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How to browse the Internet using the Mozilla 1.x and Mozilla Firefox browsers

Learn how you can filter away advertisements, make the fonts look nicer, ensure your privacy is not violated and more. Read on to discover the hidden secrets features of Mozilla 1.6+ and Firefox 9.x.


  1. How to use tabs effectively
  2. Filtering away advertisements
  3. Say no to Pop-Up Windows
  4. What is Java-Script?
  5. What are cookies, any why do everyone want to give me one?
  6. How to use a unique profile depending on web site type
  7. How to disable automatic plug-in installation
  8. How to edit preferences not available through the configuration dialog
  9. How to make Mozilla identify as Internet Explorer
  10. How to trim Mozilla 1.x


1. How to use tabs effectively

Tabs allow you to have several websites open in one browser window.

Press ctrl-t to create a new tab. The shortcut creates a new blank tab where you can open a new page and places the cursor in the location bar where you immediately can enter a URL address and press enter to view it. The address field can be accessed with the shortcut ctrl-l.

You can browse open tabs with ctrl-tab. You can also jump back and forth between tabs with ctrl-PgUp and ctrl-PgDn.

Tabs can be closed with ctrl-w. The shortcut does not work when the cursor is in the location bar, press tabulator if it is to jump down to the web page. Tabulator also allows you to select links on the web page, shift-tabulator jumps back to previous link.

2. Filtering away advertisements

2.1. Ignoring image advertisements with Mozilla 1.x

Open the settings dialog found at File -> Preferences and select Privacy & Security then Images. Here you can click Accept images that come from the originating server only. This effectively blocks a large number of advertisements because many sites use third party servers with the sole purpose of serving image ads.

Be aware that some sites actually serve images that are part of the normal content from different server addresses. If you find that this makes you miss out on important image content then choose Accept all images and use a different approach: Mozilla lets you right click on any image and select Block Images from this Server. By always doing this on all visible advertisements your browser will become virtually add-free within a week. The pr. site image permissions can be managed in the Privacy & Security -> Images dialog.

2.2. Firefox

Firefox also supports Block Images from <server> when right clicking on images. Select Edit -> Preferences from the menu to get the settings dialog, then select Web Features to manage site image permissions. This dialog also allows you to only allow images for the originating Web site only.

2.3. Flash is the devil

The flash plug-in can be used to view some funny cartoons and play a few games. But the main use of flash today is serving very annoying advertisements.

The solution is simple: Install Flashblock

Flashblock replaces all flash animations with a play button. No flash content is loaded without you first approving by pressing this button. Simply genius.

3. Say no to Pop-Up Windows

Some rude websites create new windows with advertisements when you enter the site and sometimes when you leave the site. These windows are created automatically without your consent and cause you harm because you are forced to waste time closing them. Mozilla can stop this kind of pollution for you.

Mozilla 1.x:

  1. Select Edit -> Preferences from the menu
  2. Select the tab Privacy & Security -> Popup Windows
  3. Click Block unrequested popup windows

Mozilla Firefox:

  1. Select Edit -> Preferences from the menu
  2. Select the tab Web Features
  3. Click Block Popup Windows

4. What is Java-Script?

Java-Script is a scripting language that allows websites to open windows, change their focus, do math and other useful things. Web-shops use Java-Script to let you view the total amount on the fly, banks typically use Java-Script for a number of things and requires it to be supported and enabled.

Some sites must have Java-Script enabled to be used at all, other sites simply use it to display advertisement. The Google advertisement on the left of this page is displayed using Java-Script and is not shown in browsers without support it. This site, like many others, does not use Java-Script for any other purpose and you will only be missing links to related sites by browsing this site with Java-Script disabled.

A good strategy is to use two browsers, like Mozilla 1.x and Mozilla Firefox, and have one of them configured for general surfing and one for banks and other secure sites only. The browser for general purposes should have a strict security policy: Java-Script should be turned off, and websites should only be allowed to set session-cookies or be disallowed to set them at all. The other browser should be configured to allow Java-Script and perhaps allow some sites to set long-term cookies. You can archive this using a single browser by using different profiles for different purposes.

4.1. How to enable / disable Java-Script in Mozilla 1.x

Select Edit -> Preferences from the menu and Advanced -> Scripts & Plug-ins in the "preferences" dialog box.

4.2. How to enable / disable Java-Script in Firefox 9.x

Select Edit -> Preferences from the menu. Go to the Web Features tab.

