… or any other Linux distribution.
This how-to explains how to install Firefox on Linux, with or without replacing an existing Firefox installation.
Firefox 83 was officially released on November 17, 2020.
Firefox 84 will be released on December 15, 2020.
More information on Firefox release dates (including beta, nightly and ESR versions) can be found on the official Firefox Release Calendar.
Warning for inexperienced Linux users: stick to the Firefox version included with your Linux distribution! Firefox can be installed or uninstalled through the package management system (aka. 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 appear, because each release has to be tested with each 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-83.0.tar.bz2, right-click on it and select “extract here”.
Alternatively, you can extract the archive from the command line:
tar xjf firefox-83.0.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-83.0.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
You may need to create /opt first:
sudo mkdir /opt
On the contrary, 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/firefox83
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 83 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/firefox83/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/firefox83/firefox /usr/bin/firefox83
Launch the newly installed Firefox by running
firefox83 in a terminal, or create shortcuts/icons referring to
Firefox will manage its own updates independently of your system’s package manager, and download subsequent releases automatically. There will be no need to repeat the whole installation procedure for every new Firefox release… 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 85 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
The “Official PPA for Firefox Beta” (firefox-next) 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 / Linux Mint updates for Firefox (automatic)
Ubuntu updates its repositories to the newest Firefox version only a few days after the official release – so does Linux Mint. Here are a few examples of how many days Ubuntu and Linux Mint need to push the update:
- Linux Mint: Firefox 73 was released on February 11, 2020. MintUpdate dispatched the update on February 15, only four days after the official release. Ubuntu was even faster and made the new Firefox available on February 13 (for Eoan and Bionic).
- Firefox 78 was released by Mozilla on June, 2. Ubuntu users were asked to update on June 5 (Focal Fossa), whereas Linux Mint users received the update on June 6, 2020.
- Firefox 81 came out on September 22, 2020. Ubuntu and Linux Mint users were asked to update only one day later.
- Firefox 82 was officially released on October 20, 2020. Ubuntu and Linux Mint repositories were updated the same day.
- Firefox 83 was released by Mozilla on November 17, 2020. Both Ubuntu and Linux Mint made the new release available on November 18, only one days after the official release.
5. Linux Mint 20 “Ulyana”, Debian 10.x “Buster”, Manjaro Linux, …
This howto has been tested with success on the following distributions, with Firefox 4 to 83 and Firefox Beta:
CentOS / Scientific Linux / RHEL 6.10 & 7.9 & 8.3
Debian 9.x “Stretch” (end of support was July 18, 2020)
Debian 10.x “Buster” (support until 2022)
Linux Mint 18.x (support until April 2021 for all 18.x releases)
Linux Mint 19 “Tara” LTS (support until April 2023 for all 19.x releases)
Linux Mint 19.1 “Tessa”, 19.2 “Tina”, 19.3 “Tricia”
Linux Mint 20 “Ulyana”
Ubuntu 16.04 LTS “Xenial Xerus” (Long Term Support, until April 2021)
Ubuntu 18.04 LTS “Bionic Beaver” (support until April 2023)
Ubuntu 20.04 LTS “Focal Fossa” (Long Term Support, until April 2025)
Ubuntu 20.10 “Groovy Gorilla” (support until July 2021)
Manjaro Linux 20.1 “Mikah”
C. Uninstall/remove Firefox (non-ppa installations)
Remove the Firefox directory:
sudo rm -r /opt/firefox83
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 83 and Firefox 84 (Beta) instances at the same time.
Let’s say that you’ve created two profiles: ffox83-profile and ffox84-profile. You can start one instance of Firefox 83 and one instance of Firefox 84 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 – November 2020