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Firefox logo with 4 of the protocols it can handle

[ TL;DR: solution to set firefox portable as the default html handler ]

Firefox Portable, and portable apps in general are great, but when it comes to setting firefox portable as the default html handler, or default internet protocol handler, the creators still haven’t found an integrated, in-app solution for doing that.

Sure, you can click on the “Make firefox the default browser” button, once you’ve loaded firefox portable, but that won’t actually set firefox portable as your default internet protocol handler, but instead, set the firefox app inside your portable firefox’s \App\ folder as the handler, which is not ok.

In other words, it’s not easy to make firefox portable the default browser on a windows system.

Read the rest of this entry »

Image / montage of overheating IBM T43

[ TL;DR: Tips and tricks for better thermal management on laptops, to avoid overheating ]

Some laptops and notebook/netbook computers have a much better thermal management then others, some are silent and cool better, others make a lot of noise and yet, sometimes overheat. Most people think that in most of the cases in which a laptop overheats, it’s got to be either a fault in the mainboard’s electronic circuitry, or there’s an outdated fan, a clogged heatsink to blame.

While I don’t rule out any of these perceived causes to a laptop overheating, especially IBM T43 (2668 models) and some Acer and some Asus models, I’ve learned over the years some pretty simple tricks, some DOs and DON’Ts that if applied, can make a huge difference in a laptop’s thermal management, and can make or break a system. So, after seeing that on most threads on several forums discussing laptop’s thermal management, the simple tricks that I describe here are not even mentioned, instead of writing bits and pieces in the respective threads, on those forums, I thought it’s better to write a post about it. So, if my laptop is overheating, here’s some tips and tricks for better thermal management I’d check for.

First and foremost, IBM or Lenovo T4x , (especially T43, 2668 model) owners. It seems that this little laptop is on the top of the bad thermal management when it comes to overheating, freezing, crashing laptops. But you know what ? I just can’t agree with you. I am the satisfied user of an older T43, (2668 !) model, and I can say that I’ve never overheated it yet, and there’s never been a case in which this T43 has frozen. Please consider implementing some of the simple tricks described here, you might be surprised what a big difference a few simple tricks can do.

First, if your T43 (or any other model) laptop overheats ON THE RIGHT SIDE, and the right palm rest is too hot, there’s only one thing you have to do: SET THE POWER MANAGEMENT OF THE HARDDRIVE TO 1. What does that mean ? Well, in simplest terms, allow the harddrive to spin down (turn its rotation off) as soon as there are no read/write operations to perform.

On different operating systems, there are different software utilities and command line or GUI options to perform this, for instance, on Linux systems,
issuing the following command :
# hdparm -M1 /dev/sda
should do the trick, if your harddrive supports acoustic management, and, to turn power management to turn the rotation off:
#hdparm -B1 /dev/sda
In this example, /dev/sda is the harddrive on which you perform the operation, in your case, it could be /dev/hda, or /dev/sdc, or whatever. And the example presumes that you have root access to use the hdparm command. Also, you might try if your harddrive supports spin-down by software, so try :

# hdparm -S10 /dev/sda


# hdparm -S30 /dev/sda

Depending on your particular harddrive, the command might work or fail. If it works, set all the commands that you’ve succesfully issued through hdparm, to load automatically on each boot, for instance, you could insert them before the “exit 0″ line in /etc/rc.local

On windows vista and 7 (presumably 8, too), go to the mobility center, or in power management, and click on “choose when to turn off the harddrive” or something similar (I don’t remember exactly, it’s been a while since I’ve been on a win7 pc ). For most laptops, on the manufacturer’s support site, there is a driver for SATA power management, and for some models, also for PCI power management (Yes, a system power management, and A SEPARATE power management for those two.) If your manufacturer’s support site has drivers for these two things, go ahead and install them if they are available for your operating system.

