I should have run into this challenge earlier as there are a number of webpages that require the Java plugin. However, I have been using my Thinkpad more frequently lately (SLED 10 SP2 64bit) so this little annoyance did not hit me till last weekend.
I needed my home XPC (openSUSE 11) to connect to a particular website that provides VPN service (via a Java plugin) so that I can download a bunch of binaries for testing and demo. BAM! That's when I realized the 64-bit Firefox 3.0 does not have a Java plugin... well, to be precise... 64-bit Firefox doesn't support the 32-bit Java plugin. It appears that SUN does not have a 64-bit Java plugin at this time.
Searched the web for more information and alternatives and here they are:
1) Iced Tea is a free software implementation of Java based on SUN's openJDK. Using YaST, I removed the 32-bit SUN Java 1.6 plugin and installed 64-bit IcedTea 7 plugin. It worked for some sites with Java applets but not all. I decided to ditch this and go for (2) below as openJDK and IcedTea are fairly new and I'm not really interested in debugging where/why a particular applet wouldn't work with it.
2) Remove 64-bit Firefox and install a 32-bit Firefox and Java plugin. I know, its kinda silly and seems a step backwards. However, I can live with a 32-bit Firefox as its just the browser and the rest of my system still leverages the 64-bit hardware.
You can read more, in detail, at this openSUSE page on the same subject.
Oh yeah, I mentioned that I didn't have this challenge when using the 64-bit SLED 10 SP2 on my Thinkpad... heheh, its default is a 32-bit Firefox with SUN's Java 1.6 plugin... that's why.