Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 13th Nov 2017 23:04 UTC
Mozilla & Gecko clones

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.

Order by: Score:
uuhhhhh, thom
by DefineDecision on Mon 13th Nov 2017 23:16 UTC
DefineDecision
Member since:
2017-10-09

> using Edge on my main computer

This is totally GNU/Bait for a juicy comments section.

Reply Score: 3

RE: uuhhhhh, thom
by Kochise on Tue 14th Nov 2017 05:33 UTC in reply to "uuhhhhh, thom"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Opera and Vivaldi performs quite well actually.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: uuhhhhh, thom
by ebasconp on Tue 14th Nov 2017 12:46 UTC in reply to "RE: uuhhhhh, thom"
ebasconp Member since:
2006-05-09

Same lady (Webkit) with a different dress.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: uuhhhhh, thom
by bassbeast on Tue 14th Nov 2017 20:48 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: uuhhhhh, thom"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

Yup ton of webkit based as well as gecko based. I use Comodo Dragon (webkit) with PaleMoon (gecko) because I preferred having my extensions to adding a bit of speed plus a fugly UI to FF.

Of course that is the rotting elephant in the room when it comes to FF...the extensions. From what I've seen there simply is no way for most extensions to ever work with the new FF engine and the whole selling point for FF was extensions allowing you to have your own custom browser. I have a feeling this is gonna be one of the final nails in the Mozilla coffin as they really have no selling point over other better supported and better advertised browsers anymore.

Oh well luckily there is still PaleMoon and the devs of the extensions that I love have switched to developing for PM so if Mozilla dies tomorrow I'll not be affected in the slightest. Still a damned shame that they gave the bird to their customers for so long that I seriously doubt having a new faster engine is gonna make a lick of difference, from the fugly UI changes against the will of the community to killing off the reasons why anybody used FF all of the diehard FF users I knew moved away ages ago and their latest usage numbers show they were far from being a minority.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: uuhhhhh, thom
by Lennie on Wed 15th Nov 2017 13:03 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: uuhhhhh, thom"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Have a look at the list here. Which is a user created list of what people recommend as alternatives, etc.:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TFcEXMcKrwoIAECIVyBU0GPoSmRq...

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: uuhhhhh, thom
by bassbeast on Thu 16th Nov 2017 19:11 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: uuhhhhh, thom"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

And count how many of those either say "won't be ported" or say "functionality limited" and you'll quickly find there are more that simply do not work or won't give you the features you used it for in the first place if you stick with FF.

Meanwhile you can just waltz across the street to PaleMoon where they have tossed a ton of legacy Mozilla cruft WITHOUT boning the extensions which has made it more responsive, and have reached out to most of the popular extension devs to support PM. For those that don't there is community supported releases and the number of extensions is growing every day, not to mention pretty much all the extensions that work on older FF work fine on PM without porting..

http://addons.palemoon.org/extensions/

At the end of the day the numbers do not lie and FF has been in a death spiral for several years. I started using FF way back when it was called phoenix and handed out FF for many years with every new build and repair and honestly? Its been ages since I saw a PC with FF installed, everyone has switched to Chrome, also see a lot of PaleMoon and IceDragon installs here but FF? I think that ship has done sailed and this change won't do anything to stop the bleeding.

Reply Score: 1

RE[6]: uuhhhhh, thom
by Lennie on Thu 16th Nov 2017 22:10 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: uuhhhhh, thom"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

Which is why they are trying to get rid of some legacy parts which is keeping them from moving forward and actually fixing.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: uuhhhhh, thom
by zima on Thu 16th Nov 2017 23:29 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: uuhhhhh, thom"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Its been ages since I saw a PC with FF installed, everyone has switched to Chrome, also see a lot of PaleMoon and IceDragon installs here but FF? I think that ship has done sailed.

Web usage stats don't entirely share your observations... FF has meagre (compared to its heyday) but still notable usage share ...while PaleMoon doesn't even register.

Edited 2017-11-16 23:32 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: uuhhhhh, thom
by zima on Wed 15th Nov 2017 01:10 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: uuhhhhh, thom"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Same lady (Webkit) with a different dress.

Actually, Blink... ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE: uuhhhhh, thom
by avgalen on Tue 14th Nov 2017 10:05 UTC in reply to "uuhhhhh, thom"
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

I use whatever has my usernames/passwords/favorites 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.

