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Firefox Faster In Wine Than Native

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the that-sounds-hard-to-swallow dept.

Mozilla 493

An anonymous reader writes "Tuxradar did some benchmarks comparing Firefox's Windows and Linux JavaScript performance. 'We did some simple JavaScript benchmarks of Firefox 3.0 using Windows and Linux to see how it performed across the platforms — and the results are pretty bleak for Linux.' Later on, they tried Wine. 'The end result: Firefox from Mozilla or from Fedora has almost nil speed difference, and Firefox running on Wine is faster than native Firefox.'"

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493 comments

Dear losers (5, Informative)

tqft (619476) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841669)

Check the doco

Firefox 3.0 built for Windows was PGOed (Profile Guided Optimisation)

PGO was not yet enabled for linux builds

Try a newer build.

FAIL

Why not? (4, Interesting)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841741)

For everyone else in the world who does not know what PGO is maybe some details on why it is not enabled would be helpful.

Re:Why not? (5, Informative)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841935)

Profile Guided Optimization (PGO) is where you compile a special "recording" build of a program, then run it just using your core feature set and "ordinary" tasks. You don't perform a full test, or click on all the options or settings, you just go through normal end-user use cases. The special build then records a "profile" of your typical usage. You then feed the source code plus the profile back into the build process to build your production code.

The idea is for the linker to identify the hot spots in memory, and group as many of them together as possible so they live on common pages. This helps keep those pages from being swapped out of memory to disk due to disuse, which greatly reduces the amount of thrashing your end users will see during normal use. Less thrashing == improved performance.

Re:Why not? (5, Informative)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842021)

Oops, sorry, I didn't answer your "why not?" question directly. My guess is that because it takes a fair amount of additional work to create the profile after each build, the step may have been skipped by the Linux build team. As far as I know, profiles are unique to each build: you can't create a profile under the Windows image and reuse it on the Mac or Linux builds.

That's just a guess, though, I could certainly be wrong about that. I'm sure a PGO expert or perhaps a member of the Firefox build team will chime in here soon to correct me if I am.

Re:Why not? (0, Offtopic)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842201)

As far as I know, profiles are unique to each build: you can't create a profile under the Windows image and reuse it on the Mac or Linux builds.

Are we talking regular firefox user profiles here? Because I've got a few old ones that I still intend to import on a new machine. It would suck if that wouldn't work.

Although a browser that's optimised for my demanding usage would be kinda cool.

Re:Why not? (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842211)

It's also theoretically possible for the compiler to use PGO, if there are safe optimizations that are too slow to use normally. I don't know whether any such optimizations exist.

Re:Why not? (1)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842509)

Theoretically it could use profile information to inline certain functions. But as you suggest most optimizers would simply inline everything to the best extent possible, and not worry about whether it gets used frequently or not.

Actually, PGO might help there by identifying the inlines that would be of most benefit. Assuming that an inline function expansion occupies an additional amount of memory, by reducing the executable's footprint in key areas you might reduce swapping of the executable itself.

Re:Why not? (5, Interesting)

somenickname (1270442) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842563)

The idea is for the linker to identify the hot spots in memory, and group as many of them together as possible so they live on common pages. This helps keep those pages from being swapped out of memory to disk due to disuse, which greatly reduces the amount of thrashing your end users will see during normal use. Less thrashing == improved performance.

You were correct until here. This isn't PGO's primary purpose. It may do this to prevent TLB misses but, certainly not to lessen the impact of swapping (which for an average desktop linux user is almost non-existent). Optimization is about making decisions about what is likely to produce the fastest code. If the compiler knows how the code is going to be used, it can make better decisions.

Re:Why not? (3, Interesting)

fracai (796392) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842661)

I wonder if they could include this profiling in an opt-in user service. Whereby large amounts of profile data could be collected from the users and build a better aggregate profile. Or perhaps this would provide too little return on investment as the new data would not significantly improve on the existing profile and would only add to the complexity of the software.

