Would like links should open Firefox in current Activity

Duncan 1i5t5.duncan at cox.net
Sat Nov 29 06:33:37 GMT 2014

Brady Trainor posted on Fri, 28 Nov 2014 19:30:09 -0800 as excerpted:

> Is there a way to open a link in web browser in current activity?
> Currently, if there is a browser open in a different activity, and not
> one in current activity, then if I click on a link, say in Emacs, it
> will head to the other activity and open link in that browser.
> Then, I have to separate the tab from the this browser, and right click
> to switch the browser to the activity I was working in, and switch to
> that activity.
> I could not find a setting to change this, even in the browsers Special
> Application Settings.
> This seems to go against the concept of having various resources being
> topic specific in Activities. I do not have a special activity for
> Firefox, I have special activities for topics/projects, and any one of
> them may need a browser for related surfing, and with browsers existent
> or nonexistent at any moment.

The problem is that firefox is normally single-instance (and normally 
single-process at this time, altho that's supposed to change shortly to a 
chromium type model where each tab is its own process, with a single 
controlling UI process as well; it's there already in either the alpha or 
beta channel, I'm not sure which but the plugins are testing/updating for 
it now).

Since activity assignment is normally at the instance level, in the usual 
circumstance you'll get exactly the activity routing you describe.  You 
can either have it open in whatever activity the first firefox window 
happens to be open in, or you can specifically setup firefox to appear 
in /all/ activities (via window rules, which is where you were looking, 
but this isn't quite what you wanted), but then all firefox windows will 
be in all activities.

There /is/, however, one possible workaround that I've not tried, because 
I use activities differently.[1]

If you type firefox --help in a terminal window (like konsole), it'll 
spit out a list of its various command-line options.  Among them is the
-new-instance option.  This should start a new firefox instance, which at 
least in /theory/ should come up on your current activity, instead of 
some other activity with an older firefox instance.

Of course, to get this to work when you click a link, you'll need to add 
the -new-instance switch to your configuration for opening a new link.  
Since kde defaults to konqueror as its browser and you figured out how to 
get it to use firefox instead, however, I'll assume that you can figure 
out how to get the -new-instance switch on it too.

The complication, of course, is that each firefox instance has a lot of 
memory overhead and is slower to start than another window or tab in the 
current instance, etc.  So if you add -new-instance to your default 
browser settings and go clicking a bunch of links, you'll get a bunch of 
new instances each using that overhead, instead of a single instance 
sharing it, thus increasing your memory usage, etc, dramatically.  If 
you're running an 8-gig or 16-gig memory machine and aren't using most of 
the memory most of the time anyway, that shouldn't be a big problem and 
may well actually be much more stable, since a crashing instance won't 
take down all other instances/windows along with it.  But if you're on a 
1 GiB memory machine that's already using swap rather heavily, this isn't 
going to help matters any, and you may well find it unworkable even if it 
does give you the desired activity independence.

Of course there's the chance there's some other catch to having it work 
correctly in practice as well, that I've not seen since I've not actually 
tried it.  All I'm doing is pointing out the option, since that's the 
first thing I'd try here, if I were trying to get it to work.

[1] At least in kde4/plasma1, activities only affect the desktop itself, 
not the panels.  If changing activities changed the panels as well, I'd 
find them *MUCH* more useful.  As it is, I only have a couple activities 
configured, my main activity with picture-of-the-day backgrounds that are 
otherwise uncluttered by desktop plasmoids, and a plasmoids activity, 
with a bunch of YaWPs (yet another weather plasmoid) and a comic-strip 
plasmoid configured.  Once a day I switch to it to read the daily comics, 
and I switch to it to check the weather occasionally, but the rest of the 
time I stay on my uncluttered-desktop main activity, with the picture-of-
the-day backgrounds.  I do use standard X multiple desktops however, and 
have plasma set to switch them when I scroll on the bare desktop, and 
group my tasks by desktop to some extent.  Additionally, I have three 
monitors (full-HD 1920x1080 each) so my single-desktop/activity area is 
3X that of a normal full-HD monitor, and two of the monitors are actually 
42-inch TVs, thus giving me /lots/ of room to spread out my work even on 
a single desktop/activity.

I never could understand why activities didn't include the panels, so I 
could have a whole set of different panels and just switch activities to 
activate the ones I wanted, in addition to switching the stuff on the 
desktop background.  Well, maybe with kde-frameworks5/plasma2, which I've 
tried a couple times but kwin5 doesn't seem to like my system and 
immediately crashes so I've never gotten far, and since so many parts of 
5/frameworks are named identically to the kde4 versions, having both on 
the same system is difficult without a chroot/VM, so I've never had the 
ability to leave it there and troubleshoot, I've always had to delete the 
5/frameworks stuff and reinstall the kde4 stuff.  Oh, well, hopefully 
they fix kwin5 not to crash on my system by the time they say it's ready 
for normal users...

Duncan - List replies preferred.   No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master."  Richard Stallman

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