"Gnuzilla is the GNU version of the Mozilla suite, and IceCat is the GNU version of the Firefox browser. Its main advantage is an ethical one: it is entirely free (as in speech) software. While the source code from the Mozilla project is free software, the binaries that they release include additional non-free software. Also, they distribute non-free software as plug-ins. (IceCat does keep the triple licensing used by Firefox to facilitate the reuse of code.)"

From the Gnu website: (Previously, this GNU browser project was also named Iceweasel, but that proved confusing.)

IceCat is the GNU version of the popular Mozilla Firefox Web browser. While Ubuntu versions to date have included Firefox by default, its future is under scrutiny with the apparent conflict between Debian's definitions of free software and Mozilla's trademark of the Firefox logo.

IceCat is the counterpart to Firefox. Icedove is the Thunderbird equivalent and Iceape corresponds to the Seamonkey suite.

If you want more information about these programs, try the Gnuzilla home page first. For a synopsis of the issue, try this article. You can also read the original Debian bug report describing the dispute.

The Free Software Directory also has an entry for Gnuzilla containing FSF verified information about GNU IceCat.

This wiki entry began as a forum howto, but is better suited to a wiki page so other community members can fine-tune the methods described here.


IceCat used to be available for Ubuntu in a repository created by the Gnuzilla Team, but that is unmaintained and gone. The only option is to download a compressed binary package directly from the upstream GNU IceCat project site:

  • Go to the GNU FTP archive's gnuzilla directory:

  • Choose the desired release, the latest with the highest number is usually a good choice, currently (2019-05-04) it is 60.3.0

  • Depending on your CPU architecture capabilities and installed Ubuntu system select either the gnulinux-x86_64 named file for 64 bit (direct 60.3.0 64 bit link) or the gnulinux-i686 named file for 32 bit (direct 60.3.0 32 bit link)

  • Download the file to your computer

If you don't yet have a browser installed, use the wget command, a sample command that will do the trick for you is:


From the terminal: Open a terminal and move to the folder where you put the file. If this was your home folder, simply use:

cd ~

Extracting IceCat: Now we need to extract the package with:

tar -xvf icecat* -C /the/directory/you/want/icecat/installed/

If you decide to put it outside your own home directory, remember to use sudo before that command. Tar will decompress the package into a folder called something like "icecat-x.x.x.x". Now might be a good time to rename that folder too, if you want it to be easier to type in the future.

From the GUI: You can also browse to the package with Nautilus/Dolphin/, right-click on the package, and extract it to wherever you like.

Making IceCat the default

Inside that folder is the icecat shell script -- it's called (of all things) "icecat" (Not icecat-bin. You don't want that one.) The trick now is setting your desktop to open that shell script by default.

For Openbox, just edit your menu.xml file to point at the shell script, or use ObMenu to change the trigger line.

For Xubuntu or XFCE fans, open Applications > System > Preferred Applications, and select Other. Browse to the icecat shell script.

For Gnome, click System > Preferences > Preferred Applications. Change the Web browser option to point at the icecat shell script.

For KDE ... well, I'm not very familiar with KDE, and chances are if you're using KDE, you're a Konqueror fan. If someone can chime in on that, I'd appreciate the help.

One last note: Remember that the "globe icon" on your desktop might or might not trigger your desktop's default browser. In that case, you'll have to change the properties of the icon and redirect it to the icecat shell script.


Browser identification

If you're having trouble with browser identification -- in other words, sites block your access because you're "not using Firefox" -- try this:

  • Open "about:config" in Icecat's address bar
  • In the "Filter" box, type general.useragent.extra.firefox

  • Where you see the entry "Icecat/x.x.x", right-click and pick "Modify"
  • Then replace the word "IceCat" with "Firefox" - so it should look like "Firefox/x.x.x"

  • Close the page (or the tab)

"Masquerading" your browser like that simply prevents the host site from telling you you're not using Firefox. Aside from that, it should have no effect whatsoever on your collective Internet experience.


To associate your Mozilla plugin directory with IceCat, use this command line

  • ln -s /path/to/mozilla/plugins ~/.gnuzilla/

If you have Firefox installed, this command will do the trick.

  • ln -s /usr/lib/firefox/plugins ~/.gnuzilla/

Getting the Icons replaced in the Titlebar

There is an easy way to get all the IceCat icons to show up properly, replacing that ugly icon in the left corner of the title bar:

  • sudo mkdir /usr/local/icecat/chrome/icons

  • sudo mkdir /usr/local/icecat/chrome/icons/default

  • sudo cp /usr/share/pixmaps/icecat32.png /usr/local/Icecat/chrome/icons/default/default.xpm

Getting Help with Icecat

If you have any questions, or need help with an issue relating to IceCat, there are several ways to find support.

Mailing List

The Gnuzilla project has a mailing list which you can subscribe to and ask your questions. You can find the mailing list subscription page here:


You can also find help in Icecat's IRC channel. If you are unfamiliar with IRC, HERE is a guide that will help you setup an IRC client (Xchat) and get connected to the #icecat channel.
Server: freenode
Channel: #icecat

IceCat (last edited 2019-05-04 12:30:07 by mikini)