Discussion about Z17 β Firefox Packaging

Do not like that Ubuntu has seen fit to redirect an APT install to Flatpak... that's why, if you've got Flatpak uninstalled, you ensure that it cannot sneak back onto your system via:

Ubuntu has a bit of history with a terminal command for apt being redirected to install a snap instead. Not only did it redirect, it would not confirm or inform the user that it made the switch.

Both Canonical and Mozilla made excuses for this behavior, trying to explain it away.
And both tried blaming the other.

It happening now is just more of the same behavior. It goes to show that we, as users must stay diligent at protecting our sources.

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if anything, device and especially software-compatibility should be positively impacted as Flatpak is completely independent in dependencies and more from the rest of the system :thinking:

Canonical has made the firefox package a redirect to installing snapd and installing the Firefox Snap. Note that Ubuntu has even prohibited official Ubuntu flavors to install Flatpak in the first place. This happened only partially due to a request from Mozilla to put up Firefox on the Snap Store, but from what I understand they never wanted it to automatically replace the deb package with the snap.

Zorin chose the Flatpak because it's reliable and officially supported by Mozilla.

The .deb package already is reliable and officially supported by Mozilla. For other distributions where Mozilla does not offer a native option, I would understand but that is not the case here.


Will direct upgrade from 16 to 17 replace Firefox with Flatpak version? If so, won't profiles be transferred?

It would introduce extra work for the ZorinOS developers to maintain package-priority overrides and make sure the package continues to work. Flatpak was a supported and easier to implement way to get Firefox pre-installed. As we have seen above, you have to do extra work to get it to work right as a debian package.

That is unclear, but in theory it's not hard to manually move it. It may also be that because the firefox package is installed, it'll install the Ubuntu 22.04-Version of that package during upgrade, which would potentially install the snap.

We'll see when somebody tries it :person_shrugging:

I'm not sure about firefox specifically, as the use I had to give it was pretty basic when I tested it as a flatpak

But the heroic games launcher's system tray icon didn't properly load: the icon's image would be gnome's default three-points loading icon and the options on its menu wouldn't work

However, then I tried installing the .deb package, and even though it was the same version of the app, just with different packaging, it loaded fine and didn't have that bug

I wouldn't be surprised if a very specific firefox feature that I'm only gonna use once in my life doesn't work as a flatpak, so I'd rather have something that I know that for sure works so I don't have to troubleshoot later

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of flatpak and I like what it attempts to do: keep linux apps universal and working on every distribution. That is great and I will have no problems using it like that: as a way to get an app when there is no native version available or it's a simple app that isn't on the repos and doesn't have too complex functionality


How much more work, though? For a web browser, one of the main pieces of software of any modern desktop computer, I think it's probably worth it. Or perhaps during the installation process this could be selected as other distributions do (I think it was PeppermintOS that gives you this choice of browser).

On the other hand, ZorinOS already comes Flatpak installed so it seems pretty reasonable to do this. Whatever helps the developers relief the work in order to work in new features is most certainly welcome.

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Just a quick note:

Certainly the Beta has raised some questions about the ZorinGroups intentions toward Flatpak and Snap.
I have escalated this question to the ZorinGroup if they can please clarify it and what the end result for Zorin OS 17 will include.
Let's reserve judgments or assumptions without getting some clarification, first.

That aside; we can certainly civilly debate the merits of the packaging formats, what they offer and allow users to choose for themselves what suits their needs best.


That's most likely caused by a configuration error on HGL's side, have you reported the bug (if it's not reported already)?

If we're talking specifically Firefox, the only thing that is not working by default is native messaging - interprocess communication intended for things like the KDE Plasma Browser Integration. However this can be configured to work. Sadly it isn't the default setting.

On the surface, not much. But should any configuration errors occur in the future ever it's gonna be a huge hassle for Zorin OS users as their Firefox installation will suddenly switch to a snap package or otherwise break. Using the Flatpak eases the burden for Zorin OS developers as they do not have to override any settings for it to work.

That seems like a fair point, didn't think about that possibility

My suggestion for avoiding any kind of future problems in regards to having a native firefox that won't break in the future: Firefox ESR. It's the long term support version of firefox, so it's not gonna have the latest features, but it doesn't exist on Ubuntu's repos, so conflicts with the snap package will never occur because it doesn't exist. It will require a bit of effort from the ZorinGroup's side (my method works only for the terminal and synaptic; for some reason it doesn't show up on gnome software), but at least it has lower chances of breaking than if priorities were messed around with as a workaround to avoid the snap for the normal release of firefox

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That will then raise tickets/forum posts asking why their Firefox keeps getting updates but nothing actually changes (at least, nothing seems to change to them).

Well... something tells me the two devs of the ZorinGroup previously had the same discussion that we are having now and firefox being installed as a flatpak is the conclusion they came up with. It honestly makes sense

As a suggestion for the final release of Z17, I would still add Mozilla's repo (or any other repo containing firefox ESR, I think debian has it too but I'm not completely sure) while having the flatpak as default: that way most people already have installed by default a version that doesn't have any risk of breaking because of Ubuntu's snap, while the native ESR version can easily be installed from gnome software for those who prefer it as a .deb package

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I have moved these posts due to them being a discussion about packaging, rather than any issues in the Tutorials & Guides thread dealing with that guide.


I'd be willing to take that bet. I highly doubt it's something that happens so often and so catastrophically as you put it. Although once again, in this instance I find the tradeoff acceptable since it would ease the load off of the ZorinTeam to focus on other tasks.

I am not so sure. The argument sounds like it may endorse switching all packages to Flatpaks for the very same reason.

The only differentiation I can see is if Mozilla is being that forceful with which packaging they demand users use.
This would be in line with Mozilla behavior, though. Mozilla behavior in recent years of utterly ignoring user input and feedback and attempting to dominate the users is why they lost huge chucks of support and a large majority of their base.
Myself, included. I used to be an avid Firefox user and supporter years ago. Now, I have no respect left for it and will happily nuke it from my machines and replace them with a different browser.

I will admit that using this argument sets a dangerous precedent. But in case it starts getting thrown around everywhere, I'd have very little reason to not move to another distribution and just install the Flatpak themes created by the ZorinTeam.

As for the browser question, I think the best solution is to have a list of options during installation. I haven't checked yet but I think it's PeppermintOS that does this and honestly is quite convenient for both users and developers, since you can even specify the source you'd prefer and let the user choose their poison.

What I did was firstly use the flatpak version of Firefox to visit official Firefox website and downloaded the tar.gz file of Firefox ESR (Extended Service Release). All I had to do was extract the Archive in my Downloads folder, click on the icon named firefox and it launched. The icons extracted have the shape of a jigsaw puzzle. I just right-clicked the icon, selected properties, then looked to change the current icon to one from the chrome folder within the extracted archive, then icons and default scaleable, think I covered it in my vimeo video, no different to installing Tor Browser, or Icecat. All you have to do is rhen edit Main Menu, Add a new item under Internet and label it Firefox ESR. Then in the command box just point it to that firefox program icon in the extracted folder, and also get the 32 px icon fron the Chrome folder.

But wouldn't that then get us back to the point of "users shouldn't have to worry about packaging formats"?

If options include different sources too and they get displayed there... :thinking:

This is why sensible defaults are so important. In case of doubt, just click next and accept the default selected option.

Cool read on the topic from a while back: