Chromium on FreeBSD

Good news everyone! Chromium is now perfectly usable on FreeBSD.
The longstanding hanging tab bug has been resolved. See also PR 212812 and this this FreeBSD forum post.

This was fixed in r337328 but is not yet available in 11.2-RELEASE. Fortunately there are temporary fixes too that you can use while waiting for the patch to be included in the next release.

First add this line to /etc/sysctl.conf:

Second use a memory backed filesystem for the chromium cache. A script to do so was included in the chromium package, but it has since been removed now that a proper fix is coming in.

But if you want to do this manually, first ensure that ~/.cache/chromium directory exists and is empty. Then in /etc/fstab add this line with $USER changed accordingly:

md /home/$USER/.cache/chromium mfs rw,late,noatime,noexec,nosuid,-w$USER:$USER,-s300m 2 0

This will mount the chromium cache path on an UFS partition over a memory backed virtual disk.

I’ve been testing this for several days now and it works like a charm. Don’t forget to remove this workaround when you are past r337328 though.

Disable XF86Back/Forward

Real ThinkPad keyboards (not this monstruous ignominy) have directly accessible keys for XF86Back and XF86Forward. That is really problematic with web browsers such as Firefox or Chromium since pressing those keys transparently go back or forward into your history, discarding anything you were typing in the process, including that 3 hours long bug report you were just about to submit. That’s rather annoying, to say the least.

Some other blog post suggest to simply disable them with xmodmap. That is in ~/.xmodmaprc (or whatever it is you use):

keycode 166 = NoSymbol
keycode 167 = NoSymbol

I personally prefer to remap them to Next/Prior keys. Having these near the navigation keys might come up handy:

keycode 166 = Next
keycode 167 = Prior

That’s on Linux though, on FreeBSD the keycodes are 233 and 234:

keycode 233 = Next
keycode 234 = Prior

Anyway use the xev command and xmodmap -pke to find the keycodes and remap them to any other interesting key symbol.

Chromium won’t start

Since several weeks now I had a problem with chromium. The web browser segfaulted on launch until I ran xfsettings. This daemon configures desktop settings for the xfce desktop. It listens to xfconf and uses the xsettings protocol to propagate configuration changes on-the-fly. So you can use xfce4-settings-manager and rely on the xfce configuration mechanism to change your desktop settings nicely. Actually I used that to easily change the GTK and icon themes.

This is great for fully integrated desktop environment as it gives you a shiny graphical interface that “just works”. However it doesn’t work so much when you modify much of your configuration by hand.

For example, I use a script which listens to changes in the VGA output port and uses xrandr to setup the screen accordingly. But no matter what, if I start xfsettingsd after the initial configuration, it resets everything to whatever xfce thinks my screen configuration should be. And since I didn’t told him, it has no clue. The same apply for the keyboard, for which I use the device name to select the layout (dvorak/azerty/qwerty). The daemon just resets the layout, and worst of all, enables numlock. But again, it has no clue.

So I decided not to use xfsettings anymore. But as soon as I did that, the chromium web browser did not want to start. It even segfaulted, which is bad, but anyway. I guess the problem was a misconfigured gtkrc (well… xfce wasn’t there to hold my hand anymore) which for some reason made chromium go completely nuts. So I fixed this by using LXAppearance to generate a more complete gtkrc which I modified by hand aftewards.

In fact, the actual problem was the gtk-font-name that missed an explicit font family. In other words, in my gtkrc,  I had this:


Which I changed to this:

gtk-font-name="Droid Sans 8"

Default applications with GTK-3, Chromium and beyond

Today I was surprised to see a GTK-3 application opening an HTTP URL with Opera. I don’t use  Opera and I just installed by curiosity long ago and forgot about it.  I configured the Debian alternatives however GTK-3 seems to use xdg-mime as confirmed with an strace of the concerned application and references to /usr/share/applications/defaults.list. Note that you may have to create a symlink for defaults.list to /usr/share/applications/mimeapps.list.

You can use the xdg-mime command to configure the default application for each protocol:

$ xdg-mime default chromium.desktop x-scheme-handler/http
$ xdg-mime default chromium.desktop x-scheme-handler/https

You can also configure this manually by editing /usr/share/applications/defaults.list.  Just add these two lines:


In the [Default Application] section. Thunar and Chromium also use this so you can configure them to open PDF and handle Skype calls properly. See:

[Default Applications]

This should do the trick. You can get the list of available MIME types with this command (note that the path depends on the location of the shared-mime-info database):

find /usr/local/share/mime -name "*.xml" -exec cat {} \; |g -E -o "type=\".*\"" | sort | uniq

Otherwise you may also use the dconf-editor from the dconf-tools package or gconf-editor to configure GNOME-2/3 default applications. With gconf you should search the following keys:


With dconf instead you should search for: