Running a 32-bit Firefox on a 64-bit Fedora or Red Hat Enterprise

January 24, 2008

It turns out that it is pretty easy to run a 32-bit Firefox on a modern 64-bit Fedora or Red Hat Enterprise system, something that is periodically convenient. (For example, the current Sun ILOM client needs the 32-bit version of Java. Maybe you could run things with nspluginwrapper, but I prefer not to take chances with a machine's console.)

First, you need to make sure you have the 32 bit version of Firefox installed. I don't know if this is the default, but 'yum install firefox.i386' will certainly make sure it's there.

If you are using a current version of Fedora, all you need to do is start Firefox as 'linux32 firefox' instead of just 'firefox'. If you keep the 32 bit version running, the magic of Firefox's remote control means that all of your browsing will be in it, no matter what command programs use to invoke Firefox.

It takes some more work if you're using Red Hat Enterprise 5; you need to create a modified version of the firefox script, because the script hard codes running the 64 bit version if it's available. Put a copy of /usr/bin/firefox somewhere under a different name, say firefox32, and edit it to either take out the bit that checks for /usr/lib64/firefox-.... or change the path it's looking for something that doesn't exist, so it thinks that the 64 bit version isn't installed.

One cautionary note: I believe that the personal plugins directory, $HOME/.mozilla/plugins, is shared between the 32 bit and the 64 bit version. I don't know what happens if you have anything there.

Written on 24 January 2008.
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Last modified: Thu Jan 24 23:25:44 2008
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