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Network-wide installation of Mozilla Firefox 0.8

The target of this article is to describe the installation of Mozilla Firefox in a Windows network, to make it as easy as possible to be used.
In our setup, the installation of Firefox is not enforced, because there are other alternatives available (like Opera). In any case, users are encouraged to use anything but Internet Explorer (see my squid article).

Get Firefox

First, get the latest version (this article describes Firefox 0.8, a description about 0.9 is also available).
After downloading, install Firefox on your harddisk (or unzip to any directory of your choice).
Then, get all plugins and extensions that you want to provide to your users. I recommend the following plugins and extensions:
  • Adblock (tell your users how it works!)
  • PopupAlt (For webpages that use the ALT tag for image tooltips and provide no correct TITLE tag)
  • Mouse Gestures (I LOVE that one :)
  • Adobe Reader (Note: Use 5.x or 6.0.2, but NOT 6.0.0!)
  • Macromedia Flash (annoying, but some sites need it)
When asked where to install an extension, do NOT choose your profile directory. You must install it into the Firefox installation directory.

Configuration customization

The next step is customization of default settings. Start with my settings, and append the content of of the file to defaults\pref\all.js (inside the Firefox program directory). At the top of this file you also find the proxy settings. Don't forget to set "network.proxy.type" to 1, or otherwise the proxy is not activated.
Another setting that I always change is the default font - I use sans-serif and Tahoma (or maybe Verdana). You can change this in the winpref.js, that is located in the same directory as all.js. Just replace all occurences of Arial with Tahoma and set font.default to sans-serif. Another important setting in winprefs.js is advanced.system.supportDDEExec. With the default of true, clicking on links in your email-program will open all in the same browser window (which means that the last visited page is replaced by the new one). If you set this to false, a new window is opened for each link.

To test your new default setup, rename your current firefox profile dir (%APPDATA%\Phoenix) and start firefox.exe from your prepared directory.
You can verify the plugins and settings by typing about:config or about:plugins into the location bar. Extensions can be verified at Tools|Options|Extensions.

Special case - homepage

Apart from all settings in all.js, you may also change the default homepage that is used when the browser starts up to your own intranet or internet homepage. This is not as easy as the other preferences, because it is hidden in locale specific jar files.
Rename the file chrome\US.jar to and extract it. Then edit locale\US\browser-region\ (it's a text file) to your needs.


To set default bookmarks, edit defaults\profile\US\bookmarks.html to your needs (it's probably easier to do this with the Firefox bookmark editor and export your bookmarks afterwards to that file).

Final steps

Now you are ready to deploy your customized Firefox setup. Just copy it to any publicly reachable directory on your fileserver. In my case, the login script creates a shortcut on the users desktop upon login, that points to a folder with important shortcuts. One of those shortcuts points directly to firefox.exe on the file server, so users can start it without installation. Of course, this is a bit slow, especially for those who are still on 10MBit hubs. For those people and everyone else who likes Firefox, there is a second icon with a small installation batch file. It copies firefox into the local Program Files directory and creates desktop and Quick Launch icons (even if the language of your language is not English, the right directories are chosen!). You just have to do two things before using the file:
  • Create a shortcut containing "%ProgramFiles%\Firefox.exe" as target (with the quotes!!)
  • Edit the path where the batch installer should copy Firefox from.
Of course, this is only useful for machines where owners have enough rights to create files there. Firefox can also be installed at any other place, it doesn't need any special rights to be run!

Interesting links

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