Among the things stored in user profiles are Internet Explorer favorites and Firefox bookmarks.  Both browsers store the bookmarks in files on disk and since they are in the USERPROFILE space, these can and are roamed with Citrix Profile Manager.  In this post, I’ll show that the Internet Explorer method of storing bookmarks is superior to that used in Firefox, at least from the view of roaming the profile.

Internet Explorer

In a well done form, IE8 stores each bookmark as an individual file and stores them inside the user profile.  This means that if you move around machines, Profile Manager will forward your bookmarks across all of your machines.

To see these, I went to grap a screen shot from the IE APPDATA Space

  • C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer

Problem – that isn’t where the Favorites are stored.  The directory exists, but the favorites are not stored there.  Instead, IE stores it bookmarks in \users\username\Favorites.  Here’s a screen shot of the directory holding Favorites.  Look for the filename.URL files.  Interestingly Windows Explorer isn’t showing the file extensions, which must be a setting on this particular folder.


Right – I don’t have many bookmarks.

Firefox

Compare this to Firefox (3.6) who stores the bookmarks in

  • C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\profileid.default\places.sqlite.

Earlier versions of Firefox stored the bookmarks inside bookmarks.html file in the same directory.  That file is still present in 3.6, but the file doesn’t seem to have any purpose.  Focusing on current use of places.sqlite, I’ll take a wild guess is somehow based on mysql database system; bottom line formatting doesn’t matter, there’s a problem.
The problem: All of the bookmarks for firefox are stored in a single file.

When profile management roams the profile, that single FILE will be changed potentially on each logon session and it will get synced to/from the central network server store as a function of logon/logoff. 

Compare to Internet Explorer where Favorites may be changed, added or removed.  So long as these are against different favorites, the profile management system will correctly “see” what files were changed for any given session and sync back only the files changed.  Even if a file is deleted from one session and another session later logs off, the delete will still hold so long as there are no conflicting changes on any single file.

Back to Firefox and the user of a single file.  If you only logon to only one computer at a time, this is fine.  If you commonly use multiple computers, this is less than satisfactory.  Even with way awesome profile management from Citrix Profile Manager, for this application at least, we’ve returned to the world of “last logoff wins”.

Compliments

In this I extend compliments to the Internet Explorer developers, bookmarks are done correctly.  This combined with the good stuff done for integrity levels and other security updates, IE is looking like a browser I’d like to use.  Maybe I’ll give version 9 a go.

My next post will discuss making this whole problem disappear, where many of you are already preparing to comment – this problem shouldn’t exist.

Joe Nord

Citrix Product Architect – Profile Manager