Release 0.5.9.3

May 14, 2009

This release was going to be a small “tidying up” release, adding those last few features I could find in the interface.

Then, suddenly in a 24 hour period, 2 separate enterprising admins/developers contacted me with features they have written and passed me the code.  From that, 0.5.9.3 went from being a small update to potentially the biggest new feature-adding update to date!  So a massive thank you to Nathan Przybyszewski and Florian Baenziger for their contributions.  Its much, much appreciated.

Changelog is the following:

-  Added:  Ability to control more Tab Behaviour settings
-  Added:  Ability to control history settings
-  Added:  Ability to control Private Data settings
-  Added:  Ability to control advanced Browsing and Spelling settings
-  Added:  Ability to delete private data cookies
-  Added:  Ability to delete private data offline websites
-  Added:  Ability to delete private data passwords
-  Added:  Ability to control SSL domain icon
-  Added:  Ability to control download directory
-  Added:  Ability to replace certificates for all user profiles
-  Added:  Ability to suppress post-update Firefox start page

First 4 were ones I wrote, next 6 were Florian’s and last one was Nathan’s.  I realise there is a potential duplication between some of the Private Data code written by myself and Florian (great minds think alike…!) but I’ve left those in at the moment until I decide (or get feedback from users) which is the better way of framing these features.

Which brings me onto another thing – that ADM template now has so many features, it is getting mighty messy.  This is now getting to be important.  It seems to me that the best way forward would be to group settings in folders, but have yet to come up with a design there.  Once I do, I will post it here for feedback before committing into a release.  At the same time, I will try and produce an ADMX template for the settings (like most, we are actively looking at Windows 7 for deployment sometime in 2010).

Mainly for 0.5.9.4, I want to write in some sort of backup/restore code.  The problem with the current settings format is that it tattoos these pref files in Firefox.  Instead of trying to unwind the code each time at logoff/shutdown, it seems easier to me to just backup the entire file and restore it on reboot.  I still need to get to grips with the exact hows on this but will blog later on it.

Anyway, thanks again to Florian and Nathan for their contributions.  I should probably write a developers guide to FirefoxADM at some point but as they’ve proved its quite easy to figure out what does what!

0.5.9.3 is up on Sourceforge now.

Release 0.5.9.2.1

April 8, 2009

OK, these version strings are getting silly length!  Many thanks to Craig who picked up on a bug in one of 0.5.9.2’s template.  This was a quick update just to solve that bug.

More news on 0.5.9.3 and beyond soon.

FirefoxADM 0.5.9.2

March 26, 2009

Ok, this is a little embarrassing in that this announcement is a month late, as the release got caught up in my planning of my holiday to Australia (which was fabulous!).

Anyway, 0.5.9.2 is now up on sourceforge.  With this release, all existing functions where it makes sense for them to have it, now have the possibility of setting either a Locked or Default value.  The few that do not are simply because I couldn’t see why you would want to have them as Default values.  However, if anyone feels they should be, let me know and I’ll add those in.

With 0.5.9.3, in development, I will be going through Firefox 3.0 and 3.1/3.5 to see what new features I can add.  No promise on when I can release that.

In 0.5.9.4 I will be adding in some important new features, including backing up and restoring of the various Firefox JS files that get quite radically altered by this new iteration of FirefoxADM.  I also, possibly in 0.5.9.4, want to add in some functionality to allow existing ADMXPI Administrative Templates to work with FirefoxADM.

Also, would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has contacted me recently, some really kind messages and a few support calls which I hope I have been able to help out with.  On we go…

Back to 0.4 (Briefly)

January 27, 2009

I have gone back to the 0.4 releases and added a new release (actually 2 new releases!).

I mentioned in a previous post and also have had comments that there is a bit of a major bug with FirefoxADM 0.4 at the moment.  If you use the login script to set a homepage for a user, you find they also get the “first use” Firefox Welcome page each time they log in.

The bug here simply put was that the script wasn’t precise enough in what it checked.  The problem is that when you set a homepage (browser.startup.homepage in Firefox preference terms), it first needed to remove that preference from the prefs file.  It does this by scanning the file for browser.startup.homepage and removes the line it is on.  Where it gets rotten in Denmark is that if you happen to have another preference which contains the name of the preference you wish to remove in it, such as the one that checks the version and decides if it should show you the first use page, browser.startup.homepage_override.mstone, then it removes it as well.  Stupid bug that I can’t believe has managed to get through to now.

