Mozilla treats Debian devotees to the raw taste of Firefox Nightly

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Mozilla has published a autochthonal Debian package of Firefox – nan pre-beta-test Nightly build, alternatively than nan existent released version.

Considering that it remains nan ascendant web browser for Linux, nan packaging of Firefox (and its derivatives) remains a contentious issue. Then again, exertion packaging formats are 1 of nan main areas that differentiate nan various families of Linux distros.

This week's announcement reveals that Mozilla is packaging Firefox arsenic a autochthonal .deb package for Debian-based distributions. Don't jump to drawback it until you've considered nan implications, though: This is nan Nightly channel, which intends unfinished, work-in-progress code, not moreover beta-test level. This intends a caller type each day, and astir apt a batch of crashes and unexpected behaviour. This is emphatically not for everyone, and not for normal use.

Even so, it's rather a departure. Until now, Mozilla remained aloof and avoided visibly favoring immoderate peculiar distro aliases family. It didn't package its browser successful immoderate peculiar distro's format, and only offered compiled binaries arsenic "tarballs," nan Linux type of a ZIP file. They work: You tin download them, unzip them into a folder, and conscionable run them, almost for illustration immoderate barbarian Windows user, but they are not managed by nan OS's ain package attraction tools. When you upgrade nan OS, nan tarball-packaged Firefox won't get upgraded. It won't beryllium integrated into your desktop's menus. You whitethorn not beryllium capable to prime it arsenic your default browser. This is because nan OS's guidance devices don't cognize it's there, which is substantially little than ideal.

Mozilla's caller packages bespeak that retired successful nan field, nan biggest Linux distro family is Debian, which, together pinch its galore variants including Ubuntu and Mint, predominate successful sheer numbers.

(After that comes Red Hat and nan various distros that usage Red Hat's packaging format, including nan SUSE family, but those folks conscionable softly get connected pinch packaging Firefox for themselves.)

The problem is that Debian is simply a very slow-moving distro, which puts retired a caller awesome merchandise astir each different twelvemonth – and erstwhile released, package versions are fixed. It does put retired constituent releases pinch bug fixes, but these don't incorporate caller versions. That places it astatine likelihood pinch Mozilla, which emits a caller Firefox approximately erstwhile a month. Even nan enterprise-friendly, slow-release ESR version of Firefox comes retired astir doubly arsenic often arsenic Debian does, which sometimes intends Debian users are stuck pinch older, unsupported versions, thing that tin pose problems.

This, successful turn, created a attraction headache for Ubuntu, which astatine nan clip of penning has five releases presently supported. Rather than support half a twelve Firefox packages, for nan past 2 years Canonical has been shipping Firefox successful its ain cross-distro Snap format, which intends a azygous x86-64 Firefox package tin tally connected everything from Ubuntu 18.04 "Bionic Beaver" to nan latest 23.10 "Mantic Minotaur".

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However, while mean users won't attraction – nor should they, to put it diplomatically – nan Snap format is not universally loved among Linux techies. The starring distro based connected Ubuntu, Linux Mint, makes a constituent of maintaining its ain autochthonal Firefox package for Mint users.

As such, an charismatic Mozilla Debian package is handy. For now, it's not arsenic useful arsenic it could be, because Nightlies are by meaning unstable. This looks group to change, though – Mozilla's announcement says:

The Reg FOSS table tested nan nightly connected a Debian Bookworm-based distro, and it worked perfectly, pinch nary further config needed.

In nan meantime, different ways to get much existent versions of Firefox connected Debian aliases Ubuntu beryllium and person done for years. The Ubuntuzilla project has been offering existent versions of Firefox, Firefox ESR, Seamonkey, and Thunderbird for good complete a decade, and useful connected each Debian derivatives. Canonical's ain MozillaTeam offers a PPA repository pinch existent versions specifically for Ubuntu, too.

We fishy that an officially sanctioned upstream type will beryllium easier to get past institution compliance teams and different cautious types, though.


To beryllium strictly honest, moreover combined, nan Debian and Ubuntu family are not really nan most-used desktop Linux by sheer numbers. That's Google's ChromeOS – but arsenic its sanction suggests, that comes pinch Chrome alternatively than Firefox. In immoderate case, galore penguinisti don't count ChromeOS arsenic being a proper Linux. ®