Imaging Mozilla and Netscape
Novell Cool Solutions: Feature
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Posted: 16 Sep 2004
Question: Thomas D. wrote: We use ZENworks imaging at our college (Truckee Meadows Community College, Reno, NV)and have almost no problems with it. However, two apps are causing headaches: Netscape and Mozilla.
Both browsers can be installed and are fully functional on the master machine, but when the master is duplicated (via ZEN), those two apps will not be functional on the client machines. The icons are there but when trying to run the app, only an empty message box comes up. Even re-installation on the local machine will not work.
I assume it is the way Netscape and Mozilla are written, since we don't have any other apps that cause problems like this. (We install about 60 different applications for the student labs.)
Have other colleges or users experienced similar problems, and what can be done about it, if anything at all?
Answer: OPEN CALL: Anyone got any experience with this that they can share with Thomas? Let us know.
- Sande Nissen
- Christopher Smith
- Jimmy Benson
- Tony Skalski
- Greg Molyneux
- Matt Pierce
- Mike Garcia
- Patrick Farrell
- Deb Schaalma
- Stephen Joseph Butler NEW
I have an answer for this! (At least for Mozilla, and I'll bet Netscape 7 works the same.) After years of searching (really!), a colleague taught me this undocumented trick. I'd cite the source if I knew where it came from.
- Login in a userprofile that will act as your source, your template. As that user, customize everything you want in Mozilla.
- Exit Mozilla. Find the Mozilla settings under %USERPROFILE%\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles, usually in something like default\asdfd896.slt (darn junk-filled "salt" name).
- Rename that .slt directory to 00000000.slt (careful--that has to be exactly eight zeroes).
- Delete %USERPROFILE%\Application Data\Mozilla\*.dat (registry.dat and pluginreg.dat)
- Copy %USERPROFILE%\Application Data\Mozilla\*.* and all its contents to C:\Documents and Settings\Default User\Application Data\Mozilla (or wherever your Default User profile is stored). Make sure there are no other .slt directories under there except the 00000000.slt one you just copied.
- Now when a new user logs onto this PC and gets a new userprofile created, it will have that dat-less Mozilla\...\00000000.slt directory. And when the user starts Mozilla, he should get all the customizations you made, with no prompts about creating Mozilla user profiles.
- So what do you do about users who already have a userprofile on this PC? I think this will work, but I haven't tried it: In that user's profile, delete the Mozilla directory under Application Data, then copy the Default User Mozilla directory to this user profile, as in step 5. Note that this loses all this user's customizations, bookmarks, and cookies.
- Don't want to lose a user's customizations, bookmarks, and cookies? Try the free MozBackup utility. It lets you save all Mozilla settings on one PC, and then load them on another.
It sounds like you are setting up a master workstation as you want all the other workstations to be and then distributing the image.
We had problems with this as some apps link in to the hardware on a machine.
Here at Kingston University we took the approach of installing a OS-only base image (the client is an addon image) and then building up all the applications we require on top of that using install files put out via forceruns.
This not only ensures that the applications get installed as the distributer intended (correct DLL's, etc.) but also gives us amazing flexibility. For example, when I was creating the image in the first place, Novell updated the client twice. No need to build a new image, just a new addon that does an ACU install (automated Client Upgrade).
If you want more details feel free to mail me Kris.Smith_at_Gmail.com
What I have seen here in our school environment is an issue with local profiles in regards to the web browser since we use the ZEN dynamic local user policy and remove local profiles upon logout. Therefore, unless you setup the ZEN application object to copy the local profile files for Netscape everytime ("Copy Always" within the Application object), the program will not work upon launch due to the necessary files not being present in the local profile. The local profile files can be found at C:\Documents and Settings\%USER%\Application Data\Mozilla.
Therefore, I would suggest the person look at the local profiles on the machine to see if a resolution can be found there - especially if the problem happens with users other than the original user who installed the program. I do not put software installs in my images (use ZEN application explorer to deploy software), but I assume this same issue would exist with this particular scenario as well.