Re:Dear losers (-1)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841757)

Different question:
Is Firefox in Wine faster or slower that Firefox on Win? (Let's say XP as on Vista everything's slower).

Re:Dear losers (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26841845)

You should test it for yourself - benchmark which setup loads the fucking article fastest and let us know how that turns out.

Re:Dear losers (1)

PIBM (588930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842767)

Answer is the one that you load it on last will win, since the slashdot effect tend to disappear with time.

Re:Dear losers (1)

mrbene (1380531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841885)

From the article:

We tried using a nightly build of Firefox 3.1 to see how performance might change in the future, but it locked up while running the Dromaeo tests so we opted to leave it for now. To be fair, the browser is still in beta, so it wouldn't really be a good test.

And also from the comments:

NO! The whole *POINT* of this is that people *DON'T* recompile Firefox - the just use the one from their distro.

Not to say that the Tux RADAR articles that I've read recently have impressed me in terms of technical diligence, but they have amused me, and motivated some heated discussion on topics that would otherwise get little attention. How many mouse-clicks are appropriate while installing an OS?

I mean, and back on topic, without someone pointing out that JS isn't as fast in the default build of Fx on Fedora, who's to get excited about a PGO'd build dropping?

Re:Dear losers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842009)

+5 Informative. But a 4-letter user name is no substitute for a four-digit UID. That goes for you too, thue.

Re:Dear losers (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842817)

Please stop with 'fail'. It makes you sound like you are 13 trying to be cool. It was kind of funny at first. Now its just grating...

Sorry, but... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26841673)

Linux just isn't ready for the desktop yet. It may be ready for the web servers that you nerds use to distribute your TRON fanzines and personal Dungeons and Dragons web-sights across the world wide web, but the average computer user isn't going to spend months learning how to use a CLI and then hours compiling packages so that they can get a workable graphic interface to check their mail with, especially not when they already have a Windows machine that does its job perfectly well and is backed by a major corporation, as opposed to Linux which is only supported by a few unemployed nerds living in their mother's basement somewhere. The last thing I want is a level 5 dwarf (haha) providing me my OS.

Re:Sorry, but... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842063)

Switch from Ubuntu to LFS, only level 10+ dwarves are allowed there.

Re:Sorry, but... (3, Insightful)

FreeFull (1043860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842483)

You're talking about what Linux was like 6 years ago. Now it's no harder than Windows.

First post... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26841675)

except I'm using Linux

Re:First post... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842763)

Oops, you're not the first post. I guess there is something to this article after all...

However... (4, Informative)

zoward (188110) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841689)

On the flip side, the pop-unders I get from my local newspaper's site under Firefox don't happen under Linux, only Windows.

Really a surprise? (0)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841697)

Wine isn't an emulator. It's a set of libraries that try to mimic Windows. Since it's well known that Windows relies on the monolithic, do-it-all library architecture, it has the speed edge due to the fact that many functions don't need to force a context switch. The "Unix way", OTOH, relies on the safer and more resilient "do one thing well" multiple library concept, so while it may be easier to bugfix, the resulting program (Firefox in this case) spends an inordinate amount of time in context switches.

But are we really going to try to maximize speed over durability?

Re:Really a surprise? (4, Insightful)

Bizzeh (851225) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841749)

if you want to talk about monolithic, do-it-all library architecture... lets talk about glibc. does far far far more than any libc is needed to do.

Re:Really a surprise? (1, Interesting)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841783)

And Linux is not a monolithic do-it-all library architecture?

And UNIX is easier to bug fix? Huh? Come on this is fairy tale stuff...

What they are talking about here is that a Windows application using Wine is faster than a UNIX application on UNIX.

I also would believe your argument if we were talking about a UNIX app built specifically for UNIX and Windows app built specifically for Windows. But we are not. We are talking about Firefox...

My guess is like a poster up above who said that optimization flags were used on Windows, and not on the Linux native build.

Re:Really a surprise? (1)

Neuroelectronic (643221) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841957)

>But are we really going to try to maximize speed over durability?

