Consumers love options. It’s just a fact, and that’s what makes our purchasing decisions as unique and different as we are. For Chromebook users, Google’s ecosystem is probably the first stop when it comes to finding and using applications on Chrome OS. That said, a little variation is nice and there are some who would like to use platforms outside of Google’s offerings. One area where it rings very true is web browsers. When you sign in to your Chromebook, you will need to use the Chrome browser on a regular basis. After all Chrome U.S. That does not mean you have to be married to Google’s browser. You have options and we have previously covered a few of them.
You can always install the selected browser from the Google Play Store, but the experience is not good. You get stuck using a browser designed for a mobile device on an expansive 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 like Brave Browser, Vivaldi, Tor and others. While the gap is wide, Firefox is still one of the most popular browsers in the world, slipping right behind Safari as the third-place desktop 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 for Firefox on Chrome OS, but times have changed and the Linux container for Chromebooks has been updated from Debian 9 to Debian 10. Thus, the method for 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 it, which I recommend for its simplicity and straightforward process.
Side 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 available on version 78, while the latest version is 84. If you are serious about keeping and using Firefox on your Chromebook, I recommend getting the latest version of security and stability.
To install the latest version of Firefox on your Chromebook, we need to add the inventory 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 we can add Debian unstable storage containing 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 your Linux terminal. ->
sudo apt install nano
Now we need to add the source.list file. This file contains files that your device can point to when installing Linux packages. To add Debian unstable repo we need to open this file with the nano-text editor. Do this with the following command in your Linux terminal.
sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list
If you have opened the file correctly, see what is shown in the image above. Arrow down to the line below the last entry and insert the following string into the terminal. Once in place, press Ctrl + X to exit and press Y and enter to save at exit. At this point, you can technically install Firefox, but do not. You have now added the unstable stock. Running update commands pulls them from the unstable repository instead of the main repository, and can result in 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 repository and prevent applications from being updated via unstable, we need to create a preference file to “fix” the repository. For this we will again turn to nano or your favorite text editor. Insert the following command into your Linux terminal to create the nano file. When we create a new file, it will be empty.
sudo nano /etc/apt/preferences.d/99pin-unstable
Insert the following lines into the file exactly as they appear. Once inserted, press Ctrl + O and enter to save the file, then press Ctrl + X to exit nano. This fixes the stable repository and prevents 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 newly added warehouse. Then we can install the latest version of Firefox. You can perform both of these tasks at once by inserting the following command into your Linux terminal. When you’re done, you have the Firefox icon in your app launcher, and you can pin it to your shelf for quick access. To uninstall Firefox, just right-click on the icon and select uninstall.
sudo apt update && sudo apt install -t unstable firefox -y
Hope you found this useful. I’m sure there are plenty of users out there looking for alternative software to install on their Chromebooks, and I’m happy to help make that happen. Is there any specific non-Google software you want on your Chromebook? Drop a comment below and we’ll see if there’s a way to make it work on Chrome OS. See you next time.