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[CLOSED THREAD] Portable Firefox

Discussion of third-party/unofficial Firefox/Thunderbird/SeaMonkey builds.
CritterNYC
 
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Post Posted June 4th, 2004, 1:38 pm

UPDATE: PLEASE NOTE: This thread has been retired. You can find the current discussions from the Portable Firefox page here:
http://johnhaller.com/jh/mozilla/portable_firefox/


I'd actually been thinking about this earlier this week. This topic inspired me to put it together. I took the current 0.9 ZIP of Firefox. To that, I made the following changes:

- All DLLs and EXEs were compressed using UXN so that it will (a) work on small USB Drive and (b) start faster on USB 1.1 drives
- A default profile of "profile" was created
- Turned off check to see if Firefox is the default browser at startup
- Disabled Java (can't be sure what we'll have available)
- Set downloads to ask where to be saved
- Added Flash plugin
- Added bookmarks for mozilla and mozillazine :-)
- Added a START.BAT file to the directory to start Firefox with the appropriate switches
- Added an autorun.inf file in the root directory to set an icon and autostart firefox (doesn't appear to be working)

All told, it should work with any Windows PC. It weighs in at 11.5Mb, so it will work with a 16Mb USB drive. Enjoy!

http://johnhaller.com/jh/mozilla/portable_firefox/
Last edited by CritterNYC on March 29th, 2005, 4:42 pm, edited 3 times in total.

mai9

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Post Posted June 4th, 2004, 2:16 pm

FlashBanG wrote:mai9: Cusser mentioned he would write up a tutorial, as well as include a premade zip that users can download for that purpose.


ah, ok, I didn't read that bit.

FlashBanG
 
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Post Posted June 4th, 2004, 3:47 pm

CritterNYC:

Good ideas, all of them. If we could incorporate some of the other suggestions in this thread, and reduce the size further (Cusser mentioned he got it down to 8mb), I think it'd be great!

We'd also need to find an unofficial builder that might further be able to reduce the size (through elimination of help, etc..)

Edit: Just found the build options.. Does anyone know what this actually means? (What components are absolutely essential, and which ones can be excluded from the mini portable build?)
http://webtools.mozilla.org/build/config.cgi
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FlashBanG

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CritterNYC
 
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Post Posted June 6th, 2004, 10:30 am

FlashBanG: I'd actually like to keep the DOM inspector in. I'd be willing to bet that a few of the folks that would be taking this on the road might be doing web development on it. Additionally, having gotten it down to 11.1Mb, it is more than comfortable on a 16Mb drive. I'd also be willing to bet that not many folks have drives that small. I think the compression (via UPX) will, overall, benefit more folks with USB1.1 drives... or stuck using USB1.1 interfaces on a friend's computer... than those with very small drives. That said, if most folks really think the package would be better without Help and DOM, I'd be open to changing it.

Additionally, I've created a new page detailing much of the options I've added and why, as well as the ZIP of the June 4th build altered as discussed. I've even added a couple of extra options. Check it out here:

http://johnhaller.com/jh/mozilla/portable_firefox/

I'd love to get some more suggestions from other folks. If an important nightly build comes by, drop a note and I'll update the portable package as well. Additionally, I'll update it to 0.9 when 0.9 is released.

BenBasson
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Post Posted June 8th, 2004, 4:15 pm

I think you're right about the DOMi, actually. It is pretty useful. How reliable is the flash plugin under these circumstances, incidentally?

I'd be in favour of pulling out the Help feature, but we could also leave it in. I'd say that a 10mb install is ok, maybe with some compression work done in the chrome folder, we could get it down to 9mb and leave it at that.

I would be against extension bundles by default, since the whole point of extensions is that you install what you want. Quite frankly, if I was going to use this, I'd mirror my profile straight to the USB drive including all 34 of my installed extensions! Admittedly, extensions like xKiosk are sensible, but with good profile defaults for portability, it should be up to the end user.

Suggestion for some more defaults: downloads should be cleared on exit, not manually. Password manager should probably be disabled (until a master password system is included in the Firefox UI) to prevent unauthorised access to accounts/websites/whatever in the event of theft.

[Edit: Critter's guide & package is pretty good, I probably won't release mine just yet... Maybe when my website is ready for launch I'll revisit this and produce a package myself, for now, I'd be happy to help Critter.]

pjarvi
 
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Post Posted June 8th, 2004, 6:08 pm

Cusser wrote:...I would be against extension bundles by default, since the whole point of extensions is that you install what you want. Quite frankly, if I was going to use this, I'd mirror my profile straight to the USB drive including all 34 of my installed extensions! Admittedly, extensions like xKiosk are sensible, but with good profile defaults for portability, it should be up to the end user.


Your mention of mirroring a profile to the USB drive, got me thinking that an extension or stand-alone app whose sole purpose was to create a portable copy of a persons' desktop install would make things a lot easier for the end-user. Provide the user with the ability to pick and choose what extensions they want, set different values for cache/history, and so on then automatically copy/install the portable version to a USB drive.

Alternatively, having the installer provide an option for installing to a USB drive would be useful, and probably a little easier to do.

CritterNYC
 
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Post Posted June 8th, 2004, 9:49 pm

Cusser wrote:I think you're right about the DOMi, actually. It is pretty useful. How reliable is the flash plugin under these circumstances, incidentally?


Not sure how reliable it is. Haven't done extensive testing. Anybody try it?

Cusser wrote:... maybe with some compression work done in the chrome folder, we could get it down to 9mb and leave it at that.


Good idea. I was considering doing this. I recompressed the JARs. This gets us to 9.8Mb.

