Code Self Study Forum

Replacing Chrome by Using Multiple Firefox Profiles

I’ve been trying to get rid of Google Chrome and finally did it when the update yesterday broke the browser on my computer (Ubuntu 16.04). I was using Chrome as an extra browser, but now it’s uninstalled. (I eliminated Facebook from my life, and now I’m de-Googling it to the extent possible.)

Firefox Profiles

Firefox has a feature that lets you run multiple browser versions at the same time, each with it’s own set of settings and plugins, so I’m using another profile to replace how I was using Chrome. To launch a new Firefox profile, run this command in a new terminal window:

$ firefox -ProfileManager -no-remote &

Don’t close the terminal while Firefox is running, or Firefox will close – just send the terminal back to the dock and let it sit there. (I send it to desktop #11 in i3wm so it’s out of the way.)

I use this alias in my ~/.aliases file:

alias ff='firefox -ProfileManager -no-remote &'

Once the profile manager is open, create a new profile or choose an existing one from the list and it will run at the same time as the other Firefox profiles.

Mozilla also has a page about running multiple profiles.


My current profiles:

  1. Main profile – uses multi-containers, heavy ad blocking (JS and CSS off by default on all sites with umatrix)
  2. Google Chrome replacement – this one has less blocking so it runs the sites that require less strict browser settings
  3. Firefox Developer Edition – for development servers
  4. Mobile sync – I’m going to sync this one to Firefox for Android, but I haven’t created the account yet

I also still have Chromium installed, because I don’t think that Google Hangouts works in Firefox (but if it does, I will stop using Chromium as much as possible). Everything that I would have opened in Chromium now gets opened in the Chrome-replacement profile.

I keep it all organized with my virtual desktop system in i3wm – the browsers go on desktops 1 (work pages), 2 (development server/s), 5 (development tabs and Slack), 6 (Chrome replacement), 7 (Chromium), 8 (overflow windows to mentally keep track of), and 20 (overflow windows to ignore for now). alt + num takes me to that virtual desktop.

|----+----+----+----+----|    |----+----+----+----+----|
|  1 |  2 |  3 |  4 |  5 |    | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 |
|----+----+----+----+----|    |----+----+----+----+----|
|  6 |  7 |  8 |  9 | 10 |    | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 |
|----+----+----+----+----|    |----+----+----+----+----|

I also give each Firefox Profile a different Firefox theme so they are easy to tell apart.

Other Tips

Firefox Developer Edition

If you install Firefox Developer Edition, it will also create a new profile for that version of the browser.

Edit: I run Firefox Developer Edition at the same time as two regular Firefox profiles. I downloaded Firefox Develop Edition to ~/firefox_developer_edition/ and then pointed an alias at the executable like this:

alias ffd='~/firefox_developer_edition/firefox/firefox -ProfileManager -no-remote &'

I type ff to launch a normal Firefox profile and ffd to launch a Firefox Developer Edition profile.

If it doesn’t work for you or if you have questions, leave a comment below.

Extra Clean Browsers on Demand

You can also create an alias to create new, clean instances of Firefox for temporary use that have the default settings and no plugins like this:

alias fx='firefox --new-instance --profile $(mktemp -d) &'

Further Reading

There are more discussions about Firefox in the forum tagged with #firefox.