Debian and Firefox ESR

As a Debian stable user, you learn to live with (and appreciate) not having all the latest software. It kind of makes you realize that no, you don’t need to have the latest and greatest version of everything to be happy with your computer. As the Debian project puts it, don’t suffer from shiny new stuff syndrome!

Anyway, I was getting all of my technology set up for the start of the fall semester when I tried to log into Diderot1 to view some course materials for 15-455 (Undergraduate Complexity Theory). The website did not work. At first I figured that this might be some issue with No Script, but I wasn’t blocking scripts from any domains on the page. The console had the following cryptic error:

SyntaxError: invalid regexp group

with a line number of a helpfully minified Javascript file. A quick Stack Overflow search revealed that this may be a Firefox thing and helpfully linked to a compatibility table. Since Debian stable currently distributes Firefox 68 ESR, it would seem that it’s just a simple unsupported feature problem. Fortunately, Debian should bump the Firefox version to 78 ESR on September 22, when 68 ESR reaches its end of life.

Until then, I can probably just suck it up and use Chrome to access Diderot, but it does irk me just a bit when sites (particularly things like educational sites) don’t make much of an effort for compatibility. I can understand if supporting Lynx is a little too much to ask, but surely Firefox ESR isn’t too far out there? We don’t all need to have the shiny new Firefox version released a few months ago (or have to use Chrome). Actually, I think Canvas wants me to upgrade Firefox as well, but at least Canvas actually works with Firefox 68.

I don’t know where this post was supposed to go, it’s just some slight annoyance that I encountered and wanted to vent about.


  1. On a side note, the other day I was kind of surprised when I stumbled upon the Diderot repository on Github!