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Apply Mozilla whitelist add-on to all users of a PC, not just the user who downloaded the add-on

Posted on 2013-12-10
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Last Modified: 2013-12-18
Experts,

Scenario
I have a group of desktop PCs scattered throughout the facility, where each PC will be used by multiple users, some PCs may have 2 users, some PCs may have a dozen users.  Management is cracking down on internet usage and would like me to block all websites, except a select few (i.e. company intranet sites).

Since management only wants to allow specific websites, I know that I need something that has whitelist capability.  I am using Mozilla Firefox, version 25.  I found that Firefox has 2 add-ons that provide the capability for a whitelist; those add-ons are: Easy Whitelist and Pro Con Latte.

I have tried both and they both work very well; however, here is my problem.  It appears the add-on needs to be installed for each and every user who logs onto the PC ... problem is, I don't know who will be logging on to these PCs.  Any employee with a logon ID can walk up to one of these PCs and logon.

Question
Is there a way within Firefox that an add-on can be applied no matter who logs on to the PC?

Background Information
I logged on to a test PC with my logon (administrator capability), downloaded and installed the add-on and tested it.  I tested each add-on (Easy Whitelist and Pro Con Latte) separately.  Both add-ons work well, each did what I wanted it to do: only allow access to websites I defined in the whitelist.

I then logged off of my ID and logged on with a normal user ID ... and here is where my problem lies.  No matter what website I went to, that website was accessible (not what I wanted).  No matter what add-on I used, they did not block any website.  It appears that the add-on is only applied to the user who downloads it and installs it.

My goal is to download and the install the add-on using my admin logon ID and then have that add-on be applied to all users.

Therefore back to my question:  Within Firefox, is there any way an add-on can be applied to all users who logon to the PC?

I am more familiar with IE and within IE, I have used 'content advisor'.  Content Advisor is something you setup as an admin user and no matter who logs onto the PC, it only allows the websites you specify.

Thank you,
sla0610
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Question by:sla0610
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by:comfortjeanius
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Author Comment

by:sla0610
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Comfortjeanius,

I have not tried these ... thanks for the tips.  I will look at them and get back to you.  It might take me a few days; but, I'll check them out and let you know.

I am sorta/kinda dumbfounded that something like this doesn't already exist in Firefox.  It seems like I have to jump through a lot of hoops to do one simple thing ... oh well.

sla0610
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Author Comment

by:sla0610
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Comfortjeanius,


I don't like messing with the registry; if I have to, I will; but, I usually try staying away from touching the registry; therefore, I used the second link in your reply.

Your suggestions has really caused me to delve into this issue.  I have done tons of research on this issue, using Google, and most all of the things I have found use the same steps as the 'www.redkitten.co.uk' link.

Unfortunately, no matter what website suggestion I have tried, it works and yet it doesn't work.  It works in the sense that the add-on does show up in the everyday normal user's Firefox add-on list.  It doesn't work because the add-on that shows up in the everyday normal user's Firefox add-on list is NOT enabled; moreover, it does not contain the configuration changes to the add-on that I made from my admin account.

My goal again is to download/install the add-on from my admin account, re-configure the add-on's settings and then have those reconfigured settings be available to all users who logon to the PC.

Having really delved into this issue (I know more about Firefox extensions that I have ever wanted to know), I have a another question:  What is the name of the file(s)? or what is the name of the sub-folder that contains my add-on's re-configured settings that I did under my admin account.

I realized that when I created the global extension in the 'c:\program files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\browser\extension it created the extension as if I had just downloaded it; however, what I really want is to create the global extension that contains my re-configured settings I did under my admin account.  So I figured that if I can find the file(s) or sub-folder that contains my re-configured settings, then I can move that file(s) or sub-folder from my user profile into the c:\program files (x86)\Mozilla\Firefox\... sub-folder and thus my re-configured settings would then become global.