On linux systems, DON’T USE A LAPTOP WITHOUT LAPTOP-MODE-TOOLS correctly installed and configured. For Dell laptops, there is a suite named i8ktools, for IBM (especially T43), there is thinkfan and fancontrol, it’s imperative that these are installed.

On windows system, get a hold of Alfredo Milani Comparetti’s Speedfan, a handy little program that I’ve installed over the years on at least 200 laptops and notebooks, and that has made all the difference.  Also, get a hold of a good DOWNVOLTING program, especially (again) IBM T43 and Acer/Asus overheaters !

Rightmark CPU clock utility (RMClock) is a program of tremendous value, that I’ve used on over 50 different IBM T43 laptops, and stopped the buzzing CPU noise, and stopped the overheating problem with it. Also, you might want to check out Notebook Hardware Control, another very intelligently designed little program of tremendous value, with some features (e.g. downvolting) similar to that of RMClock.

Both of these programs have been written a while ago, but needless to say, their value has not only remained the same, but in my opinion, increased over the years. It’s not known whether their creators will keep the programs online for any longer, so both of the programs are worth downloading and keeping !

Now, with regard to the airflow of the cooling system inside the laptops: DON’T use your laptop on non-flat surfaces, AND  don’t use your laptop on tables that have a cover on it ! Seriously ! A small table cover only 1/10th of a mm thick, can cover the heatsink’s exit holes pretty badly, and it can destroy your laptop. I’ve seen in recent movies (especially) young actors being portrayed using laptops and tablets on the bed, but while they might both seem cool in the movie, there’s a world of difference between a laptop’s or notebook/netbook’s and a tablet’s cooling needs (Tablets don’t really have a cooling need, especially if their back cover is metallic).

So, keep the airflow free under and around your laptop.  Keep your workspace clean, a pen or a pencil sharpener in the wrong place can obtrude the exit holes of your laptop’s heatsink (Dell, Acer, Asus models, with exit holes behind the LCD panel/back side).

Also, always remove all USB devices that you’re not using, even if it seems that the OS is capable of turning their ports off when they are not in use. Simply remove them. Also, since we’ve mentioned it, ALLOW the operating system’s power management features to function, i.e. allow the system to turn off the USB ports, and all other things that are not in use.

Now, for those of you out there, that are hardcore or not so hardcore gamers: please understand that a great majority of your graphic card’s capabilities ARE SIMPLY USELESS. (You’ve read that right) A great majority of most modern graphic processors (GPU) capabilities are no longer necessary for the crisp and lifelike display of images, videos, in-game motion, etc., but are only “there” to create a competition between the different GPU manufacturers. So if you have access to the GPU’s control center (Catalyst control center for ATI/AMD, Nvidia control panel for Nvidia, Igfx control panel for Intel Extreme Graphics), do a little tweaking, turn off some of those damn features, you won’t see a damn difference in the games or videos you’re playing, but you will most certainly feel and see the difference on the thermal management side of things.Image / montage of overheating IBM T43

Turning down an “anisotropic filtering” from 16x to 4x, can make a 2…3 degrees Celsius (according to google, 1 degree Celsius =33.8 degrees Fahrenheit, so you do the math if you’re not using Celsius) in heating. Also, turning to 16-bit display, if possible, cools down the GPU another degree, keeps your battery living longer, turning down or “application set” antialiasing in some games can again, keep the GPU cooler.

If your GPU’s control center has a power management, try using a less-then-maximum quality setting, you might be surprised that you can’t see the difference with your own eyes in the quality of the display, but the GPU and the thermal management system of your laptop, will most certainly “see” it.

So these are my tips for better thermal management. What are yours ?


UPDATE: See at the end of the article !

I’ve been a Firefox user since its first versions, way back, when the norm for a pretty good computer was a CPU at around 900 mhz and a 20GB HDD was considered huge (around here, in Eastern Europe, most technologies get adopted a bit later :) ).

