Archive for July 7th, 2009|Daily archive page

Ubuntu’s Firefox 3.5 and Facebook Chat

Those of you using the official Firefox 3.5 packages for Ubuntu 9.04 have probably noticed that it’s actually labeled as “Shiretoko,” which was the code name while Firefox 3.1/3.5 was in development. This is done to avoid confusion with the default installation of Firefox 3.0. For several technical reasons, the Firefox 3.5 package does not replace 3.0, but is installed alongside it.

My wife noticed that her Facebook chat popped up in a separate window when using her browser, which is very annoying (especially because she’s an Ubuntu Netbook Remix user, where all windows are maximized). Facebook claimed that she was using “an old browser,” and ironically chided her to upgrade.

Ubuntu’s Firefox 3.5 User Agent string is this:

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.9.1) Gecko/20090701 Ubuntu/9.04 (jaunty) Shiretoko/3.5

My guess is that Facebook is using simple user-agent sniffing, and since it sees “Shiretoko” and not “ Firefox,” gets confused.

So to fix this, we’ll enlist the help of the User Agent Switcher extension and use it to tell Facebook you’re using the “real” Firefox 3.5. Here are the steps:

  1. Download and install the User Agent Switcher if you haven’t already.
  2. After Shiretoko restarts, go to Tools->Add-Ons-. Select “Preferences” for the User Agent Switcher.
  3. Click the “New” button to create a new User Agent string.
  4. Put “Fake Official Firefox 3.5,” or something else that makes sense to you in the “Description” field. The other fields are automagically populated with the “ default” user agent, which makes our life easier.
  5. At the very end of the “User Agent” field, replace “Shiretoko” with “Firefox” and click OK.
  6. Go to Tools->Default User Agent and then select “Fake Official Firefox 3.5”.
  7. Go to Facebook.

You can use this trick for any other site out there that claims you’re not using an up-to-date or unsupported browser.