Posted by: reformedmusings | January 22, 2010

Firefox 3.6 in Ubuntu 9.10 x86_64 Karmic

Mozilla released Firefox 3.6 yesterday. As an incremental update, it doesn’t have any earth-shattering changes. It does sport additional security features and about 20% faster rendering than 3.5. I decided to upgrade early to take advantage of the new browser. I just can’t help myself.

Just like with Thunderbird 3, there’s a difference in the availability of the 32-bit and 64-bit versions. For the x86 32-bit version, just go to Ubuntuzilla or add their repository. After updating the package list, the updates should appear.

For an x86_64 build, the easiest solution is again to add the PPA for the Ubuntu Mozilla Daily Build Team. Follow the instructions on the page under “Technical details about this PPA” for adding the PPA as one of your software repository sources.

Once you refresh your sources, you’ll get notice of new packages available. All will be selected by default. Deselect the ones that you don’t want, i.e., non-Firefox and non-xulrunner packages. If your result is like mine, you’ll have a number of Firefox packages offered. These should be firefox, firefox-3.5, firefox-3.5-gnome-support, firefox-3.5-branding, firefox-branding, and ubufox. The ones not labeled with 3.5 will be labeled an new installs.

What, you ask? I want 3.6, not 3.5! If you select one of the firefox packages and check its version number, you’ll see something like 3.6.1~hg2010xxxx. So, even though the package name says 3.5, the packages are actually 3.6.x. I’m not sure why they set it up like that, but it works. The newer versions of xulrunner support the updated firefox. Note, though, that the internal branding for 3.6 is Namoroka rather than Firefox. Don’t be alarmed.

With this arrangement, your Firefox 3.5 will be updated to the current daily build of 3.6.x. Your profile will be picked up by the new installation. Some extensions may not be compatible with 3.6.x. More on that later. Before you get that far, you’ll probably have to change any shortcuts you created. The installation will take care of the one on the menu.

Firefox 3.5 required shortcuts to point to “firefox-3.5”. This differed from earlier versions that pointed to “firefox”. Version 3.6 from the PPA reverts back to “firefox”. The change is easy. Just right click on your Firefox shortcut, click on Properties, then change the command from “firefox-3.5 %u” to “firefox %u” without the quotes.

Using the PPA may keep your Firefox version ahead of extension updates. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the extensions won’t work. Well-behaved extensions (i.e., those following Mozilla’s protocols) that worked in 3.5 will probably work fine in 3.6. For those, simply go to Tools -> Addons, right click on a disabled extension, and click on “Make compatible”. This worked with CookieSafe, ForecastFox, Search Site, Text2URL, UpDown, and YMail Notifier.

That’s pretty much it. If you made it this far, you are fully operational with Firefox 3.6.x.

One last note of caution: you still have the daily build PPA enabled at this point. That means that you’ll be offered every new daily build that’s applicable to your installation. That might include Thunderbird 3.0.x and others. If you don’t want that, simply deselect the PPA from System -> Administration -> Software Sources on the Other Software tab. I’m going to leave mine enabled to see how this goes. I will warn you that daily builds sometimes break things that used to work, so proceed at your own risk.


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