If you downloaded fresh Firefox 3 installation e.g. from here and tried to install it in Debian Etch, you might notice that latest version of the popular browser requires GTK+ 2.10 while Etch contains only 2.8:

We're sorry, this application requires a version of the GTK+
library that is not installed on your computer.
You have GTK+ 2.8.This application requires GTK+ 2.10 or newer.Please upgrade your GTK+ library if you wish to use this application

Thankfully there is no need to upgrade GTK+, the tips given here (and here) will keep you from headache. The only thing that is necessary to do to get Firefox 3 working at Debian Etch, is to get GTK+ from backports by the following commands:

wget http://apt.linex.org/linex/gtk-2.10/libgtk2.0-0_2.10.13-2%7Ebpo.1_i386.deb
dpkg-deb -x libgtk2.0-0_2.10.13-2~bpo.1_i386.deb gtk2-10

Then copy contents of newly created directory gtk2-10 to /opt/firefox3 and add the following line into /opt/firefox3/firefox:

export LD_LIBRARY_PATH="/opt/firefox3/gtk2-10/usr/lib"

It is necessary to inform Firefox where is new GTK+ is located :) Now it’s time to start Firefox…

P.S. In other distributions you can try to compile/install GTK+2.10 manually:

cd /usr/local/src
wget http://ftp.gnome.org/pub/GNOME/sources/gtk+/2.10/gtk+-2.10.14.tar.bz2
tar xjf gtk+-2.10.14.tar.bz2

mkdir gtk210
cd gtk+-2.10.14
./configure --prefix=/opt/firefox3/gtk2-10
make install




  1. July 17, 2008  6:25 am by Karthik Reply

    Thanks a lot. The solution worked for me.

  2. July 17, 2008  8:40 am by David Pastern Reply

    Thanks for the article, but I'm lost...I've grabbed the .deb package via wget. I've unpacked the bz2 Firefox3 package. I've created a dir in /opt/ named firefox3. Do I copy the uncompressed firefox files to this directory, and then extract the gtk 2.10 backport deb and copy it to here also?

    I then edited the ./firefox file in the uncompressed firefox directory and added:

    export LD_LIBRARY_PATH="/opt/firefox3/gtk2-10/usr/lib"

    to it, and then tried to run firefox 3 by using ./firefox (from the /opt/firefox3/firefox dir), it opens Ice Weasel instead...both the gtk and firefox sub directories in /opt/firefox3 are owned by root, you haven't mentioned permissions on your tutorial, and I'm not really familiar with using /opt, so not sure if I have to alter these, and if so, what to?

    Sorry, I usually just use .debs (tried Ubuntus' it doesn't work). I've installed many packages from src before and never had any issues...

    I'm pretty disappointed that Firefox simply offers tar files, rather than debs. Pretty pi$$ poor effort from mozilla imho. If you don't believe me, go visit the Opera webpage. It *auto detects* your distro and whether it's 32 or 64 bit, and gets you to download the right version (and it's a .deb file to boot). And it works. Out of the box, no funny business. And it was available immediately upon the latest release of Opera. I was most impressed. Why can't a supposed "super" open source application do this?

    Sorry to bitch about it, but Mozilla has never really impressed me, it's always been an overrated browser imho. If i can't get firefox 3 to install, I won't bother with it, I'll just continue using Opera & Konqueror.


  3. July 17, 2008  9:00 pm by Filippo Reply

    I can't help saying that in this case the problem is located between your keyboard and your chair.

    Obviously you must be doing something wrong and it seems obvious to me that that's really trivially discoverable.

    Please, can you explain me the difference between a .deb file and the tarballs in which Firefox is shipped? I'll be gentle: the only difference is that with tha tarball you have just one directory (called `firefox') in which all main config files and executables are stored, and you are free to choose where to put that directory. No other difference. And if you are not able to get what I'm just saying, well, I'd simply suggest that you stick up with Microsoft operating systems. Instead, if you'd understand that difference, then you'd not even whined here.

