[kwlug-disc] OT? Deploying Firefox on Windows

Paul Nijjar paul_nijjar at yahoo.ca
Tue Feb 23 00:17:08 EST 2010

So at "the other user group" tonight I wondered out loud how to deploy
Firefox on Windows networks. I know none of you have to deal with
Windows networks, but maybe you have friends who do, and those friends
suffer enough without having to live with the default Windows web
browser. Since this group supposedly accepts FLOSS discussion, I
thought it might be relevant here. 

The usual way to centrally control software in the Windows world 
uses MSI installers, either with Active Directory or a management
tool. Unfortunately, Mozilla releases .exe installers, not MSI ones. 
Firefox updates so frequently that trying to deploy the software via
images goes out of date quickly. 

There is a company called FrontMotion which repackages Firefox as
.msi installers. They also release Group Policy templates (think
/etc, but more limited) for Firefox. You can get these for no money,
but the company makes its money by selling a service that builds
customized msi files for you that contain the extensions you want. See
http://www.frontmotion.com/FMFirefoxCE/ for more info. 

If you want to be an open source purist, you might consider the WPKG
project, which documents silent, centralized installations for all
kinds of Windows software. See http://wpkg.org/Firefox for more
information about this. The disadvantage to this is that using WPKG as
intended requires a client on each machine, and the client software is
managed via a different interface than other updates. 

You can also deploy Firefox extensions, but this is also somewhat
messy in Windows. Basically you have to unpack XPI files in particular
system directories. See
http://forums.mozillazine.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=1724155 for more

This information is not terribly hard to find via SkyNet search, but
it took me a while to wade through the many solutions that became
obsolete in 2006. 

- Paul


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