Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Using a variant of Debian’s Iceweasel that keeps pace with Firefox

5th February 2013

Left to its own devices, Debian will leave you with an ever ageing re-branded version of Firefox that was installed at the same time as the rest of the operating system. From what I have found, the main cause of this was that Mozilla’s wanting to retain control of its branding and trademarks in a manner not in keeping with Debian’s Free Software rules. This didn’t affect just Firefox but also Thunderbird, Sunbird and Seamonkey with Debian’s equivalents for these being IceDove, IceOwl and IceApe, respectively.

While you can download a tarball of Firefox from the web and use that, it’d be nice to get a variant that updated through Debian’s normal apt-get channels. In fact, IceWeasel does get updated whenever there is a new release of Firefox even if these updates never find their way into the usual repositories. While I have been know to take advantage of the more frozen state of Debian compared with other Linux distributions, I don’t mind getting IceWeasel updated so it isn’t a security worry.

The first step in so doing is to add the following lines to /etc/apt/sources.list using root access (using sudo, gksu or su to assume root privileges) since the file normally cannot be edited by normal users:

deb http://backports.debian.org/debian-backports squeeze-backports main
deb http://mozilla.debian.net/ squeeze-backports iceweasel-release

With the file updated and saved, the next step is to update the repositories on your machine using the following command:

sudo apt-get update

With the above complete, it is time to overwrite the existing IceWeasel installation with the latest one using an apt-get command that specifies the squeeze-backports repository as its source using the -t switch. While IceWeasel is installed from the iceweasel-release squeeze-backports repository, there dependencies that need to be satisfied and these come from the main squeeze-backports one. The actual command used is below:

sudo apt-get install -t squeeze-backports iceweasel

While that was all that I needed to do to get IceWeasel 18.0.1 in place, some may need the pkg-mozilla-archive-keyring package installed too. For those needing more information that what’s here, there’s always the Debian Mozilla team.

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