Depends, do you want to get their fast or safe?

Re:Really a surprise? (5, Insightful)

clickclickdrone (964164) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841987)

>But are we really going to try to maximize speed over durability?
I was taught very early in my IT career that there are 3 considerations on any project.
1. It can be cheap
2. It can be fast
3. It can be reliable.
Now go and pick 2 out of 3.

Re:Really a surprise? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842229)

I was taught very early in my IT career that there are 3 considerations on any project.
1. It can be cheap
2. It can be fast
3. It can be reliable.
Now go and pick 2 out of 3.

Ah, but with FOSS, #1 is assumed (for the end users, not the developers) because FOSS can be seen as charity after a sort, it's quite possible for it to be #2, #3 for for devs, and all three for end users.

Re:Really a surprise? (3, Insightful)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842707)

No it's not. Due to developers having to foot the bill themselves, you don't get to choose one of your options. Open source software HAS to be cheap. Value is not measured in money you know. Money's just the in-between "equalizer". Value is measured in computers, development time, eyeballs, testers, people, management, internet servers, ... Just because you don't have to pay for something doesn't mean that the value you received wasn't created using resources.

Your argument would include stuff like "pirated games are free to produce for publishers". After all, there is no money involved in their "acquisition". More extreme, the same would be true for stolen goods.

Open source is only free for one side of the equation : it's only free for users, not for developers.

Re:Really a surprise? (5, Funny)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842351)

Actually, I think it's "Good, Fast, Cheap. Pick 2". And for online dating, it seems to be "Attractive, Intelligent, Sane. Pick 2".

Re:Really a surprise? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842719)

Actually, I think it's "Good, Fast, Cheap. Pick 2". And for online dating, it seems to be "Attractive, Intelligent, Sane. Pick 2".

More often "Pick 1"

Re:Really a surprise? (5, Informative)

Jimithing DMB (29796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842231)

That's way off base. There are no context switches when making a library call. Context switches occur when you ask the kernel to do something by making a syscall. So memcpy or memcmp don't incur a context switch. Nor do fopen or fread in and of themselves cause context switches. But one will occur when the underlying open and read calls are made.

What's really needed here is a profiler to find where the code is spending the bulk of its time. My guess is that it's a compiler issue. And other comments about the windows build using profile guided optimization tell me my guess is probably right.

Re:Really a surprise? (5, Informative)

rkit (538398) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842373)

You obviously have no idea what a context switch is.
A context switch happens when the scheduler stops one process/thread and gives the CPU to a different one. This has nothing to do with cross-library calls.

Re:Really a surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842545)

? Firefox is not "durable" on either Windows or Linux, so that argument goes out the window.

Anyone tried the same exercise on Opera? I believe PGO is enabled for both Windows and Linux builds....

Would also be nice to see the Opera 64bit builds benchmarked.

Re:Really a surprise? (1)

spitzak (4019) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842577)

You seem to be confused.

Calling a library does not do a context switch.

And there is no possible way that some difference between Windows&Linux could explain how the Windows program running atop another *Linux* program would be faster.

It sounds to me like the Linux version does something incredibly inefficient when talking to the system, so that the Windows version, plus the code to translate and execute it using something on Linux is faster! They really should identify what this is and make the Linux version use it. Supposedly if you took the relevant code out of Wine and merged it with the Windows calling code and removed the unnecessary intermediate steps, you would have a Linux interface that is faster than either one of these.

Re:Really a surprise? (2, Informative)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842613)

Unless I have a HUGE hole in my dynamic library knowledge, you are wrong.

Linux dynamic libraries, like any windows dynamic library, don't force context switches at all, neither on windows or on linux. They force a few page faults to generate new data segments, but they do so on both systems.

And in practice ... linux easier to bugfix ? Dream on. Truth be told, as long as it's "high level" stuff, windows is massively easier to bugfix, due to massively better development tools (sorry but nothing beats microsoft's visual set of tools).