So ... would you know that name of the file(s) or the name of the sub-folder that contains my add-on's re-configured settings?

Thank you,
sla0610
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Expert Comment

by:comfortjeanius
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You could check in this location:

C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\<8character>.default\extensions\

This is the location of mines and you will understand what I mean about 8character

ex) C:\Users\jcomfort\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\9swqvger.default\extensions\
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Author Comment

by:sla0610
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Comfortjeanius,

Okay now we are getting somewhere; but we are not quite there yet.

From my admin account, I copied the file,
 {9D6218B8-03C7-4b91-AA43-680B305DD35C}.xpi from my profile, located at:

c:\users\<username>\appdata\roaming\mozilla\firefox\profiles\zul73g9g.default\extensions

into the firefox global folder c:\program files (x86)\Mozilla Firefox\browser\extensions

I then logged on as a normal, everyday, non-admin user ... and here is what happened ---> it worked, but yet it didn't work

It work in this manner:
     - the extension showed up (yea!)
     - it displayed the 'option' button and the 'disable' button (yea!)
     - it gave the impression that is was enabled (because the 'disabled' button is displayed)

It didn't work in because:
     - even though it gave the impression that is was enabled, it wasn't
     - I could still go to any website I wanted to (nothing was blocked)
     - the 'option' and 'disabled' buttons were accessible (even though I had them password)

So with your help, I was able to make the add-on global; however, it did not bring over the changes I made from my admin account.

So, do you know how I can bring over the changes I made?  Do you know what folder/file my changes to the add-on would kept in?

Thanks,
sla0610
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Accepted Solution

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comfortjeanius earned 500 total points
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I know in the address bar of Firefox you can type:    about:support
This gives you all the information pertaining to Firefox

Plus there is another .xpi file in the %APPDATA%Roaming/Mozilla/Firefox

ex)C:\Users\jcomfort\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox

Plus I notice a profiles.ini file and when you open it I was looking at the line:
Path=Profiles/9swqvger.default
ex) C:\Users\jcomfort\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\9swqvger.default\extensions\
I have not test it yet, but was wonder if another user is pointed to a different profile location. If you can change the line in this file to point to your profile location........

Or you can place it in the Default Profile folder
C:\Users\Default\AppData\Roaming

Note: You will have view all hidden folders in order to see this folder location.
windows key+r
type: control folders
View tab ------> "Show hidden files, folders, and drives"
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Author Comment

by:sla0610
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Comfortjeanius,

Your suggestions kept getting me closer and closer to the answer I wanted.

I spent a lot of time on this over the weekend and I found the answer at the following website:

http://mike.kaply.com/2012/03/30/customizing-firefox-default-profiles/

Mike's article explains that Firefox, upon opening, will copy all of the files in the installation directory's '\default\profile\ directory into the user's profile directory ...

... and that is what I did.  I copied all of the files and folders (36 in all) from the directory:

c:\users\<username>\appdata\roaming\mozilla\firefox\profiles\zul73g9g.default

into Firefox's installation directory:

c:\program files (x86)\Mozilla firefox\browser\defaults\profile

... and it worked.  I logged on as several users and Firefox copied all of the files and folders from the "c:\program files (x86)\Mozilla firefox\browser\defaults\profile" into the users profile directory:
"c:\users\<username>\appdata\roaming\mozilla\firefox\profiles\<8 character>.default"

... and it in essence locked down Firefox, so the users can only go to the websites I configured in the whitelist.

Please note: I had to create the "\defaults\profile" directories under the "c:\program files (x86)\Mozilla firefox\browser".  But once I did that and copied the files and folders over, it worked, it really worked.

Much thanks, you help is very much appreciated.  This opens up the door for me to install other desktop PCs within the plant and have Firefox locked down, until such a time when management opens Firefox back up again.

sla0610
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Expert Comment

by:comfortjeanius
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Thanks for the feedback and the great information.
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