Firefox on Linux

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Firefox on Linux

Postby Yogi » 13 Jul 2013, 06:55

As my life with Linux moves forward I've learned to rant less about it. It does what I want it to do, essentially banking on line, and I've become complacent about it's idiosyncrasies. But an issue came up the other day that I simply have to question in public.

I decided the least painful version of Linux is Ubuntu. I've installed Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on my all-Linux laptop and in my multiple OS booting tower. I needed some information regarding how Ubuntu handles repositories for their software and went to the official web site on ubuntu.com to do the research. As luck would have it, I went to that same web site on both my laptop and my tower. The results of using the exact same URL is shown below.

The same information might be available in both instances, but the landing spot is entirely different for the same URL. I'm at a loss to explain why this happened. The only difference between the machines is the hardware which should have no bearing on web page rendering. However, the lappie uses the 32 bit version of Ubuntu while the tower uses the 64 bit version. I haven't noted much of a difference up until this point, but it looks like there are big time differences between distributions intended for different processors.

:wtf:

[ img ]

[ img ]
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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby Kellemora » 13 Jul 2013, 17:05

Hi Yogi - Their website doesn't work much differently than others. It checks to see what browser and OS you are using, then opens the appropriate page.
May early webpages, I always had to fork to a different page for IE users, since Windows never followed standard html coding. So most of us had to have a different page for those who used IE, so the pages would display correctly on their monitors.

Same thing happens if you go to Adobe's Flash Player page, it opens to a web page for your particular OS.
Since I am looking for something for a different computer, I still have to look around for the version I need.
When I find it, it takes me to the page that would have opened if I connected from the computer I needed it for.

As Ubuntu went downhill so fast after version 8.04, and 10.04 removed some of the features I needed, when 12.04 came out I tried Mint, which didn't work, then moved on to Debian and have had no problems.

Hope you find what you are hunting for.

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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby Yogi » 14 Jul 2013, 06:43

The people at Ubuntu may or may not be querying my browser's user-agent string. Unlike Windows where Firefox offers both a 32-bit and a 64-bit browser, only the 32-bit version is available in Ubuntu. I'd guess that's true for all Linux distributions, but I'm not certain. Firefox 22 is installed in both places. That means in my screen shots the Firefox browser software is identical. There are no issues with complying to W3C standards. The difference is the operating system itself. Linux for 32-bit machines does not give the same results as Linux for 64-bit machines.

Back in the days when Microsoft was attacking Netscape for browser dominance, Internet Explorer had it's own set of rendering tools that did not comply with the W3C standards. Webmasters did indeed have to compensate for the differences, but it was generally done by using DOM queries and adjusting the inline scripts accordingly. Redirecting to another web page altogether wasn't a common practice. That involved too many places to update code when time for changes came along - IE wasn't the only exception to the rule.

What I'm seeing above is not a browser related rendering issue because the browsers are identical. The OS software is obviously what is different and it's incredible that Ubuntu sees it necessary to change the content of it's help pages, not merely the formatting, depending on what version of Linux is being used. It's even more incredible to think that Linux would require the change.
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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby Kellemora » 14 Jul 2013, 12:25

I don't know Yogi. My Firefox version is 22.0 also. Have no idea if it is 32 or 64 bit. I have both 32 and 64 bit OS's and Firefox looks the same on both of them.
However, like you, if I go to the Ubuntu website from the old 32 bit machine, I too get a different display screen than I do from any of the 64 bit machines. I just checked to make sure. Nope, getting the same pages now, including the download page. However, this could be because I'm accessing the pages from Debian to the download page, not the repositories page.
However, I do remember getting different pages from the older computer than I did on the newer. Possibly Debian on the old computer is 64 bit? I don't know how to check that. I know there is a way though.

As far as web browsers, I just make my web site to W3C XHTML/CSS standards and don't worry about if IE or other users have problems with it. I have checked it from that web site that compares to all browsers and it looked OK on their displays of each.

I do a few simple fancy things, but nothing overboard. There are some glitches in the code I had to overcome, but nothing insurmountable. Without studying my code again, I can't remember for sure what it was now. But it had to do with the end of the page and a floating image. I have to adjust each page manually on a low res computer to insure folks can see the entire page. Hi-res causes extra space at the bottom of the page, because the code doesn't work right. I just found a way around it is all.