*shrug* (2, Insightful)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841719)

What I "lose" in javascript performance, I think I more than make up for in not wasting any cpu cycles on anti-virus crud.

I'm not at all sure how relevant these synthetic tests are. I use Ubuntu 8.10 on a 2 year old laptop and it honestly feels snappier now than it did when it was running XP. Maybe some things are slower and some things are faster. Beats me, as I'm too busy actually using it for real work to be bothered benchmarking it. But on the whole, it certainly "feels faster" now.

Best,

You not thinking Milti-Core. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841865)

In theory if you have the web browser the performance of the Anti-Virus running on different CPU so you are not getting any real speed savings. So if you have a slow web browser you still have a slow web browser with or without Anti-Virus. (Yes I know it is more complex then that, wait time for sharing IO, Joining Busses etc...)

Re:You not thinking Milti-Core. (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841981)

In theory if you have the web browser the performance of the Anti-Virus running on different CPU so you are not getting any real speed savings.

Well there's your problem: your theory seems to assume that AV software doesn't always expand to take up all the CPU power available to it. ;)

Re:*shrug* RTFS? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842305)

What I "lose" in javascript performance, I think I more than make up for in not wasting any cpu cycles on anti-virus crud.

Firefox in _Wine_, not Win. TFA was still using Linux, but was using Wine on top of Linux, with Windows version of FF.

Re:*shrug* (1)

Zebedeu (739988) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842539)

I'm ok with losing some CPU cycles to the anti-virus, that's why I have two fast CPUs.

My problem is that the av likes to trash my hard disk, which is not only much slower than my CPU, but it also doesn't have any redundancy.

Whenever my computer slows down I check the disk usage and it's always the same damn av process checking something. I've heard a lot of bad things about Symantec and I can now confirm most of them.

I'm seriously considering nuking the software a installing something leaner, but I think IT would probably get pissed off about changing security software in the company computer.

Not suprised (4, Insightful)

iYk6 (1425255) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841739)

Mozilla created Firefox for Windows, and then they made a half-assed version for Linux. I'm not really surprised that the Windows version runs faster. Wine usually runs programs at about the same speed as the Windows version. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.

I don't see how this "looks bleak for Linux." Damn trolls.

Rats! (1)

vrmlguy (120854) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841745)

If Firefox ran faster in Wine than in native Windows, that would be great news. As it is, it's undoubtedly because Firefox's code is optimized for Windows, rather than Linux.

Re:Rats! (4, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842257)

If Firefox ran faster in Wine than in native Windows, that would be great news. As it is, it's undoubtedly because Firefox's code is optimized for Windows, rather than Linux.

If it runs faster in Wine than either native on Windows or native on Linux, that'd be really cool. Or funny. Or sad. I'm not yet sure which.

How fast do we need? (4, Informative)

vorpal22 (114901) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841747)

Seriously, how fast does a web browser *need* to be? I've never been using Firefox on Linux and thought to myself that it was prohibitively or even annoyingly slow.

Reading TFA, in most cases, the differences in times don't seem dramatic, either, so who really cares?

Re:How fast do we need? (1)

Swizec (978239) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841779)

Those of us who find it prohibitively slow at times care.

Re:How fast do we need? (2, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842297)

All browsers are prohobitively slow at times. Not to mention their memory footprint.

Re:How fast do we need? (5, Funny)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841873)

hey i want the page render before i even click the link (possibly using thiotimoline, but i don't care about specifics), until the browser does that i will never be happy!

Re:How fast do we need? (2, Funny)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842041)

Well in many scenarios the browser downloads and executes stuff even before you click the link.

For some reason they called those security issues.

People are never satisfied ;).

Re:How fast do we need? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842327)

Too many replies [tinyurl.com] beneath your current threshold

WTF about the dolphins video on Youtube?

Re:How fast do we need? (2, Insightful)

EvilNTUser (573674) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841915)

I find many websites prohibitively slow, but it has less to do with rendering performance than bad design. Few things are more annoying than staring at a blank page saying "439 of 440 files loaded".

