How to Install Firefox ESR on Linux Mint 21/20

Dive into the world of Firefox Extended Support Release (ESR), an alternate browser solution that provides an edge for Linux Mint users by integrating stable, long-term support into its design. As a Linux Mint user, you might question the need to switch from the standard Firefox browser or other popular alternatives to the Firefox ESR. In this introduction, we will explore the unique selling propositions of Firefox ESR, which contribute to its growing popularity despite appearing as a ‘downgrade’ in some respects.

What Makes Firefox ESR Different?

  • Long-Term Support: Firefox ESR is built to support organizations that require extended support for mass deployments. These typically include businesses, universities, and other institutions that value stability over cutting-edge features.
  • Extended Security: With its emphasis on stability, Firefox ESR prioritizes the security of its users. The browser is routinely updated with essential security patches, ensuring that users are protected against potential threats.
  • Consistency: Firefox ESR updates are not as frequent as the standard Firefox browser. This means fewer disruptions due to changes in the user interface, extensions, or functionality, leading to a more consistent browsing experience.
  • Compatibility: Being a part of the Firefox family, Firefox ESR maintains good compatibility with the majority of web standards, plugins, and extensions.

Why Might a Linux Mint User Prefer Firefox ESR?

  • System Stability: Linux Mint, known for its robustness and stability, pairs well with Firefox ESR’s focus on long-term support and consistency. This combination offers an integrated, stable browsing experience.
  • Reduced Resource Usage: Firefox ESR, with its fewer feature updates, generally uses less system resources compared to the latest standard version of Firefox. For Linux Mint users on older hardware, this can improve system performance.
  • Longer Testing Periods: Since Firefox ESR releases are less frequent, each version undergoes a longer testing period. This often results in a more polished, bug-free user experience, complementing the reliability Linux Mint users expect from their operating system.

Understanding these benefits of Firefox ESR, it becomes clear why some Linux Mint users would prefer this seemingly ‘downgraded’ yet actively maintained version. We believe it’s not so much a step back, but rather, a strategic step towards a more consistent, secure, and resource-friendly browsing experience.

In the following guide, we will take you through the step-by-step process of installing Firefox ESR on Linux Mint 21 or the older release, Linux Mint 20. Learn how to enhance your Linux Mint experience with the stability and extended support that Firefox ESR offers.

Section 1: Install Firefox ESR with Mozilla PPA

Step 1: Ensuring System Currency

Prior to initiating the Firefox ESR installation, we need to confirm that your Linux Mint operating system, along with all its packages, is updated to the latest available versions. Maintaining system currency minimizes the chances of encountering compatibility issues or conflicts during the subsequent installation.

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Following the package index update, we’ll make certain to upgrade all packages that are currently outdated in the system. This ensures that your Linux Mint environment is thoroughly primed for the new installation.

sudo apt upgrade

Step 2: Incorporating the Official Mozilla PPA

At this juncture, we’ll import the official “Mozilla Team” LaunchPAD PPA (Personal Package Archive) that houses the Firefox ESR. This PPA is known for its reliable maintenance, and additionally, if you’re a Mozilla Thunderbird Mail user, you’ll appreciate that this PPA also contains its latest stable version.

Here’s the command to seamlessly import the PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/ppa -y

Step 3: Refreshing the Packages Index

Having added the Mozilla PPA to our system, it’s imperative to update the packages index again. This allows the system to recognize and get ready for the installation of packages from the newly added source.

sudo apt update

Step 4: Actual Installation of Firefox ESR Browser

We’re now set to install Firefox ESR on your Linux Mint system. Given that the Mozilla Firefox PPA is correctly incorporated into our system, we can proceed with the installation using the following command:

sudo apt install firefox-esr

It’s important to point out that the Firefox ESR installation doesn’t necessitate the removal of the standard Firefox browser. These two can coexist independently, with the ESR version installing as a separate entity.

Step 5: Authenticating the Firefox ESR Installation

Now that we have completed the installation process, we need to verify that Firefox ESR was installed successfully. By checking the build version of the installed Firefox ESR, we can confirm its presence and the success of our installation process. Execute the following command in the terminal to do so:

firefox-esr --version

As we come to the end of this section, you should now have Firefox ESR successfully installed and ready to run on your Linux Mint system.

Section 2: Activating Firefox ESR on Linux Mint

Initiation from Terminal

Having successfully installed the Firefox ESR browser on your Linux Mint system, we’re now ready to fire it up and explore its robust features. One way to initiate Firefox ESR is via the terminal. This method can be particularly efficient for users comfortable with using command-line interfaces.

To open the Firefox ESR browser using the terminal, simply input the following command:


Upon executing this command, the Firefox ESR browser should launch, ready for your browsing needs.

Initiation from Application Menu

For users who prefer graphical interfaces over command-line interactions, the Firefox ESR browser can also be initiated from the Linux Mint application menu. This is a simple point-and-click method which can be more intuitive for some users.

