Install Real Firefox in Debian

Mozilla Firefox is a widely used web browser in many GNU/Linux distibution, including Debian OS. But, due to the brand/name restriction, Debian use Iceweasel, a rebranded Firefox browser, as its the default web browser instead of “real” Mozilla Firefox.

Iceweasel is Firefox, only with different name and logo. It looks and performs exactly like Firefox, Firefox extensions/add-ons are 100% compatible and thus can be installed and used in Iceweasel.

But for many people, using the rebranded browser of Firefox somehow doesn’t give a “real” Firefox eperience. And also, although in very rare cases, some websites reportedly can’t recognize Iceweasel as Firefox, so the site can’t be used smoothly on it. Another reason why some people prefer the real Firefox instead of Iceweasel, is because Iceweasel in Debian is a bit outdated, not updated to the latest Firefox (as of this writing, Iceweasel version in Debian Wheezy is Iceweasel ESR 10.0.7, while the latest Mozilla Firefox is Firefox 15.0).

For whatever reason, if you want to install the real Firefox in Debian OS, here I will show a little step-by-step tutorial/guide.

Debian doesn’t provide Firefox in its official repository, so we need to install it in another way. In this method, I will show you a manual installation: how to install the real Mozilla Firefox web browser in Debian OS.

Install Firefox

  1. Download Firefox

    Download latest version of the original Mozilla Firefox for Linux from the official Mozilla website here, and put it in the Downloads folder within your Home directory (/home/$USER/Downloads).

  2. Install Firefox

    • Copy and extract Firefox archive
      Open Terminal, and change directory (cd) to the Downloads folder:

      cd Downloads

      Then run the following commands (one-by-one):

      sudo cp firefox-*.tar.bz2 /opt
      cd /opt
      sudo tar -xvf firefox-*.tar.bz2
      sudo rm firefox-*.tar.bz2
    • Create symbolic link to firefox binary
      UPDATE (2013.11.17-080056-utc)
      Added “firefox.real” symlink (thanks to Wilbert van Bakel):
      Backup (move) any existing firefox bin:

      sudo mv -f /usr/bin/firefox /usr/bin/firefox.backup
      sudo mv -f /usr/bin/firefox /usr/bin/firefox.real.backup

      Create symbolic link to the real firefox binary:

      sudo ln -sf /opt/firefox/firefox /usr/bin/firefox
      sudo ln -sf /opt/firefox/firefox /usr/bin/firefox.real
  3. Create Firefox Application Shortcut

    • Create symbolic links for firefox icon
      sudo ln -s /opt/firefox/icons/mozicon128.png /usr/share/icons/hicolor/128×128/apps/firefox.png & sudo ln -s /opt/firefox/icons/mozicon128.png /usr/share/pixmaps/firefox.png
      UPDATE (2013.11.08-135813-utc)
      Changed Firefox app icon location (thanks to Naveen P Suthar):

      sudo ln -sf /opt/firefox/browser/icons/mozicon128.png /usr/share/icons/hicolor/128x128/apps/firefox.png
      sudo ln -sf /opt/firefox/browser/icons/mozicon128.png /usr/share/pixmaps/firefox.png
    • Create firefox.desktop file in /usr/share/applications
      Open gedit (or another text editor app) with root privilege:

      sudo gedit /usr/share/applications/firefox.desktop

      Then copy-paste the following text:

      [Desktop Entry]
      Comment=Browse the World Wide Web
      GenericName=Web Browser
      X-GNOME-FullName=Firefox Web Browser
      Exec=/opt/firefox/firefox %u

      Save the file as firefox.desktop in the /usr/share/applications folder

You should now have Firefox Web Browser in GNOME applications menu.

Update Firefox

If you install Firefox on your system using the above method, you can update your Firefox installation by running Firefox browser as Root, and then update using build-in updater in Firefox window.

  • Open up a Terminal window, and then run the following command:
    sudo /opt/firefox/firefox
  • In Firefox window, navigate to the Help menu ==> About Firefox. From the About Mozilla Firefox window, you can see update status and perform update process.

Running Firefox as Root should not be used for regular web browsing.

to use sudo you need sudo installed you can use basic command

Step #1: Download Firefox 15

Download Firefox version 15 from the download page to your /tmp directory. Make sure you close Firefox if it’s running. Open a command line-terminal and go to your /tmp directory, enter:
$ cd /tmp

Step #2: Extract and Install firefox-15.0.tar.bz2 Tar Ball

To extract the contents of the downloaded file called irefox-15.0.tar.bz2 and install into /opt directory, enter:
$ tar -jxvf firefox-15.0.tar.bz2 -C /opt

If you can not install Firefox 15 in /opt directory, due to permission issues; use the following command to install FF15 in your own home directory:
$ mkdir ~/firfox
$ tar jxvf firefox-*.tar.bz2 -C ~/firfox

Step #3: Start Firefox 15 under Linux

First, make sure you backup ~/.mozilla/ directory, enter:
$ mkdir ~/backups
$ cp -avr ~/.mozilla/ ~/backups

To start Firefox, type the firefox command script in the firefox directory:
$ /opt/firefox/firefox
$ ~/firefox1/firefox/firefox
Sample outputs:

Firefox 15 in action

A Note about your bookmarks and browsing history (Am I going to lose them?)

You won’t lose any of your bookmarks or browsing history when you run Firefox v15, but some of your extensions and other add-ons might not work until updates for them are made available.


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