It seems that, with today’s appearance of Mozilla Firefox Preview Release 1, we have the first general-availability build of Firefox that integrates the fix for the annoying-as-hell cookie problem. (For those who don’t remember, or are too busy to click through that link, the problem is that most Mozilla browsers limit you to a certain number of cookies before they start deleting them, meaning that you end up having to log back into your bank sites, news sites, and whatnot on a seemingly-random basis.)

There’s an important note about that fix, though: without doing a few manual config changes, you’ll only see a marginal improvement. The old Mozilla way of doing cookies was that you were limited to a total of 300, and this fix increases that number to 1000, a number that should get you a few more days’ worth of browsing before your website logins start expiring. That being said, the official specification states that “cookie support should have no fixed limits,” and that browsers “should strive to store as many frequently-used cookies as possible.” A way to approximate that behavior would be to increase the maximum number of cookies to the highest the pref allows (network.cookie.maxNumber, 65535); this should change the behavior back to that which you’d expect from cookies. (If you don’t know how to increase it, take a look at the MozillaZine guide to the about:config window.) I’m not sure how Firefox will handle the increased number, stability-wise — for all I know, the limit was there because the cookie-handling code isn’t comfortable dealing with more than a thousand — but I can tell you that not having to dig my wallet out to find my bank card number every week will make me a lot less annoyed.

Comments and TrackBacks

Jason reports that the Mozilla/Firefox/$foo cookie bug has gone away in the 1.0 Preview Release … sorta. There’s an important note about that fix, though: without doing a few manual config changes, you’ll only see a marginal improvement. The old M…

• Pinged by The Indiana Jones School of Management on Sep 14, 2004, 5:38 PM

Finally! Thanks for updating, this has been driving me insane for awhile too.

• Posted by: Graham on Sep 14, 2004, 7:55 PM

Q reports — Finally, a cookie fix for Firefox :-)

• Pinged by bigjim tongue untied on Sep 14, 2004, 8:35 PM

thanks so much. this was driving me nuts and was one of the reasons I had reverted back to Safari as of late.

• Posted by: finn on Sep 15, 2004, 3:24 PM

Jason, I just grabbe PR1 today, and … network.cookie.maxNumber wasn’t in about:config. Strange …

• Posted by: Geof on Sep 16, 2004, 12:40 AM

Geof, the pref isn’t in the default set, but you can add it — just right-click and select New (you’ll want an integer type).

• Posted by: Jason on Sep 16, 2004, 12:08 PM

Here’s what I posted at Ask MetaFilter when they pointed here:

Thank you Jebus. I’ve been complaining about this since 2002 [mefi thread links], but every Mozilla geek I talked to about it totally shined me on with ID10T and PEBKAC types of comments, no slight to yerfatma or neckro23 — I know WTF I’m doing, thank you very much, and Mozilla kept deleting my cookies. This persisted across Mozilla 0.x-1.x, Netscape 7.x, and Phoenix-Firebird-Firefox, it persisted across different profiles, and persisted across different computers.

I’ll have to see if the fix noted at delfuego’s site really works, though, because I watched cookie totals very carefully for a time back then and there was no obvious relationship to a presumed 300-cookie limit.

In fact with, allegedly, no fixing of this bug whatsoever, cookie management did improve — MeFi used to require me to log in pretty frequently, but it’s been a rare occurrence for roughly a year now. I still regularly lose cookies for various newspapers and the like, so it’s a continuing issue. If I’d ever had the time (and hadn’t been so thoroughly dissed by the supposedly-open Bugzilla process) I’d have tried harder to figure out whether it’s something about the cookies themselves that makes them prone to early deletion.


And just now, I had to log back into TypeKey.

• Posted by: Dan Hartung [TypeKey Profile Page] on Sep 30, 2004, 3:25 AM

Sorry, the Ask MeFi thread.

• Posted by: Dan Hartung [TypeKey Profile Page] on Sep 30, 2004, 3:26 AM

Hi there,

This is only marginally related, but in my installation of Firefox (1.0PR on WinXP), I cannot seem to get the “ask before setting a cookie” thing to work. The relevant set of radio buttons simply isn’t there in the options menu, and creating “network.cookie.warnAboutCookies” as a true boolean from the about:config page didn’t have any effect. D’you know what might be going on? Why would they remove a useful feature like that?

Thanks much,

• Posted by: Auros on Oct 8, 2004, 5:18 PM
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