How to install Firefox 53 on Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, Fedora…

… or any other Linux distribution.

This red panda (Firefox) has not much to do with installing Firefox on Linux

This how-to explains how to install Firefox 53 on Linux, with or without replacing an existing Firefox installation.

Firefox 53 was released on April 18, 2017.
Firefox 54 will be released on June 13, 2017.

More information on Firefox release dates (including beta, nightly and ESR versions) can be found on the official RapidRelease calendar.

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. It may take a few days after the official Firefox release for the update to show on, because the new release has to be tested with each distribution.

A. Install Firefox in 5 easy steps

1. Download

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.

2. Extract

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-53.0.tar.bz2, right-click on it and select “extract here”.

Alternatively, you can extract the archive from the command line:
cd ~/Downloads/
tar xjf firefox-53.0.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-53.0.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/firefox53

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 53 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/firefox53/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 firefox-old.

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/firefox53 firefox /usr/bin/firefox53

Launch the newly installed Firefox by running firefox53 in a terminal, or create shortcuts/icons referring to firefox53.

5. Updates

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 55 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

Note: you can use only one of these channels (Beta or 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 52 was released on March 8, 2017. MintUpdate dispatched the update on March 11, only 3 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 53 and Firefox Beta:

CentOS / Scientific Linux / RHEL 6.9 & 7.3
Debian 7 “Wheezy”
Debian 8.x “Jessie”
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 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)
Ubuntu 17.04 “Zesty Zapus” (support until January 2018)

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/firefox53

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 firefox53 symlink:
sudo rm /usr/bin/firefox53

D. Run multiple Firefox profiles and instances simultaneously

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

The -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 53 and Firefox 54 instances at the same time.

Let’s say that you’ve created two profiles: ffox53_profile and ffox54-profile. You can start one instance of Firefox 53 and one instance of Firefox 54 with the following commands:
firefox -no-remote -P ffox53-profile
firefox54 -no-remote -P ffox54-profile

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 – April 2017

Read also:
How to install LibreOffice 5.3 on Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Debian…
How to set default programs on Linux Mint or Ubuntu

Posted in Firefox.


    • Kumar, you’re probably in the wrong directory when running the “move” command – or using the wrong file name. Using the “TAB” key to autocomplete the file name helps to know if you’re right: if it autocompletes the file or directory names, it’s right, else it’s wrong. Of course, listing files with the “ls” command also shows if you have extracted the archive correctly.

  1. This was the error I see when trying to add the PPA running Debian – Stretch Step 2. also the certificate verify failed :

    ssl.SSLError: [SSL: CERTIFICATE_VERIFY_FAILED] certificate verify failed (_ssl.c:649)
    softwareproperties.shortcuts.ShortcutException: Cannot add PPA: ‘ppa:~mozillateam/ubuntu/firefox-next’.

    ERROR: ‘~mozillateam’ user or team does not exist.
    Error: ‘ppa:mozillateam/firefox-next’ invalid

  2. Pingback: Install the latest FireFox in CentOS 7 - UncleNinja

  3. Pingback: Upgrade Firefox di Linux Mint | Catatan dan Wiki Personal

  4. FF 45 in Mint does not open groups of tabs anymore. So that seems broken.
    I went back to a former version. The repository only offered FF 28… But this one still works.

  5. I have other problem 🙂 I unpacked firefox (did same with thunderbird), created symbolic links and everything, but still, when I run firefox or thunderbird, it said it is not default browser/email client and I can’t turn it off. It is not really functional problem, but it is reaaaaaally annoying 🙂 in preffered applications is set firefox and thunderbird (the original mint firefox and thunderbird don’t have this problem), is there any way (and I am sure there is) how to set unzipped TB and FF as default? BTW I am using common profiles for windows and for mint 17.3 in both applications. THX 🙂

    • I figured out something, I turned off check for default application in settings (during start of application, it ignored it 🙂 ) I hope it will work

  6. I really do try to like Linux… but I just can’t understand why I can’t just UPDATE my firefox in one click? The version is there – why do I need to start entering commands and copying folders for something as trivial as that?

    • Well, in fact this tutorial is for advanced users, most of which are installing Firefox on their own on custom Linux systems. Or trying Firefox Beta/Aurora or other special versions of Firefox.

      In your case you’re probably using mainstream distributions such are Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Debian, OpenSuse, Fedora, … The package manager of your distro will take care of updating Firefox by itself, when when the new Ffox version has been tested for compatibility with your distro, so that it doesn’t break anything. On Ubuntu or Linux Mint, for example, it takes just a few days after the official release.

      Please do NOT use this guide to update Firefox by hand if you’re just a “normal” user or a Linux beginner. Just apply the normal updates (as you should always do) for your distribution and you’ll get the new Firefox version. I’ll try to make a version of this guide for beginners and normal users soon, as it seems to be really confusing. Sorry for that.

      • You state here, and I’ve seen in other places, that Debian-based package managers will release firefox updates “just a few days after the official release”. That has not been my experience. I run Linux Mint 17.3, and as of today (4/30/2016), my firefox from the package manager is version 42.0. The following version (43.0) was released 4.5 months ago on December 15th, and version 46.0 was released this week. What am I missing?

      • I also run Mint 17.3, the Firefox version is 45 and it should be updated to 46 very soon. I can’t explain why you’re stuck with an older version. I suppose you ran “sudo apt-get update”? If nothing else works, I would suggest to install the newest Firefox version manually as described in this guide.

        Update 30.04.16: The update to Firefox 46 just showed up in the update manager. It took 4 days to the Linux Mint team to check and distribute the update, which is fine.

  7. Pingback: How to install Firefox 43 on Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, Fedora - Free Networking Tutorials, Free System Administration Tutorials and Free Security Tutorials

    • Ubuntu will take care of Firefox upgrades automatically, you don’t have to do it manually. It may take a few days after the official release for the Ffox upgrade to show on, because the Ubuntu folks have to test the new release with Ubuntu.
      There is no Firefox install in /opt by default, as this is where admins/users are supposed to install optional software. If you did not install anything in /opt manually, nothing show up there, which is normal.
      Hope this helps!

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