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Why does Portable Firefox install plugins/extensions from the local computer?

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The_Architect
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Why does Portable Firefox install plugins/extensions from the local computer?

currently, whenever I plug my USB with FF portable on it, it installs all the random plugins/extensions) from the computer i plugged it into.

things like realplayer and mcafee. which i REALLY don't want on firefox. worst yet, even when i uninstall hard-to-uninstall addons, they just reinstall the next time i plugin PFF.

i'm asking if this behavior is normal, and how do i STOP this from happening?

Chris Morgan
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Normal

This is entirely normal behaviour. In some instances it's useful - for example with Flash or Java which you may not have (Flash) or can't have (Java, in a way that can be used by Firefox) on your USB disk. Other times it can be a nuisance, but there's no way around it that we know of or can work out.

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Darkbee
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Come again?

Can I just make sure I understand this correctly: If the computer you use has browser plugins installed that Firefox can use, then when you run FireFoxPortable those plugins will be installed to your instance of FireFoxPortable?

Does the host computer have to have Firefox installed (portable or otherwise)? I can't say that I've ever encountered this issue (that I know of) but I can see how it would be a pain in the rear.

spg SCOTT
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Yep, FF adds the plugins...

I have been to a pc that has never even heard the word firefox, that uses McAfee and it installed the stupid site advisor toolbar...

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Darkbee
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McAfee?

So McAfee is to blame? Like some Microsoft products, it is trying to be "helpful"?

computerfreaker
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No

No, McAfee just installs the SiteAdvisor addon to Firefox, and the portable Fx picks it up too.

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Benedikt93
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Different type of plugins

As far as I know, these aren't the 'normal' plugins you instal via a .xpi file to your profiles folder but such that are a dll with some other files (and registry entries?).
They're often used by commercial apps, eg the Nokia Ovi Suite. You can only get rid of its bookmark sync plugin by delting these files.

You can prevent FF from scanning for such extensions by going to "about:config" and setting the value plugin.scan.plid.all from true to false.
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Plugin_scanning

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The_Architect
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thanks alot, works like a

thanks alot, works like a charm....just one more thing though.

is there a way to do the same thing with extensions?

whiskers
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i had the same

i had the same issue/problem/feature.

on my computer, i have a normal install of FF with addons and stuff, but i needed to use a particular extension that was on my portable FF install.

so i plugged in my USB, quit the normal install of FF, started portable FF, i saw the launcher, launcher closed after a few secs, and i waited for about 20 secs or so, Portable FF didn't start so i closed the firefox.exe process in task manager, started up portable FF again.

This time it started up fine, but i noticed that it added HP's Smart Web Printing addon and McAfee's Site Advisor addon.

Both of these programs are installed on my computer, but i don't get why it added an addon to portable FF but not to my regular FF install.

oh and what's the difference between firefox.exe and portablefirefox.exe? i see both of them running in task manager, but i have only portable FF running.

Darkbee
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Always two processes

The portablefirefox.exe is kind of like the wrapper executable that does all the registry/local file cleanup after you're done with portable firefox..the same is true for all the portable apps.

whiskers
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ok i see. and i was

ok i see. Smile

and i was mistaken, in my previous post i mentioned that the two extensions were not added to my normal firefox install, but in fact they were. they were both just disabled because they weren't compatible with the normal firefox install version.

but i wonder what would happen if i use the portable FF with these two new extensions on another computer.

NathanJ79
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Extensions

whiskersbut i wonder what would happen if i use the portable FF with these two new extensions on another computer.

They don't install to Firefox Portable, they just get picked up for the trip. They stay on the local computer, they don't get copied to the flash drive.

Say Computer A has the McAfee one and Computer B has the HP printer one. Your Firefox Portable only has Adblock Plus on it. When you use Computer A you will have Adblock Plus and the McAfee one, and when you use Computer B you will have Adblock Plus and the HP printer one.

Darkbee
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Normal services resumed

You're absolutely sure about this? Ok, that helps me sleep better at night.

computerfreaker
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I'm sure

I'm positive about this; when I had dialup, I used to use FirefoxPortable on two computers (I'd load pages on the machine with Internet, then view them offline on the other machine) - FFP would always take on the addons of its host PC (as well as the addons I only installed in FFP, which of course stayed with me).

"The question I would like to know, is the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. All we know about it is that the Answer is Forty-two, which is a little aggravating."

vjcoop
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Option NOT to load local plugins/extenions/etc

Hi:

You say this is normal behavior? Not for a portable app. Yes, agreed its sometimes desirable to load settings from the local system, but part of the point of having a portable app is keeping it separate from the local system. For example, say you're bundling FirefoxPortable with an app on Server2Go...you might want to control what loads and what doesn't load to ensure your USB key app works. Without a setting to say "Hey, don't scan the local registry" how would you do that? There ought to be an option to turn this off in the .ini file. To tell the portable app to load ONLY those plugins, extensions and profiles that are pre-configured in its directory tree. I'm not going to be able to distribute FirefoxPortable with my app for this reason.

