Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Firefox 3.6.6 redirect issue

Today I spent a chunk of time investigating an issue related to redirecting browser requests for media files to the CDN (content delivery network) for that domain. The redirect was being thrown into a redirection loop. The curious thing about the issue is that it only affected users using Firefox 3.6.6 on Microsoft Windows.

I tested the MP3 player in Opera, Chrome and even Internet Explorer and everything performed as expected, but when I used Firefox 3.6.6 it failed every time for any file. Then I checked it in Firefox 2.0 and Firefox 3.5.10 - both did not reproduce the issue. I checked it in Firefox 3.6.6 on an Apple Mac and the issue could not be reproduced. Neither could it be reproduced in Firefox 3.6.7(beta) on Windows.

Multiple Firefox Installations
I decided to grab Firefox 3.6.4 (the previous release - there was no 3.6.5) and install that to see if just this version was experiencing the issue. To do this I decided to set up another Firefox install - If you've not done this before, there's a great guide here: http://idizyn.com/development/installing-multiple-versions-of-firefox/ The post is pretty old, but what worked for Firefox 1.5 and 2.0 still works now.

Installing Firefox 3.6.4 confirmed my suspicion that this problem only occurred so predictably in Firefox 3.6.6.

What Caused This??
I recorded the headers for different browser versions using Live HTTP Headers. This highlighted that Firefox 3.6.6 was being thrown into redirection loop, but didn't explain why. I added timestamps to the redirection point and saw that the redirection was not reflecting any change in that, so some level of caching was involved - but this cached result did not occur for any other browser version (even on the same machine).

I disabled my Add-ons, flushed my cache, and restarted the browser multiple times to no avail - I could not isolate either a cause or a solution. At this point I can only suggest there is a problem with this release of Firefox causing the problem.

Firefox 3.6.7 is currently slated for release on 20 July 2010 (in 6 days). Hopefully this will address this issue and many users will quickly upgrade without us having to suggest it as a solution to this issue.

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