Adding REAL Firefox to Debian Linux

Last updated Dec 26, 2008 — 129912 views

I realize it’s a touchy subject, but some of us prefer unmodified Firefox — including the standard Firefox icon — to Debian’s Iceweasel alternative. Here’s a three-step way to substitute Firefox for Iceweasel on a fresh Lenny install.

This procedure assumes you’ve downloaded and installed the latest Debian Lenny (aka “testing,” currently) GNU/Linux distribution, along with its standard GNOME desktop environment.

  • Using Iceweasel for the last time, download Firefox to your home directory. Let’s assume the name of the file you downloaded is “firefox-3.0.5.tar.bz2” (the current version as of this writing).
  • Open up a terminal window and, as root, type the following commands (following each by hitting Enter):
      apt-get remove iceweasel
      mv firefox-3.0.5.tar.bz2 /usr/lib/
      cd /usr/lib/
      tar -jxvf firefox-3.0.5.tar.bz2
      ln -s /usr/lib/firefox/firefox /usr/bin/firefox

    If you prefer, you can simplify the above commands by copying/pasting the following text onto your terminal command line:

      apt-get remove iceweasel; mv firefox-3.0.5.tar.bz2 /usr/lib/; cd /usr/lib/; tar -jxvf firefox-3.0.5.tar.bz2; ln -s /usr/lib/firefox/firefox /usr/bin/firefox

  • Finally, you’ll need a launch icon on your desktop. You can create that the standard way GNOME allows, or simply save this file to your GNOME desktop.

That’s all there is to it!

Well, one other point. To make use of browser plugins that have already been set up by your Debian installation, you’ll want to create a symlink from /usr/lib/firefox/plugins/ to /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/, using this two-part command (as root):

    rm -rf /usr/lib/firefox/plugins; ln -s /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins /usr/lib/firefox/plugins

Incidentally, on my installation, the default flash plugin that came with Lenny ( required me to click a large play button (shown at right) each time I visited a web page that used flash. So, I went to Adobe’s flash plugin download page and downloaded the flash plugin for debian, then installed it with the command “dpkg -i install_flash_player_10_linux.deb” (as root). That plugin ( works much better.

85 responses to “Adding REAL Firefox to Debian Linux”

  1. rickh says:

    I guess this is a way of proving that it;s OK to “steal” Debian, you actually hate FOSS, and that you’re willing to settle for 2nd best ,,, all in one quick swoop.

  2. ccady says:

    Do you believe there is any reason, other than the branding, to prefer Firefox® to Iceweasel? I agree that making a choice based on the name and branding might be reasonable in some cases, but in those cases, you could just put a “Firefox” icon on the desktop and use the Iceweasel bits.

    Here are the things that you are missing if you install Firefox® instead of Iceweasel:

  3. deviceguru says:

    Please understand: I’m not saying YOU shouldn’t use Iceweasel. I just prefer using standard Firefox direct from They provide updates automatically and quickly, so I can keep up with the very latest version. The nice thing about Linux is that I have lots of choices for what apps I use — and yes, I use a combination of “tainted” (not totally FOSS) and “nontainted” (totally FOSS) apps. I guess that makes me tainted 😉 If so, so be it! (My mobile phone also has non-FOSS in it, as do my DVD recorder, sound system, TV, GPS, iPod, car, PC BIOS,…)

  4. frogbite says:

    @rickh: why so hateful? One of the nicer aspects of FOSS is that you can use it in any way you like to. If the guy likes to use the original firefox, so be it. Also I strongly disagree that having to push a play button to view flash content is “second best”.

    The “Debian Attitude” is the reason why i am using Ubuntu. I need a usable desktop system, not lectures about the holy grail of FOSS from people who feel the urge to force the Debian policy down everyones throats. I understand there are good reasons not to include the Firefox logo/brand name into Debian, but criticizing someone who customizes his own system and writes about it is just inappropriate and lame.

    And, you should not forget that under the hood Iceweasel is in fact just Firefox and the application is provided by the good people who make Firefox. Not Debian. You can pretend it to be “Iceweasel” as long as you like but at the end of the day it’s still a Firefox.

  5. Sheridan Hutchinson says:

    * You can call your browser Firefox instead of Iceweasel

    * You’ve now installed artwork that isn’t _free_ to use for any purpose on to your Debian system

    * You lose all the custom and polished patches that Debian has made for the browser; occasionally things are fixed in the Debian repositories (especially security bugs) that even upstream haven’t pushed out with a release

    * Update management is taken away from the genius that is apt and the dpkg package management system, and given to Firefox’s built in updater. If dependencies change in any respect, you may end up stuffed and scratching your head after updating that way; this would NEVER happen if you used the Iceweasel package from the repository

    * If this article was actually complete then the author would have showed you how to use the tool ‘checkinstall’ which would have built you a package that you could have installed with apt of your custom built Firefox. Dependencies would be better handled and you would have a clean and easy way of removing it from your system. The whole point of the package management system is that it is much, MUCH, easier to manage software on a computer if software knows about what other software is installed.

  6. craigevil says:

    I have tons of these Firefox howtos. I still do not get the point. The beauty of Debian is the package management . Iceweasel other than the silly Firefox icon does everything Firefox does, extensions work in both, themes work in both.

