Since when is Dell in the browser biz? Why, since today of course. The browser is a version of Firefox, modified to be secure by running a copy of the actual browser in a sandboxed operating system.

If you had though some versions of Firefox were memory hogs before, you may not be ready for this, because the one thing all of this does, besides adding security, is take up memory space.

More details on this come from the Instant Fundas website –

Dell in collaboration with the recently acquired KACE network just released a free browser for safer Internet browsing. Dell’s free browser, unintuitively named Secure Browser, is essentially Firefox running in a virtualized container with built addons, Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader.

The download size of Secure Browser is a massive 76 Megabytes. That’s because you are downloading a small operating system along with it. When you start the browser, you are actually booting into an invisible OS with the browser on top of it. The OS is mostly invisible but obvious from the thin gray border and top bar encircling the browser.

All activities within the browser is contained in the virtual environment. If a website wants to access a program, like Windows Media Player, it will ask for the user’s permission. Downloads however are not contained, so the user will still have to exercise caution when downloading stuff off the Internet. But any programs that get executed by self, triggers a prompt for user action.

A cool feature offered by the Secure Browser is the reset button. If something causes Firefox to break or takes over your browser, you can press reset which will restore everything back to the way it was when you initially installed the browser. There is also a feature that allows you to save the current setup with all of your updates and add-ones so that when you press the reset button you will be taken back to the point you set.

Users will be able to install updates and add-ones for Firefox, Adobe Flash, and Adobe Reader in the virtual instance. Dell KACE will also be releasing a new download for each new version of Firefox.

I don’t know about you, but that kid of security is more than I could handle on a regular basis, as it would be a real pain in everyday usage. It might be nice for things that you might be ultra paranoid about, such as accessing your banking online, or other matters financial in nature.

This may be the way some of the internet browsing is headed on every browser, however, but perhaps not to this degree. Chrome (and its derivatives) and Internet Exploder are already sandboxed to a degree, and the blogs at Opera have mentioned it at certain points. This is the first time I have seen any work on  Firefox, but if it catches on, you can bet there will be lots of use, as Firefox is still a favorite of many.

I was thinking that Comodo Dragon would have come into its own by now, but the movement on its development has stalled, leaving many users, like me, very disappointed. Iron has moved along, but even it has slowed the pace of development. Perhaps I am judging too harshly, because my measuring stick has been Google’s Chrome, which seems to move at a frenzied pace compared to other projects.

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UPDATE –

After I wrote the above, I decided to try the browser on my machine, which is [currently] a laptop with a 1.5GHz Celeron, 1280 MB of RAM, and runs Windows XP SP3 [fully patched], Avira antivirus, and Comodo Firewall, with Avira and Comodo current as of this morning.

I installed the browser, which went by with no apparent problems, as each step along the way completed with no error messages. After seeing, through a little snooping around, that the install was forcing 3 new processes at boot time (to support the virtualization), I tried to boot the browser.

Twelve and a half minutes later, I gave up, and shut down the computer. When I rebooted, I found that the Dell-KACE-Firefox install had hosed my HP Printer monitoring tray application, and that the browser application itself had no uninstall program. There was no link to uninstall in the start menu, and no entry in the Add-Remove Programs. I also took a look at my entries for Revo Uninstaller – there was nothing there either.

So, I did try using Firefox from Dell a couple of more times, after disabling Avira and Comodo, just in case they were the problem. Still no joy. The Firefox executable would show up in the processes list in the task manager, and the CPU Usage would zoom to 100%, but after waits of 10 and 14 minutes, there was still nothing happening that was shown on the screen. There was very little drive activity, and yet the CPU usage was 100% through the entire time I was trying to get this to function.

I tried a few other things, in an effort to get some form of success, but nothing was working. Since there were no error messages on the screen, and no log file anywhere concerning the Dell-KACE-Firefox browser. [Remember that I installed this with no errors, and the install completed and asked if I wanted to start the browser. That was what led to the first waiting period.]

I finally gave up, and decided that life is too short. I don’t have time for this. Security is nice, but if you cannot get the thing to work on an otherwise perfectly working computer, what is the point?

If you happen to try this browser/OS combination, and find it works, how about a quick note below, with an idea of how much time it took to come up after the installation. Also, you might include how easy it is to browse with the combination.

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To wear your heart on your sleeve isn’t a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best.

Margaret Thatcher


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