Firefox: How to Use a Firefox Burner Profile
When Your Blockers Block You
Once in a while you might need a clean Firefox profile for certain online activities. These days, some sites are “blocking your blockers” and will only let you access their info with a “clean” Firefox profile that does not block any ads, trackers and the like.
So instead of turning off all your extensions, deactivating that Privacy Badger, your uBlock Origin, uMatrix or whatever tool(s) you are using to protect your online privacy, you can use an easier way to quickly visit a site you really need access to.
Firefox Multi-Account Containers
Some of you Firefox fanboyz/gals out there might already be using this nice little plugin called Firefox Multi-Account Containers:
Firefox Multi-Account Containers lets you keep parts of your online life separated into color-coded tabs that preserve your privacy. Cookies are separated by container, allowing you to use the web with multiple identities or accounts simultaneously.
For those of you with a “busy online life” - and I assume that to be the case for most of my readers - Firefox Multi-Account Containers do a good job to helps you separate all parts of your digital life contained in different browser tabs. You can customize your browser tabs using different colors and keep your various activities, be it online banking, work email, private browsing, social media profiles and so on in compartmentalized “containers”.
This is a great tool, but using it won’t really affect your extensions or your custom configurations.
Private Windows - No Extensions
One way is to simply fire up a Private Window with Ctr+Shift+P. This will give you a new browser window, and - depending on your configuration - with none of your plugins or extensions activated. Nice and good. However, and if you have any privacy related customizations in your about:config, these will still be active and might limit your access to the site you want to visit.
So what to do?
Meet the Firefox Throwaway Burner Profile
One easy way to quickly access a site that otherwise blocks you based on your Adblockers or about:config customizations is to simply fire up your browser using a temporary burner profile:
$ firefox -no-remote -profile $(mktemp -d)
This will start Firefox with a new/blank user profile located in /tmp. The
-no-remote option avoids connection to a running Firefox ESR instance, so you can run this in a separate window without having to close your existing browser.
If you find yourself using this more often, simply add another alias to your
.bash_aliases like this:
alias firefox-burner="firefox -no-remote -profile $(mktemp -d)"
You can then just enter a
$ firefox-burner and off you go.
Stay Safe with Dedicated Virtual Machines
Note that this Firefox burner profile thing is only a quick fix solution.
If you happen to have even the slightest concerns about privacy and/or security, I’d strongly advice to use a separate VM for such browsing activities. In fact, it’d be advisable to use a dedicated Virtual Machine for all your computing activities. Using Qubes OS with disposable VM’s might be a good starting point for just that. But that’s gonna make a good story for another rainy Saturday night…