Installing Multiple Firefox Version on Windows XP and Mac OSX

As a web developer, one of the worst nightmares has to be dealing with all the different browsers under the sun (not to mention the various versions).

I wrote about installing different versions of Internet Explorer on Windows XP for testing purposes (simply because each version is so drastically bad in its own unique way that you need to test each one of them separately). I had decided to take that one step further with Firefox today.

Thank goodness for, I was able to get hold of Firefox 1.0 and 1.5 to play with in XP.

Installing on Windows XP (not for the faint of heat, or you can try the standalone versions of Firefox without worrying about going through the troubles.):

1. Download and install an older version of Firefox. When you run the installer, make sure you choose


installation and install this version in a different directory. For example:

Mozilla Firefox 1.0

(in keeping with the default naming convention). Continue installation as prompted. DO NOT RUN Firefox when it’s done.
2. Open Windows Command Prompt and type the following and press




3. In the same Command Prompt, type


and find your way to the version of Firefox you just installed. Using the folder naming convention above, it’s probably something like this:

cd /"Program Files"/"Mozilla Firefox 1.0"/

4. Once you are in the directory, type the following and hit



firefox.exe -profilemanager

5. Firefox’s profile manager should now appear. Now create a new profile and name it accordingly (i.e.


). If you want, name the


profile to the version of Firefox you currently have prior to the installation.
6. Now go to the appropriate Firefox folders and make shortcuts from them and put them where you access them the most (The Taskbar in my case).
7. Right click on the shortcuts and select


to pull up the Properties window. In it, there’s a


field. At the end of it (after the double quote), append the bolded typeface in the following:

"C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox 1.0\firefox.exe" <strong>-p Firefox1.0</strong>

Do this with each version of Firefox shortcuts you have with a matching profile name. And you are done. The only caveat is you can't run multiple versions of Firefox concurrently like you can with the "Multiple IE" install.

Here’s what my VMWare Windows XP Taskbar looks like:
windows xp taskbar

Installing on Mac OSX:

The process is similar to those found on Windows XP. But I couldn’t get them to work as advertised. So I can’t really endorse the methods here. But there are standalone versions out there that made my life easier.

The upside of Mac OSX is, multiple versions of Firefox can be running at the same time!

UPDATE: I did manage to get multiple Firefox versions to work without asking for a profile upon launch every time as described by Jeroen Coumans‘s blog (PDF). But there’s a trick that you should know about!

For the life of me I couldn’t get them to launch without asking for a profile even though I followed the steps exactly. The problem? I had three versions of Firefox in the same directory labeled:
Firefox 3
Firefox 2.0
Firefox 1.5

That’s a NO to the hack described on the site. In order for the script to recognize the paths, the portion of the name following the word “Firefox” can not be repeated. I have tried “Firefox-” followed by the version number, but that didn’t go. And underscore didn’t do it either. But if you simply remove the space making the names looking like:

Then all is good.

I will probably install a couple of older versions of Opera as well since they are supposedly pretty simple — simply install different versions of Opera in their own folders and be done with!

via [JiveBay] and [Jeroen Coumans]

Conditional Commenting Using Multiple IE on VMWare

As most web developers know, testing for Internet Explorer is a necessary evil that comes with the job. Fortunately a few tools has made the process easy:

1. VMWare to run Windows XP with (and Vista if necessary; but yuck!);
2. Multiple IE app;
3. Conditional commenting using alternate stylesheets if push comes to shove (coding to standards is easy for all other browsers but IE; this is when you don’t want to alter your “standardized” stylesheet just for IE fixes; kudos to Microsoft for making this possible);

But #3 failed me today, and I had to find out why the hard way — Internet Explorers installed via Multiple IE will always default to the latest version of the IE installed (credit). Meaning, if you have IE6 and IE7 installed, even IE6 will always declare itself as IE7 when it comes to conditional comments (but not in browser agent, thankfully). After applying the simple registry hack (oh, the good old Windows registry, you…) and a quick reboot, everything worked as expected.

