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Firefox Quantum

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Firefox Quantum Release 57 of Firefox brings us what is essentially a whole new browser, faster and leaner; a quantum leap as it were, which I suppose is why they're calling in Firefox Quantum.

As usual in this situation this was accompanied here at The Hug by quite a lot of swearing as we found things were broken by the upgrade. However after some fiddling about I've now got it fettled and I'm very happy with this so this post should perhaps be titled:

Firefox 57 or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Quantum

Fixing Tabs

Let's start with the "chrome". Tabs are at the very top of the window and are separated by a vertical line which isn't full height. The curently selected tab has a slightly lighter background colour and a blue line over it. Thus:

Firefox Quantum out of the box

I think, but I may be wrong, that some of this was in Firefox before 57, but we old hands all used to fix this using an add-on which no longer works with Quantum (I'll come back to the issue of add-ons in a minute).

However, this can be fixed by creating (or appending to) ~/.mozilla/firefox/*/chrome/userChrome.css 1 so that it has the following lines in it:

@namespace url("http://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul"); /* set default namespace to XUL */

/* Tab bar below Navigation & Bookmarks Toolbars For best results, show Title Bar or Menu Bar */ #nav-bar { /* main toolbar */ -moz-box-ordinal-group: 1 !important; border-top-width: 0 !important; } #PersonalToolbar { /* bookmarks toolbar */ -moz-box-ordinal-group: 2 !important; } #TabsToolbar { /* tab bar */ -moz-box-ordinal-group: 3 !important; }

.tab-background { border-image: none !important; background-color: #f5f6f7; } .tab-line { display: none; }

.tab-content { border-radius: 9px 9px 0px 0px !important; border: 1px solid silver; border-bottom-width: 0; }

.tab-content[selected="true"] { border: 1px solid grey; border-bottom-width: 0; background-color: #ffffff; }

I also turned on the menu bar, from settings I think, and ended up with this:

Firefox Quantum tweaked

So I'm now got proper tabs and in the right place. The only problem I've yet to solve is the faint box around the currently selected tab but I'll worry about that later.

Add-Ons

This has been a sore subject from both sides. Mozilla claim, probably quite rightly, that they were far too laid back in their approach to add-ons and a lot of the problems users experienced previously with Firefox were not down to the browser itself but due to add-ons.

So with Quantum they switched to only supporting extensions designed under the WebExtensions API, which caused older extensions designed using other APIs to no longer be compatible. So lots of users weren't going to be happy.

If you previously had add-ons installed and you then upgrade to Quantum then any incompatible add-ons will still be there, but will not be active. Go into the add-ons page and click on "show legacy extensions" and you'll see them. You're then stuck with either finding a replacement with the same or similar functionality of doing without.

Before I upgraded to Quantum I did an audit on my add-ons so I was ready for this. They key add-ons I need to be productive, in particular Web Developer, Todoist, Pushbullet, and uBlock Origin, were all WebExtensions API compatible but the add-ons I was using to interface to KeePass weren't.

Luckily there was another one which was: KeePassHelper Password Manager. It's not quite as seamless an interface as the add-on I was using before (where you simply right clicking on any password field) but it's not bad.

about:config

Quantum still lets you get down and dirty and fiddle with a lot of settings via the pseudo URL about:config. For me one thing I always loved about X on Linux is the ability to highlight some text with your mouse which puts it into your copy and paste buffer without the need to use the keyboard and then paste it anywhere by simply middle mouse clicking at the location where you want the text pasted.

Historically on Firefox if you did that anywhere on the browser window and the buffer contained a complete URL (including the protocol) then you were taken to that page. That functionality is now off by default however you can enable it again by setting middlemouse.contentLoadURL to true using about:config.

In Conclusion

The bottom line is that I now have Firefox running how I want it again and it's a lot faster rendering pages (big tables in particular) and, thus far, a lot more stable. And if you've moved away from Firefox then perhaps it's time to look at it again.

  1. * there is whatever your profile is, for more people is will be a random string followed by .default

Tags: internet, linux, websites Written 19/11/17

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