. Others who find it similarly confusing can now at least find this page and get an explanation for what is happening.

The more basic problem is that it is bad that the LO installer is designed in such a way that demands for closing browsers and/or rebooting happens at all. I hope LO in the future switches to an installer without those problems.

You earlier wrote that the component that causes the ...(more)

Upstairs_Homework2 gravatar imageUpstairs_Homework2 ( 2019-02-14 19:41:00 +0100 )edit

What you wrote earlier ... doesn't fit together with what you now write

Only if you ignore everything I wrote, and cite selectively.

You earlier wrote that the component that causes the popups about Firefox could be disabled in the installer. How exactly? Can you please name the exact checkbox that should be unchecked?

Well - when talking about Windows Explorer extension component (citing myself from the answer: "shell extension used for displaying ODF information in Explorer"), I'd not discard the possibility that something named "Windows Explorer Extension" has something to do with that :-)

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Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2019-02-15 03:54:48 +0100 )edit

Only if you ignore everything I wrote

Sorry, but can you then please explain again? I really don't understand how you think what you wrote fits together. If it is true that "old DLL would most probably be compatible with new LO - we rarely change its behavior" and "LibreOffice itself doesn't need the DLL for its work" then how can it be "just an exception" that decling the "close Firefox"/"reboot PC" popups is safe? It sure sounds from what you wrote earlier that anything problematic happens only in exceptional cases.

"Windows Explorer Extension"

Ok, that is the component (named differently in my localization of the installer, but it is the only one that uses the term Explorer) that I was talking about earlier when I wrote

How exactly? I see only one item relating to Explorer in the custom installation options. Even if I disable that the ...

(more)
Upstairs_Homework2 gravatar imageUpstairs_Homework2 ( 2019-02-16 00:28:10 +0100 )edit

Again, disabling that does not prevent the popup about closing Firefox

If the component was previously installed, it needs to be uninstalled regardless if you chose to update it, or to remove it.

Mike Kaganski gravatar imageMike Kaganski ( 2019-02-16 08:57:19 +0100 )edit
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Asked: 2019-02-10 12:34:44 +0100

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Last updated: Feb 10