John T. Haller
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Talk to Mozilla, Distribution Restriction

The ability to disregard local plugins is something that needs adding to Firefox itself, it isn't something we can affect.

For distribution, keep in mind that you can only redistribute the unaltered binary installer for Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition the way we make it available. You can't repackage it into something else, even if you don't change anything, without permission from Mozilla.

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defcon12345
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This is not true. The TOR

This is not true. The TOR Bundle package is based on your Firefox PortableApps and it does indeed disregard local plugins AND local extensions.

John T. Haller
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Not Quite

Tor's version of FFP they are including uses a number of hacks to prevent the checks. Extension updating and compatibility checking is off. As are security updates/checks. Plugins like Acrobat, Quicktime, Java, Windows Media Player, etc are hacked in about:config to appear to be version 99.0, so Firefox won't use the 'older' version installed on the local PC. None of these changes are permitted by Mozilla in a product that has the Firefox trademark.

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defcon12345
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Huh?!

Alright sorry if I'm sounding dumb but I'm asking an honest question because I really don't understand...

What do you mean "None of these changes are permitted by Mozilla"? I want to make my own customized version of Firefox for my own use, how is this any different from changing the .css,.ini, .pgn, .xml, prefs.js, etc files on a default installation (non-portable directly from Mozilla directly to local client) Are you saying Mozilla doesn't allow us to mess around with the about:config or tweak the .css or whatever to our liking? There are thousands of tutorials out there telling us how to do this. That is the whole point of open source, the whole point of a PC. Otherwise if I want to be spoon feed and my hand held with training wheels I'd just get an ipad instead. Or maybe use Google Chrome's browser for dummies.

Then if it is strictly a "trademark" problem why not just get rid of all references to "Mozilla Firefox" and find/replace it to something/anything else and then you/we/anyone can do whatever we want with it?!

Firefox is Open source is it not? How is this any different than what SRWARE IRON did with Chrome?! They stripped everything Google related out of it (and all the privacy issues) and then just did whatever.. that is the whole point of open source.

The latest Tor Bundle for PC/Windows seems to have basically taken PortableApps base package (which itself piggybacks on Mozilla Firefox [which means they haven't resolved the trademark issue!!!!!]) and then added a Tor extension and some extra stuff and so technically are you saying TOR is breaking the law? If that is true, So what is Mozilla going to do about it? Exactly nothing. So why are you fretting? They issued you a cease and desist letter or something? Is that why they TOR bundle rename the actual firefox.exe to tbb-firefox.exe and change it at runtime and then change it back to original after the Tor client is closed?!

Also, on the about page of this website it says the portable app is a "A fully open source and free platform,"... But you don't mean Portable App itself is open source right? How can I see the source code you used to make the FirefoxPortable.exe and related files so I can compile my own version?! Basically what is your process , have you open sourced the tool that you use to make these portable apps or not? Then if not, how can you say your site is open source? You can only say your packages are based on open source software. What is it you actually mean by open source? Your FirefoxPortable.exe does an integrity checksum at runtime that prevents me from changing the firefox icon.. How is this open source? Where is the code?

Edit: the see the point is, I understand the technicalities of trademark protection and all that.. but the people on this forum asking for help in blocking automatic extension detection aren't making portable apps to distribute to the public like you are. they are wanting to know how to tweak it to suit their own needs. It is no different than if they were tweaking a nonportable firefox which mozilla has no control over.. (even if they did, how are they going to enforce it? ) so I don't see why you felt the need to withhold any information.. Cause along your line of reasoning, the fact that I have tweaked my WinXP "start" button to display a different five character word does that mean I should be in Guantanamo? I mean since Windows isn't even open source?

John T. Haller
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Simple

It's pretty simple, really. We have specific permission from Mozilla to make some very specific modifications to Firefox and redistribute it as "Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition" and keep the Firefox trademarks intact. Those permissions do not extend to 3rd parties (others can redistribute our unaltered binary installers, but can't repackage it). So, we can't make the modifications in question and then distribute them as a Firefox package. Nor can anyone else take our work and make those changes and still call it Firefox and keep the Firefox logo without similar permission/licensing from Mozilla. Trademark law allows them to protect their trademark in that fashion and prohibits anyone from distributing a product with their trademark on it without their permission.

