Eric Stewart: Running Off At The Mouth

“Firefox is already running, but is not responding.”

by Eric Stewart on Mar.10, 2008, under Computers, Technology

A problem I’m seeing more and more at work is reports that people are attempting to start Firefox and seeing the error message:

Firefox is already running, but is not responding.

Along with suggestions about it. Now, hopefully you’ve been a good little tech and googled this error message, and tried all of the other suggestions (looking for and deleting lock files; making sure there isn’t a rogue Firefox process running; check permissions; etc). If those don’t seem to fit your situation, here’s what I’ve figured out.

First, the particulars of my setup:

* Windows Domain environment using Roaming Profiles
* Roaming Profiles stored on a Red Hat Linux server via Samba
* Firefox version (didn’t see it before this version)
* Windows XP Professional

Note that with the Roaming Profiles situation, when someone experiencing this issue goes to another computer, they still see the problem.

What you need to do is:

1. With the user logged in but Firefox not running (I know, we’re here talking about Firefox not running but sometimes I need to state the obvious), get to their local profile where their Mozilla directory is (C:/Documents and Settings/(uname)/Application Data/Mozilla).
2. CUT the Mozilla directory (so far, subdirectories of the profile have been insufficient) out and paste it to another location (IE, C:/TEMP).
3. Start Firefox. Don’t worry about importing anything – you need Firefox to recreate the directories (note: again, I’ve check the permissions but can’t figure out why this error message is occurring without going through these steps – if you figure it out, please post a comment here!).
4. CLOSE Firefox – this is probably quite important!
5. Browse to your relocated Mozilla (within Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/) profile – note that Mozilla randomly names the profile directories; you’ll want to go *into* the randomly named profile directory and copy/cut the contents, and then …
6. Paste those contents into the newly created randomly named profile directory (inside C:/Documents and Settings/(uname)/Application Data/Mozilla/Firefox/Profile/)
7. Restart Firefox to verify the presence of bookmarks, starting tabs/home pages, what have you.

At this point you might also want to delete the Mozilla directory from the user’s roaming profile before they log off.

Those of you with experience with roaming profiles probably know about the whole “Never overwrite/delete, only merging” issues with roaming profiles.

Note that my posting of these instructions offers no guarantees of them actually working for you. Use them at your own risk. It is advised that you have some idea of what you’re doing before you follow them.

Also note that when I point to file names, I know that Windows uses backslashes, and not forward slashes as I have here. I’m on a Mac and the editor for MySpace blogs is screwed up.


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