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Mozilla Optimization Mini-HOWTO

Salvador J. Peralta

<speralta at willamette dot edu>

January 2003
Revision History                                                             
Revision 1.0           2003-01-03            Revised by: SJP                 
Initial release, reviewed by LDP                                             

This document discusses how to make configuration and source level
customizations of Mozilla to make it more suitable as a primary browser for
Linux and X Windows. It is not intended as a guide for programming Mozilla,
nor is it a guide to XUL.

The techniques described in this document have been implemented and tested in
a kiosk-like public computing environment using thin client workstations
running on Redhat Linux, utilizing XFree86.

Table of Contents
1. Copyright
2. Introduction
3. Get the Source
4. Patch the Source
5. Configure the Source
6. Compile the Source
7. Post-Install Configuration

1. Copyright

 Copyright � 2002 Salvador Peralta

  Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under
the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later
version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant
Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the
license can be found at the [] GNU web

2. Introduction

 Mozilla is an Open Source, cross-platform, browser and graphical application
environment. It is rapidly becoming a significant component on many
Linux-based desktops due to its stability, robust feature-set, large
developer-base, and ease of configuration. This Mini HOWTO addresses how to
patch and configure Mozilla's source to better optimize it for Linux desktop
environments, and is intended to serve as a general set of instructions for
the Linux community on how to compile and configure Mozilla.

 The most current version of this Mini HOWTO can be obtained in HTML format
from []

3. Get the Source

There are pros and cons to building Mozilla yourself. The biggest drawback is
that the source version, compressed, is a 30+ MB file in most releases which
is about three times larger than the binary distribution. A second negative
is that on a reasonably new machine such as my 1.6 ghz Pentium 4 with 256 MB
of memory, compiling Mozilla can take anywhere between one and a half to four
hours depending on any other jobs the system might be running. On an older
machine, Mozilla can take twenty-four hours or more to compile. The biggest
benefit is that there are a large number of compile-time options and patches
that can be applied which will dramatically improve the performance and
featureset of the browser. These patches are generally necessary if you
intend to run Mozilla in a production environment.

 If you are not interested in source level modifications of the Mozilla
browser, please skip the next few sections and have a look at Section 7,
Post-Install Configuartion.

 At the time this document was written, the latest version of the Mozilla
source code is 1.2.1, which can be obtained via ftp at [
mozilla1.2.1. The other stable release, 1.0.1, can be obtained via ftp at

 For CVS checkout, please review the documentation on the [http://] Mozilla website.

4. Patch the Source

 Unpatched Mozilla is not a very good X citizen. For example, it does not
allow one to specify X and Y geometry position as a command-line option. This
is not a big problem on a typical end-user desktop, but in a corporate or
public computing environment, it is a killer. In order to fix this, we need
to apply a patch to the C++ source code at embedding/components/windowwatcher
/src/nsWindowWatcher.cpp. The first step is to obtain and apply the [http://] patch written by Robert
Riches. This patch has been tested in Mozilla versions 1.0 through 1.2.1.

 To apply the patch, simply paste it into embedding/components/windowwatcher/
src/nsWindowWatcher.cpp, in your Mozilla source tree. The notation uses "+"
symbols to denote the code that needs insertion. Those symbols need to be
removed before saving the nsWindowWatcher.cpp text file.

 To use the patch, set an environment variable called MOZILLA_SCREEN_POS with
the proper coordinates. For example, in Bash, type export MOZILLA_SCREEN_POS=
'screenx=1,screeny=1' will set the top left corner of your browser to the top
left corner of your screen.

5. Configure the Source

Another problem with using Mozilla in a personal or production environment is
that it contains code which will override any home page that you set on a
timed basis, or whenever a new release of the product is distributed.

Since this information is stored in a configuration file, the easiest thing
to do without breaking the browser is to change the configuration file to
point default homepage settings to one that is more consistent with the
environment that you are using.

 Mozilla conveniently stores most of its compile-time configuration files
with a .properties extension. You can use these files to specify text in
message dialogues, fonts, and other options. In this case, assuming that your
locale and language settings are en-US, the .property file that you will need
is which is located in the xpfe/browser/resources/locale/
en-US/ directory.

 The changes that you need to make to this file are fairly straight forward.
As a general rule, I replace the value portion of the name/value pair to one
of my own choosing in every instance where the word "homepage" is mentioned
in the configuration.
shopKeyword=keyword:shop [Product]                                                       
quoteKeyword=keyword:quote [Enter symbol here]                                           
localKeyword=keyword:zip [Your zip code]                                                 
careerKeyword=keyword:[Your city] careers                                                
# all.js                                                                                 

6. Compile the Source

To configure Mozilla's compile-time options, type ./configure from the root
directory of the Mozilla source tree. To get a full list of compile-time
options, type ./configure --help. Some things to verify before doing a
production compilation include verifying that environment preferences (mail
vs. no mail, calendar, ldap, etc.) are set and making sure that the crypto
package is enabled.

 For simplicity's sake, I generally use a simple build script like the
following to configure Mozilla.
export MOZILLA_OFFICIAL                                                      
export BUILD_OFFICIAL                                                        
./configure --with-x --disable-calendar --enable-crypto --with-system-nspr   
--disable-debug --enable-extensions --enable-optimize                        
--without-system-zlib --without-system-jpeg --without-system-png             

Once you have your patches applied, config files modified, and options set,
simply build Mozilla with gmake by typing ./gmake in the root directory of
your source tree, and then create your tarball by typing gmake in the
xpinstall/packager directory. This will drop the tarball in the dist
subdirectory just beneath the root directory of your Mozilla source tree.
Just move that package to /usr/local, unpack it, run it once from the
command-line as the user who built the package (the command is /usr/local/
mozilla/mozilla), and you are nearly ready to browse.

7. Post-Install Configuration

 There are several configuration choices that you can make after you have
installed your browser. You can add plugins for common web technologies such
as Java ([], PDF printing ([], and Flash animations ([
flash] and slightly less well-known, but
very cool plug-ins, such as Enigmail ([]

 To install any plug-in, either copy the plug-in from the source application
(e.g. Acrobat5 ) to the /plugins directory in Mozilla, or create a symbolic
link from the plug-in to the plug-ins directory in the Mozilla binary tree.
For example, to create a Mozilla plug-in for Adobe Acrobat 5 using a symbolic
link, simply type ln -s /path/to/Acrobat5/Browsers/intellinux/ /usr/
local/mozilla/plugins/. Similarly, to create a plug-in from your Java runtime
environment, type ln -s /path/to/j2re1.4.0_02/plugin/i386/ns610/ /usr/local/mozilla/plugins/. Please note, it is
recommended that you use Sun's JDK 1.4.1 with Mozilla 1.0.1 and above. There
are known incompatibilities with Mozilla and earlier versions of Java.

 To obtain Mozilla project plug-ins such as Enigmail, which provides an
interface for encrypting and decrytping mail, or for Protozilla, which
provides full parameterization (including support for multiple multiple
protocol and programming languages), visit []

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