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So you want to disable IE ...

Discussion of general topics about Mozilla Firefox
Racer
 
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Post Posted November 7th, 2004, 12:20 pm

Disclaimer
Disabling IE in Windows can cause certain programs to not work properly or to completely break. The following programs are known to have problems if you disable IE:
- Windows Update will not work at all - although automatic update and manual updates can still be made.
- Windows Help uses mshtml to render the help files, so it will not work at all.
- Half-Life using steam has an ad (usually saying "content provided by...") during map loads. This ad will cause a switch back to windows with a request to download the file. If anyone has a suggestion as to how to get around this annoyance, I would love to hear it.
- Any other programs that use embedded web display (many types of adware do this) may not work.
- If you find any other software that does not work after diabling IE as described below, post in this thread. However, you do NOT need to post here to generally warn people against doing it. Thats what this message is for!

Why?
I have been asked a few times why on earth I would want to do this. Well to try to stem the tide of negative comments, "Security" is your answer. This is by far the biggest issue that I see as a reason to disable IE. Even if I never use IE, other programs that I run may do so without my knowledge. This is a security risk that I see no reason to live with give that FireFox is such a good alternative. If you don't like this answer, then feel free to give another or just ignore this topic.

Info
There are many ways to do this, but the simplest way to disable IE completely on Windows is to delete mshtml.dll
Remember that IE (or any programs that use IE) cannot be running when you remove mshtml.dll. If you find out that you cannot delete one of the files, you may have to reboot to free up the file. I recommend that you simply rename the file from mshtml.dll to mshtml.dll.old - that way if you need IE for something, you can rename the file back.

Windows file protection
On most Windows 2000/XP systems, mshtml.dll is located in three places, and they must be removed in the order listed below due to windows file protection issues. When you delete one of the files below, a windows file protection message will warn you about deleting the file and tell you to insert your Windows install CD. You will need to cancel this popup window since you really do want to remove the file. If you cannot find one of the files listed, make sure you are searching for hidden files. Also, you must be logged in as an administrator if you have NTFS in order to do this.

The list
Rename mshtml.dll to mshtml.dll.old in the following locations in the order listed
1. C:\Windows\ServicePackFiles\i386 - (some installs have i386 at a different location)
2. C:\Windows\System32\dllcache
3. C:\Windows\System32

Aftermath
Once you have deleted the three files in quesiton, then any and all programs that use any part of IE (I believe this includes the IE ActiveX control) will not be able to do so. If you have problems with certain programs and must use them, then you may need to rename the files back in order for your program to work.

Request to Programmers
Ultimately, I would love to see someone write a FireFox equivalent to mshtml.dll that does most of what the original did. However, it would use the Mozilla/FireFox rendering engine instead of IE. I would not expect it to do windows update, but it would be nice if basic HTML rendering (and automatic calling of FireFox instead of IE) could be done. To go even fruther, if someone could write an ActiveX control that acts as a placeholder for the IE ActiveX control, then most programs would probably work at least ok if they need that control (instead of throwing an error).

schwarz84
 
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Location: Denmark

Post Posted November 7th, 2004, 1:11 pm

> Ultimately, I would love to see someone write a FireFox equivalent to mshtml.dll that does most of what the original did.

One of the reasons why Firefox is so secure is that it is not deeply integrated into the system. It was a big mistake to do this with IE and Firefox should not do the same. Simply because the browser is used to surf around on pages whose authors you don't know or you can't trust it should not be deeper integrated than any other programm.
You should not tamper with IE but use it only for downloading updates. Delete the icons and use Firefox when browsing.

>I have been asked a few times why on earth I would want to do this. Well to try to stem the tide of >negative comments, "Security" is your answer.

It will _not_ make your system more secure to tamper with the core components. Get a firewall instead.

Racer
 
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Joined: November 18th, 2002, 11:07 am

Post Posted November 7th, 2004, 1:16 pm

The purpose of the "request to programmers" is to create a placeholder for mshtml.dll so that programs don't break. However, now that you suggested it, I kind of like the idea that FireFox could completely replace IE in that manner.

