The case of the non-exiting Mozilla Firefox

Being a KDE user has its ups and downs. The ups are that its beautiful, has a very wide and usable range of applications, updates often for bugfixes, and is generally very customizable. The downs are a few – with the Firefox+GTK integration being one of them. It makes your browser look UGLY! Of course, there are Qt-friendly browsers like Opera and Konqueror, even Arora, but these hardly work well with many sites, especially those of Google (Wave, for example). I’m not gonna delve into that subject, since this post is about using Firefox on KDE 4 (version 4.3.x).

You might have heard of the GTK engine that themes for Qt, known as gtk-engine-qt on most distributions (or with -kde4 suffix, if thats how they’ve integrated). This helps all GTK applications look great on KDE by providing *near* native look and feel. So I install that and smile, happy that my entire K Desktop is as I want it – dark, without gloss and perfectly usable with certain plasma widgets. That is until I notice my Firefox simply does not close itself when asked to, and hangs instead.

At first one would think its due to a plugin, or an extension, probably something added on that is causing it to hang when its supposed to terminate. Even the KB article at Mozillazine supports that fact. Perhaps its a popular reason, but I tried and it didn’t solve the issue for me. I jumped a few steps out of frustration and went on to move my .mozilla directory to a different name, just to see if it was a profile-related issue, and it still refused to close, driving me mad having to `killall firefox` it each time since it always hung at exit. So I switched to Opera and used it with horrible colors – Pages appeared normally as they would be rendered but the forms and other things just didn’t go well with my dark color scheme (Eclipse), making it appear like the image below, unreadable and thus untypable upon.

Unreadable, Unseeable - The form elements as they appear in my Opera (While using a dark color scheme in the DE)
Unreadable, Unseeable - The form elements as they appear in my Opera (While using a dark color scheme in the DE)

The browser’s great otherwise, its fast and very customizable, but I couldn’t make any changes to these colors. I suppose one can achieve it by writing their own userstyle.css file but that is too much work. Used Opera until today, when I finally found this (pretty old) bug in the gtk-engine-qt project tracker. Uninstalled gtk-engine-qt and lo, all was normal again, closed fine and opened fine. Re-installed all plugins and extensions, and said bye-bye to Opera.

All I now miss is a native-looking dark theme with Oxygen icons, as my K Desktop contains. I’m making do with the Black Stratini theme as of now, it’s beautiful but I like the Oxygen icons better. 440 words for just the choice of browser on a dark theme, tch.

Moving to Opera

Though I did move to opera as I’d said in my earlier post, I missed the extensibility of Firefox that I had much used. I had used the following extensions usually on Firefox:

Off the list, I do not care much about Adblock Plus or Google Gears except for the fact they made browsing easy to look at and faster respectively. Can do without them. (I know Opera has a way of blocking too, but am not interested in blocking ads for a while now, maybe when I get irritated by them again.). And Stylish like features is obviously well built into Opera, so 3 tasks done by default.

Coming to Gmail Manager and FireFTP, for Gmail Manager I looked for desktop packages called kcheckgmail and other widgets but some refused to work while the other required a dependency I was not willing to install. As always when this happens I headed to Qt-Apps and got myself QGmailNotifier. Built it with a [qmake – make and make install] and I was ready to launch qgmailnotifier and work well it did. Qt applications always ftw for me! For FireFTP, the existing Dolphin and Konqueror of my KDE sufficed. I created an FTP folder for my site and a WebDAV one for SourceForge and it were done, again too simply. 😉

The only thing missing now is a notifier for Google Reader. Maybe I’ll look into sources of some widgets and combine it with QGmailNotifier. But I guess that’d have to wait. Could there be an alternative way?

No Opera widgets please, they are just not how I need it. It has to be either a desktop tray software or a notifier within the browser in some toolbar as an icon.

KDE 4.1.0

Just upgraded to it on Gentoo (via kdesvn-portage overlay).

KDE 4.1.0
KDE 4.1.0

Its pretty much usable now than when I had tried before (4.0 alpha). I like the new way of selecting files Dolphin has to offer, a nice round clicker that appears on hover. Besides that, Dolphin’s file-preview has improved a whole lot, giving previews for almost anything under that hard-drive cover.

Plasmoids are nice things, but I feel they waste too much space and aren’t always persistent with their configuration options – making me have to re-enter my preferences all the time. But its good, I’ve even gotten used to KDE-Twitter as my desktop twittering application. But the Plasma and Plasmoids are a very unstable feature of KDE right now, with changes happening in the svn every other day.

