In Windows I use, beside the main Firefox installation, one or even two "Firefox clones" for different purposes (specifically oriented addons and configurations, light configuration without addons, configuration for a different user, etc).

For example, in Windows, Pale Moon, Cometbird and Wyzo are FF clones (but they do not have Linux support). Basically, Flock browser would also qualify, and it had support for Linux: but it was discontinued.

A "Firefox clone" is a term that I adopted from the use in Windows, the meaning of which includes these two elements:

(1). is a browser that is identical (based on Mozilla Firefox) or very similar and has large/full support for FF extensions, configuration, profiles. = can use FF extensions etc.

(2). runs independently from Firefox, can be opened at the same time with Firefox = does not share FF extensions etc.]

(That is, a FF clone would be to Firefox what Google Chrome and SRWare Iron are to Chromium - almost identical, but able to run separately in parallel.)

[Seamonkey, has support for Linux, but (although it can use a lot of FF extensions): themes are not working, the interface is in general different and rather primitive. It has the merit of keeping the pace with FF 4+ (in contrast with Swiftweasel, for example.)]

Are there such more browsers available in Ubuntu?

(As for comments asking why I "really" need these "clones", I am just used to doing that, I like two separate Firefox-like browsers: isn't pleasure, just like curiosity, a good reason for an action?)

Edit after using multiple accounts: after testing for a while this solution that has prevailed here (was most up-voted) of using multiple accounts I have to say that it may involve certain problems in cases where other separate customizations/advanced uses are implemented. (For example, using scripts to search internet for selected text may open new unwanted profiles instead of the default one; or using firefox "openwith" addon to try and open a link with a new ff profile would give a report that the profile is not accessible.) A complete separate browser for a parallel use may be in such cases more useful. (In this respect, Seamonkey deserves to be taken into account. )

Edit considering the definitive answer: although answers proposing the use of multiple accounts were most voted, I will prefer an answer that proposes a separate browser, for two reasons: 1. that is what the question asks for in the first place, and 2. multiple accounts may involve some problems, like those mentioned above.

  • 12
    I am honestly stunned by the need you feel for entirely different browsers, while wanting them to be exactly alike. Could you elaborate on a scenario in which this is needed? I believe there is absolutely no need to use different identical entities for that in most cases.
    – user98085
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 15:10
  • 8
    Check the answer to this question [askubuntu.com/questions/226335/… I made a few days ago, I had the same doubt but now I am able to start each profile by just clicking a customized icon.
    – cnavigator
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 15:32
  • 1
    For situation (1), that's exactly what user accounts on a computer are for.. Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 17:05
  • 1
    I just mean, create a separate (system-level) user account for each user. It's like profiles except it works for all of your applications. Even the newbest of newbies can learn to click their name on a login screen. Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 19:30
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    There's nothing wrong with using multiple browsers if that's what you want to do (the whole point of Linux is that you can do what you want). I just figured if multiple users was your main issue, you might want to know an easier way. I realize it seems like people are attacking your decisions, but the reason people are asking these questions is because sometimes we can help people solve a problem by showing them a solution that's not necessarily the one they're looking for. Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 23:16

7 Answers 7


The best Firefox-clone would be a new separate instance of Firefox running with a separate profile. That could be launched from a separate shortcut/launcher or from within Firefox (see the addon at the end).

Firefox allows the creation of separate profiles, they are easy to setup and you may use as many sets of addons and configurations as you wish.

To start the profile manager, open the terminal and type firefox -ProfileManager -no-remote

Then the profile manager comes up, click on create profile, and then name your profile, for example set1. You can also point another location for the profile folder. By default, the profile folder is located at /home/user/.mozilla/firefox/ and is named with a string of 8 random characters, followed by the name you gave it. You have to do Ctrl + H while in the home directory, to be able to see .mozilla folder.

Instead of rebuilding an existing profile you have already built on Windows, you may go to the profile folder of your Windows Firefox, copy all contents and then paste them on your recently created profile folder in Ubuntu's Firefox. As detailed here, on Windows, the default location of Firefox profile folder is **%APPDATA%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles**

Then again, start profile manager, select your profile and you will be using it just the same.

Repeat the process for every profile you wish to create.

Now to be able to start each profile from a single shortcut and use more than one profile simultaneously, as detailed in this question, create a new text file on your desktop, name it set1.desktop.

Copy this to the text file

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Firefox set1
Comment=My primary profile
Exec=firefox -Profile /home/user/.mozilla/firefox/xxxxxxxx.set1 -no-remote

Replace user and set1 with your username and profile name, respectively, and place the 8 random characters attributed to this profile.

