Customizing Firefox in Disposable VMs

Hello I am new to these boards and have just started using qubes not that long ago. I would like to know how to customize the Firefox browser in a disposable qubes where I don’t have to keep changing the default settings every time I start firefox. I especially want the default search engine to not be google.

I know how to install applications through the template VMs but the firefox customization in disposable I couldn’t figure out.

Every disposable VM is based on a AppVm (AppVM is the “template” for the DispVM. Every change you do to the AppVM will be there (after you shutdown de AppVM) when you start the DispVM.
Hope it helps.

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Hi @bill, welcome to the forum!

You can find more information on this in the documentation:


:warning: disclaimer Upon re-reading the documentation, it seems that is not the way to do it correctly (as we shouldn’t run software on dispVMs)

Explanation hidden (read above warning)

But in summary you run in dom0:

# open a terminal from fedora-32-dvm (or your desired Disposable Qube)
qvm-run fedora-32-dvm gnome-terminal

And then on the newly opened terminal you type:

firefox

then firefox will open and you customize it however you want (but don’t use for anything else there – like browsing the web)

Then close firefox and shut down the DispVM Template with sudo poweroff

Finally when you open your DispVM those changes should be applied

This begs raises the question, then: what is the recommended way of customizing software in dispVMs? If we are not supposed to run software in its DispVM Template? Are we supposed to tell people to edit configs on text files by hand? Or is there a more usable way?

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@bill (& others): Since you mentioned Google, is there a tracking/anonymity concern here?

If you run firefox in the AppVM, you’ve created a profile, which will then be reused by any DispVM based on that AppVM. There have been concerns expressed on the web (I forget now where I saw this) that tracking can be done by firefox profile, which if true would link all your activities across all the DispVMs…

Workarounds would include:

  • Never run firefox in the AppVM, and use firefox’s startup scripting to set the search engine you want; or

  • Create a startup script in the AppVM that nukes any firefox profiles

If you manage to get a reference for that, please drop it.

Does this have any relation to browser fingerprinting? Or if not, I think browser fingerprinting already gives advertisers the ability to track people on their web browser, unfortunately. So this might not be such a significant concern given tracking is already possible to a significant extent. (If my logic is wrong, please do correct me).

Thanks Deeplow. Your rundown solved my issue.

QubicRoot, that is a good point.

I did compare the browser fingerprinting between the default setting of firefox and the customized setting. While the customized setting did make my browser look more unique, both of them were still quite unique (around 99.99%) according to browserleaks.com.

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5 posts were merged into an existing topic: Difference between a Dedicated and Non-dedicated DisposableVM Template

(moved this follow-up discussion to thread of its own to make it easier for others to find) @bill @adw

Thanks for testing! Then it confirms my hypothesis that keeping the browser profile does not increase significantly the fingerprintability (<0.01%)

@QubicRoot ^

15 posts were split to a new topic: Anonymity Concerns in Non-Whonix Qubes

It all comes down on how you customize things. I even have VM’s that run from an MP3 player RISK and DSP processor storage. This forum needs a customizing Qubes section. You are probably aware of the GNU add-ons and TPRB for Firefox. You are to broad for a specific answer.

I guess the question was more on how to make the configurations stick though reboots. Not so much about what to install in specific.

If you’re interested, you may start a discussion on this over on the category #feedback:forum-feedback :slight_smile:

I’m not crazy! At least not yet… In that way… :slight_smile:

The reference was actually in that old forum :slight_smile: : https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/qubes-users/oStl_IGHuLQ

I took a look at the referenced Mozilla bug and it’s still open, so presumably this is still a concern? Not sure if the listed mitigations are (still?) the appropriate ones to take…

Appreciate any thoughts you, and others, have!

(And given the direction this thread took, you may wish to split this out?)

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Remember that the Firefox profile is only one among myriad ways you can be fingerprinted if you’re not using Whonix:

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