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Firefox:2.0 Institutional Deployment

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Contents

Introduction

This document describes the feature requirements for corporate/enterprise deployment which includes large businesses (>10,000 users), small business, colleges and universities, etc.

Currently, there is no "Mozilla approved" MSI package for Firefox for use with Active Directory Intellimirror or SMS. There is a bugzilla entry about this. Take a look at it. If you really need this feature, get an account with bugzilla and vote for this bug. Better yet, contribute to the development process and help solve the problem.

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=231062

Further in this article are references to third-party efforts to create Firefox MSI packages. These efforts, while useful and generous, are not part of Mozilla, so make sure you read their license agreements first.

Deployment Process

This section assumes you're running in a Windows environment:

Deploying the software is easy:

  • through re-imaging (not a good use of time, though not difficult)
  • push this MSI file via Active Directory GPO or scripts, landesk etc...

Problems that you'll run into:

  • Unable to deploy options for Firefox
  • Unable to deploy extensions/themes
  • Unable to deploy settings for extensions
  • Unable lock down all/some of the settings

Different configurations of your network can be:

  • no roaming profiles

Firefox's default behavior is sticking the extensions/preferences into the local users profile with a unique identifier. What is needed is a way to control/lock down the options at the server (via AD).

  • maybe a new firefox config option to specify alternate extensions path? (eg on windows/smb say "extensions path = \\server\firefox\extensions" or whatever) --porl
  • with regards to locking down firefox, maybe add options to disable option menus, or point to specific bookmark folders etc. an 'external options file' option would be extremely useful also, perhaps with an option to disallow users overiding it in their own user files. --porl

I'm documenting this as I'm doing it ... I'm trying to stick the extensions in the ALL Users section or the slightly worse Default user's section.

Needed Features

The biggest pet peeve our users had was losing their Favorites in IE when getting a new computer or due to a harddrive failure. It was tedious and often forgotten to back these up by the tech staff. I easily remedied this using Active Directory to redirect the Favorites location to a network share in the form: \\server\share\Favorites\%username%.

At this point it's a showstopper for me to deploy Firefox in our enterprise without being able to redirect the bookmarks location. With Firefox's additional features over IE, I can also see a need to redirect the add-ons location and search plugins location.

I had thought about redirecting the entire profile folder to a new location, which is possible using the third-party tools below. However, I believe since this will put a lock on the profile, firefox would only be allowed to open on one computer. This is not desirable since I myself (and others) will often have my desktop computer and laptop logged on with Firefox open.

In my opinion, once these shortcomings are met (preferably via an adm template), in addition to an msi install, then Firefox will make great inroads into the corporate environment.

Useful Tools

  1. Deploy options for Firefox (prefs.js, userchrome.css, usercontent.css)
  2. Deploy extensions/themes
  3. Deploy settings for extensions (prefs.js)
  4. Lock down some of the settings (updates to extensions/ app, uninstallation of extensions)
  5. Deploy search-plugins (eg. a custom search-plugin for a Knowledgebase in your Org.)
  6. Deploy bookmarks
  7. Deploy user-interface customisations. (like toolbar settings)
  8. A custom namespace icon (Windows only)
  9. Customise the help page(s).
  10. Name of your Org in the title bar.
  • FirefoxADM - Mark Sammons has given to the world a tool to be used in Active Directory environments called FirefoxADM. It allows Active Directory administrators to control Firefox Options in much the same way as you would IE. For more information on FirefoxADM, see the blog. For the ZIP file: Download Here
  • FFDeploy - Bob Templeton has created a tool for deploying profiles.
  • vindimy (sometimes offline) - Dmitriy V. has created an MSI package based on Frontmotion's MSI file that also includes 7 most popular extensions.

Related Links

  • Firefox:Preconfigured_Packaging - proposal for a tool to create installers/ZIPs/installation directory structures with preconfigured settings and probably also lockdowns

Functional Capability & Usability

Focus Area & Work Items Release Priority
Places (An Updated Approach to Bookmarks & History)
    Firefox:Places:Scratch Pad
2.0 P2
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