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How Firefox got fast again
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-11-13 23:04:55

People have noticed that Firefox is fast again.

Over the past seven months, we’ve been rapidly replacing major parts of the engine, introducing Rust and parts of Servo to Firefox. Plus, we’ve had a browser performance strike force scouring the codebase for performance issues, both obvious and non-obvious.

We call this Project Quantum, and the first general release of the reborn Firefox Quantum comes out tomorrow.

orthographic drawing of jet engine

But this doesn’t mean that our work is done. It doesn’t mean that today’s Firefox is as fast and responsive as it’s going to be.

So, let’s look at how Firefox got fast again and where it’s going to get faster.

I should definitely give Firefox another try - I've tried it over the years but it always felt a little sluggish compared to the competition. Chrome's gotten way too fat over the years, so I've resorted to using Edge on my main computer lately - it isn't perfect, but it it sure is fast, and places very little strain on my machine. I want my browser to get out of my way, and gobbling up processor cycles is exactly not that.

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uuhhhhh, thom
By DefineDecision on 2017-11-13 23:16:41
> using Edge on my main computer

This is totally GNU/Bait for a juicy comments section.
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the best is yet to come
By tidux on 2017-11-13 23:24:25
FF57 is definitely not the end of the road for improvements. I've been running Nightly for a while and new APIs are appearing pretty much every week. Hiding the tab and navigation bars is pretty much the last missing piece for full Vim Vixen (WebExtension Vimperator-alike) and TreeStyleTabs functionality, and of course NoScript will release their WebExtension version soon.

It also uses a bunch of worker threads for rendering pooled between 1-7 processes, no matter how many tabs you have, so memory doesn't get totally out of control like Chrome does, while still being significantly faster than single process Firefox was.

Edited 2017-11-13 23:25 UTC
Permalink - Score: 11
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The speed comes at a price
By WorknMan on 2017-11-13 23:36:36
Legacy addons are no longer supported :(
Permalink - Score: 4
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Worth another try
By pauls101 on 2017-11-13 23:46:54
I moved from Chrome to Firefox because Chrome was regularly locking up my machine at 90% CPU for a random tab.

Firefox wasn't as bad for that (still not good), but it leaked memory too bad to use: overnight a random tab would balloon to several GB and have to be forcibly closed.

So, now I'm back on Chrome, but I'll go back to Firefox if it works. I might even try Edge again.
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RE: The speed comes at a price
By jessesmith on 2017-11-14 02:14:59
This was a concern for me. Past versions of Firefox were so slow on my machine I only used it when I needed developer tools or some special add-on. Now they've fixed the performance, but are dropping support for the extensions. Unless Firefox is notably faster than other browsers now, they have taken away my reason for using it.
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RE: uuhhhhh, thom
By Kochise on 2017-11-14 05:33:01
Opera and Vivaldi performs quite well actually.
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Sluggish how?
By masennus on 2017-11-14 06:39:20
I don't get it. I have never been able to meaningfully notice the supposed gigantic speed difference between chrome and firefox. How do you see/feel/measure it? Stop-watch? High speed camera? Gut feeling?

I absolutely can believe that there is a difference, probably maybe even on the order of tens of milliseconds, but I just can't see and feel it, nor understand the big fuss.

I understand even less the common argument (not made here...) that "since mozilla is destroying firefox by making it look like chrome, I'm going to switch to chrome". In my understanding that must mean that the "chrome look" is good? Or is it some kind of masochist self flogging?

Anyway as a software engineer I much appreciate the effort mozilla is doing here, like using rust to improve both performance and more importantly safety and also doing the hard work to fix the architectural problems accumulated over the years (eg old wild-west style extension system preventing a working multiprocess model).

Edited 2017-11-14 06:40 UTC
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RE[2]: The speed comes at a price
By Finalzone on 2017-11-14 06:46:42
Dropping legacy extensions was the necessary because they were still relying on the twenty years old XUL code which was no longer supported or were a liability in term of security.
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I use both
By MarkHughes on 2017-11-14 07:17:18
I use both Chrome and Firefox and I honestly can't tell any difference between them speed wise. They both seem quick enough to do what I need. When I tried Edge it did nothing but crash, Maybe I should give it another go and see how it fares.
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Comment by subsider34
By subsider34 on 2017-11-14 07:31:46
I have to agree with Thom, Edge is faster than anything else on Windows. And it doesn't lock up my computer when a tab goes haywire like Chrome, Firefox, or Opera; it just stalls the browser. Something which has been getting less and less common as the browser is upgraded.

Honestly there's really only one thing keeping me with Firefox: the option to have tabs default to open in the foreground. Nobody else has it, or if they do it requires an add-on that fails just as often as it works.

Edited 2017-11-14 07:32 UTC
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