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Debian 6 ("Squeeze") uses a rebranded version of Firefox called Iceweasel. It, however, lacks plugin support, and most of my favorites don't work.

So what is best way to install the "real" Firefox on Debian?

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Could you please care to elaborate on what iceweasel "misses" in your opinion, functionally? I am sure that Mike Hommey (the maintainer) would love to be informed of deficiencies of his packaging. Also, can you elaborate on "lack of plugin support"? I am a Debian user (and Debian Maintainer) and I am, right now, using icedtea for banking, the non-free flash plugin, Google Talk plugin for Hangouts, gecko-mediaplayer for videos and more. That's not exactly "lacks plugin support"... –  rbrito Aug 20 '13 at 1:58
@rbrito I'd guess Miro is talking about addon support. Crunchbang 11, for instance, bundles Iceweasel 20 whereas newest version of Firefox is 26 (even newest Iceweasel in sid is only FF24). Since some of the newer addons require >= FF25, this question is probably about that missing functionality. –  Eric Caron Jan 2 '14 at 15:49
@EricCaron Nope, it ain't about missing functionality. If I wanted to know how to add that functionality, I would have asked that. All I wanted to know is how to install real (not rebranded) Firefox and about that is whole question :) –  Miro Feb 10 '14 at 18:16
@rbrito - For me, it was fairly obvious that iceweasel was behind "real" Firefox. Perception is reality -- getting defensive often has the opposite effect from what you intended. Because now I =am= going to install Firefox for sure ... –  Julie in Austin May 12 '14 at 2:45
@JulieinAustin, can you tell precisely in which aspect Iceweasel is "behind" Firefox? If it is, I would also love to "switch" to Firefox, or better yet, let the maintainer know what may be the problem (which you should do, as the software isn't going to get fixed by itself). Any specific point? –  rbrito May 13 '14 at 7:09

5 Answers 5

up vote 109 down vote accepted

First, you need to remove the existing Iceweasel package (I think you can use aptitude as well):

apt-get remove iceweasel

Then, download the latest Linux build of Firefox directly from Mozilla. Extract the files, and navigate to that folder, and run it. If you want, make an icon on your desktop. You can also make a link to the binary in /usr/bin/firefox to make it easier to launch.

If you want a package-based one, you can use Linux Mint's Debian package repo. To do this, add the following line to your /etc/apt/sources.list file:

deb http://packages.linuxmint.com debian import

And add the GPG key for that repo. Then, just run:

apt-get update
apt-get install firefox

And you should be good to go!

The default install is German, to install in any other language, you can manually run:

apt-get install firefox-l10n-en-us 

(Edit[11/26/2014]: This package no longer appears in the linux mint repository.)
(Edit[11/26/2014]: apt-get install firefox-l10n-en-gb - This is the only working English package)

Packages names for other common langages include (official repository list - scroll half way down):

 firefox-l10n-en-gb       # British English
 firefox-l10n-es          # Spanish
 firefox-l10n-fr          # French
 firefox-l10n-de          # German
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Definitely easier than what I suggested. –  Simon Sheehan Aug 12 '11 at 14:53
Bah, got no notification that you were writing -- beat me to it :P –  slhck Aug 12 '11 at 15:01
What about GPG signature of that repository? –  Miro Aug 13 '11 at 14:10
Done that. It's Dutch language version- any ideas how to make it English? –  Leo Jul 30 '12 at 19:30
Ad GPG: downloading and manually (dpkg -i) installing linuxmint-keyring_*.deb from Mint's repo (before installing any package from actual repo) worked for me (Wheezy). –  Alois Mahdal Apr 4 '13 at 16:03

Iceweasel Aurora is very close to Firefox latest stable release.

I installed Iceweasel Aurora using this official debian/mozilla tutorial.

I was able to import my Firefox profile from another installation without errors, ie, all addons, bookmarks, history entries and user settings are working perfectly.

FYI, some of the plugins I use are Firebug, Awesome screenshot and Searchstatus, all worked fine and were not disabled by Iceweasel.

You may also want to use the Firefox logo for launchers.

This is probably a better option as it allows an easier update process.

