Mar
21
2007

Sharing Firefox profiles across Operating Systems

I like Firefox because of innumerable extensions and settings that are available to the user. Not only that, it is the (only?) browser that was available across all the operating systems which provided me with an OS independent experience that the Internet is truly meant to be. 

One of the gripes I had about this was that I had to install Firefox for every Operating System (OS) that was there on my computer. So on my home computer which had Windows ME, Windows XP and Ubuntu, I had to install Firefox separatelyfor each of them. I could understand this as they were separate OSes and required different binaries for themselves. But installing all the Extensions and Themes for each and every OS was just plain irritating.

Browsing through www.mozilla.org I saw an article on Profile management in Firefox. Profiles allow different users to have individual settings for a software on the same computer. But this is not what I wanted to do. I wanted to use the same profile across different installations of Firefox, on different OSes, in my machine.

So how I did this was -

  1. This step can vary but I will outline the simplest solution. Linux can access your mounted FAT or NTFS drives easily. So we would create the profile folder on a Windows partition and instruct Linux to read data from there.

    For this, locate the profile in Windows and note down the name like xxxxxxxx.default. It will reside  

    • On Windows Vista/XP/2000, the path is usually %AppData%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default\, where xxxxxxxx is a random string of 8 characters. Just browse to C:\Documents and Settings\[User Name]\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\ on Windows XP/2000 or C:\users\[User Name]\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\ on Windows Vista, and the rest should be obvious.
    • On Windows 95/98/Me, the path is usually C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default\
  2. Now for each of the other OSes, open up profiles.ini in a text editor. The file is located in the application data folder for Firefox:

    • On Windows Vista/XP/2000, the path is %AppData%\Mozilla\Firefox\
    • On Windows 95/98/Me, the path is usually C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\
    • On Linux, the path is ~/.mozilla/firefox/
  3. Change IsRelative=1 to IsRelative=0.
  4. Change Path=<something> to Path=C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default\ (assuming that the profile that you selected in step 1 was in this location).
  5. For Linux, set the Path according to the location of the folder in the mounted drive (Assuming the local mount folder is /media/cdrive your path will be /media/cdrive/WINDOWS/Application Data/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles/xxxxxxxx.default)
  6. That’s it! Your Firefox Extensions, Themes, Settings, Cache and History will be shared across all the operating Systems.
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