Making Firefox love your GNOME Desktop

One thing we are doing here at Red Hat Brno is maintain Firefox for Fedora and RHEL. The job is mostly focused on making sure we have Firefox available on all RHEL versions with all the latest security fixes, but it also gives our great team of Martin Stransky and Jan Horak some time to work on adding new features to Firefox to make sure it feels like a more integrated part of your desktop. They are currently working on 3 such features that you will hopefully be able to enjoy soon. The first is a patch to inhibit the screensaver when you are watching HTML5 or Flash content fullscreen. So if you are annoyed by having to move your mouse every 3 minutes to avoid the screen dimming when watching The Daily Show this is the fix for you. The second item they are working on is enabling the GStreamer backend in Firefox on Fedora. Which means that if you install for instance H264 support for Totem you will also have H264 support for HTML5 in Firefox. And finally there is also ongoing work on adding support for GIO in Firefox to make sure that any setup that works with GIO in terms of remote file access also works with Firefox, this latest task is taking some time though as it is currently blocking on some code refactoring in Firefox.


#1 ReinoutS on 01.10.13 at 15:18

I can’t help but wonder why this effort isn’t put in improving Web instead?

#2 uraeus on 01.10.13 at 15:34

@ReinoutS: Well Red Hat is shipping Firefox as our primary browser for a lot of reasons, but the primary drivers are that Mozilla does security updates and maintenance in a way that works for our needs in Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Mozilla also makes sure Firefox and related libraries have certain important security certifications from the US government etc, which is another important factor as it is a requirement for selling to the US Government. So of course Red Hat could do at that with Web too ourselves, but it would mean a significantly larger team size that what we currently have, and we can not currently justify the cost versus benefit of doing that.

#3 ReinoutS on 01.23.13 at 23:00

Right, thanks for clarifying.

#4 liam on 01.11.13 at 01:17

I can’t help but wonder why Web developers aren’t working on these problems with FF rather than on Web.

Great to hear about the progress in these areas. The last big items as far as I’m concerned are better shell integration, Gtk 3, and keyring.
Always more work to do:)

#5 ssam on 01.10.13 at 15:25

i’m looking forward to the firefox gstreamer work being enabled.

could i also suggest making firefox call gnome-open (or xdg-open) when you open a download, rather than maintaining its own list of mime-type/application mappings.

#6 Slava on 01.10.13 at 15:52

Cool! And is there a plan to integrate Password Manager with GNOME Keyring? It would be fantastic.

#7 Ole Laursen on 01.10.13 at 16:37

Wonderful! We’ve ditched our old and crappy tv tuner card and are now relying on web tv. And the stupid browser/flash-is-too-stupid-to-turn-off-screen-saver has been an annoyance ever since.

#8 Vasily Anonimov on 01.10.13 at 18:27

Waiting for gtk3 support, heh.

#9 uraeus on 01.10.13 at 18:33

Actually Martin Stransky is working on that too, so hopefully soon :)

#10 jod on 01.10.13 at 19:18

I have this problem with Firefox& Gnome Shell that if you launch it in any workspace other than workspace 1 it triggers overview – see the following tread in the Fedora Forum:

Any fix would be great

#11 Fred on 01.10.13 at 19:49

“The second item they are working on is enabling the GStreamer backend in Firefox on Fedora. ”

It would be nice to see this in RHEL 6.4 too.

#12 stratu on 01.10.13 at 22:06

I love you, I always wanted all three things :)

#13 James on 01.10.13 at 22:35

The screensaver inhibit feature sounds great (as long as websites can’t hijack this to get around your screenlocker) but…

The feature *everyone* wants and has been waiting for for years and which chrome already has is…

Integration with the gnome-keyring ! :)

This would be awesome.

Thank you,

#14 Dave on 01.10.13 at 23:30

Is there any work being done on native pulseaudio support for the Firefox plugin container? Flash via the alsa plugin does weird things when pulse is using a network sink :(

#15 Eric Anholt on 01.11.13 at 00:03

Very cool! I’m glad to see gnomey people working on firefox integration. I’ve never understood the insistence on making a gnome-specific web browser when they’re so much work and firefox is so close to exactly what I want already (certainly way closer than gnome’s own).

