Setup Firefox/Thunderbird to share the same profile across Linux and Windows

Introduction

I use Firefox exclusively on my system, both for Windows and Linux. I use Linux more than Windows, and so all of my bookmarks are stored in Linux. I've just started using Thunderbird, and I'll download my e-mails in Linux, boot to Windows, load Thunderbird and find the e-mail I need is in Linux.

This constant bouncing between OS's to get the e-mail/URL I need was getting on my nerves, so I decided there must be a way to use the same profiles across both Windows and Linux. This tutorial explains how to do just that. The theory of this tutorial should also apply to MacOS, but since I don't have a Mac, I can't say for sure.

Instead of repeatedly saying Firefox/Thunderbird, from this point forward I will just refer to Firefox, however the same applies to Thunderbird, I will point out any relevant information that differs between the two such as directories.

Requirements

In order for this to work, both Windows and Linux need access to the profile, be it on a shared network drive, or a FAT partition.

You will also need a profile to use as your 'chosen one'. For me this was my Linux profile. This just involves starting Firefox and letting it create a new profile.

My Setup

I'm running Fedora Core 8, Windows XP and Windows Vista, I have a server where my documents are stored, this is mapped to drive H in Windows, and mounted under /home/savage in Linux.

I decided I was keeping my Linux profile for two reasons:

  1. The profile was already on a network drive accessible by both Linux and Windows.
  2. It was the most used and had the most bookmarks etc.

A note

Themes: I found I had major problems when I had a non-default theme applied, Firefox would load completely deranged, make sure you select the default theme before proceeding. You may have to sacrifice themes to have cross-platform settings.

Find your profile

The first thing to do is find the profile that you want to use.

On Linux based systems, the Firefox profile should be in /home/username/.mozilla/firefox/ where you should then find a folder xxxxxxxx.default. That whole folder is your profile.

The Thunderbird profile is located in /home/username/.thunderbird/, again a folder will exist there with your profile in.

In Windows XP, your Firefox profile will be in "C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles", and the Thunderbird profile will be in "C:\Documents and Settings\Username\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles".

Copy your profile

If your profile is already in a location where both operating systems can access it, you can skip this step.

The next stage is to move your profile into a location where both operating systems can access it. Make sure Firefox is closed, and move the folder to the new location, only move the profile folder, that's the xxxxxxxx.default folder.

Make a note of the new location.

It's over there now!

Now we need to tell Firefox that the profile has moved. If you've kept it in the same place for one of the OS's, like I have, you only need to update the other operating system's Firefox settings. For example, I kept it in the same place for Linux, so only need to update the Windows settings.

Open the "profiles.ini" file in the folder above where you got the profile from, it should look something like:

[General]
StartWithLastProfile=1

[Profile0]
Name=default
IsRelative=1
Path=Profiles\z4tqzriz.default

Change the IsRelative value to 0, and place the new location of the profile into the Path value, make sure you enter the full path. Save the file and exit.

Repeat the same process for the other operating system if neccessary.

You should now have cross-platform settings. :-)