Firefox customization with MSI installers

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Firefox Enterprise offers MSI installers per locale, per cpu architecture (32 and 64 bit) and per channel to help system administrators customize and deploy Firefox in their environments. The MSI installer (supported on Windows 7 and later versions) is a wrapper of the exe full installer that allows customizations through the use of a MST file prior to deploying through standard Windows deployment tools such as Active Directory or Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager.

Configuration options

MSI transforms (MSTs) for the Firefox MEI installers can be created or edited using the tool of your choice (MS Orca or other) to customize the installation. This section details the options available.

Firefox custom MSI options

Set a directory path - INSTALL_DIRECTORY_PATH=[path] Absolute path specifying the complete install location. This directory does not need to exist already (but it can). If INSTALL_DIRECTORY_NAME is set, then this setting will be ignored.

Set a directory name - INSTALL_DIRECTORY_NAME=[name] Name of the installation directory to create within Program Files. For example, if INSTALL_DIRECTORY_NAME is set to Firefox Release, then the installation path will be something like C:\Program Files\Firefox Release. The Program Files path used will be the correct one for the architecture of the application being installed and the locale/configuration of the machine; this setting is mainly useful to keep you from having to worry about those differences. If this is set, then INSTALL_DIRECTORY_PATH will be ignored.

Install a taskbar shortcut - TASKBAR_SHORTCUT={true,false} Set to false to disable pinning a shortcut to the taskbar. true by default. This feature only works on Windows 7 and 8; it isn’t possible to create taskbar pins from the installer on later Windows versions.

Install a desktop shortcut - DESKTOP_SHORTCUT={true,false} Set to false to disable creating a shortcut on the desktop. true by default.

Install a start menu shortcut - START_MENU_SHORTCUT={true,false} Set to false to disable creating a Start menu shortcut. true by default.

Disable the maintenance service - INSTALL_MAINTENANCE_SERVICE={true,false} Set to false to disable installing the Mozilla Maintenance Service. This will effectively prevent users from installing Firefox updates if they do not have write permissions to the installation directory. true by default.

Disable removing distribution directory - REMOVE_DISTRIBUTION_DIR={true,false} Set to false to disable removing the distribution directory from an existing installation that’s being paved over. By default this is true and the directory is removed.

Prevent rebooting - PREVENT_REBOOT_REQUIRED={true,false} Set to true to keep the installer from taking actions that would require rebooting the machine to complete, normally because files are in use. This should not be needed under normal circumstances because no such actions should be required unless you’re paving over a copy of Firefox that was running while the installer was trying to run, and setting this option in that case may result in an incomplete installation. false by default.

Bundle extensions - OPTIONAL_EXTENSIONS={true,false} Set to false to disable installing any bundled extensions that are present. true by default.

Application files extraction directory - EXTRACT_DIR=[directory] Extract the application files to the given directory and exit, without actually running the installer. Of course, this means all other options will be ignored.

MSIEXEC options

The command line parameters for msiexec.exe (the Windows component responsible for installing, uninstalling, and otherwise working with MSI files) are documented here and also by the output of the /? option. Our MSI packages, because they wrap a .exe installer and don't really use the MSI framework, do not support many of the command line parameters available to msiexec. This document lists the msiexec parameters that are supported and unsupported for use with our MSI packages.

Supported MSIEXEC Options

  • /i or /package
    • Installs the product.
  • /L or /log
    • Generates an MSI log file. All of this option's configuration parameters are supported.
  • /m
    • Generates an SMS status .mif file.
    • Without having a copy of Systems Management Server I've been unable to test this, but it should work.
  • /q, /quiet, and /passive
    • Sets the UI mode. The full UI option (/qf) is accepted but ignored, because we have no full UI.
  • /norestart, /forcerestart, and /promptrestart
    • The default behavior is always /norestart, but the other options behave as expected.
  • PROPERTY=VALUE
    • Command line property configuration is supported for all public properties we provide (meaning the ones with UPPERCASE_NAMES).

Options that do not operate on a package file (/?, /h, /help, /y, /z)

Unsupported MSIEXEC Options

  • /f
    • Repairs the product.
  • /a
    • Administrative installation.
  • /x or /uninstall
    • Uninstalls the product.
  • /j along with /t, /g, and /c
    • Advertises the product.
  • /n
    • Specifies a particular instance of the product.
  • /p or /update
    • Applies a patch (.msp) file.

Example configuration

Here’s an example of a valid .mst file to help understand how options can be changed along with the MSI directory for mozilla central:

Note: Logging can be configured on the MSI to help troubleshoot installation issues.

There are several ways to use the MSI file with configurable parameters exposed in Firefox MSI:

By using an external MSI editor (e.g. ORCA)

  1. File/Open and select the MSI to be edited.
  2. Find the Property table and select it.
  3. Change the values for the PROPERTIES you need to.
  4. From ORCA, select File/Save as and save the custom modified MSI installer.
Note that this will invalidate the MSI file's signature; if you need the file to be signed, you'll have to sign it again using your organization's certificate.

By using a transform (.mst) configuration

  1. Use Orca to open the MSI.
  2. Select Transform > New Transform from the menu bar.
  3. Change the values for the PROPERTIES you need to.
  4. Select Transform > Generate Transform to save your changes as a transform (.mst) file.
  5. Run: msiexec /i “Firefox.msi” TRANSFORMS=”custom.mst”

By using command line parameters

  1. Having the Firefox.msi
  2. Run:


msiexec.exe /i "c:\MSi\default.msi" INSTALL_DIRECTORY_PATH="C:\Firefox\" TASKBAR_SHORTCUT=false DESKTOP_SHORTCUT=false INSTALL_MAINTENANCE_SERVICE=false /quiet

Note: All private parameters (FIREFOX specific, present in CAPS can be used in the command line + the msiexec public parameters like /i and /quiet in the above example)
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