Consumers love options. It’s just a fact, and that’s what makes our purchasing decisions as unique and diverse as we are. For Chromebook users, the Google ecosystem is probably the first stop when it comes to finding and using applications on Chrome OS. That said, some variation is nice, and there are some who will use platforms outside of Google’s offerings. One area where it rings very true is browsers. When signing in to your Chromebook, use the Chrome browser on a regular basis. It is after all Chrome OS. This does not mean that you have to be married to Google’s browser. You have opportunities, and we’ve covered a few of them before.
You can always install the browser you choose from the Google Play Store, but the experience is not great. You’re stuck with a browser designed for a mobile device on an extensive desktop, and it’s more frustrating than it’s worth. Fortunately, the addition of Linux apps to the Chrome OS landscape has opened the door to options such as Brave Browser, Vivaldi, Tor and others. While the gap is large, Firefox is still one of the most popular browsers in the world, sliding just behind Safari as a third-place browser globally. Using Linux, you can install the latest version of Mozilla’s browser on your Chromebook if you are so inclined.
Last year I mapped the installation process of Firefox on Chrome OS, but times have changed and the Linux container for Chromebooks has been updated from Debian 9 to Debian 10. With that, the method of installing the latest version of Firefox has changed, albeit slightly . There are a few different ways to achieve this installation, but today we are going to look at the one I recommend for its simplicity and straightforward process.
Page Note: If you just want to try Firefox on your Chromebook, you can install the ESR version from the Debian repository. Do this with the command
sudo apt install firefox-esrbut know that it is currently on version 78 while the latest version is 84. If you are serious about keeping and using Firefox on your Chromebook, I recommend that you get the latest version for security and stability.
To install the latest version of Firefox on your Chromebook, we need to add the repository that contains the latest version. Do not worry. It’s not as scary as it may sound. First, let’s make sure your Chromebook is set up and ready to use Linux applications. You can learn how to install and update the Linux container here. Now we need to install a text editor so that we can add the Debian Unstable archive that contains the Firefox package. I use nano, but you can install gedit or whichever text editor you prefer. To install nano, run the following command in the Linux terminal. ->
sudo apt install nano
Now we need to add the source.list file. This file contains repository links that your device can point to to install Linux packages. To add Debian unstable repo, we need to open this file with nano text editor. Do this with the following command in the Linux terminal.
sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list
If you have opened the file correctly, you should see what is shown in the image above. Arrow down to the line during the last entry and paste the following string into the terminal. Once in place, press Ctrl + X to exit and press Y and enter to save at the exit. At this point, you can technically install Firefox, but not. You have now added the unstable repository. If you run any update commands, it will pull them from the unstable repository instead of the main repository, which could lead to corrupted packages or unstable applications being added to your device.
deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ unstable main contrib non-free
To prioritize the main registry and prevent applications from being updated via unstable, we need to create a settings file to “fix” the repository. For this we will again turn to nano or your favorite text editor. Paste the following command into the Linux terminal to create the nano file. Since we are creating a new file, it will be empty.
sudo nano /etc/apt/preferences.d/99pin-unstable
Paste the following lines into the file exactly as they appear. Once pasted, press Ctrl + O and enter to save the file, then press Ctrl + X to exit nano. This will fix the stable repository and prevent updates from the unstable repo.
Package: * Pin: release a=stable Pin-Priority: 900 Package: * Pin release a=unstable Pin-Priority: 10
Last but not least, it’s time to install Firefox. To do so, we need to update the packages from the recently stored repository. Then we can install the latest version of Firefox. You can perform both of these tasks at the same time by pasting the following command into the Linux terminal. When you’re done, you’ll have the Firefox icon in the app launcher, and you can pin it to your shelf for quick access. To uninstall Firefox, simply right-click on the icon and select Uninstall.
sudo apt update && sudo apt install -t unstable firefox -y
Hope you found this helpful. I’m sure there are a lot of users out there looking for alternative software to install on their Chromebooks, and I’ll be happy to help. Is there any non-Google specific software you want on your Chromebook? Leave a comment below and we’ll see if there’s a way to make it work on Chrome OS. See you next time.