How To Run Firefox From The Command Line

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How do I run Firefox browser from the Linux command line (shell prompt)? How to run Firefox from command line on Linux or Unix based server?

You can use the command line as follows with special arguments to start Mozilla firefox browser.


Firefox Start Browser From The Command Line

You can find out full path to firefox with the following type command:
type -a firefox
To open the browser, enter:
$ firefox
$ /usr/bin/firefox

Firefox Open URL

To open URL in a new tab, enter:
$ /usr/bin/firefox --new-window
To open URL in a new window, enter:
$ /usr/bin/firefox

Linux run Firefox from the command line
Unix / Linux run Firefox from the command line

Linux Firefox open url in a new tab

You must run:
firefox --new-tab url
/usr/bin/firefox --new-tab

Firefox Search option

You can search words (term) with your default search engine, enter:
$ /usr/bin/firefox --search "term"
$ /usr/bin/firefox -search "linux add user to group"

Open Firefox Options / Preferences

To open Firefox options/preferences window, enter:
$ /usr/bin/firefox --preferences

Set Firefox As Default Browser

To set the Firefox app as the default browser, enter:
$ /usr/bin/firefox --setDefaultBrowser

How Do I Run Firefox Remotely On Server?

SSH is frequently used to tunnel insecure traffic over the Internet in a secure way. You can login to remote server using the ssh client:
$ ssh -X
To run firefox, enter:
$ /usr/bin/firefox &
$ /usr/bin/firefox

How to run Firefox from a remote server

You need terminal and Gnome/KDE GUI to work with the local desktop. However, if you need to run Firefox on a remote Linux server and get output on a local desktop, try the ssh command:
ssh -X firefox
One can specify X display to use:
firefox --display=DISPLAY url
firefox --display=0.0 url
DISPLAY=some-desktop:0.0 firefox url
ssh -X "firefox --display=0.0"

How to find out all other Firefox command line options?

Run the following command and you can filter outputs using the grep command/egrep command:
firefox --help
firefox --help | grep search

Usage: firefox [ options ... ] [URL]
       where options include:
X11 options
  --display=DISPLAY  X display to use
  --sync             Make X calls synchronous
  --g-fatal-warnings Make all warnings fatal
Firefox options
  -h or --help       Print this message.
  -v or --version    Print Firefox version.
  -P <profile>       Start with <profile>.
  --profile <path>   Start with profile at <path>.
  --migration        Start with migration wizard.
  --ProfileManager   Start with ProfileManager.
  --no-remote        Do not accept or send remote commands; implies
  --new-instance     Open new instance, not a new window in running instance.
  --UILocale <locale> Start with <locale> resources as UI Locale.
  --safe-mode        Disables extensions and themes for this session.
  -MOZ_LOG=<modules> Treated as MOZ_LOG=<modules> environment variable, overrides it.
  -MOZ_LOG_FILE=<file> Treated as MOZ_LOG_FILE=<file> environment variable, overrides it.
                     If MOZ_LOG_FILE is not specified as an argument or as an environment variable,
                     logging will be written to stdout.
  --headless         Run without a GUI.
  --save-recordings  Save recordings for all content processes to a directory.
  --browser          Open a browser window.
  --new-window <url> Open <url> in a new window.
  --new-tab <url>    Open <url> in a new tab.
  --private-window <url> Open <url> in a new private window.
  --preferences      Open Preferences dialog.
  --screenshot [<path>] Save screenshot to <path> or in working directory.
  --window-size width[,height] Width and optionally height of screenshot.
  --search <term>    Search <term> with your default search engine.
  --setDefaultBrowser Set this app as the default browser.
  --jsconsole        Open the Browser Console.
  --jsdebugger       Open the Browser Toolbox.
  --wait-for-jsdebugger Spin event loop until JS debugger connects.
                     Enables debugging (some) application startup code paths.
                     Only has an effect when `--jsdebugger` is also supplied.
  --devtools         Open DevTools on initial load.
  --start-debugger-server [ws:][ <port> | <path> ] Start the debugger server on
                     a TCP port or Unix domain socket path. Defaults to TCP port
                     6000. Use WebSocket protocol if ws: prefix is specified.
  --recording <file> Record drawing for a given URL.
  --recording-output <file> Specify destination file for a drawing recording.
      -g or --debug          Start within debugger
      -d or --debugger       Specify debugger to start with (eg, gdb or valgrind)
      -a or --debugger-args  Specify arguments for debugger

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.


20 comment

  1. hello,

    the shell comand “firefox” does only work if you start in from a e.g. gnome terminal, and gnome is running on this display.

    what is the command if you want start friefox e.g on tty1 , where no desktop is running?

    linux says ” error : no display specified”
    How to specify the display ?

    or does it only work when starting from tty7 (where the desktop is running) in this case i’m wondering about the advantage starting from a shell. because you could also click on the firefox button in front panel.

    thx for advice

    1. You need 2 command lines. (you do not need to be logged as root)

      But first you need :
      To get the X server installed = xserver-xorg
      To get a graphical interface installed : Gnome or KDE or LXDE or XFCE or whatever you want…
      To be located and log on in a TTY console

      The first command line is to set the variable “DISPLAY” to “:0” by the following :
      username@localhost:~$ export DISPLAY=:0

      To verify your work has been done efficiently you may enter, to see the value of your variable :

      username@localhost:~$ echo $DISPLAY

      You should get :

      The second one by entering the program name you need to run, iceweasel for exemple :
      username@localhost:~$ /usr/lib/iceweasel/firefox.bin &

      NOTA : The sign “&” at the end gives you back the command line available.

      …and it will start firefox on the web page in you graphical interface…

      Have fun and thank you !!! So much !!!

  2. My previous topic gives you how to start a graphical software in tty7 from a command line in tty console like tty1 to tty6.
    It’s helpfull to run a software remotly.
    You need to get you desktop environment started.
    By I should know, it’s not possible to start a graphical software from the console without your desktop environment started.
    If you want to navigate on the Internet by a command line software in text mode from the console, you should use “Lynx”

  3. HI Vivek,

    I removed firefor old version using yum command. And downloaded firefox 18 .tar.bz2.

    Unzipped the tar file in /home/user/firefox.

    [root@localhost firefox]# /usr/bin/firefox
    bash: /usr/bin/firefox: No such file or directory

    Is that any settings i need to do?

  4. Hey I was wondering if I could close a tab in terminal? i wanted to run a bash script that opened a particular window and close it. for example i have


    firefox –new-window

    now i’m stuck with an open window i want to close. Is there a way to do it in terminal?

  5. How to keep alive firefox from ssh command. actually i want to keep alive firefox & open tabs after vnc viewer off. i m using skype form vps vnc viewer & skype via so i want to know how to keep alive that firefox pages.


  6. Dear Editor,

    under Firefox Open URL, -new-window is used to open a new window and will not open a tab. Simple typo anyone could make. :)

  7. if you want that the browser stay open when closing the executing terminal session you have to use the nohup command.
    In my case:

    export DISPLAY=:0";"nohup /usr/lib/iceweasel/iceweasel URLOFWEBSITE &

    worked fine.

  8. could you help me figure out what settings might not be in place in my machine.

    I run
    export DISPLAY=:0.0

    followed by firefox and I get error message saying,

    Error: cannot open display: :0.0

    How do I troubleshoot what might not be right in my machine?

          1. It is working fine now. Thanks Vivek! I really appreciate your help. Do you have any idea if we use similar approach for opening browsers to implement selenium automation in linux box? Just curious if you know. :)

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