Install Firefox 3 in Debian Etch

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:

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
tar xjf gtk+-2.10.14.tar.bz2

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


Stefan Durand

My name is Stefan, I'm the admin of LinuxScrew. I am a full-time Linux/Unix sysadmin, a hobby Python programmer, and a part-time blogger. I post useful guides, tips, and tutorials on common Linux and Programming issues. Feel free to reach out in the comment section.

21 thoughts on “Install Firefox 3 in Debian Etch”

  1. 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.


  2. 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…

  3. 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. =)

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. It works but when i start ff3 the result is:

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

  8. Also I get this message:

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

  9. Hi

    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 …?


  10. Linux Noob

    I’m using Firefox right now, BUT:

    Same problem here:

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

    We need help, someone?

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

  13. libtool: install: error: relink `' 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. Filipo

    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.


  17. 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, 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. In order to get 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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