The Quickstart Guide
They aren’t complicated, but there are a few prerequisites to building Firefox on Linux. You need:
- A 64-bit installation of Linux. You can check by opening a terminal window; if
x86_64you can proceed.
- Next, you’ll need Python installed. You can check with
python --versionto see if you have it already. If not, you can install it with your distribution’s package manager. Make sure your system is up to date!
- Finally, a reasonably fast internet connection and 30GB of free disk space.
Getting set up on Linux is fast and easy.
If you don’t have one yet, create a "src" directory for yourself under your home directory:
cd && mkdir src
Next download the bootstrap.py script and save it in your
And finally, in your terminal:
cd ~/src and start the bootstrapper like this:
... follow the prompts.
Bugzilla.mozilla.org is Mozilla’s issue tracker; you'll need to be able to log into it to comment on a bug or submit a patch. You can either use your GitHub account, or you can sign up for a Bugzilla account here.
As well as Bugzilla, much of Mozilla’s internal communication happens over IRC. You can download Limechat here, and learn how to connect to Mozilla with IRC here. If you’re just getting started or have questions about getting set up you can join us in the #introduction channel, where some of our community members hang out to try and help new contributors get rolling.
Get The Code
This is the last big step. In a terminal, in your
src/ directory, enter:
hg clone http://hg.mozilla.org/mozilla-central/
... and enter. This step uses mercurial to pull down the Firefox source code from Mozilla-Central.
hg is the chemical symbol for mercury, if you’re wondering.
While you’re waiting for that to finish, take a look at our Mercurial documentation.
It explains how we use version control at Mozilla to manage our code and land changes to our source tree.
Let’s Build Firefox
You’re ready; now we can tie it all together. In your terminal:
And you’re on your way, building your own copy of Firefox from source. Don’t be discouraged if this takes a while; this takes some time on even the fastest modern machines, and as much as two hours or more on older hardware.
There’s one more thing you can do for yourself while you’re waiting: create an account for yourself on Mozillians. Mozillians is the Mozilla community directory, where you can connect with people who share your interests, projects or countries. This step is optional, but we think it will be worth your while.
- 2G RAM with an additional 2GB of available swap space is the bare minimum, and more RAM is always better - having 8GB or more will dramatically improve build time.
- 30 GB free disk space.
- A 64-bit x86 CPU and a 64-bit OS. As of early 2015 it is no longer possible to do a full build of Firefox from source on most 32-bit systems; a 64-bit OS is required. "Artifact builds" may be possible, but are not a supported configuration. On Linux you can determine this by typing "uname -a" in a terminal.
- GCC 4.9 is required as of Firefox 50. The Firefox codebase relies on some C++ features that are not supported in earlier versions of GCC, and as of December 2016 causes some errors in GCC 5.x or later. You can learn more about the features we use and their compiler support here
- autoconf 2.13. Most Linux distros now install a later version of autoconf, which the build system cannot use, reporting the error "*** Couldn't find autoconf 2.13. Stop." However a separate autoconf213 package is usually available. To install autoconf 2.13 in Debian based distros copy this line and past it into a terminal window:
sudo apt-get install autoconf2.13
- If you are on Fedora machine then simply install the following prerequisites from the terminal window:
sudo dnf install @development-tools @c-development autoconf213 gtk2-devel gtk3-devel libXt-devel GConf2-devel dbus-glib-devel yasm-devel alsa-lib-devel pulseaudio-libs-devel
- Note: Building Firefox in Linux on top of a non-native file system - for example, on a mounted NTFS partition - is explicitly not supported. While a build environment like this may succeed it may also fail while claiming to have succeeded, which can be quite difficult to diagnose and fix.
Our system bootstrapping script can automatically install the required dependencies. You can download and run it by copying this line and pasting it into a terminal window:
wget -q https://hg.mozilla.org/mozilla-central/raw-file/default/python/mozboot/bin/bootstrap.py -O bootstrap.py && python bootstrap.py
Note: piping bootstrap.py to stdin of a python process will cause interactive prompts in the bootstrap script to fail, causing the bootstrap process to fail. You must run Python against a local file.
If the above command fails, the reason is often because some Linux distributions ship with an outdated list of root certificates. In this case, you should upgrade your Linux distribution or use your browser to download the file. That ensures that you will get it from the right source.
If you get an error from this process, consider filing a bug saying that the bootstrapper didn't work and contact Mike Hoye directly for help. Please include the error message and some details about your operating system.
If you have already checked out the source code via Mercurial or Git you can also use mach with the bootstrap command:
Common Bootstrapper Failures
wget: command not found
You may not have wget (or curl) installed. In that case, download bootstrap.py using your browser and then run it with this command:
In some cases people who've customized their command prompt to include emoji or other non-text symbols have found that bootstrap.py fails with a UnicodeDecodeError. We have a bug filed for that but in the meantime if you run into this problem you'll need to change your prompt back to something boring.
The above bootstrap script supports popular Linux distributions. If it doesn't work for you, see Linux build prerequisites for more. Again, if you run into other problems or our documentation isn't clear, please contact Mike Hoye directly.