That doesn't mean you can't make some of those changes yourself. You can. You can tweak it to your heart's content. But you can't then redistribute those settings combined with a Firefox browser (portable or not). And it's not a matter of just searching and replacing. You need to recompile the browser itself (a not-simple thing to do). And it won't support automatic upgrades of the browser anymore.

Some of the changes made in the package are a bad idea and may cause bad things to happen (since your own portable extensions won't know when they are out of date - often needing an update for a bug fix or possibly a security issue). Others won't (like setting your Acrobat version really high, as long as you have no intention of using Acrobat on any PC you use). You can see the changes in their prefs.js file and pick and choose the ones you'd like. Some, just google the entry name to learn what it does.

The code for Firefox Portable is in the Other\Source directory, where it's always been. You can recompile it using NSIS Portable, which we also make available (and is also open source). All our launchers and installers do a self CRC check (and are digitally signed) to ensure they are not infected with malware. It's for the user's protection.

Our software is open source, meaning we provide the full source code for our launchers, installers, custom apps (PA.c AppCompactor, Toucan, JkDefrag Portable's GUI, EraserDrop, etc), and all our base apps we portablize that are themselves open source (we don't distribute the source for freeware apps, obviously).

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

defcon12345
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Okay thanks for the

Okay thanks for the explanation and sorry if I sounded a bit rude.

Firefox is the most customizable browser (which is its strongest point, chrome is faster but I say no thanks to training-wheels and I don't want my hand held by Google) and that is why I like to customized it just the way I like. I used to do the MozBackup thing (to sync/migrate settings across computers) but after I found out about PortableApps version its basically a backup in and of itself (just zip and unzip the folder) and tada! So thanks for making this available. I'm not looking forward to firefox 4 so that's why I want to customize 3.6.8 to as best as I can and tailor it towards my needs.

The problem with the about:config entires is that they are non-exhaustive and I have asked about this question on the default Mozilla support forums, on the mozillaZine Forums and people have accused me of cross posting but ironically no one seems to have a straight up answer to a simple question. For FF3.6.X where is a COMPLETE list of all about:config possible entries? There seems to be a lot of "hidden", "dormant" and non-obvious entries that are not included in the default about:config and not documented either at the Mozilla developer website nor at the About:config preferences listing page at the MozillaZine Knowledge Base.. Basically I want to know all that I can potentially tweak in the prefs and .js files, and though I have already changed a lot - I have a feeling there are a lot of other "hidden" entries that are not publicized and that one really has to dig to find..

One last thing, on my portable FF3.6.8 I have it to show "full path" for plugins.. on my "about:plugins" page I see my "Mozilla Default Plug-in" with MIME Type "*" pointing to a location that does not longer even exists! Basically I installed this package (your FirefoxPortable_3.6.8_English.paf.exe) at that location/directory and then made changes (zipped it) and carried it with me.. but for one reason or another I have hence reformatted that computer and yet it is still pointing to a directory that does not even exists?!

In contrast my Shockwave Flash plugins seem "truly portable" in that FFP seems to detect it in the right location every time no matter where I take it..

Is the Mozilla Default Plug-in even necessary?

EDIT:

I got the firefox-3.6.8.source.tar and since I've never compiled firefox before I guess there is no Visual Studio compilation version is there? So no go on Windows machine.

I installed nsis-2.46-setup.exe and located the \Other\Source but compilation gave a

"Error in script "C:\Documents and Settings\PC\Desktop\FirefoxPortable\Other\Source\FirefoxPortableU.nsi" on line 67 -- aborting creation process"

Do I need to compile the actual Firefox source code first? What do I do with the mozilla-1.9.2 folder that's 293 MB?

John T. Haller
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Don't Move

You can't move an app and expect it to automatically work. Firefox Portable, like most portable apps, is designed to be installed to a location and then have the drive move (and drive letter change). If the path changes (by you zipping it up and unzipping it elsewhere), some things won't be updated.

There are many about:config entries. I know of no fully exhaustive list of everything.

I can't assist you with compiling Firefox as we have no need of doing that. For compiling Firefox Portable, I'd said you needed NSIS Portable (which is NSIS Unicode and includes the requisite plugins). Standard NSIS won't work.

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Simeon
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plugins

You are missing some plugins. Check the top of the script, it should be listed which plugins are needed.

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TachisAlopex
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The Fix - for anyone else in the future who needs this like me

about:config

Boolean plugin.scan.plid.all = false
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Plugin_scanning

Integer extensions.enabledScopes = 0
https://developer.mozilla.org/en/Addons/Add-on_Manager/AddonManager#Inst...

This will disable both the local plugins and addons taken from the registry. Thanks to the guy's at Bugzilla to answer this.

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