#16 uraeus on 01.11.13 at 07:43

Hi Eric, Well to be fair and despite this not being an option for us at Red Hat as I explained in another comment, there are a lot of good reasons for why one would want to do ones own web browser in terms of deep desktop integration and behaviour. There are quite a few limits on what we are allowed to do with Firefox as it of course also need to remain viable for Mozilla on Windows and Mac.

So while Web is not going to be our choice I can sympathize with their reasoning.

#17 Xan on 01.11.13 at 10:03

Your comment has one fallacy and one big oversight.

The fallacy is that everybody working on the GNOME web browser would work on Firefox if the GNOME browser didn’t exist. This is not the case. I’d expect someone with experience in open source to know better.

The big oversight is that the GNOME browser is what drives the development of WebKitGTK+, which is what everybody in need of an embeddable web widget uses (since Firefox by their own admission do not care about this market). The day the GNOME browser people give up on this I think you’ll realize you indeed didn’t understand at all what the situation was.

#18 liam on 01.12.13 at 23:52

I understand why you would say these things (well, not the part about “web widgets” since I’m not clear as to what you mean by that; I’d assume you mean Dashboard type things, but then I realize that Gnome is very much against those so then I am confused again), and certainly it is true that we shouldn’t expect people to be equally skilled in similar, but different, codebases, but it seems, especially if manpower is an issue and they are being paid for their work in Gnome, that the best use of resources would be to help FF, or Chromium, integrate better into Gnome.
Of course, I think Igalia (though it may have been another company) has done a good bit of webkitgtk work on behalf of customers, and that makes sense since they are being paid specifically to do that work.
For Gnome volunteers, however, whose goal is, hopefully, a better Gnome, the best return for time seems to be to adapt an existing project, especially one as monstrously complicated as a browser.

#19 ReinoutS on 01.23.13 at 23:07

“Web widgets” means, for instance, the widgets that Evolution uses to display HTML email.

A web browser is a complicated thing indeed, and that is why Web uses webkit – just as Chromium does.

Last but not least: Epiphany (Web) existed well before Firefox, let alone Chromium. Why didn’t Mozilla and Google adapt to an existing project? (The answer is of course: they want to run on multiple platforms. That is fine, but that means they can never reach a level of desktop integration on Gnome as deep as that of Web.)

#20 Sergio J Dias on 01.11.13 at 00:53

I can not fix the bug of java-applet in Fedora 17. Help me, please!

#21 Nirbheek Chauhan on 01.11.13 at 08:30

Next step: libsecret integration for storing the master password!

I don’t want all my Firefox passwords saved in gnome-keyring—I prefer them inside Firefox and synced to all my other Firefox instances. However, I would really like to not have to enter my master password on startup.

#22 Saulo on 01.11.13 at 10:48

Are those 3 changes part of Firefox code and not just for Fedora, right!?

#23 uraeus on 01.11.13 at 10:51

Yes of course, if you look at the linked bugs they are all Mozilla bugs, not Fedora bugs. Whenever we can we work upstream.

#24 Jiri Eischmann on 01.11.13 at 11:57

What about adopting the Adwaita skin made by Garrett? It looks so much better in GNOME 3 than the default one.

#25 Mattias Eriksson on 01.11.13 at 15:31

Another suggestion is to integrate this gnome keyring integration extension in to firefox, to store all your passwords safely.

Having it as an extension is a pain, since it breaks with every upgrade and has to be recompiled.

#26 Mattias Eriksson on 01.11.13 at 15:37

Also, a second Firefox/Gnome related thing I thought about… It is already possible to hide the menu bar and get a menu button instead. But since Gnome Shell has a Application menu, it would be nice if that menu was populated instead of having a menu button.

#27 Antoni Segura Puimedon on 01.11.13 at 22:33

It’d be a great addition if it were possible that a full-screen html5 or flash video on one screen would remain full-screen while doing stuff on the second screen such as clicking and typing.