Rolling Out Firefox via Active Directory
Leverage AD to roll out and update the Firefox Web browser in a Windows domain.
Deployment and management simplicity are two key reasons (aside from
the fact thats its bundled with Windows) that most organizations
use Internet Explorer as the default workstation Web browser. So, organizations
often overlook Firefox due to the belief that it cannot be deployed or
managed with Active Directory.
If deployment and management simplicity had previously held you back
from evaluating and deploying Firefox across your organization, then you
should take a look at FrontMotion
Firefox Community Edition. Firefox Community Edition is free and includes
Microsoft System Installer (MSI) deployment package files as well as an
administrative template for group policy-based management.
To deploy Firefox using a group policy object (GPO), you will need to
download the appropriate MSI file for your organizations desktop
environment. In my case, I used the FMFirefoxCE-22.214.171.124-en-US.msi
package for the U.S. English Firefox version.
Once you've downloaded the MSI file, you can deploy it using a GPO by
following the steps in the Active Directory Deployment section on the
FrontMotion Firefox Community Edition page.
If you would like to deploy Firefox with added functionality (such as
with the IE Tab extension),
you can build Firefox deployment packages with up to 10 extensions using
FrontMotions Firefox Packaging Service. The packaging service is
not free, but is offered as an annual subscription for $150.
Once Firefox has been deployed to the desktops in your domain, you need
to download the Firefox administrative template (firefox.adm)
in order to centrally manage the Firefox browser settings. Import firefox.adm
into a GPO by following these steps:
- Open the GPO you wish to edit in the Group Policy Object Editor.
- Under Computer Configuration, right-click on Administrative Templates
and select Add/Remove Tempates.
- Click the Add button and then browse to and select the downloaded
firefox.adm file, then click Open.
- In the Add/Remove Templates dialog box, click Close.
You can now use the Firefox administrative template in the Group Policy
Object Editor to centrally configure the following browser settings:
- Homepage (configured under General Settings)
- Automatic image resizing
- Default browser check
- Firefox cache size
- Default download location
- Proxy settings
- Disable XPI installs
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The free FrontMotion Firefox Community Edition MSI deployment files and
administrative template provide the tools you need to deploy and manage
Firefox as you do with IE. Granted, the administrative template has not
matured to the point that you can tweak every Firefox setting, but it
does provide the features necessary to manage the more common Firefox
configuration elements. The folks at FrontMotion have put together a very
good Firefox deployment and management solution and I hope that you find
it as useful as I have.