Posts Tagged ‘browser’

32-bit Ubuntu users: You can read this for some general info, but for installation of Flash use this guide instead.


While Flash support on Linux distros used to be a nightmare, most people these days rarely need to bother fiddling with it. In fact, installing Flash support on 32-bit i386 systems it can be even easier than doing the same in Windows. But 64-bit users often find it is one big mess, and this has nothing to do with Ubuntu, as Adobe has only ever released a 32-bit version, as incredible as that may seem.

At the time of writing, there is the first alpha 64-bit version available, so things are looking up. While you could be forgiven for not trusting a product that isn’t even at its first beta level yet, from what I have seen it is stable, and should be the answer you are looking for. While this might not be the solution to help everyone, hopefully it is the answer to your Flash woes.

What you first need to do is go into Synaptic and completely remove the package flashplugin-installer, or do so with the following command in a terminal (if you never installed it, obviously you can skip this step):

sudo apt-get purge flashplugin-installer

If you suspect you may have installed some open source Flash plugins, open Synaptic and enter “flash” in the Quick search bar. I personally removed the popular gnash just to be safe (since it and the Adobe one always fought for supremacy, though that was never the problem, considering I installed Gnash after the Adobe product failed me). You can leave swfdec-gnome if that is installed, as that handles things like giving thumbnail previews for .swf files in Nautilus, etc, and doesn’t appear to cause any conflicts.

You can always try just skipping all that and seeing if the 32- and 64-bit versions happily co-exist, but since the 32-bit one is failing you anyway, you may as well uninstall it and save any potential headaches.

Next, we need to add the Adobe Flash repository to the APT sources, update the sources list, then download and install the 64-bit plugin. This is easily done by pasting the following into a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:sevenmachines/flash && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install flashplugin64-installer

Note that if you get an error, most likely because during the sources update it failed to fetch some info, this install will fail (since it won’t actually get to the last command and download and install anything). However, if you open Synaptic and search for “flash“, you will see there is now flashplugin64-installer included in the list of found packages, and is then easily installed (though you could always just run sudo apt-get install flashplugin64-installer in a terminal).

If you prefer, you can run each of the three commands separately:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:sevenmachines/flash
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install flashplugin64-installer

That way if the update fails, you can run it again and then run the last command when ready.

After that, you should have Flash support in Firefox and other web browsers, and you shouldn’t even need to reboot (though if you didn’t already exit Firefox before installing Flash, restart the program now, and you should be able to watch Flash vids).


If you want to make sure the plugin is installed properly (without viewing a Flash clip, which is obviously the best way to get this info), just enter about:plugins in the Firefox address bar and hit Enter. You should see the Flash section right near the top.


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Nautilus – the default file manager for Gnome, and therefore Ubuntu – is feature-rich and easy-to-use, but you can make it even more powerful, and with very little effort.

With Windows or Mac OS X, if there are features missing in the built-in file browser, the only option is to install another, usually at some expense (software developers in those worlds haven’t quite embraced the concept of open-source). In Ubuntu and other Linux distributions, other file managers – like Thunar (Xfce), Dolphin (KDE) and Konqueror (KDE) – can easily be installed (for free), even if they were made for a desktop environment other than Gnome.

But another way to get some of the features you might find lacking in Nautilus is to install some plugins or “extensions“, most of which are in the official repos and easily installed via Synaptic Package Manager.

Here I’ll feature the most popular and useful ones, but there are others out there, from adding more integration with messaging to technical tasks most of us don’t need (or understand). While I’ll be keeping this post up to date as new extensions are created, a Google search for “nautilus plugin extension” will reveal those I have left out (or missed). And don’t forget that you can also open Synaptic, paste the word “nautilus” into the Quick search bar, and all extensions available in the repositories will be displayed.

Essential Extensions:

Nautilus Open Terminal: Command-Line in the Current Folder

Nautilus GKSU: Open Files & Folders with Administrative Privileges

More Cool Plugins:

Nautilus Image Converter: Easily Resize & Rotate Pictures

Nautilus Pastebin: Send Text Clips to the Web


Other Nautilus Enhancements:

Add Buttons for New Folder, Cut, Copy, Paste & Trash/Delete to the Nautilus Toolbar

Add a File/Folder “Properties” Button to the Nautilus Toolbar


Guide to Customising & Enhancing Nautilus


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We all know Microsoft tries to create “standards” rather than follow them, and when this interferes with other programs, protocols, technologies and such, people tend to blame the other party. A good example is the horrid .url format Internet Explorer uses for web shortcuts you save on the desktop, etc, in Windows. When people change to Firefox as the default browser, they’re often upset to find it won’t open .url files, as it doesn’t know what to do with them.

While you could argue that in this day and age of Microsoft dominance, Firefox should be adding support for everything to do with Internet Explorer, it should be pointed out that the vast majority of users don’t create internet shortcuts on their desktop, but use a concept called “Favorites” (“Bookmarks everywhere else). In over a decade of using Internet Explorer (IE), I never saved a single one – I mean, why would I when I had a Favorites menu?

But the fact remains that there are many people out there who, rather than create bookmarks for their sites, save links on their desktops or in sub-folders of My Documents. And when these people migrate to Ubuntu, they expect to be able to open them, unaware it is a Microsoft-only format (which, if I must point again, is actually a shortcoming of IE).

