Installing Firefox 3.5 In Ubuntu (completely)

Posted in Guides, Linux, Ubuntu by aliencam | 3 Comments »

Firefox 3.5 came out a few days ago, and I always want to have the most updated version of everything. It won’t be in the Ubuntu repositories until 9.10 is released.

First step is from Lifehacker, it downloads and unpacks the file from the firefox website.

Open a terminal window and enter:
wget -O - http://releases.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/firefox/releases/3.5/linux-i686/en-US/firefox-3.5.tar.bz2 | tar xj -C ~

Now, this shouldn’t overwrite firefox 3.0, but we need to move it to the mozilla folder, so use the following command:

mv ~/firefox/ ~/.mozilla/firefox3.5/

Now, make a symbolic link to firefox 3.5 in the equivalent of a “programs” folder (/usr/bin in Ubuntu):
sudo ln -s ~/.mozilla/firefox3.5/firefox /usr/bin/firefox-3.5

NOTE: you may only have one version of firefox open at one time. To open Firefox 3.5, you must completely close all other versions of firefox.

Now to set the firefox icon to the new firefox program (when opening in gnome-do and if you make a panel shortcut) open your home folder, hit ctrl-h (to show hidden files), go to .mozilla/firefox-3.5, right-click on the “firefox” in there, go to “properties” then left-click on the icon (top left corner). Now go to Pixmaps on the left (or /usr/share/pixmaps) and select firefox-3.0.png.

Now, there are a few ways to set up a shortcut to open firefox. One of the easiest is to add it to the program menu. Open the menu and go to System > Preferences > (Display >) Main Menu. Now open the “Internet” section (in the left column), and create a “New Item” with name: Firefox 3.5, command: firefox-3.5, and once again, the icon should be /usr/share/pixmaps/firefox-3.0.png.

Another method is, if you use gnome-do, just open it (alt-space) and when you start typing “firefox,” hit the down arrow and select “Firefox 3.5” (I think this only shows up after a restart, or if you add the firefox 3.5 menu item above).

Firefox 3.5 has some interesting quirks though. Flash will not work for it unless you copy your plugins into it.

In Ubuntu though, you need to copy plugins for multiple locations. Use this set of commands to copy all the plugins:
cp /usr/lib/flashplugin-installer/libflashplayer.so ~/.mozilla/firefox3.5/plugins/ && cp /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/* ~/.mozilla/firefox3.5/plugins/

you also need to disable the strange middle-mouse behavior in 3.5. go to about:config in firefox, click the “I’ll be careful I promise!”, and go to: middlemouse.contentLoadURL and if it is true, double-click on it to make it false.

the only thing I have yet to figure out is why all the fonts in firefox 3.5 seem to be blurry, while 3.0 was perfect… To me it is like the difference between subpixel smoothing and high contrast font rendering modes… see the screenshots below. (left is non-blurry firefox 3.0, right is blurry firefox 3.5)
ScreenshotScreenshot-1

UPDATE: There were a few forum topics about this issue, but nobody had a definitive solution. Many possible solutions, but many of them were kind of strange, and many did not work.

Here is what worked for me:

open a terminal, and this first step is a backup just in case the next step messes up your system’s fonts.

sudo cp /etc/fonts/conf.d/10-hinting-slight.conf /home/$USERNAME/Desktop/
sudo cp /etc/fonts/conf.d/10-no-sub-pixel.conf /home/$USERNAME/Desktop/

Now, the files were just copied to your desktop, here are the next two commands:
sudo ln -s /etc/fonts/conf.available/10-hinting-medium.conf /etc/fonts/conf.d/.
sudo ln -s /etc/fonts/conf.available/10-sub-pixel-rgb.conf /etc/fonts/conf.d/.

And finally, you need to reset fontconfig:
sudo dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig

Once this finishes, restart Firefox to see the new fixed font rendering engine! You should also restart your computer to ensure that removing those files did not do any harm. If you restart and you can still see text, then you are okay to:
sudo rm /home/$USERNAME/Desktop/10-hinting-slight.conf /home/$USERNAME/Desktop/10-no-sub-pixel.conf

Now you are finished!

Ubuntu Setup Guide Part III. Firefox Tweaks.

