The Firefox 78 web browser is now available for download ahead of tomorrow’s official announcement, a release that introduces new minimal system requirements for Linux and the ESR badge.
That’s right, Firefox 78 is an ESR (Extended Support Release), which is perfect for enterprises that want to provide their users with a very stable and well-tested Firefox release. ESR branches are usually supported for 12 months.
It replaces the Firefox 68.0 ESR series. This means that GNU/Linux distributions shipping Firefox ESR, such as Debian GNU/Linux, can now upgrade to the latest 78.0 ESR version to offer their users a newer Firefox release with modern features.
Talking about modern features, Firefox 78 introduces new minimal system requirements for Linux systems. Therefore, to install Firefox 78, your distro must ship with GTK 3.14, GNU C Library (glibc) 2.17 and libstdc++ 4.8.1 or newer versions.
Conference and video calling now works better in Firefox 78 as screensavers will no longer interrupt WebRTC calls, the tab context menu has been updated to let you undo multiple tab closings with a single click and moves the Close Tabs entry to the right and Close Other Tabs in a submenu.
This release also adds the ability to open downloaded PDF documents directly in Firefox via a new option that will appear on new PDF downloads, various improvements to the Gecko engine, the ability to set the window position from the command-line, and a revamped Reader View that matches the Photon UI.
Users can now disable Top Sites on focus via a new preference in about:preferences, and adds support for the
link rel="preload" web performance feature. Also, Pocket recommendations will now appear on the New Tab page for all users in the UK.
Security-wise, Firefox 78 disables TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 protocols by default to improve your website connections, so if your website doesn’t support TLS 1.2, Firefox will now show an error. It also disables all remaining DHE-based TLS cipher suites by default and enables two more AES-GCM SHA2-based cipher suites.
Moreover, the Protections Dashboard now lets you track how many breaches you’ve resolved and view if any of your saved passwords have been exposed in a data breach. Of course, numerous security issues were patched to make Firefox more secure and reliable.
Numerous accessibility improvements are present as well to improve the usage of the JAWS screen reader, minimize lag and freeze issues with screen readers when focusing the microphone, camera or screen sharing indicator, and make large tables with thousands of rows load faster for screen reader users.
Mozilla will officially launch the Firefox 78 web browser tomorrow, June 30th, but if you can’t wait, you can download the 32-bit and 64-bit binaries and sources right now from the main FTP server. The ESR release is available for download here.
Considering that Linux users still can’t upgrade using the built-in OTA (Over-the-Air) update mechanism, there’s nothing stopping you from getting these binaries and use Firefox 78 right now. Or you can wait for your distro to push the new release into the stable repositories and then update Firefox.
Update 01/07/20: Firefox 78.0.1 has been released to address an issue that may have caused installed search engines to not be visible when upgrading Firefox from a previous release.