How To Install Firefox ESR In Ubuntu Or Linux Mint (PPA Or Snap)

Firefox logo

Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release) is an official version of Firefox that doesn't come with the latest features, but instead focuses on security and stability fixes. These ESR Firefox builds are intended for organizations like universities, governments, businesses, and others who need mass support deployment.

Firefox ESR releases are maintained for more than one year, and only receive point (minor) releases containing security updates, coinciding with regular Firefox releases.

These Firefox builds are not only targeted at organizations, but also at individuals who prefer stability over new features, or who prefer a UI that doesn't change between releases and extensions that don't break upon upgrading Firefox.

The latest Firefox ESR version is currently 60.3.0, released on October 23, while the latest regular Firefox release is 63.0.3. Since Firefox ESR is focused on security and stability, rather than new features, the next major version (68.0) will be released in September, 2019.

For more about Firefox ESR, see this page.

While Firefox ESR is not available in the Ubuntu and Linux Mint repositories, it's easy to install it in both, either by using the Snap Store or by using the Mozilla Team Firefox ESR and Thunderbird stable builds PPA.

Install Firefox ESR In Ubuntu or Linux Mint (PPA or Snap)


Using either the PPA or the Snap package to install Firefox ESR, your current Firefox installation will not be overwritten, so you can continue to use both the latest Firefox release, as well as Firefox ESR. Also note that using either the PPA or Snap package, a new Firefox profile will be used.

You will get multiple Firefox entries in your application menu though, because Firefox ESR does not use a different name or icon in the menu. It's best to either remove the latest Firefox build from your system (you can remove it using: sudo apt remove firefox) if you plan on using ESR, or create a custom menu entry for Firefox ESR so you can easily differentiate between it and the default Firefox builds.

There's also an unofficial PPA that contains the previous Firefox ESR version 52.9, in which legacy extensions (non-WebExtension API add-ons) still work, but this Firefox version is no longer supported, so it won't receive security updates. I'm not including instructions in this article for using this unofficial PPA due to the security risks related to using an outdated Firefox version.

Also see: How To Install Firefox Beta Or Nightly (Alpha) In Linux Mint Or Ubuntu From PPA Repository

Install Firefox ESR in Ubuntu or Linux Mint using a PPA


Firefox ESR PPA

One way of easily installing Firefox ESR (version 60 when this article is posted) in Ubuntu or Linux Mint is by using the Mozilla Team Firefox ESR and Thunderbird stable builds PPA. You can add it and install Firefox ESR using the commands that follow:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt install firefox-esr

Install Firefox ESR in Ubuntu or Linux Mint using Snap packages


Firefox ESR Snap

A couple of notes about using the Firefox ESR snap package:

  • Using Firefox ESR Snap, the application will not use your system Gtk+ and cursor theme. If you want it to integrate properly with your system, use the PPA package instead of Snap.
  • On Linux Mint I had to logout and login to get the newly installed Firefox ESR Snap to show up in the applications menu.
  • The first time you run an application installed as a Snap, it may take a while until it starts - this should only happen the first time you run it.

You can install Firefox ESR Snap package on any Linux distribution that supports snaps. To enable Snap on Linux Mint, install snapd:

sudo apt install snapd

After installing this package, log out and in again to complete the installation.

Ubuntu already has Snap enabled by default.

For enabling Snap support in other Linux distributions, see this page.

Now you can install Firefox ESR as a Snap, by using this command:

snap install --channel=esr/stable firefox

You can also use Gnome Software app to install Firefox ESR as Snap: search for Firefox, find the Snap package, scroll down and change the Channel from stable to ESR/stable, then install the application.

4 comments:

  1. I don't like snaps, and while I use PPA's they can just get to numerous. I add the Mozilla Software Installer which can install and upgrade both Firefox, Firefox ESR, Thunderbird and Seamonkey, all are mozilla-build.
    https://sourceforge.net/projects/ubuntuzilla/
    https://sourceforge.net/p/ubuntuzilla/wiki/Main_Page/

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    1. Ubuntuzilla is worth a mention indeed, thanks for the comment. I was actually using it a long time ago before PPA repositories became popular. Ubuntuzilla is still a repository though, and the Mozilla PPA repositories are maintained by Canonical/Ubuntu so they are more trustworthy imo.

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  2. Thanks for the comment. But how many PPA's become to many PPA's on a system? I have read to many PPA's can cause problems, but do not know if that is true or FUD? Any help here. I already have 10 PPA's on my system, is that a small number, average or excessive?

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    1. I don't think the number of PPA repositories (or other repositories) is an issue, but the quality of the packages. I don't see why having a large number of PPA repositories would cause problems (it just takes a bit longer to run "sudo apt update").

      There are other things that can cause problems though.

      You can run into problems if the PPA maintainers don't know what what they are doing. What comes to mind are issues related to moving a file between packages, in which case you can run into a "dpkg error, trying to overwrite a file that's available in package X" or something like that (this is easily fixed, but it can cause some major issues for inexperienced users). Or updating some dependencies that are also available in the Ubuntu repositories, which can cause issues with other packages/applications. I've seen quite a few such PPA repositories out there, and I try to stay away from them, both for my personal use, and for the articles I publish on Linux Uprising. Unfortunately some blogs/guides use some bad quality PPA repositories and that's where the problems come...

      Then there's the issues of malware - you need to trust that the PPA maintainer doesn't add some unwanted code to the packages.

      So you need to trust the PPA maintainers - both that they know what they're doing when packaging the apps, as well as for security reasons.

      While even official PPAs can rarely have an error like the first one I mentioned, those are rare cases. And you can be sure they won't add any malware.

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