In the beginning, it was a fast, responsive, snappy browser, that made me and my customers some of its happiest users. I used to recommend it to anyone with an internet connection, and I used to replace all browsers – except opera – with FF, that is, until this stupid mentality of constant updates, ever decreasing performance, and less and less usability was adopted by its developers.

Searching for values in firefox's about:config list

Searching for values in firefox’s about:config list

Those of us who still use the firefox webbrowser – or any offshoot of it – know, that the branded Firefox has just gotten worse and worse since version 4.0, when features we all loved have started disappearing and stuff that nobody needed (well, users didn’t need, anyway) have started being implemented more and more.

Today, if you install a firefox version from the official repositories – on any OS – you get a sloppy, slow, stupid, dumbed-down version of what a good browser used to be. In order to make the browser use less memory, be less CPU hungry, one has to either install difficult-to-find extensions, make not very clearly understandable manual tweaks here and there in the config files, or in most cases, both of the above.

Over the years, I’ve gotten more and more bothered that the computer I’m using for simple browsing online had to become more and more powerful and loaded with more and more memory just to be able to open a few simple webpages in a few tabs, and do ordinary stuff like reading e-mails or collaborating with others on forums online. So I’ve continuously searched for and implemented simple changes in the configuration of Firefox, that would allow me to use the browser as it used to be, before the “newer, better, and improved” crap was implemented into it. Usually, every new version that comes out, forces the user to implement some changes, or the browser will become unrecognisable compared to what it used to look and feel like.

So, here’s my list of configuration changes that allow me to use FF20 on linux (and with one single configuration directive’s exception, on Windows XP, too), as version 3.6 used to work and feel like, with very little memory consumption, little cpu overweight, and snappy, responsive operation, on a single-core, Celeron machine with only 1 GB of RAM.

The configuration changes from the list below can be made by typing about:config in the address bar, and accesing the settings despite of the warning message, if there is one.

The list contains setting / values pairs, separated by a semicolon character (” ; ” ), meaning that the setting/configuration directive’s name has to be as it appears on the left side of the semicolon, and the value, has to be the one on the right side of the semicolon.

For those less familiar with the settings, settings with “true” or “false” values indicate a “boolean” configuration directive type. Settings with numbers in the values, indicate an “integer” config directive type. And settings with neither numbers nor true/false values, are “string” type config directives.

To search for a config directive, type a few letters from its name in the search box as seen in the image in this post, and make sure you locate the one matching exactly the name from the list.

To modify the value of a directive, double-click on it, and enter the necessary value in the dialog box that appears, if the directive  is of a string or numeric type, or select one from the two possible choices if the directive is of boolean type, and either press enter or click on OK.

If you can’t find the name of the configuration directive you’re looking for, in your about:config list, it means that it has been considered deprecated (here’s one of the dumbest words in existence today , “deprecated”), and it has been removed from the configuration , but if you create that directive, the browser will “know” what to do with it, and at least up to version 20., it’s obvious, that the directives still have the desired effect on the browser. To create a new configuration directive, right-click in your about:config list, and select “New->” and then integer, string, or boolean, in accordance to what type of directive you see from my list as missing in your about:config list, then press enter, and select or enter the necessary value for the newly created directive.

Needless to say, it’s neither the purpose, of this blogpost, nor the place,  to explain each directive separately, if you’re curious or want to know exactly what each of the directives do, go ahead and look them up in mozilla’s knowledgebase.

The settings and tweaks presented in the list below are provided on an “AS IS” basis, I don’t accept any responsability with regard to their effect on your browser ! I provide the list in good faith, it’s up to you whether you will implement them or not.



network.http.accept-encoding;gzip, deflate,vary


I’d recommend you close your browser window after changing / setting these directives, and waiting for a few seconds before restarting it, to allow the hard-drive in your computer to fully flush its cache and release all remaining firefox processes from memory.

After restarting the browser with the above settings implemented, your firefox should behave a lot better, it should be faster, snappier, much more user-friendly.

