Installing Firefox Developer Edition in Linux Mint

Having moved beyond the slow response and larger memory footprint of Firefox ESR, I am using Firefox Developer Edition in its place even if it means living without a status bar at the bottom of the window. Hopefully, someone will create an equivalent of the old add-on bar extensions that worked before the release of Firefox Quantum.

Firefox Developer Edition may be pre-release software with some extras for web developers like being able to to drill into an HTML element and see its properties but I am finding it stable enough for everyday use. It is speedy too, which helps, and it has its own profile so it can co-exist on the same machine as regular releases of Firefox like its ESR and Quantum variants.

Installation takes a little added effort though and there are various options available. My chosen method involved Ubuntu Make. Installing this involves setting up a new PPA as the first step and the following commands added the software to my system:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-desktop/ubuntu-make
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-make

With the above completed, it was simple to install Firefox Developer edition using the following command:

umake web firefox-dev

Where things got a bit more complicated was getting entries added to the Cinnamon Menu and Docky. The former was sorted using the cinnamon-menu-editor command but the latter needed some tinkering with my firefox-developer.desktop file found in .local/share/applications/ within my user area to get the right icon shown. Discovering this took me into .gconf/apps/docky-2/Docky/Interface/DockPreferences/%gconf.xml where I found the location of the firefox-developer.desktop that needed changing. Once this was completed, there was nothing else to do from the operating system side.

Within Firefox itself, I opted to turn off warnings about password logins on non-https websites by going to about:config using the address bar, then looking for security.insecure_field_warning.contextual.enabled and changing its value from True to False. Some may decry this but there are some local websites on my machine that need attention at times. Otherwise, Firefox is installed with user access so I can update it as if it were a Windows or MacOS application and that is useful given that there are frequent new releases. All is going as I want it so far.

A fallback method of installing Nightingale in Linux

When I upgraded to Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 and went for the 64-bit variant, I tried a previously tried and tested approach for installing Nightingale that used a PPA only for it not to work. At that point, the repository had not caught up with the latest Ubuntu release (it has by the time of writing) and other pre-compiled packages would not work either. However, there was one further possibility left and that was downloading a copy of the source code and compiling that. My previous experiences of doing that kind of thing have not been universally positive so it was not my first choice but I gave it a go anyway.

In order to get the source code, I first needed to install Git so I could take a copy from the version controlled repository and the following command added the tool and all its dependencies:

sudo apt-get install git autoconf g++ libgtk2.0-dev libdbus-glib-1-dev libtag1-dev libgstreamer-plugins-base0.10-dev zip unzip

With that lot installed, it was time to checkout a copy of the latest source code and I went with the following:

git clone https://github.com/nightingale-media-player/nightingale-hacking.git

The next step was to go into the nightingale-hacking sub-folder and issue the following command:

./build.sh

That should produce a sub-directory named nightingale that contains the compiled executable files. If this exists, it can be copied into /opt. If not, then create a folder named nightingale under /opt using copy the files from ~/nightingale-hacking/compiled/dist into that location. Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 comes with GNOME Shell 3.8, the next step took a little fiddling before it was sorted: adding an icon to application menu or dashboard. This involved adding a file called nightingale.desktop in /usr/share/applications/ with the following contents:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Nightingale
Comment=Play music
TryExec=/opt/nightingale/nightingale
Exec=/opt/nightingale/nightingale
Icon=/usr/share/pixmaps/nightingale.xpm
Type=Application
X-GNOME-DocPath=nightingale/index.html
X-GNOME-Bugzilla-Bugzilla=Nightingale
X-GNOME-Bugzilla-Product=nightingale
X-GNOME-Bugzilla-Component=BugBuddyBugs
X-GNOME-Bugzilla-Version=1.1.2
Categories=GNOME;Audio;Music;Player;AudioVideo;
StartupNotify=true
OnlyShowIn=GNOME;Unity;
Keywords=Run;
Actions=New
X-Ubuntu-Gettext-Domain=nightingale

[Desktop Action New]
Name=Nightingale
Exec=/opt/nightingale/nightingale
OnlyShowIn=Unity

It was created from a copy of another *.desktop file and the categories in there together with the link to the icon were as important as the title and took a little tinkering before all was in place.  Also, you may find that /opt/nightingale/chrome/icons/default/default.xpm needs to be become /usr/share/pixmaps/nightingale.xpm using the cp command before your new menu entry gains an icon to go with it. While the steps that I describe here worked for me, there is more information on the Nightingale wiki if you need it.

