I’ve been debating about posting this for the past couple weeks since I first learned about the possibility of the profile manger being removed “after Firefox 4”. The reason I’ve been so hesitant on this post is because this ‘bug‘ (technical term, though more of a rumor) has been around since July 31, 2003 back when Firefox was Firebird. There was off-and-on chatter about this until the end of December 2009 when there since has been solid discussion about this. This would have been about the time Mozilla was getting ready to release Firefox 3.6 and the start of the Mozilla Developers Preview (1.9.3 alpha) aka (un-officially) Firefox 3.7.
A point of clarification, the profiles are not going away. Rather, the profile manager user interface (ui) as it is now in Firefox is slated for removal after Firefox 4. So this begs the question, “If Firefox is still going to support multiple profiles, but the UI is being removed, then how do users manage profiles?”
The answer is in the form of a stand-alone profile manager application, called ProfileManager. Developed by J. Griffin has been released as a Beta for Windows, Linux and Mac. This handy application allows you to easily manage (create, modify, remove and even backup) multiple Firefox (it suppose to be able to handle other xulrunner apps such as Thunderbird (though I have not been able to successfully get it to work with Thunderbird).
The nice thing about this application (at least for me) it has de-cluttered my taskbar as now I can have one quick launch icon (ProfileManager) to run any profile on any build of Firefox I have installed.
Keep in mind this is still in Beta with bugs and the final removal of the current profile management UI won’t happen until sometime after Firefox 4. One of the bugs I am running into is programs that try to open external links do so by trying to open Firefox with default profile, which of course is already running. I am waiting to hear back from the developer on a work-around.