Saturday, October 2, 2010

HOWTO: Install Firefox 4 on Ubuntu or any Linux Distro

Firefox 4 is almost ready for prime time! It offers lots of new features and is currently in beta. As such not all distributions have installer packages for it (and those that do don't always update them right away). Another problem with these builds (on Ubuntu and several other distros at least) is that they brand their beta Firefox package not as "Firefox", but as whatever code name the project has. This causes some websites, such as Facebook, to detect it as an unknown browser and thus disable some functionality (not to mention it will also confuse non-tech people that sit down in front of your computer).

Now I know there are always the nightly builds, but these are extremely bleeding edge and I personally don't care to have to run a system upgrade every single day. The following is an easy way to install the latest stable beta version of Firefox on any Linux distribution.

First -
Odds are your Linux distribution has a Firefox package (albeit and older version), install this package so your system will automatically install all of Firefox's dependencies through your package manager.

For example on a Ubuntu based distribution you would run the following in terminal:

sudo apt-get install firefox

Second -
Download the latest beta package of Firefox from here.

Finally -
Open a terminal and run the following commands in order (note these instructions assume you download the Firefox archive in step 2 to your ~/Downloads folder):

cd ~/Downloads
tar xjf firefox-*.tar.bz2
cd firefox
sudo mv /usr/bin/firefox /usr/bin/firefox-old
sudo ln -s ~/Downloads/firefox/firefox /usr/bin/firefox

You are all set! The Firefox icon in your menu will now launch the beta version of Firefox you just downloaded. There are two important things to note when installing Firefox via this method. First - Your older version of Firefox is install installed, if you want to use it for some reason just run firefox-old in terminal. Second, the version of Firefox we installed will not be updated through your system's package manager - it will however handle it's own updates just fine.

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. i just hope the memory issue is fixed or better in 4. With that many tabs and them that heavily focused on tabs people will use!!!

  2. Don't work in OpenSuSe 11.3!

  3. Care to elaborate how it "don't work"? Did you follow the instructions listed? Did any of the steps give you an issue?

  4. 1) Debian uses Iceweasel
    2) There is a repo for Iceweasel 4.0~b5,
    which is the same as the current Firefox beta.
    Installed: 3.6.10-1
    Candidate: 4.0~b5-1
    Version table:
    4.0~b5-1 0
    500 ./ Packages
    *** 3.6.10-1 0
    101 experimental/main i386 Packages
    100 /var/lib/dpkg/status
    3.5.13-1 0
    500 sid/main i386 Packages

  5. @CraigEvil - Actually as I stated often happens in the post that repo is out of date. Latest stable Firefox 4 beta as of today is b6 not b5

  6. What about language packages?

  7. What in the world is that fox doing to that poor penguin?

  8. Beta 6 Change log - Contains changes for all three platforms

  9. hi Jeff
    Thanks for the instructs. Have been looking for some since I was invited to try beta. Used them with firefox-4.0b8. Followed them exactly, but they did not work. When I dbl click on FF icon on desktop or menu, nothing happens. I can get the old FF [3.6] to run in terminal re: firefox-old.
    I am using opensuse 11.2 w/ kde 4.
    Any ideas?
    If not how do I return to normal FF 3.6?

  10. Thanks Jeff! Worked a treat for me. Old version had annoying assertion node bug.