Matthew Ames

Category: Firefox

Sticking with Fedora

I’ve decided that, when I start my new job, I absolutely will be sticking with Fedora. While Ubuntu 16.04 has brought with it PHP 7.0, I was amazed to find that it didn’t have the latest version of docker-compose, meaning that it needed to be installed via python-pip, rather than just from the repos. I find this to have been a very silly oversight, and just happens to be one of many oversights that seem to plague the distro. I’m not going to bash Ubuntu, because it’s really rather wonderful, but I’m at the point now where I can say that it’s no longer for me.

Fedora is has certainly become my de facto when it comes to Linux. Sure, it may sometimes slip when it comes to releases, but it does a great job of keeping on top of new technologies (except PHP 7.0, for some reason). Gnome always stays up to date, as does Firefox, though I’m using the Dev edition these days for e10s support.

Gnome Boxes is also considerably better within Fedora, which is my favourite tool for virtualisation. Virtural Machine Manger is nice and all, but it’s depth of options makes it take so much longer to boot in to a VM. Boxes has support for quick installs of CentOS, so I can bash out a VM in next to no time.

Finally, one of the cool features for wanting to play around Ubuntu was LXD, but really, it’s just LXC with a different interface, but it just isn’t as portable as Docker, which is what I’m really starting to love using in my day to day.

Revert tracking protection back to ON for all sites

Previously I discussed how to turn on Tracking Protection in Firefox, which has been a great boon to my browsing activity. The problem with this is that Firefox doesn’t have any way of letting you know what sites have had tracking protection disabled, so you can visit a site with tracking protaction turned off without realising it. Fortunately, Firefox stores a lot of it’s information in sqlite, which is an easily modifiable format.

The first thing you’ll need to do is find your Firefox profile path. You can do this by typing about:profiles in to your browser url bar. Look for the “root directory”, and that’ll be where you profile is stored. It is important that you now close firefox completely, otherwise the permissions will not take affect.

Now, with your favourite Sqlite3 editor, you simply need to open permissions.sqlite and run the following query:

select * from moz_perms where type = "trackingprotection" and permission=1;

This will list every site which has Tracking Protection switched off, and will look something like this:

3|http://independent.co.uk|trackingprotection|1|0|0|1458588325092
4|http://www.buzzfeed.com|trackingprotection|1|0|0|1458829675197

To then turn protection back on, you simply need to delete those lines. A command to do so will look a little like the below, where I have put the id from the first column of the above list in to the query.

delete from moz_perms where id=3;

Once that’s complete, you can load your firefox, and you’ll see all of the tracking protection permissions set back to normal.

Firefox Multi Process Mode

Recently I heard news that Firefox would be moving from a multi-threaded to a multi-process model, which excited me greatly. Not only is this better for speed, but it also has a great effect on security too, as processes can only talk to each other via an API. There will soon be two process, instead of one. The first is for the UI, and the second is for the content.

However, it is the speed in which I am the most interested today, which is why I have started running the Developer Edition of Firefox (see my stack page for information about which software I use). After a quick change to the default firefox.desktop file so it loads the DE instead of regular edition, I thought I would give the browser a try.

Whooooosh!

Firefox has lost quite a lot of it’s market share in resent years, with Google Chrome initially stealing all of the limelight due to its speed, and I’m quite confident in saying that I found Microsoft’s Edge browser to be thrilling too, as that also seemed to run a great deal faster than Firefox. Now that I’ve tried it though, I can say that when this feature arrives in the mainline release of Firefox, many users will be pleasantly surprised, and we may see many switch back.

If you’re worried about memory usage, fear not because the slight increase does not seem to be all that large. As there are only two processes, UI and content, rather than a new process for every tab.

Firefox Tracking Protection

If you’re a user of Firefox, you may have already noticed that Tracking Protection is enabled in Private Window mode. This nice little feature will block any element on a web page which is likely to track your usage – something you definitely don’t want when you’re trying to keep as low-key as possible. However, if you go a look at the options you will find that Tracking Protection is only available in Private Windows. This is certainly not ideal, but it turns out that this can be enabled globally such that it is enabled in non-private windows.

Tracking Protection options in Firefox

Enabling Protection

To enable this feature, enter about:config in your URL bar, and you’ll be presented with a warning page as per the below. To continue, click on the “I’ll be careful, I promise!” button.

About Config Firefox Page

Now type “privacy.trackingprotection.enabled” into the search bar, and it will hunt down the options. All you need to now is double click the value so it changed from “false” to “true“.

Tracking Protection Enabled

Tracking is now enabled!

Toggling Protection

If you have any sites complaining about ad-blockers, or you want to enable ads on a page, you will now notice a little shield in the URL bar. Click that and click on “Disable protection for this site” to enable adverts and other tracking elements on that domain alone.

Sync

The good news is that this option is synced using Firefox Sync, so you only have to enable it once, and it will stay with you on whichever desktop you are syncing your browser settings.

Mobile

Unfortunately, this option does not sync to mobile versions of Firefox, however you can perform the same actions as the desktop and achieve the same results.

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