Note that you can set up a customized icon for this profile, this is helpful for diferentiation purposes, just point its location on the Icon line, for example /home/user/images/firefoxicon.png

After that, save the changes, right click on the text file, make sure its name has the .desktop and on the permissions tab, allow it to run as an application.

Now you have a shortcut to start this Firefox profile. When launched, you can right click on this icon in the Unity launcher and lock it there, so it is always accessible. You may move the shortcut somewhere else in your home folder too, it doesn't have to be on the desktop.

Repeat the previous steps for each profile you have created before, and then, with just a double-click, you will have one or more Firefox profiles started.

It will require some work to set up, depending on how many profiles you wish, but after that, it really is almost like you had several Firefox instances installed.

The source of this answer is this one given by Mik to a separate question: How to create shortcuts to different Firefox profiles.

To switch profiles within Firefox with one click, see this addon.

  • 2
    You might also have linked to my post here that I did a few days ago in answer to your question.
    – user76204
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 18:50
  • Oh sorry, I had linked on the original answer but then I was asked to provide more details, I'll update it right now. Thanks once again.
    – cnavigator
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 19:22

Instead of using clones, you may use different profiles with Firefox.

Just press Alt + F2 and type firefox -profilemanager. Create different profiles as necessary and run them simultaneously if needed.

enter image description here

To run Firefox with a different profile you would type firefox -P PROFILENAME -no-remote

You may even create different .desktop files with the command-line options added to launch them easily. Simply copy the /usr/share/applications/firefox.desktop file to ~/.local/share/applications rename it and edit the exec line adding the -P PROFILENAME -no-remote.

  • changing profiles in this way is not less demanding than just enabling/disabling addons each time etc. and is not what my question asks. but as a general solution it might work in case a FF addon would easily switch between profiles. is there a such addon?
    – user47206
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 15:25
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    Once you set up different .desktop files as To Do suggests, all it takes is a single click to open Firefox with the profile you desire. I'm doing a similar thing but with Chrome. I've made .desktop files and suitable shortcuts in lubuntu-rc.xml.
    – user25656
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 15:29
  • and there is an addon to switch profile at one click: addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/profileswitcher/…. ill edit an answer to add that
    – user47206
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 16:28

Now, Pale Moon is available for Linux. More on this, here.

In addition to the previously mentioned Iceweasel, there's also IceCat, Swiftfox and Swiftweasel.

(If you're feeling adventurous, there's also Conkeror, which is basically Firefox for people who hate using a mouse.)

Flock was discontinued.

Finally, if you want, literally another Firefox installation, you could just download the binary package and install it to another location.

Edit for setting as the definitive answer:

As indicated, the intended browsers should satisfy two conditions: (1) support Firefox addons and plugins, and (2) run separately from Firefox, without interference.

Icecat fully satisfies these demands. More details in this complementary answer.

Swiftweasel also satisfies the demands, but in relation with an outdated version of Firefox.

Seamonkey has a limited support for themes but the most important extensions are supported (more here.)

For details and updates keep an eye on this complementary answer.

  • 1
    Flock had actually changed their engine away from Gecko to Chromium last time I used it. Wikipedia confirms that.
    – Seth
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 16:44
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    I'm confused as to what you're looking for, then. Iceweasel and Icecat are both almost exactly Firefox, without the Mozilla branding. Swiftfox is almost exactly Firefox, but with slightly different compile options. Swiftweasel is the same thing as Swiftfox. If those aren't clones, what makes Firefox-based Flock a clone? That's even more changed than the first four I mentioned.
    – Dan Jones
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 16:59
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    I've never tried Swiftfox, but since it's just a differently-compiled firefox, I'm not surprised it runs the same profiles/etc. It's meant to be identical. Swiftweasel displaying basic html in Gmail is probably Google's fault for incorrectly identifying the browser, although, perhaps Swiftwesasel has an odd User-Agent. You didn't comment on Iceweasel or Icecat, though, which really are just rebranded versions of Firefox. Much more of a true Firefox clone than Flock ever was, since, as I recall, Flock couldn't even run every Firefox plugin.
    – Dan Jones
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 17:26
  • @TomasLycken (also for Dan Jones)- commenting "if you want, literally another Firefox installation, you could just download the binary package and install it to another location". doesn't that mean just unpacking it and running the executable? i keep an eye in this way on multiple ff versions (like here). but all such 'portable' versions will share my /.mozilla/firefox/ folder (same extensions etc as the main ff installation)
    – user47206
    Commented Apr 27, 2013 at 10:12
  • @Seth: Flock went Chromium and then exclusively mobile. Dead for the purpose therein.
    – user47206
    Commented Apr 27, 2013 at 10:15

Pale Moon, mentioned in the question, is my favourite in Windows and it was in fact the main reference when asking for a similar application for Ubuntu: now, it is available for Linux.

