The Waterfox web browser is a 64-bit-only open source project based on Firefox.

I would like to see how is the performance compared to Firefox, apparently its better.

Being new to Linux, it's a challenge when it comes to packages that are not .deb. On the official site, Waterfox is provided as a .tar.bz2 file. How can I install Waterfox on Lubuntu 17.04 and also add an entry for it in my menu, under Internet, alongside Firefox?

  • extract the archive. there should be a readme file inside. what you need to do depends on what is in the archive.
    – ravery
    Jul 12, 2017 at 14:22
  • 4
    This should not have been closed. There is a way to install Waterfox using apt, but there is no way to leave an answer.
    – gracious1
    Aug 29, 2017 at 20:36
  • 3
    The OP expressed concern about installing from tarball, probably because he thought that was the only way to do it, but there is in fact a repository that he could use.
    – gracious1
    Aug 29, 2017 at 20:45

5 Answers 5


There is an unofficial repository from which you can download and install Waterfox using apt.

  1. Add the repository to your sources:

    sudo sh -c "echo 'deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/hawkeye116477:/waterfox/xUbuntu_Next/ /' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/home:hawkeye116477:waterfox.list"
  2. Add the public key:

    wget -nv https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:hawkeye116477:waterfox/xUbuntu_Next/Release.key -O Release.key sudo apt-key add - < Release.key

Replace xUbuntu_Next with xUbuntu_19.04 or whichever version as needed.

  1. Now update packages and install:

    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install waterfox

    If you have problems, you may need to install some dependencies because the developers used the latest version of the GNU Standard C++ Lib, which isn't available on some systems. (I had to do this manually in 14.04. YMMV.)

    Possible step:

    sudo apt-get install libgcc1 libstdc++6
  2. Run waterfox at the prompt. Voila!

  • 2
    The repository was recently changed; I change the URLs involved to reflect this.
    – gracious1
    Sep 2, 2017 at 18:47
  • I've updated this once again to reflect current state of the repository and instructions.
    – RolandiXor
    Jun 28, 2019 at 22:59
  • Ok, some formatting issues appeared; I tried to fix them.
    – gracious1
    Jun 30, 2019 at 22:24
  • Is this still the way to go? When I start waterfox now I get a notification that my version is out of date and could not be updated by waterfox itself.
    – flawr
    Feb 10, 2020 at 8:35
  • This worked fine on Ubuntu 19.10 too
    – rubo77
    Apr 30, 2020 at 13:52
tar -xvjf ./waterfox.tar.bz2 
cd ./waterfox

Using this method Waterfox is running now and it imports all of the settings from Firefox, Great!

Will do some benchmarks later to see how it compares to FF although it feels faster.

Now to figure out how to add shortcuts to the Lubuntu menu...

  • I usually launch applications like . waterfox which doesn't work for some reason.
    – PJ Brunet
    Jan 19, 2021 at 5:10
  • bash: ./waterfox: cannot execute binary file: Exec format error
    – br4nnigan
    Apr 23, 2021 at 15:19

Download the file, extract using the gui, and link it to the menu.

Unzip and run

  1. Download the latest Linux version of the file from the Waterfox website.
  2. Open Caja or another file manager to the folder where the file was downloaded to
  3. Double-click the file to open the file in a archive manager
    For example Ubuntu Mate has Grampmpa
  4. Extract the folder Waterfox to a location in your home folder. You could create a new folder in ~/ called Programs to put this kind of software in or put it under the /home/username folder.
  5. Open the folder in a file manager and double-click Waterfox to run the browser and test that it works.
  1. Open a terminal window

  2. Edit the new waterfox.desktop file and add the configuration lines for Waterfox

    To open an edit session in vi:

    sudo vi /usr/share/applications/waterfox.desktop

    Content to add to the file:

    [Desktop Entry]

    Use :wq to save and exit vi. Use :wq! if you opened vi without sudo and need to force exit.

Check that the Exec points to the Waterfox executable. This assumes it was unzipped in the user's home folder. Use the ls command to find and check that the Exec and Icon paths are correct. Refer to the existing Firefox .desktop file for an example.

Have a look at the existing shortcut files, and in particular the one for Firefox to see what the syntax looks like: ls /usr/share/applications/firefox then cat /usr/share/applications/firefox-esr.desktop

You could copy the an existing entry to tailor to make a new one for Waterfox. Delete the lines that are not needed and edit the lines from Firefox to make Waterfox: sudo cp /usr/share/applications/firefox-esr.desktop cat /usr/share/applications/waterfox.desktop

  • The update feature is broken and we have to manually download new updates :(
    – mchid
    Jul 1, 2020 at 15:19

copied the existing firefox file, [Desktop Entry] /usr/share/applications/firefox.desktop to waterfox.desktop (requires sudo -s)

altered the content:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Waterfox Web Browser
Comment=Browse the World Wide Web
GenericName=Web Browser
Exec=waterfox %u

[Desktop Action new-window]
Name=Open a New Window
Exec=waterfox -new-window

[Desktop Action new-private-window]
Name=Open a New Private Window
Exec=waterfox -private-window

I installed waterfox to /opt/waterfox and created a link /usr/local/bin waterfox -> /opt/waterfox/waterfox as ln -s /opt/waterfox/waterfox waterfox

This works on my system and the icon showed up under Applications


First download the waterfox .tar file from https://www.waterfox.net/download/.

Then move it to a secured folder from the downloads folder. Then extract it there.

Search in the app menu if you can find a "Main menu" software.

If you find it, then click on it and click on "internet". Then click on "New item". Then set a name for the app (for example, Waterfox).

Then click on the icon which will take you to your file system. Then go to the folder in which you have kept the extracted waterfox file. Then from there you will go to,

Waterfox > browser > chrome > icon > defaults > default128.png

The icon will be selected.

Then click on browse beside the option command. It will take you again to your file system. Go to the folder in which you have kept the extracted waterfox file. From there you will go to Waterfox and scroll down and you will find a file named waterfox which is a shared library (application/x-sharedlib) type file. Then click on it. Then you will be again on the main page of "Main menu" . Now select "ok". And then go to your menu and search for waterfox. Then you can add it to your desktop by a left click of mouse on the app and then select pin to desktop.

If you do not find "Main menu" named app then you will have to install it.

This procedure was recently tested in Ubuntu MATE 20.04. So hopefully it will work.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.