Petter Reinholdtsen

How to find a browser plugin supporting a given MIME type
18th January 2013

Some times I try to figure out which Iceweasel browser plugin to install to get support for a given MIME type. Thanks to specifications done by Ubuntu and Mozilla, it is possible to do this in Debian. Unfortunately, not very many packages provide the needed meta information, Anyway, here is a small script to look up all browser plugin packages announcing ther MIME support using this specification:

import sys
import apt
def pkgs_handling_mimetype(mimetype):
    cache = apt.Cache()
    thepkgs = []
    for pkg in cache:
        version = pkg.candidate
        if version is None:
            version = pkg.installed
        if version is None:
        record = version.record
        if not record.has_key('Npp-MimeType'):
        mime_types = record['Npp-MimeType'].split(',')
        for t in mime_types:
            t = t.rstrip().strip()
            if t == mimetype:
    return thepkgs
mimetype = "audio/ogg"
if 1 < len(sys.argv):
    mimetype = sys.argv[1]
print "Browser plugin packages supporting %s:" % mimetype
for pkg in pkgs_handling_mimetype(mimetype):
    print "  %s" %pkg

It can be used like this to look up a given MIME type:

% ./apt-find-browserplug-for-mimetype 
Browser plugin packages supporting audio/ogg:
% ./apt-find-browserplug-for-mimetype application/x-shockwave-flash
Browser plugin packages supporting application/x-shockwave-flash:

In Ubuntu this mechanism is combined with support in the browser itself to query for plugins and propose to install the needed packages. It would be great if Debian supported such feature too. Is anyone working on adding it?

Update 2013-01-18 14:20: The Debian BTS request for icweasel support for this feature is #484010 from 2008 (and #698426 from today). Lack of manpower and wish for a different design is the reason thus feature is not yet in iceweasel from Debian.

Tags: debian, english.

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