Install the Latest Version of Firefox, SeaMonkey, and Thunderbird With Ubuntuzilla Repository

Mozilla has a popular set of Internet applications, the most famous of which is Firefox. Also available is an email application called Thunderbird and a all-in-one internet suite (which incorporates Firefox and Thunderbird plus a HTML Editor, an IRC chat program and some web development tools) called Seamonkey. New versions of all these programs are released quite regularly and if you are using Debian or a distro derived from it, e.g. Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Edubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu etc., there is a convenient repository available which repacks and distributes the latest official Mozilla builds.

The Ubuntuzilla project provides a repository with the latest official versions of Firefox, SeaMonkey, and Thunderbird. The supplied packages contain unmodified official Mozilla release binaries. Using the Ubuntuzilla repository is quite simple and you only need to execute a few commands to get it up and running.

ubuntuzilla mozilla build of 700px

The first step is to add the repository to the list of package sources. The list of sources to be used by apt-get and the other package management tools is found in /etc/apt/sources.list. To add the Ubuntuzilla repository, without needing to edit the sources.list file use:

echo -e "\ndeb all main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list > /dev/null

ubuntuzilla repository added

To check that the command executed successfully look at the end of the /etc/apt/sources.list file using the tail command:

tail /etc/apt/sources.list

The last line should be:

deb all main

Next you need to add the repository’s digital signature. This comes in the form of a cryptographic key and enables apt-get to validate the packages to check that they are genuine. Execute the following command:

sudo apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver C1289A29

Now that the new repository has been added, the package list needs to be re-synchronized to include the packages available from Ubuntuzilla. To do this tell the apt package manager to update:

sudo apt-get update

Installing Firefox, SeaMonkey, or Thunderbird

With the repository added, installing the Mozilla program is very easy. To install the latest version of Firefox use:

sudo apt-get install firefox-mozilla-build

To install the latest release of Thunderbird use:

sudo apt-get install thunderbird-mozilla-build

To get the most recent version of Seamonkey enter:

sudo apt-get install seamonkey-mozilla-build

Once a package is installed, it will supersede any version installed previously installed including the versions that come from your distro’s main repositories. However this can mean that you have two versions of Firefox installed, one called Firefox (or possibly Firefox Web Browser) and one called Mozilla Build of Firefox.

ubuntuzilla two firefox

You can either choose to ignore the duplicate or remove the distro supplied version, most likely with a command like sudo apt-get remove firefox (or thunderbird etc). If you do keep both versions installed and the update manager informs you that the distro version has an update available then you can safely carry out the upgrade as the default version will remain the Ubuntuzilla build and that is always going to be the latest official Mozilla build.

Technical details

The way the package installer works is to copy the actual binaries in /opt/firefox (or /opt/thunderbird etc.) and then a link is placed in /usr/bin. The original link in /usr/bin is renamed as /usr/bin/firefox.ubuntu (or /usr/bin/thunderbird.ubuntu etc.).

To remove the Ubuntuzilla versions use the same apt-get commands except replace install with remove, e.g.

sudo apt-get remove firefox-mozilla-build

and so on.


Since most of the major Debian derived distributions often can’t upgrade the supplied versions of Firefox, Thunderbird and Seamonkey (due to the large number of libraries and dependencies that would also need to be upgraded), the Ubuntuzilla repository provides a safe way to upgrade to Mozilla’s latest builds. If you do run into any troubles then the Ubuntuzilla project has a fairly active¬†support forum.

Gary Sims

Gary has been a technical writer, author and blogger since 2003. He is an expert in open source systems (including Linux), system administration, system security and networking protocols. He also knows several programming languages, as he was previously a software engineer for 10 years. He has a Bachelor of Science in business information systems from a UK University.

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