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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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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-20 -- 21-30 -- 31-40
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RE: Sluggish how?
By shotsman on 2017-11-14 07:53:18
The biggest speed differentiator IMHO is not the underlying browser but how many of the 'extra' sites that a page wants to load/reference.

Again IMHO, using add-ons like NoScript and uBlock make the internet semi usable but generally sites are getting worse as developers rely more on frameworks to save them time but cost us in bandwidth and CPU cycles.

A few months agoe, I counted more than 90 sites referenced by one media outlet home page. The mind boggles as to why they need all those click counters and AD frameworks. Needless to say, I don't visit that site anymore. They screw with me and I go elsewhere.
That is the sad state of the Internet these days. Browsers are not the main issue, the content is.
Permalink - Score: 5
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Outdated
By nicubunu on 2017-11-14 08:36:58
As my main browser I am using an outdated version of Firefox, as I didn't bother updating my Fedora OS, so I'm stuck with the latest available for it, version 54. Sooner or later I will update the distro but then will be faced with a tough decision: learn to live with an suboptimal GUI (the Classic Theme Restorer extension is going extinct) or move to something else, perhaps Seamonkey or Chromium. Not happy about it.
If you ask me, speed is not the most important feature in a browser, more important are: sane UI, correct rendering, privacy and security.
Permalink - Score: 1
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RE: uuhhhhh, thom
By avgalen on 2017-11-14 10:05:47
I use whatever has my usernames/passwords/favorit es stored and my plugins installed. So at work that would be Edge and at home that would be Chrome. All browsers (and website developers!) have really reached a maturity level where I don't really care anymore what I use. All browsers also have some special features that are nice-2-haves but aren't must-haves in any case.
Permalink - Score: 3
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Good news! Except...
By Savior on 2017-11-14 11:05:26
my experience is exactly the opposite. I had been using Firefox happily until maybe a month? ago, when (I think) version 55 came out. Suddenly all went to hell: the browser got real sluggish after I used it for about an hour. The lag didn't come gradually, or at least I always perceived it as rather abrupt. I tried to find the culprit (tab), but of course about:performance is completely useless, and even in the Performance tool I didn't see anything pointing to a certain site / script.

56 seems to be a bit better, but only in that it takes more time for it to get slow.

Granted, I do have 100+ tabs open, but most of them are dormant, so that shouldn't cause any problems. Maybe they still do, but in any case, I don't have many reasons to celebrate, or indeed believe, these news.
Permalink - Score: 2
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RE[2]: uuhhhhh, thom
By ebasconp on 2017-11-14 12:46:22
Same lady (Webkit) with a different dress.
Permalink - Score: 1
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So far, so good
By StephenBeDoper on 2017-11-14 14:45:53
I switched over to the Firefox "Developer Edition" a year or so back, which has the "Quantum" changes for a few weeks now. My first reactions were quite negative, mainly because it disabled all legacy extensions & undid all of the customizations I'd made to de-Chrome-ify the UI. Fortunately there is an about:config flag to re-enable support for legacy extensions - there seem to be a few compatibility issues (E.g. errors when saving settings for some extensions), but the one I depend on the most (ItsAllText) is still working, and there's already a WebExtension of my other most-used extensions (TabHunter).

As for the UI, someone (it looks like the same folks behind Classic Theme Restorer) has put together a fairly extensive set of custom user styles that work quite well for modifying the UI - and they're flexible enough that I was able to get back to a more-or-less "classic" UI: separate title & menu bars, tabs below the bookmarks toolbar, etc.

https://github.com/Aris-t2/Custom...

With those things sorted out, I'm finding a very noticeable improvement over old releases - especially the speed, even with legacy extension support re-enabled (which makes me more than a little skeptical of the claims that legacy support must be dropped in order for Firefox to move forward...). If ind the performance improvements most noticeable when opening new windows (there used to be a 2-3 second lag after hitting Ctrl-N), or when opening a large number of new tabs (I'm often opening 40-50 tabs in one go, for sending Spamcop reports, etc) - previously, the browser would get very sluggish/slow to respond to UI inputs while the new tabs were loading, now there's typically no noticeable impact.
Permalink - Score: 3
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RE[3]: The speed comes at a price
By jessesmith on 2017-11-14 15:20:00
Yeah, we all know why it was done, but it doesn't matter. The end result is the legacy extensions are dropped and there goes the only reason I had for using Firefox. They still cannot compete in speed and they have no unique features drawing people in.
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RE[4]: The speed comes at a price
By tidux on 2017-11-14 17:00:27
> They still cannot compete in speed and they have no unique features drawing people in.

But that's wrong, idiot. That's the entire point of this article.
Permalink - Score: 5
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RE: I use both
By Bink on 2017-11-14 18:45:58
> When I tried Edge it did nothing but crash, Maybe I should give it another go and see how it fares.
While it’s quick, it still crashes more often than I care. The best crashes though are the ones that lose all the open tabs in the process—yes, Microsoft still can’t get this right. It doesn’t always happen, but it happens enough that I consider going back to a less crash prone browser every time it does.
Permalink - Score: 2
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Chrome is the old FireFox
By Berend de Boer on 2017-11-14 19:58:46
FireFox used to be a memory consuming monster. These days it's the opposite: Chrome eats up the GBs, and FireFox is the lean version.
Permalink - Score: 3

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