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Rolling one's own installer

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apendleton
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Rolling one's own installer

We have a situation where we'd like to deploy a whole bunch of copies of portable FF to USB sticks, each with the same set of customizations preset (certain modules added, config settings changed, etc.). Is it possible to roll one's own portable FF installer with this stuff already done? If so, what's the easiest way to do it?

Jimbo
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There isn't a current tool to do so

and, more than that, surprisingly enough, it would actually be illegal to do what you suggest.

Specifically, the licence for FireFox only allows you to distribute a completely unmodified verison of it. PortableApps.com have a separate agreement with Mozilla to distribute the portable version, but even in that there are strictly agreed limits on what changes can be made (essentially, more or less none).

So, unless you get permission from the Mozilla Corporation, you cannot legally redistribute Firefox in a modified form, unless you change the product name and the branding (i.e. download the sources and roll your own - there is good support in the source code for doing this, but it is still quite a task).

One alternative way to do it would be to have a zipfile (or other installer) of a default profile, which included the addons and settings that you wanted, which you could then distribute side-by-side with, but separately to, the standard Firefox (portable) installer. As long as you were explicit and clear about what each part was, I think that doing it that way would be legal. (IANAL)

apendleton
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Okay...

I'd imagine we'd probably go the build-our-own route, then. When you say "download the sources," though, do you mean stock Firefox sources (which would just build be a regular FF install), or are there pre-modified Portable FF sources I could grab and build? I'm not particularly intimidated by compiling things, but it'd be nice if the process could be relatively automated, so that we wouldn't have to put in a whole bunch of manual effort to redo the "make it portable" steps each time there was a new version of FF or an extension we wanted to use.

John T. Haller
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Firefox Trademark

What he's referring to is the fact that the only legal way to distribute Firefox Portable on a USB drive is to install a default, unaltered version from here to X:\PortableApps\FirefoxPortable. No changes may be made to it (modules, settings, bookmarks, etc) without the express consent of Mozilla.

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

apendleton
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Right

I get that, and I'm willing to rebrand the whole thing, which would make the whole thing legal (the trademarks are the only problem, as the source is licensed under the MPL, which means anyone can rebuild it and redistribute what they built; it just has to be called something else, per the about:license page). All I'm asking, now, is if I can download the pre-modified Portable version of the source, or if I have to construct it myself from the stock FF tree.

Jimbo
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The stock tree

but the good news is that, since they expect people to do this, all the branding and naming stuff that you will need to change is brought together in one place (as far as I remember)

All the build instructions and prereqs are at http://www.mozilla.org/build/

John T. Haller
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Different

You have to download the full firefox source itself and recompile it with branding off and then alter it to your own name (which can't contain firefox, fire, fox, mozilla, etc). Then you can take the Firefox Portable source for the launcher and recompile and rebrand that similarly.

Firefox Portable actually includes a full regular version of Firefox which we use under a licensing agreement with Mozilla, so we don't recompile it for Firefox Portable. But that license doesn't extend to 3rd parties. So you need to recompile and rebrand both Firefox itself (and release any changes under the GPL/MPL/LGPL) and our portable launcher (and release any changes under the GPL).

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

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