Firefox problems

If you are still using Mozilla, consider switching to Firefox due to a security problem that exists in Mozilla. However, Firefox still has a few quirks. Firefox 3 has fixed some of the quirks and added new ones. This page describes some solutions to common problems with the Linux version of Firefox.

Large autocomplete menu pops up when you type a URL
Disable browser.urlbar.richResults
Re-start firefox

Extra buttons on toolbar - Most Visited, etc.
This is the "Bookmarks toolbar". Right-click on button
Or View - toolbars - uncheck bookmarks toolbar.

Mouse events
Some versions of Mozilla and Firefox appear not to handle mouse events correctly. Attempts to resize the Mozilla window frequently result in the window getting uncontrollably bigger and bigger. This seems to be fixed in Firefox 2.0.

Loading HTML page from command line
Mozilla and Firefox can load an HTML page from the command line (for instance, by typing mozilla linuxsetup89.html). However, Mozilla will not use the current working directory, but tries to read the page from the last directory it was using in the most recent session. Firefox sometimes appends "www" to the filename and tries to open it as a Website.

Firefox scrolling is jerky.
When the "down" arrow key was pressed, the Firefox cursor would jump to the next link on the page instead of scrolling, causing the screen to jump randomly.

Solution Pressing F7 fixed this problem. There is also an option called "general.smoothScroll" in about:config that emulates the smooth scrolling in IE.

Firefox text fields are very slow.
The address bar text field freezes for 2-3 seconds when something is typed, which messes up your typing. This is caused by the text autocompletion function, because the more recent version pops up an annoying menu (similar to that seen in IE) whenever you type something. This forces you to stop typing for several seconds while you wait for the browser to create the window and read, parse, and sort your history.dat file.

Solution: One way to prevent the menu from being created is to delete the history.dat file in the ~/.mozilla/firefox/*/ directory file before starting Firefox. The delay before autocompletion starts can be changed by changing the accessibility.typeaheadfind.timeout value in about:config, but this has no effect on the address bar.

Disabling autocomplete popup menu
There are two types of autocomplete in Firefox: the URL bar, and text windows. Both of these open a small menu whenever you type something, and it means you have to click a couple more times to prevent one of the menu items from substituting what you're trying to type.

I could not find any way of disabling this feature within Firefox that actually worked. However, there are two add-ons that may be useful: rmannoy and Autocomplete Manager by Nikitas Liogkas . Once installed, Autocomplete Manager becomes an item in the "Tools" menu item. It can also be accessed from the "Add-Ons" item in the Tools menu. It has no effect on text fields.

Rmannoy works only on text fields, and eliminates the autocomplete list entirely. To configure it, select "Add-ons" from the Tools menu, select "Annoyance Remover" and click Preferences. Both of these tools seem to work well and are recommended. However, it should be noted that these programs can sometimes mess up your browser history: instead of recording just the websites you visit, the history menu contains a list of every single page you clicked on, making it practically useless. It's up to you to decide whether the trade-off is worth it. Or use Opera, which has a completely configurable autocomplete, instead. (Opera has its own annoyances; for example, it never seems to get the font size quite right.)

Firefox is slow when reading a Web page.
In version 2.0, the Firefox window freezes for about twenty seconds when loading a page. This is much longer than other browsers; it's even slower than Mozilla. The window does not redraw itself during this time. Apparently, Firefox is waiting until the entire page is downloaded before drawing anything. Even worse, if two Firefox windows are open, both of them will freeze when one of the windows begins loading a page.

On the other hand, Firefox seems to save much more information than other browsers, which makes the "back" button faster.

Solution: To make Firefox faster, type "about:config" in the address bar to get to the configuration screen. Set the following settings by double-clicking on the appropriate line in the configuration list:

network.http.pipelining true
network.http.proxy.pipelining true
network.http.pipelining.maxrequests 10

Then close Firefox and re-start it. Older versions of Firefox had an entry for nglayout.initialpaint.delay, but this is missing from v.2.0. A Wiki-based online help system is available in Firefox by typing "about config" (without the colon) in the address bar. If you type "about:config" (with the colon) in the address bar, it opens the configuration screen, which is a list of hundreds of configuration options. The user-modified settings can also be changed manually by editing the prefs.js file.

Improvements over earlier versions

Version 2.0 of Firefox has a new feature of automatically restoring the exact session, including the correct URL, location on the page, and number of windows, when you restart Firefox after the browser crashes. This feature is very convenient, and I find that it gets used frequently. Firefox is also superior to Mozilla in its ability to block Javascript animation, which Mozilla sometimes is unable to stop. Mozilla is unable to display Amazon's book viewer (it hangs at the "Loading..." screen). Opera and Firefox 2.0 are the only Linux browsers I have found that are able to display the book viewer.

Opera has one dangerous feature: it defaults to starting up on the page you were last viewing. Don't use Opera at work! Opera has a few odd quirks, like its propensity for jumping to a new page when you hit the backspace key; but unlike Firefox, with Opera it's possible to completely disable all forms of animation on a web page.

Disabling image animation and flash
In Firefox 2.x, disabling animated images is fairly easy. Type about:config in the address bar and change the following settings:

image.animation_mode none
privacy.popups.firstTime false

In Opera, you can disable plugins in the Preferences dialog box. In Firefox 2.x, disabling flash is more difficult. The old trick of setting privacy.popups.disable_from_plugins to 3 no longer works. Until a new anti-flash extension for Firefox becomes available, the only sure way to stop those annoying animated flash advertisements is to delete or rename the .mozilla/plugins/ file. This causes flash to be replaced with a green puzzle piece icon.