    The conclusion I can draw is that you don't know the very basics of Linux, hence you're talking about something you don't know.



  4. July 19, 2008  10:50 am by naht Reply

    No, I have to agree, I also followed your tutorial, and still iceweasel opens. And I've been using linux for years, so I'd say I know my way around this system. Nevertheless, there must be something that causes firefox to use the installed iceweasel-directory to run firefox...

  5. July 19, 2008  11:02 am by naht Reply

    Ok, just create a new file called ff3 within /opt/firefox3 .

    Paste the following content:



    export LD_LIBRARY_PATH="/opt/gtk210/lib"

    /opt/firefox3/firefox -Profile $HOME/.mozilla3 -no-remote $*


    Make it executable:

    chmod +x ff3

    Create your homedir

    mkdir ~/.mozilla3

    Now you can run firefox3 by executing ff3. Create a fitting symlink if you want. Good luck. =)

  6. July 25, 2008  11:33 am by Billy Reply

    Worked as written for me, thanks :)

  7. August 3, 2008  3:48 pm by Jason Reply

    Thanks, just what I was looking for. I was unable to figure out how to upgrade gtk 2.8 before finding this. Worked perfectly with the addition of naht's snip. Great!

  8. September 14, 2008  6:59 pm by Steve Reply

    Filippo, it's people like you who give Linux a bad name by being so bloody rude and arrogant.

    Are you, perhaps, being paid by M$ to turn people away from Linux?

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

  9. September 24, 2008  9:01 am by Sebastian Reply

    Steve, re: Fillipo. I guess ranting like that makes him feel superior. I see too much like that on the Debian Forum. The proper term is douche bag.

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  11. September 28, 2008  6:08 pm by Linux Noob Reply

    It works but when i start ff3 the result is:

    (Gecko:14354): Gtk-WARNING **: Unable to locate theme engine in module_path: "clearlooks"

  12. September 28, 2008  7:42 pm by Linux Noob Reply

    Also I get this message:

    LoadPlugin: failed to initialize shared library /home/user/.mozilla/plugins/libflashplayer.so [/lib/tls/i686/cmov/libc.so.6: version `GLIBC_2.4\' not found (required by /home/user/.mozilla/plugins/libflashplayer.so)]

  13. October 5, 2008  11:01 am by comparotf Reply


    I read

    Ok, just create a new file called ff3 within /opt/firefox3 .
    Paste the following content:

    export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=\"/opt/gtk210/lib\"
    /opt/firefox3/firefox -Profile $HOME/.mozilla3 -no-remote $*


    Make it executable:

    chmod +x ff3

    Create your homedir

    mkdir ~/.mozilla3

    Now you can run firefox3 by executing ff3. Create a fitting symlink if you want. Good luck. =)

    second question: WHAT IS TO CHANGE IF YOU LOAD FIREFOX NOT IN /opt BUT in /home/me/opt ...?


  14. October 19, 2008  7:54 am by Valmex Reply

    Linux Noob

    I'm using Firefox right now, BUT:

    Same problem here:

    LoadPlugin: failed to initialize shared library /home/valmex/Programas/firefox/p lugins/libflashplayer.so [/lib/tls/i686/cmov/libc.so.6: version `GLIBC_2.4' not found (required by /home/valmex/Programas/firefox/plugins/libflashplayer.so)]

    We need help, someone?

  15. October 25, 2008  3:43 pm by huge Reply

    Flippo said:
    Obviously you must be doing something wrong and it seems obvious to me that that’s really trivially discoverable.

    Flippo thats about as useful as a chocolate teapot. you need to discover your humanity.
    there is a 4000 year + east African saying, to ask is not stupidity.
    an answer like yours is. egotistical w*****. to an English scholar like me, by the way. 'trivially discoverable' is nonsense. shame you can't speak English properly, it's actually an easy language, if you just think about what you are saying.if thats the best you can do, i suggest you just stick to grunting. capice?

