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Firefox 2 install guide published

Published: 10th Mar 2007, 12:37:51 | Permalink | Printable

Coders should spend time on fixing faults says porter

firefox 2 running on an A9homeAn unofficial guide to installing the RISC OS Firefox 2 port has been published online. Paul Vigay uploaded his user-friendly tutorial to installing and running the mammoth web browser after punters complained they were unable to use the software

In response, the port's programmer Peter Naulls urged developers to concentrate on fixing problems within RISC OS and its software, and avoid producing 'superficial fixes' and workaround guides such as Paul's. In December, Drobe reader Doug Webb also revealed a solution to problems with Firefox 2's installation.

Peter described the unofficial Firefox 2 instructions as a band-aid fix for a serious problem within the browser port's code that needed to be found and addressed. He urged developers to focus their time on hunting these issues, rather than writing quick fix tutorials to work around problems.

Peter said: "I get to look like a big monster for pointing out serious problems that RISC OS has, but Paul looks like a hero for providing a flawed short-term fix that looks like - but isn't - the right thing to do.

"I appreciate that his instructions will allow some people to run Firefox when they previously couldn't, but my point remains. For such an apparently important application, there's been desperately few people wanting to be involved in actual development, and what development there has been has been the brunt of endless criticism and lack of funding.

"As it happens under the current status quo, the real fix will have to wait until I find sufficient enthusiasm and time to address it. This particular thing has probably only contributed to my apathy."

Paul said he didn't have the skills to fix Firefox directly, but would update his web page if the information on it became out of date if a new version of Firefox is released.

Paul added: "I like to think that some of my tutorial articles help those who don't necessarily have the skills, time or inclination with jumping in at the higher end of programming and compiling additional utilities etc."

Links

Paul Vigay's Firefox 2 unofficial install instructions

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Discussion

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I think "band-aid" is a good description for what Paul has done. And, like any first aid, it makes its contribution not by curing the patient but by keeping him/her alive long enough for proper medical procedures to be applied. As such, it makes a valuable contribution.

Paul's tutorial will hopefully allow more RO users to get FF working. They will then be more likely to persist with the platform and to contribute money for further FF development. I'd like to think that this will help Peter counter his "apathy" as he sees increased, concrete enthusiasm for what he is doing.

I certainly benefited from earlier advice in getting FF running on my Iyonix so I have to applaud Paul, despite understanding Peter's fundamental concerns.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 10/3/07 2:49PM
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More misquotes. Fantastic.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 10/3/07 3:16PM
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Drobe commenting system wouldn't let me quote the line in question, but I've said nothing anywhere about machines not powering up. In any case, I won't comment further on this issue here - contact me directory.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 10/3/07 3:18PM
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The article doesn't cite actual sources for Peter's comments. However, if Drobe has accurately characterized his censure of Vigay's attempts to place some useful info on the web, I don't quite understand Peter's argument.

His points about a project such as his, that stands to remedy a key shortcoming of the platform, suffering from a lack of funds and programming contributers is a fair one, of course.

Perhaps, RISCOS needs some sort of organized effort to encourage users to 'have a go' and to install the dev tools. This could be particularly effective if the ROO project ever makes possible a completely free emulator+RO5+GCC package.

Maybe this could be combined with a central database of current RISCOS developers, with a list of what their setup is (GCC or Castle C) and area of expertise?

As it stands, there could be someone sitting around with a free weekend and just the little bit of expertise that a fellow developer needed to solve a problem.

(Armchair musings of Mike - who doesn't have a RISCOS setup at all at the moment).

 is a RISC OS Userkillermike on 10/3/07 4:24PM
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Sadly, it hasn't characterized much, except for slicing and dicing comments in a purely journalistic attempt to get a response and pit people against each other, rather than any real concern for RISC OS - there are plenty of examples of this in articles here. For this reason, I won't comment on the specifics here.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 10/3/07 4:59PM
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To Doug Webb: Thanks for your work-around mentioned above (it did help me get FF2r2 to run since till then it wouldn't load)

To Paul Vigay: Thanks a lot for this guide.

To Peter Naulls: Thanks for the application.

To Peter Naulls again: What does make me wonder is why this guide has not been supplied by you on your download page and thus kind-of spoiling your good efforts. Or, why FF2r2 seems to be such that with no Choices in place it doesn't load since it is a simple few lines of code in the !Run file to if needed prepare a default choices set.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 10/3/07 5:29PM
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Nice though it was to get going with the work around I do think that a lot of what Peter has said else where is worth looking at. Thats not to say I don't appluad Paul's efforts on the web page and more formal instructions but it is a sticking plaster not a total fix.

