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Steps Taken to Build the Fox

By following the directions on David’s site for building Firefox as well as the documentation provided by Mozilla I was able to compile Firefox with little complication. In order for me to build Firefox on my machine I first needed to download the iso’s for Visual Studio 2005 from ACS. In addition to Visual Studio I also needed to install Cygwin, ensuring that the patchutils (version 3.80), perl, cvs, zip, and unzip packages are installed along with it.

After installing VS2005 and Cygwin, I downloaded and extracted the moztools package to a temporary directory (c:\proj) in which I would be compiling the program. After logging onto the Mozilla cvs repository I successfully checked out the build script for Firefox.

Next I created a batch file (as per the instructions on David’s site) to set the environment variables for the Windows command prompt that would be needed to build Firefox (Fig 1) as well as a .mozconfig file to configure the settings for the build. I used the mozconfig provided by Mozilla on their website (Fig 2).

I next attempted to download the source tree from Mozilla’s cvs server and was unsuccessful. Therefore I obtained a copy of the Firefox source from Mozilla’s resource site and extracted it to my project directory.

With everything in place I entered the command to compile. After approximately 50 minutes (on a 1.7 GHz Celeron w/1gig ram) the build completed successfully.

Fig 1: Config Batch File

@echo off

rem --- CVS Setup

set NSIS=C:\Program Files\NSIS

rem --- Setup the paths to the moztools build libraries
set MOZ_TOOLS=C:\proj\moztools

rem --- Scrub these variables first
SET PATH=C:\;C:\windows\system32;C:\windows\system32\wbem

rem --- Prepend cygwin
SET PATH=C:\ffbuild\preReq\cygwin\bin;%PATH%

rem --- Setup VC8 compiler environment vars
CALL "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\VC\vcvarsall.bat" x86

rem --- Add glib/libidl to build environment

rem --- moztools comes last after glib/libIDL

set path=%PATH%;%NSIS%

Fig 2: Mozconfig File

. $topsrcdir/browser/config/mozconfig
mk_add_options MOZ_OBJDIR=@TOPSRCDIR@/ff-opt-static
ac_add_options --enable-optimize
ac_add_options --disable-debug
ac_add_options --enable-static
ac_add_options --disable-shared
ac_add_options --disable-tests
mk_add_options MOZ_CO_PROJECT=browser

Software Installed

Problems Encountered

  • Unable to download the source tree from Mozilla’s cvs servers.
  • Unsuccessful build using David’s mozconfig (Sister said it was done so she closed the Window). There were no executables in the bin directory after the process was completed so I assumed it had failed.

Solutions to Problems

  • Found a link to the source code on the Mozilla website and downloaded it via the site.
  • Checked the Mozilla prerequisite site and used the mozconfig provided by them (I just wanted to get a build complete and did not want to wait another 40 minutes for a build that I was unsure as to whether or not it would complete successfully)

Resources Used


Capture 09102006 221953.jpg


I was actually surprised at the sheer size of the source code for Firefox and the fact that through a few commands all of it would come together to form a very versatile program. In the past the largest program I had created was around 15,000 lines of code in VB6 at the time I thought it was a daunting achievement. It has really been enlightening to build this program and to actually be able to poke around in the source code. Overall I thought it would have been a lot harder to compile such a large program and I feel that the experience (though frustrating) was worth while.