Category Archives: Firefox

On Mozilla’s search deal with Yahoo

Google gets to get on with the business of locking users into their own ecosystem, Yahoo gets to expand the presence of their competing search engine, and Mozilla likely gets paid handsomely for the deal. Win/win.



Android’s better browser?

Folks using Android aren’t in much doubt about which is the better browser:

Firefox for Android vs Google Chrome Play Store ratings

Custom Firefox Sync servers now supported again for Firefox for Android

Around the Firefox v29 timeline, Mozilla changed the authentication mechanism for Firefox Sync to use Firefox Accounts. Consequently, the setup method for custom self-hosted Firefox Sync servers changed (note that my guide has yet to be updated), and for a few releases Firefox for Android did not support the new model.

Fortunately, custom Sync server connectivity has been restored as of Firefox for Android version 33. The full guide (including an add-on which enables custom sync server addresses) can be found on Nick Alexander’s blog.

Note that if you’re using a “non-standard” port for either your custom Sync or Firefox Account servers, you’ll run into the bug described at, which as Nick says manifests itself as an authentication error. The workaround suggested is to use Firefox Beta, which works for me.

It’s terrific that Mozilla continues to offer its users the choice of self-hosting their solutions.

Firefox Sync on Android

Built-in video calling with Firefox (“Firefox Hello”)

After reading Nicholas Nethercote’s blog post about using Firefox for one-to-one video calling, I thought I’d try this myself. Note that contrary to what he’s written, the feature (known as “Firefox Hello”) remains in beta as of Firefox 33 being officially released.

The feature is incredibly simple to try out, and seems to “just work”. First, install and run Firefox 34 Beta. Next, locate the “Firefox Hello” feature under the menu:

Firefox Hello menu item

Firefox will generate a link: simply copy and send this to the remote recipient (who must also be running Firefox Beta):

Firefox Hello link

When they click on the link, you’ll see a notification in Firefox of an incoming call:

Firefox Hello incoming call

Simply click to accept, and hey presto:

Firefox Hello call in progress

You can pop out and expand the call window if needed:

Firefox Hello pop out window

To summarise: no setup needed, point-to-point calling without having to sign up and into a third-party privacy-invading service, and an existing installed base of millions of people. Exciting stuff.

pdf.js support in Thunderbird

Recent releases of Firefox have included built-in support for the pdf.js Javascript PDF rendering engine, enabling fast, plug-in-free previewing of PDF content right in the browser. What’s perhaps less-known is that with the help of an add-on Thunderbird can also do the same.

The Thunderbird Conversations add-on by Jonathan Protzenko enables a sophisticated conversation view in Thunderbird plus a whole raft of other goodies. You can read more about the story behind the add-on here and download it from here. It’s a fantastic option for email power users and for those wishing to directly preview PDF content in Thunderbird:

Thunderbird Conversations add-on.

PDF Preview directly in Thunderbird.

When Mozilla make the tagline of Thunderbird “Reclaim your inbox”, they’re not kidding. If you don’t want to have a conversation-based interface like Gmail’s rammed down your throat, then you can use the stock standard interface. But if you want a conversation view par excellence, this is an add-on that will fit the bill, and then some.

Thunderbird Conversations add-on conversation view.

Installing the Oracle Java 7 plugin in Firefox on Ubuntu 12.04

We are briefly describing here how to install the Java plugin for Oracle JDK/SE 7 in Firefox. This is a manual procedure, and in this case we are wanting to install the plugin for Java 7 update 10 to enable running of JavaFX apps in Firefox 17.01 on Ubuntu 12.04 x86.

Assuming we are using the full Oracle JDK and have installed it to /opt, then the Firefox/browser plugin is located at at /opt/jdk1.7.0_06/jre/lib/i386, and is the file named

davek@mymachine:/opt/jdk1.7.0_06/jre/lib/i386$ pwd
davek@mymachine:/opt/jdk1.7.0_06/jre/lib/i386$ ls -al 
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 169420 2012-08-10 15:20

At /usr/lib/firefox/plugins create a symbolic link to this file:

davek@mymachine:/usr/lib/firefox/plugins$ pwd
davek@mymachine:/usr/lib/firefox/plugins$ sudo ln -s /opt/jdk1.7.0_06/jre/lib/i386/ .
davek@mymachine:/usr/lib/firefox/plugins$ ls -al
total 8
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 2012-08-15 22:19 .
drwxr-xr-x 6 root root 4096 2012-05-03 00:09 ..
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root   41 2012-08-15 22:19 -> /opt/jdk1.7.0_06/jre/lib/i386/

After restarting Firefox, the Java plugin should now be available (and can be enabled and disabled accordingly):

Java plugin in Firefox.

