Firefox 32 – a Test in Slackware

Slackware64 14.1 runs the Firefox 24.x ESR (Extended Support Release) out of the box. Over at Scot’s Newsletter Forums, I commented about how I got a chance to see FF 32 in Win 7 on my cousin’s laptop that I was working on earlier this evening. It looked identical to Chromium/Chrome.

Well, I found a SlackBuild script and the source for FF 32 in the Slackware Current repos. COOL! I’m compiling now…

Whew! We’re burning up some CPU cycles in all four cores to compile this baby. It’s been going for over 30 minutes now. It better not error out on me after all this time.

Still building…

Well, that was some compile. On this relatively fast quad core machine it took 1.5 hours to build this app from source. Wow!

Anyway, it’s built and installed in my Slackware now. I’m not so sure I like it. In appearance, it’s a lot like Chromium/Chrome. However, in leanness and efficiency, it’s a totally different beast. Sadly, the old-fashioned extension methods in FF are a bit primitive compared to the slick Chrome Store addon process. Also, the old FF Sync does not work. You have to create a new FF Sync account to use it with FF-32.

I set this new FF up to be quite close to my Chromium/Chrome browsers. I used the very same or similar extensions. I also used my mini-custom dial home page. I have the preferences set up in a similar fashion. There’s still some work to do. I’ll play around with it a bit more tomorrow, maybe. Here’s a look…

Sadly, like I said… it looks like Chromium/Chrome, but it ain’t them. Looks are deceiving.

If you run Slackware and want to try this baby out, a word of advice… you’ll need a good bit of free RAM and a fast processor to compile this from source. The slower your processor, the longer it will take. Be patient.

You can get the FF-32 source tarball and the SlackBuild script in the Current repos on your favorite server. Here’s the server I used…

ftp://slackware.oregonstate.edu/pub/slackware/

You’ll find it in: /pub/slackware/slackware64-current/source/xap/mozilla-firefox/ – 64bit or
/pub/slackware/slackware-current/source/xap/mozilla-firefox/ – 32bit

You know the SlackBuild routine by now, but just in case:

  1. add source tarball and the SlackBuild script to a temp build directory
  2. make the script executable – #chmod +x {script name}
  3. run the script – #sh {script name}
  4. once it’s built (it’ll take some time – go have a smoke, eat some dinner, walk the dog), you’ll find the .txz in the /tmp directory.
  5. to install – #installpkg {package name}.txz

That’s it. Have fun! :)

Later…

~Eric


Pale Moon Browser – a Review

I’ve been married to Mozilla Firefox (and Thunderbird) since I came to GNU/Linux full-time nearly 8 years ago.

I’ve tried other browsers: Epiphany, Midori, IceSkunk — er… I mean Weasel (in Debian), Konqueror (an old fav), etc. I never could get them to do the things that I wanted my browser to do. I used to heavily customize my FF, even using userChrome scripts to manipulate things under the hood. However, lately I’ve gotten FF pretty much just the way I want it. It’s not too bloated. It’s not to graphics intensive to display. It’s just right, in other words.

Unfortunately, sometime in the past few months, FF has developed some CPU cycle hogging tendencies that really are beginning to aggravate me. It usually happens when I first open the browser. Now I clear-all when closing my browser, so I’m starting it back up with minimal overhead. Still, for the first few minutes of operation each day, it gobbles CPU cycles to the point where it actually freezes up while trying to load two or three websites in tabs.

I’ve done all the usual: make sure extensions/plugins are all up-to-date, start in Safe Mode, start with a fresh profile, etc. FF still displays this annoying habit of jamming up CPU cycles when you first start it up. Oh, well… I almost suspect Adobe Flash, but can’t blame everything on them. ;) When this happened to me first thing this morning, it got me motivated to maybe find a browser alternative to FF for a while.

