Installing Firefox-3.5.tar.bz2 on Ubuntu 9.04

Your problem: you’re running Ubuntu and your current Firefox 3.0.11 is not offering you the much anticipated, very exciting upgrade to Firefox 3.5.  So you’ve downloaded the firefox-3.5.tar.bz2 file and now you want to know how to install it.

Update: If you’ve already installed Firefox 3.5 and now want to upgrade to Firefox 3.5.1 then check out the instructions of How to Upgrade To Firefox 3.5.1 on Ubuntu below. If you’re upgrading from 3.0.11, then just follow the instructions as is.


I’m running Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope and I”m more of a visual user than a command-line user, so I’m going to tell you the way I did.

Rest assured, doing this you will not lose any bookmarks or settings from your current browser. But backup just in case.

  1. If you haven’t yet, download the new Firefox 3.5 from Firefox.com to your desktop
  2. Right-click the file (firefox-3.5.tar.bz2) and choose Extract Here
  3. You will now have a new folder on your desktop called Firefox. Rename it to Firefox-3.5
  4. Open a terminal window (just this once) and type sudo nautilus – this will launch your file browser with root privileges
  5. Navigate to File System -> usr -> lib ( /usr/lib/ ) and copy the folder Firefox-3.5 into this directory
  6. Open the folder Firefox-3.5 and find the file called Firefox.
  7. Right click and Make Link. It creates a file called Link to Firefox
  8. Cut and paste this link to File System -> usr -> bin ( /usr/bin/ )
  9. There is already a link called Firefox so rename that to Firefox.old (if there isn’t, don’t worry), rename your new Link to Firefox to just Firefox

All done.  Now close down all your current Firefox windows, and restart with the improved Firefox 3.5. Tada!

To upgrade in future

You can use Firefox’s built in Check for Updates function, however, this only works when you run Firefox as root.  I did the upgrade moments ago, but had some trouble, so here’s what should work:

  • Open a terminal window and type gksudo firefox;
  • This will launch Firefox and the Check for Updates option under the Help menu will be active;
  • Choose the option, Firefox will check and install any updates. Close and restart Firefox.

Warning: I ran this process as sudo firefox, which apparently is the wrong way to do it.  If you re-open Firefox and there’s a red bar at the top that says your history and bookmarks are locked because it’s in use by another program, then something went wrong. In this instance, root locked several files in my .mozilla user directory, so I couldn’t use it as a normal user.

To fix it, close Firefox and do this:

  • Open a file browser and got to home -> yourusername -> .mozilla -> firefox -> xyz.default (profile folder)
  • Leaving it open, open a terminal window and type sudo nautilus, which will open a second file browser, and then navigate to the same folder
  • In the first file browser window you will see that some files have a locked icon on them
  • In your second file browser you won’t see the locks because in that window you have root privileges. So in that window, right click the files and bestow your username onto the locked files, giving permission back to you as a normal user.
  • Relaunch Firefox and all should be as it was intended;
  • If anybody has a reason/easier way to do this, I’ll be happy to hear from you

Successfully upgraded to Firefox-3.5.1

14 Comments

  • David

    1 July 2009 at 09:42

    Nice, totally helpful. But what happens to firefox 3.0.11? Is it ok to delete it's folder, since you won't need it again?

  • Eric Z

    1 July 2009 at 12:29

    Thank you for the information. Before I found your blog on this topic it was becoming a pain in the butt just to figure out how to install firefox 3.5 in Ubuntu. I enjoy Linux and glad it's here, it gives me a choice but as far as ease of use is concerned, it still has a ways to go before it's as easy to use as Windoze . It's gotten better over the years. When Red Hat was a popular distro for the desktop it was even worse to install "packages" that didn't use rpm. Anyway, thanks!

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  • 1Earth

    3 July 2009 at 20:20

    It's a pleasure. So far upgrades and installations were relatively painless – I think if we waited for a while, Firefox would eventually offer the upgrade through the Check For Updates option in the Help Menu, which would probably have been a 1 click affair. I don't know why this had to be so complicated.

    But anyway, I'm happy you got sorted 🙂

  • 1Earth

    3 July 2009 at 20:21

    Hi, yeah it should be OK to delete the 3.0.11 folder – your settings and stuff are stored somewhere else.

  • ZeroFossilFuel

    27 July 2009 at 07:35

    Thank you so much for this information! It's been over a month since 3.5 was released and it's still not available in Ubuntu Update Manager. I'm using 9.04 BTW.

    There is a 3.5.1 showing up at this time in Synaptic but when installed does not add any menu shortcuts.

    Bugs like this are what keep most people addicted to windoze.

  • Talal Arshad

    25 August 2009 at 13:36
  • RichB

    28 August 2009 at 09:50

    This install is causing me a headache. Now everything (i.e., Thunderbird, Liferea) that relies on gnome can't open things in Firefox.

  • BrainBUG

    16 September 2009 at 10:09

    Very good instructions…. all easy steps and working very well!

    Thanks a lot!

  • Cam

    28 October 2009 at 08:07

    Yeah, it is installs like this that keep most people on Windows. It is just so much easier with Windows.

  • penggull

    15 November 2009 at 05:39

    If I follow these instructions the newest version of Firefox starts up all right, but I get a 'Server not found' error regardless of what page I try to get to…

    Anybody have any suggestions?

  • Itsme

    24 February 2010 at 08:11

    "all easy steps"… WTF??? read this carefully almighty linux users: DOUBLE CLICK IT! That is simple, not typing the whole "Crime and Punishment" to install a tiny program.

  • Alexander

    7 March 2010 at 05:11

    Big Thanks! I've installed Firefox 3.6 in the same way. Works great!

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