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Windows Thread, Deploying Firefox in Technical; Hello all, Due to the continued problems with Internet Explorer (especially in Birmingham Schools), I went about trying to find ...
  1. #1

    Michael's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Deploying Firefox

    Hello all,

    Due to the continued problems with Internet Explorer (especially in Birmingham Schools), I went about trying to find the best ways of deploying Firefox to cover the following:

    - Deployment should be easy as possible (MSI or equivalent)
    - Locking down FF (similar to Group Policies). A typical example would be Proxy Settings
    - Setting the Homepage
    - Allow FF and IE to run together or just FF on its own
    - Allow ease of management of Favourites between IE and FF
    - Control the version of FF in use consistently (across the network)
    - To cost nothing, as many FF custom solutions require payment

    Thankfully after a few days I’ve pretty much nailed it, but I welcome any feedback you have (especially from Birmingham schools). Here are some facts:

    - The file weighs in at 13.9MB
    - Using the latest Firefox build 3.5.3
    - Requires a one click installation or using an /s switch for scripts
    - The install doesn't place a shortcut on desktop, but by navigating to: C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\Firefox.exe you can create a shortcut to the desktop and rename it 'Mozilla Firefox'.
    - The Import Favourites Wizard on FF startup has been disabled
    - Many options are locked out or greyed out, such as Proxy Settings and Homepage (as well as many others). The homepage is set to http://www.bgfl.org/ (for all users)
    - FF has been disabled to check if it’s the default browser, so IE and FF work perfectly together. To stop IE checking if it is default; this can be set using Group Policy.
    - The Bookmarks menu is completely hidden in FF and an Add-on is automatically installed, so FF shares IE’s Favourites. No more worrying about managing different Favourite/Bookmark lists
    - Checking for updates in FF has been disabled, so the school Network Manager can consistently control the version of FF in use
    - Google has been set as the default Search Engine (top right)

    Download the file here
    Last edited by Michael; 3rd October 2009 at 08:29 PM.

  2. 7 Thanks to Michael:

    cookie_monster (3rd October 2009), HodgeHi (20th November 2009), mac_shinobi (3rd October 2009), RobFuller (12th October 2009), stariq (5th October 2009), stevenlong1985 (12th October 2009), zag (8th October 2009)

  3. #2

    mac_shinobi's Avatar
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    Is it easy enough to re configure settings such as home page and other settings ?

  4. #3

    Michael's Avatar
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    Well once I've had some feedback I'd be prepared to make some custom versions for Local Authorities around the country. I can change the homepage and proxy settings as appropriate.

  5. #4

    mac_shinobi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Well once I've had some feedback I'd be prepared to make some custom versions for Local Authorities around the country. I can change the homepage and proxy settings as appropriate.
    I take it you change those by altering / amending the relevant js ( javascript file ) ?

    If so maybe you could post it up here with relevant parts in bold and aprox directions on where it should be located but obviously not sure how you package that up with the rest of it ?

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    wagnerk's Avatar
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    This may help you, a ADM file for Firefox (import it into AD). It should help you with administering FF setting via AD.

    -ken
    Last edited by wagnerk; 3rd October 2009 at 07:19 PM. Reason: more info

  7. #6

    Michael's Avatar
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    No that information is stored within:

    C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\mozilla.cfg

    Rename this to mozilla.txt make changes, then rename it back to mozilla.cfg

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    This looks great- I have wanted to deploy Firefox on the network, but didn't take the risk due the issues which you seemed to have nailed down.

    I'm not from a Birmingham school, but would be very interested in using your FF package if it was easy to change the homepage and proxy settings.

  9. #8


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    msi:

    Download Firefox MSI

    and put settings into mandatory profiles docs+settings/application data

  10. #9

    Michael's Avatar
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    Thanks Wagnerk. I had seen there were ADMs available, but I can configure more settings using the mozilla.cfg file, some ini files and the Favourites tweak.

    Thanks also CyberNerd. I am using this MSI and adding additional tweaks to lock down menu items.

    @rocknrollstar - If you have a look at the File Library, I have uploaded a proxy free version for you to test

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    what about using firefox portable from a pen drive (or script copied to local hdds?)

  12. #11

    FN-GM's Avatar
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    Might be worth noting that if you install Google Chrome it picks up the majority of group policy settings you set in IE including proxy settings.

    Z

  13. #12
    cookie_monster's Avatar
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    I have a couple of questions, these issues have put me off deploying FF before.

    1. How will you manage patches for Firefox will it update itself without user interaction? EDIT I see above that you disabled it.
    2. If it does autoupdate how can you tell if it's working and all clients are upto date? I can tell with WSUS if IE is upto date
    3. What are the issues that you've been having with IE in Birmingham?

    sted, interesting idea. FF portable could be good and relatively simple you could package that and deploy it each time a new update came out.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by cookie_monster; 3rd October 2009 at 09:58 PM.

  14. #13

    Michael's Avatar
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    what about using firefox portable
    I could in theory of used FF portable but there wasn't really any requirement for me to do so.

    Might be worth noting that if you install Google Chrome
    Google Chrome just didn't work properly at all when I tested it in a domain environment with roaming profiles (months and months ago). Absolute nightmare, although Google Chrome portable worked it wasn't anywhere near as smooth as FF or IE. Maybe this has changed with Chrome 3.0?

    1. How will you manage patches for Firefox will it update itself without user interaction? EDIT I see above that you disabled it.
    2. If it does autoupdate how can you tell if it's working and all clients are upto date? I can tell with WSUS if IE is upto date
    3. What are the issues that you've been having with IE in Birmingham?
    I'm glad you asked! I've disabled it on purpose so it means you as a Network Manager can control/decide what version you want your users to use. There's nothing worse than everyone using different versions.
    The issues myself and other Network Managers have experienced in Birmingham schools is a really strange one. There were significant problems with IE and Policy Central and in general (for reasons unknown) IE more recently has become increasingly unreliable and unstable which causes IE to crash. Event logs show nothing interesting or useful.

    I have been unsuccessful at replicating the same problem outside of the BGFL network, and my first initial tests proved interesting as on exactly the same hardware (at the same time) loading up pages in FF is significantly faster within the BGFL network. Outside of the BGFL network FF is fractionally quicker, but it's a lot more noticeable when I am in a school, even on the best of hardware.
    I've now successfully packaged/tweaked FF, locked it down and initial speed tests/browsing has proved very successful

  15. #14

    mac_shinobi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael View Post
    Maybe this has changed with Chrome 3.0?
    Maybe .......... you can post results when and if you get a chance to

    A - try it and post back with results
    B - someone else trys it and posts back
    C - Another option just in case I missed something

  16. #15
    cookie_monster's Avatar
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    So each time there is an update you'll just package it and roll it out? Do you have it running on any TS\Citrix boxes?

    I'll take a look into this cheers.

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