Hacking Mozilla Firebird

Nothing frustrates me more than unfulfilled potential. And that’s why Mozilla Firebird, in spite of its amazing strengths–great speed and small footprint, aside from the things it inherited from Mozilla like good standards compliance, tabbed browsing, popup blocking–well, it bugs me. Why settle for being great when you can be the best there ever was and make people wonder if there ever will be anything better?
Every other modern browser I’ve seen lets you turn off GIF animation. I always do. Still ads very rarely bother me. Moving ads do about 99.999% of the time. As it turns out, Firebird still has the capability, the control panel option is just gone now, in order to make the browser less confusing.

To get it back, locate the file prefs.js inside your profile. In Linux, search your home directory; in Windows, use the Find File option and remember that every Mozilla-derived browser you have installed will have one. Once you find it, open it in a text editor and add the following line:

user_pref(“image.animation_mode”, “none”);

Another good option, if you like movement but don’t like looping distraction, is to replace the word “none” with “once”. Then the animation cycles once and terminates.

Shut down your browser if it’s open, then save the file. Close the file, then reopen your browser. You’ll now be able to browse in peace.

There are bunches of other good tips at this page. Here are my favorites:

Disable blinking text by creating the file user.js in the same directory as your prefs.js file if it doesn’t exist (it doesn’t by default), and insert the following text:

// Put an end to blinking text!
user_pref(“browser.blink_allowed”, false);

Disable the marquee tag by creating the file usercontent.css in the same directory as your prefs.js file if it doesn’t exist (it doesn’t by default), and insert the following text:

/* Stop those marquee tags! */
marquee {
-moz-binding : none !important;
display : block;
height : auto !important;
}

Speed up browsing on fast machines by creating the file user.js in the same directory as your prefs.js fileif it doesn’t exist (it doesn’t by default), and insert the following text, which removes a quarter-second delay before starting to render the page:

// This one makes a huge difference. Last value in milliseconds (default is 250)
user_pref(“nglayout.initialpaint.delay”, 0);

Turn on pipelining to speed things up some more by creating the file user.js in the same directory as your prefs.js file if it doesn’t exist (it doesn’t by default), and insert the following text:

// Enable pipelining:
user_pref(“network.http.pipelining”, true);
user_pref(“network.http.proxy.pipelining”, true);
user_pref(“network.http.pipelining.maxrequests”, 100);

3 thoughts on “Hacking Mozilla Firebird

  • September 7, 2003 at 10:46 am
    Permalink

    Instead of editing files, there’s an easier way:

    Open up a new tab/window, and in the the Location/URI bar put “about:config”.

    Scroll down to the value you want to change (they’re listed alphabetically), click on it, and enter the new value you want to change that field to.

    All user changed settings show up as bold text; all values have have their default values have ‘regular’ text.

  • September 9, 2003 at 2:03 pm
    Permalink

    Oh-oh, something new to play with. Thanks!

  • September 10, 2003 at 8:46 pm
    Permalink

    Firebird is indeed great; there are a few things which keep it from achieving Total World Domination, and a few bugs, too. Unfortunately, some of these seem to be of the uninteresting variety (like bookmark problems), and no one seems to be motivated enough to squash them, myself included.

    It would be great if one of the major distributions would settle on Firebird as its primary browser and assign a developer to working them all out. As is, I think someone would have to learn a new language (Javascript) to do it if they were just a regular hacker. This might be just the thing for one of those pay-a-hacker sites. Hmm…

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