Here’s the hack (in case the link provided above disappears for some reason):

… by removing the “IE” key in the registry subkey

[HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Version Vector]

, Internet Explore defaulted to respecting conditional comments based on the version number prebuilt in the program.

Another Microsoft IE Rant

Ok, another pointless ugly rant on Microsoft IE.

Engineers who came up with the guidelines for Microsoft IE must have their heads filled with tofu… umm, wait, I like tofu. Their heads must be filled with turd. Simple standards are simply ignored or conveniently misinterpreted by the IE’s rendering engine. It makes debugging a living hell from the perspective of a web developer no matter how much time I’ve already spent doing this for a living.

And then today Microsoft went and made an offer to buy out Yahoo for a cool $44.6B? Give me a f*cking break. How about spending some of those billions on fixing the damn IE and ensure future developments of IE adhere to standards?

The World Wide Web would be a better place without Microsoft. But then again, without scums, how can we appreciate the beauty of all the other standards-adhering browsers? Nonetheless, if I ever meet the guy(s) who was in charge of defining the renderer guidelines, I might just kick him in the nuts. Idiot.

A Self Reminder of Why I Don’t Like Microsoft’s Software

I came across this article and realized another reason why I despise Microsoft and most of its software products — Ads, and lots of them.

The most obvious comparison is Microsoft’s MSN Live Messenger and Apple’s new iChat 4.0. The differences in the interface design is stunning. Notice how Microsoft tries to show off all those features that it has on the UI of MSN Live Messenger! Are they supposed to compensate for something else that’s lacking? And notice the ad at the bottom of the contact list — how annoying! I guess they just can’t stand giving something out free for nothing… When I installed it to play with, I had to download a third party app (MSN Live! Plus) to “clean up” the UI to get rid of 90% of the UI clutter.


Now compare that to iChat since 1.0…. Ah~~ clean and soothing… Elegant.

There’s something about the way Microsoft’s applications operate and how things are integrated that seem so… repulsive. It’s like they are begging not to be used. I don’t mind ads as long as they are not in my face like most of Google’s.

Another thing about MSN Live Messenger is the lack of tab support. I mean, Apple itself is late to the “tab” party, but through a plugin, its previous version was able to have tabs for multiple chat sessions. And the latest iChat also has a great way to support tabs. Looking at MSN Live Messenger though… If you are unfortunate (or fortunate?) enough to get hit up with more than a few simultaneous chat sessions, you can say goodbye to your spacious desktop real estate…

Breaking Windows

Windows rant ahead. Brace yourself.

I have no idea why, but my virtualized Windows XP just started bitching about


crashing and started acting all weird on me — and this was on an installation that’s only used (or turned on, even) when I needed to test my code on various versions of IE. At first I thought maybe VMWare got corrupted, so I did a fresh install of VMWare. Then I thought maybe I could revert Windows XP back to its previous known good state. None of these helped, of course. So I did what any sane Windows user would do — complete re-install of Windows XP from scratch! Hah hah! I feel sorry for the poor souls who have to deal with this kind of crap all the time.

Thank god VMWare makes Windows installation easy and fast (at least 1/2 the time it takes for a fresh install on a real PC!). The first thing I do is to get rid of all the fluff out of Windows — games, MSN Explorer, Accessibility programs, Windows tour, Outlook Express (officially dead program by Microsoft’s definition)… etc. Then I started installing various versions of IE (5.01, 5.5, 6.x & 7) and other perceived “goodies” including MSN Live Messenger. Then Windows XP complained again in its own cute little way — it’s looking for


… WTF!?! It’s a fresh install! It couldn’t possibly have something missing that MSN Live Messenger needed!

Then Google said it was a library that was removed when I got rid of Outlook Express. So why is it that MSN Live Messenger, the latest and greatest from Redmond, needs to depend on a library from a program that’s supposedly extinct? Locating and putting back the


file back to


directory made it happy again though. And that’s all I cared.

I am guessing it’s a hook for MSN contacts to appear in Outlook Express and Outlook so that people who spend way too much time in those programs can start up chat sessions without having to look for the MSN Live Messenger contact list.

All this crap brought back the good old days of Windows tech support and having to decipher cryptic Windows errors. “Good” times.

