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Firefox Hello Not Working and Mozilla Claims the Bug is Invalid

Mozilla announced the Firefox 34 Beta release on October 17 and a key highlight is the new Firefox Hello feature. Firefox Hello is supposed to enable users to simply use the browser to be able to call each other.

It's a feature that leverages the emerging WebRTC standard and a feature that I was veryfirefox eager to try out.

Problem is it, that it didn't work on the first try.

So I tried again on Mac and then again on a Windows machine too (my first try is always Linux) and still no dice. The feature just didn't show up.

So I complained to @firefox on Twitter and still no response. Apparently responding to features not working is not within Mozilla's social mandate of creating an open web.

A little bit of research let me to Buzilla entry 1083525, titled "Hello button does not appear in palette if customized prior to FFx34"

That bug provides details on a workaround that worked for me.

As per Adam Roach:

1. Start an older released version of Firefox (e.g. 33)

2. Customize the toolbar buttons

3. Start Beta 34 using the same profile

4. Go to about:config and change "loop:throttled" to "false"

5. Restart Beta 34

6. Open the customization palette.

Unfortunately another Mozilla developer has deemed this bug to be invalid. I reached out to Mozilla PR on this issue too and got back a somewhat unsatisfactory answer.

"Firefox Beta users will be seeing our experimental Firefox Hello feature appear over the next few weeks, as we slowly roll it out," Chad Weiner, Director of Product Management at Mozilla stated. "This is done in stages so as to allow us to test the experience carefully, as a result not everyone will see the feature at the same time. We will work on any bugs raised as part of the ongoing Firefox Hello experiment."

So, we have a new feature that doesn't show up for some users, with a bug that apparently isn't valid and Mozilla product management cautioning about a staged deployment.

On Bugzilla, developer Matthew N responded to me with a somewhat more technically articulate answer :

"This bug is about what happens when Loop is unthrottled or if your build gets though the throttling. It's intentional that you won't see it at all until that point."

Truth is of course, that this is a beta release, so bugs are to be expected. I for one hope that Mozilla developers recognize that announcing a feature that isn't available to the users you want to be testing your builds, is not necessarily a good best practice.

I'm cautiously optimistic that any bugs and the loop throttling issue are all resolved in the next five or so weeks, so the GA release of Firefox 34 will truly enable a new era for the modern web.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist