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

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the gotta-have-a-benchmark dept.

Firefox 306

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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306 comments

But no real 3d accelleration (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987324)

Too bad Linux sucks so bad at 3D acceleration that Firefox is stuck in a CPU rendering world.

Re:But no real 3d accelleration (2, Informative)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 2 years ago | (#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...

Re:But no real 3d accelleration (3, Informative)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987462)

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

Re:But no real 3d accelleration (1)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987670)

So how do the open-source drivers do at 3D, exactly? Last time I looked, Nouveau was highly unstable and 15-20x slower than the official driver...

Re:But no real 3d accelleration (1)

tuxgeek (872962) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987750)

Open source drivers suck big time
This is why we have proprietary drivers on open source systems, specifically Nvidia.
The other card in my box is an ATI. ATI's proprietary driver is an absolute joke.

On topic, I have FF4 x86_64 running on Debian Squeeze x86_64.
Very impressive how much faster it is over the iceweasel offering that's packaged with Debian systems

Re:But no real 3d accelleration (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987826)

I'm running an nVidia Quadro NVS 290. The open-source nouveau driver has a dramatic advantage over the nVidia driver: the system doesn't crash before the GUI is fully active.

Re:But no real 3d accelleration (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987746)

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

Gotcha. The logical follow up to your statement is that Windows Vista never sucked: it was all those damn driver vendors who weren't ready. But, people (mostly rightly) put the blame on Microsoft for not getting enough of the hardware OEMs to get their shit together. Notice how Vista is fine these days? Yeah, it was mostly driver problems (and a modicum of bug fixes in the service packs). So, while it is right to say "Linux does not suck at 3d", people are hard pressed to find a Linux SYSTEM that runs 3d well and consistently with all apps that would like to use hardware rendering.

Re:But no real 3d accelleration (1)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987930)

I can't honestly comment on anything after Win 98 since I started using Linux at Slackware 3.6 and never looked back. Any comment I have about Windows are speculation and hearsay. (I have fixed Windows systems for people as recent as Win 7 but that is just general computer knowledge not an understanding of Windows per se.)
As for myself I have no problems running GL on a Radeon HD 3000 (onboard) [which is a difficult to get running under any circumstances] in openSUSE 11.4 with gnome 3 but I have had problems on other distro's.

Re:But no real 3d accelleration (2)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987594)

I'd call you a troll, but some people do have this issue.
For me, however, I have way better luck on Linux than anything else.
Running this stress test: http://demos.hacks.mozilla.org/openweb/HWACCEL/ [mozilla.org]
gives me: 450fps* in FF 6.0A1(latest nightly), 45fps in Reconq, and about 30fps in Chrome!

(*Note: Set minimum timeout to 0 in ff prefs, also remove the two lines of code in the above test that limit the output number to 60fps)
Compare this to about 22fps on Windows XP on Firefox on my fathers machine, which is almost as powerful as mine(Phenom x4 3.2ghz vs. Phenom II x4 3.5) - No HW acceleration there.
So yea, I like Linux. I upgraded to it from XP a few years back and am loving it.

Re:But no real 3d accelleration (0)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987610)

Don't let facts stop you from accusations of trolling. We wouldn't want the Linux fanboys to start acting reasonably.

Look - it's a poster from 1996! (4, Funny)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987806)

There is this video card called the "Voodoo" which has decent 3D acceleration on linux and there is also one called the "Matrox Millenium". I've got no idea how you managed to get hold of Firefox in 1996 or managed to get your posts on Slashdot to us in 2011 but please stop bothering us here in the future about problems already solved back in your time.
Also sorry to disappoint you, but we don't have flying cars yet.

To be present in firefox 6 (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987330)

The optimisations will be enabled in Firefox 6... is that the version that comes out this week or the week after?

Re:To be present in firefox 6 (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987530)

I'm guessing next week. The current Firefox nightlies (codenamed "Nightly", amusingly) are versioned 6.0a1.

Re:To be present in firefox 6 (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987628)

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.

YES! (4, Interesting)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 2 years ago | (#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! :)

But the memory leaks still aren't fixed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987386)

This is great news, but this also means that Firefox's memory usage problems are still not being properly addressed.