But there is a way to open these .url shortcuts in Ubuntu by adding support for it in Firefox yourself. While it takes a little fiddling, it’s not that hard if you follow the steps outlined. Basically, you’ll need to create a script to handle this task, make the script executable (then copy it to a system folder), create a symlink to it, then create a mimetype to recognise .url files. Don’t worry if that sounds too technical, as even if you knew what all that meant, you’d still need to follow these instructions.

So, firstly, designate a folder for the script to reside in (create one if need be; eg: /home/yourusername/Settings/Scripts), and open it. Right-click an empty area of the folder and choose Create Document > Empty File. A new blank text file with the generic name “new file” will be created; you’ll notice the name will be highlighted, meaning you can type the new name in, so type in fx-url, then hit Enter to finalise it. Double-click the file (or just hit Enter again if it is still selected) and paste the following script code into it:

# Script to make Microsoft Windows Internet Shortcuts (*.url) work on Linux.
# Open up the file
open(F,"<$ARGV[0]") or die "$0: Could not load Internet Shortcut file $ARGV[0]!\n";
# Find the URL
while($in = <F> and not $url) {
if($in =~ m/\s*URL\s*\=\s*\S*\s*15*/) {
$url = $in;
$url =~ s/\s*URL\s*\=\s*//; # Filter out the beginning stuff
$url =~ s/\s*15+//; # Filter out the nasty DOS carriage return!
system "firefox $url &";# or die "$0: Could not open $netscape\n"

Once you have exited and saved the script, you’ll need to make it executable so that it can run like a program. Open a terminal in the folder the script is in, and enter the following:

sudo chmod a+x fx-url

You’ll now need to copy the executable script to /usr/bin, so enter the following into the terminal:

sudo cp fx-url /usr/bin/fx-url

To create a symlink to fx-url in /usr/bin, enter the following command into the terminal:

sudo ln -s /usr/bin/fx-url /usr/bin/'Web Shortcut Browser'

This symlink step is not essential, but it allows you to specify the name that appears in the context menu when right-clicking on .url files. This way, you’ll see a menu item that says Open with Web Shortcut Browser, instead of justfx-url. Since you are only renaming the symlink, you can choose whatever name you’d like to see in the context menu; just replace the text Web Shortcut Browserin the above command with the name that you prefer.

Now you have to create a mimetype for the .url extension, so you’ll need assoGiate (read this for more info).

Open Applications > System Tools > File Types Editor, and click the New button. Enter the following information in the corresponding tabs:

Category: Text and source code
Name: x-url
Description: Microsoft Internet Explorer Shortcut

You can choose an icon for the .url file-type via the browse button […] – if you don’t have any, there are some at the bottom of this post that you can save to a folder like /home/yourusername/Settings/Icons.

Filename pattern: *.url

File contents:

When you click +Add, you’ll see more than one data entry field, but all you need to worry about is the Value: one.

Value: [InternetShortcut]

Now your system knows what .url files are, but it still doesn’t know what to do with them. You now have to associate the .url extension with the executable script fx-url, so right-click any .url file and go to Properties > Open With.  Click the Add button, and at the bottom of the Add Application window you’ll see the Use a custom command option; click this, then either browse to /user/bin and select the symlink you created, or enter /usr/bin/Web Shortcut Browser (or the appropriate name if you changed it). Click the Add button to save your changes (but leave theProperties window open as you’ll need it in the next step).

Now you need to make the associated action the default option for double-clicking, otherwise you’ll have to right-click .url files and choose the required option from the context menu. To make opening in Firefox the default action, in the Open With tab of  the Properties window, click the dot to the left of the entry you just added (eg: Web Shortcut Browser), then click Close.

Next, open any Nautilus (file manager) window and go to Edit > Preferences > Behaviour. In the Executable Text Files section, make sure that View executable text files when they are opened is selected. Click Close, and it is done (you may need to log out or reboot for the changes to take effect). Now when you right-click any .url file, you should see Open with Web Shortcut Browser as the top entry of the context menu, and it will be the default action for double-clicks.

Some Issues You May Come Across:

Error Opening .url Files in Firefox

If Firefox opens when you double-click .url files, but instead of going to the web page, it gives you this error message:

Firefox doesn’t know how to open this address, because the protocol (basehttp) isn’t associated with any program.

… then there is an issue with the code in the .url files themselves. If you open an .url in a text editor, you will see something like:


Basically, it means the first 2 lines are interfering, so will need to be removed, as they are not needed (and obviously causing problems). But you won’t have to do so manually, as we can delete the offending lines from all your .url shortcuts with one command. Open a terminal in the folder with all your .url files, and enter the following:

sed -i "1,2 d" *.url

That command that only edits .url files, removing the first 2 lines of each, then saves each file. They’ll open fine in Firefox now.

Specified .url Icon Doesn’t Appear

If the icon you picked for the .url file-type isn’t showing, but is a generic text icon, you’ll probably find this is only the case with Nautilus, the default file manager in Ubuntu. If you have another like Thunar, you should see your icon displayed without issue. While this doesn’t really help the majority of Ubuntu users, I should point out that once you’ve opened each .url in Firefox, and bookmarked them all, you won’t really need to hold onto your old Internet Explorer shortcuts anyway.

But if this is bugging you, try updating the system icon cache with this command before rebooting:

sudo update-mime-database /usr/share/mime/

(This probably won’t do much if you have this error, so when I can figure out a fix I’ll update this tutorial)

Here are a few icons for the .url mimetype:


Did this information make your day? Did it rescue you from hours of headache? Then please consider making a donation via PayPal, to buy me a donut, beer, or some fish’n’chips for my time and effort! Many thanks!

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