I am wondering whether or not there is a way to completely remove Snap from Ubuntu 21.10 (Impish Indri) without losing the ability to install Ubuntu's default browser Firefox.

When I just recently updated to the newest Ubuntu release I realized that the installer programmatically reinstalled Snap, although I had manually removed it before. Additionally the installer removed Firefox, which was installed via the repositories, and reinstalled it via snap.

As I don't want snap to be installed on my machines for various reasons, my question is: Is there a safe way to remove it, and to get the Firefox DEB back to the sources?

Is there a PPA? Could I use a source of an Ubuntu flavor additionally, which didn't remove the Firefox Deb from its sources?

  • 6
    FYI: Mozilla (not Canonical, not Ubuntu) is driving the Firefox transition from Deb to Snap. When complete in six months, it's possible that no paid staff will maintain Firefox debs anymore. If you want Firefox debs longer than that, time to start marshalling volunteers to learn and take over that work.
    – user535733
    Oct 14 at 10:51
  • 4
    @user535733 the deb is still in the official repo, and if it remains there for 22.04 then Canonical will support it for at least another five years,
    – OrangeDog
    Oct 15 at 7:41
  • 1
    Wait... How will non-ubuntu based distros get firefox if they won't have snap?
    – wha7ever
    Oct 15 at 16:03
  • 2
    Are you sure, you need it as .deb package? You can get tar.gz files for running Firefox from the Mozilla Server. You can just unpack them and they even have the update mechanism that Firefox is using on Windows.
    – allo
    Oct 15 at 16:25
  • 1
    @wha7ever Debian still has deb package for Chromium, so no problem for it to have Firefox. Moreover, Mozilla still continues to provide distro-agnostic binary packages in addition to source code.
    – Ruslan
    Oct 15 at 21:04

You can combine two measures.

Start by removing Snap package of Firefox by snap remove firefox --purge.

Then follow the steps:

  1. prevent Snap installation by purging and pinning it with negative priority:

    sudo apt-get autopurge snapd
    cat <<EOF | sudo tee /etc/apt/preferences.d/nosnap.pref
    # To prevent repository packages from triggering the installation of Snap,
    # this file forbids snapd from being installed by APT.
    # For more information: https://linuxmint-user-guide.readthedocs.io/en/latest/snap.html
    Package: snapd
    Pin: release a=*
    Pin-Priority: -10
  2. Then install Firefox from

    • official repositories as simple as

      sudo apt-get install firefox
    • some third-party (but trusted) repositories

      a. deb-packaged Firefox from UbuntuZilla - regular or ESR
      Add UbuntuZilla repository with its signing key by

      echo "deb http://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/ubuntuzilla/mozilla/apt all main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ubuntuzilla.list > /dev/null
      sudo apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com 2667CA5C
      sudo apt-get update
      sudo apt-get install firefox-mozilla-build

      Note: if one needs ESR version - then replace last command with sudo apt-get install firefox-esr-mozilla-build.

      Removal is possible by the following commands:

      sudo rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ubuntuzilla.list
      sudo apt-get autoremove --purge '*firefox*'
      sudo apt-get update

      b. deb packaged Firefox ESR version from Mozilla Team PPA

      To get Firefox ESR version installed from Mozilla Team PPA use commands below:

      sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/ppa
      sudo apt-get update
      sudo apt-get install firefox-esr

      Additional locales may be installed by using packages like firefox-esr-locale-it (example for Italian).

      To remove deb-packaged Firefox one can use commands like:

      sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
      sudo ppa-purge ppa:mozillateam/ppa
      sudo apt-get autoremove --purge
    • Locally extracted Firefox archive

      If one needs to download and install Firefox to the home folder, then it is possible in the following way:

      mkdir ~/Software ~/bin
      cd ~/Software
      wget -c http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/releases/93.0/linux-x86_64/en-US/firefox-93.0.tar.bz2
      tar -xf firefox-93.0.tar.bz2
      ln -sf /home/$USER/Software/firefox/firefox ~/bin/firefox
      # create desktop-file with long command below
      mkdir -p ~/.local/share/applications/
      cat <<EOF >  ~/.local/share/applications/firefox-user.desktop
      #!/usr/bin/env xdg-open
      [Desktop Entry]
      Name=Firefox (local)
      Comment=Web Browser
      Exec=firefox %u

      then logout and login back.

      To remove such local installation use commands below:

      rm -rf ~/Software/firefox
      rm -v ~/.local/share/applications/firefox-user.desktop
      rm -v ~/bin/firefox

Discussion and notes:

My personal choice will be one of deb-based.
I would prefer ESR (2b) to get my Firefox behavior stable as it is needed for enterprise level application.

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