This describes the functions that would be needed to successfully package a "preconfigured" Firefox install that would be used by companies and universities (See Firefox:1.5_Institutional_Deployment for more information).
Issues This Resolves
Making "preconfigured packages" would make it much simpler for system administrators to push Firefox over their software installation channels, preconfigured to their liking (i.e. default extensions, default themes, default search engines, default proxies, and so on). Obviously, a tool would be needed to do this job, and offer the packager those options. It would probably also be feasible to provide "lock down" mechanisms so the preconfigured packages would have certain "locked" settings. I'm not sure of what mechanisms are already in place for this, please make a note of it if you know.
Issues This Won't Resolve
Mainly: distribution and deployment. Preconfigured packages would have to be distributed by some other mechanism, be it MSI and Windows Installer or Novell ZENworks, or whatever mechanism is in use. Preconfigured packaging and the tool that helps with it would probably just output a ZIP and a %ProgramFiles%\Mozilla Firefox directory tree. Eventually, I'd like to be able to output installers (hopefully using the Mozilla installer, assuming that it isn't compiled from source during Firefox's make and that it reads a script file or something -- basically, I'd like to be able to do this without requiring the "end user" [sysadmin] to have a compiler installed)
Summary of Desired Functions
- Change every configuration option that Firefox has in its options dialog
- If at all possible, provide a "lock" for every option
- Change the default search engine
- Bundle different search engines for the search toolbar
- Default bookmarks
- Default homepage
- Default extensions
- If at all possible, allow the sysadmin to make the extensions uninstallable.
- Default themes (even the lack of the default "Firefox" theme)
- Again, if it's possible, allow the sysadmin to make it where you cannot uninstall themes.
- Other misc. lockdowns
- Block software installation, lock the option to enable it
- Block theme/extension installation
- Pre-bundled plugins
- The most obvious one is Flash
- If possible, in the installer, provide checkboxes and such to select/deselect plugins that have been included in the installer by the sysadmin
- The sysadmin wouldn't need to lock anything down at all, it's just an option that should be avaliable for those that need that functionality
- Seperate project: some sort of application that reads a config file and outputs the XUL overlays and such that are required to disable functionality, for use by things like FFDeploy/FirefoxADM/WetDog.
- Most sysadmins will probably just want to set a different default homepage and default bookmarks and maybe include more search engines; few will want to switch the search engine from Google to something else and few will want to totally rip out all of the bundled search engines.
This is mostly just a "I think I might work on this so here's my plan" thing. You're welcome to add to it or make corrections/suggestions.
This is also different from Firefox:1.5_Institutional_Deployment because I'm suggesting a tool to make a package to deploy, not the actual tool that does deploy. If that made any sense to you... :)