… or any other Linux distribution.
This how-to explains how to install Firefox 51 on Linux, with or without replacing an existing Firefox installation.
Firefox 51 was released on January 23, 2017.
Firefox 52 will be released on March 7, 2017.
More information on Firefox release dates (including beta, aurora, nightly and ESR versions) can be found on the official RapidRelease calendar. Details on the new flexible six-to-eight week Firefox release cycle can be found here.
Warning for unexperienced Linux users: stick to the Firefox version included with your Linux distribution! Firefox can be installed or uninstalled through the package management system (Software Center, Software Manager, Synaptic, apt…) of all major distributions. Concerning updates: they will appear automatically in the package manager, though it may take a few days after the official Firefox release for the update to show on, because each new release has to be tested with the distribution.
A. Install Firefox in 5 easy steps
Download Firefox from the official Mozilla Firefox page:
Download alternative versions (beta, developer edition, nightly) from the official channels page:
A 64 bit build is also available in the x86_64 directory of Mozilla’s FTP.
This how-to supposes that the downloaded file is saved in the “Downloads” directory located in your home directory.
The downloaded file is a compressed .tar.bz2 archive. In case you want to learn more on these extensions: tar, bzip2. To extract this juicy archive, open the Downloads directory. Look for a file named firefox-51.0.tar.bz2, right-click on it and select “extract here”.
Alternatively, you can extract the archive from the command line:
tar xjf firefox-51.0.tar.bz2
For those interested, here are the tar arguments used in the command:
x : eXtract
j : deal with bzipped file
f : read from a file (rather than a tape device)
The firefox-51.0.tar.bz2 archive can now be deleted.
3. Move to /opt
External programs like LibreOffice, Google Chrome, the defunct Adobe reader, … are all installed in the /opt directory. If you want more info about why /opt is the right place to install programs on Linux, check out these two links:
Where to install my products on Linux?
Filesystem Hierarchy Standard
If you already had a previous Firefox version installed in the /opt directory, remove it with the following command:
sudo rm -r /opt/firefox
Now move the firefox directory (which was created in your Downloads folder during extraction) to /opt:
sudo mv firefox /opt/firefox51
4. Set up symbolic links
Depending on your usage pattern, follow the instructions for case 1 OR for case 2.
Case 1: you want to use Firefox 51 as your default browser:
“Backup” the old Firefox launcher:
sudo mv /usr/bin/firefox /usr/bin/firefox-old
Create a symbolic link pointing to the new Firefox version:
sudo ln -s /opt/firefox51/firefox /usr/bin/firefox
There is no need to update your icons/shortcuts; they should now launch the new version of Firefox.
Your old Firefox version is still available. If you want to use it, run
firefox-old in a terminal or create shortcuts/icons referring to
Case 2: you want to keep using your “old” Firefox by default:
Create a symbolic link pointing to the new Firefox version:
sudo ln -s /opt/firefox51 firefox /usr/bin/firefox51
Launch the newly installed Firefox by running
firefox51 in a terminal, or create shortcuts/icons referring to
Firefox will manage its own updates independently of your system’s package manager, an download subsequent releases. There will be no need to repeat the whole “procedure”… Enjoy Firefox!
B. Ubuntu’s case, Linux Mint and Debian
1. Ubuntu: no ubuntu-mozilla-daily ppa!
Many howtos on this subject will tell you to install Firefox pre-versions through Mozilla’s ppa ubuntu-mozilla-daily. Using this ppa will not only install the latest Firefox 53 daily build, once called “minefield” – updated daily! It will also update your current Firefox and Thunderbird to test versions.
These testing versions are not meant to be stable or usable.
→ Avoid this ppa unless you know exactly what you’re doing!
2. The official Firefox Beta ppa: mozillateam firefox-next
The firefox-next ppa will replace your current Firefox installation with the current available version in Mozillas Beta channel. Simply run these two commands in a terminal:
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:mozillateam/firefox-next
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
You may also have a look at the Firefox Aurora ppa.
Note: you can use only one of these three channels (Aurora, Beta, and Daily) at the same time!
4. Official Ubuntu updates for Firefox (automatic)
Ubuntu automatically updates its repositories to the newest stable Firefox version a few days after the official release (as does Linux Mint). Here are a few examples of how many days Ubuntu and Linux Mint need to push the update:
- Ubuntu: Firefox 47 was released on June 7, 2016. The update showed up on June 13, only 6 days after the official Firefox release.
- Linux Mint: Firefox 48 was released on August 2, 2016. MintUpdate dispatched the update on August 7, only 5 days after the official release.
5. Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena”, Debian 8.7 “Jessie”, CentOS 7.3, …
This howto has been tested with success on the following distributions, with Firefox 4 to 51 and Firefox Beta/Aurora:
CentOS / Scientific Linux / RHEL 6.8 & 7.3
Debian 6 “Squeeze”
Debian 7 “Wheezy”
Debian 8.x “Jessie”
Linux Mint 13 “Maya” LTS (support until April 2017)
Linux Mint 17 “Qiana” LTS (support until April 2019)
Linux Mint 17.1 “Rebecca” LTS (support until April 2019)
Linux Mint 17.2 “Rafaela” LTS (support until April 2019)
Linux Mint 17.3 “Rosa” LTS (support until April 2019)
Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” LTS (support until April 2021)
Linux Mint 18.1 “Serena” LTS (support until 2021)
Ubuntu 12.04 LTS “Precise Pangolin” (support until April 2017)
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS “Trusty Tahr” (Long Term Support, until April 2019)
Ubuntu 16.04 LTS “Xenial Xerus” (support until April 2021)
Ubuntu 16.10 ‘Yakkety Yak’ (support until July 2017)
This installation procedure is reliable and should work with a wide range of distributions. Please share your experience with OpenSuse and Fedora in the comments.
C. Uninstall/remove Firefox (non-ppa installations)
Remove the Firefox directory:
sudo rm -r /opt/firefox51
You should also consider changing back or removing symbolic links which pointed to the old Firefox directory. Use this command:
sudo mv /usr/bin/firefox-old /usr/bin/firefox
Or remove the
Problem: it is possible to run different Firefox versions with the same profile (profiles are compatible through major versions). However this is not very convenient, as Firefox will check the profiles extensions and plugins every time you start a newer or older version.
Solution: create a profile for each Firefox version. Create new profiles with:
firefox -no-remote -ProfileManager
-no-remote option starts a new instance of Firefox even if there is already a Firefox instance running. Use the
-no-remote option to run Firefox 51 and Firefox 52 instances at the same time.
Let’s say that you’ve created two profiles: ffox51_profile and ffox52-profile. You can start one instance of Firefox 51 and one instance of Firefox 52 with the following commands:
E. Create desktop shortcuts / launchers / icons
Now you may create desktop shortcuts / icons / launchers (Gnome: Custom Application Launcher) for each of these Firefox versions with their respective profiles.
By Johannes Eva, December 2010 – January 2017