4 Nov 2011 pabs3   » (Master)

Migrating from Galeon to Iceweasel/Firefox

I have been a long-time user of the Galeon web browser, which, while powerful for its time, is getting a bit long in the teeth and has been abandoned for a long time. As a result I need to find something new.

As Galeon uses the Mozilla engine I figure switching to Iceweasel/Firefox will be the least amount of pain since they share similar formats for lots of the user configuration and data (with the exception of history). Switching to Firefox also gives me access to a lot of configurability and a vast sea of extensions all written in RDF, JavaScript and zoooool (ahem, XUL). Another plus was that I was already using Firebug for the occasional web development project.

Looking at the Mozilla addons site is like entering someone's shed. There will be the few beautiful unfinished projects still being worked on, one polished finished scuplture gathering dust but still admirable, things with power plugs from a bygone era, some things that have a coin slot on them, some cryptic machines with no visible screws or manuals, some spiders and their cobwebs and a few rats and mice chewing through things. A place where you can find some excellent, well documented, useful and Free Software extensions alongside lots of crud. Luckily for me the good stuff that I wanted to use was already in Debian or the friendly Debian Mozilla extension maintainers team was willing to package them for me.

In my quest for freedom from Galeon I first noticed that there is no up button in Iceweasel. Bummer, I use that a lot so I went searching for extensions. I soon found one extension, but it hadn't kept up with the ever-changing Mozilla APIs so it fell by the wayside. Thanks to the leavers of breadcrumbs I picked up the trail to a new shiny and working extension. Lo-and-behold I found Uppity, which was all about going up and as it turns out, much better at that than Galeon. Thanks to MozExt team, thats solved, next!

The next glaring problem was the lack of Galeon-style smart bookmarks. Before you ask, yes, Firefox smart keyword bookmarks are not the same thing. This was rediculously hard to search for due to the wording used by both projects being same same but different. Some folks switched to Epiphany to get the extra search boxes on their toolbars. Like this guy I was not interested in that, mainly due to the addons I would be missing out on. I tried a few different tacks, even searching for a way to have multiple search boxes in the Firefox toolbars. I soon gave up on finding an extension that would do this like Galeon does so I figured its time to roll up the sleeves and learn some zzzoooool. I already know a little bit about JavaScript and CSS so... First slap a dash of a tutorial about adding toolbar buttons, add a slither of adding extensions without installing them, stare down some Mozilla reference manuals, thrown in a pinch of favicons, give up on a wild goose chase or two, add a big fat blob of zoooool and sautee in fugly hacks. Soon enough you will have something hardcoded that works like Galeon smart bookmarks but looks even better.

A screenshot of hacky galeon smart bookmarks in Iceweasel

I may eventually turn this into a proper and functionally equivalent extension for Galeon-stlye smart bookmarks but for now it will remain a useful hack. If you want to get your hands dirty with zzzoooooool and try this out after modifying it to use your personal search URLs, please feel free to contact me.

For now the only remaining issue I can see is that the forward/back buttons in Iceweasel don't have the explict menu buttons. This is a minor issue for me so now it is time for me to figure out how to migrate my data and config1 before permanently switching away from Galeon.

Wish me luck!

1. Of course the data and config are fugly, but that is a something for another, much broader and more complicated hack

Syndicated 2011-11-04 03:29:09 from Advogato

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