Posted in Guides, Linux, Lists, Ubuntu by aliencam | No Comments »

Now, I’m putting Firefox as the first item on this list of things to do because Firefox is definitely where I spend most of my time.

Flash:
go to a site that requires flash (youtube doesn’t work anymore, try google videos) and click the “install missing plugins” button that pops up at the top right corner of the website. Choose the “Adobe Flash Player” and click “next,” click “install” and enter your password.
Once you finish, you need to restart firefox to get it to work.

Some about:config tweaks:


open a new tab and go to about:config. Here you will be able to adjust many very advanced options in Firefox, some of which could mess up your browser, so be careful and don’t change random things.

In the “Filter:” bar, search for “browser.search.openintab” It should read “false” by default, double-click, or right-click and change it to “true.” This will make it so that every time you use the search bar (top right corner of the browser,) it automatically opens in a new tab.

now search for “middlemouse.paste” and change that value to “false.” Now every time you use the middle-mouse button to scroll, it won’t also paste randomly.

next, go to layout.spellcheckDefault and change the value to “2” This allows spellcheck to work in every field, instead of just large text entry boxes.

Installing Firefox Extensions


One might say that I love my firefox extensions. I would not argue with them at all. All or most of these can be installed by searching for them on the Firefox extension website, then clicking “install.” If they aren’t on that site, google the name and they might be hosted on the author’s site. Here is a list of Firefox Extensions by importance:

Absolutely Essential:

  • Adblock Plus (blocks ads, see configuration steps below)
  • Tabs Open Relative (new tabs open next to the current one)
  • Xmarks (syncs bookmarks and passwords)

Pretty Much Essential:

  • Wise Stamp (awesome custom email signatures)
  • Read It Later (saves pages for you to read later)
  • Twitterbar (post to twitter from the address bar)
  • Down Them All! (download embedded media and multiple files)
  • FireFTP (FTP client in Firefox)

Useful:

  • Better Amazon
  • Better Gcal
  • Better Gmail 2
  • Better Greader
  • Customize Google
  • FasterFox (some tweaks for broadband connections. you can do these manually in about:config)
  • Firebug (useful for web development)
  • Google Gears (! If using 64 but see later, installing this is different. enables offline stuff)
  • Greasemonkey (allows website tweaking. I keep disabled except during a woot off)
  • Hide Find Bar (auto hides the find bar when you aren’t using it)
  • LongURL Mobile Expander (expands tinyurls and other on mouseover. Also available as aGreasemonkey script)
  • Menu Editor (necessary for customization section next)
  • TinyURL Creator (creates tiny URLs)
  • User Agent Switcher (lets you pretend to be IE or another browser to trick websites)

Not Really Necessary At All

  • Alexa- Sparky (helps the Alexa ratings of websites you visit, kind of like spyware)
  • Fission (moves the loading bar to the address bar, like Safari)
  • Mr. Uptime (tells you when a website is back up)
  • Novell Moonlight (lets you use Microsoft Silverlight in Linux/Unix)
  • Retail Me Not (alerts you to coupons on websites using retailmenot.com)
  • ScreenGrab (allows fullscreen screenshots of websites since print to pdf doesnt work well)
  • Stealther (locally disables cache and history and stuff temporarily)
  • Stylish (allows you to tweak websites or firefox with userstyles.org scripts)
  • URL Fixer (fixes .cmo to .com and stuff)

Now once you install all of these your firefox window will be covered in buttons and icons for all these extensions. Most of these are useless and just waste space/time, so I get rid of almost all of them. See “Customization” section below.

Google Gears


Google gears is an extremely useful extension for offline browsing (particularly it lets you use Gmail and Google reader offline), and for speeding up websites like wordpress. Unfortunately, Google does not release a 64 bit version of it, but since it is open source, users have been able to recompile it to work with 64bit versions of Firefox. Strangely, enough, not much actually has to be changed, so I don’t understand why Google won’t release a 64 bit version… anyway, the quickest method I have found is to google “Gears 64 linux” and many people will have compiled and posted a version on their blogs. I have not done this because I don’t have the time right now, and last time I tried, I did something wrong.

