Install incompatible plugins and extensions in Firefox/Thunderbird

“Why another instruction/post on this? Internet is already full of various workarounds and instructions to fix this.” I agree. But still I was not able to successfully install the plugin(s) I wanted to install on my Thunderbird E-mail client. Maybe I was doing something wrong or simply unlucky.

The usual and basic idea is to edit the “install.rdf” file inside the xpi (or jar for themes) file. No matter how (and maybe somebody instruct me the correct steps) I compress the edited file into the corresponding .jar or xpi file, I always used to get “invalid or corrupt extension” error while trying to install it. So I came up with this simple and quick workaround to pack the updated install “rdf” file.

Following are the steps (steps should be the same for both Firefox/Thunderbird/Seamonkey so I will use both these names interchangeably):

Note: Thunderbird/Firefox extension files (xpi/.jar) are nothing but compressed files (similar to .zip files) and as per the Mozilla plugin folder structure all plugins must follow a particular folder structure. The compressed file must contain a file called “install.rdf” file which contains the installation information about the plugin (like min, max version of the Firefox/Thunderbird software, etc. We are interested in the “install.rdf” file specifically.

  1. First uninstall the plugin that is uncompatible with your version Firefox/Thunderbird if you have it installed.Workspace 1_002
  2. Without extracting the .xip/.jar file, open the archive file with any archive utility (like 7zip, etc). Double click the “install.rdf” file and open with any text editor (like Notepad, Textpad etc in Windows or Gedit in Ubuntu). provider_for_google_calendar-0.8-sm tb.xpi _001
  3. Look for the <em:minVersion> or <em:maxVersion> tags under the <em:targetApplication> tags and update the version number same or above the version of your installed Firefox/Thunderbird Application. [Note the Application Name comment <!—thunderbird –>. You need to update the min/max version number under your specific application]. E.g. If you are trying to install an extension which supports only 6.0 in Thunderbird 7.0 version, then update the value inside the <em:maxVersion> tag to 7.0. Ie. change <em:maxVersion>6.0</em:maxVersion> to <em:maxVersion>7.0</em:maxVersion> within the <—thunderbird –> tag. install.rdf
  4. You might be asked to update the file inside the compressed archive (ie. .xpi or .jar file), choose to update the archive as well.
  5. Now try installing the extension.

Note that even if it installs without errors, the plugin/extension might work only partially or completely depending on what kind of support it requires from the particular software version. There is a reason of the min/max version information in the plugin configuration file and bypassing or force installing a plugin might lead to undesirable functioning of the plugin or the Mozilla software itself (Firefox/ Thunderbird). So beware!


How to import Gmail contacts in your Mozilla Thunderbird

This is just a quick blog to import and configure your Gmail contacts into Mozilla Thunderbird email client.

Follow the below steps:

  1. Gmail –> Contacts –> More Actions. Select “Export” option (img 1)
  2. Select the contact group (if you want to export any specific list) else select “All Contacts”. Select “Outlook CSV format” as export format. Click “Export” button and save the file on your computer (img 2)
  3. In Thunderbird, Select Tools –> Address Book (img 3)
  4. Select “Address Books” as the import item (img 4)
  5. Select “Text File” as file type to import (img 5)
  6. Match the fields that you want to import to Thunderbird. The left column indicates the field in Thunderbird and the right column indicates the field in the google exported CSV file. At least make sure to match Name (Last Name, first Name with corresponding field on right column) and “Primary Email” with “E-mail Address” for the contacts to be imported properly (img 6).
  7. The Gmail contacts should now be available in your Thunderbird email client.

Gmail Export outlookCSV

Thunderbird Addressbook ThunderbirdImport Select File Type FieldMapping

Remotely Control Ubuntu using your NexusOne (VNC Setup)

The steps to setup VNC server on Ubuntu desktop/laptop going to be exactly the same as my last post on the similar topic for IPhone (instead of NexusOne).