There is a button "Advanced" where you can turn specific options on and off next toh the Enable Javascript checkbox.

5. What are cookies, any why do everyone want to give me one?

Cookies are small files used by websites to store information used while visiting and also to track your long-term movements on the net. A cookie is basically a file with strict limitations, it can only store a small piece of information and only the site who originally set the cookie is allowed to retrieve it later.

Cookies were originally intended to help creators of web services like web-shops keep track of orders and other relevant information during a purchase. Today cookies are mostly used by large media corporations to keep track of your movements and behavior on the web. Look at the cookie on the left. server-??.imrworldwide.com (where ?? is the country code, no, dk, uk..) is a evil global cooperation who will try to store cookies from all parts of the world until you eventually have added them all to your deny-list. The cookies this and other powerful corporations set when you visit a site where they provide advertisement back-end services serve no purpose beyond tracking your movements and purchasing behavior in order to show you more relevant messages.

Mozilla 1.x and Firefox has the ability to protect you against those who want to violate your privacy by storing long-term cookies with unnecessary information about you in cookies. You can ask your browser only to use and allow session cookies. This means websites can use cookies for honest purposes during a visit. All information set is cleared when you leave the site.

They also have the option of disallowing all cookies. This setting is good if you have a separate profile or browser dedicated to general entertainment surfing, but will quickly limit access to a few sites who really have no apparent reason for setting them at all.

I personally prefer using the ask-when-needed setting where you are asked to choose between "Allow, Allow for session and Deny" every time a website wants to store a cookie.

There is a box you can click to store the settings for a particular website permanent.

Some bloated commercial sites may ask you to set up to 10 different cookies originating from 10 different domains, typically ads.annoying-advertisements.com and similar. Let's say you occasionally need that site to set one cookie. If you use the ask option you can simply look at the Cookie box and make it remember that it should deny all those advertisement domains, but allow for session from the domain belonging to the site you are visiting.

5.1. Configuring cookie access in Mozilla 1.x

Select Edit -> Preferences from the menu, then Privacy & Security -> Cookies to get the dialog where you can cookie settings in Mozilla 1.x.

I personally recommend using the settings Allow cookies based on privacy settings and Ask for each cookie. Like when denying advertisement images, you will find that the major advertisement corporations will be on your deny-cookie-list after just a few weeks of surfing.

5.2. Configuring cookie access in Mozilla Firefox 9.x

Select Edit -> Preferences from the menu, then Privacy -> Cookies.

It is a good idea to turn on Enable cookies, turn on for the originating Web site only and Ask for each cookie.

Use Accept for current session only instead of Accept cookies normally if you never want to be bothered or asked about cookies. There is no real reason why web-sites should store information about you in a small file stored by your browser permanently.

6. How to use a unique profile depending on web site type

You can have several different user profiles in both Mozilla 1.x and Firefox.

Mozilla 1.x --help shows:

          -P <profile>            Start with <profile>.
          -ProfileWizard          Start with profile wizard.
          -ProfileManager         Start with profile manager.
          -SelectProfile          Start with profile selection dialog.

Firefox --help shows:

          -P <profile>            Start with <profile>.
          -ProfileManager         Start with profile manager.

You can make your menu start the browser with -P to get a dialog box where you can select profile when it is started. You can make new profiles and manage them by starting with the -ProfileManager parameter. It is generally a good idea to have one profile for bank and other important services and a standard profile for general surfing.

7. How to disable automatic plug-in installation

If you visit a page which requires a plug-in you do not have, Mozilla and Mozilla Firefox will pop-up an annoying box asking you to download and install it.

This is, for most people OK. But what if you do not want to install any more plug-ins?

Mozilla and Mozilla Firefox does not have an option for this, but there is a trick:

Remove the file libnullplugin.so from your plug-in folder! This makes your browser STFU about missing plug-ins.

Your plug-in folder is probably one of the following:

Mozilla:

  /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/
  /usr/local/lib/mozilla/plugins/

Mozilla Firefox:

  /usr/lib/MozillaFirefox/plugins/
  /usr/local/lib/MozillaFirefox/plugins/

8. How to edit preferences not available through the configuration dialog

In Mozilla 1.x and Mozilla Firefox you can change all settings by typing in

about:config

in the url address bar. Here you can change things not available in the normal config dialog.

8.1. How to make the fonts look better

If Mozilla 1.x or Mozilla Firefox is compiled with --enable-xft (this is true on most distributions) then you can make the fonts look better by setting some hidden configuration options.

