Saturday, April 29, 2006

Automated Firefox install

Firefox is terrible to install for administrators, or just people who install it often.

You cannot give arguments to the installer, so you are forced to click your way through the dialogs. The worst of these dialogs is obviously the braindead browse for folder dialog. No way to just type in the path where you want FF installed.

Then it creates a user profile, and there is no way to have that profile take some predefined settings from an .ini file, some existing profile folder or whatever. Profiles cannot be copied either, because they have these stupid paths like "C:\Documents and Settings\john\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\uwayeoxn.default\" hardcoded into several of their files. (Why don't they use variables like %APPDATA% on Windows, $HOME, etc.?)

While the about:config page would probably allow entering all the needed settings, there is no way to automate or even simplify that. click click click...

The Bookmarks are pretty easy to configure, and the file can be copied. And userChrome.css can be copied too, but it should be possible to define defaults for these.

The real trouble starts with plugins and extensions...

The fact that the ShockWave installer is now bundled with some spy/ad/whatever-shit-ware (the Yahoo toolbar) is no fault of Firefox. But if it were possible to just copy an FF install where Shockwave was successfully installed while carefully avoiding the Yahoo trap, that would be nice.

Update: In fact, it is apparently possible to just copy the FF folder from one machine to another. That is very good. And the Flash player keeps working (not Shockwave, though).
But this doesn't take care of all the settings and configuration, and still leaves problems with extensions.

Update2: For Flash, it seems pretty easy after all. I have yet to test it on an install on a new machine, but it seems that all is needed are the files Firefox-dir\plugins\NPSWF32.dll
and Firefox-dir\plugins\NPSWF32_FlashUtil.exe. I used to have files in %SystemRoot%\System32\Macromed\Flash, but it seems to work without them.

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