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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby Yogi » 14 Jul 2013, 15:25

The difference between browsers always was a challenge for the web site designer. No browser known to mankind is totally compliant with the W3C standards, and even those which are may render pages differently. The default font, for example, can be different yet compliant. I never ran into a situation where the page rendering was dependent upon the microprocessor. All the rendering is done by the browser not the operating system, or at least that seems to be the case within the Windows environment.

I'm fairly certain that the problem I note is confined to Ubuntu where they try to integrate all their software into the Unity desktop. In so doing there are subtle differences to the stand alone software that is not integrated. Since Ubuntu comes in 32 and 64 bit versions I'm guessing that some performance would vary between the two. I'd even expect that with the browsers. However, it's contrary to common sense to change the content depending on the OS. I can't tell if it's a Linux problem or something specific with Ubuntu. Although I suspect the latter.
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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby Kellemora » 15 Jul 2013, 09:54

Unity is what drove thousands of Ubuntu users to other Distro's or in some cases, they just changed desktops.

Most of us consider Unity, the equivalent of Vista, spyware, and flee from it.

With more people using DumbPhones, many OS's are trying to look and work like them.
And also other portable devices, like laptops down to netbooks, etc.
As you've said in the past, the desktop is dying.
I don't believe the desktop will ever go away. It is just to functional to be given up on.
Even when I go into private offices, where you see a lot of laptops in use. Most are being used as expensive desktops, not as portables. A coffee shop is only slightly different. You see them all huddled around a plug to power them, and quite a few are using a separate mouse. Most have learned to type on the non-standard keyboards, something I don't think I could ever master. I'm too used to the standard keyboards to use those awkward flat things that keep jumping around because of the stupid touchpads that have never worked properly.
Trying to use laptops in place of a properly set up desktop and keyboard, is causing all kinds of medical problems for folks too.

As far as what goes on inside the box with all the noisy fans, I now leave that up to the experts. I do the same thing with cars these days too. I don't even change my own memory chips, I haul it into the shop. I do install my own OS though.
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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby Yogi » 16 Jul 2013, 14:02

Judging by the comments I've been reading you are correct about the off-putting properties of Unity for some users. It's a shame that they feel the way they do because Unity is just one of many possible desktops. Gnome2 is still there if you want to boot up into it, and it's easy enough to upgrade to Gnome3. I've used KDE in Ubuntu and thought that was an excellent GUI, but my understanding is that running Debian will give you the best approximation of Gnome2 you can get without Ubuntu. For my own purposes, Unity is fine.

As the transfer of power to the Millennium children in today's world progresses, the use of desktops will decrease. Eventually they will vanish. Desktop computer software has already died with its abandonment by Microsoft in favor of the mobile device emphasis. I've spent a lot of time panning Linux and how it is inferior to Windows for the masses, but the folks over at Ubuntu are ahead of the Microsoft curve. They are well behind Apple and Google, but for the time being still ahead of Microsoft when it comes to catering to the mobile generation of computer users. Microsoft is playing catch-up, but don't count them out. They are refocusing their product lines and are well positioned to keep their commanding lead in the computer software world. Unfortunately, I don't think they will ever go back to desktop support. That is being relegated to the non-Ubuntu Linux developers.
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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby Kellemora » 17 Jul 2013, 11:14

Since I work in publishing, I see a lot of changes, especially now that the number of Indy Authors has grown so fast.
I've asked many times, what the in-house mainframe runs on and never got a straight answer. They just say it's a mainframe, not a desktop, therefore it doesn't have what you consider a stand alone OS.
Most of the in-house workstations run Windows XP, about 1/3 are running various Linux distributions, Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, CentOS, etc. However, what the machine itself is running is of little consequence, because they only see the screens the file servers send to them. In other words, the company has its own software. The only way to know what OS is running on the machine is to boot it up and see what splash screen is shown before it loads the operating programs assigned to each workstation.
Apparently, the mainframe runs on UNIX or a UNIX like system. But access to it by the IT guys is from Linux command line terminals, no GUI. I've been told everything from UNIX, to UNIX/Linux to other names I've never heard before.

