Possible Firefox Bug: Cannot open downloaded HTML documents

I’m busy right now and I didn’t have time to look up if this is a bug or not. So here’s a quick record in case I decide to tackle it later on.


  • Operating System: Microsoft Vista Ultimate 64-bit
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 is the default browser
  • using Mozilla Firefox 3.0.x


While doing research for my white paper, I was using the InfoTrac General Science eCollection database to pull up some articles. One of the options available is to download the articles as an HTML document. Upon clicking the Download link, it tries downloading an HTML document and prompts me if I would like to Open with or Save File. The default program for the Open with dialog is Internet Explorer, but I decided to change it. Firefox, however, was not listed as an alternative; I ended up having to navigate to the Firefox executable (File: firefox.exe). As soon as I pressed OK, I got the following error:

Firefox is already running, but is not responding. To open a new window, you must first close the existing Firefox process, or restart your system.

Possible Explanations of Error

  • Firefox cannot handle opening an HTML document as a download within itself
    • tries to execute another instance of Firefox, but that clashes with already-open instance
  • Since the default browser on the system is Internet Explorer, it originally tried to open the HTML document with that and it worked. When I tried to change it to Firefox I encountered the problem above.
    • How would this be handled if Firefox were the default HTML document viewer?
    • Does this behaviour exist when opening an HTML document from a local filesystem (via double-clicking and letting Windows run with the associated program)?
  • Desired Functionality
    • To open a New Window in the currently running instance of Firefox with the document.
    • Prompting to run in:
      • a new instance of Firefox, possibly with an option to choose which Profile
      • a new tab in the originating Firefox window
      • a new window from the originating Firefox instance
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OpenOffice.org OpenSolaris Build Presentation

I had to present my work-to-date on the OpenOffice.org OpenSolaris Build project. Here’s the presentation I put together.

Download the OpenSolaris Build presentation [in PDF format]

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Sun Software Stack

I have a lot of Sun in my computer, but no more brightness than usual.

I have installed the following Sun-related software:

After that, I had to download the OpenOffice.org source code that I would be using (DEV300_m42) which was made open source by Sun too.

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Virtual Virtualization Pains

Since I only have one desktop PC for my use, I was not about to be crazy and re-format it with OpenSolaris for my project. Software and hardware have come a long way from the days where you had to have multiple partitions to boot to in order to use different operating systems. Nowadays, virtualization is only a few software downloads and maybe a growing pain or two away. Not only will virtualization allow you to run a different operating system inside of your regular operating system, but it’s also a cool trick to do at parties. Honest.

I had some previous experiences with virtualization:

  • VMware Workstation [Was just becoming free around the time I tried it]
    • Option overkill for what I wanted. Since this was the first time I had used virtual machines it scared me away a bit. VMware is the gorilla of virtualization from what I’ve seen and heard from smart people.
  • Microsoft Virtual PC [Free from Microsoft]
    • The easiest setup-and-play experience for any Windows-friendly operating system (Windows, DOS, OS/2). Running Windows within Windows is amazing on this; you have complete clipboard sharing, native display settings, shared folders, host device usage (printers, USB, etc.)… it’s pretty sweet. But it wouldn’t cut it for OpenSolaris. To be fair, things may have changed and perhaps OpenSolaris would’ve worked on Virtual PC but I wanted to try something new.

Reading some information about OOo development and OpenSolaris made me aware of another Sun project called VirtualBox. I did some research into it and it turns out to be a fantastic virtualization product. So I downloaded it (version 2.1.4) and began setting upĀ  OpenSolaris 2008.11 from the DVD I had received. Bad idea.

One of the benefits of using virtualization software is that you can “cheat” through various means when installing a guest operating system. Instead of using optical media (CDs, DVDs) you should opt to mount an ISO image (usually files with the .ISO extension) from a hard drive. This will save you a lot of time. (At the least, some time. Your mileage may vary.) It took me just under 60 minutes to perform a default install of OpenSolaris.

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Choosing an OpenOffice.org Project

We finally received a list of projects from the OpenOffice.org (OOo) Education Project (wiki page).

After going through the lists I’ve decided on completing the OpenSolaris build documentation. I have two main reasons:

  1. I wouldn’t mind learning more about the build system
  2. It would be an excuse to use OpenSolaris and see what’s so different about it from other *nix variants

The others in my class will also post the projects they claim on the OOo Project List page of the Open Source @ Seneca / CDOT wiki.

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OpenOffice.org Goes Silent without Java

Operating System: Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit)

After installing OpenOffice.org 3.0.1 (OOo for short) without the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) (filename: OOo_3.0.1_Win32Intel_install_en-US.exe), the option to register my copy had come up but the regular wizard did not run as expected. I had forgotten to install the JRE since I recently reformatted my PC. Oops.

Regardless, I wanted to see just how much functionality was missing from OOo and so I opened up the OpenOffice.org launch application. First, I tried to use the Registration wizard again, but I got the following error below:

Error message when JRE not installed

Error message when JRE is not installed

I’m glad I got this error, as it confirmed that OpenOffice.org knew that the JRE was not installed. But before I installed the JRE, I wanted to try out what else wouldn’t work and the only thing I found that wouldn’t work properly was OpenOffice.org Base, the database application. I could select what database I wanted to create or open, but the application itself would not load; I was simply in a wizard. My problem with OOo Base is that it had no error message to alert the user as to why it wasn’t opening. A silent failure.

Enough play, I thought; it was time to install the Java SE Development Kit (JDK) (NOTE: You could have just as well installed the regular JRE, but I do some Java development from time-to-time so I require the JDK’s tools). I selected the JDK 6 Update 12 x64 installer for 64-bit Windows (filename: jdk-6u12-windows-x64-p.exe). Installation went perfectly, and I even rebooted just to make sure all environmental variables were set.

Once again, I booted up the OOo launcher and selected the Registration icon… but I was met with the same error as above! I did some digging in the OOo directory tree, but I did not have enough time to go through the OOo directories (a file tree is available here) (NOTE: this is the Windows directory structure) and figure out how to hook up the JRE to it. If the only remedy is to re-install OpenOffice.org, I would consider this a problem in usability. I still need to investigate this further to make sure I did not miss anything.

Problems Encountered / Investigation Needed

  1. OpenOffice.org Base fails to launch and display an error when the JRE is not installed (or detected)
  2. OOo does not detect the JRE after installation
    • Problem with 64-bit libraries?
    • Windows-specific error?



On 23 March 2009, Java 6 Update 13 was released which has fixed the Java detection issue with OpenOffice.org.

Once the Java 1.6.0_13 Update is installed, you can select which Java Runtime you wish to use from the Tools > Options > OpenOffice.org > Java menu in any instance of OOo. From my limited reading on the subject, this was a problem with the technique to detect a JRE on a Windows machine by only checking that certain environmental variables were set. I wonder if this is still bug-worthy.

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Building OpenOffice.org from Source (Notes)

I lost some of my previous entries, but below are some notes I made while going about compiling OpenOffice.org for the first time(s). In the following notes, I usually use “==” or “Tiago” or “TJ” as markers to myself. I wish I could highlight those markers, but they are there!

29-30 January 2009

4 February 2009

To see these files posted within this entry, click on the cut below: Continue reading

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