Java and Google Chrome

Google Chrome logoToday while working on the AASU Blackboard VISTA custom login page, I ran into an issue loading Java applets.

Apparently, Google Chrome checks your browser plug-ins to determine if they are out of date when you attempt to load content requiring them.  Here’s a snippet from the Google Support Site about the bug feature:

To make sure you’re protected, whenever Google Chrome detects that a common plug-in on a page is out of date with a security vulnerability, a message will appear beneath the address bar notifying you that the plug-in has been blocked.

While this is a great feature, since it is an attempt to protect your computer from nefarious code, there are times that it just doesn’t work properly.

The situation I ran into is described on a chromium issue report.  Basically, the Linux version of Oracle Java 7 is being seen as out-of-date, even though it is the most recent version available.  When going into the Google Chrome plug-in preferences you may see the Java plug-in marked as disabled and showing the version number in red as well as a link to java.com to download a security update.

While Chrome does give you ability to run the plug-in each time it is used, this can rapidly become a pain in the rear.  The checkbox labeled Always Allow also doesn’t seem to work.

So what to do?  Well, you can either painstakingly click the Run this time button or you can run Google Chrome with a command line switch that turns off the plugin checking mechanism.

Being an intrepid sort that likes to live on the edge and dance where angels fear to tread, I chose to run with the checking mechanism turned off.  To update the Ubuntu application launcher to make this easier, I edited the following file:

/usr/share/applications/google-chrome.desktop
sudo vi /usr/share/applications/google-chrome.desktop

Look for the first instance of a line starting with Exec and alter it to read as follows:

Exec=/opt/google/chrome/google-chrome --allow-outdated-plugins %U

After saving the file and restarting Google Chrome you will no longer be bothered by the annoying Java plug-in error warning.  To verify this is working, you can enter the following on the command line:

ps ux | grep -v grep | grep allow-outdated-plugins

You should get back at least one result.

As a bonus, you can ensure that you are running the most recent version of Java (1.7.0_05 as of this writing) by doing the following on a command line:

java -version
javac -version

You should see something like the following:

foreandy@foreandy-iMac:~$ java -version
java version "1.7.0_05"
Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.7.0_05-b05)
Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (build 23.1-b03, mixed mode)
foreandy@foreandy-iMac:~$ javac -version
javac 1.7.0_05