Mozilla Firefox Command-Line

I just updated to FireFox 1.0.6 from an extremely old installation. Ran into some weird conflicts with a few extensions that had apparently not been “all the way” removed, but the Mozilla command line arguments came in handy.

Also, How to Learn Computer Skills.

My firefox installation has been getting wonky as of late. It seemed to take longer and longer to start up, lots of unnecessary plugins that I hadn’t uninstalled, and it was some absurdly early pre-1.0 version.

The ideal solution would have been to somehow make my home installation exactly mirror the FireFox setup that I use all day at work. The last time I upgraded FireFox, I had found that if I backed up my profile folder (You know, that folder under Documents and Settings\name.DOMAIN\Application Data) then I could restore it after installing a plugin if it didn’t jive with the other 18 million things I subject this poor program to, then no harm was done.

Well, like a dolt, I decided to try the same kind of tactic to make my home computer’s FireFox match my work computer’s FireFox. The plan was this:

  1. Install FireFox 1.0.6 at home.
  2. Shut down FireFox at home.
  3. Log into the work computer, and zip the profile folder up to a private folder on my webspace
  4. Download it at home, set it as the default profile, and hit the ground running.

I feel the need to stress that all of the problems that I encounter with FireFox are purely the result of:

  • Not following directions.
  • Installing extensions that say that they don’t work with XYZ version when I am using XYZ version.
  • Not restarting/shutting down the browser when it tells me to restart/shut down the browser.
  • Generally just throwing caution to the wind, doing whatever whim seems like it might be a step closer to what I want my browser to do.
  • Installing any and every plugin that seems even remotely cool, sometimes installing several that all do the same thing. (I’ve gotten better about this one.)

So, when FireFox crashes, I don’t blame the browser, or even the extensions authors. It’s my fault, 100%. But, it’s a habit borne out of many years of experience that has gotten me to where I am. Here’s how to learn computer skills:

  1. Get a computer.
  2. Install anything and everything on it that you want.
  3. Don’t read instruction manuals unless absolutely necessary (but keep them - they’re handy when you really screw up.)
  4. Always tinker with every setting that you can get your hands on. (How else will you know what they do?)
  5. When things break — and oh, how they will break — fix them. Use google, use those manuals, and when all else fails, just tinker methodically until it works.

One of two things is going to happen. Either you’ll get really good at solving computer problems and gain an attitude of “Of course it can be done!” or you’ll give up and decide that it’s just not your thing.

Anyway, FireFox didn’t much like my profile swapping across computers. In fact, it hated it, and punished me with a blank screen, non-functioning menus, and absolutely no information about what was going on. That’s when I turned to google and found those command line switches.

I loaded up Firefox with the -console switch, and watched what happened on the console. I saw a few errors related to some of the plugins. I searched the code with UltraEdit, and found the offensive lines. (Starting with -safe-mode enabled didn’t help any.)

Sure enough, the overlays RDF file in my profile that was referring to some widget that wasn’t properly installed. I closed the non-functioning browser, deleted the offensive lines, and tried again.

Success!

I then went about updating everything and installing about 30 extensions. Now, once again, I have the fast, super-fully-featured, standards-compliant browser I love to break :)

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