How do I get Firefox to work in 256 colors?
June 23, 2008 3:33 PM   Subscribe

I want to use Firefox 3 in a thin client environment - SBS2K, RDP. Terminals cannot display more than 256 colors, and FF3 does not seem to support this.

This is really annoying. I have posted on the Firefox support forum, and searched Google for hours, to no avail. Images do not display (render?) correctly, page colours are washed out, gradients are particularly bad (making any text illegible). FF2 occasionally had issues (mostly with flash, but I use IETab for those), but none too serious. IE6 has no problems at all (IE7 does not work on SBS2K), but I would prefer to stick with FF. Are there any workarounds?

Bonus question - if I am stuck with FF2, is there an extension to add AwesomeBar-like functionality (I know many hate it, but it makes hunting through my bookmarks so much easier)?
posted by Tawita to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
I just saw this colour issue addressed the other day at Lifehacker.
posted by booner at 3:52 PM on June 23, 2008

@booner - thanks for your comment, but that's not the problem. I tried it (just in case) but no joy.
posted by Tawita at 5:37 PM on June 23, 2008

Next to bottom question here describes configuring Firefox to use 256 colors through Windows' compatibility setttings. (Apologies if this is wholly irrelevant to SBS2K.)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 6:41 PM on June 23, 2008

Can you perhaps use an alternate terminal server, and then use rdc to connect to your Windows SBS2K machine from inside that session?
posted by SirStan at 6:44 PM on June 23, 2008

Zed: That is a troubleshooting step if firefox IS rendering in 256 colors. It wont help in this case (Does Windows 2000 even have compatibility mode for apps?)
posted by SirStan at 6:46 PM on June 23, 2008

@Zed_Lopez - that solution is to stop Firefox using 256 colors in Vista.

@SirStan - I'm sorry, but use of an alternate terminal server seems to be way beyond my ability to implement (and it looks as if it costs too). Given that my current workaround is just to keep using FF2, it's probably an overkill as well. Correct me if my impressions are wrong, though.

Thanks to both of you.
posted by Tawita at 7:01 PM on June 23, 2008

On your SBS2k3 server:
Open Administrative Tools. Click on Terminal Services Configuration. Now click on the RDP connection entry in the right pane, and right-click. Select Properties. Select the Client Settings tab. Make sure the check mark for "Limit Maximum Color Depth" is checked and select 16 Bit.

Now close the terminal server session, and restart RDP without connecting to the server. Click the Options button, then click Display. Set it for Full Screen and 16 Bit. Save the connection and connect to your server.

If you can't get more than 256 colors out of the display, your SBS2k3 server's video card or driver is the issue. Either reinstall the video card if you know it's supposed to support more than 256 colors, or replace the video card.
posted by disclaimer at 7:32 PM on June 23, 2008

@disclaimer - sorry, I'm on SBS2K (not 2K3), and 256 colors to a terminal is one of the limitations. As I can't change that, I need Firefox to render properly with only 256 colors. I don't understand why pages which display fine in FF2 (and even better in IE6) are a mess in FF3. Thanks for trying.
posted by Tawita at 7:52 PM on June 23, 2008

Tawita: Perhaps it is time to talk to 'management' about keeping that server current. If its runing SBS2k its probably also a 6 year old server? It might be time to drop 5-8k into a new server/licensing (if even that much.. i havent priced sbs in a while)
posted by SirStan at 9:18 PM on June 23, 2008

Windows 2000 does have a compatibility mode, but you have to turn it on via a registry key. Win2k can pretend to be Win95 or Win98 when running an application.
posted by zippy at 12:06 AM on June 24, 2008

Then I think you're fighting a losing battle and I suggest you remote into a workstation machine on the network rather than the server itself (which is a much, much safer practice anyway). FF3 relies very heavily on the csrss.exe process which renders the GUI. That process is very different between the XP/2003 codebase than in a Win2k codebase.
posted by disclaimer at 4:25 AM on June 24, 2008

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