Closed Bug 719561 Opened 8 years ago Closed 7 years ago

Updater.exe from Ask Toolbar causes non-English Firefox to hang when viewing Flash videos in YouTube and certain websites

Categories

(Firefox :: Extension Compatibility, defect, critical)

9 Branch
x86
Windows 7
defect
Not set
critical

Tracking

()

RESOLVED FIXED

People

(Reporter: cww, Unassigned)

References

()

Details

(Keywords: hang, regression, reproducible)

Attachments

(1 file)

Filing in Firefox:General pending regression work.

We've seen reports of the browser freezing starting in Firefox 9 when using Youtube and other video sites. This has been tied to the Ask toolbar. In particular, we've been able to reproduce with the following STRs (Windows 7):

1) Get the latest version of Flash, latest version of Ask Toolbar

2) Install the italian version of Firefox 9 (or higher) -- not sure why the italian version is necessary but it's hard to reproduce with the en-US version.

3) Go to video.repubblica.it or youtube.com

4) Wait for the videos to start loading.

The browser will hang entirely with no crash/hang dialog -- you have to kill plugin-container.exe from the task manager.
Thanks.
I add another detail: it seems that this problem can be worked around disabling the plugin container changing the value of the preference dom.ipc.plugin.enabled to false).
This problem has been widespread in the French support forum since the end of 2011 (e.g. http://www.geckozone.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=101147&start=15#p668353).

Either it's caused by a new incompatibility between Ask Toolbar and Fx 9 or Ask Toolbar has been distributed in a new channel. I think it's the second case.

As Ask Toolbar is hard to fully uninstall by regular ways (AOM and Windows Removing Program feature), there's a malware toolbar remover that does that:
http://general-changelog-team.fr/outils/289-adwcleaner#englishadwcleaner
Severity: normal → critical
Keywords: hang
When I tested this in the QA lab, I wasn't able to reproduce this on the en-US build on Windows XP but it was easily reproducible using the Italian build on Windows 7.
Keywords: reproducible
I have found this (or a similar) problem on a german system as well:

Win XP, 32, german, mostly standard software, Norton Security.

In an attempt to fix the problem both FF and Flash were de- and reinstalled the week before. There was no addon called "Ask.com Toolbar", however (see below) there was a seperate process running (Updater.exe), which is software related to ask.com. 

The user never actively installed any addons or plugins apart from flash and acrobat reader (NIS installed some probably unrelated security addons). Basically a fairly clean install.

This is what the problem looks like:
Starting a youtube video freezes the browser completely within the first 2-10 seconds of loading. Freezes means Browser window does not respond, not refresh graphics anymore, cannot be moved, closed or resized.

This is not caused by high cpu/memory usage. In fact cpu is down to something like 0% for both FF and plugin-container. 

Killing plugin-container.exe restored responsiveness of FF immediately, plugin is reported as crashed (fair enough).

This is what I tested:
Load same page in IE. 
Works but video loads very slowly.

Test download speed with a simple online bandwidth test.
Both down- and upload speed are high enough to expect the video to stream without any problem.
 
Load vimeo video in FF. 
Slow but works (stutters, but does not freeze FF).

Things I tried, that did not change anything:
* Disable hardware acceleration in Flash.
* Install newest driver for graphics board.
* Disable NIS.
* Run full virus scan from a clean bootable CD.
* Deinstall flash and reinstall flash v10 from Adobe Developer area.

While using the taskmanager, I noticed that an process Updater.exe was running most of the time using quite a bit of cpu (10-20%). Traced this to a path in programs called ask.com. (User cannot remember, installing anything called ask.com, might have been bundled with something else). 

After running a special remover for the ask.com toolbar and moving the ask.com folder to trash, the problem was gone in FF.

Also videos were once again streaming full speed in IE. This gives me the impression, that whatever "malware" ask.com has dropped on the computer, it is generally interfering with either the flashplayers core components or the traffic the flashplayer generates. 

I would have expected, that running the flashplayer in a separate process plugin-container would make FF less likely to freeze. 

Maybe someone who has more insight in how these components work together can figure out what might be the problem.
(In reply to Marcia Knous [:marcia] from comment #4)
> When I tested this in the QA lab, I wasn't able to reproduce this on the
> en-US build on Windows XP but it was easily reproducible using the Italian
> build on Windows 7.
What about an en-US build on Windows 7 and an Italian build on Windows XP?

It's a severe bug that that unintentionally affect core Firefox features so Ask is a candidate to be blocklisted (see https://wiki.mozilla.org/Blocklisting#A_High_Bar), if it's possible as the add-on is not the cause.
Summary: Ask Toolbar causes Firefox to hang when using the youtube main page or viewing videos on video.repubblica.it → Updater.exe from Ask Toolbar causes Firefox to hang when viewing Flash videos in YouTube and certain websites
Blocks: 722614
Is this still happening now that we have shipped Firefox 10?
I made the tests with the last beta of Firefox 10 - I assume it was the version shipped as Firefox 10.
Depends on: 592258
Thanks, Scoobidiver, for cc'ing me.  I'm filing a ticket now with our internal bug tracking system to see what my colleagues at Ask can do about this.  I have some ideas.
Err, thanks for listing the blocking bug, rather.  :)
The problem still occurs.
We are keeping help users of the Italian support forum to eradicate Ask.com Toolbar.
Alex: Thanks for stepping in to help. Please keep as advised of the progress you are making.

