How To Install Firefox On Debian Jessie

Iceweasel is great, but I prefer Firefox.

A while back I decided to go back to my favorite linux distribution, Debian. The current stable release of Debian is code named Jessie, and this is what I have installed on my laptop at the time of writing this post.

Mozilla has three famous desktop applications. Those applications are Firefox, Thunderbird, and Seamonkey. But Debian has been shipping those products re-branded as Iceweasel, Icdeodove, and Iceape, respectively. Debian does this as a workaround for some incompatibilities between the Debian Free Software Guidelines and Mozilla’s trademark usage policy, and I think something related to the Mozilla logos licensing as well. I am not aware of the details of the conflicts, and I would like to read about it some other time.

For now, I wanted to install Firefox instead of, or alongside, Iceweasel on my laptop. Iceweasel is great, but I was having a few problems. One example would be the different User Agent information, which causes some problems while using services on the internet, like Medium. Medium doesn’t recognize my browser to be supported, and thus disables the option of writing stories if I am browsing it using Iceweasel.

I did a quick Google search on how to install Firefox on Debian Jessie, and a majority of the results suggested adding repositories from Ubuntu packages hosted on Sourceforge. I had two major problems with that:

Problem 1: I don’t like Sourceforge. At all. For various reasons, but that’s a story for another time.

Problem 2: I don’t like the idea of adding the repositories of another distro to my current setup. Doesn’t seem like a neat solution.

So I kept searching until I found this “Debian Mozilla team” page. I knew I found my desired solution.

Below are the steps I followed from that page to get Firefox installed on Debian Jessie.

Step 1: Add Mozilla Archive to APT Repositories

Open a terminal as root, and add a new file to /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ directory:

$ touch /etc/apt/sources.list.d/debian-mozilla.list

Open the file using your favorite text editor, mine happens to be vim, and add the following line to it:

deb http://mozilla.debian.net/ jessie-backports firefox-release

Step 2: Add the Mozilla Archive Key

This line adds mozilla.debian.net archive to your list of archives. Since the packages at mozilla.debian.net are signed, running apt-get update now will spit out a key not found error. To add the key you need to download the pkg-mozilla-archive-keyring package, and install it. The package requires that debian-keying package be installed.

$ cd ~/
$ wget mozilla.debian.net/pkg-mozilla-archive-keyring_1.1_all.deb
$ dpkg -i pkg-mozilla-archive-keyring_1.1_all.deb

Step 3: Install Firefox

Now it is time to update the archives and install Firefox:

$ apt-get update
$ apt-get install -t jessie-backports firefox

And now you have Firefox installed.

Note that Iceweasel is also still installed, and they both will use the same settings and configurations. When I started Firefox, it had all the add-ons and settings and even the tabs that were opened in Iceweasel, all preserved.

Check the mozilla.debian.net page for various combinations of Debian release, Mozilla desktop application you want to install, and the version of the Mozilla desktop application you want installed.