We don't need to hear any more excuses from the Firefox crowd about this problem. Yes, it does exist. Yes, it does cause problems. Yes, it is a bug. No, it is not "intentional".

What we need is for these Firefox supports to get these memory leaks fixed. Chrome, even with its multiple processes, doesn't use as much memory as Firefox does. Opera doesn't use as much memory as Firefox does. Safari doesn't use as much memory as Firefox does. Fuck, even IE doesn't use as much memory as Firefox does.

Re:But the memory leaks still aren't fixed. (5, Informative)

fbartho (840012) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987448)

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.

Re:But the memory leaks still aren't fixed. (4, Informative)

fish waffle (179067) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:But the memory leaks still aren't fixed. (3, Interesting)

fbartho (840012) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987570)

That's a good point. As we've been sandboxing things into separate processes (re: flash), it would be great if the allocator for XUL were patched so it could know which plugin is producing/using what memory. [I'm imagining "allocateWithZone" from objective-c] Then, you could have a clear panel which would indicate which subsystems are consuming more and more memory. This would allow us to point at various builds of greasemonkey (from your example) or firebug or other "fluffybunny" plugin. Further, we'd have extra data for FF crashlogs that would tell us which plugin was truly at fault in a crash, not just what thread did the crashing, but if a plugin-zone had consumed a gig of ram by itself.

Re:But the memory leaks still aren't fixed. (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987574)

There's no way of knowing how much memory each extension is using. Extension code is thrown into a big JavaScript/XUL soup with shared data structures. With the new Jetpack API [mozillalabs.com] it may be possible to determine how much memory and CPU each extension is using. Even if some users do need to find which extension is causing memory usage problems, there is a list of the extensions that cause the most problems [mozillazine.org].

Re:But the memory leaks still aren't fixed. (2)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987642)

I don't know why, but I don't experience these problems. Perhaps I don't have enough Greasemonkey scripts.
I mean, I typically end up with around 1.5gb or so of total system usage with:
1. 50 FF tabs open and loaded
2. FF given a memory cache of 1GB to play with
3. Firefox's disk cache symlinked to /tmp/, which has been mounted to a tmpfs(ram-backed fiesystem).
And I don't care!
See, after getting 4gb of ram, and having like 6 more in swap, I don't worry about memory usage: I want things to use as /much/ memory as they can, so I get better performance.
Sure, on a phone with 256mb, you want things to be as lightweight as possible. On a new system with 4+ gb of ram? why /not/ use it?

Re:But the memory leaks still aren't fixed. (2)

FrostDust (1009075) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987912)

See, after getting 4gb of ram, and having like 6 more in swap, I don't worry about memory usage

The problem is, that's the equivalent of saying "There's no problem with the software. The user should just throw money at the issue and upgrade his/her system."

Even Mozilla's recommended system requirements [mozilla.com] indicate 1/8th the amount of RAM you have.

We can't daydream and imagine we can acceptably run modern websites, let alone 50 tabs of them, on decades-old machines. But if the developers themselves are recommending 512MB, then the user should have an acceptable experience at 512MB, not 4GB.

Re:But the memory leaks still aren't fixed. (2)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987534)

No matter what, new features need memory to work...

Stop being reasonable. Immediately. If Firefox didn't have so many damn features, it wouldn't take up so much memory. Then the parent could whine that FF doesn't have enough features.

Re:But the memory leaks still aren't fixed. (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987474)

If you think you see a memory problem, the thing to do is post a set of steps that can reproduce the problem. In every test I've seen, Firefox uses less memory than other browsers. Perhaps there's a problem, but you need to point out precisely what the problem is before it can be fixed. Asking for "memory usage problems" to be fixed is a vague as asking for "security problems" or "crashes" to be fixed. If you think you see a security problem, give the specifics of the problem. If you think you see a crash, give how to reproduce it or the stack trace. Otherwise, how can anyone know which security problem or crash you're referring to?

Re:But the memory leaks still aren't fixed. (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987994)

Firefox has a multitude of memory leaks, and it's trivial to trigger them. Just leave Firefox open at the end of the day. You can start getting picky about it when it's harder to reproduce.