Currently, the most recent version available is on Niel’s Blog. Go to that site, download the updated binary (at the moment it is gears-linux-opt-05180.xpi), and to install in Firefox, go to “File > Open” then select the .xpi file you just downloaded.

One problem with this method is that periodically you will get a message saying “Gears cannot be updated because it is not compatible with your architecture” Just ignore these messages, and when you are prompted to “update” firefox extensions, just uncheck google gears so the other extensions update. When this happens, wait a few days then do a google search to see if anyone has posted an updated version of the extension.

Adblock-Plus Configuration


When you install Adblock Plus and restart firefox, the first thing that happens is that it asks you which blocklist you want to subscribe to. Select EasyList (USA). Ever since they have implimented this feature, it is recommended (by the authors of adblock) that you DO NOT install Adblock-Plus Filter Uploader.

Once you have Easylist chosen, adblock will block almost all ads out there. Which, for me, and much of the internet, is actually a problem. Many websites rely on ads to survive, but unfortunately they choose annoying flashing, moving pictures, and similar ads. This is why we use adblock. On the other hand, tasteful and relevant text ads are not only not annoying, but often helpful in finding related websites. As such, I like to allow the Google text-only ads (like the ones I have on this site). There are two adblock-plus filters you can add to allow Google Text-Only ads.

Click the arrow on the “ABP Stop Sign”, and select “Preferences” (in the top right corner if you just installed adblock, otherwise Tools > Add-Ons > Extensions > Adblock > Preferences. ) and click “Add Filter…” Then enter the following two lines as new filters:

@@/pagead2.googlesyndication.com/*ads
@@/pagead2.googlesyndication.com/*$script,subdocument

The first one enables the ad, and the second the “Google” text and rounded corners around some of the text ads.

****NOTE: I’m not actually sure those filters work anymore… I’ll have to look into this more, definitely added to my todo list… dang. leave a comment if it does or doesn’t work***

Firefox GUI Customization/Condensing


NOTE: this section is near unintelligible, I wrote this right when I woke up. I will change it to a list format or comprehensible sentences later.

My screen is very small (12.1″) so I need to save every pixel possible so I can see more content. I also don’t want annoying things bugging me while I’m using Firefox. First thing I do is remove all of the icons from extensions. Top right corner and bottom right corner are covered with these. Most of these can be disabled by right-clicking on them, going to options, and changing some option in the extension itself.

Now, right-click on the menu bar and uncheck “Bookmarks Toolbar,” then select “Customize”. Drag off any items you don’t need (home, the “throbber” and the separator line in the top right) , and drag everything else to the top bar. Then check “Use Small Icons.” Now right-click and uncheck “Navigation Toolbar” as well.

Now there are still a few more changes that need to be made, and these are a bit more advanced. I like to get rid of the magnifying glass icon in the “search” bar, and I would like to combine the stop and reload buttons (you can only use one at a time anyway!), don’t show the forward or back buttons if there is nothing to go forward or back to, auto-hide status bar, and italicize unread tabs.

you can do this all with stylish scripts, guide on Lifehacker, userstyles.org but I would prefer to do it without the extension (this way I can keep stylish disabled except when I really need it).

First step is to make a UserChrome.css file. In Ubuntu Linux, go to /home/$USERNAME/.mozilla/firefox/***profile***/chrome ($USERNAME is your username and ***profile*** will be random letters and numbers). In Windows this will be at “C:\Documents and Settings\$USERNAME\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\***profile***\chrome\”

Make a copy of userChrome-example.css, and rename it “userChrome.css” . Now open this new file, and paste the following section into the bottom (or right below the @namespace line, it doesn’t mater).

/* This removes the Search Bar Magnifying Glass */
.search-go-button-stack { display: none !important; }

/* Combine Stop and Reload buttons*/

#stop-button[disabled] { display: none;}

#stop-button:not([disabled]) + #reload-button {
display: none;
}

/* Remove Back button when there's nothing to go Back to */
#back-button[disabled="true"] { display: none; }

/* Remove Forward button when there's nothing to go Forward to */
#forward-button[disabled="true"] { display: none; }

/* Auto Hide Status Bar Unless Mouseover */
#status-bar:not(:hover) {margin-bottom:-20px;}
#statusbar-display[label*="."], #statusbar-display[label*="."] ~ * {margin-bottom:20px;}

/*This makes unread tabs appear in italics*/

#content tab:not([selected]) {
font-style: italic !important;
}

These were taken from various places; userstyles.org, lifehacker.com, and some other blogs.

now save and close the userChrome.css then restart firefox.

