Monthly archives: November 2009

Firefox Bookmarks Corruption

I’d noticed that my Firefox bookmarking was acting wonky. When I tried to bookmark a page, the form would pre-populate with an existing bookmark and upon saving, would save a new bookmark with the old bookmark’s information. Not quite what it should have been doing.

Using the built-in bookmark manager was useless since there seemed to be an underlying problem with the SQLite database Firefox uses, so I tried opening up the database using the excellent SQLite Manager Add on for Firefox. By running the PRAGMA integrity_check command I saw that the database disk image is malformed. Uh oh.

It had to be rebuilt.

First, I had to make sure I had a SQLite Command Line Client because I wouldn’t really be able to work on Firefox’s databases from inside Firefox.

Then I navigated over to where my places.sqlite database file inside my Firefox profile (which, for me was ~/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/{profile_name} )

I ‘connected’ to my SQLite database

sqlite3 places.sqlite

I reran the integrity check to see if I could garner more information

PRAGMA integrity_check;

Which told me some more information that I didn’t know about

On page 11 at right child: 2nd reference to page 1609
rowid 912 missing from index moz_bookmarks_itemlastmodifiedindex
SQL error: database disk image is malformed

I’d read that doing a straightforward dump/reload of the data should fix this sort of problem, so exited out of the SQLite shell and did a dump from SQLite

sqlite3 places.sqlite .dump > places.sql

Followed by load into a new SQLite database

sqlite3 < places.sql

But then I got a bunch of primary key errors

SQL error near line 872: PRIMARY KEY must be unique
SQL error near line 877: PRIMARY KEY must be unique
SQL error near line 883: PRIMARY KEY must be unique
SQL error near line 884: PRIMARY KEY must be unique
SQL error near line 885: PRIMARY KEY must be unique
SQL error near line 888: PRIMARY KEY must be unique
SQL error near line 889: PRIMARY KEY must be unique
SQL error near line 890: PRIMARY KEY must be unique

I popped open places.sql and checked out the lines in question. I saw what appeared to be the primary key which had stopped logically increasing and was sort of random

INSERT INTO "moz_bookmarks" VALUES(915,1,16546,2,110,'Bookmark Page Name #1',NULL,NULL,1256413281706712,1256413281711799);
INSERT INTO "moz_bookmarks" VALUES(29,1,33509,2,135,'Bookmark Page Name #2',NULL,NULL,1258662433785621,NULL);
INSERT INTO "moz_bookmarks" VALUES(28,1,31347,27,0,'Bookmark Page Name #3',NULL,NULL,1258472420957472,NULL);
INSERT INTO "moz_bookmarks" VALUES(27,2,NULL,2,134,'Bookmark Page Name #4',NULL,'',1258472420951405,NULL);

After a cursory glance through the rest of the file, I figured that I could change those primary keys to whatever I wanted as long as they were unique. A quick run through with that, running the same code as before

sqlite3 < places.sql

And success! I renamed my new to replace my old places.sqlite, restarted Firefox and everything worked out hunky dory.

A few notes:

  • Make sure Firefox is completely closed before attempting to do anything with the databases from the command line. You will get errors about the database being locked
  • After restarting Firefox, I did notice issues with my AwesomeBar not quite remembering my usual auto-complete and I also had to click through all of the items in my toolbar in order to get the favicons showing again, but so far nothing major

Timing command line functions

Yet another basic command line tool that is awesome:


This lets you do a quick and dirty profile on some code you’re executing.

Basic Usage

time <command>

This will execute the command and put out a summary detailing how long the command took in total, how long it was tied up in actual execution, and how long it was tied up in system overhead:

real	0m0.031s
user	0m0.004s
sys	0m0.023s

Another nifty function that does one thing and one thing only, but does it well. Thanks Unix philosophy!