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Custom Firefox Install: Part 1

Created: 25 Jul 2008 • Updated: 29 Jul 2010 | 1 comment
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Recently I became very excited about creating layers. I decided to start on something easy and work my way into hard apps. I thought that Firefox would be a great place to start. I was able to very quickly create the layer. I was pretty excited, so I decided to try something more challenging. I thought that it would be nice to include some Add-ons as part of my newly created layer...

I could not get them to work. I tried and tried and I could not get the Add-ons to work right. I figured that it probably had something to do with the fact that Firefox has two components. The first is in the following location: "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox". This is where all of the core Firefox components are stored.

The second is found in the following location: "C:\Documents and Settings\user account\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\profile name". This is where all of personal files and settings are stored.

I was having problems getting these two parts to play nice in my layer.

I decided to get to the bottom of the situation.

Along the way I discovered all kinds of interesting information. I have decided to pass that on. In the next couple of articles I will talk about how I created a Firefox layer and silent install with all of my custom settings and Add-ons. These guides can be used in many different situations and for many different applications. For instance, have you ever wanted to install an Add-on using a script? Or, how to easily create a Firefox layer? Or even how to add Firefox into SVS Pro? Stay tuned to the series for some cool info.


There are a few things that you will need before we get started. Here they are:

  • The latest Firefox setup files (download the latest version of Firefox from:
  • The latest version Firefox installed with all of your favorite Add-ons
  • A test machine (preferably a virtual machine) that we can use to build the layer
Customizing Firefox 3:

Extracting the Firefox setup files:

  • The Firefox setup file is a self extracting executable. Using a unzipping utility, extract the setup files to your desktop
  • After you have extracted the files, this is what you should see:
  • In the extracted files, go to the following folder: nonlocalized >> extensions (see below):

In this extensions folder, we can actually put all of the Add-ons (extensions == add-ons) that we want to use. When Firefox installs it will install all of the extensions by default.

Now we need to find the Add-ons that we would like to install. I usually install two Add-ons. The first is "IE Tab" and the second is "IE View". Lets find those Add-on files:

Finding the Add-ons:

On a test computer, you should have Firefox installed with all of your favorite extensions.

We are going to use those files and copy them into the "extension" folder we found above.

  • Open My Computer and go to Documents and Settings >> User Account >> Application Data >> Mozilla >> Firefox >> Profiles >> Profile Name >> extensions
  • Copy all of the folders that you see to the "nonlocalized\extensions" folder mentioned above
  • In this example, the folder will look like this:

You can also do the following:

  • Go to
  • Search for the plugin that you want to include in your layer, for example "IE View"
  • I eventually found this page:
  • If you can add this to your version of Firefox, there is a link titled "Add to Firefox", right click on that link
  • Go to "Copy Link Location"
  • Now, open Internet Explorer and paste that link into the address bar:

    Hit enter to download the Add-on

  • A "File Download" window will appear, click on the "Save" button
  • Make sure to save it to your desktop
  • Now, you have the Add-on on your desktop:

At this point you have two choices, here is the first choice:

  • In the "Firefox Setup 3.0.1" folder on the desktop, create a folder named "Addons"
  • Paste all Addons into this directory
  • We will learn how install these later (as part of a scripted install)

And, here is the second choice:

  • Right click on the Add-on (on your desktop) and go to "Rename"
  • Change the file extension (the last three characters) to "zip". We are changing
    the name from "ie_view_lite-1.3.3-fx.xpi" to ""
  • Now, you can extract the files from "" to your desktop
  • Here is a look at the files inside that extracted folder:
  • Using Wordpad, open "install.rdf"
  • This is what you should see:
  • I have highlighted the Add-ons "name", or how Firefox internally refers to it
  • Copy that name, and go back to the "nonlocalized\extensions" folder
  • Create a new folder, and paste in the text we copied from "install.rdf"
  • Open that new folder, and then paste in the files we extracted from the Add-on we downloaded. This is what it should look like:

Other Customizations:

Getting the Addons as part of the install is a good first step. There are a few other tweaks that you can make that will make this Firefox install completely custom. For this section you will be using several files taken from the copy of Firefox that is installed on the test machine. Before we get started, configure Firefox (including all of your bookmarks and all options you may want).

Options Menu:

Most of the settings (or preferences) on the options menu are pretty straight forward. I will just provide some screenshot of settings that I have found that work well for me.

  • Main

    The only difference on this screen is that I changed the "Home Page" and
    unchecked the "Show the Downloads window when downloading a file"checkbox.

  • Tabs

    On this screen I unchecked the box next to "Warn me when closing multiple tabs".

  • Content

    This screen is the same. I did add exceptions to the "Block pop-up windows" screen.

  • Privacy
    I changed a few things under privacy. I decided to keep the history for 14 days instead of 90. I also don't want Firefox to remember anything that my users enter into forms and the search bar, so I unchecked that box.
  • Security
    On the security screen I unchecked the box next to: "Remember passwords
    for sites". This could be a huge security risk, and I want to avoid it
  • Advanced
    • General: I don't want Firefox to check if it is the default browser, so I unchecked the appropriate box
    • Update: I don't want Firefox to update itself, or even check if it needs to be updated:

All of these settings get stored into a file called "prefs.js". In the next section we will talk about this file more, and how to include is as part of our install.


There are a few settings that you cannot access through the "Options" in Firefox. To get to them, open Firefox and type "about:config" in the address bar. You will get a message warning you that tweaking Firefox could be bad. Click on the "I'll be careful, I promise!" button.

Here are the settings I like to tweak:

  • Disable Crash Recovery:
  • Disable Addon compatibility checking:
  • Disable Firefox sessions:
    • set "browser.sessionstore.enabled" to "false"

Now that we have gone through the options menu we need to include our choices as part of the install. Here is what you do:

  • Navigate to "C:\Documents and Settings\user account\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\profile name"
  • Find the file named: "prefs.js" and copy it
  • Paste "prefs.js in: "Firefox Setup 3.0.1\localized\defaults\profile"


  • If you decide to leave all of Firefox's settings as default you will probably still need to copy the "prefs.js" file. Why? That is where the home page is stored.
  • prefs.js is also the location of Addon settings. You will probably want to configure all of your Addons before you copy this file
  • Instead of copying prefs.js, you can tweak "firefox-l10n.js" located in the following location: "Firefox Setup 3.0.1\localized\defaults\pref" (if you feel comfortabe with javascript and Firefox this could be a good route to go)

Block pop-up windows:

This is a very useful feature that I have wanted to push out in the past. Here is how you can include this in your Firefox install:

  • In Firefox, go to Tools >> Options
  • Click on the "Content" button
  • On the right of "Block pop-up windows" click the "Exceptions" button
  • Enter in all website you want to allow pop-ups on
  • When you are all done, close Firefox and navigate to the following path: "C:\Documents and Settings\user account\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\profile name"
  • Find the file named "permissions.sqlite", and copy that file
  • Paste "permissions.sqlite" in the following location "Firefox Setup 3.0.1\localized\defaults\profile"

Now all of the listed websites will function normally (as far as pop-ups go).


In this article we downloaded and extracted the Firefox setup files. We also found all of the Add-ons that we want to include in our install. Finally, we started to customize Firefox the way we want it. In the next article we will continue to customize Firefox and we will learn how to silently install Firefox and our Add-ons.

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