Now, as I’ve mentioned earlier, there is one exception to the settings list, I’ve intentionally left the setting in the list above, in a separate paragraph, because there are two things you need to know about this directive: first of all, if you’re on any windows-based computer, there is no /dev/shm in windows, so in that case, you would simply indicate the location of your desired temporary folder to your FF.

On windows-based computers, it makes a world of difference, with regard to performance, whether you set this folder to be in a separate, first-level folder, and NOT mingled, NOT in a subfolder on your harddrive. So, to be clear, there is a huge performance increase in the browser’s speed, on windows-based computers, if you set this temporary folder to be, for instance, “C:\fftemp”, and not “C:\Documents and Settings\Application Data\……sometempfolder\”. Go ahead, create a separate temp folder directly in the root of your drive, and allocate that folder exclusively to this configuration directive in your about:config list, you’ll be surprised how snappier your browser can become from just this one single setting alone.

If you’re on linux, however, setting this directive only works if you actually have a /dev/shm mount for temporary operations in place, so you need to check for it either by typing “mount” in the terminal, or by other means, if you know your linux box.

If there’s no /dev/shm mount in your linux’s configuration, you can set /tmp for this directive.

Also, it would be a good idea to set your harddrive to be as fast as possible, (hdparm) and tell your system via sysctl (/etc/sysctl.conf) to use less swapping if possible and be more relaxed with regard to read/write operations. (If you don’t know how to do that, leave a comment).

Finally, if you’ve implemented the settings from my list and that has helped you, it has made your browser faster, please share this article with your friends, maybe they could use a faster firefox, too.

If you’d like to comment, have any questions or comments related to this article or to any other windows/linux related topic, please use the disqus or facebook commentbox below the post to ask your questions or leave your comment

I’m open to discussing the list or -almost – any other IT related topic.

Thanks for reading !


Update: I’ve just found 2 more tweaks, that made firefox twice as fast, in the mozilla support forums, so here they are: (1GB ram, Celeron machine @3GHz, feel free to tweak it to your machine’s specs)



Let me know in the comments how it works out for you !



There are at least 1.980.000 results on google alone, if you search for the phrase “import chrome passwords into firefox”, or “export chrome passwords into firefox”, “export chromium passwords to firefox” or something similar.

Yet, after parsing meticulously through at least 30..40 pages/URL found in the search result pages, and having done that time and time again over the past two or three years, I still couldn’t find a simple, workable solution that would allow virtually anyone to export the passwords from Google Chrome or Chromium browsers, and then, simply import them in firefox.

I’ve seen plenty of the ridiculously proud and disrespectful answers given both by google staffers on the support forums, and mozilla support and community members in both browser families’s fan groups, to understand that it’s simply not a big deal to either of them – chromium/chrome developers on one hand, and mozilla/firefox developers on the other hand – they simply don’t care if their users cannot export passwords from one browser and import them into another.

So, after being faced several times with the dilemma of this stupid incompatibility between the two browsers’s password format, over the past 2 or 3 years, I just had to come up with a better, faster, simple solution to export the passwords from Chromium and import them in Firefox.

The solution described here took about 24 hours to develop, but it shouldn’t take more then a few minutes – 10 minutes or so – to make it work on your own computer, provided you are at least moderately knowledgeable in linux (debian/ubuntu/mint/peppermint) and understand the commands described and programs and syntax used.

The solution presumes the following:

- you know your way around your linux box/console

- your system is based on debian/ubuntu/mint/peppermint or similar debian offshoot

-your system has sqlite3, php and php-cli* installed

- the Chromium/Chrome profile from which you are trying to export the passwords, is your own and the synchronization with the data from the browser’s sync storage has been performed

If you are using Chrome, and not chromium, wherever you see “/chromium” in the scripts below, simply replace it with “/google-chrome” (or whatever the main profile directory of your chrom* browser is) and the scripts should work fine.

