[K12OSN] Firefox Default Home Page

Chuck Kollars ckollars9 at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 26 05:02:45 UTC 2008

> ... In my lab it is really important that we lock 
> the Firefox home page so that we can supply links to
>  the services of our library for our students. So 
> far my understanding is that I can create a skel 
> file that would set the beginning preference for 
> users but then they can change them after that. ...

I just went through this in great gory detail and
found something different than I expected.

In general Firefox preferences are set in files with
the extension ".js" with calls to subroutines 
pref(...) [for default settings], user_pref(...) [for
user-specific overrides] and lock_pref(...) [for
things users aren't allowed to change]. There are
usually several of these files, some per-system and
others per-user, processed in order, and you can
insert your changes in any one of many places (which
is probably why answers differ). 

[Don't be fooled; some of these subroutines have two
names: lock_pref(...) is the same as lockPref(...),[

On some Linux systems the initial settings are in
/etc/firefox/pref/*. This is system-wide, so you
escape trying to twiddle individual user settings,
perhaps with something in /etc/skel (unless of course
users have already made their own change). You can
either modify the file that's there or add an entirely
new file of your own (Firefox will process everything
in the whole directory) so long as the settings don't
conflict with what's already there. And by using
lock_pref(...) you get Firefox itself to enforce the
permanence of your setting so you don't need to fiddle
with 'cron'. 

_HOWEVER_, what works 99% of the time usually doesn't
work for the "home page" setting!!!

The home page setting is usually considered integral
to "branding" and is usually pre-set by your
distributor in a "chrome:" file. Changing it isn't
hard  ...the second time. The brute force approach of
forcing a setting into every individual user as though
they had made the change themselves will work, but can
be difficult to implement and easy to hack. 

What works better is to "un-jar" the right chrome:
file, find the setting, change it, and "re-jar" the
right chrome: file. Be careful not to change (or add
or delete) anything else in the file as this might
prevent the Chrome-JAR file from working at all. (If
you don't have a tool to handle "jar" archives, just
use WinZip; ZIP and JAR are approximately the same

Detailed directions on how to do this do exist on the
web; I've seen them and used them. They are hard to
find though, in fact I can't find them again at the
moment. Google for something like "firefox home

good luck!

-Chuck Kollars

Never miss a thing.  Make Yahoo your home page. 

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