I’ve been a GNOME user all these days, so the shift to KDE 4 was very much troublesome. In installation terms I mean. I don’t have, nor would like to have, KDE3 libs installed so am pretty much stuck with only what KDE4 wishes to offer and am using only those. Its got Okular (PDF Viewer), K3B (Burn Baby Burn) and GwenView (Image Viewer) and these suffice for my daily tasks as of now since I rely on irssi/bitlbee/ncmpc and rtorrent command-line applications for the other deeds of mine.

The worst part of KDE is the how it makes GTK applications look. You’ll have a hard time with Firefox, a really hard time. I tried for around 4 hours changing GTK styles, cycling through many and installing some more, but in the end I had to build Opera-Qt4 and be done with Firefox 3. It were slow too, on my Prescott P4 3.0 GHz system anyway. Will use Firefox again when I get my new PC. Opera is being okayish, I’ve hidden the menus so that it doesn’t look ugly too.

My Desktop

KDE4 Desktop
KDE4 Desktop

Konsole still needs a lot of work as a terminal emulator. Kate is awesome and I even configured it for my liking and it was way easier to theme it than it were for Gedit. I’ll quit using Kate in a few days as I learn more of vim (I’ve been very slow on this part) so there goes another KDE dependency.

About the media players, my KDE set had two basic ones included in it – Dragon and Juk. Dragon is a simple Video/CD/DVD player while Juk plays my music files. The quality exhibited by Dragon was far less than what MPlayer could show (I use SMPlayer as my MPlayer frontend) but nevertheless, its basic interface covered many features including video enhancements while playing etc. Juk on the other hand was nice as a media player but I feel it could do better with a differently styled media-browser than the vanilla Winamp style one it uses. Plus since it had no integration, I decided not to set it as my default player and continued to use MPD/MPC.

The Control Center has gone away to be replaced with System Settings. It still lacks a switch to take you to root level for modifying certain special properties but that can be done via a sudo command from the command line. Apart from that the entire management application seems fine with a nice new interface for configuring things. I especially like the new color-setting interfaces available across KDE4.

Will be using this for quite some time, seeing how much its improved from KDE 4.0.0, I would be expecting it to get far better over the next 2 releases to become one of the best DE ever. GTK/GNOME seems far behind KDE’s awesomeness and  Qt’s cross-platform power, way far behind.

Opera enters the anti-Microsoft list?

Check this news piece:

Opera files EU antitrust suit against Micrsoft

Opera Software has filed an antitrust suit against Microsoft in the European Union, accusing it of stifling competition by tying its Internet Explorer Web browser to Windows, the Norwegian company said Thursday.

The complaint, which was filed with the European Commission on Wednesday, says Microsoft is abusing its dominant position in the desktop PC market by offering only Internet Explorer as a standard part of Windows, and hindering interoperability by not following accepted standards with IE.

Opera is asking the Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, to force Microsoft to unbundle IE from Windows, or include other browsers as a standard part of its operating system. It also wants it to require Microsoft to adhere to industry standards with its Web browser.

The issue of standards is seen as important because if all Web browsers do not use the same standards, Web site developers are likely to design their Web sites to work with the most widely-used browser, which is Internet Explorer. That gives people a disincentive to use other browsers.

Microsoft’s spokesman in Brussels did not immediately have a comment on the lawsuit. The company has argued in the past that consumers benefit from its tight integration of IE and Windows.

Opera said it filed the complaint on behalf of all consumers who are tired of having a monopolist make choices for them.

PC World

Have the Opera people gone out of their minds? I’m not an Opera hater. I do detest Internet Explorer (IE) but asking an OS to omit out the browser from its bundle is something no one would approve. And what about Apple’s OS X? They too bundle Safari together with it, lets sue them too!

My point is, an OS without a browser in it is suicide. No one would want that to happen. In fact people would love to use the bundled IE on-install than to be presented with a dozen of browsers to choose from.

This is no way to improve a browser’s rank in the market, its pure stupidity. Instead, do something the more smoother way like advertise it on TV a few times, or a board, stickers, and stuff like what the community driven Mozilla Firefox does. That is slow, but it works. This is just screaming out for attention like a 13 year old kid!

But there’s no telling I won’t be happy to see IE in flames. But that would be another blog post, if it happens.