Monday, April 5, 2010

Customizing Firefox 3.6 for Netbooks

Owning a netbook has it advantages, the small 8.9 to 10 inch screen is not one of them. Firefox's default user interface takes up 25% of the vertical space on your netbook. Below is my collection of Firefox 3.6 customizations that will help you reclaim over 20% of your netbook's screen and make Firefox run faster.

1 - firefox_entire_screen
- Default Firefox 3.6 in Lucid Lynx, notice the wasted space on menus

Remove the Bookmarks Toolbar:
2 - removing_bookmark_bar
- Right click Firefox's blank menu area and un-check the Bookmarks Toolbar

Make The Tool Icons Smaller:

3 - customize
- Right click Firefox's blank menu area and select Customize

4 - use_small_icons
- Check the Use Small Icons box

Remove the Status Bar:

5 - remove_the_status_bar
- Under View un-check the Status Bar Box

Remove The Menu Bar and Make It An Icon:

6 - compact_menu_add
- Download the Compact Menu 2 addon

6.5 - compact menu dialog
- Select Yes

7 - compact_menu_installed
- Compact menu 2 replaces your menu bar with a small blue icon

By right clicking the Firefox menu area and selecting Customize, you can configure Compact Menu.
8 - compact_menu_edit

Show The Download Manager as a Tab:
9 -custom_download_manager
- Download the Custom Download Manager addon

8.5 - old download
- The old download Manger Window

10 - custom_download_manager_in_action
- The tabbed download window

To change any of Custom Download Manager Settings, go to Tools>Addons
11 - download_manager_settings

To access Firefox's Configuration File
Type about:config into the URL address bar
12 - about_config_warnign
- Ignore the warning, and select I'll be careful, I promise

13 - about_config_mainpage
- The main about:config page

Autohide The Tab bar when only displaying a Single Tab:

- Type browser.tabs.autohide into the filter box
- Double click the browser.tabs.autohide entry to set the value to true

14 - browser_tab_autohide
- The constantly displayed tab bar is probably the most annoying "feature" added to Firefox, it's a complete waste of space

Make Firefox Run Faster By Enabling Piplining:
Normally the browser will make one request to a web page at a time. When you enable pipelining, it will make several attempts at once, which really speeds up page loading. It's not very nice to slam websites with multiple requests. Be a good person and limit yourself to a reasonable number.
- Type network.http.pipelining into the filter bar
- Double click the network.http.pipelining entry to set the value to true
- Type network.http.proxy.pipelining into the filter bar
- Double click the network.http.proxy.pipelining entry to set the value to true
- Type network.http.pipelining.maxrequests into the filter bar
- Double click the network.http.pipelining.maxrequests entry and set the maxrequests to 15
- Right-click anywhere inside Firefox about:config page and select New-> Integer
- Name it nglayout.initialpaint.delay and set its value to 0 (zero)

Stop Firefox from Loading Pages in the Background:
Firefox downloads webpages from links it thinks you may click. This may make the experience seem faster but really it just bogs down Firefox and your netbook.
- Type network.prefetch-next into the filter bar
- Double click the network.prefetch-next entry to set it to false

Customize Backspace Button:
The Ubuntu default is set to scroll up when the backspace button is pressed.
I prefer for it to go back in my page history (like it does in Microsoft Windows).
- 0 Pressing backspace button will go back a page in the session history
- 1 Pressing backspace button will scroll up a page in the current document and [Shift]+[Backspace] will scroll down.
- Type browser.backspace_action into the filter bar
- double click the browser.backspace_action entry and set the value to 0

Now that your done you have a lean, mean and fast netbook optimized version of Firefox 3.6
15 - firefox_all_done
- That's a pretty netbook version of Firefox, eat your heart out laptops

Check out my "Best Extensions for Netbooks Guide". (coming soon)

Have a question or problem that this article doesn't cover?
Ask our Ubuntu Mini 9 Google Group for help.


Jason.Cook599 said...

When did you start cutting of the RSS feed. I don't like blogs that do this. I will unsubscribe if this isn't fixed.

Tony said...

Jason, quit whining. He needs you to see his actual page to try and push ad revenue, and there's nothing wrong with that. Are you going to buy him a new mini so he can have hardware to test and post about so he can be ad free? Plus, I somehow doubt you'll quit reading just over this.

Hermocrates said...

A nice update on reclaiming Firefox real estate!

I have a nice plugin, but it currently only works up to Firefox 3.5 (here's hoping, though): instead of removing the status bar, install Pimpoflage. It has a lot of extraneous features, but most notably it autohides the status bar, only showing (by default) when loading a page or hovering over a link. All the usefulness, none of the space-wasting.

Jason.Cook599 said...


It is possible for ads to be put on the feed. Many other sites do it this way. And yes, I will leave over this. I do enjoy the posts on this site but if I need to visit another page in order to view the post I will leave. I have stopped following other sites after they added this "feature". I am already subscribed to 80+ sites with a total of 100+ posts a day.

redDEAD said...

Bye Jason.

Malte said...

Bye Jason!

Malte said...

Bye Jason!

John Gibbon said...

bye, Jason.

Coen Naninck said...

There's a Firefox about:config command typo in your post. In your post you have this:
Which should be this:

I can't set that value to True by the way.


Coen Naninck said...

By the way, for cutting down the GUI you can also use the extensions Hide Menubar, and foxiFrame basic. I have the menu, nav buttons and URL bar on the same space/line and my tabs below that with the status bar minimized. foxiFrame allows for the close, maximize, etc. buttons to be moved right of the tab bar or the status bar, etc.

Thanks for this great site by the way.

@Jason: Bye! It's sites like these that provide you with a free service.

redDEAD said...


Thanks for catching that. I don't know why you can't change the value, are you using a recent version of Ubuntu?

Joel said...

Don't forget that using compiz options you can also remove the titlebar from mazimized windows giving you another bar's depth of pixels for actual information :)

L!vely said...

Hide Caption Titlebar Plus (Smart) 1.1.2

If you want to save even more space but don't mind looking a bit like chromium, this addon is for you (even puts the window buttons back on the right side, for those who find themselves pointing to the opposite side of the screen to close windows in the 10.04 beta).

Coen Naninck said...


I'm using 9.10, fully patched up 'till 6 days ago.

Coen Naninck said...

By the way, the typo's still there. ;)

redDEAD said...

Coen Naninck,

What typo? You must be using IE n00b.

Thanks for the feedback.

To set the value of browser.tabs.autohide (no extra t in there) to true double click false.

I tried it in Ubuntu 9.10 & 10.04 both worked. It might also be another addon you are using blocking the value change.

Keep reading.

David Fields said...

Can I ask what applet theme you are using? I like the uniformity of it. Most of my notification applet icons are uniform but my iBus applet icon is in color and my clock is just black and white.

redDEAD said...


The default theme.

Jessica said...

Thanks for the Backspace behavior change tip! I had searched for this option before, and had come to think it just wasn't possible. I love it!

Hermocrates, there's an add-on that focuses entirely on auto-hiding the status bar, called autoHideStatusbar, and it works great. I didn't like tools that simply removed the status bar, because sometimes I use it, like for my Zoho Notebook add-on. This gives me functionality without sacrificing the space!

dwalling said...

Works great on Firefox 3.6.13