Re:But the memory leaks still aren't fixed. (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987478)

Firefox uses less memory than Chrome.

And Firefox doesn't have problems or leaks, they have features which can be controlled. Rendered pages stay cached in memory, so they load faster if you hit the back button. You can disable this if you want.

Re:YES! (0, Troll)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987472)

Do the math. Windows has 85-90% market share. Desktop Linux is < 1%. Even if 100% of linux users used firefox and 1% of windows users used firefox, Windows users would still outnumber Linux users.

Firefox is basically a windows program that they slowed down with XUL shit in a half-assed attempt to be cross-platform.

Re:YES! (0)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987484)

Can you please not troll and actually talk constructively? YES, I know that the Linux marketshare isn't as large, that's why I'm thanking them for their support! Firefox isn't excessively slow; it's only slow on non-Windows platforms (most notably Linux) because it's more optimized for Windows.

Re:YES! (1)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987516)

But if 100% of 1% of the people use FF on Linux, that's 1%. If 1% of 85-90% of the people use FF on Windows, that's 0.85% to 0.9% of the people. It's less people! Your analogy doesn't work.

Re:YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987588)

... fewer people
; )

Re:YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987678)

Lets do the math. Lets have some assumptions

Lets say there are 1,000,000 users.
There is only linux and windows

99% use windows, 1% use linux.
That is 990,000 million users for windows

Leaving 10,000 for linux.

His math is wrong as 990,000 * 0.01 is 9900 people. vs 10,000.

Now the reality of the mater is about 40% of the market uses firefox.

So the math works out about like this

990,000 * .4 = 396,000
vs
10,000 *.4 = 4,000 (this is probably wrong and on the low side)

While it is nice for them to put some work towards it. It is not hitting the 90% mark in optimization. Which is you hit the high profile ones first then work towards the lower profile slow stuff.

In this case even IF 100% of all linux users used FF it would still not come close to even the 40% share on windows.

It makes sense for the Mozilla team to focus on windows. It is their largest customer base. Linux however is probably the most vocal one. I think it is good the whole mozilla team has taken a keen interest in making their browser run better. After 3.0 it was obvious they didnt care as much... It shows they are at least getting the right attitude. The biggest driving factor here is Chrome lighting a fire under their ass's to say 'hey do this better, or become irrelevant'. MS learned that the hard way and it will take them a long time to gain back that mojo (if they can).

Re:YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987568)

XUL is not shit, it's what gives you the flexibility with regards to plugins. Without XUL, you'd end up with something like Chrome. Which is fine, but the plug-in opportunities are limited..

Re:YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987714)

If you want Firefox compiled with PGO under Arch, use the aptly named "firefox-pgo" package from the AUR:
https://aur.archlinux.org/packages.php?ID=22296

hint: don't expect miracles, a refined firefox compile won't metamorphose a sluggish desktop.

You poor deluded fools. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987344)

Microsoft Internet Explorer is clearly superior in every way.

Re:You poor deluded fools. (3, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987398)

Microsoft Internet Explorer is clearly superior in every way.

Especially on Linux. :-)

Re:You poor deluded fools. (2)

JerryLindenburg (2048934) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987434)

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.

Re:You poor deluded fools. (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987546)

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]

Only with Firefox 6, though (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987346)

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.

Re:Only with Firefox 6, though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987380)

How many years have we had to wait for this? So much for Firefox on Linux - better to use a Linux friendly browser...

Re:Only with Firefox 6, though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987406)

How many years have we had to wait for this? So much for Firefox on Linux - better to use a Linux friendly browser...

Such as?

Re:Only with Firefox 6, though (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987514)

Chrome is excellent on Linux. FF definitely more sluggish.

Re:Only with Firefox 6, though (1)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987592)

I think by "Linux Friendly", he meant that it was developed with Linux mainly in mind, and that it integrates well with it. I love Epiphany for GNOME, honestly, as a second choice. It has tabs on bottom by default (slashdot trolls, take note!), it runs fast and with low memory, it has a built-in ad blocker, and it integrates with GNOME 3 perfectly. It isn't as feature-filled as Chrome, but it works very well.

