Although this is technically a blog, it's primary content is a series of articles on how to get Firefox working in a corporate Windows environment. Later ones build on earlier ones, so you might want to use the Table of Contents on the right to read through it chronologically instead of reading straight down from here.

Autoconfiguring XMarks for the Logged In User

Last updated October 2016


Set up a WebDAV Server

If you've already done this and are just upgrading Firefox and XMarks, you can skip this section.  If you're just joining us, read on.

You need a server for XMarks to sync to, and it supports both WebDAV and FTP.  They recommend WebDAV so that's what we're using.

I originally set this up on a Windows Server 2003 machine, so the rest of the instructions in this section are for IIS 6.  You can use Apache or whatever else you want but you're on your own.  This page might help though.

Add IIS and WebDAV to the server if they're not already installed.  Go to Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs > Add/Remove Windows Components > Application Server > Internet Information Services (IIS) > World Wide Web Service and check off Word Wide Web Service and WebDAV Publishing.

Now go to Administrative Tools > Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager, find your web site (Default Web Site or one you created if you already had it installed) and go into its Properties.

I personally changed the TCP port to 8082 and made a DNS alias "FirefoxBookmarks" to the server so I can move it around if need be, but that's not required.

Go to the Home Directory tab and make sure Read and Write are checked off.  You also want to go to the folder it shows under Local Path and make sure Everyone has read and write NTFS permissions on them (right click the folder in Explorer > Properties > Security.)

Go to the HTTP Headers tab and click MIME Types.  Add .json as text/css.

You should be all set on this part.  Make sure syncing works with a manually installed and configured copy of XMarks before continuing.


Pushing Out the Configuration

This also hasn't changed since my last post, so if you're just upgrading Firefox and XMarks you can skip this.  Otherwise, read on.

Hey, remember the script from this post?  Yeah, go get that.  Change the webDAVURL variable to point to the server you just set up.  You can run it manually on your own computer until you're sure it's working correctly, but when you roll this out you want it to be a login script in Active Directory.

These are the settings it creates for you in user.js:
  • extensions.xmarks.syncOnShutdown = 1
  • extensions.xmarks.syncOnShutdownAsk = false
    Remember how I like things to Just Work™?  Well part of that is not risking the server's copy going out of date so they're wondering where their new bookmarks are, so I force the shutdown sync.  It only takes a second or two, and this way they don't have an unnecessary popup asking them about it either.
  • extensions.xmarks.useOwnServer = true
  • extensions.xmarks.url-bookmarks = "[webDAVURL]/[username]-bookmarks.json"
    This is where their bookmarks are going to be saved.
  • extensions.xmarks.url-passwords = "[webDAVURL]/[username]-passwords.json"
    This is where their passwords will be saved if they set it up.  I didn't bother trying to make it happen automatically.
  • extensions.xmarks.username = "[username]"
    Don't know if it's strictly necessary, but we want XMarks to think it's fully configured so it doesn't open the setup window.
We still have the little problem of the password.  It isn't stored in user.js so we can't push it out that way.  It isn't required by WebDAV so we don't even need it, but XMarks thinks it does and will pop up the setup window without it.  Grr.

So it's time to hack XMarks.


Editing XMarks

Go get the XMarks XPI and unpack it as described in the beginning of this article.  Then prepare it for editing with the instructions at the beginning of this article.  Yes, we must go through all that for signing if we want our edited copy to work with Firefox 48 and later.  The edits below are all based on XMarks 4.3.19 so let me know if they stop working on newer versions and I need to update these instructions.

Open modules\settings.jsm.  Search for "get passwordNoPrompt(){".  Immediately after the brace add:

return "ignore";

This makes XMarks think it always has a password.  However, this still isn't enough to make it not pop up that "almost done" notification so we have to take that out too.  Open chrome\content\foxmarks-overlay.js, search for "NewUserPopup", and delete this whole section:

xm.NewUserPopup(JSON.parse(data));

Now it's configured and quiet, but XMarks doesn't sync as soon as it starts up.  We want it to do that so that when someone signs in to a new computer, their bookmarks are there quickly.  While still in chrome\content\foxmarks-overlay.js, search for "xm.tabs.Changed();" and right after that add:

setTimeout(function(){Xmarks.fms.synchronize(true);},8000);

Be mindful of capitalization here.  It's Xmarks, not XMarks.

This syncs XMarks eight seconds after it starts up.  Why don't we just call XMarks.fms.synchronize() directly instead of using a timeout?  I did this previously but I've found that sometimes it fires before Firefox has fully loaded the bookmarks, leading XMarks to pop up a conflict message to the user about having xxx bookmarks on the server and x bookmarks in the browser.  I'm hoping this avoids that.

We're almost done, but XMarks annoyingly wants to open a tab of release notes every time it's updated.  We don't want to bug our users with this, so since we're editing the code anyway it's easier to just disable it.  Open modules\service.jsm, search for "firefox/upgrade", and delete everything from "Xmarks.OpenInNewTab" before it to "FoxmarksBuildPostData(num_bookmarks));" after it.

That's all our changes.  You can now package up your edited copy of XMarks and get it signed with the rest of the instructions here.  Then you can package your signed extension as an MSI using the rest of the instructions here.  When making a new package in Active Directory, make sure you select the Advanced deployment method and set it to replace your previous XMarks packages on the Upgrade tab.  That will cause the old version to be uninstalled before installing this one.

Hey, couldn't I have just done all this for you and let you download the pre-hacked MSI?  No.  XMarks isn't open source, so I can't redistribute it.  I can just give you instructions on how to do it yourself.



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