First, to make sure the data stored in the local storage, has been synced with the online data from Google’s storage, close your chrome or chromium, and make sure no background processes are allowed to continue after closing the browser. If you have allowed “enable background tasks to run after closing the browser” or something similar, you should have a small chromium or chrome icon in the notification area (that is, if your desktop environment is Gnome, meaning Gnome 2 based, or Mate, or Cinnamon, NOT that joke of a DE gnome 3 or unity, on these latter stupid desktop environments, I have no clue where any notifications even reside, and I don’t want to know). So if you have a notification with the browser’s icon, click on it – or you might have to right-click – and then click “Exit” in the menu that appears. This makes sure that all background processes of the browser are closed.

Wait a few seconds to make sure the necessary commits to the harddisk are made. Then best using ALT+F2 to bring up the “Run application” prompt, enter the following command and press enter:

/usr/bin/chromium-browser %U –password-store=basic

This will load chromium-browser and make a sync of the password data stored online, to your local storage. If you use chrome, replace the “chromium-browser” part with whatever executable name you have for your chrome browser.

Wait a few second, if you can see the HDD activity LED on your pc/laptop, try to determin if the sync is still undergoing by paying attention to that LED, if the sync operation is still on, the LED will blink repeatedly.

After the sync has been performed – just to make sure you don’t damage any data from your online storage – go to your browser’s settings, click on “Signed in as…” and then click on “Disconnect your google account”. Exit the browser again, and make sure there are NO background processes of the browser left.

(You could open the terminal and check with “ps xa | grep chrom” or something similar. )

After all background processes of the browser are closed, I recommend you create a new folder just for this task, in your home folder, for instance “chromepassbackup”.

Change path to your newly created directory in terminal and copy the local storage of your browser to a more easily managable file location with the following command:

cp ~/.config/chromium/Default/Login\ Data ./logins.sqlite

This will create the “logins.sqlite” file, as a copy of your Login Data sqlite database from your chrome profile directory.

Now you need to export the login data from the file, as a simple CSV file. Fortunately, this is very easy to do with sqlite:

sqlite3 -noheader -csv -separator ‘,’ logins.sqlite “SELECT * FROM logins” >logins.txt

This will create the “logins.txt” file in the same directory, with all your login data in CSV format.

In the next step, you need to create the PHP file that will parse the “logins.txt” file LOCALLY, from the terminal ! (hence, you need php-cli* installed), not as a webpage in a browser.

——– parse_me.php———


#load logins.txt as an array
#we make sure we only have unique values;
#create a new file that will hold the passwords in the new, firefox importable format ;
$passex_header=’<xml>’ . “\n” . ‘<entries ext=”Password Exporter” extxmlversion=”1.1″ type=”saved” encrypt=”false”>’ . “\n”;
#we loaded the parsed logins file as an array and now we change the values of the array elements
foreach($lines as $key => $value)
#each string_value is a line with ‘,’ splittable !
#start “composing the new string and write it to the newformat file ;
$newline=’<entry host=”‘;
$thehost = str_replace(“=”,”%3d”,$array[0]) ;
$thehost = str_replace(“&”,”%26″,$thehost);
$newline .= $thehost . ‘”‘;
if(empty($array[3]) || $array[3]==’”"‘)
$newline .=’ user=”"‘ ;
$newline .=’ user=”‘ . str_replace(‘”‘,”,$array[3]) . ‘”‘;
if(empty($array[5]) || $array[5]==’”"‘)
$newline .=’ password=”"‘;
$newline .=’ password=”‘ ;
$thepass=str_replace(‘”‘,”,$array[5]) ;
$newline .= $thepass . ‘”‘;
if(empty($array[1]) || $array[1]==’”"‘)
$newline .=’ formSubmitURL=”"‘;
$newline .=’ formSubmitURL=”‘;
$theurl= str_replace(“=”,”%3d”,$array[1]) ;
$theurl = str_replace(“&”,”%26″,$theurl);
$newline .= $theurl . ‘”‘;
$newline .=’ httpRealm=”"‘;
if(empty($array[2]) || $array[2]==’”"‘)
$newline .=’ userFieldName=”"‘;
$newline .=’ userFieldName=”‘ . str_replace(‘”‘,”,$array[2]) . ‘”‘;
if(empty($array[4]) || $array[4]==’”"‘)
$newline .=’ passFieldName=”" />’ . “\n” ;
$newline .=’ passFieldName=”‘ . str_replace(‘”‘,”,$array[4]) . ‘” />’ .”\n”;

