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Firefox Faster In Wine Than Native 493

Posted by timothy
from the that-sounds-hard-to-swallow dept.
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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Firefox Faster In Wine Than Native

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  • Dear losers (Score:5, Informative)

    by tqft (619476) <ianburrows_au.yahoo@com> on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:35AM (#26841669) Homepage Journal

    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? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:45AM (#26841741) Homepage
      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? (Score:5, Informative)

        by plover (150551) * on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:07AM (#26841935) Homepage Journal

        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? (Score:5, Informative)

          by plover (150551) * on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:15AM (#26842021) Homepage Journal

          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.

        • by dhasenan (758719)

          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? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by somenickname (1270442) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:59AM (#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? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by patniemeyer (444913) * <pat@pat.net> on Friday February 13, 2009 @12:30PM (#26845113) Homepage

            Just wanted to point out that this is the advantage that Java and other runtime profiling languages have over purely statically compiled code. The more information you have the more you can do.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              I just wanted to point out that statically compiled code with PGO is even more advantageous because your final version is optimized with the runtime information, but doesn't have profiling code built in (which the java version would). So once again, static languages win.

              Sorry, just tired of this stupid slashdot meme.

        • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by fracai (796392) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:06AM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by JoeMerchant (803320)
            I don't think a large amount of profile data will do much to improve optimization - better to have a lean profile that accurately represents the most used sections of the program.
    • Re:Dear losers (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bert64 (520050) <bert@sl[ ]dot.fi ... m ['ash' in gap]> on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:52AM (#26844467) Homepage

      It may also have something to do with firefox on windows being built with MSVC, which generally produces faster code than gcc...
      I believe windows firefox is also compiled for i686 or even pentium3, whereas on linux it's typically compiled for i386.

      What would be interesting to see, is optimized builds of firefox compiled with various compilers and options, i'm pretty sure a gentoo box with firefox compiled by intel's compiler could comfortably beat the windows binaries...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:35AM (#26841675)
    except I'm using Linux
  • However... (Score:5, Informative)

    by zoward (188110) <email.me.at.zoward.at.gmail.com> on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:37AM (#26841689) Homepage

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

  • *shrug* (Score:2, Insightful)

    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,

    • 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...)

      • 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. ;)

      • by akadruid (606405) <slashdot@thedru i d . c o .uk> on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:32AM (#26843083) Homepage

        Laptops in particular often have slow hard drives. Antivirus slows them further. You're probably waiting for the disk all the time.

        It's often compounded in a business environment by other disk access apps (auditing etc).

        I know on my laptop, lauching firefox involves McAfee scanning Firefox, then Centennial scanning Firefox, then McAfee scanning Centennial, then McAfee scanning Firefox again.

    • 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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by iammani (1392285)
      You run antivirus on wine?
  • More interested in Firefox 3.1 JavaScript speed!

  • Not suprised (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iYk6 (1425255) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:45AM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GooberToo (74388)

      The native MS compiler is actually pretty dang good. It out compiles gcc any day of the week. MS need only worry about optimization details for a single architecture and platform. The GCC guys on the other hand have to optimize for tons of different chips, variants, and platforms, and as such are much more limited in what they can do. Furthermore, its is very likely the MS compiler supports many optimizations which GCC simply doesn't even support.

      So its really not fair to say they created a half-assed versi

  • by vrmlguy (120854)

    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! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcvos (645701) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:36AM (#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? (Score:5, Informative)

    by vorpal22 (114901) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:46AM (#26841747) Homepage Journal

    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?

    • by Swizec (978239)
      Those of us who find it prohibitively slow at times care.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcvos (645701)

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

    • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:01AM (#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: (Score:3, Funny)

        by TheLink (130905)
        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 ;).
      • Sort of like how an OS lets you log-in before it is even booted up [wikipedia.org] ?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Candid88 (1292486)

        Disgusting.

        Many of us here don't take kindly to people like you who advocating violation of the Temporal Accords. As a pre-verteran of the temporal cold war I still carry the scars that conflict will inflict on me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EvilNTUser (573674)

      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"...)