A firewall will do nothing to stop a vunerability in IE. The only thing it will stop is unauthorized connections to/from my computer.

schwarz84
 
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Location: Denmark

Post Posted November 7th, 2004, 1:33 pm

>A firewall will do nothing to stop a vunerability in IE. The only thing it will stop is unauthorized connections to/from my computer.

Correct, and if you don't use IE actively yourself that will stop the attacks (like worms and hackers).

Racer
 
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Joined: November 18th, 2002, 11:07 am

Post Posted November 7th, 2004, 2:28 pm

Port vunerabilities used by worms and hackers are a completely separate security issue from the one I am trying to address. Plus, as I said in my first post, not using IE does not remove you from all potential vunerabilities that IE has (because other software that you use might use IE without telling you).

scratch

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Post Posted November 7th, 2004, 8:50 pm

Racer wrote:if someone could write an ActiveX control that acts as a placeholder for the IE ActiveX control, then most programs would probably work at least ok if they need that control (instead of throwing an error).


this has already been done, and it's even included with mozilla and firefox by default. there's a patcher program out there that can patch any exe file that uses the IE activex control to use the mozilla one instead. their APIs are identical, so there should be no problems at all.

Lost User 36785
 
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Post Posted November 7th, 2004, 9:11 pm

<b>This should be made a Sticky.</b> Good job, Racer.

TychoQuad
 
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Location: Australia

Post Posted November 7th, 2004, 9:38 pm

scratch wrote:this has already been done, and it's even included with mozilla and firefox by default. there's a patcher program out there that can patch any exe file that uses the IE activex control to use the mozilla one instead. their APIs are identical, so there should be no problems at all.


What we need is a patched mshtml.dll to ignore any html requests sent to it. After that, we could look at replacing the rendering engine it uses. The Mozilla ActiveX control is all well and good in theory, but the patching tool is next to useless. I haven't managed to successfully patch any application with it, only break them. Including Valve's Steam.

Getting mshtml.dll to ignore requests will nicely stop Steam from dropping focus for your browser. It will break the Browse window, but you only need that to purchase games. I wouldn't mind swapping the old .dll back in to do this every now and then.

Mike

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Post Posted November 7th, 2004, 10:02 pm

rreed wrote:<b>This should be made a Sticky.</b> Good job, Racer.


I second that. Very clear, concise, and informative post Racer. Plus, if this gets stickied than hopefully all questions regarding similar matters will be posted in here, rather than seeing the same thing over and over again in different posts, and seeing the same questions being answered countless times.
You can't see me.

scratch

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Post Posted November 8th, 2004, 11:13 am

TychoQuad wrote:
scratch wrote:this has already been done, and it's even included with mozilla and firefox by default. there's a patcher program out there that can patch any exe file that uses the IE activex control to use the mozilla one instead. their APIs are identical, so there should be no problems at all.


What we need is a patched mshtml.dll to ignore any html requests sent to it. After that, we could look at replacing the rendering engine it uses. The Mozilla ActiveX control is all well and good in theory, but the patching tool is next to useless. I haven't managed to successfully patch any application with it, only break them. Including Valve's Steam.


i think it needs to be updated. i tried it a year or two ago and it worked perfectly for many programs.

Racer
 
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Joined: November 18th, 2002, 11:07 am

Post Posted November 8th, 2004, 11:50 am

TychoQuad correctly interpreted my request. I want a replacement for mshtml that makes it so I don't have to patch every program that comes along.

saidak
 
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Post Posted November 8th, 2004, 12:44 pm

Get Linux.

MonsterTruck
 
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Post Posted November 8th, 2004, 2:11 pm

Or just use nLite. :)

http://nuhi.msfn.org/

scratch

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Post Posted November 8th, 2004, 5:18 pm

nLite doesn't patch mshtml.dll to use gecko instead.

MonsterTruck
 
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Post Posted November 8th, 2004, 5:22 pm

Yeah but you can totally unhook IE from the O.S., which is exactly what the person wants. :)

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