Ubuntu & Firefox troubleshooting
April 17, 2012 12:58 AM   Subscribe

Yesterday, my firefox install on ubuntu started misbehaving. The bookmarks toolbar only shows up if I remove it and and add it again. There are no URLs in Address bar and no URL display down where the status bar used to be. Several plugins have stopped working without being disabled. Sometimes tabs can't be closed. No session management and on and on. The problem seems to be some interaction of a ubuntu update and firefox not cooperating. After googling I have nothing and am at a complete loss for how to fix it. Where do people turn for support for ubuntu firefox problems that don't require them to be on either development team?

[and yes I am aware of Chrome, it is what I am using right now, but I had firefox set up to work how I liked and prefer it - when it works - though recent repeated breakages on firefox updates does have me teetering on switching]
posted by srboisvert to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
You may have luck in the Ubuntu forums or on IRC, channel #ubuntu or #firefox.

However, without knowing any more about your situation, try this:

With Firefox closed, open a terminal. Type (or copy/paste):

mv .firefox .firefox.old

Then start Firefox up again. If it does work, your installation (system-wide) settings are OK, and something happened to your user settings. If it doesn't work, uninstall, reinstall, and see if it works then.

Once you have Firefox working without your personal settings, to get the old settings back, again with Firefox not running, start up a terminal and...

rm -rf .firefox; mv .firefox.old .firefox

It it breaks again you may just have to re-do your personal settings.

I used to work in a computer lab, and for a variety of problems with Firefox the usual fix was (unfortunately) nuking personal settings.
posted by 23 at 1:09 AM on April 17, 2012

firefox -ProfileManager

Make a new profile. Try it out. If it works, stick with it and redo your settings by hand, because you will ultimately do more work trying to find the problem in your old settings. Totally worth it if you're a debugger though.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:07 AM on April 17, 2012

Instead of

mv .firefox .firefox-old

I'd use

cp -a .firefox .firefox-old

Instead of moving your old profile out of the way so you can start fresh, all that does is make a backup copy of your existing profile. You can then try all kinds of potentially destructive things to try to get this fixed, and when that screws things up worse than they are now, you can get back to square 1 with

rm -rf .firefox; cp -a .firefox-old .firefox

The first potentially destructive thing I'd try is disabling or removing the Tab Mix Plus extension if you have it; TMP has a well-deserved reputation for not playing nice with other things and breaking after Firefox upgrades. But if that doesn't fix it,

rm -rf .firefox

will delete your entire existing profile, which puts you exactly where you would have been had you used mv .firefox .firefox-old in the first place, and when Firefox is next started it will go through its first-run processing and build you a new, clean profile.

By the way, Firefox must not be running while you're using these Terminal commands. Having the profile rug whipped out from under its feet will confuse it badly.

If the Terminal is too scary, you can do exactly the same job with the file browser. Open your home folder, then hit Ctrl-H to show hidden files and folders. You should see a .firefox folder in the resulting window and you can copy and/or rename it as required. Once again, don't have Firefox actually running while you're messing with its profile folder.
posted by flabdablet at 4:47 AM on April 17, 2012

If you have a lot of bookmarks you don't want to lose export them to an HTML file first, then do the mv thing described above. If that works, you can then import your bookmarks back into the new profile.
posted by COD at 5:49 AM on April 17, 2012

Metafilter is one of those places. There are plenty of Moz people here . Feel free to memail if things continue to not work!
posted by gregglind at 5:52 AM on April 17, 2012

After much trial and error it looks like the grief was due to tabmix pro which I have now ditched. Is there are more reliable addon(s) that will give me a right justified close the current tab button and undo closed tabs lists?
posted by srboisvert at 12:52 PM on April 19, 2012

There's an about:config setting to move the close-tab button to the right hand side of the tab bar (where it was up to Firefox 1.5). You don't need an extension for that.

Type about:config in the address bar, click past the warning about "voiding your warranty", then type tabs.close into the Filter: box. As you're typing into that box, you will see the list of preference items in the bottom pane change and shrink. When you see a preference named browser.tabs.closeButtons, double-click it and change its value from 1 (which means "each tab has its own close button") to 3 (which means "only the current tab has a close button and it's on the right of the tab bar").

I haven't used an "undo closed tabs lists" feature, but if you didn't already know that the keyboard shortcut Shift-Ctrl-T re-opens the most recently closed tab, that might be enough for you.
posted by flabdablet at 7:05 PM on April 19, 2012

There's a closed tabs list in unmodified Firefox. It's in the History menu. Called "Recently Closed Tabs".
posted by LogicalDash at 7:54 PM on May 8, 2012

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