Waterfox – a Firefox Quantum Replacement


Why Waterfox?

Some time ago, the Firefox developers, crazy as they are, decided that it was a good idea to annoy all us loyal Firefox users by scrapping support for a huge amount of add-ons. This has gone into effect with Firefox 57, aka Quantum.

It has annoyed me very very much… For example, 5 month after first release of FF 57 there is no replacement yet available for the Vertical Toolbar add-on and it probably won’t be available for a longer time. Why? Not even because the add-ons developer is lazy, no.

It is because the FF developers thought it would be a great idea to remove some of the interfaces which were available for add-on developers without a replacement. What an infinite sapience!

It is planned though, that maybe sometime in 2018 the needed interfaces will be available for the Vertical Toolbar add-on. Oh well.

For months now, on some machines, I had not updated my FF to Quantum. Some minutes ago I stumbled over Waterfox. Waterfox is a Firefox fork where all the old add-ons (XPCOM/XUL) work. And a lot of the new ones (WebExtensions), too.

My Impression

I just installed it on a LXLE Linux and all my beloved add-ons work like ever, including Vertical Toolbar.

Also Waterfox is fast and runs smooth, it behaves way smoother on my old laptop than FF Quantum, which I had installed testwise.

And, though the current Waterfox version is 56.1, it seems they are applying all the important security updates of Firefox 57 and later.

Conclusion: If you liked Firefox and now are missing some add-ons in Quantum, you’ll love Waterfox. Try it out. It is available for Windows, Linux, Android, Mac, … only for 64 bit systems, though.

Bye bye Firefox, hello Waterfox 🙂


Copying add-ons and settings.

When first starting Waterfox on Windows or Linux, it searches for an installed Firefox and tries to copy all the settings and add-ons and settings of the add-ons. This works not 100% with all add-ons. If some of your add-ons do not look or behave like they should, copy the settings from Firefox to Waterfox like described here, steps 3 to 8.

Installing Waterfox on Windows

Easy peasy. Just download and run the installer.

Installing Waterfox on Linux

Installing it on Linux is easy, though there are currently no official packages available for LXLE or Ubuntu. Just do this:

a. Download the tarball, then do the follwing in a shell

tar -xvjf ./waterfox.tar.bz2    
cd ./waterfox

b. Then you might want to add some desktop or menu entries. With a LXDE desktop you should do this:

cd ~/.local/share/applications
cp  some-other-internet-related.desktop waterfox.desktop

Then open waterfox.desktop in a plain text editor and adapt the entries. Important are Exec and Name.

More info about LXDE desktop stuff here.

Classic Add-Ons

Of course, FF will kick out classic extensions from its extension library. Classic AddOns is designed to help.