I'm getting off track here, so back to what I wanted to say.
Places like SMASHWORDS, which caters to Indy Authors, only accept MS.doc format to their Meatgrinder. A computer program that converts a .doc upload to .mobi, .epub, and others.
Most of the others now accept and even prefer .html, .odt and other Linux based outputs. They are much less problematic than .doc or .docx, when trying to convert the files. MSword adds tons of extraneous information, and unless the author first makes a cut n paste to a new instance of Word, their files are either rejected, or come out messed up.

Although I like Smashwords, I prefer the way places like Draft2Digital handle uploads in more convenient formats.
Most places will shun .pdf files, because they are not scalable on e-readers, the way straight files are.
However, many POD machines render .pdf files better than any other format.

Where I work, once they learned I use Linux, for manual submissions, they requested that I submit in .odt format, rather than converting to .doc format. Their rulebook never mentioned any other upload allowed other than .doc, however, they said they can accept an upload from almost any format that users use, even the oddball formats of little known word processors.
They do suggest that if you upload something in .txt format, that you supply them with the name of the software used, because there are numerous .txt formats in use, and very strange things can happen. Windows notepad is the hardest program to get a perfect copy from. It prints things that are just not there on the page. Now if you tell them you used Notepad, they can then use a conversion program to convert it to a standard .txt format, then send it to the converters.

As the Desktop computers dwindle in popularity. Based on some of the things I've seen under development. Portables are going to begin having more standard desktop features. Such as standard or stand alone keyboards. The horrible and problematic touch mouse will die as touch screens dominate. Concurrently, voice recognition will replace many keyboards altogether.
However, those who work all day at keyboards, like me, have numerous problems, trying to use the keyboard on a laptop. Anything smaller is out of the question.

If you can remember back to when electric typewriters advanced into digital, with wide one and two line displays.
And some ultra-expensive gaming keyboards now have displays on them.
There are two companies who are working on a text only mini-computer, the size of a standard keyboard.
It has a very shallow display, like a flip up display on a calculator. It can also be plugged into a standard LCD monitor.
However, it's purpose is for journalists to have something they can enter text on, that is lightweight and familiar.
At least that is the market it is designed for, which would include authors and others who do a lot of text entry.
Look how small the Rasberry PI is and all it can do. And now with ARM thing are moving along at a rapid pace.
As I said, the drawback for me on laptops is their lousy flat keyboards. I know many get used to them, but in my case, the friggin' touch mouse, even with the sensitivity turned almost off, it's in a BAD PLACE to be functional. It's right where your thumbs rest and move as you hit the spacebar. The most commonly used key on a keyboard. So the pointer is always moving around and doing things to mess up your work. I hate laptops with a passion!

My wife's computer is still WindowsXP and I have to use it for something every once in awhile when I'm down at the house.
To me, it is the most archaic and unrelenting OS ever developed. When compared to the multi-functionality of Debian and other Linux distro's. There are just so many things you either cannot do on the Doze or if you can, it takes many more time consuming steps. I normally have four or five workspaces in use, of the six I keep available. And each of those may have two or three programs in the panel (systray on the Doze). I can't work efficiently without these features.

FWIW: I run both an upper and a lower panel on all of my machines. So everything I use several times a day is only one click away. And with the ability to switch between workspaces, I don't have to minimise and maximize the programs I'm using. When I switch workspaces, there they are, open and the cursor where I left it, ready to go.

The last thing I need is a screen that works like a DumbPhone, with a gazillion icons plastered all over it. Or a search feature that instead of searching the line of text I'm looking for, searches the entire web and reports my searches to third parties.
And since my monitors are built into my desks, under a sheet of glass, like TV news desks. A touch screen would make my work even harder yet. Fingerprints on the screen, having to keep the glass off the desk or reaching under the keyboard to try and get to the monitor to do something. I'm sure they are great for POS use, or for DumbPhones, but for those of us who work for a living, they are horrible. I don't want one and don't plan on every buying one. Unless forced to downgrade my entire system here.

