Making Zotero Available on our Campus Desktop

We have a campus wide student desktop that uses AppSense to deploy some virtualized applications while others are not virtualized but installed on the thick client.

Firefox and Word are not virtualized so it isn't feasible to centrally update plug-ins so our Desktop teams have decided to allow the installation of Zotero and the MSWord plugin by users on the thick client.

This has the complication that if they upgrade Firefox the plugins may need updating.

The plan is to host the matching xpi files for users to install. But we will not always be current with Firefox versions.

Is there somewhere we can check which xpi files we need for a specific version of Firefox and download the right files? I know that they are archived but I don't know how the technical team could check which ones they need against their Firefox version.

I hope this isn't too confused! I'd really appreciate any advice.

Another issue that has been raised - though not critical - is that of the signing of the extensions. I understand that if the extensions were signed, the technical team would be able to script updates but that for unsigned extensions they have to update manually. Is there any prospect of signed extensions?

Thanks in advance

  • The plan is to host the matching xpi files for users to install. But we will not always be current with Firefox versions.
    I'm not totally clear on this. Why host the XPIs, instead of having people install them from the Zotero site? Simply because you'll be running outdated versions of Firefox that may not be compatible, or because you don't allow external installations? Really, you should be running either the latest version of Firefox at all times or the latest version of the Firefox ESR, which is designed specifically for situations where that's not possible. Anything else is insecure. In any case, the latest version of Zotero will always work with either (and usually the major point releases in between, but it's not guaranteed, since those shouldn't be run anyway).
  • Re: signing, could you expand on that? I'm not familiar with the restriction you're referring to.

    (All Firefox extensions will need to be signed (by Mozilla) later this year, though.)
  • Thank you for your response Dan.

    I can't really speak to the policy issue - I can ask that UCL consider a move to ESR but any movement would be many months away I fear.

    The reason to host the xpis ourself would just be to ensure compatibility with the potentially outdated version of Firefox on our desktop.

    As to signing, again if I understand correctly, our environment requires that an extension be signed in order that its installation on our thick client be automated. Unsigned clients have to be included through a manual process. I don't understand more of this issue than that I'm afraid. But your later comment renders this moot.

    I had hoped we'd discover a way to check the compatibility of the extensions and match the xpis to whatever the current FF installation is, but maybe we have to concede we can't.

    I'll pass what I've learned on to the technical team concerned.
  • I should mention that we're not able to provide support for anything but the latest version of Zotero, so running older versions isn't recommended — if someone posted here about a problem they'd need to upgrade before we could help. So unless your campus is currently running a Firefox version before 31 (the current ESR), I'd recommend just having people install the latest version from this site. If you're running something between Firefox 31 and 37, Zotero should still work — we just don't test it, because those versions shouldn't be used.

    The next Firefox ESR is 38, which is due out in May. We follow Mozilla's support schedule and test for compatibility with the previous ESR until it's EOLed, which for 31 will be in August. We don't necessarily go out of our way to break compatibility at that point, but we don't worry about it if it happens, and sometimes choose to do so if supporting older versions becomes a burden.
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