In Edit > Preferences > Content, I change the default font size to 15 instead of 16, to make everything just a little bit smaller.

in “Privacy” I set Firefox to keep only 30 days of history (even 30 days is a lot of data).

Then, using the preferences option in the “Menu Editor” plugin that I installed earlier, follow the following steps.

Open Preferences for Menu Editor (Tools > Add-Ons > Extensions > Menu Editor > Preferences)
Enable “Advanced Mode”.
Uncheck “visible” for “Edit”, “History”, and “Help”
Then, in the right column, change the dropdown menu to “Edit” and in the left, go to “Tools”
Drag the “Preferences” menu item from the right into “Tools” on the left.
Apply, and click “OK.”

Here are some Screenshots of before and after this customization for Firefox.

screenshotscreenshot-1

UPDATE:

I have now added the Wolfram Alpha search plugin to the firefox search bar. click here to install it.

Firefox Hacks

Posted in Guides, Life in General, Lists by aliencam | No Comments »

there are a few tweaks in firefox’s advanced configuration (about:config) that I always have  to do to get it to work the way I like it to.  Here are the ones that I have done this time:

Go to about:config, click the “I’ll be careful, I promise!”

gfx.color_management.enabled  set to true   Enables “color profile” making pictures look better in firefox.

layout.spellcheckDefault set to “2”  Makes it so that spellcheck works in all text boxes, including ones with only one line.

browser.blink_allowed set to false  Makes sure that any websites with the horrible evil < blink > tag do not work.

browser.search.openintab set to true  This makes the search bar at the top right corner open your searches in a new tab.

middlemouse.paste set to false  This makes it so that the middle mouse button’s click does not act as “paste” in firefox.

I also move all of the back/forward/reload, address bar, and search box to the top line, remove the “edit” menu, and move “preferences” to “tools” using the addon “Menu Editor”

Adobe Flash 10 and Google Gears on Firefox in 64-bit Ubuntu!

Posted in Guides, Life in General, Linux, Lists by aliencam | 1 Comment »

It makes almost no sense nowadays to be using a 32 bit operating system, however, there are still many problems with using a 64 bit version of firefox, like the one shipped with 64-bit editions of Ubuntu.  The main problems are that a few addons don’t support the 64 bit version, and flash 9 is very unstable.  It was not impossible to find information on the internet explaining how to fix the issues with Flash and Google Gears, without messing up anything else.

The solution that I found to unstable flash in 64-bit Ubuntu was to use the new version of flash, 10.  Flash 10 is still not in the repositories, and probably will not be until the next release of ubuntu (curse you feature freeze!), but some people on the ubuntu forums have posted how to get Flash 10 installed in firefox, it is really quite easy using their script. If you don’t want to follow my interpretation of the instructions, you can read the topic for yourself at http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=954100

Flash 10

Go to System > Administration > Software Sources and then to the Third Party Software tab. click Add and add the line: 

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/psyke83/ubuntu intrepid main

This repository has flash 10, and a new version of pulseaudio as well, so that will get upgraded along with everything else.

Hit “Close” let it refresh, then close again.  make sure you DO NOT do software upgrade right now, it will break things.

if you have not already, install the getlibs package, which is extremely useful for installing 32-bit software in 64-bit ubuntu. (install it by clicking that link and downloading the package on that page, then clicking on the downloaded package and installing it. )

then make a new file anywhere, and as it’s contents paste in the following:

