Archive for September, 2009

Love Firefox but prefer Chrome’s style? Get Chromifox

September 28, 2009 2 comments

In the past, web browsers have usually had a relatively crowded interface, just look at Opera 5. The UI typically included all of the common web browsing tasks (back, forward, stop, refresh/reload, home) and more (bookmarks, history, print, new window, search, email…).

But now a more minimalist standard is evolving, and it has already been adopted by Google Chrome and Safari. The new type of layout contains only the most basic web browsing tasks in the smallest amount of objects (reload and stop are often the same button). The rest of the options are consolidated into a “tools” or “page” menu. Judging by its adoption, users like this new generation of browser interface.

So here’s the dilemma: you love Firefox, like me, but want Google Chrome’s slick style, instead of the native “Strata” theme. Here’s how you can make Firefox look almost exactly like Chrome…while still being able to use all of your favorite add-ons.

Step 1: Get Chromifox Basic

Chromifox Basic does a good job at converting Firefox’s graphics to look like those of Chrome. But you’ll need to go through a few more steps to make it look¬†truly¬†like Google’s browser.

Step 2: Get Total ReChrome

Total ReChrome (which requires Chromifox Basic) will add some finishing touches to Firefox. It will move the tab bar to the top of the window, and move the star (for bookmarking a page) to the other side of the location bar.

Step 3: Move around a few buttons and get rid of the search bar

First, remove the search bar and home button. Then, remove any add-on buttons that may be on the navigation bar (such as AdBlockPlus, IE Tab, Flashblock…). Drag the “Stop” button to the far right of the screen (don’t worry, it will be merged with the “Go” button).

This is what the finished product should look like:


Versus Google Chrome itself:


Very similar, eh? Have fun!

Categories: Web Browsers

CCK Wizard for Firefox: perfect for companies and organizations

September 26, 2009 1 comment

Firefox has historically received criticism from companies and organizations due to the fact that a customization kit was not available. These tools allow administrators to preload bookmarks, homepages, preferences, plug-ins, and add-ons to the browser, as well as block certain features, such as settings. Being available with Internet Explorer, IE has often been the browser of choice when it comes to businesses. (That and the fact that many businesses run primarily on Microsoft software).

The CCK Wizard for Firefox changes that. This lightweight add-on allows you to create an XPI file that customizes Firefox to your organization’s needs. It does everything I listed above, and more. Replace the native animated circle (shown when a page is loading) with your company’s logo spinning around. Create a web page that only appears when the user opens Firefox for the first time, introducing them to some of the basic features and aspects of the browser. Or a page that appears when Firefox has updated, explaining why this is step is so important. Block the about:config page, which, while it can be used for some advanced tricks, could undermine Firefox’s security and stability when utilized incorrectly. Change the browser’s name, from “Mozilla Firefox” to something like “Mozilla Firefox: Example, Inc Edition” or “Example, Inc Browser.” Add a link to your own support page, blog, or any website in the Help menu.

I’m against “locking down” a browser with the user powerless to change the settings. But if your organization is choosing between Firefox or IE, with plans on partially or completely restricting access to settings, at least opt for a decent browser. The open source community has continued to push products such as Firefox and being used in businesses and non-profits. And they are succeeding. There is currently an effort within the State Department to let members use Firefox. And a popular ad for Firefox titled “Double Click Relief” promoted the use of Firefox in businesses (I’m pretty sure the 1 in 10 statistic is not real).

Anyway, here’s how you can use the CCK wizard to create a customized version of Firefox:

  1. Download and install the add-on at the Mozilla Add-ons for Firefox website.
  2. Once installed, restart your browser. Go to Tools > CCK Wizard.
  3. Create a new file by typing in a name and selecting a locaton.
  4. Begin entering settings. Note: For the update public key, I used “3.5”. I successfully checked for updates but did not install a new update, as I was already running on the latest version. More info.
  5. After completing the wizard, look for the XPI file that was created in the directory you specified. Once you know where it is, in Firefox, go to File > Open File. Locate and select the XPI file, and click Open. Click install on the prompt that comes up.
  6. The next time you open Firefox, it should be running on your customized version.
Categories: Web Browsers