(Well, ok, one thing. "This site requires flash"...)

Re:How fast do we need? (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842317)

I find many websites prohibitively slow, but it has less to do with rendering performance than bad design. Few things are more annoying than staring at a blank page saying "439 of 440 files loaded".

I forgot which browser it was, but there's one browser that, when it encounters an empty src attribute, it tries to load something that doesn't exist, which never finishes.

Re:How fast do we need? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842007)

Then you are not doing anything really complicated. Also most web sites balance their code to average browser performance. You can do a lot of stuff with the the current web browsers. They can be indistinguishable from most applications that one would say isn't Web Based. Now if developing such apps for the web platform is a good idea or not is an other debate all together. But the browser has a lot of functionality and slow JavaScript performance causes the developer to skip features or do it in a more a Hackish way vs a nice Computer Science proud to show off your code way. There are many times I had to send a lot of values to be calculated on the server and then sent back via an AJAX Call vs. Just doing it in Javascript on the local box. As the back end language can handle these values faster then the browser could even with the overhead of sending the data over the net and back, and on a server that is running with load on it.

I am not a subscriber that everything needs to be optimized 100% as it can cost 2000% more to get there. But the performance of Javascipt is too slow for the new work that is wanted from it.

Re:How fast do we need? (2, Informative)

RegularFry (137639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842411)

It's pretty borderline on my eee701. I have to install noscript and adblock to keep it usable.

Wine Firefox Linux Firefox XP Firefox IE ??? (1)

Protocron (611778) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841759)

And isn't there another story out there that says that Firefox is faster on Linux than on Microsoft? So what they are saying is,that Firefox is faster in Wine than it is on native Linux. which is still faster than Firefox on Windows.

Noticed this for a while now (1)

GF678 (1453005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841765)

It's not just JavaScript, the whole damn thing feels sluggish in Linux compared to the Windows build. It's really annoying, particularly if I'm trying to show how "fast" Linux is when compared to Windows. Yes I know Firefox /= Linux, but it's a primary application so if that is running slow, it's not a good sign.

The only conclusion I can gather is GTK is damn slow. Maybe the upcoming rewrite with QT (so I hear) will be more zippy.

Re:Noticed this for a while now (3, Informative)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841901)

the qt rewrite is dead jim.

Its a shame i was really looking forward to the qt port, but just like the old port, it got done then dropped AFAICanTell there wasn't enough developer interest and no users were using it as it wasn't quite usable :(.

Re:Noticed this for a while now (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842019)

As others have pointed out, the windows build is substantially different from the linux build. reread the thread to see how. GTK is NOT damned slow. Nautilus is.

Re:Noticed this for a while now (0, Flamebait)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842027)

It could be GTK. GDI is very fast, but horribly kludgy. WPF is better in design - but also slower.

Would not surprise me at all if the rendering end was slowing things down. (Plus the general horrible-ness of X).

Not just Wine (4, Insightful)

Kz (4332) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841819)

i usually develop on Linux, and test against Konqueror and Firefox 3, and periodically fireup a KVM virtual machine running winXP for testing against IE, Chrome, and Firefox (again).

when doing heavy JS animations, and even more when using Canvas, it's pretty obvious that FF on windows is far smoother than on Linux, even with the VM overhead.

I'd say that there are lots of optimizations that the FF/Linux dev team left out.

Firefox Faster In Wine (4, Funny)

AlterRNow (1215236) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841827)

Firefox Faster In Wine

And here I was thinking inebriation led to slower brain functions!

Re:Firefox Faster In Wine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842441)

Issh all won er dem guberment conshpirishies i tellsh ya... i tellsh shem all the timesh but shey neva lisshen...

What? (2, Insightful)

ChimneysCantTalk (1453299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841841)

Since when does measuring JavaScript performance automatically indicates if a browser is faster or not? Op honestly didn't phrase the subject well.

