Monday, June 17, 2013

Multiple simultaneous browser sessions

I need  multiple simultaneous, persistent browsing sessions:
  • as a developer I frequently need multiple logins to test things
  • as a person concerned about my privacy I use multiple public profiles, multiple email addresses
  • sometimes I use a proxy server to watch ip-restricted tv from another country

Simultaneous: I don't want to log in and out of accounts all the time.
Persistent: It's nice when my computer remembers logins, preferences, proxies, bookmarks, cookies and all.

My primary browser is Chrome. It's fast and stable and has all I need for most tasks. But it only lets me use one session at a time (besides the temporary inkognito ones). Some Google products such as Gmail allow multi-signin but as the page says at the end, some products don't. These include Google groups and Blogger. And I need them (this is a Blogger blog). But Google wouldn't be Google if it wouldn't offer solutions to the problem:
  1. sign out, and in with other account
  2. sign in with another browser
So another browser it is.

I've tried using Opera for one of my accounts. But it's no pleasure. Gmail in Opera sucks. Google groups in Opera suck. And Blogger to write text is horrible (it's bad enough in Chrome already). One week ago I had 5 tabs open in Opera and it consumed 1.8GB ram. No thank you.

Anyway, I might want more sessions than there are acceptable browsers.

Firefox to the rescue

Our relationship has become a bit rusty over the years, but I still remember the good times we've shared. It feels sluggish like a heavy KV-1 tank compared to a light Luchs in World of Tanks terms. But one great feature it has is that it not only allows multiple profiles (as does Chrome), but also to run them simultaneously. The trick is to not only make it ask for the profile at the first start, but at every start. And here it is:

1)  Click the start button, right-click the Firefox program, select "Properties"

2) At the end of the "Target" command append -P -no-remote


3) Provide administrator permission if asked

4) From now on each time you start Firefox it will ask which profile to use by showing the profile manager. And each window opened this way will run its own, isolated session (and system process).

The basic knowledge for this magic can be found here but the real trick is documented here