Consumers love the options. It’s just a fact and it’s what makes our buying 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 apps on Chrome OS. That said, a little variety is good and there are some who would like to use platforms outside of Google’s offerings. One area where this rings very true is that of web browsers. When you sign in to your Chromebook, you are inherently going to be using the Chrome browser. It is, after all, Chromium BONE. It doesn’t mean you have to be married to Google browser. You have options and we’ve covered a few of them in the past.
You can always install any browser you want from the Google Play Store, but the experience isn’t great. You get stuck using a browser designed for a mobile device on a large desktop and it’s more frustrating than it’s worth. Thankfully, adding Linux apps to the Chrome OS landscape has opened the door for options like the Brave browser, Vivaldi, Tor, and more. Although the gap is large, Firefox is still one of the world’s most popular browsers, slipping just behind Safari as the world’s third-largest desktop browser. With the help of Linux, you can install the latest version of Mozilla’s browser on your Chromebook if you want.
Last year I mapped out the Firefox installation process on Chrome OS but times have changed and the Linux container for Chromebooks has moved from Debian 9 to Debian 10. With this the installation method of the last Firefox version has changed, albeit slightly. There are several ways to accomplish this setup, but today we’re going to look at the one that I recommend for its simplicity and straightforward process.
Accompanying 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 be aware 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 safety and security. stability.
To install the latest version of Firefox on your Chromebook, we’ll need to add the repository that contains the most recent version. Do not worry. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds. First, let’s make sure your Chromebook is set up and ready to use Linux apps. You can learn how to install and update the Linux container here. We now need to install a text editor to be able to add the Debian Unstable repository which contains the Firefox package. I am using nano but you can install gedit or any 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 repository links that your device can point to to install Linux packages. To add the unstable Debian repository, we need to open this file with the nano text editor. Do it with the following command in your Linux terminal.
sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list
If you’ve successfully opened the file, you should see what appears in the image above. Arrow down to the line under the last entry and paste the following string into the terminal. Once it’s in place, press Ctrl + X to exit and press Y and enter to save on exit. At this point, you can technically install Firefox, but not. You have now added the unstable repository. If you run update commands, it will pull them from the unstable repository instead of the main repository and it might lead to adding broken packages or unstable apps to your device.
deb http://deb.debian.org/debian/ unstable main contrib non-free
To prioritize the main repository and prevent apps from updating through unstable, we need to create a preferences file to “pin” the repository. For that, we will turn again to nano or your favorite text editor. In your Linux terminal, paste the following command to create the file with nano. Since we are creating a new file, it will be empty.
sudo nano /etc/apt/preferences.d/99pin-unstable
In the file, paste the following lines exactly as they appear. Once pasted, press Ctrl + O and enter to save the file, then press Ctrl + X to exit nano. This will pin the stable repository and prevent updates to the unstable repository.
Package: * Pin: release a=stable Pin-Priority: 900 Package: * Pin release a=unstable Pin-Priority: 10
Last but not the least, it’s time to install Firefox. To do this, we need to update the packages from the newly added repository. Then we can install the latest version of Firefox. You can accomplish both of these tasks at once by pasting the following command into your Linux terminal. Once done, you’ll have the Firefox icon in your app launcher and you can pin it to your shelf for quick access. If you want to remove 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 who are looking for an alternative software to install on their Chromebooks and I’m happy to help you achieve that. 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.