Enterprise Rollout and Management of Firefox

I'm sure many of you use Mozilla Firefox at least part of the time. Keeping the browser updated and configured in a secure manner on a few systems isn't a lot of work. On the other hand, trying to use Firefox with more than a dozen computers soon becomes a real chore. Installing Firefox on desktops one by one takes plenty of time. Checking desktops to make sure the latest updates are loaded is also time consuming, as is making sure that people don't reconfigure the browser to use settings and plug-ins that you don't want used.

Did you know that rather than manually performing rollouts and management, you can use Windows Installer, Group Policy, and Active Directory (AD) to help automate these tasks? To push out Firefox with Windows Installer, you of course need to have properly prepared MSI package files, and to manage configurations, you need Firefox to interact with AD. I found a company that has a solution to both problems.

FrontMotion maintains a Web-based tool, Firefox Packaging Service (at the URL below), that lets you package your choice of the last three releases of Firefox along with up to 10 plug-ins from a list of 17. The site will then build an MSI package that you can download to use for your rollout or upgrade process. Use of the service costs $150 per year, and that price gives you the ability to build packages as often as you need to. http://www.frontmotion.com/FirefoxPackager

FrontMotion also makes available its free FrontMotion Firefox Community Edition (at the URL below), which is based on the latest version of Firefox and has the capability of interacting with AD and Group Policy. So you can choose to use Firefox Community Edition to build your package, or if you don't need AD integration, you can choose a standard version of Firefox. http://www.frontmotion.com/Firefox/fmfirefox.htm

Firefox Community Edition not only integrates with AD, it also gives you the ability to control the desktop icon as well as shell integration, similar to the way Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) integrates with the shell. It also can be set to be the default browser, handles uninstallation if you need that, comes with Adobe Flash Player pre-installed, and more.

So with Firefox Community Edition, you can easily use AD and Group Policy to handle rollout and configuration, and tools from other third parties accomplish similar tasks. Dion Liddell makes a tool called WetDog (at the URL below) that lets you control configuration of both Mozilla and Firefox by using Group Policy in AD. WetDog comes with an executable file that you put on your domain controllers (DCs) and insert into user logon scripts. http://wetdog.sourceforge.net/

Bob Templeton developed a tool, FFDeploy, that lets you build a package for rolling out Firefox. Development of the tool appears to have stopped back in 2005, but the tool is written in Visual Basic, so you could modify it if it doesn't suit your needs. http://firefox.dbltree.com/

And last but not least, Mark Sammons made a tool called FirefoxADM that helps you integrate and control Firefox by using Group Policy. http://homepages.ed.ac.uk/mcs/FirefoxADM/Readme.htm

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