Firefox ESR Anyone?

Why would anyone want to run Firefox ESR?
Later this year, Mozilla will be trashing their browser by eliminating the older extension interface. Since many extensions will be going away, I plan on prolonging this tragedy as long as possible by running the Firefox ESR version.

I’m curious if and how others are approaching this. Here’s what I’m doing on 16.04 LTS so far and there have been changes in both versions since I did this. It seems robust.

I don’t want to put browser installations in my home directory or have them owned by anyone but root. I also do not want to uninstall the regular version. Personal preference. :slight_smile:

My procedure (not step-by-step)

  1. As root, I extract the latest ESR downloaded file to /opt to create /opt/firefox.

  2. Then, as root, I change the /usr/bin/firefox link to point to /opt/firefox/firefox. At this point, all standard launchers are on ESR. On first run, it should ask to set as default to which I said yes.

That’s it. The ESR version picks up and uses the ~/.mozilla settings ok. The rest is all about maintaining this install.

When the ESR version has an update
The ESR’s About screen has a Check-For-Updates. You cannot, as a normal user, update from here but root can. This means running gksu firefox - the act that makes me the most nervous so I carefully only do this for updating and do nothing else as root. I know I could extract again but this is far easier. And yes, /root/.mozilla gets created.

EDIT NOTE: It is very important to use gksu (or its equivalent link gksudo). Do NOT use sudo!!! or your user profile will likely get trashed with files owned by root.

When the normal version has an update
First, I already under no circumstances allow background updating on any system I own. So it’s easy for me to see when there’s a Firefox update. Yes… it did change the ~/usr/bin/firefox link back so I have to redo it from step 2) above. I really don’t want my profile to ever see the regular version but this is a rather manual process I wish were easier not to goof up.

Anyone see an issue with this process? What are YOU doing and why?



Thanks for you post @Bill_MI! :slight_smile:

I’m afraid I’ll be sidestepping a little from your question. But I’m still debating on which path to take. I honestly don’t know what to do.

You see, from a previously long experience with Pale Moon, I just know that add-on developers will not provide ESR with due support. Neither are they obliged to. So at some point we have to agree that ESR will be just like delaying the inevitable. On the other hand, I really don’t want to take for me the increased maintenance requirements of ESR and that you so well demonstrated on your post. Not when the software is a web browser.

I’m considering alternatives. But its been hard. I’m not entirely happy with Vivaldi or Opera. Lunascape would be the ideal solution for me, but unfortunately there’s no Linux port. And there’s also Midori, which is the one I’m currently most inclined towards. My final decision will almost certainly be made between Midori and Vivaldi.

Now, on a more direct answer to your question:

Were I to decide towards ESR, I would probably prefer to go the whole nine yards in terms of maintenance and install to home/, this way avoiding the sudo requirements of Check-for-Updates. I just don’t know if this is possible with Firefox. And I don’t see me trying since I’m in the process of shutting down my experience with Mozilla for good.

Hi @marfig and thanks for the reply. I have one big requirement of FOSS which Midori also fits. But I do plan on native Firefox eventually, perhaps around or before 18.04 LTS time seems a good goal.

I do see people installing in their home directory owning the files and it apparently does update fine. I just didn’t want to loose that normal layer of security.

And FYI, running as a regular user Check-For-Updates tells you when there is an update with a link. It checks OK, just can’t install the new version it reports. Root gets the “Upgrade To xx.xx.x” button and it knows what to do.

EDIT: Oh yeah, I got surprised by the all-default-settings root version. It actually took off and updated without the upgrade button I’m used to on Windows. I didn’t want to add any extensions for root or change any settings. Hmmm… I have never allowed such updating in the past so will probably change that if nothing else.

After the root update, I looked at the modified dates and everything in /opt/firefox got replaced with new files a few days old. I was wondering if they craft partial updates like for Windows and I guess not, at least this time around. Linux probably doesn’t save much bandwidth to do that.

This is a very nice reference for running Firefox ESR on UM 16.04. I can’t think of any question that wasn’t answered by @Bill_MI.

My own take is that Firefox feels slow compared to Pale Moon. I do have quite a lot of extensions (because it’s necessary) like Classic Theme Restorer. I don’t need those UI extensions in Pale Moon.

Since Firefox post Australis is not my cup of tea, I don’t mind Mozilla reinventing Firefox. It can only get better than current Australis mess… I hope… Right now both the UI and rendering speed feel slow.

I really like UM and FF; I’d like to know what are the MATE plans wrt Firefox ESR. Since I’ve decided on LTS for UM from a simplistic side it stands to reason that UM LTS would adopt FF ESR.

Hi @mrtribute, Thanks for the reply. I’ll be looking again at Pale Moon thanks to you. I must be confusing it with another because last I looked it had no Linux version.

Hi @pfeiffep, It would be nice for Ubuntu-MATE to support Fx ESR but I don’t think it’s a practical addition for them to take on. I’m pretty sure Canonical does most of that now and I would bet there’d be a low interest when the latest from Mozilla has been the norm for so long, even on the LTS.

The Linux version wasn’t always there. It is however sort of a non official port, maintained separately by a single member of the community.

Pale Moon is a bit of a difficult thing to describe for me. I used it as my main browser for 3 years. And was an active member of the community on IRC. Let me tell you, it was a fantastic browser. Now… I’m not so sure anymore if it hasn’t dropped to just become a good browser.

Pale Moon recently removed all dependencies on Firefox. It is today an original product in its own right. But with that came a series of compatibility issues with certain websites that after a while I simply quit fighting against. That’s when I returned to Firefox. And I must tell you, part of these compatibility issues have nothing to do with Pale Moon itself, but with the tone-deaf attitude of many web developers who still think to this day user agent strings are a good way to test browser compatibility, and of others that use all strategies they can to try and force certain browsers out of the market (I’m looking at you google).

The (small) development team is very active and fully committed to the browser development. However they take… a strong ideological attitude to the browser landscape. This does permit them to stay focused on their vision. But I just don’t know anymore if that is a good thing. Why do browsers need a “vision” ? After all, I just want them to render websites and render them well. And maintain my bookmarks. Strong ideas and even stronger attitudes towards browser development seem to me can only do more harm than good.

I think however you should try it. You definitely must. It’s that type of browser that deserves to be tested. If you read my post carefully, you’ll notice that my only criticism of the browser isn’t even technical.

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When Pale Moon v27 was released main developer changed “User Agent Mode” (available in the Preferences) from “Firefox Compatibility” to “Native”. That was a mistake because as you write yourself many websites only identify browser not HTML capabilities.

So v27 was released with lesser web compatibility out of the box. I changed this myself and in the next point release “Firefox Compatibility” was restored as default setting.

I have never had better web compatibility with Pale Moon than I have right now with v27.3.

I hope the Pale Moon project keeps going. It’s always hard to sustain ambitious projects without corporate backing.