How to install Firefox 8 on Linux Mint, Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Opensuse, … or any other Linux distribution.

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This howto explains how to install Firefox 8 on Linux distros, without replacing your current Firefox installation.

Firefox 8 will be released on November 8, 2011.
Firefox 8 Beta 6 has been released on November 3.

More information on Firefox release dates, beta, aurora and nightlies on the official releases wiki.

 

A. Install Firefox 8 in 5 easy steps

1. Download

 

Download the release from the official channels page:
www.mozilla.com/firefox/channels/

(if the link does not work, use Mozilla’s FTP server)

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 situated 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-8.0.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-8.0.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 .tar.bz2 archive can now be deleted.

3. Move to /opt

External programs like LibreOffice, Google Chrome, Adobe reader, … are all installed in the /opt directory. If you want more info about why, 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/firefox8

4. Set up symbolic links

Depending on you usage pattern, follow the instructions for case 1 OR for case 2.

Case 1: you want to use Firefox 8 as you 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/firefox8/firefox /usr/bin/firefox

No need to update your icons/shortcuts, they should now launch the new version of Firefox.

Your old Firefox version is still installed. 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/firefox8/firefox /usr/bin/firefox8

Launch the newly installed Firefox by running firefox8 in a terminal, or create shortcuts/icons referring to firefox8.

5. Updates & Final

Firefox 8 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 8!

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 10 nightly build, used to be 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 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

You may also have a look at the Firefox Aurora ppa.

Note: you can use only one of these three channels (Aurora, Beta, and Daily) at the same time!

3. Official Ubuntu updates for Firefox (automatic)

Since Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal”, Ubuntu will update automatically to the newest stable Firefox version when it is released. (it may take a few days more, though) This is also valid for Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot” and upcoming releases.

5. Linux Mint 11, and Debian 6 “Squeeze”, …

This howto has been tested with success on the following distributions, with Firefox 6, 7 and 8:

Debian 6 “Squeeze”
Linux Mint 10 “Julia”
Linux Mint 11 “Katya”
Ubuntu 10.04 LTS “Lucid Lynx” (Long Term Support, until April 2013)
Ubuntu 10.10 “Maverick Meerkat” (support until April 2012)
Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal” (support until October 2012)
Ubuntu 11.10 “Oneiric Ocelot” (support until April 2013)

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 8 (for non-ppa installations)

Remove the Firefox directory:

sudo rm -r /opt/firefox8

You also should consider changing back or removing symbolic links which pointed to the old Firefox directory. Change back:

sudo mv /usr/bin/firefox-old /usr/bin/firefox

Or remove the firefox8 symlink:

sudo rm /usr/bin/firefox8

D. Run multiple 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 8 and Firefox 9 instances at the same time.

Let’s say that you’ve created two profiles: ffox8_profile and ffox9-profile. You can start one instance of Firefox 8 and one instance of Firefox 9 with the following commands:

firefox -no-remote -P ffox8-profile
firefox8 -no-remote -P ffox9-profile

Now you may create desktop shortcuts / icons / launchers (Gnome: Custom Application Launcher) for each of these Firefox versions with their respective profiles.

If you need some svg icons to recognize your different Firefox installations, here they are. (Obviously these are NOT official Mozilla artwork, please use them wisely.)

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