Locking Down Firefox

Clocker

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Howdy Guys- My Dad is in his 70's now. He's forgetful. He has a tendency to somehow screw up his Firefox settings. Maybe by hitting hotkeys on the keyboard on accident. He loses his Menu bar, bookmarks pane etc. on different occasions. Not sure how he's doing it. Anyway...is there any way I can lock down Firefox so none of his settings and the Firefox UI can be changed (other than adding new bookmarks)?

Thanks,
Clocker
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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LOL. I need one of those (but for the whole computer) so my 83 y/o pop doesn't install 23616 malware programs this week.
Probably start with Spybot's Immunizations and combine with Adblock Plus with as many optional subs as their computer will bear.
You can also set his user rights to Standard User and give him a mandatory Windows profile, but that's probably overkill.

Clocker, what you might want to do is set up his baseline user profile in the ways that you want, then use a combination of Adblock+ (which should be mandatory anyway) with Lastpass and Xmarks to de-localize his bookmarks and password management. He'll need to know or remember his Lastpass password, but IIRC Xmarks synchronizes on exit, so it'll push changes back even if the local bookmark file can't be permanently written to.
 

Clocker

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Thanks guys. AB+ is already in full effect on his computer & he uses a Standard Windows 7 User account.

The main thing I am looking to lock down are his setting related to the Firefox UI...so he can't ever lose his Menu Bar, or get lost in Full Screen mode etc. Other than that he is doing decently and I don't see a need to lock down his bookmarks. Sorry if I wasn't clear.
 

time

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There are just so many ways to disable the toolbars in Firefox, I wondered if you wouldn't be better off with a different browser?

Solution 1: Use Chrome and set the Home page to chrome://bookmarks. Even if he hides the bookmarks bar, he can still click on the Home button to open the bookmarks manager.

Note that you can also use Ctrl+Shift+B to toggle the bookmarks bar; in Firefox this displays the bookmarks manager.

Solution 2: Use Opera 28 or later. The bookmarks bar can only be enabled or disabled through Settings, so it's impossible to accidentally hide it.
Opera also has a proper 'tile menu' implementation, dubbed "SpeedDial", which may be all he needs in the way of bookmarks. Tip: to create a SpeedDial folder, create it in the bookmarks first, then right-click to send it to SpeedDial. I really like the way these folders work once they're set up.
On top of all that, there's a link to the bookmarks manager at the bottom of each new tab.
You can also do the Home button trick I suggested with Chrome, only the URL is opera://bookmarks, but I think the other features make that a little unnecessary.
Note that Opera is a completely different product to days of yore and is now based on Chromium, just like Chrome. I haven't used it for a long time, but it's starting to look quite interesting.
 

time

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Another idea is to create a desktop shortcut that copies a backup preferences file over the top of the current one.

Look under C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Roaming\<appname>\< filename>.

For Opera, <appname>\<filename> is "Opera Software\Opera Next\Preferences" or "Opera Software\Opera Stable\Preferences".

For Chrome (in my case), it's C:\Users\<username>\Local\Google\Chrome\UserData\Default\Preferences".

Firefox is more complicated.
 

time

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OK, the idea in the last post only works with Opera. Chrome has a dummy spit because the file has changed. I wouldn't be surprised if it's updating it even with the browser closed.
 

snowhiker

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Probably start with Spybot's Immunizations and combine with Adblock Plus with as many optional subs as their computer will bear.
I was being facetious.

But yes. I have already installed Spybot w/Immunizations, Spyware Blaster w/Protections and installed AB+ with all the optional recommended subs per your excellent Anti-malware document here. He seems to be malware/bullshit free for the time being.
 

Mercutio

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There are just so many ways to disable the toolbars in Firefox, I wondered if you wouldn't be better off with a different browser?
If he's on a read-only profile, if he ever gets lost, he can close and re-open the browser. Which is what old people usually do when they get lost in an application anyway.
If Xmarks and Lastpass are present, everything that might need to be dynamic about that profile would still be available for change. That's true of any browser with Lastpass and Xmarks, but still worth mention.

Another option that no one has brought up because it was for so long utterly unthinkable: IE is easily managed through security policy settings. You can set it up in exactly the way you want it so that users can't change it at all.
I actually think IE is a better browser than Chrome right now
 

Mercutio

Fatwah on Western Digital
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Six of one, half a dozen of the other, but for the last 9 months or so, I've removed more crap from infested Chrome installations than from IE11 while at the same time finding that Chrome is increasingly disrespectful of system resources. It wasn't that long ago that Chrome was the "light" browser and now I don't even want to install it on low-spec PCs.
 

Bozo

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Can't you set the system to not save changes? A reboot puts everything back to square one.
 
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