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Firefox Mozilla Upgrades Windows Linux News

Firefox On Linux Gets Faster Builds — To Be Fast As Windows 306

Posted by timothy
from the gotta-have-a-benchmark dept.
dkd903 writes "Mozilla's Mike Hommey has announced on his blog that his team at Mozilla has finally managed to get the Linux builds of Firefox to use GCC 4.5 with aggressive optimization and profile guided optimization enabled. All this simply means that we can now expect a faster and less sluggish Firefox browser on Linux (both 32 bit and 64 bit systems)."
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Firefox On Linux Gets Faster Builds — To Be Fast As Windows

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  • by atari2600a (1892574) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @07:15PM (#35987356)
    Acceleration works just fine depending on the drivers. Nvidia proprietary is going great, though I'm not sure about Intel. ATI Isn't even in the game. But yeah, ever since Flash 10.2 & the more recent major Chrome revisions, no more 2FPS flash video on a netbook! Haven't exactly been following FF but yeah...
  • I was a firefox user (Score:3, Informative)

    by JerryLindenburg (2048934) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @07:16PM (#35987358) Homepage

    I loved Firefox for the longest time.
    I did. When it came out, it was so light and fast, that it put it's predecessor the Mozilla browser to shame. It was no contest. I even went so far as to buy the T-shirt, and go out of my way to enlighten every non techie friend I possibly could about it.

    Over the years, Firefox got slower as my computer got faster. A lot slower, but I had to keep the update cycle going on my machine because for the most part... I didn't really have a choice. Today, Firefox on Ubuntu is almost totally unusable. It sucks up 99% of my system resources when I have two gmail windows open, it's always processing weird network requests, and it's so incredibly slow that I just don't feel like I want to have anything to do with the browser anymore.

    Meanwhile, Google Chrome has added a Bookmark manager, and Firebug is available. Chrome also gets very regular updates from Google, and even with every possible stupid extension I like, it doesn't slow down. Granted, half of my extensions don't work right, and that's annoying, but the browser itself does what I want, at the speed I want it.

    I really think Firefox has missed the boat here.
    I might change my mind, but I'm in absolutely no hurry to try it out (as a web browser, it's a marvelous sqlite tool) again.

  • by fbartho (840012) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @07:35PM (#35987448) Homepage

    Look dude, Get your complaints right. You're bitching about Memory Footprint. Perfectly acceptable problem to bitch about.

    You're not bitching about memory leaks. Memory leaks would be indicated by progressive increase in the amount of memory used over time, without functional changes is your usage of the app. That's not what's indicated by my tests on both Windows and Mac. I run with many tabs open, and FF's memory usage is directly related to the number of tabs I have open. When I shed a window or a set of tabs, FF shrinks in memory footprint.

    If you were bitching about memory leaks, that would be a perfectly reproducible problem, and a standard memory profiler would catch these things, and any contributor to FF could easily submit patches to clean up the leaked memory. Memory bloat is a more systematic problem that is much harder to keep a handle on. No matter what, new features need memory to work, so as an application ages it would be prone to increase it's footprint. That's the hard problem, and that's what I think the FF team should take some time to focus on, now that they are reaching acceptable responsiveness in general.

  • by SquirrelDeth (1972694) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @07:37PM (#35987462)
    Linux does not suck at 3d proprietary drivers suck at 3d.
  • by fish waffle (179067) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @07:51PM (#35987518)
    I've experienced FF using over 2G of memory after some use. Who should I blame? I spent several hours to narrow it down to greasemonkey, though I'm still not sure which script.

    Complaints about memory leaks will persist, even if caused by the plug-ins and extensions. Rather than dismiss and ignore the complaints it would help the overall user experience to if it were easy to identify the cause---a "standard memory profiler" may catch leaks in a (dev?) firefox build, but there's no convenient way to figure out which plug-in is causing an actual user problem, let alone where the leak comes from within a plug-in. Asking users to perform a binary search disabling plug-ins is ridiculous---an option that showed how much memory each plug-in is using would at least easily allow blame to be allocated appropriately.
  • by starofale (1976650) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @08:37PM (#35987722)
    It appears you haven't heard about the new Firefox release schedule.
    https://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/channel/ [mozilla.com]

    Firefox 4 is the stable channel
    There is no beta build currently
    Firefox 5 is in the Aurora channel
    Firefox 6 is in the Nightly channel
  • by kripkenstein (913150) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @08:48PM (#35987766) Homepage

    Install FF 4, browse a while, close all but one _blank_ tab and guess what? Firefox uses 7-800 MB _active_ memory.

    Hi, I'm a Firefox dev. That sounds very bad. Can you please give some more details about how to reproduce it: Are you using a new profile? Are there any addons and plugins installed? What websites do you visit? And what specific Linux distro are you on?

    Note that this might not be a bug: For example, if you visit a website that shows 200MB of images, then close that tab, then the memory is not necessarily freed. The reason is that the page stays cached, so that if you do 'History->Recently closed tabs' and open it, it will appear quickly. On a machine with lots of memory (most these days), that behavior tends to work better than releasing pages aggressively. However, if you aren't visiting websites with extreme memory use like that, then this might be an actual bug.

    Getting back to your problem: With a new profile and no addons or plugins, we are unaware of a bug that causes anything like that. So I would be very grateful to you if you can point us to a bug we don't know about, so that we can fix it. If you give me steps that I can use to reproduce the problem (on my Linux machine over here),then you have my promise that I will l personally look into this and do everything in my power to fix it.

  • Re:Profile guided? (Score:5, Informative)

    by kripkenstein (913150) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @08:53PM (#35987784) Homepage

    Does that mean they weren't using a profiler before now?? That... actually explains quite a bit...

    No, we use profilers ;) In fact we have some valgrind - the awesome Linux profiling tool - devs working here.

    Profile guided optimization is something else though. It is a special way of compiling and linking, that the compiler and linker use profiling information to know how best to optimize the code. So code that is used a lot is compiled with -O3 (the most optimizations), while code that is not used a lot gets -Os (to take less space), and so forth. This is a very useful technique that was not available on Linux until last year, and the news today is that Firefox now builds properly with it and there is a nice noticeable speed improvement for Linux users.

  • by bunratty (545641) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @09:10PM (#35987846)
    Then it's good that Firefox uses less memory than other browsers [tomshardware.com].
  • by kripkenstein (913150) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @10:03PM (#35988016) Homepage

    Thanks for the valuable feedback to the OP. Comments like this keep me coming back to Slashdot.

    Out of curiosity, is there an option to turn on aggressive releasing of pages? It seems to me to be a good idea, but without being familiar (even remotely) with the source code and design perhaps there are reasons against this (if there is indeed no option to turn it on/off).

    Cheers

    You can simply tell Firefox to not cache anything by setting browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers to 0 in about:config. Then once you browse away from a page, it's memory will all be released. More details here [mozillazine.org]

    The problem with this is that pressing 'back' will mean a complete reload of the page you just left. At least in my experience, caching pages is almost always worth it (unless you have machine with very limited RAM).

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Sunday May 01, 2011 @03:27AM (#35989194) Journal

    Linux does not suck at 3d proprietary drivers suck at 3d.

    Yeah, that's exactly why the #1 3D driver recommended by Firefox devs for things to work smoothly is NVidia's proprietary driver...

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