    From Mozilla Corporation software rebranded by the Debian project

    Mozilla Corporation enforces trademarks and claims the right to deny the use of the name “Firefox” and other trademarks to unofficial builds.[5] Unless distributions use the binaries supplied by Mozilla or else have special permission, they must compile the Firefox source with an option enabled which gives Firefox the codename of the release version of Firefox on which it is based, and which does not use the official logo or other artwork.[5] The Debian Free Software Guidelines are used by the Debian project to determine whether a license is a free license, which in turn is used to determine whether something can be included in Debian. As the logo does not meet these requirements, it could not be used by software which was to be included in Debian. This effect of the Mozilla trademark policy led to a long debate within the Debian Project in 2004 and 2005. During this debate, the name “Iceweasel” was coined to refer to rebranded versions of Firefox. The first known use of the name in this context is by Nathanael Nerode[6], in reply to Eric Dorland’s suggestion of “Icerabbit”.[7] It was intended as a parody of “Firefox”.[8] “Iceweasel” was subsequently used as the example name for a rebranded Firefox in the Mozilla Trademark Policy[5], and became the most commonly used name for a hypothetical rebranded version of Firefox. By January 1, 2005, rebranding was being referred to as the “Iceweasel route”.[9]

    Debian was initially given permission to use the trademarks, and adopted the Firefox name.[10] However, because the artwork in Firefox has a proprietary copyright license which is not compatible with the Debian Free Software Guidelines, the substituted logo had to remain.

  7. Jim says:

    I just install firefox in /opt and ‘ln -s /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins’ in my .mozilla dir.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I did not presume you were telling me I had to use Iceweasel, nor did I attack your decision to use Firefox, I just wanted to know why you would care about using Firefox® instead of Iceweasel. I see you put forth a reason: “they provide updates automatically and quickly, so I can keep up with the very latest version.” Thank you for answering the question.

  9. carolinason says:

    What about auto updates? Do I need to run FF as root to “manually” run “auto update”? I don’t see a background process for this.

  10. yonnie says:

    FF is only half the application. IceApe (SeaMonkey) is a full application as it intertwines both FireFox and Thunderbird together very nicely. It handles multiple mailboxes, keeps mail sorted, etc… . Vastly unlike Epiphany and Evolution.
    Also, the dpkg -i instruction is incomplete, it needs to know what directory to shovel it to. Which would be: FF?, /usr/bin/??, /mozilla/??, /Iceweasel/??, /plugin/??, /”how_the_angel_got _the_tree_shoved_up_it’s_ass”/?

    BTW, good article, thanks!

  11. deviceguru says:

    @carolinason: Automatic updates can be enabled from within Firefox. Go to: Edit > Preferences > Advanced > Update (tab), and set your update preferences there. No special privileges are required. As soon as starts pushing out an update you’ll be notified the next time you run Firefox.

  12. peter says:

    A huge thank you! With flash 10 plugin (Lenny’s default flash plugin is 9) iceweasel core dumps on every single web page that has flash content. With original firefox I finally can use flash 10!

  13. justhinkin says:

    I have been a long time Debian fan and use it as my primary OS. However, I have to disagree with anyone who says Iceweasel and Firefox are “exactly” the same under the hood. I have been using Iceweasel since this whole Firefox on Debian debate began and I do not criticize anyone’s decision of which browser they choose but for my needs functionality is a MUST.

    While I have to agree that Iceweasel and Firefox are very similar, enough to fool a few of my apps, they are different enough that I have found pages that work in Firefox but not Iceweasel. Maybe I’m doing something wrong and I need to do some extra tweaking, wouldn’t be the first time. But here’s a clear example, I have a Hotmail account. Ever since they moved to their new web design I have an issue. I can view my mail and do most anything else except compose, reply, or forward a message. I cannot type in the body of the message. With Firefox, no problem.

    I’m not a preacher of Windows but at the same time I don’t care for the arguments on FOSS or no FOSS. Regardless of the license and where it comes from, it should “Just Work”. That my ten cents!

  14. Mike says:

    “I realize it’s a touchy subject, but some of us prefer unmodified Firefox”

    In other words you prefer not to get security updates to your browser, fine that’s your choise. Rest of us do understand that icewasel IS Firefox and we do get security updates directöt deom Debian repository.

  15. Mike says:

    “I have been a long time Debian fan and use it as my primary OS. However, I have to disagree with anyone who says Iceweasel and Firefox are “exactly” the same under the hood.”

    This is not true. Iceweasel IS same as firefox. Iceweasel is built from te same sources as offcial Fiefox. Only difference is that Debian adds some changes as patches. Most important part of the patches are those security fixes which Debian adds to iceweasel version x.x after Mozuillas official support for that same version has ended. Some of you don’ät seem to understand that one of the biggest reasons for the renaming of firefox was that Debian wants to support browser versions longer than mozilla does and whitout renaming the browser that was not possible because mozilla did not like patches which do not go through them.

    “While I have to agree that Iceweasel and Firefox are very similar, enough to fool a few of my apps, they are different enough that I have found pages that work in Firefox but not Iceweasel.”

    That’s copmplete nonsense. None of the Debian made patches change it how pages are shown. I have been using Iceweasel long time now and i hjave never seen a page which does not work on iceweasel but works on Firefox. And I have not seen any difference in it how oages render.

  16. Mike says:

    You all really should read this:

  17. Chris says:

    This is quite an amusing discussion as Debian has various non-free bits in it. It seems to be a contest over who is the biggest whore, or maybe just a case of I’m a whore but won’t admit it.
    …and as for adding benefits, it might be a bit to soon after the ssh debacle to play this card.
    Debian is a wonderful distro but how someone uses their chosen operating system should really be up to them. Linux/GNU supporters should encourage it’s use, not turn people off with over-zealous, fundamentalist attitudes.
    By the way, (to rickh) how do you “steal” something that is free?
    PS: I think the large flash play button sucks.