I think that Graham Shaw's attempt at packaging should be supported and it would be nice to get some sorted of co-ordinated approach to developers.

I and the newly formed MUG group witnessed the ability of Graham's packaging software when he recently was our guest speaker and though Graham admits it could do with some development it is a start. Sure you are going to have people that want to delve in to the inards of anything but as a product becomes more of a general consumer item you need to have the ability to structure things and make it easy. I'm sure that if some of the effort that goes in to doing "workarounds" was more focussed on fixing the underlying issues then RISC OS would be a lot better.

On the development front MUG are considering what we can do as a group or part of the wider RISC OS user group network to help focus development in areas that are needed.

Finally I must again say thanks to Peter for his efforts in trying to being such a universally supported packages like Firefox and Thunderbird to our platform. The publicity for that alone must assist in getting people interested in RISC OS and possibly RISC OS development.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 10/3/07 6:52PM
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One question we as RISC OS developers should be asking the community is: who out might be able to help out, but is being held back for one reason or another. For many the problem is time - sadly the TARDIS Porting Project hasn't progress too far - and the usual way to create time (in exchange for money) is one we're having difficulty with. However, are there people out there who have time, but not the skills? Is the problem that we're bad at passing on the skills? Are there people out there with time and skills but no necessary hardware or software? Is there some way they could be supported? Is there something others who don't have time could do to help out, bearing in mind the usual substitute for time (money) is pretty inefficient (pay someone to fix your car and it costs a fortune, do it yourself and it's a lot cheaper).

Is there enough willing out there to sit down and tackle the problems?

 is a RISC OS Usercaliston2 on 11/3/07 6:09PM
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The problem is that decent programmers are in short supply. I mean everywhere, not just in the RISC OS world. This means that they tend to be busy professionally, and probably aren't too keen to spend what little spare time they have doing even more programming. There are other things in life. At least that's my excuse. So we ought to be thankful to professionals like Peter that are prepared to spend their spare time in this way. It takes a lot of dedication after a day at work to come home and do more of the same with little or no reward except the satisfaction of achievement. It is also true that some programmers have a clause in their employment contract that states that any work that they do, even in their spare time, is the property of the company that trained and employs them. I had this myself at one time. We probably don't want any of our software base to be owned by organisations that might be unsympathetic to the platform.

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 12/3/07 9:02AM
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Peter has acknowledged that there has been a disappointing response to requests for contributions towards the Firefox2 project, but its hardly surprising when a great number of people are unable to run it as supplied, and don't have a chance of getting it to working out the correct steps without such a guide from Paul. A more pragmatic approach is needed.

Everyone understands that the port isn't finished and more work needs to be done on the major features, but surely the first priority for a beta release is to get it out to as many people as possible in a form which runs straight off the bat. If people can use it, they can see the benefit of contributing, but if it doesn't work they'll either keep waiting for the next beta or give up on it all together. Neither of which will help Peter do the work he wants to.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 12/3/07 9:19AM
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In reply to druck:

I agree absolutely that it is a pity that Peter Naulls doesn't seem to want to offer a guide to get FF2r2 to run - as a matter of fact the !Help file even suggests to delete the choices which seems to make sure it won't start. Peter mentioned that there is a more precise guide to creating the default choices on his Wiki ([link]) - well, it describes the choices creation only whereas Paul outlines the whole setup process. In addition both descriptions show the same default choices. I asked him if he could add a link to his wiki page to his download page (chances that he links to Pauls pages are probably low), or to update the install guide in !Help - unfortunately that link never appeared.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 15/3/07 6:22PM
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It seems to me that Peter's valid argument against Paul's page is documentation shouldn't be on other sites.

It is a shame that the obvious solution of moving the page to the wiki (and linking from the original site) was never implemented/thought of.

I also wonder why Peter never packaged firefox with Riscpkg, if a packaged version were ahead of standard download versions, it would've forced the issue. (I agree with Peter about packaging).

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 17/3/07 2:57PM
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hzn: The riscos.info Firefox wiki page has had links to the downloads since 14/03/07 ie: a day before your post. I know it is a recent change, but please check your posts.

Also, if you feel there is some information missing, why didn't you just stick it in there yourself?

<em>In reply to jess:</em> I'm in the process of contacting Peter regarding packaging Firefox. If it goes ahead, I'll make sure it gets announced properly.

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 18/3/07 10:35AM
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jymbob: That is excellent news. Coupled with the fact that Netsurf can now be fully managed with it, things are looking good for packaging on RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 18/3/07 9:18PM
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