How to Install the Pentadactyl Firefox Add-On

wilkie-reservoir-december-2015-small

(Wilkie Reservoir, Queensbury, NY)

This post describes how to install the latest nightly build of Pentadactyl, a browser add-on for Firefox that gives it Vim-like keybindings and behavior.

These instructions are current as of the date of this post. I’m using Firefox 44.0.2 on the release channel as I write this.

On This Page

Step 1. Turn off Add-on Signing

In Firefox, open about:config. You may have to click through a nanny warning about voiding your warranty.

In the text area at the top of the config screen, type xpinstall.signatures.required. This will filter out all of the other options.

Below the text area, double-click on the xpinstall.signatures.required row, which will change the Value to false (it defaults to true).

Step 2. Download the Add-on

Go to the Pentadactyl website, click nightly builds to get the latest version (sometimes the other downloads are outdated), and download the file pentadactyl-latest.xpi.

To install the extension directly from the downloaded file:

  • Go to about:addons
  • Click the gear icon at the upper right-hand side of the screen
  • A dropdown menu will appear; select Install Add-on From File
  • A popup will appear, asking if you want to install this unverified add-on; click Install

If the extension installs, it will change the Firefox UI a lot. It will look like the GUI is gone completely, and it can be a little confusing at first. Type :help to read the built-in docs. If that doesn’t work, type :open http://5digits.org/help/pentadactyl/ to read the online version.

Troubleshooting

Pentadactyl could not be installed because it is not compatible

If the add-on installation fails because of a version mismatch, you’ll need to do the following:

Open the XPI file (which is basically just a zip file) in Vim, Emacs, or something else that can edit the contents of zip files directly. Edit the install.rdf XML file so the em:maxVersion attribute is a number equal to or higher than your Firefox version:

<em:targetApplication>
    <Description
        em:id="{ec8030f7-c20a-464f-9b0e-13a3a9e97384}"
        em:minVersion="31.0"
        em:maxVersion="42.*"/>
</em:targetApplication>

I can’t turn off extension signing

Mozilla are planning to remove the ability to turn off extension signing requirement in an upcoming version. If you are reading this after that has happened, a possible workaround is to install Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release), which is aimed at enterprise or education environments and lags several development cycles behind the “consumer” versions.

(The above photo was taken by me and is available under a Creative Commons license.)

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