Installing IceCat On Any Distro
Okay, first off, I want to explain why I wrote this guide. Mozilla recently brought back sponsored tiles in Firefox.
I actually don’t have a problem with this, I realize they need to fund development, especially now that Google isn’t funding Mozilla. I would be fine with non-intrusive ads. BUT, the other aspect of this is that they are now tracking users' browser history to target these ads.
The data they collect is being stored on Mozilla servers where it is ripe to be compromised. So, what can you do to opt out? Well, IceCat is a free, 100% FOSS version of Firefox (just like Debian’s IceWeasel), and Fedora are planning to drop Firefox and switch to it over these concerns if the tracking issues aren’t resolved (IceCat RPMs are already available for Fedora). But, what if you aren’t running Fedora, how can it be installed? Let’s find out.
1. The first thing we have to do is download IceCat. We will use the mirror directory located at: http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/gnuzilla/
Scroll down to the bottom for the newest release, in our case it is 31.2.0 Choose the correct file for your arch (i.e. 32 bit or 64 bit). Download the file (in my case icecat-31.2.0.en-US.linux-x86_64.tar.bz2
) and save it to your Documents folder.
2. Okay, this file is a compressed archive. The .bz2 means it was compressed with bzip2 and the .tar means it is a folder turned into a single file with tar. Open up a terminal, su to root (or use sudo), enter the Documents folder by doing:
tar -xvjf icecat-31.2.0.en-US.linux-x86_64.tar.bz2
This should create a directory called icecat, containing our browser and related files.
3. We need to move this folder to /opt. Do:
mv icecat /opt/icecat
We can go ahead and clean up by deleting the compressed file, by doing:
rm -rf icecat-31.2.0.en-US.linux-x86_64.tar.bz2
4. Now we need to make a symbolic link so that we can start IceCat. Do
ln -s /opt/icecat/icecat /usr/bin/icecat
IceCat can now be started from the terminal by doing
Make sure to do
first if you have su’ed instead of sudo’ed, it’s never a good idea to use a browser as root.
5. Okay, now we are going to want a graphical launcher for IceCat. I use KDE and am going to give a walkthrough on making a launcher for it. I’ll link to guides on how to make launchers for others. I’ll do KDE first, scroll to the bottom for those links.
Let’s start by right clicking the KickOff icon. This is either a custom one (for Mageia a cauldron) or a generic K logo in the bottom left hand corner. After right clicking and choosing Edit Applications, click on the Internet line on the left hand side of the window (this should look familiar, it’s the listings hierarchy from the KickOff menu). With Internet highlighted, click on File (at the top of the window) and choose new item. At the name prompt, enter IceCat. We should see IceCat in the drop down under Internet (after clicking the arrow icon beside it), make sure it’s highlighted. In the menu on the right, you will see a text box box labeled Command. Type icecat (this is case sensitive, do NOT capitalize icecat) into that line. Now, there should be a blank square icon to the right. Click that icon, then check the box next to Other icons. Choose Browse. On the left (the system hierarchy), click on Root. Then click on the opt folder, then icecat, then browser, then icons. There should be an icon called mozicon128.png Click on it and choose “Open”. This will assign the icon to the launcher we just made.
Log out of KDE and log back in for this to take effect, at which point we should see IceCat in the Internet subsection of the KickOff menu. Start it, then right click the icon and choose Show A Launcher When Not Running to have a panel launcher. And that is it! Here are some screenshots of the process to help it make more sense.
Keep in mind that the icon location and start up command
I mentioned earlier apply to creating shortcuts on other DEs.