Also adding Kev to the bug since he may already have a contact at Ask.

I also with follow up with the testing in Comment 6. I think I may have tried the en-US and Italian builds on both XP and Win 7, but I will test again to be sure.
The bug appears to consistent outside of the Ask toolbar and therefore would be out of our control. 

We've been able to reproduce the error outside of the Ask Toolbar using another application. This program is from an independent source (CodeProject.com). The source was downloaded and the program was built in our office.  The utility program that we use to display the MSAA tree was found to also hang Firefox under similar circumstances.   

The reason that this hang appears to happen only on foreign language systems is that the MSAA element our application is looking for is never found (translation issues – see below) causing it to constantly dig deeper into the MSAA tree.

We continue to investigate the issue to see if there's anything we can do it to avoid it.
Summary: Updater.exe from Ask Toolbar causes Firefox to hang when viewing Flash videos in YouTube and certain websites → Updater.exe from Ask Toolbar causes non-English Firefox to hang when viewing Flash videos in YouTube and certain websites
The Ask application which supports the Ask  toolbar leverages the MSAA (accessibility) APIs.  It appears there are some text strings which didn't get translated.  When Flash is running this causes problems. 

The team continues to trouble-shoot the issue.
IMHO if the Updater.exe is not triggered by disabling the add-on, then the add-on should be blacklisted.
For testing with XMSAALib, you'll need to recompile it with this change:

* Define the correct window class in the file MSAALib.cpp line #51 as follows:
#define MOZILLA_FIREFOX_APP_WINDOW       _T("MozillaWindowClass")

The good news is that this hang is nearly 100% reproducible with XMSAALib, in English localization of FF, without Ask code present on the machine.
Note, the hang detector should catch this, and kill the plugin-container freeing things up. (Of course this will be 45 seconds after the initial hang.)
Jim, thanks!

OK there are three prongs of activity that I can see:
1. Ask coders stop using MSAA don't roll there own updating mechanism.
2. We consider blacklisting temporarily
3. Jim do you have time to dive deeper and possibly find a work around?
With regards to blacklist, I should make this clear:  I do not believe that would help.  The updater is not launched by the extension.
Ask is in the process of scheduling a bug fix to the APNU which should address the problem.  The fix should take approximately 24 hours to get rolled out.
Thanks Eric that sounds like great news! What is the APNU?
It's taken us longer than expected.  However, at this point dev is done and QA is slated to begin. 

Will keep you posted. 

Dave - Sent you an email concerning APNU.
We're getting close to final testing and targeting Friday for a release. 

Eric Engleman
No longer depends on: 592258
A fix for APNU code has been released and is in the process  of getting updated on users' machines. 

Could someone on the Mozilla support team keep me posted if Mozilla sees a decline an customer support problems?


Note - The issue where the text strings are not fully translated in the in the MSAA interfaces still exists. 


Thanks. 

Eric Engleman
(In reply to eric.engleman from comment #24)

> Note - The issue where the text strings are not fully translated in the in
> the MSAA interfaces still exists. 

could you elaborate this and file new bug under Core -> Disability Access API component
these bugs look related: bug 686861 and bug 580493
I'd reproduced this issue on Windows 7 x64 following STR from Comment 0 on:

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:10.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/10.0 IT Version
build id: (20120129021758) and it really got freezed. In plus after I had installed Ask Toolbar FF got crashed a few times while restarting browser:

bp-2ae93dc6-f57a-4934-9c10-587062121129 11/29/2012 11:57AM 
bp-2f8d6427-01db-428e-a139-226f82121129 11/29/2012 11:57AM 
bp-f5377117-00f2-461b-bbad-89f1f2121129 11/29/2012 11:56AM 

I tried to reproduce this issue on :

Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:17.0) Gecko/17.0 Firefox/17.0 IT Version
build id: (20121119183901) but I could't reproduce it anymore, but it still got crashed while restarting FF after Ask Toolbar got installed:

bp-41190b95-aabe-418c-85d1-e5cf02121129 11/29/2012 12:06PM
(In reply to MarioMi from comment #28)
> Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:10.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/10.0 IT
> Version
That version is no longer maintained.

> Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:17.0) Gecko/17.0 Firefox/17.0 IT
> Version
> build id: (20121119183901) but I could't reproduce it anymore, but it still
> got crashed while restarting FF after Ask Toolbar got installed:
> bp-41190b95-aabe-418c-85d1-e5cf02121129 11/29/2012 12:06PM
Try to get a Windbg log (see https://developer.mozilla.org/docs/How_to_get_a_stacktrace_with_WinDbg) and file a new bug as this one is about a hang not a crash.
(In reply to Scoobidiver from comment #29)

I guess this should be Resolved Invalid or Wontfix as long as only Windows Vista still supports Ask Toolbar.
Based on comment 24, close as fixed.
Status: NEW → RESOLVED
Closed: 7 years ago
Component: General → Extension Compatibility
Resolution: --- → FIXED
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