Zotero freezes when trying to search items

My Zotero standalone (5.0.35.1 on an institutional PC) always freezes when I hit the "advanced search" icon. It also almost always freezes when I hit the "Search" button after reaching to the advanced search via the toolbar.

I tried to send an error report and post the report ID here, but an error message saying "Invalid response from repository" pops up.

Instead, I'm pasting the error report below; I noticed that there are several error messages saying something about the proxy and I guess that there might be some problems with the institutional proxy network. It would be great if any of you could help me figure out whether I need to seek help from our network administrator, or there is a way to solve this problem by myself.

Just FYI, I also have occasional troubles syncing the files and pdfs to another Zotero on a different PC; I'm not sure these two problems are related.

Thanks for your help!

(My error report seems to be too long to paste here so I will be posting it as a reply.)
  • edited 19 days ago
    Here goes the former half:

    [JavaScript Error: "WebSocket connection closed: 1006 "]

    [JavaScript Error: "s3.amazonaws.com:443 uses an invalid security certificate.

    The certificate is not trusted because the issuer certificate is unknown.
    The server might not be sending the appropriate intermediate certificates.
    An additional root certificate may need to be imported.

    Error code: SEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER
    "]

    [JavaScript Error: "Unexpected status code 0 for GET https://api.zotero.org/users/174477/items/6SDAL44N/file" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/storage/zfs.js" line: 188}]
    Zotero.Sync.Storage.Mode.ZFS.prototype.downloadFileSEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER
    "]

    [JavaScript Error: "S3 returned 0 for 1/2B6I9FUH -- retrying download" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/storage/zfs.js" line: 167}]
    Zotero.Sync.Storage.Mode.ZFS.prototype.downloadFileSEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER
    "]

    [JavaScript Error: "S3 returned 0 for 1/6TJNQ4VV -- retrying download" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/storage/zfs.js" line: 167}]
    Zotero.Sync.Storage.Mode.ZFS.prototype.downloadFileSEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER
    "]

    [JavaScript Error: "S3 returned 0 for 1/6UUHJ3ZC -- retrying download" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/storage/zfs.js" line: 167}]
    Zotero.Sync.Storage.Mode.ZFS.prototype.downloadFileSEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER
    "]

    [JavaScript Error: "S3 returned 0 for 1/2F55H3GG -- retrying download" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/storage/zfs.js" line: 167}]
    Zotero.Sync.Storage.Mode.ZFS.prototype.downloadFile</listener<.onStop<@chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/storage/zfs.js:167:8
    Zotero.Sync.Storage.StreamListener.prototype._onStop@chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/storage/streamListener.js:242:5
    Zotero.Sync.Storage.StreamListener.prototype.onStateChange@chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/storage/streamListener.js:119:5
    reportErrors@chrome://zotero/content/zoteroPane.js:4719:13
    oncommand@chrome://zotero/content/standalone/standalone.xul:1:1


    [JavaScript Error: "s3.amazonaws.com:443 uses an invalid security certificate.

    The certificate is not trusted because the issuer certificate is unknown.
    The server might not be sending the appropriate intermediate certificates.
    An additional root certificate may need to be imported.
  • Here is the latter half of the error report:

    Error code: SEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER
    "]

    [JavaScript Error: "Unexpected status code 0 for GET https://api.zotero.org/users/174477/items/2B6I9FUH/file" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/storage/zfs.js" line: 188}]
    Zotero.Sync.Storage.Mode.ZFS.prototype.downloadFileSEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER
    "]

    [JavaScript Error: "S3 returned 0 for 1/6TJNQ4VV -- retrying download" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/storage/zfs.js" line: 167}]
    Zotero.Sync.Storage.Mode.ZFS.prototype.downloadFileSEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER
    "]

    [JavaScript Error: "S3 returned 0 for 1/6UUHJ3ZC -- retrying download" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/storage/zfs.js" line: 167}]
    Zotero.Sync.Storage.Mode.ZFS.prototype.downloadFileSEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER
    "]

    [JavaScript Error: "S3 returned 0 for 1/75X4B234 -- retrying download" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/storage/zfs.js" line: 167}]
    Zotero.Sync.Storage.Mode.ZFS.prototype.downloadFileSEC_ERROR_UNKNOWN_ISSUER
    "]

    [JavaScript Error: "S3 returned 0 for 1/2F55H3GG -- retrying download" {file: "chrome://zotero/content/xpcom/storage/zfs.js" line: 167}]
    Zotero.Sync.Storage.Mode.ZFS.prototype.downloadFile 5.0.35.1, platform => Win32, oscpu => Windows NT 6.1; WOW64, locale => en-US, appName => Zotero, appVersion => 5.0.35.1, extensions => Zotero LibreOffice Integration (5.0.10.SA.5.0.35.1, extension), Zotero Word for Windows Integration (5.0.8.SA.5.0.35.1, extension), Shockwave Flash (19.0.0.185, plugin)
  • Thanks a lot for your quick support. According to the suggest info, It seems that I need further help from our network admin. I will get back and update the status after consulting our staff. Thanks again!
  • So I tried several things as below and would like to seek additional help...

    In my Firefox, the certificate information for Zotero.org says it is verified by Fortinet. The certificate information for https://api.zotero.org/users/174477/items/6SDAL44N/file (the URL that appears on the error report above) says it is verified by Let's Encrypt.