Installing Nightingale music player on Ubuntu 13.04

Ever since the Songbird project concentrated its efforts to support only Windows and OS X, the Firefox-based music player has been absent from a Linux user’s world. However, the project is open source and a fork called Nightingale now fulfils the same needs. Intriguingly, it too is available for Windows for OS X users so I am left wondering why that overlap has happened. However, Songbird also is available as a web app and as an app on both Android and iOS while Nightingale sticks to being a desktop application.

To add it to Ubuntu, you need to set up a new repository. That can be done using the Software Centre but issuing a command in a terminal can be so much quicker and cleaner so here it is:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nightingaleteam/nightingale-release

Apart from entering your password, there will be prompt to continue by pressing the carriage return key or cancelling with CTRL + C. For our purposes, it is the first action that’s needed and once that’s done the needful, you can execute the following command:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install nightingale

This is in two parts: the first updates the repositories on your system and second actually installs the software. When that is complete, you are ready run Nightingale and, with the repository, staying up to date is not chore either. In fact, using the above commands brings another advantage and it is that they should in any Ubuntu derivatives such as Linux Mint.

Using a variant of Debian’s Iceweasel that keeps pace with Firefox

Left to its own devices, Debian will leave you with an ever ageing re-branded version of Firefox that was installed at the same time as the rest of the operating system. From what I have found, the main cause of this was that Mozilla’s wanting to retain control of its branding and trademarks in a manner not in keeping with Debian’s Free Software rules. This didn’t affect just Firefox but also Thunderbird, Sunbird and Seamonkey with Debian’s equivalents for these being IceDove, IceOwl and IceApe, respectively.

While you can download a tarball of Firefox from the web and use that, it’d be nice to get a variant that updated through Debian’s normal apt-get channels. In fact, IceWeasel does get updated whenever there is a new release of Firefox even if these updates never find their way into the usual repositories. While I have been know to take advantage of the more frozen state of Debian compared with other Linux distributions, I don’t mind getting IceWeasel updated so it isn’t a security worry.

The first step in so doing is to add the following lines to /etc/apt/sources.list using root access (using sudo, gksu or su to assume root privileges) since the file normally cannot be edited by normal users:

deb http://backports.debian.org/debian-backports squeeze-backports main
deb http://mozilla.debian.net/ squeeze-backports iceweasel-release

With the file updated and saved, the next step is to update the repositories on your machine using the following command:

sudo apt-get update

With the above complete, it is time to overwrite the existing IceWeasel installation with the latest one using an apt-get command that specifies the squeeze-backports repository as its source using the -t switch. While IceWeasel is installed from the iceweasel-release squeeze-backports repository, there dependencies that need to be satisfied and these come from the main squeeze-backports one. The actual command used is below:

sudo apt-get install -t squeeze-backports iceweasel

While that was all that I needed to do to get IceWeasel 18.0.1 in place, some may need the pkg-mozilla-archive-keyring package installed too. For those needing more information that what’s here, there’s always the Debian Mozilla team.

Sorting a kernel upgrade error in Linux Mint 13

Linux Mint 14 may be out now but I’ll be sticking with its predecessor for now. Being a user of GNOME Shell instead of Cinnamon or Mate, I’ll wait for extensions to get updated for 3.6 before making a move away from 3.4 where the ones that I use happily work. Given that Linux Mint 13 is set to get support until 2017, it’s not as if there is any rush either. Adding the back-ported packages repository to my list of software sources means that I will not miss out on the latest versions of MDM, Cinnamon and Mate anyway. With Ubuntu set to stick to GNOME 3.6 until after 13.04 is released, adding the GNOME 3 Team PPA will be needed if 3.8 arrives with interesting goodies; there are interesting noises that suggest the approach taken in Linux Mint 12 may be used to give more of a GNOME 2 desktop experience. Options abound and there are developments in the pipeline that I hope to explore too.

However, there is one issue that I have had to fix which stymies upgrades within the 3.2 kernel branch. A configuration file (/etc/grub.d/10_linux) points to /usr/share/grub/grub-mkconfig_lib instead of /usr/lib/grub/grub-mkconfig_lib so I have been amending it every time I needed to do a kernel update. However, it just reverts to the previous state so I thought of another solution: creating a symbolic link in the incorrect location that points to the correct one so that updates complete without manual intervention every time. The command that does the needful is below:

sudo ln -s /usr/lib/grub/grub-mkconfig_lib /usr/share/grub/grub-mkconfig_lib

Of course, figuring out what causes the reversion would be good too but the symbolic link fix works so well that there’s little point in exploring it further. Of course, if anyone can add how you’d do that, I’d welcome this advice too. New knowledge always is good.