Monday, October 06, 2008

Prism on Ubuntu

I downloaded and started playing with Prism.  And it actually worked, which is cool.  There were only two setup steps:
  1. Unpack the tarball in /usr/local/prism, or /opt/prism or something.
  2. Symlink /usr/lib/firefox/plugins <- /usr/local/prism/plugins so Flash etc. works.
Unsurprisingly, there are still some problems.
  • The Refractor for Prism extension doesn't work very well.  Likely this is a problem with Refractor and not Prism, but what it does is it creates a shortcut icon on the desktop.  The shortcut runs your system Firefox, i.e. the same executable you are using Refractor for.  It doesn't ask for the location of the prism executable. It writes the webapp config to the wrong place, and it puts the wrong options into the Launcher.  That's kinda useless by itself.
  • Running /usr/local/prism/prism and then typing in a URL did create a working shortcut, but unlike Refractor, it didn't automatically grab an icon from the website.  You can try, instead, using Refractor to create the launcher, and then editing the command line so it points to /usr/local/prism/prism, get rid of every option except the "-webapp xxx@xxx" arg, and then move the webapp config dir it creates from ~/.webapps to ~/.prism/$profile/webapps.  It's about the same amount of work as downloading the icon yourself.  Either way, the setup of a webapp is a bit of a mess right now.
  • You get a blank profile, so your fonts, addons, user stylesheets etc. are all missing.  You might be able to fix this by copying a profile from ~/.mozilla/firefox to ~/.prism, and then running prism -ProfileManager, but I didn't experiment.
And one show-stoppingly dumb problem:
  • Every prism application runs in the same process.
I created one for Pandora (which worked fine, once I symlinked Flash), and one for Google Reader.  Ran them both.  Pressed Ctrl+Q to quit one of them . . . and the other one shut down at the same time.  I mean, what?  Isn't a big part of the point of prism to isolate your apps from one another?  If one of them crashes, they don't all crash, and that sort of thing?  That's lame, so sorry, I won't be using Prism yet.


glyph said...

Uh... wow. Thanks for the heads up. I was about to start using prism ("apt-get install prism" on hardy, by the way, no need for a source install) because I assumed that the whole point was that they didn't do this. Dang.

Olivier Bilodeau said...

I've used prism before (0.9) and when I upgraded to Intrepid I decided it was time for me to use the extension (Refractor) instead of the standalone app. The beauty of the extension is that you don't need to install prism (no tarball to fetch, nothing to mess around in the system).

On Ubuntu the extension is buggy but there is a workaround: Using the plugin, generate a desktop icon for your web app (Tools-> Convert Website to application). Now, modify the desktop icon's properties. The command being run must start by /usr/bin/xulrunner instead of "/usr/lib/firefox-3.0.3/firefox" and it should work! See
this bug for details.

Laibeus Lord said...

I agree, Ubuntu - Prism is not working correctly at all.

Two issues I have:
1) It doesn’t remember username and password.
2) It uses the same cookies for all Prism-Applications.

Compared to the Windows version (which is technically the official from Mozilla):
a) Prism can remember username and password.
b) Prism uses different cookies for each Prism-Applications.

And I do not know who’s handling Ubuntu - Prism so I can report those :p