Sunday, March 07, 2010

Firefox won't start!

So I'm running Ubuntu 9.04 32-bit on this AMD Athlon(tm) 64 Processor 3000+ box my buddy Kipp gave me. Yesterday I booted it to get the flight status of the lovely Carol's return home. Clicked on the little firefox icon and saw the "Starting Firefox..." label pop up on the "dock" at the bottom of the screen. Then it went away. Huh??

Opened a terminal window and said "ps x|grep fire" -- nothing. I looked in $HOME/.mozilla/firefox/*default for a lock file -- I think it was .parentlock but removing that didn't do me any good.

That's weird, I thought. Tried "mv .mozilla .mozilla-old" to see if something else in there might have been causing a problem. Nope -- the firefox rectangle appeared and disappeared, and there was a brand new "$HOME/.mozilla" directory there, but still no browser!

Next: did the System→Administration→Synaptic Package Manager thing, marking firefox for reinstallation. No effect. Deleted it, then installed again. Ditto.

Well, that was rather annoying! Typically I'd use a web browser to download a tarball and then unpack it, but since my browser (i.e., firefox) was itself toast... clearly I had a chicken-and-egg (or a bootstrap problem if you like): I didn't have a functioning browser, so I needed a browser to download a browser. The package manager didn't know about opera (and maybe it's not free anymore anyway?).

Fortunately, there is a non-graphical browser that worked fine; lynx. I typed "lynx" and my shell told me I needed to install it. No problem; once it was there I just did what came naturally: accepted all cookies, and it directed me to or something. I selected the 9.8MB Linux download at the bottom of the web page (not just the bottom of my screen; had to use the arrow keys to get there). After a short while I had the file; where should it be saved? $HOME/firefox-3.6.tar.bz2 was fine.

Probably wget would have worked too, but since I'm a dinosaur I thought first of lynx.

Now to install; I became root and said "mkdir /opt/firefox-3.6; chown collin /opt/firefox-3.6" then became myself again. "cd /opt/firefox-3.6; tar -xjf $HOME/firefox-3.6.tar.bz2" did the job.

Whew! Firefox is back. Why did the old one (a 3.0 version) go bad in the first place? No idea. But I'm up and not sufficiently curious....

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