Looking to upgrade to Firefox 3.6? On Windows and the Mac, you don't need to do much more than download a file, perform a few clicks, and you're done. But for the moment, if you want to upgrade it on Linux, you'll be in a world of pain unless you're a very experienced Linux user. It's one more piece of evidence that Linux needs plenty of help if it wants to crack the mass market.
Upgrading on a Windows machine is simplicity itself. Download a file, run it, follow the prompts, and you're done. On the Mac it's even easier; download the file, do a drag operation, and you're done. And that's just if you want to get the upgrade right away. At some point, Firefox will essentially do the upgrade itself.
How about on Linux --- specifically Unbuntu, the version most people see as the one best suited for mass use? Good luck, unless you are very familiar with the innards of the operating system. Looking to upgrade, I downloaded the proper file, then unpacked it. At that point, though, all I saw was a folder structure filled with files, and no install file, no hint, no advice on what to do next.
Mozilla offers advice on installing or upgrading to Linux, and it clearly says your best bet is to use a package manager. But when I checked the package manager on my version of Ubuntu, the upgrade to Firefox 3.6 wasn't yet available.
Mozilla's advice on installing or upgrading without a package manager isn't suggested for those who aren't experienced Linux users. And Ubuntu has a page of instructions as well, but it carries this warning:
The Check For Updates link in Firefox is disabled in Ubuntu. Firefox should only be updated through the package management system.
The package management system, though, lags behind Firefox updates.
In just about every other way, Linux is clearly ready for prime time. Aside from installs and upgrades, it's easy to use, does a nice job of recognizing hardware, and runs on less expensive hardware than Windows or the Mac. But until it solves the installation and upgrade problem, it won't be ready for prime time.
This story, "Installing Firefox 3.6 on Linux: Only Pros Need Apply" was originally published by Computerworld.