Plugins in Opera

Opera is commonly referred to as lacking plugins, but it is not entirely accurate. It doesn’t have easy and abundant plugins and relies more heavily on native functions.

Otherwise it does support third party plugins in a form of DLL files which allows common bells and whistles, such as Flash to work.

How plugins work

Plugins for Opera come as binary libraries and commonly serve one of few purposes:

  • provide support for embedded web technologies (such as Flash);
  • link Opera with third party software (like download managers);
  • enable support for specialized functions (for example Google likes to slip its plugin in Opera, related to updates).

Plugin files can be placed physically in Opera plugins folder or be referred in operaprefs.ini configuration file.

How can plugins cause issues

They way plugins are set up in Opera they:

  • don’t really announce their presence;
  • can be installed silently by pretty much any software;
  • can override native Opera functions without making it visible that it is work of a plugin.

All of this makes them potential security vulnerability or just pain to figure out when obscure problem strikes.

View plugins

opera:plugins is special pages that lists all currently active plugins with their:

  • name;
  • mime and file types plugin affects;
  • path to plugin file on hard drive.

opera_plugins

Toggle, disable and ignore plugins

Disabling plugins is first and most straightforward way to check if they are interfering with something. Opera makes this very easy with Tools > Quick Preferences F12 > Enable Plug-Ins

opera_quick_preferences

To completely remove plugin it must be deleted from Opera plugins folder and/or edited out from configuration files.

If some software adds unwanted plugin persistently such plugin can also be added to ignore list plugin-ignore-ini. Its location can be quickly looked up in settings opera:config#Network|PluginIgnoreFile

Overall

Opera plugins don’t get much attention and just work most of the time. However it is important aspect to keep in mind for troubleshooting and good thing to check from time to time for security and performance issues.

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9 Comments

  • I hope this isn’t too far off the subject but since you are so fond of Opera:

    Many, many years ago, as I recall, Opera was a search engine. I used it exclusively. Then one day it locked me out. Went to some sort of pay per search which I interested me not at all, not that I was invited to subscribe or whatever it was doing at the time. So – I went on to use AlltheWeb for my searches. I forgot about Opera altogether except for seeing its little icon here and there at the very bottom of web pages. Then OPERA, the browser, appeared. Do you know anything about all of this? Is my memory doing funky foggy again?

  • @kelltic

    Sorry, I don’t go that far back with Internet. :) I only started to use it regularly around late 1999 or early 2000. By that time Opera had been long released and closing in on versions 4-5 since which I started to use it.

  • Hope you’re not confusing plugins and extensions. Opera has plugins but does not support extensions. Usually plugins in Opera are created via Netscape Plugin API (NPAPI). NPAPI plugins are supported by Opera, Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, and Konqueror. (So these plugins are cross-browser.) . So if a plugin has been created for Firefox via the NPAPI interface , it will work in Opera, thus making Opera have the same support for plugins as Firefox.

  • @Saurabh

    I am generalizing a bit, I use plugin as generic term for anything that extends native browser functionality. There are way too many approaches and names for this between different browsers, so I just lump it all under plugins.

  • “It doesn’t have easy
    and abundant plugins
    and relies more heavily
    on native functions”

    .

    Something which -after using Opera for a LOT of years- I can’t say
    I find disadvantageous. Just about all the functionality I desire
    is present natively. And the few plug-in’s Opera does have (e.g.
    Flash) I’m very pleased that it permits them to be conveniently
    turned ~off~ !

    .

    The DataRat

    .

  • .

    Anybody try Oper v. 10.5, yet ?

    BetaNews tests have it faster than Google Chrome:

    http://www.betanews.com/article/Its-a-threeway-race-Opera-preview-clings-to-lead-over-Safari-4-Chrome-5/1265150085

    Opera 10.5 is not alpha …it’s pre-alpha ! So, it’s feature-set
    is incomplete. Within that limitation, though, my experience has
    been that it indeed is faster than the Chrome v. 5.0.307.1 which I
    have been using. ( And, even with an incomplete feature-set, it
    ~still~ has more features than Chrome ! )

    This looks to be terrific by the time they get it even to beta.

    .

    The Digital Rodent

    .

  • Yeah I tried 10.5. Cant’t say that I’m able to perceive a difference in page loading or js speed. Millisecond differences have always passed me over. but the application itself seems fast. (They now switch tabs on click rather on release, like Chrome which adds to the illusion.) . But Opera remains my fav browser.

  • @The DataRat

    Just to clarify this is more of a post about how plugins in Opera can cause issues, rather than plugins in general and their advantages/disadvantages. :) You know I hardly need Firefox-like extensions in Opera either.

    I don’t run alpha/beta/whatever versions of software unless I am really going to test it for bugs and such. Otherwise I just wait for release (and in some cases release and first patch/minor update).

    On performance – it’s about time. Opera was always getting major upgrades to internals from time to time. Lately they had their plate so full with Unite and such that internal updates seem to be spread and more rare.

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