I already had Opera installed on my Slackware, so I updated it. I then installed Chromium (not Chrome, but close enough) from a SlackBuild from Alien Bob’s (Eric Hameleers) repository. You’ll be getting a substantial donation, Eric, if I can ever get my personal finances in order again. Anyway, I played around with both Opera and Chromium for a while. I’m just daunted by the amount of work involved to get them to do what my FF already does so well. It’s going to be tough to break away from FF, I thought…

Well, Fran (Li’l Bambi @ Scot’s Newsletter Forums) mentioned an alternative that I had heard of, but had forgotten all about up until I saw her posting today. She mentioned The Pale Moon Project. I immediately went over to their site to have a looksee. I was impressed with what I saw there. What really had me jumping for joy was the fact that Pale Moon would work with existing FF profiles. That would save me a lot of work when it comes to setting up. So, I figured I’d give it a try.

A screenie thumbnail of my Pale Moon browser

Since I’ve run Slackware as my primary operating system on all my machines for almost 8 years now, I knew that I’d probably have to compile this on my own from source code that I downloaded from the Pale Moon folks. Well, surprise! Their little tar.bz2 package actually has a minimal install script included. It worked like a champ in Slackware. No muss, no fuss. I had the browser installed in less than a minute. All I had to do after that was copy my default FF profile into the Pale Moon directory and change the profile.ini to point to it.

Whammo! I’m using Pale Moon right away. It opens the very first time looking and functioning 99.9% like my FF; Bookmarks, extensions, addons, plugins all working right off. Impressive! I’ve been using this browser all afternoon today. It hasn’t burped once. The only time I see any significant CPU usage is when scrolling on highly graphic intensive pages, like Bing Image Search or similar, but nowhere near the CPU usage that FF was displaying. It also seems to be a bit faster to respond, but that could just be my imagination.

Of course, I haven’t tested thoroughly, but after the few hours that I have been using Pale Moon, I’d have to say it’s a solid little app. I would definitely recommend it to folks who love their FF, but want something just a wee bit lighter. Pale Moon is based on FF 24.5 ESR, which is perfect for me because that’s exactly the version that Slackware 14.1 is using right now; 100% profile compatibility.

I like it. You might, too. Give it a shot. And if it turns out you do like it, click that little donation button on the Pale Moon website. $5 or so wont put you in the poor house. :)

Have fun…

~Eric


Some Cookies Are Yummy!

Not all browser cookies are bad for you. Many of those little tasty files that get dumped on your system serve a useful purpose.

I am somewhat security conscious when it comes to my surfing habits. I prefer as much privacy as I can manage without ruining my browsing experience. Achieving that can be problematic, though, these days. Yes, I run some privacy extensions like NoScript, Adblock+, Better Privacy, DoNotTrackMe, and FlashBlock in my Firefox browser, but there are also other habits that I have when it comes to using that browser.

I like to clean my snail trails (history, cookies, etc.) occasionally, but unless you have some special settings set in your FF browser Preferences, you’ll be inconvenienced each time you toss your cookies by the fact that you’ll lose your active logins on your favorite oft-visited sites; forcing you to login again after you’ve cleaned and tossed everything.

Of course, you can selectively delete cookies in FF, but if you’ve been surfing for a week or so before you decide to clean things up, you may have hundreds of cookies you’ll have to cull through carefully without tossing your important ones. It’s a pain in the rear end to have to do it that way. There used to be some FF extensions that would “protect” certain cookies for you, but most have not been updated to be functional in the newer versions of FF.

I’m going to show you how you can easily protect your important cookies and login data within FF’s Preferences without the need for another extension or any other mind-boggling procedures. Note: I’m using FF in Linux here. It’s probably similar in MS Windows, but you’ll have to investigate that for yourself.

The following mini-tutorial will be referring to this image:

Click to open in new tab/page

OK, here we go…

In order to be able to dump your cookies and other flotsam and jetsam out of your browser and still retain your favorite website logins and site preferences, you’ll need to do the following within your Firefox Preferences:

  1. Open your FF Preferences (Menu: File –> Edit –> Preferences) and choose the Privacy tab as shown in the image above.
  2. Within the Privacy area, use the pull-down menu under History to make the selection shown. This will open up the sub-menu of options just underneath.
  3. Set your History sub-menu options as you want them to be. NOTE: Where you see “Keep until:” under Accept Cookies, you MUST set FF to “I close Firefox” for this to work at all. If you manually remove all cookies using the Clear Recent History tool (Menu: History –> Clear Recent History) or the Remove All button in Cookie Viewer, then you really will REMOVE ALL COOKIES, even those of your Exceptions white-listed sites (see next step).
  4. Click on the Exceptions to the right of the box and another small window will pop up showing you what websites are white or black-listed in FF. You should add your favorite sites’ website address as shown in the image above and Allow them. This will allow those sites to retain cookies after automatic cleaning takes place. You can also block sites from installing cookies on your computer by adding the website address and clicking on Block.

