Installing Mozilla Firefox 57 Quantum on Debian 9.2 Stretch

Submitted by alexandru on Fri, 12/08/2017 - 16:17
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A couple of weeks ago, Mozilla announced the availability of their new Firefox Web-browser, called Quantum. If you are eager to try it out, but you are using Debian Stretch, you could be partly out of luck, as you will not receive upgrades to the latest version of the regular Firefox releases on your system, because Debian is using the ESR (Extended Support Release) branch of Firefox. Nevertheless, here is how you could install it using your command line. For this one I am using the GNOME version of Debian Stretch. First you have to open your terminal and download the (now) stable version of Firefox into your home directory, using the following line:

wget -O firefox-stable.tar.bz2 ""

This will download the 64bit English US version of the latest release of Firefox. Then issue the next command, to untar and install the new release:

tar -C ~/.local/  -xvf firefox-stable.tar.bz2

This command will install Firefox to your user specific location directory called .local inside your home directory. Now you can also integrate the new release with your desktop environment by creating a new file called firefox-stable.desktop inside the ~/.local/share/applications/ directory with the commands:

cd /.local/share/applications/touch firefox-stable.desktop

Now you open the file for editing with VIM:

vim firefox-stable.desktop

and enter the following:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Firefox Quantum
Exec=/home/alexandru/.local/firefox/firefox %u

Now, all you have to do is to open the new Firefox, called Quantum on your system. You will have to close every instance of Firefox ESR before opening the new Quantum.  

First impressions

The new Mozilla Firefox feels more snappier than the one I was using in Stretch, which was numbered 52.4. The pages are loaded more quickly than with the ESR version. Now, I don't have a very scientific method to measure this, but you will just have to take my word for it. The page loading part is not a big deal, what I would expect to be a big deal is the memory consumption, especially on my 4GiB RAM systems running GNOME. Now, we know that GNOME is a real resource eater, so let us compare some screenshots with the ESR and Quantum versions of Firefox running.

My basic memory test

Now, lets see how Quantum is doing related to memory consumption. My test was simple and really basic. I recorded the memory consumption on a fresh startup in GNOME (image 1) then I started Firefox ESR and opened four tabs in it, openlark debian kde and gnome (image2). The next step was to close ESR and record the drop in memory use and the final step was to open Quantum with the same four tabs opened (image4). Frankly, I did not see any differences. Perhaps that you could see some differences if you open more than 20 tabs, but if you work with that many tabs opened, you should really ask yourself some questions ;).  Memory consumption on a clean startup - 940 MB. Memory consumption with ESR and 4 tabs opened - 1.3 GB. Memory consumption after ESR is closed - 907 MB. Memory consumption with Quantum and 4 tabs opened - 1.3 GB.

On a second approach, I opened Firefox Quantum directly after a clean startup, and here are the stats:  Quantum memory usage after a clean startup, with the same 4 tabs opened - 1.3 GB. Now, this might not be too relevant, but nevertheless Firefox Quantum starts faster and renders the web pages faster than ESR 52.4. I do not have Chrome or Chromium installed to show you the differences between those two and Firefox, but rest assured that Quantum is a giant leap from version 52. Let us hope that Mozilla will now start a new path on which it will regain some of the lost users, the ones that abandoned ship in favor of Chrome or Opera. Keep the web open and try the new Mozilla Firefox Quantum!