  18. Mike says:

    “Debian is a wonderful distro but how someone uses their chosen operating system should really be up to them.”

    It IS up to you how you use Debian. Debian is kind enough to offer non-free and contrib sections for those users who want to use non-free stuff. Those sections are NOT part of the official Debian release, Debian officially includes only free stuff period. But those sections are made available if someone wants to use it. I don’t understand why some people think that choise is so bad. Debian gives a choise to users. You can use official free stuff only or yiou can use non-free and contrib sections if you want. All should be happy, but obviously some people don’t understand that.

  19. Chris says:

    “Debian officially includes only free stuff period.”

    Thanks for clarifying. I must have misunderstood what the latest General Resolution “Lenny and resolving Debian Free Software Guideline violations” was about.

  20. Thomas says:

    Back to the subject.

    First of all: many thanks – I also prefer to use the firefox “brand”. Iceweasel together with Ramon’s KDE4+FF3 theme looks almost the same as Firefox, still the warm icon makes a difference. It is about the look.

    To add some opinion to the user poll on what would be best “default options”:
    – If iceweasel, then with Ramon’s KDE4+FF3 theme right from the start – the classic is simply ugly IMHO.
    – The big flash buttons are disturbing (if not plainly ugly) as well. After all flash blocking is about removing visual annoyances, not replacing them with static ones. Neutral (i.e. white bg) frames with a little (always equally sized) faint button in the middle of the frame would do better to the appearance.
    – I am a bit disappointed about the rendering of the glass-like effect in the control button icons. It seems blurred to me. If it can’t be done better, I would rather prefer simple uniform-coloured button surfaces.
    – Progress bars show this imprinted border, inconsistent with the rest of the theme.

    In total I would also hint to consider the making of a “plastic” theme as is the standard for konqueror under kde. This theme has the most “lightweightedness” IMHO.

  21. Thomas says:

    This last comment was based on a 2008_12_15 lenny.

  22. Thomas says:

    I happened to read the comments about the history/genesis of the iceweasel name and logo now.

    It was a mistake to coin the rebranding as parody. Such a step is polarizing (usually useful only if there is a real adversary relation between the two projects, which was clearly not the case and not intended here) and unnecessarily disturbs the user’s impressions. No wonder that noone wants to believe they are the same under the hood. It would have been helpful to stress the _continuation_ aspect during the rebranding, so that everybody naturally understands the substantial relations.

  23. e2 says:

    justhinkin Quote: “I have a Hotmail account. Ever since they moved to their new web design I have an issue. I can view my mail and do most anything else except compose, reply, or forward a message. I cannot type in the body of the message. With Firefox, no problem.”

    That’s just homail playing mind games with you. about:config search iceweasel and change general.useragent.extra.firefox from Iceweasel/3.0.5 to Firefox/3.0.5 or whatever version and your hotmail will work. Nothing to do with iceweasel.

  24. justhinkin says:

    e2, Thanks for the info. It worked! I would say I’m disappointed in Microsoft for trying such a dirty tactic but then I might as well say I’m disappointed in myself for not expecting it. Thanks again.

  25. justhinkin says:

    Mike if your gonna critisize and call my statement nonsense you should alt least offer a solution. I gave you an actual example of something that didn’t work and all you can do is say you’ve never seen it and that’s why it’s nonsense.

    Here’s a clue man, anyone can critisize but it takes more to offer a solution and gives you more credibility. Thanks e2 for offering a solution that proved to me once and for all that Iceweasel and Firefox are the same.

  26. Brian says:


    I’m using Firefox with Ubuntu. Now that I want to try Debian 5 I’d like to keep my existing Firefox settings.

    Can I keep my existing Firefox personal settings located in my home directory, “/home/brian/.mozilla/”, if I change to Iceweasel?

    Thank you.

  27. firehawk256 says:

    Thanks very much for the easy directions. Not that I have a problem with iceweasel, but the firefox icons do look better, and in trying to convince friends and family to try linux, it gives them something familiar that they know how to use and don’t feel totally lost.

  28. Tim says:

    Mike, Iceweasel is not the same as firefox. Some sites don’t work in Iceweasel but do work in Firefox. The reason is silly: some sites do browser sniffing by looking for “Firefox” in the browser identification string, and Iceweasel doesn’t say that. However, this really does happen and it really does cause problems: A major site,, rendered with ugly white space in iceweasel and was perfect in firefox. It was easily fixable via iceweasel “about:” configuration. But an end-user who doesn’t know about this sees a major website that works much better in Firefox than Iceweasel.
    However, the advantages to a Debian user of using Iceweasel instead of firefox are overwhelming.

  29. Matt says:

    Very useful article thanks, to all those arguing, well I tried my online banking with IceWeasel and it didn’t work. Told me that IceWeasel wasn’t a supported browser, so while IceWeasel is great it didn’t do what I needed.

  30. kenboo says:

    “hotmail playing mind games with you” is perhaps one of the most stupidest comments here, and some claims “easily fixable” problem which didn’t even exist if Iceweasel didn’t change the user-agent identifier. There are web pages which appear differently for Firefox and Iceweasel. You know why? Because such web pages have specific support for Firefox so the web application works better.

    Firefox and Iceweasel are technically the same browsers but web servers don’t see that way when the user-agent is different. How can a web application know that Iceweasel is as capable as Firefox when it claims some random name?

