Monday, 16 August 2010

Keeping Your Firefox Data Synced

Have you ever had that experience where you really want to show a friend this cool bookmark and then found it's on your other partition, or other computer?

I triple-boot my laptop, which is nice for having a bit of variety but not so much for my Firefox bookmarks and such, as sometimes I forget which OS I had site X bookmarked on and I lose time rebooting and finding it. But luckily I stumbled across a post which told me how to sync my Ubuntu and Windows Firefox profiles, it was a little out of date but I gave it a shot and hey presto it worked! Not only did it work it allowed me to do the same thing with my Hackintosh partition too. Brilliant.

The common denominator here was Windows, or at least an NTFS partition that can be written to and read from by everything you want synced. FAT would work fine though. Get yourself one of these, a Windows partition will work great.

Step 1 – You need to figure out what exactly you want synced. Is it separate systems on a single machine or is it to be spread across machines? If it's separate systems on a single machine you will want to make sure you use a Windows partition or create a new NTFS or FAT partition for the purpose, and that this is mounted automatically by whatever other system you'll be using. I believe OS X will do this on a Mac by default and Linux can be set to automatically mount it at startup. If you'll be syncing data across machines I suggest using something that will ALWAYS be available – Network drives will work best, but what happens if you take your laptop elsewhere? A thumbdrive would work but would be rather faffy, so I would recommend using a Dropbox account to sync the data if you're to be doing this across a laptop and a Desktop.

Step 2 – You need to access the Firefox profile manager to create a new profile, unless you can move your current profile to somewhere universally available. To access profile manager make sure that Firefox is completely shut down. If you'e not sure use killall or an equivalent command. (Ctrl+Q or Cmd+Q). Then:

Linux - Enter a terminal then type firefox -profilemanager (bear in mind if you installed Firefox via a tarball in /opt/ you will need to change this to /opt/firefox/firefox-bin -profilemanager)

OS X – Again enter a terminal and, presuming Firefox is in the Applications folder type /Applications/ -profilemanager

Windows – Start>Run then type firefox.exe -profilemanager (or firefox.exe -p)

Step 3 – Create a new profile. Firefox will guide you through this dead easily so there's no need for a screenshot. Where it states the location of the new profile you want to choose your own folder, then browse for it. Choose whatever medium you're going to be using, a Network share, a Dropbox, whatever. Then create it, select it and check “Don't ask a start-up” to ensure Firefox will use this by default.

Step 4 – Repeat steps 2 and 3 on the subsequent system(s) you want to share the data. Except this time when you create a new profile you should browse to where you create the profile last time, and go into it. There will be all the different files and folders that Firefox uses to do the profile thing, just OK it and boot Firefox as normal using this profile. Everything should be there.

There you have it, Firefox is all synced up. This should work fine for other Mozilla products too, such as Thunderbird and Seamonkey. I have no idea if it works on Sunbird. Any questions or if you think this post needs screenshots just comment below.


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