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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby kg » 17 Jul 2013, 17:02


Mozilla has a 64 bit version of Firefox available, though it's not quite as easy to find due to the aforementioned OS-dependent redirection on the site. The page you want is:


While they have a "json" download (and I have no idea what that's about), the file I know of is a tarball, meaning you have to install it manually and satisfy any dependencies it requires. Which leads me to my next statement.

Having dealt with installations of tarballs before, I know to look for some sort of "read-me" files which tells those intending to install the software what its dependencies are, along with other installation instructions, such as what directories need to be created, and where. I downloaded the tarball to search for one, but it seems that Firefox 22 has no such file, at least not that I could find.

Unless there is as insurmountable need (or you're a glutton for experimentation punishment :lol: ), I'd wait until Ubuntu releases it in the repositories. Without a doubt, this tarball is not written to handle the Unity DTE, nor Cinnamon, or any of the other lesser known or used DTEs. That's the job of the developers for the various DTEs, and why upgrades take some time before appearing in the repos.

But I thought I'd give you the link so that you know Mozilla does offer a 64 bit version. The reason a 64 bit version isn't used is because the devs for the distribution concerned haven't bothered to offer the available 64 bit release. Be warned...they may have good reason to not release it! I've seen it before...the devs consider a 64 bit version so buggy that they refuse to offer it, and instead use the 32 bit version and a work-around.
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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby Kellemora » 18 Jul 2013, 10:36

I hear ya on the bugs Glenn!
I stuck with 32 bit everything, simply because what I needed either didn't work right on/in 64 bit or they were not available yet.
Once the programs I use most often did come in 64 bit, I changed to the 64 bit OS.
I was surprised to find that most of my old 32 bit software ran just fine on 64 bit OS machines.
Or at least that's the way I remember it. There may have been some problems, long since forgotten.

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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby Yogi » 18 Jul 2013, 10:40

Gary: I've often wondered why Microsoft has abandoned the desktop world in favor of the mobile device world. Their biggest and most profitable customers are the government and large corporations who depend on workstations for design, development, and data entry. Having worked in an engineering community for 36 years, it's difficult for me to imagine no desktops. Then again, I am no different than any other retired geek who is entrenched in the past. Future generations of computer workstations might just evolve into mobile devices. My doctor already carries around a mini laptop to the examining room. There is no reason why it could not be a notebook that slides into a dock that is a permanent fixture in each office. This trend could propagate to government and corporate offices as well.

My main employer for decades was Motorola. All corporate enterprise operations were on mainframes. IBM had a lot to do with implementing them and they have their own version of UNIX. HP also had mainframes and POSIX, which was a UNIX variation. Linux was relegated to those niches where the local admin could do what s/he wanted without interacting directly with the mainframes, and thus possibly corrupting them. Several engineering labs had Linux box servers, but again it was not a corporate standard.

I'm at a loss to explain what you see in your work environment, but it could very well be virtual machines (VM's) and networks (VPN's). I find the work space switcher in debian, openSUSE, and Ubuntu to be a pain, although I will admit it's missing altogether in any version of Windows. If I need six independent desktops on my Windows 7 box, I'll virtualize them and not have a need to switch anything. I'll just click on the machine I want and be there instantly.

Glenn: To be honest I don't know about Firefox v22. It could be offered in a 64-bit version. However, for the last six months or so it was only available via the Nightly Build channel. I have both the regular 32-bit and the Nightly Build installed on my Windows machine and have all but abandoned the stable release. I can deal with the occasional bug in the Nightly Build because it generally gets fixed in a day or two. Not so with the regular distribution channel.

As far as Firefox in Linux goes, version 22 is the first I've ever seen that is current. The Linux devs can't seem to keep up with the fast pace of changes in the software that people want to use, and the example I used to begin this topic demonstrates my biggest gripe with Firefox in particular. It does not behave consistently in Linux as it does in Windows, with Ubuntu being the biggest offenders trying to integrate it into their Unity GUI.

