firefox (5)

Start Firefox Private Browsing Next to Running Session

It’s easy in Chrome, just open a new “incognito” window and you’re set. Firefox however has to switch the whole application into Private Browsing mode. And since it is designed to allow only one copy of the application to access a profile at the same time it is not a trivial matter to just open another window.

So here’s how you do it:

  • First create a new profile using something like the following:
    firefox -no-remote -ProfileManager
  • Then use that profile to start a Private session next to the regular one:
    firefox -no-remote -P newProfileName -private

You could check the firefox command line reference for more information.

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Remote Firefox/Thunderbird

My previous post was about running X applications on my remote (next room) machine. The reason behind that was mostly to offload the memory usage of Firefox and Thunderbird both humming happily near 250M of RAM/each at the moment (slow day).

What did I do to minimize the effort of moving both apps to the remote machine without loosing all the customizations I have made?

Make sure to do the following before running firefox/thunderbird on the remote machine:

# backup the following directories:
laptop $ cd /home/abdallah
laptop $ tar czf .thunderbird.tgz .thunderbird/
laptop $ tar czf .mozilla.tgz .mozilla/
laptop $ scp .thunderbird.tgz server:/home/abdallah
laptop $ scp .mozilla.tgz server:/home/abdallah

After that, connect remotely with -X and run the commands:

laptop $ ssh -X server
server $ tar zxf .mozilla.tgz
server $ tar zxf .thunderbird.tgz
server $ /opt/ff4/firefox -no-remote &
server $ /opt/tb/thunderbird &

Note that -no-remote is important if you ever want to run another local instance of firefox.

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Bypassing stupid security measures

A couple of weeks back, my esteemed bank BCL introduced a new “feature” (read annoyance) to their online banking site. It’s a “virtual keyboard” that sits on the login page and can be used only with a mouse. And it’s utterly stupid

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Update firefox manually

You can probably get the best information here:

Here’s what I did:
* I installed the new firefox in /opt/firefox
* I made sure that my user has write access to that directory
* I stopped using the Ubuntu packaged firefox.

This way, I get the latest updates automatically 🙂

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Firefox Search and Address Bar

One of the reasons Firefox has been my browser of choice since way back is mostly because it’s so easy to extend using addons and plugins of various complexity. I currently have a pretty long list of addons installed. I use all of them on a regular basis, and trim away the ones I no longer need.

A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled on the OmniBar plugin, which “integrates the search bar into the location bar”. It’s pretty useful on its own and gives me more space on the location bar to actually see long addresses (especially when using a netbook). It also reduces the amount of clicks/shortcuts needed to go from the page to the location bar or search bar. Incidentally, here’s a list of those:

  • Select location bar: Ctrl/Cmd+L or Alt+D
  • Select search bar: Ctrl/Cmd+K
  • Back: Backspace or Alt/Cmd+Left
  • Forward: Alt/Option+Right or Shift+Backspace
  • Change search engine: Ctrl/Cmd+Down (Next) +Up (Previous)

I use the search bar and different search engines quite often during the day. Including custom searches I use for work. Using OmniBar saves me from manually changing the search engine every time. I can simply do the following:

  • Select location bar: Ctrl/Cmd+L or Alt+D
  • Type “@engine-name keywords

In fact, you don’t have to type the full engine name. You can simply type the first letter (or couple of letters if you have two engines that collide). For example I can do:

  • @imdb gone with the wind
  • @i gone with the wind
  • @m

And it’s very easy to add new search engines. Simply go to the mycroft project and choose the engine you need. Or if you want a custom search engine here’s the recipe I use:

My Search Engine
Search the XYZ site from the Firefox searchbar

You can hack the above, or simply generate a search plugin at

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