Another Mac Die Hard Was Born

I was talking to Norris last night to catch up on stuff, and I asked how he liked his PowerBook that he’d bought cheap and used from another friend before he moved back to Canada. Keep in mind, Norris has been a die hard Windows guy. And when he first got his Mac, he had a few gripes and groaned about certain usability issues.

Fast forward to a few months later, now he proclaims he’d never EVER go back to Windows ever again — NEVER! Having been a Windows fan boy for so long, he explained why (almost) everything on a Mac is simply more superior and simple to use:

1. Everything just works;
2. Superior and more stable 3rd party apps; he said on Windows, you have to “figure out” how some apps work if it came from a 3rd party. But on a Mac, you just expect everything to work without you having to know how or even to 2nd guess why… Now, this was exactly what I was talking about. You miss out quite a bit of fun just by using Windows even if by some godly divine intervention your Windows box somehow never crashes or catches a virus/malware/Trojan.
3. Mac OSX is rock solid; can’t say that about Windows XP or even Vista; he had to use Vista for 2 days and was ready to throw it out of the Window at the end. He ended up IMing another friend about how to install Mac OSX on his IBM laptop — that’s how much he loves Mac OSX.
4. He proclaims that eventually people will see the light and start using Mac OSX;
5. He’s in so far as to ponder on getting certified as a Mac OSX support guy!

So I guess the lesson is, shut up and stop whining about Mac OSX if you’ve never even used it for more than a few minutes in an Apple Store. Once you’ve understood it like Norris has… well… once you go Mac, you can never go back!

On a related note, I took Bryan to the mall the other day and saw that, again, the Apple Store was pack house… while the stupid Dell “booth” got a few tumble weeds strolling by and was dead as ever. I wonder why Dell does that — setting up a booth to fail. It seems like they tried to put up some kind of physical presence to demonstrate how “great” Dell computers are… But even die hard Dell/Windows fan boys I know would be embarrassed to be seen interacting with the ugly booth.

Why I May Have Taken Macs for Granted

Sometimes I wonder if life with modern computers (as in after 2005) running Windows XP and Vista has gotten better over the years. I’ve known about PC vendors including trial wares on their boxes to earn a few bucks (which to me was incredibly annoying because as a systems administrator, I had to go through each box and uninstall each one of them every single time, which is really a waste of my time). But maybe, I told myself, it’s gotten better.

Another huge problem I had when supporting Windows running on PCs was drivers — often when I reinstalled Windows on any machine, the first thing I had to do was to go to the PC vendor’s site to download drivers. That was painful sometimes because they weren’t always clear on which drivers you had to use (yeah, part numbers and version numbers are really helpful… NOT).

Today I read a funny post on the experience of dealing with a Sony Vaio. Sony’s one of the computer vendors I absolutely hate to support for the reasons explained on Steve’s blog… but that was during 2000 and 2004. I can’t believe people are still stupid enough to keep buying computing crap from Sony as if they were really superior products. “Idiots!” I say.

I’ve told quite a few people that running Windows on my Mac has been a much pleasant experience than it is on an actual PC box designed with Windows in mind. Steve’s experience pretty much reflects that of my own (as do a few dozen comments left on that entry). Too bad BioShock is probably never coming to the Mac… But it’s good to know that at least Windows boxes are good for at least something other than doorstops.

Computer Virus — It All Started on An Apple Computer

I know the old Mac OS had troubles with computer virus. But I had no idea the whole thing all started on an Apple Computer!! According to the article, the first Mac virus even predated one on a Windows OS by a whopping four years! This is further proof that Apple is always ahead of Microsoft in everything (ahem, sarcasm at work here). 😉

Further reading here.

Parallels v.s. VMWare Fusion

Ever since Mac’d gone Intel, a number of virtualization options have opened up for us Mac users. Among them, the biggest names are Parallels Desktop 3.0 for Mac and the much anticipated VMWare Fusion. I’ve also tried lesser known contenders CrossOver Mac (except it was the Linux version that I used) and Wine. But the results were less than satisfactory. So I am not going to bother with them.