And why all these "JavaScript benchmarks"? Is it common for people to do matrix math with it or what?

So now all of a sudden having a responsive application, which doesn't crash and/or eats all of the available memory and does the job without me thinking that I'm driving on a snail doesn't matter?

They should be looking elsewhere.

about:buildconfig (5, Informative)

DrXym (126579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841843)

By default Firefox for Linux uses shared system libraries rather than statically linking them altogether as the Windows version does. That's bound to have an impact on performance because code and data pages will be all over the place. Type "about:buildconfig" into the browser and it will tell you its build settings.

Re:about:buildconfig (2, Funny)

CyrusOmega (1261328) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842687)

I am no expert here, but when I look at this I don't see any -Ox and I am pretty sure the default is -O0...

I run Ubuntu Using Wubi (-1, Troll)

shareme (897587) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841867)

I run Ubuntu using Wubi which means I also have MS Vista on same hardware.. FF does not run fater on wine in Linux...the author is f'n' noob without a clear understanding of how wine works or Linux for that matter

Re:I run Ubuntu Using Wubi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26841965)

The benchmarks say otherwise. You are welcome to reproduce the tests on your own and post the results, I'd be interested to see them.

Re:I run Ubuntu Using Wubi (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842357)

But those benchmarks are done by a f'n noob! How can you possibly trust them?

Re:I run Ubuntu Using Wubi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842261)

You don't need a clear understanding to be able to tell that it runs faster. It's very noticeable.

Re:I run Ubuntu Using Wubi (2, Informative)

EponymousCustard (1442693) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842415)

My experience of using Ubuntu via wubi (i.e.a file image stored on an NTFS disk) is that the performance is hit severly by the ntfs-3g process. Run top while performing mild disk activity and you'll see what i mean. If you use it regularly you might want to use dual boot instead.

Re:I run Ubuntu Using Wubi (1)

spitzak (4019) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842665)

The article is saying that the Windows version under Wine runs faster than the Linux version. It does not compare it to the Windows version running under Windows and you do not need Vista to reproduce the result.

Most likely the Windows version on Windows is faster than the Windows version on Wine, and thus faster than the Linux version as well. However as far as the article is concerned, it could be slower than either one. It is not relevant to the question.

Firefox is slow on Linux in general (5, Interesting)

Teckla (630646) | more than 5 years ago | (#26841931)

I dual boot between Windows XP and Ubuntu GNU/Linux (of the Intrepid Ibex flavor).

Firefox is slow on Linux in general. Page Up, Page Down, Arrow Up, Arrow Down, Ctrl+Plus and Ctrl+Minus (to increase and decrease the font size)...all of these things are instantaneous on Windows XP, but there's a noticeable lag on Linux.

I'm not sure what the problem is. I'm using the proprietary ATI drivers on Linux, which should be pretty fast. And my machine is old enough that all the kinks should have been worked out of the Linux drivers for my hardware.

Re:Firefox is slow on Linux in general (1, Interesting)

Fackamato (913248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842349)

I don't know the underlying problem either, but I'm guessing it's the entire X windows system. We really need a slimmed down, optimized replacement for desktop users of Linux...

Re:Firefox is slow on Linux in general (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842649)

It doesn't really have to do with X or Firefox so much as the interaction between X and Firefox. Composition effects and pixmap caching at the two prime issues.

Composition is when you draw an image that blends with what is already on the screen. Right now, a lot of the Xorg code that accelerates composited effects is unfinished. In particular, rendering composited text is painful. The brute force solution of blending with what is on-screen is awful, because reading from video ram is very, very expensive. So optimizing this is pretty non-trivial since the optimization must be that you don't look at what you need to blend with! Progress is happening though.

Pixmaps are used to store images in the X server. Firefox, to get the rendering effects it wants, often uses large pixmaps for application elements. Large pixmaps can cause memory fragmentation issues, making later allocations harder, causing performance to slowly decline over time. Again, this is something being worked on, but in this case, the client is really not behaving very nicely.

