So Shiretoko isn’t Firefox So Why Call It That?

I have been using the standard Ubuntu Jaunty repo version of Firefox-3.5 since before it was in the standard security repo when it was in fta’s ppa With this version I expected it to be buggy or have oddities such as being called Shiretoko. With the standard repository version I expect it to be Firefox

I know the reasoning was mentioned here some of the reasoning makes sense but if a user chooses to manually install firefox-3.5 they expect to get Firefox since this wont ever auto auto-update from 3.0 to 3.5 with out the users expressed permission I see this as an annoyance.

Calling it Shiretoko is annoying. Having the user-agent string below tends to break sites.

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv:1.9.1) Gecko/20090701 Ubuntu/9.04 (jaunty) Shiretoko/3.5

Now I am not saying call this thing Firefox if it is really an ubuntu build of Shiretoko but since Shiretoko isn’t a standard or mainstream browser it wont be in any Device Database. such as WURFL or DeviceAtlas I say these because I mostly work with mobile related technology but the reasoning applies for any device db or user-agent checker.

Face Book makes horrid pop-up windows.

Use the Chat list on the right to start a conversation.You’re using an old web browser to browse Facebook. To use the full version of Chat from within a normal Facebook window, please upgrade your browser. Switch to Firefox.

Changing the user-agent of a browser in this day and age severely impacts on a users browsing experience. Since most websites now try to do browser detection (Some better then others) they generate different output for different browsers or even worse sorry this website only works in Netscape Navigator and IE 5 and above.

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Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 Ubuntu

16 Comments to So Shiretoko isn’t Firefox So Why Call It That?

  1. I think the upstream source has a big switch in it that lets you turn on or off MozCo branding. If you set it to “on”, you have to call it firefox, you have to use the supplied, non-modifyable firefox icon, etc. If you set it to false, you cannot call it firefox. I believe you specify an alternate name as part of the build and the upstream build system slots that into lots of places, including the user agent string. So in short, it’s a effect of the upstream branding “switch” that changes the user agent. To supply the package with all-but-the-useragent changed would mean patching the upstream build system.

  2. Jon on July 8th, 2009
  3. yeah this is absolutely ridiculous and annoying, not to mention all the shenanigans you hvae to go through as an end user to actually get firefox 3.5 on ubuntu, as opposed to a windows user, who just does the integrated update method…. ubuntu for human beings??

  4. Sebastian on July 8th, 2009
  5. I always blame websites for things like this. I should be able to fire up a new browser powered by Gecko and have it work, no matter whether the browser is called Firefox or Epiphany or l33tbr0wser2000. As an Epiphany user I do get bitten by things looking for Firefox, and it drives me nuts.

  6. MattW on July 8th, 2009
  7. In openSUSE when you add Mozilla repository you will get regular update which replace v3.0 with v.3.5 and all this with 1-click install.

    Ubuntu is surely not the best or user friendliest distribution. Not to mention other repositories providing many updates to old releases. A tru long term support in every release..

    Ubuntu has much to learn and Shiretoko is example of that.

  8. MMMMM on July 8th, 2009
  9. @Jon: Yes but installing from source code is not recommended on any Linux platform.

    @Sebastian: No this makes perfect sense they don’t upgrade major application version for the reason that major application version increases normally means major changes that might nto be compatible with the OS.

    @MattW: 🙁 It is rather upsetting and yes websites should check for all of these this isn’t a question of websites dealing with minority browsers in this I would include a beta Shiretoko it is that this version of firefox is actually out and being in the stable repo’s but isn’t what they say it is. If I wanted shiretoko application I would have done sudo apt-get install shiretoko!

  10. drubin on July 8th, 2009
  11. As of today Shiretoko is called Firefox again. Even if you install the Version from the Jaunty repos.

  12. Michael on July 8th, 2009
  13. I have not had any problems whatsoever, with facebook or otherwise. Here is my user-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux x86_64; en-US; rv: Gecko/20090707 Ubuntu/9.04 (jaunty) Shiretoko/3.5.1pre AutoPager/ (

    IIRC Mozilla got rather uptight about non-official builds being branded as “firefox” as additional patches or build options could have caused issues that would not be experienced with an official build. Debian rebranded to iceweasel due to this. Iirc Canonical worked out some sort of review deal where Mozilla will approve their builds and allow official branding, which has not happened yet it seems.

    Shiretoko is the code-name for Firefox 3.1/3.5, not some randomly assigned branding. The only issue I’ve had using it is the window icon is not as recognizable.

  14. Chris Irwin on July 8th, 2009
  15. @Michael: When where? /me is waiting to see it in the repositories. Where does this information come from.

  16. drubin on July 8th, 2009
  17. @Chris Irwin: I have no issue with the branding. My issue is with sudo apt-get install *firefox3.5*. They are claiming you are installing firefox but you aren’t really are you? BTW if they wanted to include iceweasel and you were installing iceweasel I think I would be ok with it.

    Also note this is EASILY fixable by changing your user-agent using this is just annoying. There are always ways to confuse and annoy the web developers that think they are so cool by putting “Sorry please install IE 5..”

  18. drubin on July 8th, 2009
  19. Drubin: For a website, the only relevant part of that user agent string is the rendering engine, “Gecko”, and the version, “1.9.1”. If they’re sniffing for the string “Firefox”, that’s poor website design on their part.

    For more, see

  20. Daniel Holbert on July 8th, 2009
  21. @Daniel Holbert: Thanks very interisting read. The point about the user-agent string was just an another annoyance if I install Firefox I expected it to be called Firefox. 🙂 (This wasn’t aimed at the lack of web devs knowing what they are doing)

  22. drubin on July 9th, 2009
  23. @Drubin: There are some valid reasons for sniffing for the string “Firefox.” For example, I have a web site that uses a lot of math. I serve it up as mathml to ff3 users, bitmaps to everyone else. The alternative would be to bring ff users down to the level of other browsers that don’t implement mathml properly.

  24. Ben Crowell on July 18th, 2009
  25. Fine, let folks have their Shiretoko. Can I have my Firefox 3.5 now?

    The excuse I’ve heard is that Ubuntu wanted Firefox 3.0 to be the default browser, so they renamed 3.5; thank you for making that decision for me…..

    Since FF is the app I run most, this prompts me to consider other distributions.


  26. sirald66 on July 19th, 2009
  27. In Shiretoko (or Firefox 3.x) go to Tools > Add-ons > Get Add-ons > Search All Add-ons > [type:] user agent. The first suggestion will probably be an add-on called User Agent Switcher. Pretty handy.

  28. Piraja on November 5th, 2009
  29. @Piraja: Ye simple to solve. This issue was resolved in karmic so now I am very happy 🙂 (Until I install the next pre-release hehe)

  30. drubin on November 5th, 2009
  31. I’m impressed! You’ve managed the almost ipmsoibsle.

  32. Morey on May 5th, 2011