Installing Firefox 4 Beta on Debian Squeeze

Update: I think the following note that I made a while ago is no longer applicable. Please visit:

http://mozilla.debian.net/

for a more streamlined installation via apt-get.

Caution: This note won’t work for a version >= Beta 8-1.  Unfortunately the new release depends on newer versions of libraries than what Squeeze has.  Installing those libraries on Squeeze might defeat the purpose of using Debian for its stability and not recommended.  I think it’s best to use a precompiled binary from Mozilla directly.

Firefox 3.5 (a.k.a. Iceweasel in Debian) on Squeeze is a bit old, so I wish to install Firefox 4 (still beta) as well.  I’d like to keep an option of running stable Firefox 3.5, so what I do here is to install version 4 as a separate install.  Much of this note follows the information found in this article and its comments.

First, download .deb packages from a repository to a temporary directory:

$ wget http://mozilla.debian.net/packages/iceweasel_4.0~b7-2_amd64.deb
$ wget http://mozilla.debian.net/packages/libmozjs4d_2.0~b7-2_amd64.deb
$ wget http://mozilla.debian.net/packages/xulrunner-2.0_2.0~b7-2_amd64.deb

I’ll be installing Firefox under /usr/local/iceweasel4. Do:

$ sudo aptitude install libffi5 libevent-1.4-2
$ sudo dpkg –i libmozjs4d_2.0~b7-2_amd64.deb
$ sudo dpkg –i xulrunner-2.0_2.0~b7-2_amd64.deb
$ sudo mkdir /usr/local/iceweasel4
$ sudo dpkg-deb -x iceweasel_4.0~b7-2_amd64.deb /usr/local/iceweasel4/
$ sudo ln -s /usr/lib/xulrunner-2.0 /usr/local/iceweasel4/usr/lib/

That’s it.  The application launch script is located at /usr/local/iceweasel4/usr/bin/iceweasel.  I create a symlink in /usr/local/bin so that it becomes available system-wide:

$ sudo ln -s /usr/local/iceweasel4/usr/bin/iceweasel /usr/local/bin/iceweasel4

This way I can launch it via command iceweasel4 from shell.  It probably is a good idea to launch Firefox for the first time as

$ iceweasel4 -ProfileManager

to create a separate user profile for the beta.  Otherwise the profile needs to be converted each time you switch between version 3.5 and 4 beta.

Making Incompatible Plugins to Bypass Compatibility Test

The biggest advantage of Firefox is plugins (a major reason that I haven’t tried Google Chrome yet).  I cannot live without Delicious and Gmail Manager (among others that I don’t bother to mention), but most have not been updated to work with version 4 beta.

Some plugins are not tested on the beta, but some features actually work.  In order to bypass version compatibility checks upon installing plugins, visit about:config in the browser, and right-click somewhere the preference list, New -> Boolean, and add a new preference with the name “extensions.checkCompatibility.4.0b” and set the boolean value to “false”.  After relaunching, the plugin version checks will be bypassed.

Gmail Manager. The official release does not work, but somebody posted a modified version which works.  Download the .xpi file, and open the file with Firefox to install the plugin.  I’m not sure of its authenticity though.  Use at your own risk…

Delicious Bookmarks. The official release works partially.  What I lose on the beta is the Delicious toolbar in which I can make frequently used tags available, but the bookmarks are all available from the Firefox toolbar.  I can live with it for now.

Update History

December 24, 2010 – Added a caution for beta 8-1.
April 3, 2011 – Added a note to obsolete this document.

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9 Responses to Installing Firefox 4 Beta on Debian Squeeze

  1. Eric says:

    In the part starting with “Then…..$sudo dpkg………” replace the part “b4-0″ with ” b7-2″.

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  3. Eric says:

    Almost a month later I took your steps to install iceweasel4 besides iceweasel 3.6.13-1 ( from experimental ) in my Debian Squeeuze 64 bit. And it works like a charm !

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  5. tony says:

    I couldn’t get past installing the lib.
    I keep getting:
    dpkg-deb: `libmozjs4d_2.0~b7-2_amd64.deb’ is not a debian format archive
    dpkg: error processing libmozjs4d_2.0~b7-2_amd64.deb (–install):
    subprocess dpkg-deb –control returned error exit status 2
    Errors were encountered while processing:
    libmozjs4d_2.0~b7-2_amd64.deb

    despite wgetting that file 3 times, even, to make sure I have the correct file.

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