How to Install Waterfox from official tarball in Ubuntu

Last updated: December 4, 2023 — Leave a comment

This simple tutorial shows how to install the Waterfox web browser from its official tarball & create app shortcut in Ubuntu Linux.

Waterfox is a free open-source fork of Firefox, claims to be ethical and user-centric, emphasizing performance and privacy.

The browser provides official Linux package through the portable tarball package, though a community maintained Flatpak package is also available to run it in sandbox.

Step 1: Download Waterfox Tarball

To download the package, simply go to its website via the link button below and click the “Download” button:

Once you got the package, just extract it, and run the executable file (waterfox or waterfox-bin) in the new generated folder, will launch the web browser.

Extract, and Launch Waterfox web browser

Step 2: Create App Shortcut for Waterfox

If you want to make the app icon visible in the ‘Activities’ overview search result (or application/start menu depends on your desktop environment), then follow the steps below to create app shortcut for it.

1. Move the source folder

Before creating app shortcut, it’s better to move the ‘waterfox’ folder for long time use.

For current user only, you may put the folder to anywhere in your user home. I usually create a custom folder in user home (e.g., bin, apps) or put portable apps into .local (it’s hidden, press Ctrl+H to view/hide).

In the screenshot below, I moved the waterfox folder into the custom “MyApps”  folder:

For global, it’s good choice to move the folder to “/opt“, so all users in the system can launch the web browser.

In the case, right-click on blank area of the folder that contains “waterfox” sub-folder, and click “Open in Terminal”. In pop-up terminal, run command to move or copy it to opt:

sudo cp -R waterfox /opt

2. Create App Shortcut

In most Linux, the app shortcuts are handled by .desktop files located in either /usr/share/applications or .local/share/applications.

First, search for and launch your system text editor from overview or application menu depends on your DE:

When it opens with an empty document, paste following lines:

[Desktop Entry]
Version=1.0
Name=Waterfox Web Browser
Comment=Browse the World Wide Web
GenericName=Web Browser
Keywords=Internet;WWW;Browser;Web;Explorer
Exec=/home/ji/MyApps/waterfox/waterfox %u
Terminal=false
X-MultipleArgs=false
Type=Application
Icon=/home/ji/MyApps/waterfox/browser/chrome/icons/default/default128.png
Categories=GNOME;GTK;Network;WebBrowser;
MimeType=text/html;text/xml;application/xhtml+xml;application/xml;application/rss+xml;application/rdf+xml;image/gif;image/jpeg;image/png;x-scheme-handler/http;x-scheme-handler/https;x-scheme-handler/ftp;x-scheme-handler/chrome;video/webm;application/x-xpinstall;
StartupNotify=true
Actions=new-window;new-private-window;

[Desktop Action new-window]
Name=Open a New Window
Exec=/home/ji/MyApps/waterfox/waterfox -new-window

[Desktop Action new-private-window]
Name=Open a New Private Window
Exec=/home/ji/MyApps/waterfox/waterfox -private-window

Depends on where you moved the ‘waterfox’ folder, change the value of “Exec” and “Icon” accordingly! Meaning replace /home/ji/MyApps to yours.

When done pasting file content and changing Exec/Icon path, press Shift+Ctrl+S to open the “Save as” dialog. Then, do:

  • press Ctrl+H to show hidden folders in the pop-up dialog.
  • navigate to home -> .local -> share -> applications. Create ‘applications’ if it does not exist.
  • type waterfox.desktop as the file name.
  • finally click Save button.

If you did the previous steps correctly, it should now show ‘waterfox’ icon in the start/application menu or ‘Activities’ overview depends on your desktop environment.

Uninstall Waterfox

To uninstall the web browser installed via the previous steps, first remove the ‘waterfox’ folder depends on where you saved it. Then, remove the waterfox.desktop file from .local/share/applications.

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I'm a freelance blogger who started using Ubuntu in 2007 and wishes to share my experiences and some useful tips with Ubuntu beginners and lovers. Please comment to let me know if the tutorial is outdated! And, notify me if you find any typo/grammar/language mistakes. English is not my native language. Contact me via ubuntuhandbook1@gmail.com Buy me a coffee: https://ko-fi.com/ubuntuhandbook1

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