Java 7 update 6 arrives, JavaFX now supported in the JRE for Linux

Quick post – the latest update to Oracle Java 7 features Mac OS supported as an equal peer to Windows and Linux – but perhaps more interestingly now includes full JavaFX runtime support in the JRE for Linux. Having cross platform support for Oracle’s next-generation Java UI does finally open up some interesting possibilities for better Java client interfaces than what we’ve generally seen so far.

Screengrab of the JavaFX Ensemble demo app running happily in Firefox on Ubuntu 10.04 x86:

JavaFX in Firefox on Ubuntu

Thunderbird RSS, QuickFolders, Sync, and other niceties

I continue to be impressed by Thunderbird which goes from strength to strength with every release. After playing around with RSS feed functionality (described here), I’m now using Thunderbird as my primary RSS feed reader: it’s particularly handy for keeping track of Twitter feeds (which the Twitter native web interface itself kind of sucks at), especially with the ability to tab your Twitter feeds with QuickFolders (below).


If like me you deal with thousands of mail items across multiple mail folders, then drop everything and check the QuickFolders extension out:

It’s quite simply a superb add-on with an absolute tonne of features: you can read about them here: I was very happy to donate to the developer – so if you do like the add-on, perhaps consider doing the same 🙂


After enabling RSS feed functionality in Thunderbird, I got to thinking how cool it would be if Mozilla could extend their Firefox Sync functionality to Thunderbird: the ability to sync RSS feeds, account and application preferences amongst multiple Thunderbird installations would be huge. Turns out (after making enquiries on the relevant mailing lists) that this is planned:


Another cute addition to Thunderbird: a “Tip of the Week” feature in the Thunderbird welcome screen. Nice little touch!

Thunderbird tip of the week

Enable Nuxeo Live Edit with LibreOffice and Firefox

Following is a quick how-to, as apparently Live Edit with Nuxeo DM 5.5, LibreOffice, Firefox, and the Nuxeo-provided plugins doesn’t work that well out of the box.

My example platform is Ubuntu 10.04 x86, Nuxeo DM 5.5, LibreOffice 3.4.6 (with the LibreOffice Java support packages installed as well), and Firefox 11.


First, grab the Nuxeo add-ons for LibreOffice and Firefox, respectively:

The latter link Nuxeo refers to as the “protocol handler” for Firefox, but let’s just say that both are needed to enable Live Edit functionality.


The LibreOffice add-on once installed requires no configuration (and there are in fact no preferences to set). The Firefox add-on however requires manual configuration – as the default settings are inadequate.

Referring to the below screengrab, we have entered our Nuxeo user credentials for automatic server access when saving documents to Nuxeo from LibreOffice. We have set the /tmp directory as our working directory – but note that the path must have the trailing forward slash (i.e. “/tmp/” will work, but “/tmp” will not). We have retained a single default “” mapping, but we have changed the editor command to that of LibreOffice 3.4:

Nuxeo Live Edit Firefox add-on settings

That should be all that is needed. When you click the “Edit Online” icon from within Nuxeo you should observe LibreOffice launching and opening the document for editing automagically. Likewise, clicking on the “Save in Nuxeo” icon in LibreOffice should push the document back up to the server without error:

Nuxeo - edit online

LibreOffice - Nuxeo Live Edit

The fallacy of Firefox “bloat” apropos of comparisons to Google Chrome

Chrome users seem to use the “bloat” argument against Firefox any chance they get, seemingly without being able to back the claim up with anything of substance. So, these recent benchmarks are rather interesting.

Memory usage under Windows and Mac OS X:,3108-13.html

“Under a heavy load of 40 tabs, Safari for Windows uses the least amount of memory (just 725 MB). Firefox comes in second at 910 MB, followed closely by Opera at 925 and Chrome at 995. Microsoft’s own IE9 uses the most memory (1.75 GB).

Opera is the only competitor to use less than a gigabyte of memory in Mac OS X. Safari comes in a close second, eating just over 1 GB, followed by Firefox at 1.25 GB. Chrome reports a whopping 2.3 GB of usage with 40 tabs open, which is significantly more than any other browser.”


Windows 7 and Ubuntu:,3129-14.html

Tres intéressant.