How to Group Policy enable Firefox (and other Mozilla apps)

Discussion of features in Mozilla Firefox
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Joined: September 20th, 2004, 5:06 am

Post Posted September 20th, 2004, 5:24 am

Windows Administrators really like Group Policy, because it allows them not only to install software easily, but it also allows them to administrate settings after the install.

Three things are required:
1. An MSI file - this is fairly trivial and there are different MSI files floating around already that you can use to push out Firefox.
2. The current pref.js, and user.js files system HAVE TO BE EXTENDED so that FireFox also is able to use the Windows Registry, until this is done, there is a big hurdle for rollout in Windows Networks. Not because it can't be done, but because it is not the way it is done for other apps.
3. A Firefox Administrative Template for the Group Policy Editor that sets the registry settings - this bit is relatively easy - and I would volunteer to do it.

What I am not sure about is what thought has been given already to put the settings in the registry. For Group Policy FF would only read the registry, and use what it finds there to overide its current settings, stored in the .js files.

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Joined: September 17th, 2004, 3:00 am
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Post Posted September 21st, 2004, 4:21 am

I agree. The only reason we aren't switching to FireFox (yet) is the absence of GPO's. I need to manage it for +1000 users in a Citrix Environment. I can't do that without gpo-support or some kind of registry manipulation.

Great piece of software though!

Alain AA Deroy
Sr. Systems Administrator
Schenker B.V.

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Joined: June 9th, 2004, 3:18 am

Post Posted September 22nd, 2004, 1:34 am

same here. I logged on to the forums hoping to find a way of doing, as everyone here is eager to move from IE, but with decent GPO support to override proxies etc and change options from the server side, it just wont happen.

Group Policies are an integral part of the windows system today, and until this is rectified in FF a lot of firms just wont try to install it.

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Joined: November 16th, 2004, 6:46 am

Post Posted November 16th, 2004, 7:02 am

same here....i need policy to set proxy settings

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Joined: November 16th, 2004, 4:07 pm

Post Posted November 16th, 2004, 4:16 pm

I Agree, let us please have an extension and GPO Template which provides support for Windows Active Directory.

If there was one, I would be rolling out FireFox and disabling IE.

Until there is I must continue to use IE.

IE supports many GPO based security and feature lockdown ability

I dont have the technical know-how to create this functionality fom scratch, but surely someone does!


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Joined: December 7th, 2004, 8:28 am

Post Posted December 7th, 2004, 8:35 am

Just wanted to toss in my vote for a decent GPO. I have about 40 users here all itching to get going with Firefox. But without GP control over proxy, I can't allow it. [-X
CAD Support and downloads at

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Post Posted June 23rd, 2005, 3:07 am

Thing is, i dont think they will do a GPO for FF, as GPOs manage the registry and FF doesnt use that much, as depending on the registry would make it harder to make the code cross OS compatible.

Its the one thing stopping FF breaking the corp market though

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Joined: July 31st, 2003, 1:26 pm

Post Posted June 23rd, 2005, 5:52 am

I'm no systems administrator, bug I have trouble understanding how copying a file with Firefox preferences in it is so much more difficult than using registry entries. Surely AD can copy files? Surely editing a text file isn't an insurmountable hurdle to creating a policy?

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Joined: June 9th, 2004, 3:18 am

Post Posted June 23rd, 2005, 6:01 am

GPO's wont copy a file. An Administrative Template (the files that tell AD which GP's do what) are descriptions of registry keys. While this file is transferred to each client on logon (or to each machine on boot) AD isnt capable of moving a file from one place to another as part of a group policy. Windows logo requirements used to require that each package store its settings in the registry, this might not still be the case.

You could recreate a similar thing using logon scripts quite simply, but its not the same.

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Post Posted June 23rd, 2005, 7:06 am

I see; thanks for the explanation.

Firefox 1.1 includes an API for extensions to read/write from the registry. Perhaps a solution would be to create an extension that checks specified registry keys on startup and then sets preferences in response. Since 1.1 also includes the ability to install extensions by setting keys in the registry, you'd be in business.

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Post Posted June 23rd, 2005, 9:48 am

Really? What extension is that ? I will have a fiddle and create an administrative template for a few settings and see what happens.

Let meknow the name of it and i will play.


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Post Posted June 23rd, 2005, 10:04 am

Oh, it doesn't exist yet, I'm just saying it would be feasible to create. Even then, it'd only work on nightly builds and (when it's released) Firefox 1.1.

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Joined: July 15th, 2005, 12:24 pm

Post Posted July 15th, 2005, 12:31 pm

I'd love to see my company dump IE, it would never happen though. Their intranet is written to use IE.

Anyway, we have found another problem with Firefox users. We use roaming profiles and have group policy set to limit the size of the profile to 30MB (max it will allow).

With Firefox saving all of its' settings, including the cache, in your profile this easily gets blown out.

I know you can change the size of the allowed cache, but can you change the location?

In any case, we would need to be able to control this, and many other things (proxy), via group policy before it would really be able to pass the IT administration's usability testing.

What say you Mozilla?

What are the chances of getting some of these 'corporate issues' resolved, SOON?



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Post Posted July 15th, 2005, 12:38 pm

There's no need to capitalise SOON. Don't be obnoxious.

1.1 will ship with quite a few tweaks to the extensions / update manager code which are geared towards Group Policy management. This will allow enterprising sysadmins to hack a temporary solution.

1.5 will hopefully ship with a complete solution from the MSI downwards. If progress towards this goal is critical to your company, consider releasing some hours for people to look at the required work. Welcome to open source.

- Chris


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Post Posted July 18th, 2005, 2:34 am

-Eric Kuo
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Hello Lubbock, Texas!

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