Firefox's Holly Branch, a temporary escape from Australis

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 19, 2013
Updated • Jul 15, 2019

I apologize for the increase in Firefox Australis related posts in the last couple of weeks. Since I'm affected by the new user interface, I want to make sure that I cover everything there is to know about it.

For those who do not know it yet, it is a interface redesign of the Firefox web browser that changes things around. Some say that it makes Firefox look more beautiful, while others dislike it for the features that got removed in the process, or at least changed by Firefox engineers and designers.

It is possible to restore the classic Firefox interface by installing a browser extension that lets you restore many of the changes that were introduced in Australis. While it won't get you a 100% copy of Firefox's classic interface back, it does add things like the add-on bar, the Firefox menu button, or small buttons back to the web browser.

Firefox users who are not on the Nightly channel won't be upgraded to the new interface any time soon. The first channel will be Aurora, which as it stands now, will be updated when it hits Firefox 29 which will be in January or maybe even February of 2014.

Australis will then appear in the next release cycle in the beta channel, and after that in the stable channel.

Since it is a giant undertaking for Mozilla, a decision has been made to maintain a temporary branch of Firefox without the Australis changes.

Those builds, codenamed Holly, offer all features and updates that Mozilla implements into the browser but without anything Australis related.


Interested Firefox users can download the most recent build of Holly from the Mozilla FTP website.The directory lists a lot of builds, and the easiest way to find the right one is to press F3 to open the on-page find box and enter holly as the search term in it.

This should jump straight to the first Holly entry, and all that is left here is to select your operating system, e.g. holly-win32 and in it the latest date folder. It is then only a matter of downloading the release to the local system to either install it, or run it right after you have unpacked it.

Please note that Holly is equivalent to Firefox Nightly in terms of stability. While that means that it is very stable for most of the time, it can result in issues occasionally which make the builds not suitable for productive environments.

Tip: To find out which build you are running load about:buildconfig in the address bar of Firefox. There you should see source information which point to the build.

Holly is labeled a temporary branch of Firefox which means that it won't be maintained forever. For now though, it may be an option for Firefox users who want to run the Nightly version of the browser on their system without the Australis changes.

Update: Mozilla has stopped producing Holly builds of Firefox. If you prefer classic Firefox, try Pale Moon or Waterfox instead.

Firefox's Holly Branch, a temporary escape from Australis
Article Name
Firefox's Holly Branch, a temporary escape from Australis
When Mozilla launched the Australis design of Firefox, it maintained a separate branch called Holly with the classic design for a while.
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  1. George Hall said on July 25, 2014 at 6:28 am

    The Holy Nightly 28.0 Version which is Firefox without Australis is located in the folder latest-mozilla-b2g28_v1_3

    Click this link or or go the above with a FTP Client in Firefox Nighty on Mozilla FTP Server.

    Then you will have Firefox without Australis

    Holly does not install over Firefox 28.0, Instead it installs as a separate program called Holy that uses the same profile as Firefox 28.0

    When the Menu Bar is disabled iby the user Menu Button in upper left part of the Browser says Holly Instead of Firefox.

    Firefox 28.0 and Holly 28.0 both can disable and enable the Menu Button which can not be done in Firefox 29.0 and above

  2. David said on July 5, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Holly has been discontinued. Anyone know of another branch?

    1. Anonymous said on July 25, 2014 at 7:21 am

      Holly has not been discontinued, It is no longer located in the tinderbox builds. it is now in the nightly builds under the folder latest-mozilla-b2g28_v1_3/

      Clicking or using an FTP Cleint you cna download a version Holly which does not have Australis,

      Holly 28.0 is located their in that folder

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 5, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      I don’t think so. If you want Firefox without Australis, try Pale Moon instead.

  3. Dan said on April 2, 2014 at 3:46 am

    This is literally form trumping function.

    And function was the last bastion Firefox ever had.

    1. Dave said on May 15, 2014 at 10:53 am

      This sums up the whole argument in a nutshell.

      I just got the Holly 32a installer from
      and it’s got Australis :-/ I tried Classic Theme Restorer last night and it is not a solution. It’s pretty poor compatibility-wise.

      Isn’t there a version of Holly which is parallel to the release of Fx 29 and therefore stable?

