Scatter/Gather thoughts

by Johan Petersson

Additional plugins are required...

Upgrading to Firefox 1.0.5 last week reminded me of a minor annoyance with this browser. When visiting a web page relying on plugins to render its content, a warning message will be displayed at the top of the page unless those plugins are installed:

Additional plugins are required to display all the media on this page.

Showing some kind of warning about missing plugins is essential for inexperienced users, and I suppose this one is a lot less obnoxious than it could have been. Compared to Internet Explorer's infamous "Your current security settings prohibit running ActiveX" message box, this is nothing. Still, there are plugins I don't want to install and I'd like to tell Firefox to stop nagging me about them.

There's no such manual override as far as I know, but you can disable the warning entirely. Open about:config and set the plugin.default_plugin_disabled option to false. The logic is a bit twisted here: the default plugin is disabled by default. Setting this option to false enables the plugin, which gets rid of the warning message because the default plugin will accept any content and render nothing.

Of course, now you'll need to keep track of installed plugins more actively. There's a handy list of installed plugins available by entering about:plugins in the location bar. After enabling the default plugin and restarting Firefox, you should see the status of "Mozilla Default Plug-in" (npnul32.dll or libnull.so) change accordingly in this list. You may also find that enabling the plugin.expose_full_path option is helpful when using this list for troubleshooting purposes.

19 July, 2005