    The major web sites like hotmail, wsj specifically support Firefox. Certainly Mozilla’s branding effort gained success while the crying baby complaints that they don’t recognize Iceweasel as some big name.

    Conclusion: there are two solutions.

    1) Debian fundamentalists make some effort so the web sites owners will recognize Iceweasel is a major browser that they want to support

    2) Debian keeps the User-Agent string as same as Firefox.

  31. &rew says:

    Thanks for the Tutorial. I really prefer to see firefox vs Iceweasel . Thanks. 🙂

  32. Thomas says:

    Here is the thing with. You all tout apt like its a solve all. problem is with lenny the browser is horrbily out of date with the current mozilla verison. That in itself can be a risk. You can say debian devs do put patches on it but in all honesty an out of date browser itself is a major risk for security. Now i use debian sid myself with iceweasel 3.5 installed.

  33. Marshall says:

    To those who say iceweasel is the same as firefox, try installing adblock plus. I’m not going to use old software when plugins are half the reason I prefer one browser over another.

  34. Mike says:

    My god, so many douche bags its almost impossible to know where to begin. Let me start here with somebody like rickh as a debian package maintainer myself. People should be allowed to be “free” as in “freedom.” They should be allowed to use firefox if they choose to use it on their free OS. They have made the decision that firefox is not a threat to them and they would just like to stay up to speed with firefox releases and not have to worry about the terrible lag stripping out logos and rebranding to iceweasel. In fact, I personally think the iceweasel movement is a total waste of time. I think not only is it a waste of time and far too stallman’esc for anybodies good, I think its arrogant and defeats the main purpose of forcing standards on the internet by leaving IE in the dust. The fact that I, as a maintainer myself cannot package firefox under non-free is nothing short of “dictatorships” and “e-penis” in the debian movement. People are “forcing” us to accept something that is proving to fall further and further behind from the base stable releases iceweasel is built on. They have even go so far as to destroy and dictate what normal users are allowed to use by coming up with IceCat which breaks the 3rd party plugins by limiting it to whatever somebody considers “GNU or GPL compatible” for you. Why even keep non-free and contrib?

    You want to make sure everybody hates something? Dictate what they are and are not allowed to use. Take away their freedom, their ability to think for themselves and force them to do whatever you think they should do. Fantastic way to bury the Debian project from wider adoption. Why stop there? Lets go right ahead and pull everything based on libssl/openssl due to the licensing/linking issues there too? Thats only about 800 packages but its for the better cause right? No more Apache or a bunch of things under the apache foundation, no more SSH, more headachs from libgnutls3 and the dictated protocol assumptions made in an attempt to force people to upgrade their services on the other end. Lets not stop with iceweasel, lets follow our philosophy and destroy everything because people shouldn’t be allowed to be free and choose/decide what they are and are not comfortable with. I mean Richard Stallman wouldn’t approve with over half the packages in Debian right? I mean whats the point of mandated communism if you don’t have any outlets? We want a Stahlin’esq OS don’t we? We want dictators telling us what we can and cannot do to force a specific ideology on everybody right?

    Chill down and let people install firefox if they want. Its their life, let them be free to do what they choose. Let somebody build firefox packages under non-free. Fuck, even the mozilla corp has offered to maintain these for them under volatile and even produce all of the patched releases for debian security. But because they are a big bad corp they shouldn’t be allowed to maintain the mozilla suite right? Even if its under non-free right? They aren’t asking for much, they are simply asking if they can keep on top of the releases for debian to make life easy for everybody. To help bring standards down to the internet and put everybody on the same page. What a terrible bunch of people right?

  35. leo says:

    does iceweasel work 100% like firefox, i’m seeing strange debug errors from using firebug on iceweasel…
    is there an icebug out there?

  36. alex says:

    Another one for “Iceweasel isn’t like Firefox”. I’ve been using Debian and Iceweasel since Lenny was released earlier this year. The sites complaining that the browser wasn’t supported was a minor problem, easily solved on about:config, and Iceweasel will – at least to my experience – render all sites as well as Firefox.


    I use a few Firefox extensions on Iceweasel and they all work great, except for the Mozilla Prism extension. It will install ok but will refuse to launch any WebApp.

    I couldn’t find any solution other than installing Firefox using the instructions on this post and now everything works (and now on 3.5 – finally!). Thanks!

    So, if you have a problem with an extension or add-on, it might be Iceweasel’s (or Debian’s) fault.

  37. Don L says:

    Thanks Rickh and Mike… People like you and others on this thread have convinced me that using debian is a bad idea. I am in the prep stages of switching some 25 servers over to linux and my initial choice was debian. The Firefox issue was nagging at me, and in searching I found this post. Is it a huge deal, on the surface no, but with so many servers, I don’t want any “funkiness” and having to deal with some off-brand/customized version of Firefox is not what I want. Yes, I underand that firefox and ice weasel are essentially the same, but the browser IDENT isn’t, and no I don’t want to have to change the IDENT or have to deal with a plugin I *might* need that for whatever reason doesn’t work in Ice Weasel. I understand to a point why debian chose the path they did, but the attitude goes beyond that and extends to the point of ridiculing and downright meanness of users who might want to use REAL firefox… well I’ll just be on my way. I’m abandoning the idea of using debian and am going to go back to ubuntu, which was my 2nd choice.

    You trolls have a nice day secure in your black-white world where your right and the rest of us are wrong.

  38. Mithras says:

    This was an interesting argument. I do believe that the Debian council should consider implementing firefox as a non-free repository package if it is not already. In my experience, the Debian release kernel and hardware drivers are about 6 months behind the actual stable versions.