Oh, and you can't forget Lynx/Links for Linux browsers ;)

Re:Only with Firefox 6, though (2)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987402)

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.

Available now in Nightly, soon in Aurora (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987692)

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 (4, Informative)

JerryLindenburg (2048934) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987358)

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.

Re:I was a firefox user (4, Interesting)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:I was a firefox user (1)

JerryLindenburg (2048934) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987416)

Right on. I tried opera on my windows phone awhile back. I tried to get them to buy Android phones last year at work, but the windows phones were a better deal at the time. We all got HTC Touch Pro's, and I've regretted signing the check for it ever since.

Mobile IE was adequate, but didn't do everything I wanted it to, and even with the recent makeover it got awhile back, it still doesn't feel like a modern browser to me.

So I thought I would try opera mobile, see what all the hype was about.

It didn't work.
Of course, nothing I install on my windows phone seems to work, so I don't know off hand if it's the application's problem.

Will definitely check it out.
Thanks for reminding me that Opera still exists!

Re:I was a firefox user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987426)

Missed what boat?

Firefox is many things, but it is not spyware. Being an open source products puts it in a completely different category than malware.

Re:I was a firefox user (0)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987450)

Today, Firefox on Ubuntu is almost totally unusable./p>

Are you sure Ubuntu is totally unusable?

Re:I was a firefox user (1)

JerryLindenburg (2048934) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987580)

I like using Ubuntu. Not crazy about the updating issues it has.

But that's a very minor complaint, considering.
Back in the day we would re-install Windows every six months or so.

Ubuntu's the same deal.
Now if would just work, and stay working without constant tinkering with the things the updates break, we would be in business.

Re:I was a firefox user (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987500)

"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 between speed, then more on features, but I'll gladly trade FF's versatility for some slight amount of speed Chrome might have.

A good summary of Linux on the desktop (0, Troll)

avalys (221114) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987388)

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.

So, Firefox 1.0 came out in Fall 2004, and only in Fall 2011 will the Linux version be as fast as the Windows version?

Only more evidence that Linux on the desktop is still a toy for masochistic nerds.

Re:A good summary of Linux on the desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987438)

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.

So, Firefox 1.0 came out in Fall 2004, and only in Fall 2011 will the Linux version be as fast as the Windows version?

Only more evidence that Linux on the desktop is still a toy for masochistic nerds.

actually, there are multiple version of the firefox code recompiled with optimization for linux (i tried a few when all webkit based browsers would freeze my system when scrolling, i now use conkeror), mozilla has been optimizing the executable size instead of its speed (for linux at least, idk how they compile for other operating systems). now they are simply compiling with optimization for speed. its nothing new and it should have been done from the start, but it really has nothing to do with the operation system.

Re:A good summary of Linux on the desktop (0)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987440)

Wow, this has been modded up? Insult or troll all you want, but "a toy for masochistic nerds." is plain incorrect.

Re:A good summary of Linux on the desktop (1)

tombeard (126886) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987744)

Well, actually it is. But others enjoy it too.
I offer Gentoo and Slackware as evidence of the former, RedHat and the Debians as the later.

Re:A good summary of Linux on the desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987880)

Maybe it should have been modded up for being honest but was modded down for being honest instead. Linux fanbois just hate being shown the facts that keeps Linux in a distant third place everywhere but integrated systems and the server room run by nerds.

Re:A good summary of Linux on the desktop (5, Insightful)

MSG (12810) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987590)

I think that the lack of guided optimization on gcc is a fair indication that Microsoft offers a better compiler, but I also think it's a long way from "gcc lacks an option that helps Firefox" to "Linux is for masochists". Seriously, Firefox scored better on some JS benchmarks on Windows than it did on Linux, but that doesn't make the Linux version unusable or painful.

Anyway, many of us don't use GNU/Linux because it is unfailingly better than alternatives, but because we have an understanding of and appreciation for economic and intellectual liberty which is better served by GNU systems. We regard the use of proprietary systems to be masochistic.

Re:A good summary of Linux on the desktop (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987634)

Well anybody that calls it GNU/Linux is a schmuck from the start, anyhow.

Re:A good summary of Linux on the desktop (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987608)

Says the Mac fanboy, where FF isn't optimized either.

