Firefox to get Self-Heal Feature

This sounds like it could be extremely helpful … providing that it actually works.

When you are currently running into troubles using Firefox, you have a couple of semi-automated and manual options to deal with those issues. From trying to figure out what is wrong on your own, for instance by running Firefox in Safe Mode or resetting modified preferences, to creating a new profile or using the browser’s reset feature.

This may change in the future for some issues when Mozilla introduces a self-repair feature in the browser.

Note: Both the term Self-Repair Server and Self-Heal are used by Mozilla. My best guess is that Self-Heal is the name of the feature of which Self-Repair Server is a part of.

Information about Self-Repair and Self-Heal are scarce at the moment. There is a blog post that mentions it briefly and a Github page hosting the server component.

According to the blog post, the Self-Repair Server is “part of an experimental system to have Firefox notice problems in the browser and proactively fix them itself”.

Self-Heal was mentioned briefly in the Product Coordination Meeting a week ago.Skip to minute 4 and watch the next two minutes and you find Self-Heal mentioned in conjunction with the upcoming add-on signing feature.

From the looks of it, Self-Heal will be used by the browser to determine components that need fixing.  From the Github page, it appears as if the technology uses recipes to determine the status of a feature for now.

Mozilla has not revealed yet how this works in practice but from the looks of it it could be a mini-reset of sorts that restores core elements in Firefox.

If used in conjunction with add-on signing, it could be utilized to restore settings and elements in Firefox that were changed by malicious or problematic extensions. Think of search hijackers that change the browser’s search engine or new tab page.

Self-Heal could be a killer feature depending on how it is implemented and the parts of the browser that it can repair.

Update: The Meta Bug is here which links to other Bugzilla listings. Probably most interesting is a document detailing the technical implementation of the feature. Here are its requirements as it stands now:

  1. Daily local background checks.
  2. Blocklist-like background functionality for disabling misbehaving plugins and add-ons.
  3. Users are notified when problems are discovered.
  4. After crash support.

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