How to Install GNU Icecat on Debian Wheezy

Icecat is the GNU project version of Mozilla Firefox. The main advantage of Icecat over Firefox, and the major difference between the two, is that Icecat codebase and ecosystem is entirely free software while Firefox is not. Firefox reccomends non-free plugins and add-ons, and Icecat only reccomends and distributes free software.

Installing Icecat

You can get the source for Icecat from Savannah and built in the usual manner. If building from source isn’t quite your thing, the GNUzilla team also provides built tarballs that you can easily download, un-archive, and run. The latest version of Icecat can be downloaded from GNU FTP (make sure to get the 32bit or 64bit version, whichever is right for your system).

You should then untar the archive

tar -xzvf path/to/archive

and then move the resulting directory to somewhere in your $PATH. On my system, I moved the icecat-17.0.1 directory to /usr/local/bin by executing

sudo mv icecat-17.0.1 /usr/local/bin

You will then need to cd to /usr/local/bin and create an executable symlink the icecat executable.

sudo ln -s icecat-17.0.1 ./icecat

If you now execute

which icecat

the path to this newly created symlink should be printed to your terminal. You now have a fully installed and useable Icecat on your system.

Adding Icecat to the Debian Alternatives System

The Debian Alternatives system allows for user configurable ‘default’ applications to use for specific functions. Using the Alternatives system, you can easily configure which program your system uses as an editor, a mail client, a web browser, etc. In order to set Icecat as the browser that all links will open in, you must add it to the Alternatives system. By executing

sudo update-alternatives –install /usr/bin/icecat x-www-browser /usr/local/bin/icecat 90

Icecat will be added the Alternatives system and set to the highest priority. Now, all links will open in Icecat.