  16. October 26, 2008  4:14 am by Monkey1883 Reply

    I have firefox up and running but I can't install plugins like flash player. I had this same problem with iceweasel, that's why I tryed using firefox.

  17. Pingback : Firefox 3 i Debian | Kringelhede.dk

  18. January 6, 2009  1:18 pm by Alis Reply

    libtool: install: error: relink `libgdk-x11-2.0.la' with the above command before installing it

    make[4]: *** [install-libLTLIBRARIES] Error 1

    make[4]: Leaving directory `/usr/local/src/gtk+-2.10.14/gdk'

    make[3]: *** [install-am] Error 2

    make[3]: Leaving directory `/usr/local/src/gtk+-2.10.14/gdk'

    make[2]: *** [install-recursive] Error 1

    make[2]: Leaving directory `/usr/local/src/gtk+-2.10.14/gdk'

    make[1]: *** [install] Error 2

    make[1]: Leaving directory `/usr/local/src/gtk+-2.10.14/gdk'

    make: *** [install-recursive] Error 1

  19. January 18, 2009  2:56 pm by joedward Reply

    made it until export LD_LIBRARY_PATH="/opt/firefox3/gtk2-10/usr/lib".

    I still don't get the "It is necessary to inform Firefox where is new GTK+ is located" part..... Heeeelp

  20. February 7, 2009  8:26 am by Andrew Reply

    If you are compiling GTK+ from source you will need the following packages from the standard etch distribution:

    * libatk1.0-dev

    * libcairo2-dev

    * libpango1.0-dev

    * libtiff4-dev

    * pkg-config

  21. February 21, 2009  9:34 pm by Marc Reply


    That rant of Filippo's was indeed a great promo for Microsoft. Where are the moderators on these Linux postings. The simple solution would be to remove such nasty cr*p remarks. Whenever I Google for a bit of help 'which is very often) I see this kind of derision left to be read by all newbies for years afterwards. From talking to people who are shying away from Linux I can assure you all it makes a LASTING bad impression.


  22. April 5, 2009  8:53 pm by beck Reply

    Worked like a charm for me---Great, considering I tried something similar before and it didn't work well with my system at the time (sort of Etch-ified Xandros distro with assorted additions including Iceweasel 2)--

    I had an /opt/firefox/ folder on my system already, so I moved the Firefox 3 tar.bz2 file there, switched to that directory and extracted it--extraction process created another firefox folder (Firefox 3) and an executable-also called firefox-within that folder. I moved the gtk2-10/ folder (created by process of extracting gtk deb file) to /opt/firefox/firefox/.

    Then I opened the firefox executable file for editing (path was /opt/firefox/firefox/firefox) and added the line from above (export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=”/opt/firefox3/gtk2-10/usr/lib)

    right after the license stuff, just below this line in the executable file:


    The /opt/firefox/firefox/ folder with Firefox 3 in it should have a plugins/ subfolder--if that plugins/ sub-folder has a file in it like libflashplayer.so, then flash plugin should work--if it doesn't try moving that file or one with a similar function to the plugins folder.

    Seems like the above process should work the same for /home/user/firefox/ or /home/me/opt/firefox/ if you carefully change the corresponding path names. However I've noticed that sometimes dependent files on some systems look for other files in certain places which often makes it easier to go the system path of least resistance.

    In other words, try it and go with what works best.

  23. April 5, 2009  9:07 pm by beck Reply

    Also, different version numbers of Firefox 3 (Firefox 3.05 or whatever) may have additional dependencies. The one linked to above with the gtk2.10 workaround worked perfectly for me.

  24. April 5, 2009  9:36 pm by beck Reply

    FlashPlayer 9 will work in an Etch system. FlashPlayer 10 may require additional dependencies like GLIBC2.4 which are difficult to resolve on an Etch system.

  25. April 30, 2009  11:55 am by Annonymous Reply

    In order to get flashplugin.so to work (if you downloaded it from adobe labs) you need to update your glibc. You're more then likely going to have to compile it from the source. It worked for me.

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