Mozilla Firefox is a really popular browser to use on Linux systems, with many or most distros even including it as the default web browser. It even edges out Chrome and Chromium, at least in the Linux world.

Some Linux distributions, like Kali or Debian include a different version of Firefox, called Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release).

In this guide, we'll be comparing Firefox to Firefox ESR. This will include a look into why some distros come with ESR instead of the normal version of the browser, and also what the pros and cons are of both browsers.

In this tutorial you will learn:
  • What is Firefox ESR?
  • Why do some distros use Firefox ESR?
  • How to download Firefox ESR
Firefox ESR running on Linux
Firefox ESR running on Linux
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Any Linux distro
Software Mozilla Firefox and Firefox ESR
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # - requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ - requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

What Is Firefox ESR?

Firefox ESR is developed and maintained by Mozilla, just like the "normal" version of the browser. Mozilla's site says that ESR is meant for "large organizations like universities and businesses." This makes sense, because such places put more value on stability and predictability, rather than having the latest features.

Firefox ESR is essentially a more stable and tested version of regular Firefox. This is accomplished by holding back the latest feature upgrades, at least until they've been thoroughly tested in the main branch of Firefox. While foregoing the newest features, ESR still maintains current security and stability patches.

Why Some Distros Use Firefox ESR

So, why do some Linux distributions include Firefox ESR as their default web browser instead of regular Firefox?

As Firefox ESR is more stable, it's preferred by the developers of some distros. It only receives major updates once per year, rather than every few weeks like the regular edition, which makes it easier for distro contributors to guarantee its stability on their operating system.


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For end users, it's not necessary to stick with Firefox ESR. Like Mozilla's site says, it's geared towards large organizations. If your distro comes with Firefox ESR by default and it doesn't make much difference to you, then you can leave that version installed. Otherwise, installing Firefox on Linux (the normal edition) is a really simple process.

Of course, you have other choices as well, like installing Google Chrome or installing Chromium.

How to Download Firefox ESR

If you've decided that Firefox ESR is a good fit for you, you'll find it quite easy to install on a Linux system, regardless of which distribution you're on. Most distros don't include Firefox ESR in their default package repositories, but you can always install Firefox ESR manually by downloading it from the official site.

Navigate to the Firefox ESR download page to get the web browser.

Conclusion

In this guide, we saw a comparison of Firefox ESR vs regular Mozilla Firefox. We also learned about why some Linux distros use ESR as their default web browser. Regardless of which one you use, they're both Firefox and most of the features will be the same. To summarize, organizations that need stability should choose Firefox ESR, and end users can safely stay with Firefox.

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