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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 Anonymous Coward
    The optimisations will be enabled in Firefox 6... is that the version that comes out this week or the week after?
    • I'm guessing next week. The current Firefox nightlies (codenamed "Nightly", amusingly) are versioned 6.0a1.
      • WTF happened to Firefox 5? I am running the newest build I can find and it is Firefox 4.0.1 on Ubuntu 11.04.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by starofale (1976650)
          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
  • YES! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by supersloshy (1273442) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @07:11PM (#35987338)

    As a long-time Firefox and GNU/Linux fan, this is excellent news. Whenever I use Firefox on even the most basic windows installs, it's always faster than my desktop running Arch Linux. It lags left and right, sometimes takes forever to switch tabs, but it's not unusable. Thanks Mozilla for remembering that you have a lot of Linux-using fans! :)

    • by Compaqt (1758360)

      Preach it.

      What's funny about FF bugs is the continual denial, until they actually comes out with a version that fixes something. (Remember the memory bugs, and how it wouldn't release memory after closing tabs?)

      Anyway, FF is fast and light on Windows. I often have 10s of windows with 10s of tabs in them (database, sql, programming language, HTML, other references). CPU load is light (max 13% or so, usually 3% for FF).

      On Linux (Ubuntu)? FF is a hog. I only run it on the odd site that doesn't work with Chrome

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft Internet Explorer is clearly superior in every way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maxwell demon (590494)

      Microsoft Internet Explorer is clearly superior in every way.

      Especially on Linux. :-)

      • Look man, if it's not IE 6, it's not a browser.

        I really like the calming blue backgrounds I get on "transparent" png files, and how it's always downloading cool stuff when I don't tell it to.

        • Onwards Mozilla Soldiers,
          Onwards Opera Priests.
          Onward, Fruits of Google,
          Fight till you're deceased.
          Fight your little battles.
          Join in thickest fray;
          For the Greater Glory,
          of M-S-I-E.
          Yah, yah, yah,
          Yah, yah, yah, yah.
          Blfffffffffffft! [saveie6.com]
  • From TFA:

    However according to Hommey, these new faster and less sluggish builds of Firefox for Linux will be available only from Firefox 6 onwards and we expect the first beta of Firefox 6 to available only by September - October 2011.

    • True this. I am testing the nightly build on both Windows Vista and Ubuntu 11.04,and it hasn't crashed on me yet. And I can confirm that it is extremely smooth on Ubuntu, I would in fact say that it's perceptibly smoother than the Windows build.

      Most extensions don't work yet, which is expected. Although, AdBlock, NoScript and WoT surprisingly work.

      Kudos to the Mozilla team for their brilliant browser.

    • However according to Hommey, these new faster and less sluggish builds of Firefox for Linux will be available only from Firefox 6 onwards and we expect the first beta of Firefox 6 to available only by September - October 2011.

      Note that you do not need to wait, if you are ok with running a Nightly build [mozilla.org]. Nightly builds are the latest code, so they are obviously less stable. But you can get this improvement right now if you want it.

      Otherwise, you can wait just a few weeks and Firefox 6 Aurora will be released, which is somewhat more stable, and will include this code. (6 weeks later will be a Beta, and 6 weeks after that, a stable release.)

  • 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 drb226 (1938360) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @07:22PM (#35987390)
      You may want to try Opera sometime. Absolutely pitiful for extensions, not quite as standards-friendly as the open-source alternatives, but the way it renders pages is very snappy.
      • by cbhacking (979169)

        What's your beef with Opera's standards support? It's certainly better than Firefox's, and about on par with Chrome (among other things, it tied Chrome for the first working ACID3 implementation).

    • "Staying on topic of Firefox",

      Sounds like you're a Speed fan. So a great technique I learned a while ago is "Blue Sky" thinking - just suppose you wake up one day and an Aurora Build of FF has some Crazy optimization that makes it all go 3X faster. Would you return to Firefox?

      I think the very low barrier to entry from the user perspective that woke us up from an IE-dominated web is now getting a little gritty. Feels to me we're sorta playing them off each other now.

      I'm a solid FF fan. Sure, they cycled betw

  • by camcorder (759720) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @07:28PM (#35987418)
    I've been using Linux long before than even Firefox existed, but I don't remember downloading Firefox from their website (so their builds) for Linux since it was the de-facto browser of choice of Linux desktop. I believe most users of Firefox on Linux use build of their distribution. Not to mention that also means couple of millions less for their download count.

    Though, maybe their way of doing it or updates in makefiles help maintainers of distributions to put better builds. I guess that's what matters, not their own build on web page.
    • Though, maybe their way of doing it or updates in makefiles help maintainers of distributions to put better builds. I guess that's what matters, not their own build on web page.

      Exactly, yeah. Most Linux users probably get Firefox through their distro, but the effort and patches that got this improvement done, will allow distros to compile in the same way and get the same speedup. If everything goes right, distros should be able to compile with these options and things will just work.

  • by thisisauniqueid (825395) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @07:41PM (#35987476)
    Wow.
    • by kervin (64171)

      faster => Increased speed

      sluggish => Less latency

      • No, in a UI-based program that reacts to a user's actions or its own internal timers in an event loop, everything speed-related has to do with the turnaround time between an event firing (a user click, a URL being entered, or a JS timer going off) and the result of that event being displayed to the user -- i.e. latency. So latency is really just the inverse of "bandwidth" or "speed" as you put it, within the UI paradigm.
        faster => decreased latency.
        sluggish => decreased latency.
  • Profile guided? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zippthorne (748122)

    Does that mean they weren't using a profiler before now??

    That... actually explains quite a bit...

    • by shish (588640)
      I presume they had a human readable profiler before; but profile-guided optimisation is something different. TL:DR version, the compiler looks at the profiler stats, and optimises the code so that the most heavily used parts get priority
      • PGO: Profile-Guided Optimization [wikipedia.org]. A FF PGO build will compile an executable with with profiling on, the run that executable using an automated script that drives the browser through a suite of tests that is intended to mimic typical usage. The results of this profiling are written to a file and then a second, optimized build is done using the profiling results as a guide for the optimizer to generate better code for the hotspots.

        I've been doing it with FF4 on my Mac with Snow Leopard for some time. It does

    • 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.

  • Firefox has always been the same speed for me in Linux and Windows. So now it's gonna be faster? Score.

  • Just tried the nightly, and there's definitively a perceived speed boost. I can't compare to windows version, but it's there on linux for sure. Easy as downloading the nightly to a local dir in your home, unpack and run. Better, some odd layout bugs of the stable seem to have disappeared too.
  • I was a Mozilla/Firefox (and Netscape before that) user for many, many years... going all the way back to Netscape 3.01. I finally jumped to Chrome about a year ago, when the sluggishness of Firefox on Linux really started to piss me off. I've found that I really like Chrome's streamlined, minimalist approach; and IMO the recent addition of native PDF rendering capability is another feather in Chrome's cap. Even if Firefox manages to match Chrome's speed, that's not likely to get me to switch back...

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