#!/bin/bash
# Script  created by
# Romeo-Adrian Cioaba romeo.cioaba@spotonearth.com
# Super minor updates by jason.melton[at]gmail[dot]com
# Another minor update by tal.liron[at]gmail[dot]com
# Released under GPL

echo "Stopping any Firefox that might be running"
sudo killall -9 firefox

echo "Removing any other flash plugin previously installed:"
sudo apt-get remove -y --purge flashplugin-nonfree gnash gnash-common mozilla-plugin-gnash swfdec-mozilla libflashsupport nspluginwrapper
sudo rm -f /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/*flash*
sudo rm -f ~/.mozilla/plugins/*flash*
sudo rm -f /usr/lib/firefox/plugins/*flash*
sudo rm -f /usr/lib/firefox-addons/plugins/*flash*
sudo rm -rfd /usr/lib/nspluginwrapper

echo "Installing ia32-libs and nspluginwrapper"
sudo apt-get install ia32-libs nspluginwrapper

echo "Getting libs"
sudo getlibs -p libcurl3
sudo getlibs -p libnss3-1d
sudo getlibs -p libnspr4-0d

echo "Installing Flash Player 10"
cd ~
wget http://fpdownload.macromedia.com/get/flashplayer/current/install_flash_player_10_linux.tar.gz
tar zxvf install_flash_player_10_linux.tar.gz
sudo cp install_flash_player_10_linux/libflashplayer.so /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/
rm -rf ~/install_flash_player_10_linux/
sudo nspluginwrapper -i /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/libflashplayer.so

echo "Linking the libraries so Firefox can find it."
sudo ln -sf /usr/lib/nspluginwrapper/plugins/npwrapper.libflashplayer.so /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/
sudo ln -sf /usr/lib/nspluginwrapper/plugins/npwrapper.libflashplayer.so /usr/lib/firefox-addons/plugins/

echo "Done :-)"

I am really sorry to do this, but you will now have to manually replace all of the open and close quotation marks in that block of code with regular quotation marks. If you use gedit to paste all that information in, then you can use “find and replace”, paste a curved open quote into the find box, then replace all with a regular quote that you type, then do the same for the close quotation.
(Note: I just found a wordpress plugin that will let me disable smartquotes on certain posts, I will be installing that ASAP)

after replacing all the quotes, save and close the file. right-click on it and go to properties, then permissions, and check the “enable executing this file as a program” box. Then open a terminal, and you can either type the path of the file into the terminal and execute it, or just drag the file into the terminal, go back to the terminal and hit enter.

It should ask you for your admin password, then ask you to press “y” a few times, and then if you get “Done :-)” displayed in the terminal, everything should be good. Your Firefox now has Flash 10 installed!!!


Google Gears in 64-bit Firefox!

According to the official Google Gears FAQ, there are two ways to install gears in a 64-bit edition of firefox.  The first one is using “nspluginwrapper” (which makes little to no sense because gears is an addon, not a plugin and as such cannot be wrapped), and the second option is to use a patch documented on the google groups.  The problem with the patch is that most people don’t know how to patch and build source. However, some nice person has patched version 0.4.9.0 (which is a recent version) and posted the compiled addons on their website.  All you have to do is go to http://www-personal.umich.edu/~swolchok/gears/ and download the most recent file anywhere, then in firefox go to File > Open File and select the .xpi file.  Firefox will then install the addon and the only issue will be that every once in awhile you get an error message saying that firefox cannot update the extension because your browser is 64-bit.  Just ignore it and check that website to see if a new version has been posted, it does not interfere with any of the other extensions from being updated.  This guide was taken from HERE.
If you still want to patch and build the latest svn yourself, the patch is located at http://groups.google.com/group/gears-users/browse_thread/thread/4584842dd14a4882 and the SVN is located at http://code.google.com/p/gears/source/checkout

that is all.

-aliencam

Quick adblock un-tutorial (unblock adsense text ads)

Posted in Guides, Life in General, Linux, Lists, Pictures by aliencam | No Comments »


This picture was taken back in January, on my back porch. I didn’t really have another good picture to post today, I worked all day and didn’t take any pictures. I forgot to cut my hair again today, I seriously need to do that tomorrow. My first day back at work was pretty good, I remembered everything even with that nine month hiatus, so I was able to jump right back in and do anything in the store, even the water testing and equipment repairs.

