32bit firefox/thunderbird on debian amd64

New computer at work last week, now with 16gb of RAM I totally do not need, but this it was clear that running a 32bit Linux was no longer an option.
So Debian amd64 was installed. Now, I’ve looked at the thunderbird/firefox icon for so long, I cannot live with iceweasel/icedove branding. Only Firefox nightly exists as 64bit build, where again the branding is different, so installing the 32bit build was necessary.

This is really just a problem that arises because of my own stubborn refusal to change my ways, if I ran the firefox nightly, lived with iceweasel or simply ran ubuntu it would all be fine.
I’ve pieced together this information twice now, so time to write it down. Also, maybe someone else has exactly the same weird “legacy” problems I do.

Run all commands below as root.

First, setup multiarch, beware, when I first did this about a year ago, it messed up conflict resolution in aptitude and I had to fall back on just apt-get again, I hear it might work fine now.

dpkg --add-architecture i386
apt-get update

Then install the basic libraries firefox/thunderbird needs (use ldd on the firefox binaries/libraries to find this list):

apt-get install libgtk2.0-0:i386 libatk1.0-0:i386 libgdk-pixbuf2.0-0:i386 \
     libldap-2.4-2:i386 libdbus-glib-1-2:i386 libpango1.0-0:i386 libglib2.0-0:i386

I use the greybird theme – to make thunderbird/firefox look the part, install the 32bit version of the gtk-engines used:

apt-get install gtk2-engines-murrine:i386 gtk2-engines-pixbuf:i386

Then install firefox/thunderbird normally – if you keep the folder owned/writable by your user they will auto-update fine.


  1. You made my day, thanks a lot! Exactly what I was looking for

  2. Update for Wheezy: you might need to install those packages also:

    apt-get install libstdc++6:i386 libxt6:i386 libasound2:i386

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