Sunday, June 05, 2005

Firefox Extensions and Themes

Yesterday, for unknown reasons, Firefox decided to change the fonts it was using to view the web. As I said, I don't know why this happened. At least this time it wasn't a total meltdown. I went through all the usual operations of going to Edit=>Preferences=>General=>Fonts&Colors, and eventually got the screen looking so bad that I could barely read it.

OK, something that's not supposed to be in the Unix philosophy: rip it out and start over. Well, not totally. I kept the current Fedora Core version of Firefox (1.0.4), but ripped out my settings, carefully preserving certain files:

  1. move the ~/.mozilla directory to ~/.mozilla_old
  2. Start Firefox
  3. Set up starting home page
  4. move bookmarks.html, user.js, and chrome/userChrome.css from ~/.mozilla_old/firefox/xxxxxx/ to ~/.mozilla/firefox/yyyyyy/
  5. Reinstall extensions and themes.

Did it help? Not much. I suspect that some upgrade to the Linux fonts wasn't as aesthetically pleasing to me as it was to the author. Eventually, I hope, I'll track down the fonts I want. Strangely, the fonts in other programs, e.g., my Evolution mailreader, weren't affected.

What the exercise did allow me to do was to figure out which Firefox extensions and themes I wanted to keep. As you probably know, extensions add functionality to the browser, while themes change the look of the browser. You can change/add either by going to Tools=>Extensions or Tools=>Themes and clicking the "Get More" option.

I settled on the Modern Pinball theme. As for extensions, I looked over my list and found I liked the following (there aren't any links here, you can find more information on the page which pops up when you want to add extensions):

  1. Adblock: Allows you to delete advertisements (or other content) that you don't want to see. It has a wildcard interface, so you can delete a large class of advertisements. For example, if is annoying, you can use wildcards to delete this picture alone, or*.gif deletes any future annoying ad.
  2. Sage: an RSS reader. Works in the sidebar of Firefox, and uses standard bookmarks to manage the feeds.
  3. Translate and Translate Page: use Google or BabelFish translation services to convert foreign language to something like English. I keep both around as the operated a little differently and each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
  4. User Agent Switcher: Makes the website you're visiting think you are using IE, Opera, or whatever. Useful in avoiding some problems associated with using Firefox on clueless websites. However, it won't run Windows programs for you on a Linux machine, so some sites are still out of bounds.
  5. Forecast Fox: puts local weather icons on your browser. Now it even includes a radar icon: move the cursor over it, and you can see a small regional radar picture.
  6. Cookie Culler: Lets you decide to keep certain classes of cookies when you delete the rest. E.g., the cookies that tell Blogger you've already logged in.

OK, I've again gotten things set up the way I want. Except for the fonts, of course. Maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to fix that soon.