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I'm running an AMD Athlon II X2 system. Firefox runs perfectly on Wheezy i686 & the 3.2.0-4-686-pae kernel. The stock version of IceWeasel just seemed gutted, crippled and inferior compared to Firefox. Installation is a snap. I download the newest Firefox to /home/myusername/Linux/Software/Mozilla/current/, and then run

cd /opt
sudo rm -R firefox*
sudo cp /home/myusername/Linux/Software/Mozilla/current/firefox* /opt
sudo tar jxvf firefox*

The second line removes the previous version completely before the upgrade.

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sudo rm -R firefox* seems quite dangerous, what if you had other firefox* folders in /opt? –  Alois Mahdal Apr 21 '13 at 19:04

This post on the Debian User forums suggests the following:

  • Download latest Firefox from: http://www.mozilla.com . If using wget, remember to escape any & with \ so it doesn't break the url down into a series of background process
  • Copy the downloaded file to /opt
  • Extract it using:

    $ tar -jxvf firefox-x.x.xx.tar.bz2
  • Change the permissions of the file:

    $ chown -R root:users /opt/firefox
    $ chmod 750 /opt/firefox

    Note that the user should be a group member of "users"

    $ usermod -a -G users username
  • Create a symbolic link

    $ ln -s /opt/firefox/firefox /usr/bin/firefox
  • Delete firefox-x.x.xx.tar.bz2 from /opt

To install new versions, you are supposed to

# rm -rf /opt/firefox*
# rm /usr/bin/firefox

To make a desktop icon, do this

$ touch /usr/share/applications/firefox.desktop

Edit this using your favourite text editor:

$ nano /usr/share/applications/firefox.desktop

Contents of firefox.desktop:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Mozilla Firefox
Comment=Browse the World Wide Web
Exec=/usr/bin/firefox %U

You can remove iceweasel with

$ apt-get remove iceweasel

If you encounter this error:

./firefox: error while loading shared libraries: libstdc++.so.6: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

You should probably install

apt-get install ia32-libs ia32-libs-gtk

Chances are that you are trying to install the 32 bit version of firefox in a 64 bit Debian environment.

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i did all the steps but i have no permission of open firefox. any ideas? –  jaorizabal Nov 2 '13 at 2:27
# ln -s /opt/firefox/firefox /usr/bin/firefox ln: failed to create symbolic link `/usr/bin/firefox': File exists –  miguel Apr 19 '14 at 21:57
Turns out debian put a shell script at /usr/bin/firefox that executes iceweasel. Dick move. –  miguel Apr 19 '14 at 22:01
@miguel This post is very old, not sure how valid it is still –  Simon Sheehan Apr 20 '14 at 16:04
Two updates! First... ln -sf /opt/firefox/firefox /usr/bin/firefox # force the symlink ... The other is the icon path on the firefox.desktop is now in another location: ls /opt/firefox/browser/icons/mozicon128.png –  mimoralea Dec 15 '14 at 13:04

There's a sourcefourge project, basically dedicated to allowing you to get the latest version of Firefox when running Ubuntu, no matter which version you run (as long as dependencies are satisfied, obviously). Since Ubuntu is a Debian derivative, I thought I'd try it. I've got Firefox working on Debian Testing ("Wheezy") just fine.

Run this:

apt-get remove iceweasel
echo -e "\ndeb http://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/ubuntuzilla/mozilla/apt all main" | tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list > /dev/null
apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com C1289A29
apt-get update
apt-get install firefox-mozilla-build

This resolves the GPG key issue that is encountered when using the imported Linux Mint DE repository, and is significantly simpler than the other viable solution. Also, this gives you access to Thunderbird and SeaMonkey as well.

Note that this solution only gives you the English-US Release Channel version (no beta or Aurora builds). Other languages can be used, but additional steps are required.

See the project page at Ubuntuzilla for more information.

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Works like charm! –  Yordan Pavlov May 18 '13 at 22:10
+1 for the --keyserver stuff! Actually iceweasel not needed to be removed. I was afraid that the settings and saved passwords would be lost, so I kept iceweasel. –  TrueY Dec 15 '14 at 21:25

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