The website:

enter image description here

General info on the project:

enter image description here

An article on Pale Moon, here.

Pale Moon in Linux fully supports Firefox themes and addons:

enter image description here

What I was really asking in the question was browsers that satisfy the following two conditions:**

1. To be a 'double' of Firefox, that is to be identical, or very similar, so as to have all support for Firefox extensions, plugins, themes.

2. To be able to run side-by-side with Firefox but without any interference (regarding profiles, extensions etc).

Icecat (first mentioned in this answer)

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnuzilla-team/ppa && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install icecat -y

enter image description here

Full support for all Firefox extensions, plugins and so on. Operates completely separate from Firefox.

Swiftweasel kept the pace with Firefox only up to version 3.5.6 (here - just like Seamonkey, it runs 'portable').

enter image description here

Gmail is displayed in html version only.

enter image description here

Last update - 2010.

But for the rest seems to run smoothly, a lot of main extensions ans themes are still supported and it also seems lighter than last Firefox: but this could be misleading, as it takes less RAM but sometimes more CPU resources.

Considering the other browsers mentioned in the linked answer: Swiftfox displays version 3.6.1, the forum link and download links are not working. I was not able to install it (in the past I did, but it was not working separately from firefox).

It is a bit tricky to install Iceweasel in Ubuntu and this browser will "take over" ("compete with") the main Firefox installation (see this answer).

Flock browser is dead. (Only a mobile version proposed.)

So, one solution is: Icecat.

Another solution is Nightly version of Firefox - as specified in this other answer.

Also, Seamonkey satisfies in fact those conditions, in the sense that most important addons work, or have separate support from places like mozdev.org. More here.

  • 1
    How to install Iceweasel in Ubuntu, but I'm afraid it doesn't meet condition № 2, and only partially № 1 (not up-to-date to the latest Firefox, hence, not the same support to all plugins, etc.).
    – carnendil
    Commented Apr 26, 2013 at 18:16
  • @carnendil - thanks a lot: the idea was to check all options and see which qualify for the two conditions.
    – user47206
    Commented Apr 26, 2013 at 18:30
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    Gmail running in HTML only is likely Google's fault, rather than the browser. I'm guessing that Google doesn't recognize the User Agent, so falls back to HTML. If you were to install a User-Agent switcher, and switch to the default Firefox user-agent, it should work fine.
    – Dan Jones
    Commented Apr 27, 2013 at 13:33

If you really want them to be identical, but still have at least some difference, you may want to use the Firefox Nightly build.

Since the only Linux downloads on the site are annoying source-code tarballs, you will probably want to install via the repository:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-mozilla-daily/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install firefox-trunk

Then, just check your programs list for "Nightly." It will be called "Nightly Web Browser," but that one is Firefox Nightly.
It runs with a completely separate profile, and will have some subtle differences from the stable, tested Mozilla Firefox.

This should be exactly what you're looking for!

  • 1
    @cipricus Umm, I use both Firefox Nightly and the "normal" build side-by-side, and I can tell you, as a fact, that, unless you've intentionally merged the config directories, they're going to have separate profiles. If you run ls ~.mozilla, you'll see that firefox and firefox-trunk are different directories. Commented Apr 26, 2013 at 3:53
  • you are right. i do not know why the opposite seemed so obvious to me. this solution works, not because FF and Nightly are "identical, but still have at least some difference", but because they are: (1) almost identical and (2) run independently from each other. So, Nightly satisfies completely both demands. I have created an answer in order to summarize, adjust and update all solutions provided here, and I add a link to your answer there too
    – user47206
    Commented Apr 27, 2013 at 8:42

Yet another possibility (not necessarily the best) is to run Tor Project's portable Firefox from the Tor Browser Bundle.

Some arguments in favor are:

  1. It's Firefox ESR with some modifications.
  2. Completely portable (source of quote), meaning its user profile is separated from any other Firefox or similar installed on the system:

    This package requires no installation. Just extract it and run.

  3. No hacking other than extracting the files and double-clicking on either start-tor-browser (you might choose to stop Tor services) or directly run-mozilla.sh under the App/Firefox folder. Naturally, it can be added to the Dash too.

To still benefit from the protection provided by the Tor software, you can simply make a copy of the Firefox folder somewhere else.

This way, you keep the original Firefox distributed as part of the Tor Browser Bundle (and use it whenever you want anonymity on the internet), and you can run and configure as you like the copy of the Firefox.

This is because several extensions and plugins are not compatible with the anonymity intended when using the Tor software.

I wouldn't claim this is the best answer, but I think it clearly fits the requirements on your original question.


I've found Waterfox very helpful. It's updated and supports Firefox's add-ons, it also doesn't restrict the addons you can install and keeps a different profile from the original Firefox.

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