      1. George Hall said on July 25, 2014 at 7:27 am


        Their is it is located at the link

        A Pre 29,0 version of Holly is no longer in the tinderbox builds instead are in the nightly builds in the folder latest-mozilla-b2g28_v1_3

  4. ProductivityBoy said on February 12, 2014 at 7:47 am

    I HATE Australis!
    Twice now it’s RUINED a PRODUCTIVE browser, taking it from this:

    to the new Missing Toolbars, AND Statusbars mode. Killing at least ELEVEN addons functionality, leaving my browser literally in an unsecured state as I can’t cycle the JavaScript, Java, Flash, SilverLight, Images, Cookies, Animated Gifs, CSS, and Proxy, not to mention stashing away my NoScript, ADBLOCK, Ghostery, NoRedirect, Disconnect, ColorToggle Settings, Scrapbook, Linkification, It destroyed my ToolBar layouts, Proxies, Firebug.

    Australis isn’t good for Anything except destroying work productivity!

    You go look at that picture, and then compare to the Toolbarless Australis.

    I ain’t on a little netbook here, with 8 Cores and 16G of ram, Dual 24″ monitors, I am not concerned with screnspace in a netbook, that browser photo I published, was put together with love over several YEARS of what works and what don’t for MY PRODUCTIVITY. It even kills the theme, FOXDIE making userChrome.css customization pointless—

    I HATE 10000 NEW THEMES, when not one can do what FOXDIE did already! (perhaps getting to comfy sleeping with Libre Office?- — okay speculation there)

    But Australis is ON PAR with Windows 8 and no start button. Good God. The monetary system and geopolitical situation and financial siituation is going to HELL and yet, on top of all that lawless fraud, developers seem to think it’s PROGRESS to destroy PRODUCTIVE BOXES.

    So your probably thinking about now, that Aurora isn’t a “PRODUCTION APP” yeah. Your right, but your brain is still stuck on backwardization of productivity. Does it matter what you call it if you destroy someones website? DDoS, Worm? They both RUIN the artist. And so, too does destroying someone’s browser. It doesn’t matter what you want to call it. I ain’t here to play name games or argue symantics. I’m the CEO telling ya, I can’t HIRE you because the IRS has made life too unpleasant to GIVE you a job.

    So if that’s what you want, spycraft mobile devices and Green ROHS “throw-away” electronics, or more screenspace in your netbook, have fun, cause I am about to pull the plug. I just don’t need the problems of this internet anymore. Domain names, webhosting, links, eCommerce, who cares — let everyone stave and riot. I just won’t support the system anymore. This Australis thing would be fine, if it was on a NETBOOK, or TABLET. But when it’s on a half way powerful workstation it’s GARBAGE, and so are the ARGUMENTS FOR IT.

    In the end it reminds me of a DEA raid. Paramilitary jackboots, hardened, armed with machineguns and weapons, carrying 40 LB box after 40 LB box out the door. Inside thos boxes is Australis. It’s the NWO plan basicallty in my mind. Box after box of unconstitutional illogic and treason. A bit Harsh in description? I don’t think so. Sure I don’t code well enough to fork() firefox, but if I could, I would.

  5. Xmetalfanx said on November 27, 2013 at 4:38 am

    Hello, I know this is a few days old now, though I have to say that I just installed Nightly (Australis ) and even though its not as bad as I thought it would be, I do say they are turning it into Chrome and alot of the addons I use will not (not just because its a test release) work at all anymore. NOW I did get Holly and I will do more research myself on it, though it seems that Mozilla should (if not making a release for Holly every version) … do sort of a Ubuntu/Linux Mint way of doing things … Perhaps every 4 of 5 “Major” releases release a “LTS” (Long term Support) Holly release… maybe if they could make it where there would be small (just in this example assuming it was a Final release… “Firefox Holly 28”) updates to patch minor security issues via the updater … but nothing major. That would be for the major “Australis ” releases.

    Or If I had my way. Have two releases for every # version. One Australis (even if they are the main releases on many software portals) and have a Holy Release available for those like me who really do not like Australis .. even if they are two different downloads…in a way Mozilla keeps it’s Choice way of doing things that users have loved about it for years.

    Just my two cents

  6. Ken Saunders said on November 20, 2013 at 10:58 am

    “I apologize for the increase in Firefox Australis related posts in the last couple of weeks”
    You should be sorry. It’s shameful.
    Of course I’m kidding. There’s nothing to apologize for.

    You’re a tech reporter/writer simply writing about newsworthy info that will impact 450+ million people including yourself.
    You also don’t care for Australis and disagree with some of the changes coming with it so you’re passionate about it and that’s understandable.

