Group Policy Support Coming to Firefox 60

Haythem Elmir

Firefox 60 will feature a new component named Policy Engine that will provide GPO support on Windows, allowing system administrators to control Firefox instances deployed across an internal network.

Work on this feature has been progressing according to plan, and its launch is still scheduled for Firefox 60 — Firefox ESR 60 version, as well. According to a Mozilla Firefox release calendar, Firefox 60 is scheduled for release on May 8, 2018.

GPO support added to Firefox’s Policy Engine

The new Policy Engine was announced back in January, and a documentation page has now appeared on the Mozilla wiki.

« The Policy Engine will be a component in Firefox that reads some admin-specified configuration during Firefox’s startup and properly configures features to respect those configurations, » Mozilla said.

The Policy Engine already supports a platform-agnostic JSON-based configuration system, but work on supporting Windows-specific GPOs (Group Policy Objects) has been added and is ready to ship, according to this Bugzilla entry.

What can the Policy Engine control?

Currently, the list of GPO-configurable policies hasn’t been decided on, just yet. Mozilla engineers are presently discussing allowing sysadmins to change the following settings/features via group policies:

≡  Disabling Telemetry
≡  Displaying the menu bar by default
≡  Whitelist and blocklist of domains to be allowed to be accessed
≡  Disabling features such as Pocket, Firefox Screenshots, Printing, Copy&Paste, etc.
≡  Disabling access to internal configuration features like about:config, about:addons, etc.
≡  Adding a set of bookmarks to the toolbar and the bookmarks menu
≡  Pre-populated permissions around cookies, storage, popups, plugins, etc.

Firefox’s upcoming Policy Engine is similar to Chrome Templates and is obviously geared toward Firefox’s enterprise userbase.

Sysadmins have long lamented that Firefox has been a thorn in their back, compared to Internet Explorer and Chrome, both of which can be neutered on internal networks to prevent users from taking too many liberties while at work. With the new Policy Engine component and GPO support, Firefox is set to pry away users from other browsers.

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