Recompiling firefox to change some keyboard shortcuts
Published on July 14, 2020
One of the things that caught me by surprise is that the keyboard shortcuts to
select the n-th tab are different. In chromium, they’re
Ctrl+9, while in firefox they’re
Alt+9. These shortcuts
conflict with the ones I’m using in sway, where they’re
used to navigate between workspaces.
This is not fixable via a setting change, so I decided to build a custom version of firefox. Since I’m using debian, this should be straightforward:
1 2 3 4 5 6 $ sudo apt build-dep firefox # install build dependencies $ apt source firefox # download source package $ cd firefox-78.0.2/ $ make-necessary-changes-to-files $ dpkg-source --commit # create a patch file and changes version $ dpkg-buildpackage -us -uc # build the deb files
I was having some trouble finding what changes to make, though, and firefox’s
codebase is not exactly small. tokei
reports ~200k files and ~27M lines of code.
acking didn’t help much, so I
cloned the source repository to see if I could find something through the
commit messages. Firefox uses mercurial, but there’s an official git mirror:
The current official git mirror of the Firefox code base (also known as “gecko” or “mozilla-central”) can be found at https://github.com/mozilla/gecko-dev.
After some tries, I found this:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 $ git log --grep "Ctrl+9" commit 032ccdebf21b0e8493a28c4bee3ed759f87c5a40 Author: steffen.wilberg%web.de <steffen.wilberg%web.de> Date: Wed Jun 7 21:40:07 2006 +0000 Bug 340553: Document that Ctrl+9 focuses last tab. firstname.lastname@example.org, r=me commit ce743abf4705fdbbf7695be3b929506f5563d183 Author: gavin%gavinsharp.com <gavin%gavinsharp.com> Date: Tue Jun 6 16:28:09 2006 +0000 Bug 338348: Make Ctrl+9 select the last tab instead of the ninth tab, patch by Simon Bünzli <email@example.com>, r=mconnor
The second commit was a good starting point. The code had changed a lot since
that commit in 2006, but I was able to track it down by looking to the files
history with a combination of
git log -p <filename> and
git show <commit-sha>.
I ended up doing the following change:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 --- firefox-78.0.2.orig/browser/base/content/browser-sets.inc +++ firefox-78.0.2/browser/base/content/browser-sets.inc @@ -315,11 +315,7 @@ <key id="key_undoCloseTab" command="History:UndoCloseTab" data-l10n-id="tab-new-shortcut" modifiers="accel,shift"/> <key id="key_undoCloseWindow" command="History:UndoCloseWindow" data-l10n-id="window-new-shortcut" modifiers="accel,shift"/> -#ifdef XP_GNOME -#define NUM_SELECT_TAB_MODIFIER alt -#else #define NUM_SELECT_TAB_MODIFIER accel -#endif #expand <key id="key_selectTab1" oncommand="gBrowser.selectTabAtIndex(0, event);" key="1" modifiers="__NUM_SELECT_TAB_MODIFIER__"/> #expand <key id="key_selectTab2" oncommand="gBrowser.selectTabAtIndex(1, event);" key="2" modifiers="__NUM_SELECT_TAB_MODIFIER__"/>
By removing the
ifdef, it now always uses
accel. It took roughly one hour
to compile and it generated a bunch of deb files:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 $ ls -1 *.deb firefox-dbgsym_78.0.2-1.1_amd64.deb firefox-l10n-ach_78.0.2-1.1_all.deb firefox-l10n-af_78.0.2-1.1_all.deb [...] firefox-l10n-zh-cn_78.0.2-1.1_all.deb firefox-l10n-zh-tw_78.0.2-1.1_all.deb firefox_78.0.2-1.1_amd64.deb
I installed the last one via
dpkg -i firefox_78.0.2-1.1_amd64.deb, restarted
firefox, and it works!
Not sure how I’ll keep recompiling firefox every time there’s a new firefox version. This doesn’t seem like something that would be accepted upstream. I didn’t see any keyboard shortcuts on that file whose modifiers depend on a configuration setting.
It would probably have been easier to install an extension for this.
Here are some firefox bug reports and commits related to this keyboard shortcut that I found along the way:
- (2002) Adding support for ALT+n to select the nth tab.
- (2002) make ctrl+num switch to tabs instead of alt+num
- (2004) [Linux] N-th tab shortcuts should use Alt-1 to Alt-9 rather than Ctrl-1 to Ctrl-9
- (2006) Ctrl+9 to select last tab instead of ninth tab, ala IE 7
- (2007) Numeric accesskeys still conflicting with tab switching