I will start directly from the step to install VNC client on NexusOne device (which is different for IPhone)

Step II: Setup VNC in NexusOne (though the steps should be pretty much the same for any mobile/system):

  1. Install a VNC client from the Android Market. I use “androidVNC” because of its simplicity, ease of configuration and its free.
  2. Run the NexusOne application and follow the instructions to connect your NexusOne VNC client with the Ubuntu VNC server. Use command ifconfig to get the VNC Server IP on Ubuntu machine. Use 5900 as the default port. Enter the same password as setup in Step 2 in the previous post while installing VNC server on Ubuntu machine.

That’s it. Enjoy controlling your Ubuntu system remotely through your smart phone. Though androidVNC  client is not as advanced and elegant as its counterpart apps on IPhone, but it does the work. I have not tested the other free VNC clients for Android. Give them a try and see if they provide you a complete control of the remote Ubuntu system.

I found the following limitations with this (androidVNC) VNC client:

  • It does not support pinch in/out for zooming in and out of the remote screen and dragging the screen too frequently is a bit irritating.
  • Even at full resolution setting for remote desktop on the VNC client, the resolution of the remote system was not as descent as IPhone client delivers.

Please drop comments and your experiences with other VNC clients that you ever try out.

Below are some screenshots previewing the same. I have also created the below video for a quick demo [I apologize for the poor quality of the video because of low light conditions].

Screenshot1 Screenshot2

Run Boxee on XBMC Live CD

Want to get best of both the Worlds ?

Yes, its quite easy to install and run Boxee Beta on the top of your desktop running XBMC Live CD.

You need the following:

  1. XBMC Live CD ( or XBMC Live installed on your harddisk / pendrive)
  2. Internet Connection (to download some packages including Boxee application, you anyways will need this to login into Boxee)

Make sure you have persistence enabled installation of XBMC Live on your pendrive or have XBMC installed on your harddrive, otherwise you will loose all your changes after the system reboot. But you are good if you don’t bother to have Boxee permanently installed and just want to try it out.

Follow these Steps to install Boxee:

  1. Boot into XBMC Live CD
  2. Install gdebi package (this is needed to automatically resolve all the package dependencies and download from the internet).
    sudo apt-get install gdebi
  3. Install a light weight browser that we will use to download Boxee application from Boxee website (you can ignore step 3 and 4 if you already have Boxee application downloaded from website).
    sudo apt-get install seamonkey
  4. Once seamonkey is installed, you can open up and download the Boxee application specific to your system architecture (32/64)
  5. Install Boxee Application (substitute x.y.z below with the appropriate Boxee version number/ complete file name of the deb Boxee package).
    sudo gdebi boxee.x.y.z
  6. Boxee gets installed to /opt/boxee/ location by default.
  7. Change directory to /opt/boxee/ and execute

That’s it. Enjoy Boxee in its’ new form. Its really cool.

Note: If you are running XBMC from a Live CD, you will loose all your changes that you made above (all packages/ installations will be gone the moment you reboot your system. You will have to either install the XBMC either on your harddisk or pendrive (with persistence enabled). But yes, just to get a taste of Boxee on Linux, executing the above steps will be fine 🙂

Remotely Control Ubuntu using your IPhone (VNC Setup)

Step I: Setup VNC in Ubuntu:

VNC (Virtual Network Computer) can be setup in Ubuntu in the following four easy steps:

  1. Install VNC package using following command in terminal: sudo apt-get install x11vnc vnc-java
  2. Password Setup command in terminal: x11vnc -storepasswd
  3. Make sure ports 5800 and 5900 are open on your system firewall. You should not bother to do anything in this step however since Ubuntu by default does not firewall anything and once a service is set to listen on a port, there is no further configuration needed. Refer this post if you need further information about opening a port.
  4. Run below command in terminal to launch VNC:
  5. x11vnc -forever -usepw -httpdir /usr/share/vnc-java/ -httpport 5800

  6. Add it for auto-starting in future sessions. Go to System–> Preferences –> Startup Applications. Click on Add button and enter the command in Step 4. This will make sure you have the VNC service up and running after system restarts.

