New / Old Fedora Remix

There is a new remix of Fedora that has just been released. Koororaa is based on Fedora 14 KDE. It is actually a return of an old KDE remix but now it is based on Fedora.

It comes preinstalled with popular non-KDE apps such as Firefox and Gimp as well as having extra repos such as Flash and RPMFusion preconfigured. There is also a Lite version which can be used on basic machines such as netbooks or as the base for a customised system. There are 32 and 64 bit versions too. Both run as live versions so can be used without installation.

I have been experimenting with the standard version and was impressed with the included packages even though he has it tagged as a Beta version. I intend to install it on a system in the next few days and give it a further tryout.

The developer, Chris Smart, is an Australian based in Canberra so it is nice to see something this useful coming out of Oz. Have a look at his site at kororaa.org

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Gmail Signatures – Updated

Update. Since I posted this I have found the add-on again. In fact it is now available from the Mozilla Add-Ons site. There is a new home page for it too.

I posted some time ago about Firefox add-ons. One I mentioned was Blank Canvas Gmail Signatures which allowed you to have different signatures for each Gmail account. Unfortunately it is no longer available on the Mozilla site. There is no mention of it on the Blank Canvas site either.

This is a great loss as it is the only Gmail signature add-on that supported multiple accounts. There are other add-ons for signatures but none of them have this feature. The xpi file can still be found on archive sites, a search should bring up a source for you.

Hopefully one of the other add-ons will add this feature or even better Gmail itself will provide it.

Another Firefox Gadget

Since I wrote the last post I have added a new gadget that seems pretty useful. It is aimed at Australian Firefox (and other Mozilla browsers) users and others who have download limits on their internet connection. It provides a quick check of the current usage using the data from your ISP. It adds a meter into your toolbar. Hovering the mouse over the meter shows more info.   I found out about on my friend Snowy’s site here. More information and it can be downloaded here.

Firefox Add-ons

I have written before about a couple of the Add-ons I use but I haven’t listed the ones I consider to be essential. So it is time to make that right. I have tried many different Add-ons or extensions as they used to be called but these are the ones I use all the time.

I won’t give links for each Add-on as they can be found by doing a search on the Get Add-ons box in Firefox.

Adblock Plus

This is probably one of the more controversial Add-ons. There are arguments for and against it as advertising is how many sites, particularly the free ones, pay the bills. However as I never click on ads I don’t feel guilty about using it. There is another advantage as in Australia we have download limits, the more we use the more we pay, so I don’t want to use my limit to download someone’s advertising that I won’t even look at.

Having said that it doesn’t block all ads. Those that are coded into the page still appear..

Blank Canvas Gmail Signatures

I’ve written about this recently so won’t add more here accept to say after living with it for a while now I am very happy. It fills a gap in Gmail.

Fast Dial

Obviously inspired by telephone speed dial this is a very handy Add-on. I manage my bookmarks in three layers. The standard bookmark menu is for links I use occasionally. It is sorted into categories to make them easy to find. Next level is Personal Toolbar. Here I keep links I use regularly but not every day. The top level is Fast Dial, it holds sites I access every day like WordPress and a couple of forums.

Fast Dial creates a tab which holds thumbnails of each site. Clicking on it opens the site in a new tab. Incredibly simple and useful. In fact I use Firefox’s ability to have multiple tabs as my homepage. First tab is IGoogle with Gmail, Google Reader and Calender displayed and the second tab is Fast Dial.

No Script

The advent of JavaScript brought a new era of web sites. Now there is hardly a site that doesn’t have some scripting built in. Most menus, buttons and media needs scripts to run. That’s great but what many people don’t realise is the the script is running on our computers. While it is doing useful things it is OK but it can just as easily be used to do damage. For more information on the dangers of scripts have a look at the No Script site.

So what can we do? It is not possible to use the web without scripting but we are at risk with it. A good compromise is to just allow it run on trusted sites. That is what No Script does. When you reach a site you have the option of allowing scripts to run just for this visit on to mark it as a trusted site for all future visits. You may find that many sites are trying to run scripts not just the one you are visiting. This can be one of the dangers although often it is OK.

It is a bit of a pain to set up as you need to approve each site the first time you visit. However once up and running it doesn’t interrupt as often as it did. A recommended Add-on if you are concerned about security.

Xmarks

Formerly known as Foxmarks it was renamed earlier this year when some new features were added. As I use a couple of computers and I like my passwords and bookmarks to be consistent across both of them I find this essential. But it also useful as a way to back up your browser data.

I used to use Google’s Browser Sync but when it was discontinued I needed to find a replacement. Foxmarks, as it was then, had just added passwords to its system and so I tried it out. It seems to work just as well as Browser Sync and has some additional features such as tagging bookmarks.

A Word of Caution

Add-ons are a great feature of Firefox and are one of the reasons to use it over other browsers however there are some things to bear in mind. Add-ons are created by the community and so the quality can be variable. The ones I have listed are popular and seem quite stable but that can’t be said for all. Also it is not advisable to use too many Add-ons. More than 10 or so will cause Firefox to slow down.

If you are having problems with Firefox try disabling all Add-ons and then re-enable one at a time. You will probably find one of the Add-ons are responsible.

Summary

So that’s it. Five Add-ons I find useful. These are the ones that have stayed part of my system when many others have come and gone. Which Add-ons would you recommend?

Gmail Signatures

I have been using Gmail for a long time. You needed an invitation when it first became my default mail client. Not that that is anything unusual, I mention just so you know I am generally happy with it. It serves my purposes. I look forward to new features and try anything that interests me. I have Labs enabled so I can play with the things there.

However there is one feature I really wanted and it isn’t part of Gmail or even in Labs. That is different signatures for each account. Gmail is great in the way you can use several different accounts in the same screen just like a stand alone email package. I have my regular Gmail account plus my default account from the ISP (just for messages they send) and also an account for a local group I am the secretary of.

Gmail lets you set up a signature but it is used on every email. Not what I want. I have waited hoping this would change but no luck. So I decided to do some searching and found this great Firefox Add-On, as they call them now, “Blank Canvas Gmail Signatures”. Not only does it do what I wanted, different signatures for each account but you can have up to 4 signatures for each account and select the one to use when you create a message if you don’t want to use the default. One for family and one for friends for example.

It is a little unusual in that the options are set within the Gmail Create Message screen and not in the Add-Ons dialog but that makes sense when you think about it. There is a beta version but I am using the last stable version. It is working well for me.

Sync your Browesrs

Do you use more than 1 computer or do you use a dual boot system? If so you will have a problem accessing your bookmarks etc when you change computers. Google has an answer for you, Google Browser Sync.

It only works with Firefox but allows you to share your bookmarks, history and passwords between each system. It is a Firefox extension, one of the advantages of Firefox is the ability to customise it with extensions.

Of course if you share computers with someone else you will need to consider the security aspect. You may not want to have your passwords available on a computer someone else uses. If you are the only one using them Browser sync is incredibly handy. I use a desktop which I dual boot in WinXP and Linux and I use a laptop too. With Browser Sync it doesn’t matter which system I am using Firefox has the same bookmarks and passwords etc. It even remembers the last page I used and will return there if I wish.

One of the best Firefox extensions and it works fine in Firefox 2. Download it here.