When Windows was my main OS, I was a big fan of Portable Firefox. With Portable Firefox, I could do multiple installations of Firefox on my system that could be customized to run concurrently with other installs of Firefox. This allowed me to have tailored installations with different sets of plugins and features.

Why would I want to run more than one Firefox at a time? For me, the reason is that it eases development. Here are a few ways that I use multiple installs:

  • One install that was just the default install with no additional tweaks or add-ons and would have all cached data, authenticated sessions, and cookies cleared when closed. This was a great browser to use when I would test new code to make sure that it ran well on a stock Firefox. It also gave me a clean cookie and authentication slate so I could test sessions from scrath without clearing my main browser’s history, sessions, etc. If I wiped the slate clean on this browser, nothing was lost.
  • Since having a large variety of add-ons in Firefox has a tendency to slow things down, I had another browser that included all the major development tool add-ons. I would load this browser up when I needed to explore the DOM in detail, debug layout issues, debug Javascript, etc. This allowed me to streamline my main browser down to just the add-ons that I use frequently.
  • Since Portable Firefox isn’t installed and just resides in its own folder, I could load multiple versions of Firefox. This made it easy to test for compatibility problems between different versions.
  • I even played around with the idea of having a browser specifically for media. I would use it for music sources like Pandora and for video sources like Hulu or Red vs. Blue.

Last week, I looked around for a solution like Portable Firefox for Ubuntu. I quickly found a solution that wasn’t nearly as difficult as doing multiple installs: multiple profiles.

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