Firefox 3 and OS X Networked Home Directories

AFP548 is reporting a bug with Firefox 3 where apparently it doesn’t work with Macs that are set up to use a networked home directory.

When I updated to Firefox 3, I immediately noticed that Bookmarks were not visible under bookmarks menu. The Search engine field had a generic icon and when I selected ‘Manage Search Engines’, the dialog box was frozen and I couldn’t get out of it without quitting Firefox. When I tried to enter a URL into the URL field and press ‘enter’, nothing happens. However, when double-click on a URL in an e-mail message, that appears to work. […] When I switched to a local admin account (i.e., Firefox profile on the local hard drive), it seems to work fine. However, when I switch back to my network home account (on our XServe), it still displays the problems described above. I tried other user accounts on our XServe with the same problems.

This is kind of unbelievable to me that Firefox 3 was released with such a show-stopping bug on the Mac side. I’m pretty sure that most companies that use Macs use them with networked home directories (at least in the Academic world). It’s good to know though before I start adding Firefox to the images for fall semester.

Apparently this is a documented bug and as a commenter suggested, will be fixed in the future. You can read the bug track in Bugzilla to see how the fix is progressing.

Firefox 3 To Ditch Unified Cross Platform Look

Mozilla’s Alex Faaborg announced a week or so ago that Firefox 3 would focus on visually integrating with the operating system:

Visual integration with Windows and OS X is our primary objective for the Firefox 3 refresh.

This is great news for Firefox, because as I have mentioned before, its user interface has really been the achilles’ heel of the browser, especially on the Mac.

Mozilla’s user experience team literally wants to do a better job of visually integrating with Windows than IE, and a better job of visually integrating with OS X than Safari. I don’t know if we will be able to pull that off, but that’s the goal.

I’m glad that they’ve recognized this as an issue and I can’t wait to see what they come up with. If Firefox actually did look as good or better than Safari on a Mac, I might use it as my primary browser.

Via Beauty And The Geek: Firefox 3’s Visual Makeover.

Font Rendering

Khaled Abou Alfa has a nice summary of how the font rendering looks on the different browsers (I believe this is all on Windows):

The way that Firefox renders text on Windows is embarrassing. It just looks terrible. Using Alfa’s example, here is what the text looks like in Firefox:

Firefox Font

Ouch. It hurts my eyes.

An Even Better Open in Firefox

Yesterday I blogged about the nifty little Open in Firefox script that I made. As it turns out, there is an even better way to this, using some fancy Quicksilver magic.

By using Proxy Objects in Quicksilver, you can gain access to the Current Web Page object. After making sure that you have activated the Open URL With... action in the Quicksilver preferences you are free to specify Firefox (or another browser).

Current Web Page → Open URL With... → Firefox

Once you have this working, you can set it up as a custom trigger. I set mine to the F1 key. Even better, this trigger is much more extendable than the script. You might not necessarily always want to open a URL in Firefox. Say you want to open a page in Opera. Just create another trigger, but leave out the item in the third pane.

Current Web Page → Open URL With... → "Leave this blank"

Now when you use that trigger, activate it with a hotkey (I used F2) and type in the first few letters of the browser (or program) you want the URL to open in.

Open in Firefox

I currently use Safari as my primary browser on OS X systems. Oftentimes I find that I either want to dissect a web page in Firebug or even just see what it looks like in Firefox. This is kind of a pain because it takes several steps:

  1. Open Firefox (one step with Quicksilver)
  2. Activate Safari
  3. Copy URL from desired website
  4. Activate Firefox
  5. Paste URL into Firefox.

I could probably consolidate these steps a little bit (by dragging and dropping the URL perhaps), but the point remains, this is an annoying process to go through every time I want to quickly check something out in Firefox.

Last week I put together a nifty little script in Automator to streamline this process. Basically, the script copies the URL from the active tab in Safari, opens Firefox and loads the page. I saved the script as an application and with Quicksilver it’s now just one step to activate the script.

For the most part, the script was pretty easy to set up. There is a built-in action to Get Current Webpage from Safari. There aren’t any scriptable actions for Firefox from Automator, but opening it is simple enough using a terminal command:

open -a Firefox.app

The only slightly tricky part about the script was getting the copied URL to automatically load when Firefox opens. After a little research I found that this could be simply passed as a parameter to the open command:

open -a Firefox.app $@

Perhaps some other Safari-lovers will find this useful. Enjoy.



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