FF 6 for EL6

Firefox 6 was released today in the ever escalating version inflation wars between software vendors (what should be incremental “dot” releases are now going out as major version upgrades).

Builds for all platforms can be found under here. Just drill down through your platform (32 or 64 bit Linux or Mac, Windows users get a redirect to a sorry page with the good parental advice to check the mozilla.com front page for the latest they can handle).

Installing this on any enterprise Linux, including RHEL, Scientific or CentOS Linux 6, is pretty straightforward. Just unarchive the package and move the resulting folder to wherever you prefer. In my case it was /opt, resulting in a new /opt/firefox on my machine (be sure to set permissions appropriately on this new directory). The rest of this discussion assumes an installation to /opt/firefox.

To use your installed plugins like Adobe Flash you should symlink the plugins directory (e.g. /usr/lib64/mozilla/plugins) to a place under firefox, for example:

ln -s /usr/lib64/mozilla/plugins /opt/firefox/plugins

Since I don’t use 32-bit plugins on my 64-bit systems any more (the Acrobat Reader plugin was banished months ago), I didn’t have to monkey with nspluginwrapper. Thank you Adobe Labs.

After you’ve done all the above just open a terminal window and launch firefox for the first time, “/opt/firefox/firefox”. The software will inform you of any out of bounds plugins and offer to update for you — another nice feature.

I didn’t bother to change the firefox.desktop or gnome applications menu item this time around, contenting myself with making sure that the web browser icon on my top toolbar was linked to the new version. In the gnome2 that’s pretty easy, all you do is go to System… Preferences… Preferred Applications and set “Web Browser” to “Custom” and enter the following for “Command”:

/opt/firefox/firefox %s

At this point you’re pretty much done and ready to enjoy the Firefox 6 experience, which after my first hour didn’t seem much different from the Firefox 5 experience. But what do I know, I’m just an overpaid sysadmin.

Note: Just a reminder that the universally hated 64-bit version of the Flash Player 11 Beta for Linux can be found here.

Postscript: I’m now on Firefox 7.0.1, installed the same way as described in this post.