Purebrowser removed after update

So I have used firejailed PureBrowser as my default browser since getting my Librem 15 last year. Today, when I updated (sudo apt update/sudo apt full-upgrade/sudo apt autoremove) via the Byzantium repository PureBrowser was removed and Firefox ESR is in its place. Just out of curiosity, why did this happen? Did Purism discontinue support for PureBrowser? Was there some security flaw? Thanks for any information

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Yes, see here: https://puri.sm/posts/an-epiphany-regarding-purebrowser/


One thing I’ve done is use a live CD for banking such as the U.S. Air Forces TENS distro. They also used Firefox. Every year or so my bank says my browser is too old a version and thus incompatible with their security. So I download a new TENS distro (which has a newer Firefox) and burn a new live CD.

I’m tempted to use a PureOS live CD for the same purpose sometime.

So my rhetorical question is, would my bank reject the Ephiphany default browser?

(As being incompatible or “not on their list of approved browsers”.)

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Right decision.
I had to copy the profile from ~/.purism/purebrowser to ~/.mozilla/firefox

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No. (Well no more than there are no doubt unknown security flaws in all of: PureBrowser, Firefox, Epiphany.)


As of right now, Firefox ESR is the default browser on PureOS 9 Amber. Epiphany is the default on our development branch, PureOS 10 Byzantium.

Only one way to find out! Try it and see what they say. Some places outright reject browsers based on the User Agent, regardless of whether it’ll actually work or not. Their claim is that its easier for them to say “Use Chrome” than have someone come to them and ask for them to support some random browser like Falkon or Lynx.


Are you planning on ever removing Firefox from the repos? I very much hope not even if you are moving forward with Epiphany. The current situation is, to my mind, the best of both worlds. With the positive direction of travel with Firefox it’s actually a lot more useful to have it, rather than Purebrowser (e.g. no lockout on extensions). And, at the same time, its great to have a commercial company like yours working on improving Gnome Web. Good concept, but It needs it. However, I don’t know what having a stock Firefox in your repos does to your FSF certification. Not sure if any FSF-certified OS’s ship with it vs something modified like IceCat.

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Can’t you change what your UserAgent presents as in most browsers anyway? Just rename it to say you’re using FireFox or something ?

Or am I wildly mistaken here?

Edit: I’m almost certain I’ve done this before on Firefox with an extension however I’m not sure about other browsers.

I sure hope not because we literally just added it on Friday :smile:

Me neither. Cross that bridge if/when we get there.

Great. Thanks. Just worried that this might be a transition between Purebrowser and only having Gnome Web. Gnome Web needs significant fixing to be useful at all and I cannot imagine it ever getting to where it needs to be to be a fully-functioning desktop browser. The lack of add-ons, in particular support only for Firefox’s password manager and not things like Bitwarden make it a no-go for me.

I suppose, if FSF don’t like stock Firefox you can just put IceCat in and satisfy them, though I must say I preferred Purebrowser to IceCat, and really prefer stock Firefox (especially the most recently version, not the ESR) to both.

There seem to be lots projects out there to “unMozilla” Firefox (removing things like DRM, telemetry, Pocket integration, etc) but it’s getting harder to do that with every Firefox release. That’s what we were up against with PureBrowser and it unfortunately became too daunting of a task (even with tracking ESR like we were). We also wanted to release close to upstream so we had the latest security patches ASAP but again, became unfeasible for our small team.

My personal dream, get everyone in the Linux community together to offer one (ONE!) fork of Firefox, distribute it with flatpak for sandboxing and that it doesn’t need to be packaged for every distro. Then we can take some ownership, upstream all the work that’s put into it, and maybe even get things like hardware video acceleration working. Like I said, a dream :laughing:


Haven’t Firefox effectively done most of that in the latest versions released this year? Feels like you are now just a couple of clicks away to achieve most of that in the version 73 that I have on my laptop now.

this issue stems from the fact that most users who use a browser on GNU/Linux - Debian or PureOS don’t know how to tweak the browser settings so there is the issue of fragmentation … so the freedom loving crowd (FSF) say it’s better to offer it without anything that will be non-libre friendly and the other camp would like the option to enable it - OPT IN - but that requires those “features” to be present - not removed completely …

the trouble with the OPT IN is that Firefox comes out-of-the-box with OPT-OUT so that’s where the most arguments against stem from …

There are any number of extensions in Firefox that allow you to alter the UserAgent. However I believe you do need some extension i.e. not standard functionality.

However if you have the resistFingerprinting option enabled in Firefox then Firefox automatically falsifies the UserAgent in an appropriate way, and hence it is probably better not to use one of the above extensions when using that option. (I wouldn’t even be able to say which one predominates if you choose to have both.)

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Thanks. . . . . . . . . .

I copied over my profile from ~/.purism/purebrowser to ~/.mozilla/firefox, and renamed it from default to default-pb so I could tell which one it was. When I look at about:profiles, it is not in the list so I cannot tell Firefox to start using it. Suggestions on how to get my bookmarks back please?

We made a step by step guide and you have the option to use command line or GUI to facilitate the change.

In your case @Amarula, since you’ve already moved the profile over, start with step 5 in the command line method.


Perfect, thank you. I am going to suggest to Firefox that they add this to their help as well.

They actually have all this info in their Knowledgebase already: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/profiles-where-firefox-stores-user-data

It’s what I used to help write might part the wiki entry I linked to above.

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