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Newbie flunks Firefox update
by Murry Shohat (July 18, 2007)

OK, Desktop Linux heads, I'm a confessed newbie trying to switch to Linux from XP. My simplyMEPIS install from an ISO went well, but now, on day two, my attempts to install the just-released Firefox update have failed.

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Let me explain "newbie." I know zero about Linux as a desktop OS. I'm an unapologetic DOS/Windows guy since 1981. But I'm fearless. No shyness here. And I'm willing to learn. So, my words are kind of a diary or journal. I have failed to find an intuitive, easy-to-figure out solution.

Here's what's going on. I read about Firefox at Three of eight bug fixes were listed as critical. Dutifully, I followed the link to the download page, selected English and Linux i686. The download quickly produced Firefox It showed up in a Download window.

A half hour earlier, I updated my XP box by simply starting Firefox and selecting Check for Updates on the Help menu. I followed screen instructions and the installation was automatic, closing and re-opening my Firefox session after a swift download and install. I don't think the whole event took more than two minutes.

Not so on my Dell laptop. I began by loading Firefox (included in the simpyMEPIS ISO). I went to the Help menu. "Check for Updates" was grayed out. So, I cruised to and followed the story link. Slick.

However, here I sit broken hearted... with a tar.gz file. Clicking Open in the Download pane does nothing. Right clicking and selecting Open or Open Containing Folder produces nothing. Clicking Properties informs me that the download took about 31 seconds. I've been staring at that for 31 minutes.

Murry's MEPIS desktop
(Click to enlarge)

Looking at the attractive desktop (I picked a water theme yesterday), two new icons get my attention. I'll click the Firefox folder icon. Konqueror brings up a window showing 37 files. Nothing is named Install. There's an Updater icon; an XPIcleanup icon and Updater.ini icon. I right click Updater, select Action...Run (as root). KDE asks for my password, which is root. In it goes, hit enter. Nothing happens.

Let's check all the icons at the bottom of the screen. Hmmm, none of them offer to install the update. Let's right-click the desktop. Hmmm, Run Command looks promising... if only I knew what command to run (remember, I'm a DOS guy).

The second new icon says firefox2.0.0.5.tar.gz. Even a dumb Windows guy know this is the download file. Give it try. Left click brings up an Ark window. It very loosely resembles an Explorer window in XP, with filenames, sizes and date stamps. 192 files are listed. None say Install.

Back to the icon with a right click. Now we're cooking. Extract gets my attention. I read once about tarballs. Is that what I'm dealing with? Kind of like WinZip back in the day. Lets try to Extract. I choose Extract Here (why go elsewhere?). Bam, error Ark: The extraction operation failed. Apparently (I guess), the file had been already extracted. So now I'm back to the Konquerer window showing 37 files, and nothing works by right click, left click or prayer.

OK, enough staring. Maybe a reboot will work. Maybe some Win95 guy got a job with Mozilla. Here we go. Logout and Restart Computer.

Reboot is like a five minute experience to get to the SimplyMEPIS 6.5 login. OK, fine. My Dell is old but it ran XP very nicely. Lots of RAM, big hard drive.

My password produces a desktop about 90 seconds later. There's a very annoying little bug jumping around, and some music that ends swiftly. I'm asked if I want to restore my Firefox session but I select new session. Nothing happens.

Let me double click the Firefox icon. Aaah, that's working. Here comes Firefox. Twice. I get rid of one. Click Help. Check for Updates is still grayed out. About Mozilla Firefox informs me that I have achieved exactly nothing. is the version.

At least there's something to look at in Firefox.'s top story is telling me that maddog is mad. Well, heck, I am too. There's dumb, dumber, and me. Maybe if I grow a full white beard will let me publish this so someone can help me!

In the meantime, I'm headed back to XP. My critical Firefox vulnerabilities have been fixed over there...

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About the author: Murry Shohat has worked as a magazine editor and reporter, public relations consultant, and Fortune 100 PR executive with several Silicon Valley firms over the last two decades.

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