      • by mcvos (645701)

        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.

    • 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

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RegularFry (137639)

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

    • by Hatta (162192) on Friday February 13, 2009 @11:12AM (#26843777) Journal

      Have you visited Slashdot.org with javascript on in Firefox recently? It stalls for a couple seconds while formatting those god awful tags.

      I guess it's easier for Taco to wait for Firefox to get faster, instead of writing decent code to begin with.

  • Not just Wine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kz (4332) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:55AM (#26841819) Homepage

    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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I think it's mostly that Firefox on Linux tries to use features of the graphics driver that aren't properly accelerated. This seems particularly true on newer nVidia cards - a GeForce 9 series card is much slower than a GeForce 7 series card, even with the latest drivers.

      I've actually had the Linux version of Firefox performing better inside a VM than natively, because in the VM it has no accelerated drivers, and is forced to do everything in software. It turns out that, in spite of the VM overhead, softwar

  • by AlterRNow (1215236) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:55AM (#26841827)

    Firefox Faster In Wine

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

  • about:buildconfig (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrXym (126579) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:58AM (#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.
  • by Teckla (630646) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:07AM (#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.

    • by QCompson (675963) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:51AM (#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).
  • by aussersterne (212916) on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:43AM (#26842353) Homepage

    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?

  • by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Friday February 13, 2009 @09:44AM (#26842363) Homepage
    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.
  • Recompile please (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:15AM (#26842833) Journal
    with GCC, and Intel. Lets find out if the code base difference between Windows and Linux is the issue OR the compilers.
  • Misguided effort (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wolfier (94144) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:26AM (#26843005)

    Browser response, not speed, is what annoys most people on Firefox, since version 1.

    Instead, it's the lack of threading - that the notion "UI, the rending engine, and plugins should run in separate threads, with the UI thread having the highest priority".

    Konqueror runs Flash player in its own process "nspluginviewer", which I can renice to 19 - just like how IE runs Flash in the lowest priority by default. Still, on Firefox 3, a few tabs running CPU-intensive Flash can still effectively freeze the browser UI.

  • by crazybilly (947714) on Friday February 13, 2009 @10:34AM (#26843129) Homepage Journal
    Honestly, this, and the fact that font rendering looks like crap in FF (and several other programs, even w/ antialiasing turned up all the way) on my cheap home laptop, is my greatest frustration w/ Linux. And I love Linux. I love free (as in freedom).

    But FF's crappy performance/speed/response on Linux just really really sucks.

    I keep looking for a new browser, but Konq + multimedia = crashtastic, midori & kahazekhaze are too overall unstable, and Epiphany is just under-featured. Opera isn't FOSS (which slays me--I love Opera like a little girl loves ponies, but I've got a pretty strong ethical committment to FOSS).

    There's always elinks ;).

  • Window Contents (Score:4, Informative)

    by domatic (1128127) on Friday February 13, 2009 @12:45PM (#26845375)

    Firefox appears to be using an inefficient method to render the content to the screen. If a load up a page in Firefox and drag the window around fast, the content inside the window tears and blurs and stays that way for a second after I stop whipping the window around. Konqueror and Opera don't do this.

  • by mpath (555000) on Friday February 13, 2009 @01:55PM (#26846415)

    Can you compile Firefox & Ubuntu yourself and get better performance, then?

  • by FunkyELF (609131) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:51PM (#26847149)
    I don't know why, but even under complete OS virtualization FireFox is faster in Windows under VMWare or VirtualBox than it is natively on the same box.
  • by jw3 (99683) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:59PM (#26848255) Homepage

    This will go unnoticed, but what the heck.

    I was able to greatly improve the reactivity of both firefox and opera by moving the cache onto tmpfs systems. Actually, I moved full rc directories (.opera and .mozilla) and just rsync them from time to time.

    Caveat - I have a sort of an improvised SSD (using a CF card and an adapter), which is quite slow esp. for concurrent writes. But maybe this is why I noticed it at all. I don't understand why the browsers insist on writing tons of data onto the hard drive when there's plenty of perfectly good memory lying around.

    Cheers,
    j.

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