Using Firefox on Public Computers

Brian Herzog writes a perfect post on why Firefox could and should be used on public computers (emphasis mine):

http://tinyurl.com/4fzz6b

My library is in the process of re-doing all of our public computers. One major change we’re making is to switch to Firefox for our web browser, instead of the Internet Explorer/Public Web Browser combo we’ve always used.

The reason we’re switching is a simple one – Firefox is just cooler. It lets us have more control over how the browser functions, and lets us offer more tools integrated right into the browser. Better for us, better for patrons.

Here’s a list of the customizations we’re making:

Add-Ons

  • Public Fox – this is designed to make Firefox a public web browser, as opposed to being used and customized by a single, private person. We’re using it to lock down add-ons, preference, about:config, and a few other things, as well as control what file types can be downloaded
  • Menu Editor – also for the control freak in us, this one lets us remove menus from the tool bar (we’re getting rid of bookmarks, help and history)
  • Greasemonkey – one of my favorites, this lets us embed custom coding on webpages, such as a link from Amazon to our catalog, and helpful links on our catalog’s “no search results” page (more info on those on our Tech Tools page)
  • Add To Search Bar – this fun one lets us easily add our library catalog right to Firefox’s search bar. The other searches we chose to include are Google, Yahoo, Amazon, the Internet Movie Database, Answers.com, Wikipedia, and Merriam-Webster
  • IE Tab – For all of those “Best viewed in Internet Explorer” websites, this one lets you toggle back and forth between the Firefox and IE rendering engines, so IE-only pages and scripts will load in Firefox
  • Image Zoom – just like what it sounds, this adds zoom controls to the right-click menu, to make images bigger and smaller. This one is most useful to patrons who get emailed digital photos at 1024 x 768 resolution, which is too big for our screens. This lets them zoom out so they can see all of their grandchild’s face at the same time

Options Settings

  • Turn off all automatic updates – we use Deep Freeze, so we do our own updates
  • Turn on smooth scrolling
  • Turn on check spelling
  • Set homepage to our Reference start page
  • Always save downloads to My Documents
  • Always show tab bar
  • Turn off all warnings, except when redirecting from secure to an unsecure page
  • Don’t remember anything, delete cookies and clear private data when Firefox closes

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3 thoughts on “Using Firefox on Public Computers”

  1. Sweet! I much prefer Firefox. Right now I’m using the Beta of Firefox 3. It still has some quirks to fix but so far I’m totally in love with it.

  2. We recently added Firefox to all of the public computers at my library, giving patrons the choice between IE or Firefox.

    It’s interesting to see the list of extensions employed at other libraries. One of our favorites here is Adblock Plus, since it not only makes for a more pleasant browsing experience, but also prevents some security threats. In addition, pages seem to load faster.

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