Friday, February 8, 2008

Context Menu Extensions for Firefox

This morning I stumbled upon something interesting in Firefox. I clicked on Tools >> Add-ons >> Get Ubuntu Add-ons. One of the items available for installation was called "Context Menu Extensions for Firefox/Iceweasel". It promised, among other things, the ability to add custom items to context menus (aka the "right-click menu") in Firefox, including external programs. I've long wanted something like this, so I decided to take a look.

I checked the box and clicked Apply. It looked like it was doing something, but when it finished the menu option was gone, and I couldn't find any trace of it having installed anything. I bit of searching and hassling Christer led me to discover that the package name in both Debian and Ubuntu was actually called mozilla-ctxextensions. I also discovered that I should have new menu options under my Tools menu, but I couldn't find any.

I tried running "aptitude install mozilla-ctxextensions", but it said it was already installed. I ran "updatedb; locate ctx-extensions" and only found one file: /usr/share/app-install/desktop/mozilla-ctxextensions.desktop. That file didn't give me any hints to anything. I ran "aptitude remove mozilla-ctxextensions" and then installed it again. This time locate found lots of files, so I figured I must be good to go. Unfortunately, restarting my browser still revealed no extra options.

I finally found what looked to be the problem. When it installed, it created a symlink called /usr/lib/iceweasel/extensions/{4C4D8A1D-1E3C-439e-9298-16073A5C4851} that pointed to /usr/share/mozilla-extensions/ctxextensions. No such link existed in /usr/lib/firefox/. So much for having it work in both Iceweasel and Firefox. I made another symlink with the same name, pointing to the same location, in the /usr/lib/firefox/extensions/ directory and restarted Firefox. Bingo!

Not only do I have extra options in my Tools menu, I also have an additional Extensions menu. Looking through the preferences, this looks like an extremely customizable tool. And in the spirit of open source, I have been able to find absolutely no documentation as of yet, except for a few random bug reports from Debian developers saying that they won't fix something or other with it. I was able to find the author's homepage,, which is of course mostly in Japanese.

Has anyone else played with this tool? I'm interested in using it, but it would be nice to have some documentation to save me some time in learning it.

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