Manually installing Firefox in Linux

 Tue, 11 Oct 2022 08:02 UTC

Manually installing Firefox in Linux
Image: CC BY 4.0 by cybrkyd


My personal preference is to run a non-repository Firefox on my system. I’ll explain why and demonstrate how this is easily achieved in minutes.

I don’t quite like having to figure out and undo the changes Linux Mint has made to the browser - see this from Linux Mint. As they explain, this is nothing new - Firefox is open-source and can be fiddled with before shipping. I much prefer to do my own fiddling.

Contrary to popular belief, self-installing does not stop Firefox from auto-updating, provided you know how. The method I use will ensure it updates seamlessly. Let’s get stuck in and I’ll explain just how easy this is.

Download Firefox

Go to the Firefox download page and click download now. The latest version of Firefox will begin downloading and will arrive as a tar.bz2 file.

A lot of Linux experts will tell you that manual installs (non-repository) should always go into your /opt directory. This is best-practice and not a rule. I cannot be bothered to sudo every time I need to do something in there. Also, because of how /opt requires sudo permissions, housing Firefox in there will prevent it from auto-updating. This means that for every new update, Firefox will need to downloaded manually, extracted and moved to /opt.

My solution is to create a folder in my /home/<user> directory and store Firefox in there. I use /home/<user>/Apps but you can call it whatever you want.

Move the tar.bz2 to your new folder and extract it there. You will end up with just one folder named Firefox. Inside, an executable named Firefox is the one you want. It arrives with the correct permissions -rwxr-xr-x so it can be used immediately - just double-click it.

System integration

To fully integrate your Firefox into your desktop environment, complete with menu and desktop entries, follow the next steps.

  1. Create a new, empty text document and call it Firefox.desktop.

  2. Add the following to it, updated with your own directory paths:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Firefox
Exec=/home/user/Apps/firefox/firefox
Comment=
Terminal=false
Icon=/home/user/Apps/firefox.png
Type=Application
  1. Sort out an icon and place it in your directory corresponding to Icon= as per the desktop file. You can use the one that comes in your theme or pick one of these if you prefer.
  1. Change permissions of Firefox.desktop.
$ chmod 644 Firefox.desktop
  1. Copy Firefox.desktop to ~/.local/share/applications and ~/Desktop.
$ sudo cp Firefox.desktop ~/.local/share/applications && cp Firefox.desktop ~/Desktop

You should now have a menu entry in your start menu. Linux Mint adds it to the group “Other” so do your thing and edit the menu to place it where you want, e.g. in the group “Internet”.

Et voila! You are an advanced user…according to me and according to Mozilla.