Well I loaded up update manager today and it wants to replace Firefox 4.0.1 with 5.0beta5. To double check I fired out apt-cache policy firefox and there it is:

 5.0~b5+build1+nobinonly-0ubuntu0.11.04.1 0
    500 http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ natty-proposed/main amd64 Packages

I've never known Ubuntu to update the browser like this before, mid-release. Especially not to a beta.

Does anybody know what's going on behind the scenes? Why is Natty having its browser updated to a new major version?


Firefox 5.0 is just the next regular security update for 4.0.1 users, scheduled for release on June 21st. However, because of the new release model for Firefox, we also need to update the Firefox translations at the same time (and we will do for all future Firefox security updates). This means that we also need to provide updated language-pack-xx-* packages with the Firefox 5.0 update.

In order to prepare for this, we are splitting Firefox translations out of the main language packs at the same time as the 5.0 release. This means that in the future, we will not need to respin all of the language packs for a Firefox security update (this incurs quite a significant QA penalty). Because of this packaging split and because the new language packs contain updated translations for all of your other applications (exported from Launchpad), they need to undergo extended testing in natty-proposed before we release them to everybody on June 21st. However, testing them also depends on the newly split-out Firefox translation packages existing in natty-proposed (else the package relationships will not be satisfiable for language pack testers).

We took the decision to upload the current beta to natty-proposed because if we wait for the release build before we start testing the language packs in natty-proposed, we will have to delay the next security update. Note that the current beta is actually more of a RC than a beta (this is the last planned beta build before the final release build, and is not likely to change between now and June 21st)

We aren't planning to publish the beta release to all users - it will be removed on June 21st when we publish the final 5.0 release to natty-security and natty-updates. Please remember that natty-proposed is an opt-in repository where we upload packages for testing stable release updates, before we publish them to all users.


Firefox 5 final is scheduled for release on 21 Juny, that'll soon be the next stable version.

This crazy version bumping is possibly caused by the Chromium / Chrome which likes bumping the version number every month or so.

New features can be tracked at Mozilla Wiki: Features/Release Tracking for Firefox 5

  • 1
    But why is Ubuntu Natty getting the update? In my experience, released Ubuntu versions only get security updates until the old version is no longer supported.
    – Oli
    Jun 10 '11 at 10:39
  • 3
    5.0 is just a regular security update for 4.0.1 users. With the new release model, there is only a single supported stable release branch, and Ubuntu will be tracking this for updates. There are no longer multiple supported release branches like we had in the past Jun 10 '11 at 10:47
  • 1
    @Oli♦: natty-proposed. Someone (you?) had to configure the system to explicitly allow this repository, it is not enabled by default. See also: help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuUpdates (which specifically warns that "Enabling the proposed updates repository can break your system.") Jun 10 '11 at 16:21
  • 1
    I don't expect this update to break anyones system :) Jun 10 '11 at 16:27
  • @Piskvor natty-proposed is supposed to follow the same "rules" as the main repos. It's for things that will be shortly released as proper updates, not some hell-for-leather zone where random things get major version bumps. What I didn't understand is why FF5 is coming to natty, which as Chris has now explained, it is as it's technically the security update.
    – Oli
    Jun 12 '11 at 1:19

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