How to Recover From Mozilla Firefox Failing to Open


Follow these procedures if firefox fails to open for you on a CSE machine.

Things to Check

Is your quota full?

See for details on checking your quota and freeing up space

Was firefox left running somewhere else?

Because most CSE machines mount the same home directory space, if firefox is left running on a machine, the lock files it leaves in place could confuse another machine.

To check if you have this problem, SSH to a machine you may have logged in to recently (ex. dragonforce, styx, nickelback) and run the following command:

ps -u $USER | grep -i firefox
If the command returns a value that resembles:
  823 ?        00:00:13 firefox
you may then use the kill command to kill off the process on that machine:
kill 823
In this example, 823 was the process ID number returned by the PS command. Your process ID number that gets returned will most likely be something different.

Remove old or defunct lock files

If Firefox crashes, it might leave behind lockfiles that will prevent you from initiating a new Firefox session. You must clear these vestigial lockfiles in order to launch a new session:

  1. Change directory to your personal Firefox directory:
    % cd ~/.mozilla/firefox/
  2. Change directory to your default profile directory. It will be of the form: [random character string].[userid | default]:
    firefox% cd mdkcdo68.cwmiller/
  3. Remove the two files called lock and .parentlock:
    mdkcdo68.cwmiller% rm lock .parentlock
  4. Restart Firefox:
    % firefox &