[Bug 175286] Feature request: save files read-only when invoking external viewers

Pär Lidén par.liden at gmail.com
Mon Dec 10 11:54:39 UTC 2007

Public bug reported:

Binary package hint: mozilla-firefox

I think that Firefox should save files readonly to /tmp when a user
click on files that require apps external to Firefox.

The reason is this: if a user opens a file from within Firefox, and then
does some editing and tries to save the file, he will get an error
message if the file is saved readonly. And I think that would be

Here is my story behind this problem (much abbreviated version):

I was sitting at gmail, and reading a mail with an attachment. I clicked
that attachment, to open it in openoffice. I made a lot of changes, and
after that I saved. Then I rebooted my computer, started openoffice and
tried to open the file (from the file->recently documents menu). And
BANG, error message "file does not exist".

So, the problem was that I forgot that I had opened it from Firefox. I
should have taken Save as instead. And Firefox first saves the file to
/tmp, and then invokes Openoffice (or whatever program it is) to open
the file. And as I use shmfs for /tmp, everything of course got erased
from there.

My fix for this problem is that Firefox should save these files in read-
only mode to /tmp. Then when stupid users (like me) tries to save them,
they will get an error message.

To get a really helpful message, we would have to modify openoffice (and
every other application), and make the browser open them with some
special flag (telling the apps that it is a temporary file). Then the
apps could display some error message like "Warning: you are saving this
file to temporary space. Probably you will not be able to open this file
in the future, and then all your changes will be lost. Save the file in
a different location instead, using File -> Save as." But modifying all
other programs is certainly not feasible IMO.

So the user still has to do Save as in order to store the file safely.
My important point is that the user should in some way get a note that
he is doing something stupid when he tries to save that file.

Use cases:
Per is a knowledgeable computer user, but with a bad a memory. He would benefit from getting an error message when trying to save a file which he forgot where he opened it from.
Ralf is a computer newbie who sometimes edits and saves files he has opened from Firefox, and never understand why they disappear. He would probably benefit from getting an error message when trying do to so, as he then might ask someone more skilled who can help him.

This fix would probably be quite easy to implement, I think. And I
suppose that I'm not the only one which has done this kind of mistake,
it would probably be of benefit to a lot of people, especially newbies.
And I can't really see any big downsides with this behavior.

Please tell me if I should clarify something. You might also want to
look at this forum thread:
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=630532. This is where the idea
about this started.

** Affects: mozilla-firefox (Ubuntu)
     Importance: Undecided
         Status: New

Feature request: save files read-only when invoking external viewers
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