How to Easily Upgrade your Firefox to 3.5 (and future version) in Ubuntu

Have you ever feel frustrated when Mozilla releases a new build for their software (especially Firefox) and you are still stuck at the previous older version, simply because Ubuntu did not (and do not intend to) add the newer version of software packages to the repository?

The truth of fact is, Ubuntu does not update its repositories for newer version of software packages, with the exception of security fixes, until the next release of Ubuntu. For example, the default version of Firefox for Ubuntu Jaunty is Firefox 3.0 and it won’t be upgraded to Firefox 3.5 at least until Ubuntu 9.10. In most cases, especially when it comes to browsers and various Web application, it is always better to upgrade to the newest version due to the new features and security improvement. This is where Ubuntuzilla comes into play.

Ubuntuzilla is a python script that checks your system for Mozilla software (Firefox, Thunderbird, or Seamonkey) and update them to the latest version released from Mozilla server. It also comes with an update checker that periodically performs automatic checks and updates to keep your system up-to-date with possible changes in the Mozilla website and release servers.

Install Ubuntuzilla

Download the deb file to your desktop. (64-bit users go to this site and download the ubuntuzilla-x.x.x-0ubuntu1-amd64.deb package.)

Double click on the deb file to load the graphical installer. Click on the Install Package to install it in your system.

ubuntuzilla-install-deb

Running Ubuntuzilla

Once you have finished the installation, close all instance of your Firefox (if you are using Thunderbird or SeaMonkey, close them as well).

Open up a terminal (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal) and type

It will now prompt you a series of questions:

The first question is to ask if you want to upgrade to the latest version of Firefox. No doubt, the answer is ‘y‘.

ubuntuzilla-install-firefox

Next step is to choose the language for your Firefox.

ubuntuzilla-firefox-lang

It will then proceed to download and install the latest stable build of Firefox in your system.

At the end of the installation, it will ask you if you want to schedule a periodical check of the latest release of the software.

ubuntuzilla-schedule-check

Remove Firefox

For some reasons that you are not happy with the latest release of Firefox and wanted to switch back to the previous version, you can easily remove the latest build by running the following command in the terminal:

Firefox 3.0 will be restored in your system.

28 comments

  1. Even easier. Go to the terminal and type:

    apt-get install firefox-3.5

    Then go to System->Preferences->Preferred Applications->Internet

    Change the web browser command to:

    firefox-3.5 %s

    That’s it.

    You probably want to switch your launcher command to:

    firefox-3.5 %u

  2. This is a continued reason why Linux is having such problems breaking into the mainstream environment. If you have to post articles telling people to first, “open a terminal window”, most users are going to be scared off. I grant it’s much EASIER to write a program using a text-based interface, and even do so myself fairly often. The problem here is that if Linux wants to be a desktop OS, they need to get away from the terminal window almost entirely, and that requires a LOT of better releases of software.

    • No, the problem is that people who add blog articles about firefox 3.5 don’t know that FF3.5 is already available in the damn Ubuntu repo. Go into your software sources and enable ‘universe’ if it isn’t already and then just install firefox-3.5 the exact same way you install any other Ubuntu software.

      • FF3.5 is NOT in the “damn Ubuntu repo” for the LTS version, and if you had bothered to read the article completely, you’d see that the author does indeed know.

        And yes, ‘universe’ is enabled on my system.

  3. To extract it into your home directory. Download the latest version and place it in your home directory.
    Open a terminal and enter:
    sudo tar xjf firefox-3.5.tar.bz2 (obviously inputing the correct filename)

    It should then extract into your home folder.
    Look in your file manager and look for the firefox folder.
    Look for the file named firefox and execute it. You might need to right click on it to change the properties and change its permissions to allow the file to be an executable to get it to work.
    My personal preference is to prefix the folder with a full stop (.) so that you don’t delete it by accident.

  4. To extract it into your home directory. Download the latest version and place it in your home directory.
    Open a terminal and enter:
    sudo tar xjf firefox-3.5.tar.bz2 (obviously inputing the correct filename)

    It should then extract into your home folder.
    Look in your file manager and look for the firefox folder.
    Look for the file named firefox and execute it. You might need to right click on it to change the properties and change its permissions to allow the file to be an executable to get it to work.
    My personal preference is to prefix the folder with a full stop (.) so that you don’t delete it by accident.

  5. @Kirk

    It would be easier to point the /usr/bin/firefox symlink to /usr/bin/firefox-3.5 , instead of the current /usr/bin/firefox-3.0, since you’re already in a terminal.

    Check it out with ” file `which firefox` ”

    sudo rm /usr/bin/firefox && sudo ln -s /usr/bin/firefox-3.5 /usr/bin/firefox

  6. I’m using Linux Mint AMD64. Ubuntuzilla worked, and I could run Firefox 3.5.2. However, I spent hours failing to get flash to work, so I reverted to 3.0.13. 64-bit was the complicating factor.

  7. I am not starting any fire about Linux but I just have to give my 2 cents.
    Why is it at this darn age do we still have to download deb package and/or have to configure files so that we could install FF? I mean, this has got to improve with just clicking update on the FF’s “Check for Update” and it should automatically show you the easier click options of updating automatically.
    Don’t get me wrong; I am using Ubuntu 9.04 and loving it but I wish that developers needs to ease the process of updating applications for of the end-users instead of sticking with using command line and editing config files.
    There are times when I wish I do not have to read another how-tos to get things done in linux.

