[Solved] “Waiting for Firefox Update” error in Ubuntu

[Solved] “Waiting for Firefox Update” error in Ubuntu

If you are using Ubuntu 22.04, you may have received this notification.

Firefox app pending notification

It warns you that Firefox update is pending and asks you to close the application to avoid any interruption.

So, like a good obedient Ubuntu user, you close the Firefox browser when you have saved or finished your work.

You think Firefox has been updating in the background and restarting the browser will run the latest version.

Only, that is not the case here.

Even after restarting your browser or even your computer, it may still show the same “Firefox update pending” notification.

Frustrating? I understand.

Let me explain why this is happening and what you can do to “fix” it.

Fixed “Firefox Snap update pending” issue

Previously, Firefox would update in the background and then ask you to restart the browser. It would not allow you to open any website until you restarted the browser.

firefox restart
Force restarting Firefox in the past

After switching the Firefox browser to the default Snap wrapper, the Ubuntu team made some changes to the update process.

This notification is part of this “enhanced user experience”. Here, Firefox no longer prevents you from browsing. It asks you to restart the browser at your convenience to perform the update.

But why does it keep showing the notification even after restarting the browser or system?

Because it’s a bad notification message that doesn’t give you all the information.

Firefox update didn’t even start

When you see “Firefox update pending” you are mistakenly assuming that the app has been updating in the background and restarting will upgrade it to the latest version.

This is the case here. Ubuntu snapshot packages are refreshed (updated) automatically one or more times a day. To avoid any downtime where Firefox won’t let you browse anything until you restart to install updates, Ubuntu doesn’t even update the Firefox Snap package in the background.

Instead, when the Snap package refresh occurs, it shows the notification and expects you to close the browser immediately so that it can be updated with other Snap packages.

But that’s not what users like you and me can do, is it? See the notification and close the browser immediately? Not very practical.

But when you have time to close the browser, Snap refresh does not take place to update the browser.

You can see that a newer Snap version of Firefox is available, but it won’t be installed automatically while Firefox is running.

firefox update pending issue ubuntu
Firefox snap will not update automatically if the browser is running

Update Firefox Snap

Here is what you need to do to get rid of the update notification that keeps popping up daily.

  • Close the Firefox browser
  • Manually run Snap refresh (update installed Snap packages)

Make sure your work in the Firefox browser is saved. Now close all Firefox browsers using your mouse or run this command in terminal:

sudo killall firefox

Now that Firefox is no longer running, update the Snap package(s):

sudo snap refresh

You will see that it starts downloading the new Firefox package.

firefox ubuntu snap package update
Firefox is updated with Snap

Once the update is complete, you will see the summary that Firefox has been upgraded to a newer version.

firefox ubuntu instant update
Firefox instant version update

Conclusion

Installing a non-Snap version of Firefox could also be the answer here, but not everyone can go that route.

Firefox and Snap developers need to come together to improve this ambiguous update process. They should provide a better mechanism which not only shows the notification about pending updates but also gives the option to start the update.

This is one of the many weird things we’ve seen with Ubuntu lately. This needs to change to make Ubuntu a newbie-friendly distro (again).



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Steven L. Nielsen