Home > Mac administration, Mac OS X, VMware > Firefox 39.0 showing blank white windows in OS X VMs

Firefox 39.0 showing blank white windows in OS X VMs

I do a lot of my application testing in VMs, so when Firefox 39.0 came out, it went into my test environment and I built a new VM to check it out.

Update – 8-13-2015: This issue has been resolved in Firefox 40.x and later.

Firefox 39.0 looked like this when I launched it in my test VM.

Screen Shot 2015 07 06 at 4 03 11 PM

As part of my testing workflow, I also installed Firefox 39.0 onto a couple of actual Macs.

Firefox 39.0 looked like this when I launched it on those machines.

Screen Shot 2015 07 06 at 3 10 57 PM

As you can see, two very different results were discovered as part of my testing. After a few rounds of “It’s broken in the VM, retest, it’s still broken, retest on my laptop, no problem, repeat,” I finally tracked down a Mozilla bug report that indicated that the issue was not specific to my environment and gave me the potential scope of the issue. For more information, see below the jump.

Between the release of Firefox 38.0.5 and Firefox 39.0, Mozilla appears to have introduced a change that affected OS X VMs running on the following virtualization solutions for OS X:

VMware Fusion

It’s not mentioned in the Mozilla bug report, but my assumption would be that Firefox 39.0 running in OS X VMs on Parallels’ virtualization solution would also exhibit the same problem.

The scope presently appears to be limited to virtual machines running OS X as a guest OS. I tested Firefox 39.0 on the following OSs on physical Macs and the issue did not appear:

  • OS X 10.9.5
  • OS X 10.10.4

I also tested Firefox 39 on Windows 8.1 in a VMware VM and the issue did not appear.

  1. John
    July 7, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    This is similar to an issue I see with some java apps that don’t refresh their UI until they are dragged off screen and back. What happens when you move firefox off screen and then drag it back?

  2. Anthony Reimer
    July 7, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    I tested with the ESR version (38.1.0) and it does not have this problem. So it is something related to a “feature” update in v.39, not a security/bug patch.

  3. July 8, 2015 at 12:48 am

    imagine testing and qa’ing an a/b test update delivered by a developer…your at their mercy…i havent spun up anything to test this

  4. July 11, 2015 at 10:37 am

    I’ll confirm this issue. White screen on OSX 10.9.5 running in latest. VMWare Fusion. Looks like Mozilla is aware (but solution is still be written) –> https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1180688

  5. Bgill0
    July 13, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    I am seeing the same issue with Fusion and Parallels. I also seem to see a screen rendering problem when you try to modify your user profile image. Not sure if it’s related.

  6. July 15, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    Maybe it’s related to the lack of hardware acceleration in OS X VMs. There are other apps that have this issue.


  7. AReiter
    July 21, 2015 at 8:24 am

    Hey guys – had the same problem with Firefox 39.0 on Mac OS X 10.10.4 Yosemite running in a VMWare Fusion (7.1.2) VM.
    Inserting the following two lines:
    user_pref(“layers.acceleration.enabled”, true);
    user_pref(“layers.offmainthreadcomposition.enabled”, false);
    ~/Library/Apllication\ Support/Firefox/Profile//prefs.js
    did the trick for me – FF runs like a charm again.

  8. AReiter
    July 21, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Oh and sorry for the typos in the profile path – here is the corrected path:
    ~/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/.default/prefs.js

  9. MaGaM
    July 23, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Had the same ‘white screens’ with Firefox 39.0 under Mac OS 10.8.2 Mountain Lion running as guest under Ubuntu 14.04 in Virtualbox 4.3.30r101610

    AReiter’s fix fixed it.

  10. craig
    July 28, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    Can you confirm if it is the following:

    user_pref(“layers.acceleration.force-enabled”, true);
    user_pref(“layers.offmainthreadcomposition.enabled”, false);

    as i can only found there is force-enabled under firefox 39.

  11. John Dowe
    July 29, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Same here and typical Mozilla response, unrelated bug marked as duplicate and that is supposedly fixed. Given Mozilla’s track record of fixing stuff I guess that this is end of story for FF on OS X VMs. The Mozillas spend most of their time on needless stuff like the nth UI redesign rather than fixing issues, mainly the horrific memory leaks that are still in place.

  12. August 10, 2015 at 4:28 am

    Same white screen issue on VM Yosemite using VMware 10

  13. Orlin
    August 10, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Even with AReiter’s fix, still same bug. VMWare Workstation 10, OS X Yosemite (10.10) guest, Windows 7 host

  14. August 19, 2015 at 7:12 am

    in FF 40.0.2 this bug is fixed, try to install FF again with replace current version download from here: https://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/releases/40.0/mac/en-US/
    I try it on virtualbox with mac os x 10.10.4 – all is work fine for now.

  15. August 27, 2015 at 2:19 am

    I am running Firefox 40.0 on my Mac power book using Yosimte 10.10.5, having recently just up dated. Problem’s are if I go to a web page ( e.g. for sale site/ trade me N.Z. ) when I try to click on the change area ( region ) to view whats for sale, which comes up in highlighted blue, click on it, it does not change? Can anyone help,Cheers.

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