Re:A good summary of Linux on the desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987764)

Says the Mac fanboy, where Firefox is not the default browser.

Re:A good summary of Linux on the desktop (1)

RobbieThe1st (1977364) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987694)

So just grab an alpha/nightly? They've got a nice download page for em, and /usually/ they work right. Just keep one or two older nightlys around so when they /do/ break something, you can go back to that. Or simply disable updates.

Re:A good summary of Linux on the desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987732)

Sounds pretty masochistic to me.

What about distributions (4, Interesting)

camcorder (759720) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:What about distributions (1)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987456)

Yes. But, on Ubuntu, and I am sure on Arch at least, it is easy enough to point your sources to the nightly build.

Re:What about distributions (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987716)

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.

where are the builds? (1)

gongyiliao (1979168) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987466)

Such kind of news will be taken serious only when there are something real can be run and tested.

Both faster AND less sluggish? (3, Insightful)

thisisauniqueid (825395) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987476)

Wow.

Re:Both faster AND less sluggish? (1)

kervin (64171) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987820)

faster => Increased speed

sluggish => Less latency

Re:Both faster AND less sluggish? (1)

thisisauniqueid (825395) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987906)

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.

Every improvement is highly needed, FF4 sux (1, Interesting)

xiando (770382) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987504)

Install FF 4, browse a while, close all but one _blank_ tab and guess what? Firefox uses 7-800 MB _active_ memory. Doing what? Who knows. And it becomes slow and unresponsive after using it a while. Again, close all tabs but one - and it's STILL slow and crappy. The only way to make it "ok" again is to close it and start it up again. This is on Linux. FF4 is imho the worst ever, and they are talking about FF5 and 6 now... how about making a working FF4 first? maby ff4.1, ff4.2, etc. FF3 didn't become anything near accepable until 3.5/3.6.

Re:how about making a working FF4 first? (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987630)

Sorry man, you fell for a really weird version of the Version Number Marketing. Except this time, you seem to be saying they don't deserve to put good features in the next version?! Firefox "5 and 6" ... ARE 4.1 and 4.2!

You're thinking of the long exhausting push to make FF4. But for X reasons, they chose to amp up the version numbering, as well as to drill out a couple of features.

Yes, "it took them too long", that's what we all spot Linux for, right? "Give us features, don't worry about polish" right?

Except that just might be changing.

Re:Every improvement is highly needed, FF4 sux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987632)

Haven't you heard? Firefox 5 is 4.1, and 6 is 4.2, 7 will be 4.3, and at last, their version numbers will be almost as high as IE or Chrome's.

Yea, it's pretty stupid...

Re:Every improvement is highly needed, FF4 sux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987660)

It uses 208 megs here.

If I do the same with IE7 it uses 200 megs. That 8 meg makes such a difference on my 2 gig PC...

Or not.

Re:Every improvement is highly needed, FF4 sux (5, Informative)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987766)

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:Every improvement is highly needed, FF4 sux (3, Funny)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987810)

Please mod this man up. These trolls need to be put to rest; if a bug as severe as that one actually existed, it would have been fixed a long time ago.

Re:Every improvement is highly needed, FF4 sux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987984)

Nah. GP just likes to bash. And submitting a bug could mean it could get fixed, making his bashing much less credible in the future. We can't have that! ;)

Re:Every improvement is highly needed, FF4 sux (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987986)

what website uses 200MB worth of pictures besides (maybe) google maps? I'm running windows 7 on this machine atm, but right now I have slashdot, wikipedia and google open in 3 tabs. normally I run with other plugins, but this is a fresh install of windows so I haven't had time to install any yet. this is straight up firefox 4. in the last 10 minutes the browser has gone from 178MB (private working set) to 223MB. it's just sitting here. as far as I can tell, no scripts are running.

this bug has been around a long time.

Re:Every improvement is highly needed, FF4 sux (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987988)

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

Re:Every improvement is highly needed, FF4 sux (4, Informative)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 2 years ago | (#35988016)

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).

Re:Every improvement is highly needed, FF4 sux (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987808)

News to me. *My entire machine* only has 512 megs of RAM. Not by choice, I'll get some more when I have the money.

