Java Plugin for Firefox, AMD Athlon, openSUSE

After several tries and hours of frustration, I finally have a Java plugin working with Firefox under openSUSE 10.2 on my AMD Athlon (x86_64) workstation. What a pain this was. You get no Java plugin “out of the box” and I found no instructions on the openSUSE web site. I guess AMD Athlon users are still a niche group, which is surprising given how many AMD machines I see advertised.

Here’s how to get a working Firefox + Java plugin combination for openSUSE 10.2 on x86_64 machines using only YaST (the openSUSE system administration GUI) and “official” openSUSE repository sites.

Install openSUSE 10.2 from DVD. Here’s what happens:

  • YaST installs Java JRE 1.5.0 x86_64 and no Java browser plug-in (Sun doesn’t support a 64 bit plug-in).
  • Surf to a site that needs the plug-in (e.g. nist.time.gov) and the dreaded green jigsaw puzzle piece appears. The Mozilla plug-in finder will fail.

Using YaST/ Software/ Software Management:

The following steps replace the openSUSE-default x86_64 Firefox and Java packages with i586 32-bit versions.

  • Select 64bit (x86_64) Firefox for removal, click Accept.
  • Install the 32bit (i586) version, click Accept.
  • Start Software Management a third time and search for Java or select Development, Languages, Java.
  • Find the Java 1.5.0 plug-in, which is only available as an i586 binary (no x86_64). Upon selecting it for install, YaST will propose installing Java JRE 1.4.2 (which is also an i586 version) and removing Java JRE 1.5.0.
  • Uncheck the Java 1.4.2 JRE package.
  • Highlight the Java 1.5.0 package, then choose the Versions tab in the window below. The x86_64 architecture will be checked. Select the i586 variant. Go back up to the check-box for Java 1.5.0 and toggle it until the update/reinstall symbol appears (two rotating arrows).
  • After confirming that the Java 1.5.0 reinstall symbol appears, the Java 1.5.0 plug-in package is checked, and the Java 1.4.2 package is not checked, click on the Check Dependencies button.
  • If dependencies are okay, click Accept.
  • You should now have a working Firefox + Java + Java plug-in configuration, all being i586 (32 bit) versions. I rebooted, but I don’t think that is required.


  • When I clicked Accept, the Java plug-in was installed, but the x86_64 version of Java 1.5.0 was left unchanged! Naturally the 32-bit plugin did not work with the 64-bit JRE.
  • I think things would have worked fine with the retail package DVD, which is a double-layer DVD containing both i586 and x86_64 ISO images. But my downloaded installation disk has only the 64-bit ISO image.
  • I fooled around with the on-line update catalogs (YaST/ Software/ Installation Source) and was finally successful in retrieving the i586 version from one of the openSUSE repositories.

I expect that a lot of Linux Athlon users want a working Java plugin and only a few need the extra performance of 64-bit Java. Thus I think that until Sun offers an x86_64 plug-in, Linux distros should make the 32-bit Java JRE the default package for the x86_64 installation.

Complaining about the difficulty of viewing and controlling the Installation & Update Source catalog settings and online updates could take another entire blog post. Visibility into what YUM is up to is reduced compared to YaST Online Update from SuSE 10.0. The main goal of these GUIs is to avoid resorting to rpm for straightforward installations, yet I seem to need rpm more with each new release, not less.

Update — openSUSE 10.3:

Early in 2008 I found a How To use Java with Firefox on 64-bit openSUSE 10.3 page on the openSUSE.org web site. Apparently openSUSE still installs 64-bit Java-less Firefox as the default (contrary to my above recommendation :-). The article first describes a torturous process of creating a parallel 32-bit installation that cannot be maintained via automatic updates. Not appealing.

But toward the end of the article an Alternate Approach section presents the six-step equivalent of my approach for 10.3. I recommend this Sun’s Java method as the best solution for 10.3. It is an interesting variant to my method in that it keeps Java 1.6 x86_64 for other applications by installing both 1.6 and 1.5, providing Firefox with a back-revision (1.5.0) of the plug-in.

posted in Firefox, Java, opensuse, SysAdmin by Bozzie

6 Comments to "Java Plugin for Firefox, AMD Athlon, openSUSE"

  1. Alan wrote:

    I read your blog about Java/Firefox with Suse 10.2 on AMD with interest. I am running Suse 10.2 on a 2.6 GHZ Intel chip and I cannot get the Java plugin to work in Firefox. When I was running Ubuntu 7.04 it installed instantly without any problems at all. I would have thought that the Novell supported product would have been easier to manipulate than Ubuntu. I am testing different distributions to replace the Windows desktops at work and we need a simple and easy to administrate distribution. If you are not doing development I would think Ubuntu has Suse beat on the desktop.

  2. morat wrote:

    Hi, this is a great post. I tried to follow it but on two machines that I have setup with 10.2 there is no http-server entry in YaST/network services. Have you come across this before, and hopefully, fixed it?

  3. geert wrote:

    I successfully installed the plugin that is present in the jre-1_5_0_11-linux-i586.rpm from the “older versions” repository at http://www.java.com. This is the 32-bit jre rpm. I simply created a symbolic link in the /usr/lib/firefox/plugins directory to the /usr/java/jre1.5.0_11/plugin/i386/ns7/libjavaplugin_oji.so file.
    Restart firefox and you are good to go!

  4. Maciej Radtke wrote:

    It works!
    Thank You.

  5. CapnBill wrote:

    I agree with Allen, Java is not just for games but has serious applications in weather and Radar interpretation. At the moment Windows XP Pro or Ubuntu provide better answers for these uses.

  6. Carmen Adams wrote:

    If only more than 82 people would read about this!

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