Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Hacking the Fox

Ok. So you did the responsible thing and downloaded the latest version of Firefox (v1.5). Great!

For many of you, this probably was an upgrade from 1.0.7. Like me, you probably had quite a few extensions that you soon discovered no longer worked. Bummer. You have checked for updates and still don't find any now. Double-Bummer.

Don't loose hope so soon--Grasshopper! Here are two tips to getting some of those Firefox extensions up and running!

Method 1 -- Do a Google on the Firefox extension's name and try to find the developer's website (instead of the Extensions page hosted by Mozilla). In a number of cases I was able to find the new 1.5 compatible version on their website before it hit the Mozilla Extension rooms. I got fireFTP a couple of days earlier this way.

Method 2 -- This is more of a temporary Firefox extension .xpi "hack". Use it only if Method 1 strikes out and you just HAVE TO HAVE that extension! (like Spoofstick or PrefBar).

Step 1--Download the .xpi extension directly to your hard-drive. (Don't install it!) In Firefox you can accomplish this in most cases by right-clicking the "Install" link for the extension and select "Save Link As"

Step 2--Using a file-compression program that supports RAR files (I use the freeware 7ZIP) open the .xpi archive.

Step 3--Unpack the install.rdf file you should find in the .xpi package.

Step 4--Open the file in notepad (or you other favorite text editor).

Step 5--Look through the code and find where the em:maxVersion entry is listed. Usually it is near the bottom of the file. Sometimes it is higher up. You should see a value that is less than 1.5 like 0.9 or maybe 1.0.7 (Look carefully...some extensions can be used both for Firefox and Mozilla and have that value there for both. Modify the one in the Firefox section if you see that type!)

Step 6--Change that value to 1.5+

Step 7--Save the file with the name install.rdf (should remain same!)

Step 8--Move the modified file back into the .xpi package, overwriting the existing file.

Step 9--Open up Firefox and go to Tools-->Extensions to open the Extension Manager window. Open up your Windows Explorer and browse to that .xpi file.

Step 10--Drag the .xpi file you modified onto the Extensions window and drop it. If you did everything correct it should install.

Step 11--Close Firefox and reopen to apply the Extension.

Step 12--See how it works!

I have done this with a large number of Extensions. I only try for ones that were available for and running under Deer Park without issues. Using the ones for 1.0.7 might work fine, but there is a little bigger risk of failure.

I don't recommend changing the em:minVersion value to update the extension's version number (though I guess you could if you really wanted to). My thought on that is by not changing the version number, the Extension manager should be able to catch the "true" Extension update when the developer finally offers it.

If you find your "hacked" .xpi extension doesn't play well with v 1.5 you should be able to just delete it from the Extension list. (Disclaimer: I haven't borked out my Firefox build by doing this, but who knows what may happen on your....you were warned!)

I don't take any credit for this "hack." Firefox lovers have been doing this for years in the forums...I'm just offering my wisdom to you that I learned from the Fox Masters before me!

In other Extension news--I have switched from PrefBar to NoScript (kind of noisy though) to block Java Scripting. I have also switched from Statusbar Clock to FoxClocks.

The image above apparently isn't really of Firefox-tan but of Hana, a "Ghost Mascot" whatever that means....but she is cute anyway! If anyone finds out who the actual artist is, let me know so I can credit.

See you in the skies!

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