Using Roaming

I've just started using Roaming User in Mozilla 1.x. I'm using nightly builds of Mozilla 1.8 but roaming is also available in Mozilla 1.8.x releases fx Mozilla 1.8 Alpha 3. Roaming is NOT included in the installer builds due to bug 244770 so you have to use the zipped version. Roaming is NOT available in Mozilla 1.7.x.

With Roaming Profiles, you can access your full Mozilla environment when you are away from the computer that you use most. Roaming Profiles is the ability to have your Mozilla profile, ie. bookmarks, browsing history, addressbook, cookies etc stored on a central server. Whenever you start Mozilla your profile is downloaded and whenever you shutdown Mozilla your profile is uploaded.

How I use it:
I use roaming on my work PC and my home PC. This is very nice so bookmarks added on my home PC is also available when I get to work. With mail it's no problem for me since I use IMAP, but having to read the same newspostings first at home and the at work because the files aren't in sync is a mess and a timeconsumer. With roaming that's all history.

I use FTP for the roaming. The files are uploaded into a directory on my FTP server and a file called listing.xml is created. It holds info about the roaming files fx last modified time.

Some of the not so cool things:
The list of files that you "roam" ie. that you upload and download, are stored in the file registry.dat, which is located in %APPDATA%\Mozilla. On a english Windows this normally is c:\Documents and Settings\[Windows User Name]\Application Data\Mozilla\. Hopefully this will get moved to a plain text file.

I never like the concept of a almost unreadable file to store settings in. I know that it cant be stored in the profile since you need to know the information before reading any files from the profile. With Mozilla Firefox the profile information is stored in a plaintext file called profiles.ini so perhaps the roaming stuff could be move to a file called roaming.ini.

Together with the list of files the username and password are also stored in this file. In clear text! That's really bad. I'm not sure why roaming isn't using the builtin password manager. Perhaps it's because that the actual roaming, ie copying to files back and forth, are happening before and after the password manager is closed and started making it impossible to use it. But at least some kind of encryption should be used.


Roaming user preferences In the Roaming User preferences you setup where you're roaming files will be stored. You can choose between FTP/HTTP and File Copy.

Roaming item selection
In the Roaming item selection you select which files you wish to roam. Some of the files can be quite large, so if you're on a slow network, you might want to consider which files to roam. Fx my Junk Mail Training file is 2.2MB.

Roaming transfer
When Mozilla is starting or shutting down the roaming transfer is activated. The files are being transfered to the location specified in the preferences.

Roaming files conflict
If there's any conflicts you're prompted to take actions. Conflicts can happen if you fx manually edits the profile files before doing the roaming.


Roaming is not a new phenomenon with Mozilla/Netscape. Netscape 4.x also had roaming. It worked fairly good but I dont think a lot of people used it. You can see a screenshot of the Netscape 4.x roaming dialog here and here

More information:

If you need to know more about Roaming User there are a couple of places to get more info:
bug 124029

So if you're up for it and think that you could provide some help making roaming a ever cooler and experience check for open bugs in bugzilla in the the Profile: Roaming component. You can see all of the open bugs here.

Mozilla Firefox and/or Mozilla Thunderbird:

So will Roaming User be available to Mozilla Firefox and/or Mozilla Thunderbird?
I have no idea, but it seems that there have been made some work. At least there's a firefox.xul file inside the sroaming.jar file which is shipped with Mozilla 1.x.

August 31, 2004 04:22 PM | Posted in Mozilla


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This could be the first step in fixing



Comment by Prognathous at August 31, 2004 06:05 PM | Permalink

Seriously missed this in Mozilla..had used the 4.x roaming with mod_roaming and it was great. Being able to use FTP will be even better for alot of people that don't have access to a specially built Apache server.

Thanks for the heads up Gemal.

Comment by Eric at August 31, 2004 06:50 PM | Permalink

So can I use this to share a profile between Linux and Windows systems?

Site icon Comment by Luke at September 1, 2004 01:01 AM | Permalink

Will roaming also be implemented in Firefox? If so, from version 1.0?

I'm currently using an extension to syncronize bookmarks using ftp, but an integrated solution where history and cookies among others could be roamed would be a nice improvement.

Comment by Jens Gyldenkærne Clausen at September 1, 2004 12:39 PM | Permalink

Jens: Like I write in the bog entry: I have no idea, but it seems that there have been made some work. At least there's a firefox.xul file inside the sroaming.jar file which is shipped with Mozilla 1.x.

Site icon Comment by Henrik Gemal at September 1, 2004 01:06 PM | Permalink

Argh! - when will I learn to read an entry to the end before commenting it.

Sorry - I completely missed your note regarding Firefox/Thunderbird in the entry.

Comment by Jens Gyldenkærne Clausen at September 1, 2004 03:08 PM | Permalink

Just FYI, roaming does not work in Firefox yet. See

Site icon Comment by Luke at September 16, 2004 05:37 AM | Permalink

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