How I set up my isolated testing Firefox environment
Yesterday I covered how I actually run two web browsers, one for my real browsing and one for various sorts of testing and isolated browsing. That raises a question: how do you set up something like that?
In theory, you could just use an alternate Firefox profile (with a
script to start your test Firefox with the right magic arguments). In
practice I have never trusted Firefox's profile system that much, partly
because in the past I spent some time testing out potentially buggy
development builds. So I have always used the bigger hammer of changing
On Unix, Firefox (and Mozilla before it) has always respected
(if set), instead of doing something unsocial like looking up the user's
home directory in the
passwd file. Thus the simplest way of getting a
completely independent testing environment is changing
$HOME to point
to somewhere convenient. For my general testing Firefox environment,
I use a persistent directory in
~/tmp (so that I can set Firefox
preferences and have them stick); for scratch testing, you can just set
$HOME to, say,
/tmp/ffox-test, make the directory, run Firefox, and
delete the directory afterwards.
You will also want to start the testing Firefox with the
command line argument (see here);
otherwise your testing instance may just send things to your main
browsing session. I deal with this in a somewhat eccentric way, so you
may need to experiment with the best way of making everything work given
Firefox's insistence on doing various bits of remote control.
(I put all of this stuff in a script that I call '
to do '
export HOME' after setting
$HOME, just to be sure.)
At one point I needed some extra steps to make sound work with
PulseAudio, because it required some magic files in your home directory
in order to connect to the PulseAudio server and it too respects
$HOME. Back when I ran into this, I wound up using
rsync to copy
~/.pulse to the new
$HOME; however, that appears to be unnecessary
now in current versions of Fedora.
(This shows one quiet little hazard of scripts, which is that they can automate something that turns into folklore over time while you're not paying attention.)