Like I said, progress is being made on these fronts - Xorg's xserver 1.5 and 1.6 are supposed to have some good acceleration improvements. There's been work on a much improved glyph cache for EXA accelerated fonts. I haven't run any of these, since my distro currently ships 1.4, and I don't really plan on upgrading until Debian does. But since it's a pain point for me, and I read the development mailing list, I thought I'd share.

Re:Firefox is slow on Linux in general (4, Interesting)

QCompson (675963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842455)

Yep, I have the same experience. Firefox operations are much, much slower in linux than in windows. Another example is tab switching. In XP/Vista it is instantaneous, but in linux there is a slight delay. Things like this make the GUI feel very sluggish (I'm using the nvidia driver btw).

Re:Firefox is slow on Linux in general (1)

Zebedeu (739988) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842663)

I think it's Firefox's cross-platform drawing libraries. I experience the same problems with a NVidia card and, recently, with the much-praised Intel GM450.

The code in that library must be optimized for Windows or something, because it sucks ass on Linux (with compiz -- don't know if the problems exist without compositing).

I even noticed that it was causing problems with my system. I was having some problems with the NVidia drivers in one of my laptops (periodic screen flickering, and sometimes corruption), and I noticed that even though it would happen kind of randomly, it was way more common when I was browsing with Firefox.

Re:Firefox is slow on Linux in general (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842775)

Do you have the problem where if you scroll a lot it lags and eats up the CPU?

That's bugging the shit out of me. Konqueror in KDE 4 doesn't do that. I'm seriously thinking about switching.

VM speed (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842287)

Running firefox in TinyXP in Virtualbox is faster then native on my Ubuntu......

PS. My captcha is 'rejoice'

I know that Swiftfox has not been making people (5, Insightful)

aussersterne (212916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842353)

happy for non-technical reasons, but I continue to use Swiftfox on Linux because it is so damned much faster than Fedora's Firefox build.

I know that there is a CPU optimization difference, but I haven't looked into other differences. Someone who has looked at the buildconfig for both and/or who knows about the build processes and configurations of both: is the reason for the slowness in the comparison referenced in this post related at all to something that Swiftfox is fixing?

Though Not Dramatic, Interesting Nonetheless (4, Interesting)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842363)

I think it stands as a testamant to the WINE folks. I know Linux distros and the various Window Managers - KDE/Xfce/IceWM/Gnome - have to handle things that Wintendo doesn't, as it is integrated into the OS from the get-go.

However, the results are not that dramatic. I'd be curious to see a few things, including how Native FF runs in KDE with the Gnome libraries loading up. (I run KDE.)

Also of note - I've posted before on lists that "starting" Word 2003 takes about half the time as it does to "start" OpenOffice 2.x on my distribution. I run CrossoverOffice and have Office 2003 loaded. My guess is that there may be something in Wine that optimizes these processes.

Re:Though Not Dramatic, Interesting Nonetheless (1)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842723)

I think it stands as a testamant to the WINE folks.

Absolutely. WINE tends to get quite a lot of negativity directed towards it, which is a shame because it strikes me as an important tool in making Linux more widely marketable. Expecting software developers to start developing native apps for an OS that doesn't have sufficient market share is naive, WINE makes the transition from Windows easier for many users and it is this transition that holds many people back.

Sorry, I couldn't think of a name for this post. (0, Redundant)

JoeSixpack00 (1327135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842469)

With all the (good natured) cracks about compile time, Gentoo finally wins a round!

Seriously though, not only does firefox feel faster than other distros, but it's noticably faster than Window XP. And it goes all the way down to the little things. The pages seem to render faster. When I click on a shortcut link I have saved on the desktop, it takes Gentoo Firefox about 2-3 seconds to open. This very same task using the same version of Firefox takes about 8 seconds on Windows XP. Now I don't know why the Windows version takes longer, and out of fairness I honestly don't care. Reason being, when something doesn't work right in Linux (i.e compositing), it just doesn't work - no excuses accepted regardless of who's fault it is.