The fix is that it now checks for the preference with quotation marks at each end, making the search more specified.

Anyway, you can download the new version 0.4.0.2 from http://sourceforge.net/projects/firefoxadm/

This was previously fixed in 0.5.9.1, and I promise an update on that line of releases soon enough.

Towards 0.5.9.2

November 9, 2008

I know this blog has been a bit quiet for a while, so I thought I’d give you a quick update on where things are at.

First of all, many, many thanks to everyone who has downloaded and tried the latest version of FirefoxADM and has given me feedback, and suggestions for new features.

I had hoped that I would have progressed further and quicker with the development but unfortunately, I’m stuck in a nightmare project at work which has taken much of my time.

The goal for 0.5.9.2 is to have the new default/locked functionality available for all settings in the Computer Configuration section.  Then, I will start to draw up a list of new features based on feedback.  I also need to implement a backup/restore scheme for the Firefox JS settings files because the new FirefoxADM modifies a lot more files than the old one, in order to make defaults work properly.  More information on all this when 0.5.9.2 is ready for release.

Release 0.5.9.1

September 19, 2008

This has now been added to Sourceforge.  These are released under a different package, firefoxadm_dev.  I must reiterate that this is an early development version.  Do NOT use in a live environment.

The version numbering is slightly changed.  There was a FirefoxADM 0.5, but this was modifications I made for the University of Edinburgh environment.  The next target for release is 0.6 (or FirefoxADM Release 6, as I shall be calling it).  All dev build up to that will be 0.5.9.*.  Any post 0.6 fixes will obviously be 0.6.0.*.

This release is a Proof of Concept for the items I talked about in the previous post.  It also includes a few fixes.  Full changelog:

CHANGES IN 0.5.9.1 – The Road to FirefoxADM Release 6

-  Fixed:  Weakness in way FirefoxADM overrides preferences meant similar named preferences would be removed (if setting homepage, browser.startup.homepage, would remove first-run pref, browser.startup.homepage_override.mstone)
-  Fixed:  Logout script was not handling removal of homepage from prefs.js properly
-  Added:  Ability to determine what type of page you get at startup (homepage, about:blank or from previous session)
-  Added:  Ability to control whether Firefox is allowed to automatically update its Search Engines
-  Added:  Ability to set Java to locked or default value
-  Added:  Ability to set JavaScript to locked or default value
-  Added:  Ability to set Default Browser to locked or default value
-  Added:  Ability to set XPI Installation allowed/disallowed as locked or default value
-  Added:  Shutdown tidyup of "extensions.update.autoUpdateEnabled" value

 

First fix is to a problem I’ve seen before but never put my finger on what was causing it.  It took a comment on this blog for me to recognise the problem.  Thanks, user “realtime”.

Probably the most useful of the default prefs done in this version is the ability to set a default homepage.  Just a warning for this.  I will need to implement an extra set of processes to restore settings to original values, so if you set a default homepage and then take the machine out of the group policy, it will continue to have a homepage set to whatever you set it to.  This is the same with all the default prefs.

Anyway, go to the project page on Sourceforge and give it a try and let me have some feedback, either as a comment here or drop an email to mark dot sammons(at)ed dot ac dot uk

Better Settings, Real Defaults

September 19, 2008

The way FirefoxADM has worked up to now, it is based on the notion that Computer Configuration is Locked Settings and User Configuration are Default Settings.

Unfortunately, a real weakness with FirefoxADM was that the Default Settings simply didn’t work properly – they weren’t real defaults, but would overwrite any personally set values with a value which was then changeable.  The way real defaults should work is if you set a default homepage and the user has a user_pref it should use their user_pref and ignore the default you set.

Also, I wanted to move away from the usage of User Configuration.  It is more difficult to keep track of I find especially with the use of Loopback processing widespread.  Therefore, I want to take as many settings as possible and expose them solely through the Computer Configuration ADM template.  How will this look?  Here is the new ADM template for controlling Java:

java1

For a lot of the settings, there will be 2 settings:  Preference State and how you would like the preference to be handled.

Preference State will be Default or Locked:

java2

And in this case, you can choose to have the settings Allowed or Disallowed:

java3

So, for this particular preference, you have 4 possible enabled states:

Locked/Allowed

Locked/Disallowed

Default/Allowed

Default/Disallowed

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