    This has created one hell of a hassle getting Debian up and going on my Acer netbook, which I planned to use in a class to develop a new server control iphone page for network admins to be able to use safari to check their server status and issue commands from their iphones.

    Free Software, in any of its forms, to me has always been about freedom. If I decide to use firefox, great, its not like the average person is going to create some piece of software and try to brand it as firefox and actually get away with it.

    Sometimes I think people miss the point of FOSS. Its about efficiency, cold and simple. I don’t want to dick around all day making sure my shit is running correctly when I have thousands of customers hitting my servers all day. I want it to work, and I want it to be configurable enough that I can pop open the hood and tweak what I want. Its artwork for gods sake. It doesn’t provide any function AT ALL other than some aesthetics. No one in their right mind would rebrand a whole program because of that dumb shit, it just makes a lot of extra work for some poor dumbass.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Sorry but iceweasel has quite a number of differences then firefox.

    I just installed Debian and started using Iceweasel, arf, not as user friendly.

    First bookmarks, I can’t even find how to create different folders/categories to put my different bookmarks, now I have to line them all up.

    The center click of my mouse closes a tab, here I have to get used again like 10 years ago to click on a cross to close my tab.

    Opening a new page, I use to double click next to the tabs…can’t do that anymore.

    Besides the fact that updates are great, which is once every now and then, the everyday pain to use it is certainly not worth it.

  40. Anonymous says:

    I’m just revisiting Debian after having used other distributions for five years, and so far Iceweasel seems to perform really, pretty badly (at least on the amd64 platform). Maybe I’m spoiled by FF 3.5’s superior rendering engine (IW in Lenny is based on 3.0.6), but I have serious problems with Iceweasle not being even reasonably responsive to loading web pages.

  41. Rajib Bandopadhyay says:

    Dear Deviceguru,
    I have followed your instruction and installed Mozilla Firefox in Debian Lenny 5.0.1. with the latest Firefox 3.5.3 , But I have a couple of problems:
    1. The back front reload buttons are not seen in Firefox
    2. When I download Flash for Firefox and select the Deb package, the error report is – Wrong Architecture ‘i386’
    I have an amd64 computer

  42. Lumix says:

    The first comment is childish and really, just quite stupid. It’s also rude and combative, so I thought I’d address it similarly.

    Now as for the article, well, it doesn’t work. This is what drives me and many other experienced users insane about ANY linux distro. What worked on that day, for that particular install, may very well not for you. I got something about a missing libxul-blah blah, and it really just doesn’t matter what that means or why it happened or how easily it’s resolved (if you know how, that is)–it’s aggrevating, and just plain inexcusable in this century. Why can’t we download a file, run it, and have a properly installed application? This is like shopping for a new car at the local TrueValue.

  43. DeviceGuru says:

    @Lumix: I just re-tested the procedure given in the blog post on a clean Lenny install (Debian 5.0.3), and it worked without any hitches. I downloaded and installed Firefox version 3.5.5.

    I’m curious, what version of Debian did you try the install on, and what version of Firefox did you attempt to install?

  44. DeviceGuru says:

    @Rajib Bandopadhyay: As I mentioned to Lumix (just above this comment), I just re-tested the installation with Firefox 3.5.5 on Debian 5.0.3 Lenny. The back/forward buttons are there — but keep in mind this was a clean install. Perhaps you installed it on top of an earlier version of firefox or iceweasel; I suggest you try deleting your ~/.mozilla/firefox/ directory and let it regenerate the next time you run firefox. As far as the “Wrong Architecture ‘i386′” error message is concerned, I’ve no idea why that’s happening; try googling that.

  45. Peter van Dobben de Bruijn says:

    Just to make sure that it works (whatever Lumix may be complaining and then not answering your replies) “right out of the box”: at my new installation it did. Of course I had to change 3.0.5 release numbers to the current 3.5.5, but that was easy enough to do (Lumix possibly forgot that?).

    Now I have Firefox 3.5.5 with the default media plugins etc. available in it. So that is a good reason to go back to the Firefox original. Just as good as the reasons Debby and Ian had to create Iceweasel.

    Keep up the good work you all ….

  46. greg.p says:

    Iceweasel isn’t the same as Firefox, and continuing to say it is just makes it that much harder to debug Debian introduced bugs and issues with Iceweasel.

    Current issues include, in Sid: libsqlite in sid breaks Firefox apis, and thus breaks some parts of bookmarking. This is because Firefox ships with a supported libsqlite binary, and Debian links to a newer one that breaks this feature, and it breaks it hard, instant crash as soon as you try to make a bookmark scrolling down a bookmarks folder list.

    I also got major CPU overuse with Iceweasel, from 2 to 10 times more than with Firefox, running the same exact profile, tabs, and extensions. That’s why I gave up finally on Iceweasel, this isn’t the first major problem that is Debian introduced and it won’t be the last, especially given the disinterest in the old Iceweasel/Ice Monkey maintainer in dealing with this nonsense any longer.

    Since nobody in Debian is going to buy me a new laptop when the unit overheats from running just a handful of non flash tabs (20 or so), I’m dumping Iceweasel for good. I’ve wasted weeks of my life over the past few years debugging and hunting down issues that often were caused by Debian changes in Firefox.

    I hope this isn’t a sign of larger things to come in terms of an overall decline in Debian’s package pool quality, though the recent declared vacancy of any Xorg maintainer makes me fear for the worst I’m sad to say.

