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If you cannot face the thought of hunting down and re-installing all of your Firefox extensions one by one on a second computer, you need, appropriately, an extension to simplify the task. CLEO, the Compact Library Extension Organizer, can package all your extensions and themes into one installable .xpi file.
Once both are in place, restart Firefox and select Tools -> FEBE -> Cleo-> Cleo Options. Alternatively, you can install a CLEO toolbar icon from the Customize option in the dropdown View menu and navigate from there.
The first thing to decide is where you want to store your compressed package. Create a folder with a meaningful name and either key in the file path name or browse for it under the Directory icon. The directory may be on a local hard drive or removable media such as a USB stick.
If you install extensions often, then CLEO's Overwrite options section is useful. There are three choices: Overwrite, Append, and Abort. If you choose Overwrite, any previous CLEO backup will be overwritten if you choose a backup with the same name as the previous one. If, on the other hand, you have just installed additional themes and extensions since your last run of FEBE and CLEO, you may want to use Append to add only them to a backup rather than backing up everything again.
Of course you can always save a backup with a different name. This works well if, in conjunction with FEBE configuration, you have created backup profiles reflecting different needs: Firefox extension profiles based on surfing habits, security (online banking, using your credit card online), graphics, or researching stuff, for instance. Once you have configured FEBE and used it to back up the extensions for separate profiles, CLEO can package and store them.
Clicking Tools -> FEBE -> CLEO -> Create Cleopack will launch a template screen where you can customize what you want to select prior to creating your compressed .xpi file. When you click on Select Items to Package, CLEO will bring up your FEBE Firefox backup files by default. If you want to select everything, use Ctrl-a, or use Ctrl-leftclick to select the specific extensions and themes you want. When you generate the package CLEO will display the file path where it has been saved. My backup, which included 72 extensions and four themes (madness!), generated a 10MB file. If you want to get fancy, you can then use the Gspace extension for Firefox to send the file to Gmail Space, from where you can access, download, and reinstall the .xpi file using any other computer.
While you need FEBE and CLEO to create and package backups, you do not need to install either extension to use the generated .xpi file with a vanilla Firefox; just install it as you would any other extension by clicking on it.
Sometimes when you install a CLEO package to a different version of Firefox, you may encounter broken extensions due to compatibility problems, but you can fix them by editing the install.rdf file for the offending extensions to match your Firefox version. To do this in Konqueror or Nautilus, check Show Hidden Files from the View menu. Select the .Mozilla directory, navigate to the extensions directory, open it and locate the offending extensions. Open the install.rdf file as root with a text editor and amend and save the max version line to match your version of Firefox. Back up with FEBE, and then run CLEO again.
FEBE and CLEO work together to make transferable backups for fresh Firefox installs -- and their creator, Chuck Baker, has a new extension that will make them work even better. OPIE (Ordered Preference Import/Export) will save your extensions' preferences. It is currently standalone, but Baker plans to release an integrated FEBE/CLEO/OPIE package.
Every Monday we highlight a different extension, plugin, or add-on. Write an article of less than 1,000 words telling us about one that you use and how it makes your work easier, along with tips for getting the most out of it. If we publish it, we'll pay you $100. (Send us a query first to be sure we haven't already published a story on your chosen topic recently or have one in hand.)