Smokes your problems, coughs fresh air.

Tag: Firefox

Fixing the Firefox file dialogs in Linux Mint (17)

For a few months now, the file dialogs (open, save, etc) in Firefox on Linux Mint 17 KDE malfunctioned. Clicks didn’t go through and/or were interpreted as drags. I finally figured out that it was caused by the Oxygen KDE theme.

So, I installed mint-themes-gtk3 and chose Mint-X as my theme.

It is now fixed.

Disabling http(s) trimming from Firefox address bar

Some time ago, the Firefox developers decided it was a good idea to trim the http(s):// from the address in the address bar. Since then, I’ve been getting HTTPS site where I don’t want it, because I can’t see what I’m doing. Especially so because HTTPS has no concept of virtual host names, and putting https:// in front of any domain might put you on a completely different web site. So, when I accidentally typed https:// in front of an URL once, it will remember that, but not show me…

Luckily it can be disabled, by setting browser.urlbar.trimURLs to false in about:config.

This annoying feature is right up there with the removal of the RSS icon from the address bar.

Disabling related after current tab open

I don’t like that firefox nowadays opens new tabs after the current tab. When I open stuff, I remember in which order I opened it and I don’t want that order changed by having tabs inserted.



to false.

Setting paper size in Mozilla products

Mozilla products, firefox and thunderbird, seem to have the strange behaviour of overriding the paper size set by the operating system; it scales the page to letter and then prints it to A4.

To fix that, you need to go into about config and set the print_paper_data parameter to 9.

With Vimperator it almost feels as if I can control Firefox

Wednesday, after returning to Groningen from Barcelona, I saw Ying using Vimperator. I was sold immediately.

I like to use the keyboard. Point and click is not really my cup of tea. It just doesn’t work without a touch screen. (A while ago I had the opportunity to see an expensive tilt-able touch screen in action and I was quite impressed by how suddenly a GUI became less of a disaster.) I’m an avid VIM user. Although I’ve tried training myself to Emacs, I’ve never made the switch. Even if I would have, this wouldn’t have changed the fact that I’m a shell person, not a desktop person.

Editing in an external editor

I do a lot of writing from my web browser (Firefox). This is not the most enjoyable activity imaginable using the typical <textarea>. It’s not that HTML textareas are so bad, it’s just that I don’t like typing anything extensive without using VIM.

The It’s All Text! Firefox add-on is one way to solve this problem. It adds a small “edit” button to the bottom right of all textareas. (It also adds a context submenu, but this can only be used to edit the whole page’s source (which I found to be a little bit disappointing as I’d rather seen that this acted on just the textarea when going there from a textarea).) The button executes an external editor of choiseGVIM.

Using Vimperator, when in insert mode (inside a textarea), I just have to press Ctrl-i to execute GVIM. The It’s All Text! add-on has thus been deprecated.

Better WindowMaker integration

Due to my reluctance to switch to a tiling window manager, I’m still using WindowMaker. Starting Firefox in WindowMaker is a bit of a nuisance because the main window opens too far out beyond the top left of my workspace. The only way to change this is to tell it to start maximized. However, the main window and the dialogs have the same WM_CLASS and I was somehow annoyed with getting all the popups maximized as well.

Vimperator starts these windows within the browser tabs, so there’s no longer a good reason not to start Firefox maximized. This saves me another keystroke whenever I begin a new browsing session.


Normal mode
In normal mode, I can perform all navigational tasks quickly an concisely. Especially identifying and following links is revolutionary. No more remembering access keys for every web app. I can just press f and type a number. The View Access Keys extension is no longer necessary.
Insert mode
I had never considered how much a seperate insert mode would have made me feel more in control of Firefox. The fact that I can escape it and scroll a bit or follow a link before continuing to type is priceless.
Pass-through mode
There are many modern web applications such as Gmail that have keystrokes conflicting with Vimperator. The great thing about Vimperator is that it wins. But, by pressing Ctrl-z, you can make the web page win until you escape the mode.

There are more modes, but I’m not here to write a tutorial. 🙂


I have many of the scrolling options that I’m used to in VIM. Most importantly, I can scroll half a page instead of a whole page! Before, I’ve spent a lot of time mucking around trying to find out how to make Firefox do this and the only extension that seemed to be able to deliver was Firemacs which I shied away because it did away with many of Firefox’s default key bindings, which is ironic because Vimperator seems much more extreme in this regard. 😛

Flash focus

On thing that I would really like Vimperator to do is to disable Flash content from stealing focus. That would remedy the last type of situation where I simply don’t feel in control of my web browser.

Getting my sister to forget the Google Desktop newsticker

My sister was so fond of the RSS feature that came with Google Desktop’s sidebar that she kept it permanently visible at the right side of her screen. (What a news junkie!) Now that I got her stuck with Linux, she misses her precious Google Desktop and I’m trying to figure out an alternative for her.

For those who want to truly stay on top, just pointing Firefox to Google Reader occasionally isn’t good enough. (I know: I’m slow. I like it that way.) I had heard of various Firefox add-ons to aggregate your RSS feeds in the sidebar, but the sis had thought of this already and didn’t like to have something permanently filling up space at the left. Ok, I can understand. I thought there must probably be some Firefox add-on to move the whole damn sidebar to the right and of course there is; it’s called RightBar.

Screenshot of the RightBar Firefox Addon

Screenshot of the RightBar Firefox Addon

The extension is so simple that you could achieve the same by adding a few lines to the userChrome.css file in the chrome subdirectory of your Firefox profile directory:

/* Change the sidebar's position */
#browser {
-moz-box: reverse;

(If the file doesn’t exist yet, create it from a copy of userChrome-example.css.)

What’s left now is to choose which feed aggregator extension for Mozilla Firefox to use. So far, I’ve only tried Sage (based on a five-star rating and familiarity with the name). It seems to work quite well, although, really, I still prefer just visiting Google Reader every once in a while. I mean: I’m a man, I don’t multi-task, I can hardly single-task.

I’m going to forward these suggestions to my sister, probably just to see them ignored for one crucial oversight: the sidebar doesn’t look very different. One of the things she liked about the Google Desktop, she told me, is that it looked very different from the rest of the stuff on her screen, causing a minimum of distraction. Probably I’ll end up recommending some kind of gDesktlet. (Or is there something better-looking these days?)

The joys of being well-known to Google

The “Places” system in the new Firefox 3 is great. I’m still getting more effective usage out of just the location bar every day. But, sometimes I’m on a different computer, or I haven’t been to one of my web pages for a very long time.

How cool is it then that I can just Control+K to my Google search box and enter: bypassing smart completion to get my own page on the top of the result list?

Since my blog is literally a log that I mostly use to keep track of what I think and do while problem-solving, it’s great that I can rely on Google to find my way through memory lane.

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