There is a .deb version of Firefox 64-bit in a repository (somewhere) that holds the Nightly Build package. I've seen it but have not had a yen to install it given the problems with the 32 bit version. I know what you mean about tarballs, but I've not been daunted by the strict requirements of such software. Synaptic seems to handle dependencies rather well and will fix broken packages that are missing them. Aptitude also has an apt-get dist-upgrade function which takes care of any dependency issues upon installation. I've installed a tarball or two in my experiments and never had to worry about creating directories, modifying config files, or recompiling the kernel. If you don't use the apt function, then you're at the mercy of Linux.
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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby Kellemora » 19 Jul 2013, 12:47

Hi Yogi

We're on the same page with Motorola.
Almost every communications device we used in our fleets, including mobile phones, were all Motorola.
Other than standard maintenance, I don't recall ever having a single problem with any of their equipment.
Even our first TV's were Motorola.
They have a long upstanding history!

I see a LOT of workstations that are now laptops.
Seems everyone is using them these days.
I just can't get used to typing on such inferior keyboards, with the annoyance of the touch mouse messing things up, no matter how you set it.
When I use our little Acer Aspire 722, I use it with the frau's wireless keyboard and mouse.
She also has a wireless mouse just for it, and turns off the touch-pad completely. Else she can't use it either.

I do know a few companies here, where the employees must bring their OWN laptop to work.
One of them pays each employee 500 bucks toward the purchase of a laptop.
They just plug into the LAN and can use the desk monitor if they so choose.
I was surprised, since they could buy dumb terminals for under 200 bucks each. Maybe less in volume.

However, like the work I do, the programs I'm running reside on the server, and data is stored in the server.
Nothing gets added to my own hard drives, as far as data entry.
So I assume, theirs works the same way.
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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby Yogi » 20 Jul 2013, 14:47

While laptops certainly are portable devices, they are not any better off than the traditional desktops as far as the new Microsoft business plan goes. Windows 8 is breaking away from the laptop mold. You don't see a lot of people carrying around laptops when you go to the mall these days, but you will see many who carry notebooks which are technically somewhere between a smart phone and a laptop in terms of capability. That's where all the new money is going these days

Back at Motorola several laptops had docking stations so that the engineers could take the computer to meetings and show their work, or use them with conventional monitors and input devices at their desks. Laptops are indeed convenient workplace devices, but mobile devices are not. They have too many shortcomings. You can't print from a notebook, for example.

As far as the touch pad problem goes on laptops, I found a good solution on my HP. It is possible to disable the touch pad from the Windows environment, but I have never seen such an option available in Linux. Daunted by the lack of convenience, I taped a hinged piece of thick cardboard over the touch pad. It's about 98% effective. I'm thinking the other 2% could be addressed if I used something more rigid than cardboard, such as plexiglass or even a thin sheet of metal. The flat keyboard still does not suit my touch typing fingers, but at least I now have some control of where the pointer on the screen is going to end up. :mrgreen:
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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby Kellemora » 20 Jul 2013, 16:41

Hmm, I have an Acer Aspire One 722. Under Debian, I can control the touch pad, including turning it off, by selecting arrow keys vs touch-pad and using the Fn key to control whether the arrow keys move the mouse or move the page (scroll).
I have printed from it, both from a USB port, and through the LAN.
It's just easier to use a plug in mouse with the darn thing.
The biggest problem with turning off the touch pad, if you unplug the mouse, neither the touch pad or arrow keys work, until you plug the mouse back in and reset it to either touch pad or arrow keys.
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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby Yogi » 20 Jul 2013, 17:32

Your Acer laptop works as most of them typically do. I don't know if loss of the touch pad control is due to the HP hardware or the Linux OS, but I don't get a choice in Ubuntu or openSUSE. My debian based software has a setting, however, I've never looked for it previously. I just checked and found the mouse settings. I'm running debian 6.0.7 and checking the "disable touch pad" box does disable the touch pad only while I'm typing. It functions normally if I'm not pressing any alpha/numeric keys. There is no option for arrow keys.
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Re: Firefox on Linux

Postby Kellemora » 21 Jul 2013, 11:28

I think that might be because different drivers are used.
For EG: Even though I use CUPS for printing. I get a different print screen if I'm using the Canon or the Konica/Minolta.
And sometimes, what I'm printing makes a difference also. Certain selections may be grayed out on either driver.
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