Friday, November 23, 2007

Build your Own: Firefox 3 (alpha/beta) Portable

Unless you have had too much turkey in your system, or been trapped in long-lines at the mall, you may have heard mention that Firefox has released a beta 1 version of Firefox 3.0.

This really isn't a build for the weak-of-heart.  While it is very usable, there are a lot of things that still don't-quite-work right yet.

So what do you do if you want to play with it, but are afraid it might corrupt or damage your Firefox 2.0 installation?

Make a portable/standalone version, of course!

Method 1 - Roll the latest Firefox 3.0 "Minefield/beta" nightly release!

This method is entirely CyberNet News's hard work.  If followed exactly, you will end up getting the most current "Minefield" version of Firefox 3.0.  This is actually going to be newer than the Beta 1 I would still consider it effectively alpha-level.

Just follow the steps and links Ryan outlines in his clearly-written post: Using Firefox Portable to Test Nightly Releases

  1. Download his custom ZIP file that includes the launcher and structure files.
  2. Extract the files to a "FirefoxPortable" folder which should be created in the unpacking process.
  3. Download the latest nightly (Minefield) trunk release.  Look for the .zip file version!
  4. Extract this file into a resulting "firefox" folder.
  5. Copy/Paste the "firefox" folder and sub-contents from step 4 into the \FirefoxPortable\App\ subfolder.
  6. Run the FirefoxPortable.exe file in the FirefoxPortable folder and away you go!


Method 2 - Roll the Firefox 3.0 Beta 1 release

This method is one I worked out which is based on Ryan's method and files from above.  However, if you don't want to play with the "Minefield" version, but do want to test the Firefox 3.0 Beta 1 version, you will have do do a few more steps in this method.

  1. Download Ryan's custom ZIP file that includes the launcher and structure files.
  2. Extract the files to a "FirefoxPortable" folder which should be created in the unpacking process.
  3. Download the Firefox 3 Beta 1 setup file.
  4. Download, install, and run the freeware application Universal Extractor to unpack the "Firefox Setup 3.0 Beta 1.exe" file into its components.
  5. Manually create a "firefox" folder in the "FirefoxPortable\App\" folder from step 2.
  6. Now open up the unpacked "Firefox Setup 3.0 Beta 1" folder which was created.
  7. You will see three sub-folders: "localized," "nonlocalized," and "optional".
  8. Open up the "nonlocalized" folder and copy ALL the files and folders into the "\FirefoxPortable\App\firefox\" folder you made.
  9. Open up the "Firefox Setup 3.0 Beta 1\optional\extensions\" sub-folder and copy the "" folder into the extensions folder now in your "\FirefoxPortable\App\firefox\extensions\" folder.
  10. Open the "Firefox Setup 3.0 Beta 1\localized" folder and copy all the files/folders in it into the "\FirefoxPortable\App\firefox\" folder.
  11. Run the "FirefoxPortable.exe" program in the FirefoxPortable folder.

Should work like a charm! Did on my Vista and XP systems at least...


If you want, on his page, Ryan shows you how to copy your Firefox profile into your portable build creation as well.  I have found that most Firefox 2.x Add-on/extensions don't work well in version 3.0.  You can get and use the Nightly Tester Tools extension to help force compatiblity and operation with some, but it doesn't work with all...Sage simply refuses to work, no doubt due to "Places" redesign.

I just prefer to "Export" my Firefox 2.0 version bookmarks to the desktop.  Then go back and "Import" them into the new Firefox 3.0 version.  That works good enough for testing/playing in Firefox 3.0 beta/nightly releases.

Finally, Ryan's portable-launcher makes use of a very clever trick to enable the portable version to run at the same time as the stable Firefox 2.0 version on your system and not conflict with each other!  This is really great for side-by-side testing and comparison of the two versions.


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