  8. @Zenboy

    I’m currently an Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) Alpha user, and I didn’t have to do anything special or fancy to get Firefox 3.5. It showed up two days ago in a `sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get dist-upgrade` where i saw the packages firefox, firefox-3.5 appearing in the updates. When I saw that, I backupped my firefox profile (just in case anything might go wrong) and when I ran the dist-upgrade process it automatically changed the /usr/bin/firefox to /usr/bin/firefox-3.5 (see my previous post here). That’s it. Works like a charm.

    The only thing that could have been done in a more n00b-proof way was using the Update Manager.

  9. About 2 weeks ago, I installed Firefox 3.5 via ubuntuzilla. However, could not figure out how to install the flash plugin. Also, the message event icon for updates could never be used. So, I had to uninstall.

    Rob

  10. What all the whiners are missing is that Ubuntu is using a Package Manager.

    If you stick with the packages integrated with your version, then updates are incredibly simple. In fact, they are simpler than Windows or MacOSX, where you have to click through a bunch of onerous EULA “agreements” (as if you had a choice).

    As readers have commented, there is usually a simple way to do things on Ubuntu. The fact that there is ALWAYS a command-line option confuses some people who think that it’s the ONLY option. I kind of prefer it to the Windows alternative, 6 hours of phone calls to some tech support line.

    That command-line and ssh alternative lets you remotely manage Aunt Ethel’s system; unless you’d prefer to spend 6 hours on the phone walking her through the GUI tool. “I clicked on this doodad and it popped up a gizmo”….

  11. guys, please read the comment of Matthew Lenz and do not complain. it’s very easy to install 3.5 in ubuntu. you do NOT have to download any version, just install it. in windows you need to download it first after having searched the web for an installer.

    linux is not difficult to use, ubuntu even less it’s just that people think that clicking on a button should do the entire job.

  12. Seriously you people need to get your facts straight. Firefox 3.5 HAS been in the Ubuntu Repositories since the DAY it was released by Mozilla.

    Sudo apt-get install Firefox-3.5 will install it and has installed it since day one.

    Please do your research before posting these blogs.

  13. I have universe enabled, I used apt-get and updated. ensured sources were updated ..
    I get this:
    brian@brian-laptop:~$ sudo apt-get install firefox-3.5
    Reading package lists… Done
    Building dependency tree
    Reading state information… Done
    E: Couldn’t find package firefox-3.5

    FF 3.5 does NOT show up in synaptic manager. I have installed many packages, in different distros; RPM and DEB. for some reason I don’t have 3.5 available.

    • You need to open Synaptic and got to the Settings – > Repositories -> Updates

      select proposed and backports, Universe alone is not enough.

      Firefox 3.5 will appear as Shiritoko, but it is Firefox 3.5.

      You can make it the default with System -> preferences -> Preferred Applications

      Under Web Browser change from Firefox to Custom and in the command dialog make it firefox-3.5 %s

      cheers

  14. I am pretty new to Linux and Ubuntu. I keep up on what’s newish on major stuff like Firefox. But not all my apps. Who will switch to each new version of Ubuntu and want to run old app versions? I did update my Firefox.. it took searching to figure out how. My first try failed. Well maybe it didn’t.. but it wasn’t right. Really why can Firefox be in the update manager? Let me choose against it being installed. I would rather search how to revert than implement. I have never had to revert anything yet. But having to first search how to get the newest Firefox still means i might have to search how to revert it too. Really, at least core apps should just be simple to upgrade… like no brainer easy. Like “here is the new firefox..want it?” Same with OO and several other things where the team of developers have pretty good track records of testing and fix bugs pretty fast. I mean the new of Ubuntu doesn’t even wear off the last release before the next comes out so we are all early adapters if we are using the latest version of it. Why do we want to wait for six months for the apps or use a tutorial to have the newest version of it. I don’t need to be that much babysat. I just want easy is all.

    n

    • @Jojo

      ” sudo apt-get install firefox-3.0 && sudo ln -s /usr/bin/firefox-3.0 /usr/bin/firefox ”

      does the trick? I don’t know how to do that in Synaptic, still haven’t touched it since I started with Ubuntu last January…

  15. I don’t know why but I found Shiretoko to be slow and a bit unreliable. I got rid of it and installed the official Firefox from mozilla.com, which I’m a lot happier with.

  16. Guys, why you dont type apt:firefox-3.5 in your firefox address bar, it should work on me :D

  17. I followed the instructions to install Ubunutuzilla on 8.0.4 LTS and 8.10. It worked flawlessly. Thanks.

    Had trouble with the fonts, but fixed that by Googling some solutions. I needed to create a local ~/.fonts.conf file and I found the correct content on Ubuntu forums. For some reason, on my systems, I need “hintingslight” for the fonts to look good.

    The only real worry was when automatic updates wanted to “update” the version of Firefox on my system to an older one. Just let it update – they seem to coexist OK, and everything is fine. I highly recommend using VirtualBox OSE (or equivalent) for testing things you’re not sure about. It certainly beats hosing your system.

    Regarding all these arguments about the best way to do it. Who cares? Choose the way that works best for you. I do. I’m relatively new to Ubuntu and Linux, but I have managed to replace Windows in my entire business in less than a year! The flexibility of Linux is unbeatable, and the Open Source community support beats being stuck on the phone with M$oft for hours.

  18. A major update for Ubuntuzilla:

    The project now hosts an actual apt repository with the mozilla builds of firefox, seamonkey, and thunderbird, packaged into .debs. Makes the whole install process much simpler.

    Check out the new info at http://ubuntuzilla.sourceforge.net

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