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.

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

Well, I’ve been threatening to do this for a while but I’ve decided to resurrect my seeming forgotten project, FirefoxADM.

First of all:  why?  Well, a lot of that is connected to why I stopped updating it.  The last version I released, 0.4, contained the vast majority of settings that I, and people who contacted me, seemed to need to implement Group Policy control in the enterprise.  I had no desire, or especially time, to keep adding more and more obscure settings that ultimately no one would ever use.  There was also another couple of angles to it:  firstly, at the time, I wanted to see if there was any way I could make the Group Policy Add-on (ADM XPI) I wrote a more flexible solution.  Unfortunately, that one has never really flew for a few reasons that I will come back to in another post.  Secondly, there seemed to be growing a movement of people interested in creating a Mozilla-backed enterprise solution.  Now, to be utterly honest, extremely little has happened on that front in the past 3 years.  That is not the fault of anyone involved in that process, I should add, but all of that is for another post too.

I am restarting FirefoxADM because there are a number of new things that I want out of it, some new features and some changes to the way it works.  There are also a number of new preferences that have come into play in the past 3 years.

I’m also hugely delighted at the sheer amount of people who contact me from across the globe who are using FirefoxADM in their environment.  That really gave me the biggest urge to start this up again, so onwards and upwards.  Any requests?