If all went will, your Firefox should clean itself (when you close it) of the detritus of browsing and  yet retain the login and site preferences for your favorite sites that you had added to the Exceptions list as Allowed in Step 4 above. Now your FF browsing experience will be bit less bothersome for you. Your FF will start back up next time with a clean slate; ready for your day’s surfing pleasure, but you won’t have to re-login to all of your favorite sites. :)

As always, comments, corrections, suggestions on better methods, etc. are always welcomed here.

Later…

~Eric

Image credit: screenshot of Firefox Preference setting windows (c) V. T. Eric Layton

 


Some Cool Addons for Firefox and Thunderbird

I recently added some extensions in FF and TB that are pretty cool. I thought I’d post about them here in case anyone was interested…

Old Default Image Style 1.0 – FF – This extension reverts back to the older style “view image” in Firefox. The newer FF centers the image on the page with a black background. In older versions, there was no centering and the image was on a plain white background page. I’m talking here about when you RIGHT click on an image on a website and choose “View Image” from the context menu.

Theme and Font Size Changer 5.3 – FF and/or TB – This extension allows you to change the colors, fonts, and font sizes within the FF and TB interfaces regardless of the settings of your desktop/windows manager.

QuickFox Notes 2.7.3 – FF and/or TB – This cool little extension adds a note pad/sticky note application to either your FF or your TB. I use it in TB for everyday “don’t forget the milk and bread” type notes. It’s pretty cool, I think.

Have FUN! :)

~Eric


What’s Dragging On Your Firefox?

Mozilla posted a list of the worst offender addons for its Firefox browser. These are the addons that really slow down that FF start up.

Mozilla actually labels them as “slow performing addons”. You can view the entire list by clicking HERE. See if any of your favorite extensions are on the list; a few of mine were, but they were down toward the bottom (minimal footprint) of the list.

You can’t get something for nothing. That’s just a universal truth. If you want your browser to do a boat load of extra tasks or jump through hoops like a circus animal, then you’re going to have to feed it. Your browser eats RAM and CPU cycles. That’s just the nature of the beast. Some are picky eaters; others are voracious monsters with bottomless pits for stomachs.

If you want your FF to be a lean mean browsing machine, you have to trim the fat a bit. Break the candy-coated addon habit. If you don’t really need it or use it, why have it installed? There are some extensions that, were they not available, would probably deter me from using FF altogether. These are my must haves.

However, I also have some fluff in there. I have a smiley extension that’s pretty cool. I also have one that adds “Go to top” and “Go to bottom” of my R-click context menu. Could I live without those? Sure, but I don’t wanna’, so I keep them. They both have very minimal footprints and seem to use next to nothing in resources within FF, so what the hell?

The beauty of FF for me is its potential for customization. You can truly make FF your own, should you care to put the effort into it. I could never do that with IE back in my Windows daze. I had to use addons for the Trident engine such as Crazy Browser and Avant to get IE to be what I wanted it to be. And even with those tools, there were limitations.

Have I mentioned lately that I LOVE Mozilla! If you have some spare change lying around, they could always use a buck or two to help defray the expenses of running that project. Mozilla creates so much for so many with so little. Help if you can.

Later…

~Eric

Notes: Don’t forget to click on links within my articles, folks. They often lead to informational sites to help you in some way; be they definitions of an uncommon word, or Wikipedia articles about certain items.

Disclaimer: I was at one time involved with the Avant Browser Support Team. I’m now retired from that excellent group. If you decide to give Avant Browser a try, tell ‘em Eric sent ya’. ;)


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