Talking about ads online. I really don’t like advertisements all over the interwebs, but I do concede that they are necessary for most websites to stay up. However, ads today are so annoying and so (vulgar, imposing, I don’t know) that most of us take it upon ourselves to install adblock first thing when we install firefox. This is great except for the issue that if everybody used adblock there would be no money in advertising, and the internet would no longer be commercially free. (I dont think this would be that bad actually, I like the web-2.0 collaborative free-time donation model the internet is slowly becoming, but, ) This would get rid of so many of our favorite sites, that we would have to just deal with it and not have those websites for awhile. But anyway, not all ads are so annoying that we have to block them. Google’s text ads I actually enjoy quite often. The google content ads will either have good relevant links to similar websites, or such obscure references that you can’t avoid clicking them just to see what the page is about. These ads usually match the color scheme of the website, and are not at all imposing. They also aren’t ambiguous to the point where we can’t distinguish between content and ads.

But these ads, along with all the bad ones, are blocked by the adblock firefox extension (if you subscribe to the EasyList subscription, which nearly everyone does). When I went to unblock these ads, in order to continue supporting my favorite websites, I remembered that google does not only do these nice relevant text ads, but also the annoying image ads that can contain punching monkies, flashing graphics, moving things, and generally annoying stuff. So I had to ask on the adblock forums about how to unblock only the text ads and continue blocking the graphical advertisements.

in short, here is how to unblock Google’s AdSense Text ads (and nothing else!) :

  • Open AdBlock Preferences
  • Add a filter with the text:
    @@/pagead2.googlesyndication.com/*ads

that’s it. Yes it is a lot simpler than it seems, but that filter works just fine. in case anyone didn’t know, adding “@@” to the front of an adblock filter means “allow”. If you want to write yor own adblock filters there is a good guide here: http://adblockplus.org/en/filters but I really suggest learning regular expressions if you want to get into anything more advanced (not just for adblock, regular expressions are amazing any time you want to search.)

Also, I would like you to ignore the ad at the bottom of this post. I know it is annoying, and badly placed, and it stands out, and I will be moving it to the bottom of the sidebar tomorrow (after I cut my hair. and maybe dye my hair again depending on the colour after I cut it. )

“Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, men mistake medicine for magic.” -Thomas Szasz

-aliencam

Post script: I have 116 unread items in my Google Reader feed catcher… dang. I haven’t been reading my feeds very much the last week… add something else to my moleskine list…

Firefox Extensions

Posted in Linux, Lists, Ubuntu by aliencam | No Comments »

As I am backing up all my files and settings, I needed a list of all firefox extensions that I have installed. I found a nice extension called “add-on dump” so I installed it, and it printed me this nicely formated list of all extensions. Many of these will be rendered unnecessary (w00t!) when I convert to firefox 3 beta 5 after the install, as opposed to the swiftweasel version I am currently using. But if swiftweasel trunk is faster than the FF3b5 (which it probably will be) I will switch back to swiftweasel.

Add-Ons list:
Application: Swiftweasel 2.0.0.13 (0000000000)
Operating System: Linux (x86_64-gcc3)

April 25, 2008

Total number of items: 32

– Adblock Plus 0.7.5.4
– Adblock Plus: Element Hiding Helper 1.0.4
– Better GReader 0.2.2
– Better YouTube 0.4.2
– BugMeNot 1.8
– Copy All Urls 0.8.0
– CustomizeGoogle 0.71
– del.icio.us Bookmarks 1.5.44
– DOM Inspector 1.8.1.13
– DownThemAll! 1.0.1
– Extension List Dumper 1.13.1
– Fasterfox 2.0.0
– FireFTP 0.97.1
– Fission 0.9.5
– Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer 2.0.45
– GooglePreview 3.11
– Greasemonkey 0.7.20080121.0
– keyconfig 20060828.1
– Linky 2.7.1
– Mozilla XForms 0.8.5
– Nightly Tester Tools 1.3
– OneClick Installer for WordPress 1.0
– PDF Download 1.0.1.1
– Preferences in Tools Menu 0.1
– Quick Locale Switcher 1.6.5.1
– RetailMeNot 2.1
– Save Session 1.3.1.3
– Stealther 1.0.1
– Twitterbar 0.0.8
– Update Scanner 2.0.15
– Usage Counter 0.2.1
– User Agent Switcher 0.6.11

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