Cusser wrote:Suggestion for some more defaults: downloads should be cleared on exit, not manually. Password manager should probably be disabled (until a master password system is included in the Firefox UI) to prevent unauthorised access to accounts/websites/whatever in the event of theft.


I actually had downloads cleared on exit, I forgot to mention the change in the listings. As for the password manager, this would probably be one of the reasons to take Firefox with you on a USB key. I wish it was password-protected globally, too. Until then, I'd wager keeping it enabled would be something folks would want, and understand the increased need to keep the key physically safe.

Cusser wrote:[Edit: Critter's guide & package is pretty good, I probably won't release mine just yet... Maybe when my website is ready for launch I'll revisit this and produce a package myself, for now, I'd be happy to help Critter.]


Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated. I'm happy to keep it all up on my site for now. That said, the new 9.8Mb version is up:

http://johnhaller.com/jh/mozilla/portab ... efault.asp

CritterNYC
 
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Post Posted June 9th, 2004, 8:56 am

I've updated Portable Firefox to use the new 0.9 Release Candidate released today. I also made a change to the setup... re-enabling Java. Firefox handles it pretty well when there is no Java available, and we may as well use it if it is there.

The package is now 8.1Mb when uncompressed to a USB key. Give it a try and post feedback here!

http://johnhaller.com/jh/mozilla/portable_firefox/

BenBasson
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Post Posted June 9th, 2004, 10:04 am

I don't know if it works well, but you can access the password manager with this chrome URL: chrome://pippki/content/pref-masterpass.xul... I could whip up an extension to add this to the Tools menu if it's functionality is ok.

Nitin
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Post Posted June 9th, 2004, 10:12 am

Cusser wrote:I don't know if it works well, but you can access the password manager with this chrome URL: chrome://pippki/content/pref-masterpass.xul... I could whip up an extension to add this to the Tools menu if it's functionality is ok.
Yup, the functionality is ok, and ben marked it as blocking 1.0
http://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=216539
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FlashBanG
 
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Post Posted June 9th, 2004, 12:17 pm

Wow! 8.1mb is excellent, Critter!

After using your build for extensive testing over the past few days, here are my results..

1) Extensions dont work, because although the profile is portable (not bound to a drive letter), extensions are not.. Extensions still have their options dialog, etc. hardcoded..

So for example, I downloaded AiO Gestures and installed it on a computer (on which the USB drive was E:\). Worked fine for that session, and any other sessions on that computer.

When I switched computers though, and the USB drive changed it's letter to G:\, the extension did not work.. When I tried to check the options dialog of the extension, it gave me the error:
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The file file:///E:/Programs/firefox/profile/extensions/{big-huge-guid-here}/allinonegest.xul was not found. Please check the file and try again.
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Thus, extensions are not portable.. Would this qualify as a bug? If so, can someone report it, as I have Zero experience with bugzilla?


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2) Again, when changing computers, and drive letters are changed, firefox can sometimes freeze up.. I can never be sure when this is, but I have a 60-70% success rate with it.. I launch it from the .bat file, and it occasionally doesnt do anything, or freezes up.. I have to restart, and try again..

Not sure what's causing this, as I do the same thing to start it, when I'm succesful, and when I'm not.. Perhaps as Critter's build becomes more popular, and more people work with it, we might figure it out.





So finally, FireFox on a USB drive is usable, but far from perfect. This extensions bug seems like a problem, as does the occasional freezeups.

I'll use Critter's new build for a few days, and report on that.

I hope you'll consider making another build based on .9 final (when released next week) :-) .
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FlashBanG

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dunda
 
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Post Posted June 9th, 2004, 12:23 pm

Thanks for your work on this critter.

Now I could just do with being able to run normal and "portable" FF at the same time.

CritterNYC
 
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Post Posted June 9th, 2004, 1:51 pm

FlashBanG wrote:Extensions dont work, because although the profile is portable (not bound to a drive letter), extensions are not.. Extensions still have their options dialog, etc. hardcoded..


Hmm... quite right. I think this might qualify as a bug, at least for the purposes of being able to run from a relative-path profile. Not sure if this is due to the coding of the extension or of Firefox itself. Anybody know? I've dropped a note on this "known issue" on my page.

FlashBanG wrote:Again, when changing computers, and drive letters are changed, firefox can sometimes freeze up.. I can never be sure when this is, but I have a 60-70% success rate with it.. I launch it from the .bat file, and it occasionally doesnt do anything, or freezes up.. I have to restart, and try again..


Any idea what's going on on your system when this happens? Firefox show up in the Task Manager? Do you notice this on a specific box (XP, 98, etc) or any? I did pull the files from a regular install of Firefox (EXE) instead of the ZIP to be sure I got the official 0.9RC build rather than a nightly. Did you notice the hanging problem with my earlier build?

FlashBanG wrote:I hope you'll consider making another build based on .9 final (when released next week) :-) .


Of course! I did manage to get my 0.9RC build out within hours of the Firefox release :-)

CritterNYC
 
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Post Posted June 9th, 2004, 5:34 pm

A package user brought this up to me. I'd been thinking about it but hadn't addressed it yet. Most USB flash drive advertise a lifespan of between 100k and 1,000,000 write cycles. Running Firefox off of it in its current incarnation may have an impact on that. To minimize it, I'd suggest disabling browser history and disk cache. Setting cookies to the current session is an option as well. Though, that may make the portable browser a bit less useful.

Barring any differing opinions, I plan to disable browser history and disk cache on my build. I've already placed a note regarding lifespan on my page.

BenBasson
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Post Posted June 9th, 2004, 5:39 pm

I didn't think that was even an issue with Flash memory. Are there other portable USB memory devices without this issue?

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