    You haven’t just been trashing Australis, Firefox, or Mozilla, in fact, you’ve been very fair and supportive over the years and that is one of the main reasons why Ghacks is my favorite and go to place for tech things that I’m interested in, especially Mozilla related content.
    I completely stopped visiting CNET and ZDNet after going to them for like 9 years because of their consistent Firefox bashing and biased reporting. Oddly enough, I discovered Firefox through CNET.
    It is possible to simply review and report things without smearing them with the main goal of promoting another.

    For followers of Ghacks, I recommend using Update Scanner for Firefox to be notified of all new articles or just the topics that you’re interested in.
    Currently a featured add-on.

    1. XenoSilvano said on November 20, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      lol, what!?, are my eyes seeing straight, is this a comment by… Ken Saunder(?)
      the same Ken Sanders that said this – [ ]

      ‘Has Ken Saunders turned a new leaf?’
      ‘Will Mozilla ever come back to it senses?’
      ‘Is Ken Saunders really Ken Sanders?’

      Find out soon in the next Australis article!

  7. pd said on November 20, 2013 at 10:49 am

    no need to apologise IMHO, I think what you’re posting is invaluable.

  8. Paul A. said on November 20, 2013 at 5:55 am

    Please keep us posted. My Firefox is set up to basically look like FF 3.6 so the possible changes coming in Australis have me in a panic, wondering if this is my last year with FF. As with Windows 8 in my opining change just for change sake ain’t necessarily a good thing.

  9. George Melendez said on November 20, 2013 at 3:13 am

    I started using Pale Moon as my default browser. I find that it’s just as good or better than Firefox. You can use all your plug-ins and extensions that you are currently using in Firefox and I haven’t had any issues so far. Pale Moon actually looks just like Firefox and I can’t see any difference at all. What can you say about Pale Moon and is there a review on it.

    1. ProductivityBoy said on February 12, 2014 at 8:01 am

      The only problem I EVER HAD with Pale moon was.

      updates — Just kidding….. don’t kill me lol

      Okay the real answer is, “it doesn’t run on linux” Oh yeah I am sure I can get it up on wine, but I ain’t running wine palemoon.exe %s system-wide.

      Back to the Australis thing though, It’s literally going to come down to, do you want your browswer updated, or do you want it to be productive -imo.

      1. janr said on April 7, 2014 at 9:29 pm

        A linux version is available since around mid-february. Check this thread on the pale moon forum :

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on April 7, 2014 at 11:05 pm

        Oh that is cool, thanks for the link.

  10. milos said on November 19, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    I downloaded from, but Australis works.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 19, 2013 at 11:06 pm

      Well that is the wrong directory, you need to open a Holly directory.

      1. milos said on November 19, 2013 at 11:50 pm

        Thanks. I downloaded:
        and works fine !
        There is also the x64 platform holly?

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on November 20, 2013 at 12:11 am

        Only for Linux as far as I know.

  11. milos said on November 19, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    ABP (Adblock Plus ext.) icon disappearing in Firefox/Australis, how to enable to. I went into extensions and disabled ad block plus and re enabled it and the icon came back.

  12. milos said on November 19, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    I downloaded holly-win32-bm85-build1-build6.txt.gz
    But how do I install it. It is. Txt file.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 19, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      You should pick this one:

  13. Paul(us) said on November 19, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Martin, Please do not excuse/ apologize yourself for the increase in Firefox Australis related posts in the last couple of weeks. This because I like to be fully informed by you about this matter.
    And i have a sneaky feeling that I am not the only one who is thinking the same way as me!
    Please keep up the good work.

  14. Mr Rubot said on November 19, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    The Holly branch is a lot more promising than Australis. Six months ago, I left Opera after 15 years, when they decided to become a dumbed down Chrome clone. It took Cyberfox and 40 add-ons to get me in the Firefox camp. Aris (or someone) will have to restore a lot more features to Australis before I will check it out again.

  15. jwm4 said on November 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    I agree 1000% with Andy – you are my go-to resource for need-to-know info about Firefox from a professional/advanced user perspective. Thanks for letting us know about Holly. Already installed it in place of default Nightly on four machines I use.

    The australis interface just plain sucks. Seems like there might be some major forks for Firefox resulting from its design changes…

  16. Andyjm said on November 19, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    No need to apologise for the number of Australis posts.
    It’s essential information for any Firefox user.
    You are doing a great job.

    1. Midnight said on November 19, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      I agree, Andyjm. There are no doubt a lot of annoyed Firefox Nightly users who are not impressed with the changes brought on by Australis and any workarounds offered by Martin are very much appreciated. :)

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