Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Iceweasel, Plugins and Add-ons! Oh My!

I clicked on a link to a PDF file and nothing happened. I'm used to it - the combination of my slow machine, Acrobat Reader and the World-Wide-Wait is enough to grind my wide-band Internet connection to a halt. Only that this time nothing happened.

Well, actually how could I be sure? the halting problem is one of the more practically significant theorems that I'm aware of. Anyway, I clicked several times, with no response, I middle-clicked, to open the link in a different tab, and still nothing happened. It worked a few days ago. What gives?

Maybe it's a problem with the Acrobat Reader Iceweasel plugin? I opened about:plugins but the plugin seemed to be installed correctly. I reinstalled it anyway:
aptitude reinstall mozilla-acroread
No go. No surprise.

What next? - I usually launch Iceweasel with a shortcut key, so I tried launching it from a terminal window, in the hope that some diagnostic message would show up there. Nah. Get real. Why should I be so lucky?

I clicked again on the link and I suddenly noticed that the downloads statusbar appeared - I was wrong, something does happen when I click on a link to a PDF file: it gets downloaded automatically to some directory. This was weird on two accounts: first off it was downloaded instead of opened by the Acrobat Reader plugin; the other problem was that it was downloaded automatically to some directory even though I've set an option in the download preferences to make Iceweasel always ask me for a target directory.

Maybe it's a problem with the downloads statusbar add-on? I disabled it:
  1. select menu Tools -> Add-ons
  2. select the Extensions tab
  3. find the add-on to disable and press the Disable button
  4. quit and run Iceweasel again
it still did not work.

So maybe it's a problem with file types? let's check:
  1. select menu item Edit -> Preferences
  2. select the Content tab
  3. click the button "Manage..." in the File Types section
  4. verify that an action is registered for the PDF file type
It looked OK.

I tried opening the same link in a different tab using the context menu (right-click) and, surprisingly enough, it worked. I tried opening the link from the history panel (Ctrl-H), and again, it worked!

So it wasn't a file type problem after all. But what was it?

I decided to check where the PDF was downloaded to, and was surprised to find it in ~/iMacros/Downloads. Aha!

I installed the iMacros add-on several days ago because I use keyboard macros in emacs a lot and browser automation via macros sounded like a good idea at the time. I tried it once, was impressed by its potential, but realized that I didn't really need browser automation. I'm fickle minded. Sue me. I decided to leave it installed just in case, and then forgot all about it. It just so happens that this version seems to be buggy.

I disabled iMacros, restarted Iceweasel, and mouse clicks on PDF links started working again.

Joy.

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