    If I understand the info on the website suggested by @dstillman correctly, it seems that I can try the certificate override to solve the problem. Our network admin told me that they need the URL of the site which I need to override (if I am translating what they said correctly...). I showed them the info on https://www.zotero.org/support/kb/cert_override and they told me that our institution is not using a WebDAV server.

    Am I doing the right thing? If so, could anyone tell me the URL or whatever info that I may need for a certificate override?
  • That page covers multiple similar issues. In your case it's that your institution is intercepting secure traffic in general and likely using a custom certificate authority (CA) added to the browser trust store to suppress the normal browser security warnings. The same thing needs to be done to Zotero, so you or they will need to follow the cert8.db process explained there, not the cert_override.txt step. This isn't something they can whitelist on a per-domain basis (either by whitelisting a specific site certificate or by stopping interception of a specific domain), because Zotero needs to connect to basically anywhere you browse to, plus other metadata databases and various Zotero services, to function properly.

    (I'm not sure why your browser shows Let's Encrypt — which is correct, though not a guaranteed indicator — for api.zotero.org in the browser, but it doesn't particularly matter. Zotero is definitely seeing a custom CA, so that will need to be added to Zotero.)
  • Thank you for your clarification! Now I have a specific question; could you tell me how to "configure Firefox 52 ESR for the custom CA" for the cert8.db process? I clicked the link for Firefox 52 ESR to see what happens, found a link saying "firefox-52.9.0esr.win64.sdk.zip" (I am on a 64-bit version of Windows 7), clicked the link and a file named "firefox-sdk" was downloaded...and now I'm not sure what to do next. The IT staff who came to help me out also didn't know how to "configure Firefox 52 ESR for the custom CA"...
  • Sorry, we can't help with that. That would be a standard thing your IT department would do when using a custom CA, since they're the ones intercepting your secure connections, and otherwise you'd get the same security errors in the browser. (If your institution doesn't use Firefox, they might not be familiar with the process for Firefox off-hand, but it'd be roughly similar to what they did for your default browser.)
  • edited 15 days ago
    Also, you downloaded the wrong file. You don't want the SDK — you want the version in the directory for your OS and locale, e.g. https://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/releases/52.9.0esr/win64/en-US/Firefox Setup 52.9.0esr.exe.
  • Thank you so much for all your support. I will contact the IT department again.
  • I added the custom CA that I received from our IT department, added it to FireFox ESR52 following their instruction, and completed the cert8.db process. After restarting my PC, now it seems that the network problems have been solved because the situation is much better for the "advanced search" function (as I would describe below) and also I am now able to generate and send report ID from Zotero.

    However, Zotero still freezes most of the time when I hit the "advanced search" icon. Sometimes the icon works, and I can also reach the advanced search via the toolbar. The advanced search function thereafter now works perfectly.

    Another problem is that the error report says "No errors have been logged since Zotero started." when I restart Zotero immediately after it froze by hitting the "advanced search" icon (FYI, Report ID: 1121504464).

    I know that I'm in a much better situation thanks to all your help, but is there any way to make the "advanced search" icon work?
  • Advanced Search wouldn't be related to the certificate issue at all — there's nothing network-based there.
    However, Zotero still freezes most of the time when I hit the "advanced search" icon.
    Does it freeze before the Advanced Search window opens, or when you try to complete a search in that window? If the latter, what search conditions are you using that make it freeze? How long have you waited? If you choose View Output from Help → Debug Output Logging, do you see lines being logged while it's frozen? What are the last few lines it shows before it freezes?
    Another problem is that the error report says "No errors have been logged since Zotero started." when I restart Zotero immediately
    Errors are cleared on restart, so that's expected. (And a freeze generally wouldn't cause any errors anyway.)
  • It freezes before the Advanced Search window opens. Within a few seconds after I hit the Advanced Search icon, a message saying "(no response)" appears on the top left of the Zotero frame following the red Z icon and "Zotero".

    I opened the "Debug Output" window first, hit the "Advanced Search" icon, and waited for more than three minutes after Zotero froze, but I didn't see any lines being logged.
  • That's bizarre.

    First, check your database integrity from the Advanced → Files and Folders pane of the Zotero preferences, though that's unlikely to cause a freeze.

    And then, though we don't generally recommend this, I would uninstall Zotero and reinstall it from the download page. I don't think anyone else has reported this and there's really nothing that should cause it to happen, so there's not a lot else to try here. Your data and profile settings (e.g., certificate) won't be affected.
  • I checked the database integrity and got a message that everything is OK, so I uninstalled and reinstalled Zotero. Now the icon started working, but it still freezes after I hit the "Search" button.

    What I did is (1) selected "Creator" from the pulldown, (2) typed the family name of the author, (3) hit the "Search" button. The articles written by the author appeared on the bottom half of the Advanced Search window (as expected). So I picked the article of my interest and doubleclicked the filename of the pdf to open it (or I might have doubleclicked the pdf icon)... and then Zotero stopped responding with the "no response" message in the top left of the window frame for more than a few minutes.

    I had the Debug Output window working during this process but was not able to copy it because it was frozen. Instead, I have a screenshot of that window with most recent logs. Could you let me know how I can share this info with you? (Is there a way to upload the image here?)
  • You can email the image to support@zotero.org with a link to this thread.
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