  47. greg.p says:

    hint: to make sure all dependencies are present, and will get updated, just install Iceweasel, then change all system default paths, and paths in Icedove (which doesn’t seem to suffer the same problems as Iceweasel re bugs etc) to point to the Firefox executable, especially /usr/bin/firefox. Iceweasel will more or less keep the dependencies up to date, and you don’t need to start it or run it, that’s what I am doing now.

    I completely agree with some of the commentators in this thread, just put Firefox, untouched, no paths or libraries changed from the mozilla version, into either contrib or non-free.

    If you don’t change the defaults in Firefox, you don’t need to change the Icon, since you haven’t changed any of the code internally, which is what made Mozilla demand that Debian stop using the logo. No code changes, logo use is fine. The deb wrapper scripts could simply handle the basic dependencies for Firefox, without replacing any shipped defaults, like libsqlite, and just create a few general links, like /usr/bin/firefox and a firefox.desktop file for /usr/lib/share/applications and so on.

    Not rocket science, and a working Firefox would be apt-get installable any time you wanted. The trick is to use the entire downloaded Firefox package, put it in /opt or somewhere, /usr/lib, whatever, but don’t change it.

    That’s really all this how-to is doing, showing how to do that yourself, but apt could easily do this as well if Debian would just get a little less rigid and linear.

  48. hhhhhhh says:

    Mozilla Firefox 3.5.5 Shiretoko 64-bit build for 64-bit Debian/Linux/GNU/Linux systems with the 64-bit Adobe Flash Player 10 plugin integrated.

  49. Uri says:

    You sucks, man! You shouldn’t ever install software on you linux-box in such pervert windows way! You’ll turn you system in a peace of crap. There’s a packaging system and you really need to know what it used for, before writing such kind of articles!

  50. Eric says:

    I did this simply because the newest firefox base is not in debian unstable… and the version that is – has known exploits.

    [Uri] you are a windows convert and a MORON. if you actually /read/ the comments or done your homework you would know that there are more stability problems with iceweasel then firefox.

    tar.gz was the only way you could install software at first and it /is/ the only way to get the newest version. How many articles have you written? You can’t even write a paragraph without showing your stupidity.

  51. TristanDee says:

    @deviceguru: Setting preferences at Preferences > Advanced > Update (tab) doesn’t enable automatic update. The option is still gray.

    Is there really any way to enable this in this set-up?

  52. VeNoMouS says:

    Guys, your still missing an important bit, its now 2010, html5 is out, hell look at youtube’s new non flash…

    Iceweasle stable is 3.0.6 where as firefox is 3.6…. stop dwelling in the past, debian is getting really slack at pushing updates/upgrades in lenny, sometimes you just have to say fuck the package management and install it yourself. Or would you prefer to wait another 2 years for the next stable release of debian to include firefox 3.5….?

  53. Rena says:

    Right on. This seems to be the only way to get 3.6.

  54. T3KH34D says:

    I think this is fine.. because I can’t install Adblock, NoScript, and Flashgot without an updated version of Firefox and Iceweasel just doesn’t support these add-ons which I have come to rely on daily.

  55. RingoJet says:

    Thank You very much sir for clear and good article 😉

  56. Mike says:

    Iceweasel, icedove, etc are all basically dead projects already. They have no future whatsoever. I mean whoever thought a few maintainers were going to keep on top of its upstream just for logos and naming is beyond me but they are obviously living in a utopian dreamland. Nobody cares enough about those two things to keep those projects going at pace. And all the ideas of expanding features by eliminating extensions just piss people off. Just install Google Chrome if you want a volatile modern browser that keeps up with the internet under debian. Google adds their repositories in /etc/apt/apt.cron.d/ with the debian package so it’ll keep up with the world without any users having to doing anything.

  57. James says:

    This is a very helpful article. I’m new to linux, my windows crashed, so I decided to learn. I downloaded Debian 5.0.4. I like it a lot.

    A couple of the things I like to do on the web – Read the Drudge report. Watch and listen to baseball games at I used the default browser, epiphany. The MLB home page did not render properly, and the videos and audio streams did not work. The pictures on the drudge report did not display by default. Same story with iceweasel.

    I downloaded Firefox, installed according to the instructions above, and all this stuff works perfectly without any tweaking. So that’s why I will use firefox over any of the others mentioned.

  58. Bob Robertson says:

    I’ve been seriously looking at not updating from Debian Lenny due to my dislike of KDE4.

    The instructions you have provided have allowed me to keep Lenny, and update the one application that really does need to be kept up to date, the browser.

    Since removing Iceweasel would have disabled/removed the dependent packages, I didn’t remove it.

    # tar -jxvf firefox-3.6.3.tar.bz2

    # rm /usr/bin/firefox

    # ln -s /usr/lib/firefox/firefox /usr/bin/firefox

    Iceweasel remains, but is unused unless I call it directly. I’ll have to fix Konqueror to call Firefox instead of Iceweasel, but that’s a small effort compared to having to figure out how to keep the Java and Flash dependencies alive for the new Firefox install.

    Thanks for the tip, keep up the good work!

  59. Bob Robertson says:

    Just to finish this,

    # cp iceweasel.desktop firefox.desktop

    Then edit firefox.desktop to change all instances of “iceweasel” to “firefox”.

    Firefox now shows up in all the KDE context menus that Iceweasel does. Very cool.

    The transition is complete.

  60. Bob Robertson says:

    Ok, finally dawned on me the one final tweak to make everything work cleanly:

    # rm /usr/bin/iceweasel
    # ln -s /usr/lib/firefox/firefox /usr/bin/iceweasel

    I expect that apt-get update might “fix” this at some point, but at least now I won’t accidentally-automatically launch Iceweasel again. Not that it does any harm, just a few settings get tweaked.