Reply Score: 3

the best is yet to come
by tidux on Mon 13th Nov 2017 23:24 UTC
tidux
Member since:
2011-08-13

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

Reply Score: 11

The speed comes at a price
by WorknMan on Mon 13th Nov 2017 23:36 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

Legacy addons are no longer supported ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE: The speed comes at a price
by jessesmith on Tue 14th Nov 2017 02:14 UTC in reply to "The speed comes at a price"
jessesmith Member since:
2010-03-11

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.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: The speed comes at a price
by Finalzone on Tue 14th Nov 2017 06:46 UTC in reply to "RE: The speed comes at a price"
Finalzone Member since:
2005-07-06

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.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: The speed comes at a price
by tidux on Tue 14th Nov 2017 17:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: The speed comes at a price"
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

> 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.

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: The speed comes at a price
by Morgan on Thu 16th Nov 2017 12:27 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: The speed comes at a price"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Now they've fixed the performance


They still cannot compete in speed


You just directly contradicted yourself. Either they fixed the speed issues* or they haven't. Pick one argument and go with it, otherwise you risk coming off as a troll.

* Which they have, BTW; FF is now much faster than Chrome/Chromium on all my systems, and almost as fast as Edge on Win10.

Reply Score: 3

Worth another try
by pauls101 on Mon 13th Nov 2017 23:46 UTC
pauls101
Member since:
2005-07-07

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.

Reply Score: 2

Sluggish how?
by masennus on Tue 14th Nov 2017 06:39 UTC
masennus
Member since:
2011-02-11

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

Reply Score: 3

RE: Sluggish how?
by shotsman on Tue 14th Nov 2017 07:53 UTC in reply to "Sluggish how?"
shotsman Member since:
2005-07-22

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.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Sluggish how?
by bassbeast on Tue 14th Nov 2017 20:54 UTC in reply to "Sluggish how?"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

"since mozilla is destroying firefox by making it look like chrome, I'm going to switch to chrome"...because if they are gonna make FF an ersatz Chrome you might as well use Chrome which has more support, integration with one of the big 2 mobile OSes, and more money being spent on making sure it "just works" then FF?

I personally ended up going to Dragon and PaleMoon because their UIs were mature and stable but I can easily see why many just went to Chrome, my Dragon has no problems sharing bookmarks with the Chrome on my phone and with FF killing the extensions and making their UI just another Chrome knockoff why bother with a knockoff when you can have the real deal?

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Sluggish how?
by masennus on Wed 15th Nov 2017 07:51 UTC in reply to "RE: Sluggish how?"
masennus Member since:
2011-02-11

I don't know what you mean by "support". Both chrome/chromium and firefox work equally on all hardware and os'es I care about.

But you seem to mean that google is a better company for your needs than mozilla in some ways, for me mozilla is a better company than google in all ways I can think of. Not ideal by any means, but as long as I have the choice I choose mozilla over google to guard my privay.

I am very aware of the fact that most people don't care about such things, so I might not be able to choose anything but google in a couple of years which is a bit sad.

Reply Score: 2

I use both
by MarkHughes on Tue 14th Nov 2017 07:17 UTC
MarkHughes
Member since:
2013-11-14

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.

Reply Score: 2

RE: I use both
by Bink on Tue 14th Nov 2017 18:45 UTC in reply to "I use both"
Bink Member since:
2006-02-19

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.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by subsider34
by subsider34 on Tue 14th Nov 2017 07:31 UTC
subsider34
Member since:
2010-11-08

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

Reply Score: 2

Outdated
by nicubunu on Tue 14th Nov 2017 08:36 UTC
nicubunu
Member since:
2014-01-08

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.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Outdated
by zima on Wed 15th Nov 2017 01:12 UTC in reply to "Outdated"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

But Mozilla is also improving security with latest Firefox ...OTOH, you staying with outdated version, is not so secure...