Here’s the path to locate and launch Firefox ESR from the application menu:

Menu > Internet > Firefox Web Browser (Firefox-esr)

By navigating to the ‘Internet’ category in your application menu, you should be able to find the Firefox ESR browser. Clicking on it will launch the browser, thus enabling you to start experiencing the stability and consistency offered by this version of Firefox.

Example of Firefox Web Browser (Firefox-esr) application icon on Linux Mint:

Section 3: Helpful Tips for Getting Started with Firefox ESR on Linux

Enabling Essential Privacy Settings

The very first thing you might want to do when starting with Firefox ESR is to tweak the privacy settings to enhance your security while browsing. Firefox is well-known for its emphasis on user privacy, and it allows for considerable customization of privacy settings. Go to Menu > Options > Privacy & Security to modify settings according to your preference. You might want to enable options like:

  • Enhanced Tracking Protection to block third-party tracking cookies
  • Strict mode to block all detected trackers
Menu > Options > Privacy & Security

Personalizing Your Browser Interface

Firefox ESR allows you to personalize your browser interface to your liking. This could involve changing themes, rearranging toolbar items, or even installing additional add-ons. To get started with personalizing your Firefox ESR, navigate to Menu > Customize. Here, you can:

  • Drag and drop items onto the toolbar
  • Select a theme of your preference
  • Manage density and other display settings
Menu > Customize

Using the Smart Address Bar

Firefox ESR comes with a smart address bar that not only lets you input URLs but also allows you to search bookmarks, history, open tabs, and the internet. It also provides search suggestions as you type, making it easy for you to find what you’re looking for.

Managing Bookmarks

The Bookmark feature in Firefox ESR is a handy tool that lets you save your favorite sites for easy access later. You can manage your bookmarks by going to Menu > Bookmarks. Here, you can:

  • Bookmark your current page
  • View and manage your saved bookmarks
  • Import or backup bookmarks
Menu > Bookmarks

Syncing with Firefox Account

If you use Firefox on multiple devices, syncing your Firefox accounts can be a game-changer. This allows your bookmarks, passwords, history, open tabs, and more to be accessible across all your devices. To enable this feature, navigate to Menu > Sign in to Sync. After signing in or creating an account, you can choose what data to sync.

Menu > Sign in to Sync

Navigating through Firefox ESR and customizing it to your liking is part of the exciting journey of experiencing a browser that aligns with your needs. With these tips, you can begin to truly make Firefox ESR your own.

Section 4: Advanced Command-Line Operations for Firefox ESR on Linux Mint

Keeping Your Firefox ESR Current

One of the significant advantages of using Firefox ESR on Linux Mint is that updates are typically handled automatically alongside the rest of your system packages by the APT package manager. This ensures you’re always working with the most secure and stable version of the browser. However, it might be necessary to manually check for updates on occasion. This might be due to an urgent security patch or simply to verify that your system is keeping everything current. Here’s how you can manually initiate updates:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

The above command will first update the package list (the sudo apt update part), ensuring the latest information about package versions and their dependencies is available. Following that, it prompts the system to upgrade all packages that have updates available (the sudo apt upgrade part).

Removing Firefox ESR from Your System

While Firefox ESR is an excellent browser, there may come a time when you need to remove it from your system. Uninstallation is as straightforward as installation. Here’s the command to completely remove Firefox ESR:

sudo apt remove firefox-esr

By executing this command, the Firefox ESR browser will be removed from your system, but it won’t remove the additional PPA repository you added. If you’re certain you won’t need to reinstall Firefox ESR in the future, or you simply want to clean up your PPA list, you can remove the PPA. Here’s the command to delete the corresponding PPA file:

sudo add-apt-repository --remove ppa:mozillateam/ppa -y

After running this command, the PPA will be removed from your repository list, and you won’t receive any updates from it. This step ensures your system remains as clean as possible and avoids unnecessary updates. It’s important to only remove a PPA if you’re confident you won’t be needing it in the future.

Closing Remarks and Links

In this guide, we’ve navigated the process of installing Firefox ESR on a Linux Mint system, from ensuring your system’s packages are updated to launching and using the browser effectively. We also provided some additional command-line operations for maintaining Firefox ESR on your Linux Mint, ensuring you can keep your browser current and remove it if necessary. The power and versatility of Linux Mint and Firefox ESR come together to provide a reliable, secure, and efficient web browsing experience.

Additional Resources

To further deepen your understanding of Firefox ESR and its implementation on Linux Mint, I recommend the following official resources. Each resource comes with a brief description to give you an idea of what to expect:

  • Firefox Enterprise: This is the official page for Firefox ESR. It provides a comprehensive overview of the features, benefits, and value that Firefox ESR brings to enterprises.
  • Firefox Enterprise Support: This is the go-to resource for any technical support related to Firefox ESR. Here, you will find a wealth of information, including troubleshooting steps and how-to guides.
  • Mozilla Developer Network (MDN): A treasure trove of documentation on Firefox from a developer’s perspective. It includes detailed resources on Firefox’s developer tools, add-ons, and more.

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