  61. AMB says:

    I’ve got an all-Linux family — wife and stepkid both now run Linux. So in the hierarchy of the Church of St. Ignucius, I reckon I’ve got a few steps above initiate. Not enough for a halo, of course, since they don’t make them anymore.

    Personally, I think IceWeasel sucks. I also think FireFox sucks. But I needed this tutorial because my wife relies of FireFox. As Linus said, use the best tool for the job.

  62. DebianUser says:

    Ubuntu convert here. I couldn’t be more embarrassed by the Stallmanesque (AKA the bearded lesbian) fervor exhibited by some of my brethren here. Iceweasel is NOT maintained like Firefox is. If people want to run Firefox, LET THEM.

    Don’t you fundies see the irony in your FOSS zealotry? You cannot force people to accept your far-fetched ideals of what you believe an operating system should be. Until the nouveau can outperform NVIDIA’s drivers, STFU and stop turning off potential users.

  63. cel says:

    you dont need to install de deb flash plugin,

    just install de flashplugin-nonfree from debian, i already followed your howto in three computers.

    Thank you

  64. khtml says:

    Konqueror is so excellent and fast that the webkit engine for rendering html5 in safari, google chrome and more browsers was forked from konqueror KHTML engine.
    Konqueror deserves more attention and should be pushed by the all linux community.

  65. robsku says:

    Funny comments, some people seem to be angry for Debian “forcing” something to users – which they are not, the fact that they don’t host firefox as optional choice in non-free is a minor issue even though I would like to see it there. You can still install it or anything you want and I personally want Swiftfox, which isn’t there either – but using it right now.

    The absolutely funniest comment was about turning down debian because of what browser it comes on – on server use. Who runs browsers, or even X Windows on machines dedicated as servers? And running Ubuntu instead is security and stability wise like running Debian testing – it’s not good idea for servvers!

  66. Jakob says:

    /usr/ is the wrong place for packages that are not handed by the package-management system.
    Put it in /opt or /usr/local instead.

  67. D says:

    I just want my plain old Firefox to work with this Debian thingy my dad has on this computer. I am somewhat interested in all the…stuff that goes along with different OS, but I just really want a browser I know works with everything. And does everything I need it to do. And Iceweasel just doesn’t work RIGHT for me. I’ve only been using this browser sparingly since my dad got it, but I have noticed some differences. The main one for me is that Iceweasel does not seem to have the “re-open tab” thing that Firefox has, and that is something I use alot when using firefox. If some one could tell me (in terms that I would understand and know how to follow -I didn’t understand any after “Open up a terminal window and, as root”, if that tells you anything- ) how to fix this small problem, Iceweasel would be a perfectly fine browser for me to use.

  68. rudeboi says:


    yeah its funny
    but people do have a point. debian has crawled right up its own and Richard Stallman’s, arse with all this fundamentalism, and now we have the absolutely astounding sight of debian actually making it so difficult to install proprietory non-free nvidia drivers that most converts from windows wont even touch debian. how ironic is that? a system which directly opposes the very being of of windows operating system couldnt give a rats ass what its users do when they give up windows and go to linux. Lets face it even most linux users wouldnt touch debian with a barge pole mainly because of the snotty nosed debian fanatics that look down their noses at anyone who hasnt been using linux for a decade.
    I am afraid that it really wont be long before all thats left of debian is a few sycophantic know-it-alls and a couple of bizarrely deluded geniuses that wished theyd have realised sooner that richard stallman is completely batshit insane

  69. rudeboi says:


    “1. The back front reload buttons are not seen in Firefox”

    I too had this problem and the way I fixed it was to right click the panel
    select customize
    click use default set
    close customization and they appear between the url bar and the google quicksearch bar

  70. Meh says:

    You can use Firefox on Debian, you just can’t create a distro and distribute Firefox with it due to the FOSS or whatever it’s called. Unless its a complete fork of the project.

    On another note however Iceweasel does have some problems with major sites like CNN or so I read some place, apparently you can’t use Iceweasel with some official sites because they don’t support it ;(

  71. Mr. Duh says:

    Just spoof the user agent, there are plugins for it. Firefox or iceweasel can tell X server, they are whatever they like to hear. 😀

    As for the whole, purist thing. Whatever floats someones boat.

  72. PuZZleDucK says:

    This just blows my mind… I’ve wanted to try Debian for some time now, but this is just silly. I was about to switch back to another OS before I found this post.

    “Let somebody build firefox packages under non-free. Fuck, even the mozilla corp has offered to maintain these for them under volatile”

    I still may. The fact that Mozilla has offered to supply and Debian has stopped them makes this installation laughable. Seriously, you want me to use FireFox/IceWeasel(whatever!) 3.5.16! WTF, this isn’t 2010 (that’s when 3.5.16 was released, WTF has Debian been doing for 2 years… I just went to the Mozilla page only to be greeted with a warning that I’m using an ancient browser) , every other sane operating system I run is running 7 … 4 major version numbers behind is just too far for me and I use almost all of the features introduced since then, so don’t say they are the same because it is not true. And as for the identification string, this is not a location for branding it is a location for identifying, if you claim to be the same then post the same id.

    Thanks Mike and all the other packages for Debian… I think you all seem to do a wonderful job, but if this does not work I will be leaving Debian over this one. Still might have to, I don’t want to admit that I had to do this!

  73. Buttons says:

    When will Iceweasel have similar features to Firefox 8? Note: I’m using Squeeze stable.