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Outdated
by nicubunu on Wed 15th Nov 2017 07:34 UTC in reply to "RE: Outdated"
nicubunu Member since:
2014-01-08

If you have a good selection of extensions installed and don't go visit dubious sites, you are pretty safe.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Outdated
by Morgan on Thu 16th Nov 2017 19:26 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Outdated"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

and don't go visit dubious sites


These days even that isn't a guarantee you won't get hit with a drive-by attack. Sometimes it's several hours or even days before a reputable website's owner finds they've been hijacked, and the attackers will only try to infect a small percentage of visitors so they remain undetected for as long as possible.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Outdated
by Alfman on Thu 16th Nov 2017 19:38 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Outdated"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Morgan,

These days even that isn't a guarantee you won't get hit with a drive-by attack. Sometimes it's several hours or even days before a reputable website's owner finds they've been hijacked, and the attackers will only try to infect a small percentage of visitors so they remain undetected for as long as possible.


Twitter did the world a huge disservice when they encouraged rampant use of url shortening sites. Do they still do that? Much to my annoyance, they're overused by legitimate people so you're forced to click on links you don't know where they go to ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Outdated
by nicubunu on Thu 16th Nov 2017 20:52 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Outdated"
nicubunu Member since:
2014-01-08

Guess what? I am running Firefox 54 on Fedora 24, both of them outdated. No security issues around here ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Outdated
by Morgan on Thu 16th Nov 2017 20:59 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Outdated"
Morgan Member since:
2005-06-29

Technically you're safer than those running the last non-Quantum version of Firefox:

https://www.reddit.com/r/firefox/comments/7dc257/psa_firefox_5602_ha...

Reply Score: 2

Good news! Except...
by Savior on Tue 14th Nov 2017 11:05 UTC
Savior
Member since:
2006-09-02

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.

Reply Score: 2

So far, so good
by StephenBeDoper on Tue 14th Nov 2017 14:45 UTC
StephenBeDoper
Member since:
2005-07-06

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/CustomCSSforFx

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.

Reply Score: 3

RE: So far, so good
by zima on Wed 15th Nov 2017 22:26 UTC in reply to "So far, so good"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

(which makes me more than a little skeptical of the claims that legacy support must be dropped in order for Firefox to move forward...)

Maybe the about:config flag to re-enable support for legacy extensions also disables some of the new performance optimisations, like multi-process?

Reply Score: 3

Chrome is the old FireFox
by Berend de Boer on Tue 14th Nov 2017 19:58 UTC
Berend de Boer
Member since:
2005-10-19

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.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Chrome is the old FireFox
by bassbeast on Tue 14th Nov 2017 21:05 UTC in reply to "Chrome is the old FireFox"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

But how many of your average users are gonna notice or even care when 8gb of RAM comes on virtually everything and more and more mainstream systems come with 12gb and even 16gb of RAM?

When mainstream systems came with 2-4Gb of RAM I heard plenty of users complaining about memory usage, now that 8Gb is the minimum standard? I honestly cannot remember the last time I heard someone at the shop complaining they need more RAM, nowadays their biggest complaint is fixed by getting the OS off the HDD to an SSD.

So sure if you are one of those users that keep 100+ tabs open..but how many of those types of users do you think there really are? At the shop I can tell you that the majority have less than 6 tabs open at any one time, heck many still don't know you can have multiple tabs!

So while having cut down on memory usage is nice I have a feeling for the vast majority of users that is gonna be about as much of a selling point as having better blink tag support, its just not something that really effects their day to day lives.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Chrome is the old FireFox
by loic on Tue 14th Nov 2017 21:57 UTC in reply to "RE: Chrome is the old FireFox"
loic Member since:
2012-09-23

Most cheap laptops still only got 4 GB; RAM is now awfully expensive. So I would not vouch for people not feeling their machine slow to a crawl. Event if most people do not use a bazillion tabs, there are so many memory-consuming website around there that they will fell it. But I am not sure they will realize that Chrome is the culprit.

Reply Score: 3

TemporalBeing
Member since:
2007-08-22

FFv57 dropped the XUL Extensions API without parity support in the Web Extensions API, so key extensions like TabGroups have no path to conversion until some unknown version in the future.

So yeah...no upgrading for a while.

Oh, and Firefox devs need to pay *more* attention to their community. The above issue has been well known for quite a long time. They basically did the change purposely ignoring the community feedback and ignoring their user's needs. We'll see if they survive.

Reply Score: 1

Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

They are not "purposely ignoring the community feedback" they are between a rock and a hard place. Doing development takes lots of time and money and moving forward while keeping certain things is just really really hard and they've stretched it as far as they could without going completely bust.

Reply Score: 4