Managing file types
Although you can use Firefox's "Preferences" dialog to specify how to handle various files (e.g., PDF files), it can be cumbersome to do so because the file browser is somewhat slow and awkward. It's often easier to edit the .mozilla/firefox/*/mimeTypes.rdf file and change the entries manually.

Realplayer and Helix Player
Here is the procedure for setting up realplayer:

  1. Install realplayer or helixplayer and make sure the realplay script is in your path, and make sure your sound card is working. (For helix player, you may need to execute the command "chmod a+x *.bin" before installing it.)
  2. Start firefox. Enter about:config in the address bar and set " to "false" by double-clicking on it. Now the realaudio file types should be visible. Click on the small square at the right next to "Action" and make sure "Mime type" is checked.
  3. Click on the file type for audio/x-pn-realaudio and set it to the path for realplay.

Firefox and

How to get Firefox to work with Realplayer or Helix player to open Amazon music or sound clips?

Short answer: you can't. When you click on an audio clip in Amazon, Helix player will say, "The player does not have the capabilities to play back this content. This content is supported by Realplayer. The following components are required: protocol_pnm." Realplayer says: "The content you are trying to play uses an audio codec that is obsolete and no longer supported. Please contact the content provider about using a supported codec." The real issue seems to be Amazon's deal with Microsoft to support Windows Media Services 9. Apparently Microsoft has declared war on RealPlayer. The deal between Amazon and Microsoft probably means that Amazon will eventually be eliminating its RealPlayer files.

Solution: There are only two solutions: either switch to Windows and use IE, or purchase your CDs from a Linux-friendly vendor line such as cduniverse.

Update: P. Kensche reports that xine 1.1.4 is able to play these files, using the following procedure:

  1. Set "" to "false" by double-click.
  2. Go to edit -> preferences -> content -> file types.
  3. Edit the references for "RealAudio-Broadcast" formats to start xine.

I haven't tested this procedure yet.

Opera problems

Opera's user interface has been greatly improved over previous versions and, unlike Firefox and Mozilla, Opera can be given an HTML file in the current directory on the command line. Opera also has the nice feature of allowing the user to turn off plugins (i.e., Flash) as well as Javascript.

Opera's file browser does not display dot files, which makes it slightly more difficult to navigate in Linux. Opera also has difficulty importing Firefox bookmarks (no solution known yet).

Firefox 3 can't print in Linux.

This occurs after upgrading to Firefox 3.5.4 and 3.5.5. It only seems to occur in x86_64 systems.
When you select print, the only option that is available is "Print to File". The printer settings in "about:config" are all correct. All other applications can print. One person suggested installing the 32-bit libgtk+2.0. This was already installed and re-installing it had no effect.
Type ldd on firefox-bin. If any libraries are not found, install them. On my system, it said: => not found => not found => not found 

These libraries are included with Firefox. I added the path containing all the firefox libraries to /etc/ and typed ldconfig. This caused firefox to find the libraries, but it was still impossible for it to print.

Next, edit the file /etc/gtk-2.0/gtkrc and add the line

       gtk-print-backends = "lpr,file"

This solved the problem on my system. If the file does not exist, create it.

However, I prefer Firefox 2. After downgrading to an earlier version of firefox (, I now got the message "There was a problem printing because the paper size you specified is not supported by your printer." This was a bogus message--the paper size in about:config was correct. Removing the ~/.mozilla directory, or removing prefs.js, solved the problem, enabling Firefox 2 to print again.

Moral: never upgrade Firefox.

The page you are trying to view contains postdata that has expired from cache

This message appears on certain sites when the Back button is clicked.
browser.sessionstore.postdata 1

PubMed problems
Linux Firefox 3 no longer renders the PubMed web page properly. The "Clear" button is on the wrong line, making the "Send to" drop-down menu inoperable.

Make the window wider so the Send to button is not underneath the Search area.

No "Recent Pages" triangle for Back button
The Forward button has a triangle, but not the Back button.

No solution yet. The Forward triangle now goes both forward and back. It is necessary to hover over the menu item to find the direction. Or you can right-click on the back button and select from a menu.

More Firefox Problems

  1. Firefox pops up a huge autocomplete menu (called "Rich Results") when you type a URL. Solution: type about:config and disable browser.urlbar.richResults.
  2. Firefox 3 hangs randomly. (This problem is not yet fixed.) Solution: Use Firefox 2.
  3. Firefox adds "www" and ".com" to anything it considers a "broken" URL, sending you to unwanted websites. Solution: Firefox calls this "fixup". Solution: In about:config, set browser.fixup.alternate.enabled to False. Then set keyword.enabled to false.
  4. Firefox problems: At present, Firefox 2 is the only version that works in Linux without frequent hanging and intrusive auto-complete features. However, be careful to disable Firefox 3 entirely or you could face unpleasant surprises. While I was viewing a PDF in acroread, a message popped up asking for permission to download a plug-in. This turned out to be a plug-in for Firefox 3. When the plug-in was downloaded, it opened Firefox 3, which decided that all my existing add-ons were invalid and disabled them (without asking permission). Upon re-starting Firefox 2, it was impossible to re-activate or update the add-ons, leaving all the plug-ins permanently inactive. Solution: I could find no way of repairing this other than by restoring the entire .mozilla directory from a backup.