  74. kannan says:

    this is really simple and nice article. I searched for this for a long time, how to create desktop icons. Today i successfully created it with the help of this.

  75. slartibardfast says:

    I love Debian – I find it the best operating system. I moved to it from Ubuntu, as Ubuntu just seemed to keep going wrong.

    I followed this helpful guide because Iceweasel is a waste of time for me.

    This TOTAL NONSENSE about Iceweasel being ‘exactly the same as Firefox’ has got to stop. The information is false and misleading. Iceweasel IS NOT ‘just Firefox rebranded’. Iceweasel has A LOT of bugs which cause it to crash (especially when more than 5 tabs are open), it does not work with most Firefox plugins, it does not work well with Flash. Iceweasel and Firefox provide completely different user experiences on the internet.

    I have tried Iceweasel at least ten times on three different computers over the last two years, always sucked back in by the promise that it has been updated – only to find that it still ‘works’ in the way Firefox used to work about 5 years ago, when it would crash because of Flash or Javascript on a site. Iceweasel may well be the same as an OLD version of Firefox, but it doesn’t compare with the latest Firefox.

    I have found that Konqueror, Chromium, Google Chrome, and even Arora all work better than Iceweasel in terms of crashing less often, being able to access more websites and having less noticeable bugs. I would rather use Dillo or w3m than Iceweasel now.

    So please, commenters, stop telling people that Iceweasel is the same as Firefox. If you must compare them, let people know that Iceweasel is the same as an OLD Firefox without plugin functionality.

    And yes, I HAVE filed bug reports (under a different username), and I DO try to help out with the project, because I think Iceweael has good aims. It just isn’t very useable yet, except for accessing Wikipedia, search engines and web pages from the mid 1990s.

    So, again, thank you for this guide. As of today, there is still a strong necessity for an average web user to choose Firefox over Iceweasel. I hope one day the situation can be reversed.

  76. TMF says:

    Wish this Firefox 3.5 install worked. When the firefox command is executed, the message : /usr/lib/firefox/ 399 /usr/lib/firefox/firefox-bin: not found is displayed. I checked and this file is present, green, with root root and rwr r-x r-x. Path incomplete or incorrect? At a loss. Thanks

  77. TMF says:

    Attempted this download and install on Unbuntu 11.04. Using VMware Server. A plug-in is not compatible with more recent versions of Firefox. Any suggestions on how to resolve the above problem would be appreciated.

  78. DeviceGuru says:

    I’m guessing that what you’re experiencing on Ubuntu is related to symlinks associated with Ubuntu’s default handling of firefox. Look in /usr/lib and see if there are both /usr/lib/firefox/ and /usr/lib/firefox-(version)/ folders. It may be that you need to delete stuff that you aren’t installing yourself, but then you’ll need to install any plugins that are needed. Or just delete the problematic plugin. Does that help?

  79. somenixguy says:

    I downloaded ubuntu 11.10 to test it out and unity has me planning to jump ship back to Debian. From here on out it’s back to a basic netinst or debootstrap install + lxde. It’s just too much of a pita to upgrade anymore… =)

    Anyway I jotted down a few notes just now while getting Firefox 32 and 64 bit to run on Debian Wheezy. Use them to supplement this doc if you like.

    – Keep in mind will probably have you download 32 bit version automatically when using their web links. You can always run the ‘file’ command on any of the .so files in the archive to know for sure. The reason this is important is because when you are missing a few dependencies the errors aren’t helpful.

    On the ftp site, the file names for 32bit and 64bit versions are the same and only the path is different. This includes the extract directory name so if you plan to extract both versions rename one of them in between extracts.

    — 32 bit notes
    apt-get install xulrunner-10.0 ia32-libs ia32-libs-gtk

    — 64 bit notes
    apt-get install xulrunner-10.0

    Was able to extract and run either one from my home dir.

  80. DeviceGuru says:

    Thanks for providing that info. By the way, you might want to check out my post on configuring Ubuntu 11.10 to work without Unity.

  81. Nay Sayers says:

    Ice Weasel does not stay up to date with security patches.
    so stuff it. I will use firefox.

  82. PuZZleDucK says:

    “if this does not work I will be leaving Debian over this one”

    Well here I am six happy months later 😀 … I think it’s been soooo worth it, loving Debian.

  83. Virgil says:

    Thanks for this post; I downloaded Firefox and followed your instructions. The first install failed when loading the app, and after some research found that the http page for downloading Firefox 9.0 did not correctly determine that this was a 64 bit (old Athalon) processor. After uninstalling, and getting the proper version from Mozilla’s FTP site, this worked perfectly.

    As to the whole Debian-FOSS issue that people have turned this post into, so what? The point in open systems is to be able to experiment and try things, set it up the way you want, etc. I see no difference in the attitude that says “only Apple or MS software” and one that says “only FOSS”; both are dictating what I can do with my computer! MY COMPUTER! Get it?

    Again, thanks for the great instructions!

  84. PJ Brunet says:

    As far as the debate, I can’t even remember why I installed Firefox on this machine. Maybe it was the Crunchbang default for a short time? At least for web development, it helps to say with confidence, “Yes, tested in Firefox.” This helped me get from version 13 to 19. I may use this on my laptop too (which has Iceweasel 11) because I have Squeeze and version 11 is the latest version I can find in any repository :-/ Looks like my bookmarks and plugins made the transition OK this time. I finally needed 19 because plugins I wanted either wouldn’t install or stopped working. Wish I found this page last month!