Earlier this week, I received a long-awaited invitation to join the preview of Google Wave, the company’s much-talked-about realtime messaging/collaboration Web application. I won’t go into much detail about the service here, partly because I haven’t played with Wave much yet, but also because I hope shortly to devote a separate E7P post, and possibly a tie-in video, to how Google Wave works (if at all!) on the Eee 701.
However, preparing to use Wave on my Eee exposed one potential issue: the service requires a Web browser which possesses the required capabilities, such as HTML5 support. Not only does this leave out Internet Explorer, but more pertinently in my case, any version of Firefox earlier than 3.5.
This would be a problem for anyone with an Asus Eee with the Linux OS (Xandros with adjustments) which came installed on the machine, as “out of the box”, the version of Firefox is pretty ancient (2.x, as I recall), until you use the system update functionality, which I believe will upgrade you into the Firefox 3.0.x branch. Whilst better than nothing, it still leaves the user a bit short of where they need to be in the browser stakes, to get the most out of Google Wave (although the service may turn out at least partly functional).
The good news is that, in my personal experience, Firefox 3.5 can be installed fairly easily, and run quite well, in the default Eee/Xandros Linux on the 701. I tried it last (Thursday) evening, and to my great relief everything went without a blip (pun unintentional; a ‘blip’ in Google Wave terminology is a single entry in a ‘wave’ (conversation)!).
Below is how I upgraded my 701’s Firefox to version 3.5.x. The steps assume that you have the ‘factory’ Eee/Xandros Linux installed (it won’t apply to other OSes you may have replaced it with); although these steps worked perfectly for me, as usual I take no responsibility for any data loss and/or broken Firefox setup which may occur for you, so I strongly recommend you make backups before you try the following.
- Visit the page “Installing Firefox 3 on the EeePC” at the EeeUser wiki, and follow the steps listed under “Using a simple script”, to download and run “yurenji”‘s Firefox upgrade script. Follow the instructions until step 5 on the page. (Mega-kudos as ever to the folk at EeeUser.com, on whose shoulders (not for the first time at E7P) I am gratefully standing here :))
- This script will install Firefox 3.0.1. You now need to use Firefox’s built-in update feature twice, but unless you are running with root (admin/superuser) privileges, you won’t be able to carry out the updates.
To fix this, fire up a terminal window (Ctrl+Alt+T, or use Konsole or your other terminal of choice), and enter sudo firefox & to run the browser as root.
- Once Firefox has started, use the menu option Help/Check for updates…, and use the “install” button which you should see there (if all has gone well). If the button is greyed out, check that you started Firefox with the “sudo” prefix as above.
- The update should then download and install, followed by an automated check (and if appropriate, download) of any updated add-ons.
- If this all goes smoothly, Firefox will relaunch; you will then be using the most recent version of the 3.0.x “tree”. (I think this was 3.0.14 when I tried the upgrade, but your mileage may vary.)
- This is the important part: you then need to “check for updates” once more (by repeating the last two steps), because Firefox needs to upgrade from the 3.0.x “tree” to the 3.5.x one, and won’t do so in one “go”.
- If this second update goes smoothly, when the browser restarts, you should be running the latest 3.5.x version.
- One more step before you finish: I would suggest closing Firefox, and relaunching it from the menu or terminal, to ensure it is running with normal user privileges instead of as root.
Hope this helps someone—I have started putting together material for a feature here on accessing Google Wave with the 701, but if you aren’t sure what GW is, you might be interested in The Complete Guide to Google Wave, which I am finding very useful while I get the article ready…