Netscape Communicator 4.7

(This article is of historical interest only)

If you use Netscape as your browser under SCO Unix, you've probably been annoyed at how far behind you are in terms of versions. You may even have a real need for a later version: some websites have requirements that you use at least version 4.6.

Well, you can now get an "unsupported" Communicator version 4.7 from home.netscape.com/ download/ unsupported.html (link dead, sorry). You can choose either the 56 bit or 128 bit encryption version, but note that you need SCO's Strong Encryption supplement (available from SCO or your reseller, part number LA411-XX70, $20.00) if you take the 128 bit.

SCO now has Communicator 4.7 available in their Downloads area: Got to the main SCO site and select the "Downloads" area to find it. Much of the instructions here do NOT apply to that; follow the directions included with it.

The package comes down as a .gz tar file, so you'll need GNU Unzip to unpack it. If you don't already have that it's available from your Skunkware CD or from http://www.sco.com/skunkware. Make a new directory in some convenient spot and download to there (it's about 10 meg, so this will take a while on a slow modem), and then run:

gunzip communicator-v47-export.x86-sco-opensv5.0.2.tar.gz
# if the directory is otherwise empty, you could more easily do:
# gunzip comm* or even just gunzip *
tar xvf communicator-v47-export.x86-sco-opensv5.0.2.tar
# Again, if this is all that is there, tar xvf * works fine.
./ns-install
 

The install script asks you where you want to install to. You could choose to overwrite your existing SCO files, but it's better to choose another place for it. I chose /u4/netscape, for example.

Now you need to modify /usr/bin/X11/netscape. Find the line that sets DEF_MOZILLA_HOME and change it to point at your new 4.7 directory. Mine looks like this:

# Set the default Mozilla Home directory
DEF_MOZILLA_HOME=/u4/netscape
export DEF_MOZILLA_HOME
 

So far, so good. If you click on your Netscape icon now, you'll run Communicator 4.7. As your preferences are stored in .netscape in your home directory, the new communicator will read them and you'll be ready to run. You'll have your mail folders, your book marks, and your address book (it doesn't hurt to double-check the "Edit Preferences" though, and there are a few new options you may want to set). One thing that will change is the relative size of the adress/message panes- just set them back as you like them, exit, and they'll be what you want when you come back in.

Unfortunately, there are still a few other things that need to be fixed.

These have been fixed with to SCO version.

The first is an annoying bug that crops up after you set a default page to load when Netscape starts: you'll get your page, but you'll also find it trying to load a file called "false". Brian K. White provided the solution to this; it's just some bad quoting at the end of /usr/bin/X11/netscape. Here's Brian's suggested fix (find these at the end of the file and replace them as shown):

echo $* | fgrep 'http:
ftp:
file:' > /dev/null || {
  DOCUMENT=`egrep -e "\"browser.startup.homepage\"|HOME_DOCUMENT" "${PREF_FILE}" 
| awk '{ print  }' | sed -e "s%\"%%g" -e "s/);//g"`
}
# FIXME:
# this used to catch user_pref("browser.startup.homepage_override", false);
# and append " false" to the end of $DOCUMENT
# now it ignores it, but what *should* we do with it?
 

Note that the line that begins with DOCUMENT may look like two lines if you cut and paste. It's one line that ends with sed -e "s%\"%%g" -e "s/);//g"`.

The next problem is much more annoying: the address book doesn't work. That is, you can see everything, but you can't select addresses. Evan Hunt from SCO posted the fix to this: in your $HOME/.netscape directory, edit the file preferences.js and find the line that says

user_pref("ldap_2.servers.pab.locale", "C_C_C");
 

Change it to:

user_pref("ldap_2.servers.pab.locale", "C");
 

and your address book will work. Important: you MUST do this while closed out of Netscape. If you edit this while running Netscape, it will just be replaced with the old line when you exit.

One final thing that affects the SCO side of things: you've probably been annoyed that the Netscape Icon doesn't change to show that Netscaoe is starting.This is probably because the people who develop and test these things have ultra fast machines and just never noticed. You can fix that:

Open up the Controls folder, and then drag the Netscape icon onto the Object Builder icon. Be sure that you load both Pictures and Actions when asked. Note that there is nothing shown for the Activated and Small Activated pictures. That's why nothing changes when you launch Netscape.

Choose Install Picture, and select an icon to use for the Activated state. If you want, choose one of the standards, or you could even make a version of the Netscape icon by dragging it to the Paint program, changing it, and saving it under a new name.

You also need to change the text under the Trigger Action Activate pane. Right now it just says "/usr/bin/X11/netscape". Change it so it reads:

mark_used $static_arg
/usr/bin/X11/netscape
mark_unused $static_arg
 

Type the above carefully. If it doesn't change back ( after restarting the Desktop), you screwed up the last line.

Finally, choose Restart Desktop from the File menu, and now you'll know when your click really worked.

There are undoubtedly other problems remaining with this. Brian K. white notes that he's had some problems with some Java pages. I haven't happened to run across those, but I'm sure it's true. But for me, this upgrade works fine, and actually has some small, but welcome improvements here and there.

John Temples recently noted:

Java seems to work ok for me. The one really annoying problem I see is with input form buttons that change their label when you click on them (e.g., with an onClick action that runs JavaScript code to change the button label). These invariably cause a core dump.

© January 2000 A.P. Lawrence. All rights reserved


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