Firefox and the release channels

When we meet and talk to people, there are often questions about Firefox, how the release shedule works and what different channels we have for testing. Therefore, I’d like to introduce you to/remind you about them and also let you know where the most important testing is, both for you and for us.

Firefox release channels

Basically, we have four different Firefox release channels:

Firefox Release
The official release of Firefox.
Firefox Beta
Testing the next version of Firefox befire it becomes the official release.
Firefox Aurora
For web/platform developers and early adopters.
Firefox Nightly
Nightly releases that contains experimental features. (covered regularly on Twitter from @firefoxnightly)

Firefox release timeline

Firefox is released on a six week schedule, meaning that every sixth week there will be new versions of Firefox Release, Firefox Beta and Firefox Aurora. Nightly is, naturally, released every night.

Running multiple versions of Firefox at the same time

There are many different ways of running multiple versions of Firefox at the same time. What it all comes down to is setting up different profiles that you have per each web browser instance. The easiest way is most likely to use the Profile Manager, as described on MDN.

If you are on Mac OS X, it’s easy to use the automated version of setting up multiple profiles of Firefox.

Another option, in plain code and as outlined in Multiple Firefox Instances, is to just launch the Profile manager directly:

# On Windows click Start > Run then:
"C:Program FilesMozilla Firefoxfirefox.exe" -no-remote -ProfileManager

# Mac OS X and Linux, in Terminal
firefox -ProfileManager

# Depending on system/setup, you might need to do this from the directory
./firefox -ProfileManager

Testing Firefox Aurora

The version of Firefox that is the best version to test for web developers is Firefox Aurora. It is in a stable enough condition to use, but also has features at their latest stage before they become approved. Therefore, your chance to affect implementations, find bugs, improve features is when it has become Firefox Aurora – likewise, it gives us a better chance to ensure that when Firefox is officially released, all the things are in place in the best possible manner.

Therefore, please take the time to test out Firefox Aurora and new features, so we can together help Firefox and the web better!

About Robert Nyman [Editor emeritus]

Technical Evangelist & Editor of Mozilla Hacks. Gives talks & blogs about HTML5, JavaScript & the Open Web. Robert is a strong believer in HTML5 and the Open Web and has been working since 1999 with Front End development for the web - in Sweden and in New York City. He regularly also blogs at and loves to travel and meet people.

More articles by Robert Nyman [Editor emeritus]…


  1. frank

    I’ve been a convinced Firefox Mobile user on my SGSII, but lately Mobile doesn’t seem to be following the release train any more, having been left behind at version 10 in Release/ Beta.

    The Aurora-builds are radically different (native UI and all), but apparently those aren’t deemed ready for Beta yet. Any news on what is happening and when we can expect Mobile to return to the release schedule you describe in this post?

    May 8th, 2012 at 07:17

    1. Robert Nyman

      Thanks for asking!
      We deemed the changes to Firefox mobile so large that we decided to take it out the above release cycle until we’ve reached a certain state with it. That said, everything you’ve been seeing in Firefox Aurora on ANdroid for some time will soon be in Firefox Beta on mobile.

      So please, stay tuned, and I hope that it will get onboard the release train soon!

      May 8th, 2012 at 10:06

  2. Manish

    Thanks for educatin us about different release channels. When can we expect silent updates?

    May 8th, 2012 at 11:25

    1. Robert Nyman

      It’s explained more in detail in the Silent Update working document, but basically it consists of varying parts. It will be in Firefox soon.

      May 9th, 2012 at 06:13

      1. Jean-Yves Perrier

        I have more information about this. Several pieces already landed (Add-ons compatible by default, UAC windows not to be needed during an update, …)

        The background update part which apply the update without a window and without impacting the browser is about to land (in the next couple of weeks)

        This will be a major step: updates will still be asked but will be very quick. The other phases will be done after this one.

        May 9th, 2012 at 11:51

  3. Elliott Richmond

    Sweet! I always come back to firefox because I prefer the Web Developers add on when developing websites, being a mac user I can now run multiple versions even better! Cheers.

    May 9th, 2012 at 02:26

    1. Robert Nyman

      Good to hear! You might also be interested in a blog post I wrote about add-ons for web development: Firefox – tons of tools for web developers!.

      May 9th, 2012 at 06:14

  4. DJ-Leith

    Are you aware of any changes to the ‘internal to Firefox meaning of the “-no-remote” switch’?
    You have posted an example of a “-no-remote” that is very similar to one I have been using BUT I have run into issues.
    These are described, with pictures, here:

    “Changes in Firefox “-no-remote” switch and running Fx”


    May 11th, 2012 at 17:01

    1. Robert Nyman

      Interesting, haven’t seen that behavior before. If it persists, or if you find any consistent logic, please feel free to enter a bug in Bugzilla about it.

      Thank you!

      May 11th, 2012 at 23:20

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