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Firefox Hacks by Nigel McFarlane

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Hack #25. Migrate Firefox Profiles

Move user data between separate Firefox installations or between separate versions.

Welcome to complexity. Every piece of software has an Achilles heel, and Firefox's is the tangle of issues that surround its user profiles. Moving profiles is tricky, and you have to be careful. Fortunately, it's a well-established problem and all that's required is excessive care. There are plans afoot to simplify all of this in a future, minor version. But for now, moving complete Firefox profiles is difficult for numerous reasons:

  • Use of absolute pathnames in some configuration files causes problems.

  • Some pathnames aren't portable across Windows, Unix, and Macintosh.

  • Profiles are constrained to obey operating system conventions on all platforms.

  • Some features were completed only recently, after protracted investigation.

  • There are numerous deployment variations, all of which have to be catered for.

  • Security requirements for salted directory names [Hack #11] make life harder.

  • Some information is stored outside profiles in registry files (registry.dat, mozver.dat, and the Windows Registry on Windows, registry on Unix).

  • Preferences customized at the platform level can affect profiles [Hack #23] .

There are at least three ways to effect a partial escape from these problems:

  • The Windows-only solution is to use MozBackup (http://mozbackup.jasnapaka.com/), a small backup tool that copies the web browsing state information only (history, bookmarks, etc.). It's a simple copy ...

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