Enter about:config in the location address bar.

You will now get a list of all available options, even those not visible in the configuration dialog. Look for

  font.Freetype2.autohinted
  font.Freetype2.enable

And set them both to true.

For more information:

Bitstream Vera fonts look good and are suitable as default fonts.

9. How to make Mozilla identify as Internet Explorer

Go to about:config and change:

   general.useragent.vendor
   general.useragent.vendorSub

10. How to trim Mozilla 1.x

The Mozilla Browser (1.x series) has grown to become a complete Web Suite complete with a

  • browser
    • ctrl+1
  • html-editor
    • ctrl+e to edit viewed page, ctrl+shift+n to start editing from a blank page),
  • mail and news reader
    • ctrl+2
  • irc-client,
  • calendar program -ctrl+8,
  • address book
    • ctrl+5

You may not like some of these components. If you know how to compile software or use a Linux distribution with USE flags that allow you to configure your software as preferred you can signifficantly speed up Mozillas initial loading time by removing the unimportant parts and libraries.

10.1. Gentoo wins

Gentoo Linux users can choose between these USE flags when installing net-www/mozilla:

crypt debug gnome gtk2 ipv6 java ldap mozcalendar moznocompose moznoirc moznomail moznoxft mozsvg ssl xinerama xprint

Be aware, you will need the actual libraries for the support to work. ./configure will fail or omit libraries where the right headers are not found. Gentoo users can experiment with use on the command line (USE="ipv6 gtk" emerge -pv mozilla) to determine what new libraries will be installed as a consequence of various flags.

Library support:

  • crypt - Add support for encryption -- using mcrypt or gpg where applicable
  • debug - Bulid the package with debugging support
  • gnome - Adds GNOME support
  • gtkhtml - Adds support for gnome-extra/gtkhtml
  • gtk2 - Use gtk+ v2 over gtk+ v1 in cases where a program supports both. This is something you want, and not only for Mozilla.
  • ipv6 - Get with the program, IPv6 is old news already.
  • java - Adds support for Java
  • ldap - Adds LDAP support (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol)
  • ssl - Adds support for Secure Socket Layer connections
  • xinerama - Add support for the xinerama X11 extension, which allows you to stretch your display across multiple monitors

10.2. Compiling the hard way

Now, the actual parts of Mozilla

Gentoo USE ./configure --enable/disable- ?
mozcalendar (enable) calendar Mozilla calendar extension
moznocompose (disable) composer Mozilla's html editor / web page composer
moznoirc (disable) irc Mozilla's IRC client
moznomail (disable) mailnews Mozilla's mail client
moznoxft (disable) xft You need XFT support in mozilla (also firefox, thunderbird)
mozsvg (enable) svg Support for SVG graphics
xprint (enable) xprint xprint support for printing in mozilla (also firefox, thunderbird),

Gentoo users can place the USE flags in the file /etc/portage/package.use like this:

net-www/mozilla crypt -debug gnome gtk2 ipv6 java ldap mozcalendar -moznocompose moznoirc moznomail -moznoxft mozsvg ssl xinerama xprint

Or install a plain Mozilla like this (later emerges will use default use flags, the USE setting will be used for this emerge only):

USE="crypt -debug -gnome gtk2 ipv6 -java -ldap -mozcalendar moznocompose moznoirc moznomail -moznoxft mozsvg ssl xinerama xprint" emerge mozilla

Only experienced users should attempt to compile Mozilla from the command line like this:

./configure --enable-toolkit-gtk2 --enable-default-toolkit=gtk2 --disable-toolkit-qt --disable-toolkit-xlib --disable-toolkit-gtk --enable-xft --disable-calendar --disable-composer --disable-irc --disable-mailnews && make

Some hints on compiling Mozilla (./configure && make && make install)

You should use gtk2 to compile Mozilla. Enable it with these flags:

   --enable-toolkit-gtk2 
   --enable-default-toolkit=gtk2 
   --disable-toolkit-qt 
   --disable-toolkit-xlib 
   --disable-toolkit-gtk
   --enable-xft 

It is extremely important to make sure you are getting xft support.

It is also possible to use gtk:

   --enable-toolkit-gtk 
   --enable-default-toolkit=gtk 
   --disable-toolkit-qt 
   --disable-toolkit-xlib 
   --disable-toolkit-gtk2

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