Taming Firefox Stupidity With Policy Templates_

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Original: September 18, 2022 @12:19 Edited: September 24, 2022 @16:55

Shortly after leaving Linux for Mac OS X on the desktop many years ago I left Mozilla for Safari. While I still mostly use Safari I do find myself having to keep Firefox around for the occasional site that doesn't seem to work right in Safari, and naturally I use Firefox on my Windows PC. Over the last few years though, the organization behind Firefox continues to make more and more questionable decisions, bloating the browser and making it uglier. I started trying to combat this sad trend by switching to the Extended Support Release channel which worked for a while but with the sunset of version 78 some of the more awful features have finally been forced upon me. This sent me looking for other ways to try to manage the situation that don't require me to screw around in the settings every time the browser updates to make sure it isn't leaking private data to some ad partner, or Google, or Cloudflare. Thankfully there is a mechanism designed for enterprise IT departments that lets you disable some of the more annoying features using a simple JSON file. After a quick read through the documentation I was able to create a policies.json file that I was happy with that works on both my Windows 10 and macOS Catalina systems.

    "policies": {
        "AppAutoUpdate": false,
        "DisableAppUpdate": true,
        "DisableFirefoxAccounts": true,
        "DisableFirefoxStudies": true,
        "DisablePocket": true,
        "DisableTelemetry": true,
        "EnableTrackingProtection": {
            "Value": true,
            "Locked": false
        "FirefoxHome": {
            "Search": false,
            "TopSites": false,
            "SponsoredTopSites": false,
            "Highlights": false,
            "Pocket": false,
            "SponsoredPocket": false,
            "Snippets": false,
            "Locked": true
        "Homepage": {
            "StartPage": "homepage",
            "URL": "https://www.going-flying.com/~mernisse/home/"
        "NetworkPrediction": false,
        "NewTabPage": false,
        "SearchEngines": {
            "Default": "DuckDuckGo"
        "SearchSuggestEnabled": false,
        "UserMessaging": {
            "WhatsNew": true,
            "ExtensionRecommendations": false,
            "FeatureRecommendations": false,
            "UrlbarInterventions": false,
            "SkipOnboarding": true,
            "MoreFromMozilla": false

There is a mechanism to create a CSS file that you can use to alter the UI which I think I'll look into next as a way to tame down all the stupid design work they have been doing lately. I didn't buy a 27" WQHD monitor to have it taken up by heaps of whitespace and padding.

Update 9-24-2022

It turns out you can find all the Firefox releases on Mozilla's ftp site in /pub/firefox/releases/. Of course it doesn't speak FTP anymore because apparantly that is gauche in 2022 but it does appear to speak HTTPS. The final release of version 78esr is in /pub/firefox/releases/78.15.0esr/.

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