(In the sake of fairness, I will admit I am running a 32Bit version of WindowsXP, while my Gentoo installation is completely 64-Bit. I would have ran XP 64-Bit, I didn't want the driver/game issues...)

Re:Sorry, I couldn't think of a name for this post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842575)

No it fucking isn't. I have the same setup Gentoo-amd64 vs WinXP. Try, I don't know, switching tabs. Changing font size. Scrolling up and down. Firefox on Linux is much more sluggish.

To hell with faster, what about more STABLE? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842553)

Firefox is way more stable in my experience under MS Windows (and maybe WINE?) than under LINUX/X.

Admittedly I'm probably more of a 'power user' than most, but the thing that kills me about LINUX Firefox
is its GROSS instability under heavy load (e.g. problematic on both Fedora and Ubuntu 64 bit editions anyway).
It takes anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours of ordinary use in order for it to just crash and close down on me with no core dump.

This is on systems with 8GB RAM (so it is not a resource shortage), not using FLASH or similar plugins, and not always / generally using proprietary ATI/NVIDIA video drivers. Admittedly this often occurs with a high number of windows/tabs open (e.g. 85 windows, 500 tabs) -- just because that's a normal evolution of me leaving stuff open instead of closing them. However I've had it crash similarly frequently when only a few dozen windows/tabs are open, so it isn't strictly a super heavy load issue. Generally the crash is accompanied by some X windows system error, BadIDChoice or such. Here's a ~ 2 year old Ubuntu "confirmed" bug report listing very similar crash problems, though the exact X error seems like it could be a bit different here:
https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/firefox/+bug/97492 [launchpad.net]

I just don't get their LINUX quality control, this happens so repeatedly over numerous 3.X versions of FF that I must assume that an automatic test script that repeatedly opened / closed a few hundred windows mocking normal usage would repeatedly trigger this, yet after apparently a couple of years of the problem being unresolved I still see no diagnosis / workaround / fix.

This just doesn't happen under MS Windows, though I tend to load down XP / Vista SLIGHTLY less with open tabs / windows than on LINUX, but on LINUX I can run FF for hours or days if I'm lucky. On MS Windows I can run it for days or weeks, so this is rather embarrassing / frustrating since in all other day to day use respects LINUX tends to be equal or superior to MS Windows in stability / functionality.

No chrome (yuck), super unstable firefox, konqueror just doesn't compare, opera I'm not a fan of == unhappy LINUX browsing.

One thing Chrome got right is one system process per window, at least a single error doesn't take down HUNDREDS of open browser windows. Even better would be true error recovery so that any error would just cause the affected threads / tabs to be reloaded with no loss of context and not having the whole browser crash. The automatic crashed session recovery is about the only thing that has kept me using FF on LINUX, though it sucks to wait like 20 minutes for your pages to reload, and then never perfectly (lost form data / buggy reload processes / whatever).

Hmm (1)

socrplayr813 (1372733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842561)

I've never done any benchmarks, but Firefox certainly FEELS faster in Ubuntu and Fedora than it did in XP or now Vista. I haven't tried Wine, but it does seem a tad faster in my XP VM than it did in native XP.

Anyway, I for one don't care until the differences are are noticeable during normal use. The rest is academic or even just pointless.

Asus EEE pc (1)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842591)

I have a dual boot XP / Ubuntu on my Asus EEE 1000H.

Firefox feels more responsive under XP then it is under Ubuntu.

I use the eee-pc kernel and I turn down all the visual extras both under Ubuntu and XP. Also Firefox runs with the same addons: Adblock, Flashblock and NoScript.

multiple reasons (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26842769)

In my experience this is for multiple reasons gnome, compiz, pango, flash... Try running it on a gentoo system compiled without pango and on kde. Probably will be faster and more responsive

Recompile please (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26842833)

with GCC, and Intel. Lets find out if the code base difference between Windows and Linux is the issue OR the compilers.
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