Installing Firefox ESR, as quickly as possible


Tested in Ubuntu MATE 17.04.
Yes, Extended Support Release. While these versions of Firefox are generally older, they typically have some of the same advancements as in later builds, except it’s less prone to breaking stuff as readily because of its limited update schedule. The below steps will help you get off Mozilla’s fast-track updating and continue using legacy addons for the time being without feeling like you’re about to lose functions you’ve come to know and love.

Fortunately, there is a PPA for it, however it is for last year’s Ubuntu; this guide will help you sort out that dilemma and make it so you can use an older Firefox version with no problem.

#Making Firefox old again

###Important things to note
This uses a third-party repository. This means Mozilla isn’t responsible for any issues you may encounter, despite the fact there is an (official?) one maintained by Team ESR which has nothing in it. Probably because Mozilla is too busy making episodes of IRL to really care about the end user’s needs. Oh, too harsh? :stuck_out_tongue:

Also, this is only for Firefox version 52, since the PPA isn’t being actively maintained from the looks of things. quite unfortunate that, but it also means one of you can take the torch and build your own package for Firefox ESR whenever Mozilla releases a new version.

The PPA received 52.4 recently, so it might be maintained after all. Neat!

###Before replacing Firefox…
There are a couple of things which need to be fetched from the Ubuntu package archive. Click on each link below and fetch from the region nearest you the libraries they hold;
Software from the Ubuntu package archive
Software from Ubuntu security
(Download libevent-2.0-5_2.0.21-stable-2_amd64.deb)

It might be easiest to only download the packages first, then install with dpkg via your terminal emulator rather than using gdebi-gtk to install these packages since you’d only need to authenticate with sudo once. In that case, cd to the directory you saved them at and perform the following;

sudo dpkg -i libhunspell-1.3-0_1.3.3-4ubuntu1_amd64.deb libvpx3_1.5.0-2ubuntu1_amd64.deb libevent-2.0-5_2.0.21-stable-2_amd64.deb

Alternatively, if you installed everything into its own, _separate_ directory from everything else you could just do this;

sudo dpkg -i *

###Actually replacing Firefox
After, add in the repository for Firefox ESR and update;

sudo add-apt-repository "deb xenial main"
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys F06FC659
sudo apt update

Alternatively you can do sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:jonathonf/firefox-esr which skips the whole GPG thing and edit the file which begins with jonathonf in /etc/apt/sources.list.d but the above is less laborious for script makers and people who want to spend as little time as possible.

For users of Ubuntu 18.04, the PPA supports Bionic! So you can use the PPA via this command instead of going through the repo madness above:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:jonathonf/firefox-esr

Then close Firefox, and perform the following;

sudo apt remove --purge -y firefox
sudo apt install -y firefox-esr

Run Firefox once again, and if you visit about: you’ll see your browser has been downgraded to 52.3, which you can stay on for the rest of your life if you so preferred, but some time in the future you may need to upgrade to keep up with current Internet-related technologies released in coming years.

Just to express this one more time, this guide is to install an older version of Firefox from a repository which may never be updated ever again. In the future, some packages may become incompatible with later versions of Ubuntu, rendering installation of this impossible should you upgrade your system.

###Updates and miscellany
I tried the version of firefox available from mozilla’s PPA (ppa:mozillateam/ppa) and it’s very crash-prone from my experience, so I would still recommend this above all else until someone figures out how to make the “Official” distribution of Firefox ESR from PPA less likely to crap in your cheerios for being old and cranky.

If the above is too much for you, here’s everything in script form (taken and modified from one of my previous posts in this thread):

sudo apt update
cd ~/Downloads
sudo dpkg -i libhunspell-1.3-0_1.3.3-4ubuntu1_amd64.deb libvpx3_1.5.0-2ubuntu1_amd64.deb libevent-2.0-5_2.0.21-stable-2ubuntu0.16.04.1_amd64.deb
### For older Ubuntu, below Bionic but above Xenial. Enable if necessary.
#sudo add-apt-repository "deb xenial main"
#sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys F06FC659
### For Bionic and Xenial. Comment or delete if enabling the above.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:jonathonf/firefox-esr
sudo apt update
sudo apt remove --purge -y firefox
sudo apt install -y firefox-esr

If you still want to use Mozilla’s PPA for any reason, you can use it alongside Firefox as you cannot execute the browser by simply typing in firefox, however if you removed Firefox stable in favour for ESR and are using Mozilla’s PPA you can add this in $HOME/.bash_aliases:
alias firefox=firefox-esr



I encountered that today, actually when i was following the instructions myself. It’s a simple matter of adding the key, I just need to figure it out and work some more instructions in.


would ubuntu-mate be using read-the-docs aswell and are you going to take screenshots of your findings ?


No need, I just needed to replace one command and appended with slightly more information. Should be correct now :thumbsup:


Did you manage to install?




Meaning, if you saved them in say, ~/Downloads then of course running that command at ~ wouldn’t work.


nope … signatures couldnot be verified.


What? That makes no sense; I was able to install Fx ESR in an old build of Xubuntu LTS I had banging about. Start from the beginning; open software-properties-gtk and delete the ESR repos, do sudo apt update to clean things up then do all the terminal stuff again.

If you still have problems DM me when you install TeamViewer and we’ll get in touch there. For security and safety, I would suggest handling this in a live build session so I don’t happen to glance at anything sensitive, I’ll walk you through everything.

Later on I’ll try in a recent build of Ubuntu MATE from live and see if I misstepped in my writing. I swear it is correct…


Update; 17.04, #worksforme.

Here’s the script I made from the instructions above, but really it shouldn’t be necessary to chmod +x this and run it:

sudo apt update
cd ~/Downloads
sudo dpkg -i libhunspell-1.3-0_1.3.3-4ubuntu1_amd64.deb libvpx3_1.5.0-2ubuntu1_amd64.deb
sudo add-apt-repository "deb xenial main"
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys F06FC659
sudo apt update
sudo apt remove --purge -y firefox
sudo apt install -y firefox-esr

Just to prove, when I do firefox --version it outputs as Mozilla Firefox 52.4.0. So IDK what your problem is, which is half of the reason I would like to init a TeamViewer session so I can easily observe what is going on.


I stumbled upon this today:

Don’t know if it’s better than jonathonf’s one, but it’s one point release ahead of it by now. Also it has builds for all currently supported Ubuntu releases, not just 16.04. And a PPA from “Mozilla Team” sounds more official :slight_smile:

Build log shows it started quite recently, on 2017-10-02.


Oh finally they’ve managed to upload something onto that account. When In first looked there was nothing there, I suppose the Mozilla Team account was sort of recent.


Added more crap to the OP, and a proper script form from one of my previous posts, as well my personal experience with ESR from Mozilla’s PPA.