I believe the problem is the fact that both Mozilla and Netscape look to %USERPROFILE%\Application Data\Mozilla for configuration information, specifically, registry.dat and pluginreg.dat. I saw this issue when I did a build with both Mozilla and Netscape.
We've decided to avoid this problem and go with Firefox and Thunderbird. Both of these now support a startup switch to point to a profile directory. You no longer have to muck with .dat files and .slt directories. We have two ZENworks apps which run:
- firefox.exe -Profile H:\firefox
- thunderbird.exe -Profile H:\tbird
which point to profile directories in user home directories. If they do not exist, Firefox and Thunderbird load it up with defaults from their program directories and you're off and running. We're adding extra login to the ZENworks app to write out a prefs.js file preconfigured with the user's email account already setup.
I haven't tried Sande's solution yet, but it sounds promising. Not quite a year ago, I ran into the same problem. We were attempting to include Netscape 7.1 on our base image, and got the same results as Thomas describes. Reinstalling does work, but BEFORE reinstalling, you have to uninstall NS 7.1, and delete the 'C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\...' directory that Sande describes. After that, rebooting and reinstalling should work fine.
Note that this appears to be a problem with the Mozilla trunk code at the time Netscape 7.1 was released (they're built from the same codebase).
Quick fix: Image with Netscape 7.02 instead of 7.1. Whatever the specific problem is, I've never experienced it with 7.02, and that'sstill the version we replicate out with our base images. The newest versions of Mozilla MAY be ok, I've never tested them for the problem.
Possible option: Try Firefox. It's a small, fast, very compatible rewrite of the Mozilla codebase, and has a bright future (see http://mozillanews.org/?article_date=2004-07-23+18-06-59 and similar articles). I've never tried including Firefox on a ZENworks image, but it might be worth a shot. If anybody does try it, I'm sure we'd all like to know how it works out.
WOW!!! It's about time. We have been waiting for an article like this to come along and save us from our sinking Mozilla imaging ship. Thanks Sande and Tony for your suggestions especially, as they sound great, and we will start working with first thing tomorrow. And for the rest of you guys, you have great suggestions too, but these two will be just right for us.
I would like to get snapshot pictures of your app object(s) Tony if you don't mind. [Editor: Tony, if you're willing to share pictures, send them to email@example.com.] Thanks also to COOL SOLUTIONS for this forum as it's helped us out several times, and I'll speak for everyone when I say, "It's MUCH appreciated!"
I believe the reason Netscape and Mozilla break on ZENworks Imaging, is that they are both tied to the SID on the local Windows 2k-XP machine. And when you image Windows 2k-XP pcs they all get new SIDs, unless you turn this ZENworks feature off in the registry.
We did some "googling" and found this article useful.
I've never had a problem imaging systems with Mozilla, However in addition to that, I have also just pushed it down as a ZENworks application more recently. Due to its version changes, I don't include it in the base image anymore.
- Run the installer. After the extraction section, do not click next.
- Go to your temp folder in c:\documents and settings\username\local settings\temp\ns_temp
These are the extracted install files. Edit the config.ini
- Be sure to browse through the entire file as you can exclude components from install further down. There is a website that documents this pretty well.
- Once you have everything set the way you want, build a ZENworks package, that executes the setup.exe
I have been trying to do more or less what Tony suggested with Firefox, but have discovered one problem with that. If the user clicks on a link in an email, a PDF, or other document, and their browser is not already open, Firefox creates a new profile in the default location of %USERPROFILE%\Application Data\Mozilla because it is not using the startup switch, i.e. firefox.exe -Profile H:\firefox. So now the user ends up with two different profiles, custom settings, bookmarks, etc. depending on how Firefox was opened. It won't be long till I have a lot of irate users!
In an attempt to fix Deb Schaalma's problem, we searched the distributed registry keys for any that ran Firefox. The two big sections are:
Where you see a Firefox path, for example:
%SHORT_TARGET_PATH\FIREFOX.EXE -url "%1"
add in the profile option:
%SHORT_TARGET_PATH\FIREFOX.EXE -Profile H:\Firefox -url "%1"
That seems to work for us.
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