And yet FF4 does just fine. So does OpenOffice, for that matter.

And so did all the previous versions for like the last 3 years.

And no, I'm not making this up, nor am I trolling. So really I just dunno why people are having probs with the memory, etc. My swap is 128 megs, but I hardly even use it. My current distro is slackware-13.37 with GNOME .

Profile guided? (1, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987524)

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

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

Re:Profile guided? (1)

shish (588640) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987566)

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

Re:Profile guided? (1)

cratermoon (765155) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987740)

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 make for longish build times, though.

Re:Profile guided? (5, Informative)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987784)

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.

Kick up the ass is what Firefox needs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987538)

Firefox got the web moving off IE6 but now facing competition from Chrome, Safari (default in the popular iOS devices) and Opera (which has it's market share niche in some countries). What Mozilla really needs to do is buy some cheap netbooks and force all its developers to test it on a slow processor. Or even get old early XP laptops with less than 512mb ram and really test it. If Firefox can get the reputation of being fast on older hardware (especially among IE6 hangouts with their aging corporate PCs) then it will be able to reclaim its falling market share from Chrome which is already the number 2 in many countries and 1 some such as Philippines, Tunisia and Serbia.

Link to original blog source (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987542)

Mike Hommey's original blog posting on Faster Linux builds [glandium.org].

Re:Link to original blog source (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987638)

Which also happens to be at the end of this blog of blog, blog in the summary about the blog of blog.

That's odd. (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987616)

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

Will this help Firefox for Android? (1)

Liambp (1565081) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987650)

I recently switched back to Firefox on my desktop and love it but when I tried Firefox for Android on my phone is was as slow as molasses. You can actually watch the page rendering in pixelated real time. Will the linux optimisations carry over I wonder?

cross posted (0)

bean.java (1258326) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987726)

from my post http://ask.slashdot.org/story/11/04/30/1720251/Ask-Slashdot-Best-Small-Footprint-Modern-Browser [slashdot.org] [....] .... i am currently running firefox 3.6.16 via untarring the linux installer into my home folder... i am running debian squeeze on a p4 3.0, 1g ram, it seems my 2gig swap partition isn't loaded/mounted, onboard video, and creative live sound card and have...80 tabs open(most of which being 4chan's /w/ Threads so there is lots of images)....plus BetterPrivacy, DownThemAll, FlashBlock, FlashGot, gTranslate, HTTPS-Everywhere, NoScript, Personas, Text to Voice Extensions running. Surely with Firefox 3.6.X series of browsers you should be able to do what you want to do on your current computer. Although it may be hard to find anymore.

Re:cross posted (1)

bean.java (1258326) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987762)

one reply i made to parent [...] i leave firefox open for a week(or so) at a time.... reload all tabs about once an hour(or so) and usually end up with 100+ tabs before i go through and clean them up(last time i did that had 120 tabs),, reason for cleaning is usually system slow-down..... my most common memory hog is plugin-container(watch 5 or 6 youtube videos between reload all tabs)..... but my point is..... Why does everyone say FF is leaky? the only winblows system in this house is a Win vista 2(aka win7...wtf?) and that one is always crashing and blaiming FF. The usual cause of the crash is actually the Windows Printer Substem crashing, but windows blaims FF cause FF called the WPS. So please stop blaiming FF just cause windows says it is FF. Also as an aside consider various Microsoft tools claim your system is secure but other installed tools say you got 20 different viruses, malwares, etc. side note....fsck it it won't let me use paragraphs the posting feature just crushes everything together

Re:cross posted (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 2 years ago | (#35987974)

I'm using FF 4.0 and since the system is connected to an APC-UPS with 30+ mins runtime, I haven't shut it down for the last 17 days. Currently I'm using 28 tabs, Noscript, Down Them All and Better privacy and total memory footprint is a meager 420K according to Task Manager in Win7.

I thought it was the other way around (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35987996)

Isn't the whole point of http://www.palemoon.org/ supposed to be Windows builds of Firefox with more optimized compiler options on par with what you would get from building it out of a Linux distro's repository? Granted, they also remove a few lesser used features (parental controls, some bits of activex support, accessibility options) to squeeze out a bit more speed.

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