$passex_footer=’</entries>’ . “\n” . ‘</xml>’;

—- end parse_me.php—

Now, some notes : in the PHP script above, you MUST respect the single-quote/double quote usage as I’ve used it, because in some places you have to export/modify/work with strings that they themselves contain single quotes/double quotes or URL encode strings, that need to be encapsulated as they are.

The URL encodings are absolutely necessary (for instance, replacing “=” with “%3d”, “&” with “%26″, etc.), because in the end, you’ll want to have an xml file with correctly written syntax that can be imported into firefox’s Password Export plugin.

Save the PHP file, for instance, as “parse_me.php” in the same folder. Then in terminal, simply type

php parse_me.php and press enter.

Depending on how many passwords you have to export, it could take some time (just joking, in my case, with over 400 passwords, it took less then a second :)   )

When the prompt returns, you should have a file called “chromium_pass_export.xml” in the same folder. Now start firefox, and if you haven’t alread installed the password importer/exporter plugin, press CTRL+SHIFT+A to load the AddonsManager in firefox, and search for “Password Exporter”, or go directly to the plugin’s page on Mozilla HERE and add that plugin to your firefox.

Image with firefox's import-export button in preferences  Restart firefox to load the plugin, go to your preferences, “security” tab, and you should have an “Import/Export passwords” extra button now. Click on that button and in the dialog box that appears, select “Import passwords”. Navigate to the file “chromium_pass_export.xml” and open it via the importer. If the file was constructed properly, your passwords should be now imported into firefox, and a count with the number of the imported passwords should be displayed in the import/export window.

Clickin on the “details” link near the count, a detailed log of any eventual error messages related to the import operation will be displayed.

That’s it, your usernames and passwords, all your login data from Chrome or Chromium, should also be available in Firefox now !

Image with password import button in firefox


Obviously, both scripts can be improved, and the work on perfecting it, can be continuous, but for the simple, quick way to have your chrome/chromium passwords exported and then imported into firefox, this is the fastest, most efficient way.

It takes more to read through this article, then to actually make the scripts and then export/import your passwords.

The entire process can be simplified further, if you make a bash script, in the folder you’ve created for this taks, let’s name it “get_chr_pass” with the following content :

cp ~/.config/chromium/Default/Login\ Data ./logins.sqlite
sqlite3 -noheader -csv -separator ‘,’ logins.sqlite “SELECT * FROM logins” >logins.txt
php parse_me.php

Save the file and then make it executable with the command :

chmod +x get_chr_pass

Provided that you’ve also put “parse_me.php” in the same folder, you just have to issue


and you’ll have your exported passwords file in just about a second or so.

In case you want to simply download the 2 files, “get_chr_pass” and “parse_me.php”, here they are:

DON’T FORGET TO RIGHT_CLICK !!! AND SELECT “SAVE LINK AS”, because clicking with the left mouse button won’t send you the files as a download :)



I hope this article will help someone :)

If you run into difficulties with the scripts or with the import/export process, don’t hesitate to ask, leave a comment via the facebook comment box or the disqus comment box, whichever suits you best, and I’ll do my best to reply and help you if I can.

Please share this article with your friends who might need a quick and easy solution to export/import chrome or chromium passwords into firefox ! Thanks.


This is not something you see everyday, even the entire adwords system needs to shut down from time to time, for maintenance.

Google Adwords is down for maintenance

Google Adwords is down for maintenance