This CNet article covers some pretty basic benchmarks for using Parallels and Fusion v.s. Apple’s Boot Camp. My own experience echoes that of CNet’s results.

Pros: Nice touches on providing Windows Task Bar when in Coherence mode. I find myself needing access to the Windows desktop from time to time. I also like the fact that I can access the full “Start” menu from the Dock. Boots and runs fairly fast.
Cons: Somewhat awkward to use when Mac’s Exposé is invoked. Fusion does a much better job at this; seems to slow down the overall performance of the machine somewhat. But I can’t prove it scientifically.

Pros: Excellent integration with Exposé — each window that belongs to Windows actually scales! Supports both cores of my MBP! Virtual Appliances can be really helpful!
Cons: Poor implementation on giving user access to the Windows Desktop or the Task Bar when in Unity mode. Awkward “Launch” tool bar — I wish I can make the damn icons smaller. Instead of the “Applications” menu, Fusion should implement what Parallels does, full access to the “Start” menu from wthin the Dock.

It was relatively easy to enable my MacBook Pro’s iSight to use it with Windows Live Messenger (I hate it) on both softwares. But I did have to get iSight’s driver for Windows (stripped from Boot Camp) to get it to work.

Overall, my experience on both Parallels and Fusion is a pleasant one. Windows seemed to install faster on my virtual machines than they ever did when I had a real PC hardware to play with. Actually, it took longer to get Windows Updates to run and complete than the initial installation process. Oh, the ironies… I hope Microsoft continues to crank out crap ware like this for as long as they can afford to. The world just loves more crap ware shoved down its throat.

Viewing Javascript Generated Source in IE

After having battled IE for the past two days, I am glad to report that I actually learned something new and valuable when debugging for Javascript codes in IE. One of the chief complaints web developers have towards IE is its lack of a decent Javascript debugger. Hell, none of IE’s SEVEN versions even have a usable Javascript error console! After having written about my frustration finding a debugger, another useful thing a web developer would love to see is the actual HTML source code generated by all that wonderful Ajax/DOM scripting… Thankfully, there is a way.

It’s documented here by Eric Appel. Basically, I just need to type in a one-liner Javascript in IE’s URL to show the source.

javascript:'<xmp>' + window.document.body.outerHTML+ '</xmp>'

In case you didn’t already know, viewing generated source is quite simple in FIrefox via an addon appropriately called Web Developer. In Safari 3, the closest thing is to right click and select “Inspect Element” from the contextual menu.

I am still stunned at how far IE has fallen behind in feature set for both users and developers in its seventh iteration of the software (having zero development effort since it drove Netscape into ground). But I am still thankful for conditional comments the IE team has decided to support. At least it’s made life with IE using CSS a much more straight forward task.

Updating Windows — What A Joke

Because of the previous post on having to debug Javascript for IE, I’ve had to run Windows Update. I was shocked to see no less than 85 “high priority” updates directly coming from Microsoft’s server… This is on a fairly updated install of Windows XP running on my Parallels virtual machine… The last time I ran an update was a couple of months ago.

Running Windows Update

How can people tolerate this kind of B.S. from the largest software maker in the world? Don’t they spend billions a year on R&D? Here’s an idea, spend more of that resource on better software… I can’t believe I am writing two entries on Microsoft in one day…

Javascript Debugging for IE

In 2007, the year when the word Web 2.0 is taking over the world of Internet and seen as the resurgence of the another wonderful dot-com era, the world’s favorite web browser, Internet Explorer, still does not have a proper Javascript debugger. You’d have to go through hoops just to get one working by alternative means. How can developers working with IE’s framework love its technologies I guess I’ll never understand…

Some people claim MS is all goodies under the hood for developers. Com’on, where are the goodies? I haven’t met a web developer who doesn’t hate IE.

People who continue to use IE by choice are idiots. There. I’ve said it. Idiots. Idiots. Idiots. Start using better browsers from companies who care so that the World Wide Web can be a better place!

Ok. I feel better now… Back to dealing with crappy IE for idiots who prefer it.

Microsoft should change their marketing tag line to: Your Misery. Our Passion.