Here are some good tutorials on creating launchers:
XFCE - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntNVv-1HEQA#
LXDE - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXDPCoM6FP8#
Unity - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSU9YuE_36w#ws
Cinnamon - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ygYdoErjPk#
GNOME - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQleM0DrLvQ#ws
MATE – Couldn’t find a video, here is a text tutorial. http://tutorialforlinux.com/2012/06/21/createnewapplauncherlinuxmint13mate/
LXQt – (courtesy of JayVii) Menu Icon in LXQt
so, after following your tutorial, I simply created a file "icecat.desktop" in my "/usr/share/applications/". You need to be root, to do that (you can replace "nano" with the text-editor of your choice):
sudo nano /usr/share/applications/icecat.desktop
Comment=Browse the World Wide Web
You don't need all of those parameters, but I included them anyway for the sake of it. After that, a simple re-login will give you the IceCat symbol in your Menu from where you can drag it to your Quick-Launch if you so desire.
Alright, now I am going to provide a few tips on running IceCat.
1. It is still FireFox at the core, but comes with some plugins by default that a lot of users won’t want. Here they are pictured:
SpyBlock and GNU LibreJS break a lot of websites I want to visit, and are generally not as good as AdBlock Plus and NoScript IMHO. EDIT: I have been experimenting, and for whatever reason AdBlock Edge plays much better with IceCat than AdBlock Plus (AdBlock Plus was breaking websites, AdBlock Edge doesn't seem to break any). /EDIT.
The first thing I would do is remove these and get the add ons you normally use with Firefox. To manually delete these plugins, do:
rm -rf /opt/icecat/browser/extensions
Here’s an example of LibreJS breaking Youtube:
The IceCat Home add on just sets your homepage to the IceCat one, it’s not a big deal either way. BUT, AGAIN, IF SITES YOU VISIT ARE BROKEN REMOVE THOSE ADD ONS.
2. IceCat has its own add on store, but it lacks a lot of the FireFox add ons (even the open source ones). Just go to the FireFox add ons store and manually install them if they aren’t there. https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/
3. IceCat comes with Gnash, which actually is usable now, but I still find that you are better off going with HTML5 and removing it. You can also install the old NPAPI libflashplayer.so flash plugin from Adobe if you need to by removing Gnash (from the plugins folder) and pasting it in. You can also import your Firefox profile this way, by just pasting those files into IceCat.
One final thing to keep in mind, because we haven’t installed IceCat with our package manager, it’s important to keep it up to date. The browser will notify us of a new release, but we have to manually install it while removing the old version. To first remove the old version, do:
rm -rf /opt/icecat
Then, we once again download the new version of IceCat from the mirror http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/gnuzilla/
into our home directory. Let’s cd into it and extract it.
Then find the file name.
Copy the name and do
tar -xvjf yournewicecatnamehere.tar.bz2
Now we just need to move it to /opt/icecat by doing
mv icecat /opt/icecat
We didn’t delete our symbolic link or launcher, so none of that needs to be repeated. That’s it, just repeat the process with each new release.
Another tip (courtesy of JayVii):Moving from Palemoon to Icecat
Actually, that was easier than I thought it would be. I simply copied the profile-folder over and restarted the browser. Those have different names for everyone, but as you can see in the screenshots below, it's really that simple...
1. Right-click and copy your PaleMoon profile-folder located in
"~/.moonchild productions/pale moon/"
2. Paste the previously copied folder into your Icecat-folder located in
3. Edit the profiles.ini in your icecat-folder to match the new profile-folder (you only have to adapt the last line)
4. Close Icecat COMPLETELY and relaunch it afterwards. All your bookmarks, addons, history, passwords, website-settings, etc will be there.
PS: In case you want a prove for HTML5 videos working properly (H.264 working out of the box)
*Another tip from JayVii*
For those of you that use DuckDuckGo as default search-engine:
The standard java-script version doesn't really work in IceCat atm...
both, the html and the lite version however DO work. Sadly you cannot set a color-theme for them which you can for the java-script version, but I found a neat workaround...
Below you can see screenshots of me using duckduckgo-html (and duckduckgo-lite) with a USERSTYLE
installed via the "Stylish" addon.
So for now I'll be using the html-version which I already set to be my default.