How to convince more websites to work with the RISC OS Firefox portBy Paul Stewart. Published: 3rd Jan 2009, 21:56:28 | Permalink | Printable
Although the Firefox port for RISC OS can access far more websites than any other web browser on the platform, it's still locked out of some sites because it doesn't declare itself as Firefox to web servers. Here Paul Stewart explains how to make the port tango with more picky websites.Ever wondered why you cannot access that banking or ecommerce website even though you are running the RISC OS port of Firefox 2? Did you think that running Firefox 2 would solve all your browsing issues? This article looks at one method of getting around blocks stopping the browser from accessing certain sites.
For what it's worth, this isn't a Flash or Java issue - it's a user agent issue. Browsers declare their names and version numbers to websites. Sites can use this information to turn away incompatible browsers or alter their content to match the functionality of the browser. Of course, as we will see, users can edit the user agent text sent to web servers.
When I first started to use the RISC OS port of Firefox, I thought finally I could do my internet banking on my main system - my RISC OS computer. What a disappointment I got when the NatWest site indicated my browser was not supported. I was running Firefox, so what was the problem? Some time ago, I came across a website called What'sMyUserAgent.com, which displayed the user agent of the web browser. Below are the results from Netsurf and Firefox, respectively:
I thought it looked pretty clear what my problem was and why I could not access sites that were meant to support Firefox 2: the software was declaring itself as Bon Echo, the codename given to Firefox 2 while it was in development. As you can see from the image below, I was not welcome by NatWest, which turned away the browser because it did not recognise the user agent:
The fix was to change the user agent variable within the Firefox port. This is also really very easy to do, as I will show you.
1. Run Firefox
2. Browse to About:Config by typing
About:Config into the address bar.
3. In the Filter box, type
general.useragent to filter the results down to four entries.
4. Double click on
5. Change this entry from
6. Press OK.
The change is now saved. If you now go back to What'sMyUserAgent.com, you can see the user agent string that Firefox gives out now reads as Firefox and not Bon Echo. Returning to the Natwest Online Banking site, I now have access and can perform all the activities available from the site.
So as you can see, with a minor modification to your Firefox installation, you can open up a few more sites to use on your RISC OS system. Happy browsing.
RISC OS Firefox port webpage
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