Step II: Setup VNC in IPhone (though the steps should be pretty much the same for any mobile/system):

  1. Install a VNC client from the Apple Store. I use “Mocha VNC Lite” because of its simplicity and ease of configuration.
  2. Run the IPhone application and follow the instructions to connect your IPhone VNC client with the Ubuntu VNC server. Use command ifconfig to get the VNC Server IP on Ubuntu machine. Use 5900 as the default port. Enter the same password as setup in Step 2 above while installing VNC server on Ubuntu machine.

That’s it. Enjoy controlling your Ubuntu system remotely through your smart phone. Below are some screenshots previewing the same.


Make Your Tux Loose Some Weight !

You can make your linux system shade some weight by using the “localepurge” script. It is a simple apt package ( yes you can install this with a single liner apt-get install command ) that removes unneeded locale files and localized linux man ( help ) files that you are never guaranteed to read ( why would you ever want to read a Japanese man file/instruction if you are an English ? or vice versa).

Linux installation by default copies some files as generic without considering your locale specific preferences ( i don’t blame anybody for this, its just how it is ). This script/library helps you to automate the process of removing all those unneeded locale specific files that are almost harmless in any case to remove (do it at your own risk, go through the manual pages for this script before experimenting as once run changes can’t be undone)

Too much of talk, install this script using apt-get command:

sudo apt-get install localepurge

During the install itself, you will be presented with a dialog window to select your locale (select your two char coded locale, eg: “en” for English, etc). Hit “Tab” key to jump on OK and hit “Enter”. It will then run the scan and remove the unneeded files.
Once done it will silently exit displaying “Setting up localepurge (x.x.x.x..) …”

To know how much junk it cleaned up, simply run this command:

sudo localepurge

It showed 30MB for me which means my system shed an extra fat of 30MB 🙂

Tip: Install this script once and then onwards it will take care of removing the new locale specific files for any new software that you ever install. Yes :), thats’ right, it will run automatically whenever you install a new application.

Ubuntu: Not Just Another Linux Variant

According to Wiki, there are atleast 86 variants (distributions) of Linux Operating Systems floating in the software market today.

The below diagram shows a small percentage of them all available:

Fig-1: Linux Variants
Each of these distros have their own philosophy and their own motives and are more directed towards a specific domain:

  • Advanced Server Side Features (Enterprise)
  • User Friendliness and ease of operation (Home Usage)
  • Programming Features
  • Secured
  • Designed for Server/ Desktop/ Laptop/ Mobile Devices, etc

Ubuntu is one of those Linux variants that aims towards providing an up-to-date, stable operating system for average users with a strong focus on usability and ease of installation. Ubuntu has been rated as the most popular Linux Distro for desktop claiming around 30% of desktop Linux installations worldwide. It is not a direct Linux variant but is basically a derivative of Debian Linux Distro.

Ubuntu CD/ Online Installation comes with a vast library of pre-installed software and tools. The below diagram shows a glimpse of a few software available on Ubuntu platform:

Fig-2: Ubuntu Features

Today, Ubuntu is so famous that the experts could not stop themselves from taking it to another level by customizing it further for their specific needs and consequently we now have the following variants of Ubuntu present:

Fig-3 Ubuntu Variants

Some Screen Shots from my desktop:
[I am on this system right now]

WindowEffects WindowEffects2
Window Effects 1 Window Effects 2
DockToolbar PageFlow View
Object Dock (Awn Manager) Page Flow Window Navigation
Running Skype picasa
Running Skype Running Picasa
Running Gimp

Ubuntu is one of the best Linux Distros available today for the home users that features almost all the applications and tools needed to get the daily work done. The frequent patches and updates keeps ensured that the system stays up to date.

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