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Firefox Hacks by Nigel McFarlane

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Hack #29. Remotely Manage User Configurations

Make sure all users in an enterprise have a uniform set of configured preferences.

This hack shows how to take configuration control away from the Firefox user. Firefox provides a little support for locking preference files. It provides no support for other parts of the profile. This means that most parts of the profile must be managed with filesystem access controls, such as ownership and read/write permissions. This is something of a problem if you require extensive configuration control.

On the plus side, the two configuration features described later in this hack, ReadConfig and AutoConfig, apply to Netscape 4.x-7.x and all these Mozilla-based products: Mozilla Application Suite, Firefox, Thunderbird, Camino, and probably a few others as well. They can be used to manage all these products from one central point. The two features are sometimes collectively called autoconfig.

Locking Files Using the Operating System

Many of the files in the profile that you would want to lock (for example, cookies.txt, mimeTypes.rdf, and the Chrome subdirectory) are located directly underneath the profile's salted directory name. It is not enough to make these files read-only. The user can remove them if write permission remains on the parent directory (permission models differ in detail between Unix and Windows). Default versions will then be regenerated the next time Firefox starts up, with read/write permissions restored. So making files read-only isn't ...

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