Saturday, July 03, 2004

Browser Updates -- Mozilla Firefox 0.9

I played with the upgrade to version 0.9 of the Mozilla Firefox browser, but couldn't get things to work the way I wanted. Then a bugfix version 0.9.1 came out. I still waited, but then I found that, like most browsers, Firefox 0.8 was subject to this Frame Injection Vulnerability. (Try the test. It's impressive.) Firefox 0.9.1 is supposed to have this fixed, so it's time to upgrade.

Unfortunately, several things have changed going from 0.8 to 0.9.1. In particular, the way Firefox installs extensions has changed, as well as the default theme. The extensions are particularly worrisome. I've been using:

  1. mozex, to let me click on mailto: links from the browser,
  2. Adblock, to rid pages of annoying graphics, and
  3. a fixed version of the RSS Reader Panel, which lets one read newsfeeds from the browser.
Getting all this to work again is going to require a rather careful upgrade, hence this long post.

First, download the new version from The default version for Linux comes with an installer, but I want to put the browser in another location, so I clicked on the "other languages" link and found the "no installer" version for Linux. This yields a file called firefox-0.9-i686-linux-gtk2+xft.tar.gz.

I could only get firefox to run from my own account or as root. Since I want to let other people use the code as well, I'll put it in /usr/local as root. So su, cd to /usr/local, and run
tar xvzf firefox-0.9-i686-linux-gtk2+xft.tar.gz

Now set up a link to the firefox executable from something in my path:
ln -s /usr/local/firefox/firefox /usr/local/bin/firefox
(the soft link lets Firefox remember where it really lives)

Launch firefox. OK, problem number 1. I use a script which changes checks to see if firefox is already running. If so, it opens up a new tab on the browser, rather than another instance of the browser. Unfortunately, the new-tab/new-window behavior of firefox has changed. It requires a new script. I modified one from the viewall link on Bugzilla. Modified, it looks like this:

# See
# and
# If firefox isn't running, launches it.
# If firefox is running, opens requested page in new tab.
FFOX_REMOTE="${FFOX} -a firefox -remote"
#    $FFOX_REMOTE "openurl($URL,new-window)"
    $FFOX_REMOTE "openurl($URL,new-tab)"
    $FFOX $URL
if $FFOX_REMOTE "ping()" 2>&1 | grep "Error:" >/dev/null; then

A "now what?" box pops up. Firefox 0.9.1 can import settings from the old 0.8 account, but personal settings have moved from ~/.phoenix/default/wierdstring to ~/.mozilla/firefox/default.something. Since I don't want to move all my extensions and everything, I'm not going to import anything. Click that and go. This gets to the firefox home page. Set my home page where I want it, using
Edit => Preferences > General => Use Current Page.
Note that this changed from previous versions, when it was under Tools => Options.

Resize the window and exit the browser. Copy my bookmarks from ~/.phoenix/... to ~/.mozilla/firefox/....



After getting all the font preferences set (now in Edit => Preferences > General => Fonts & Colors), start adding extensions. To do this, go to
Tools => Extensions => Get More Extensions
The page isn't well organized, IMHO, so click on "All" and scroll through until you find what you want. So far I've installed:

  • mozex, primarily so that when I click on a mailto: link I can send mail from evolution. Click on the "preferences" (little check button) by mozex in the extension window. Click the "Intercept mailto: clicks" box. In the Mailer command line, add the string
    /usr/bin/evolution mailto:%A?Subject=%S&Cc=%C&body=%B
    This is a slight change from the Mozex FAQ, since we can't seem to find the evolution executable otherwise.
  • Adblock. Oddly, this isn't on the extension page. You have to go to the link at the beginning of this bullet, click on Install, the Dev. Builds, and then click on the latest link. Today (3 July 2004) it is Adblock 0.5 d2 nightly 39, but I'm sure that will change. Come back to the Adblock page to update. You can probably ignore the part that says "tested solely on Mozilla..." At least this one works with Firebird.
  • The old RSS Reader Panel isn't available, but Sage, based on Reader Panel, is there. Alt-S puts the panel in the sidebar, and options lets you set it up the way you want it.

Note that you have to restart Firefox before an extension starts working.


Look at the entrees in the plugin directory of Firefox 0.8. Copy those into /usr/local/firefox/plugins. Note that if a soft link was used in the old directory, you have to set it up here, e.g.,
ln -s /usr/lib/flash-plugin/flashplayer.xpt .


Firefox comes with a variety of Themes for changing the look of the browser buttons, backgrounds, etc. The current default theme is rather XP like. I kind of liked the old theme, Qute, so for now use that. Go to Tools => Themes, etc., etc.

Hmm. Changing themes seems to wipe out your windows so that you have to restart Firefox. Hope this is fixed by 1.0.

You can create your own themes, but I'm not going to try to figure that out now.

And Done

At least for now. So many browser options to play with ...